Why performers should not just start performing when they start performing

SennMicrophone_wikipediaThere are stories about a stand-up comedian who is now a household name. I do not know if the stories are true.

But earlier in his career, when he was playing the comedy circuit in the UK, it is claimed that, when he was in the middle of the bill, at the end of his act, he would screw the knobs and adjusters on the microphone stand VERY tight so that the next act who came on, when adjusting it for their own height, had to fiddle with it and this fiddling, delay and apparent unfamiliarity with the microphone made them look less professional to the audience.

Because, in comedy and in all solo performance, the act starts before the act starts.

Any wise comic, before the start of a gig (there is usually time) should play with the mic stand, know – of course – which knob does what (ooh missus) and how tight or slack each knob is – they can and will vary night-to-night even with the same mic and stand.

One comedian told me that he thinks the audience makes up its mind about any performer in the first 3 seconds of seeing them – and that means (in the case of a stand-up) the walk to the microphone even before they start to speak.

The audience’s opinion can be changed by a great performance. But there is an instinctive feeling established before that.

The performance does not start with the start of the performance. The performance starts the first second the audience sees the performer.

In my opinion (and I am not a performer), I think a comic, a singer, a solo musician – anyone – has to think of their performance starting the split-second they start visibly heading towards the stage. Choreograph that in your head (or by walking-through before the show) for each different performance in each venue and for each lighting-condition and you are halfway to making a good impression before you say a word, play a note or throw a club.

But – hey! – what the fuck do I know?

1 Comment

Filed under Comedy, Performance

One response to “Why performers should not just start performing when they start performing

  1. Owen Morgan

    I agree- you should listen to Radio 3, they say such things about classical musicians and conductors all the time.

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