Sunday, May 24, 2009

How to Think Like a Fool #22: Picture an Audience

IMAGINE: Picture an Audience
RIPPO the Fool works on a project at home, alone. With 1500 people watching, applauding, laughing, and cheering. At the end, RIPPO gets a standing ovation.

All in RIPPO's head.

As a solo performer, I find the presence of an audience changes everything.

On the negative side, unresponsive audiences suck the life out of a show like a herd of Roombas (or it can be just one scowling person sitting in the front row. Or maybe the show sucked first).

I can practice a juggling feat flawlessly in my rehearsal studio, but choke on it with self-consciousness in front of an audience. At the funeral for my vaudeville consultant Jay Marshall, a sign on his casket read, "Not the first time I died."

Most of the time, though, audiences give me energy, immediate feedback, spontaneous moments to react to, and a state of play that inspires me to improvise ideas I might never have thought up or tried in rehearsal. So why not harness this when not performing?

While working on something challenging, in your mind's eye see an audience watching you, applauding your successes and choices. You act as if you are performing, demonstrating each step for them. This is an ideal audience, made up of the most forgiving friends and fans. Your nervousness energizes you. You show off, because under the influence of showing off, people do dumb but brilliant things. Build suspense. Entertain them. Wow them!

Your grand finale is the solution to your problem.

THINK: How big is my imaginary audience? Who are they? How are they reacting? What do they like and don't like?

Tomorrow: How to Think Like a Fool #23: Misremember the Past

Previous "How to Think Like a Fool" Posts

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