This week performing at the fair, we’re not required to wear masks when we’re performing. That’s great, however I found for my roving magic, people were more receptive when I was wearing a mask. I think it shows respect for them as people that walking up unmasked and assuming they are OK with that doesn’t.
One thing I’ve noticed when performing with a mask is that my whole face is still animated. You can’t see much of it, but I think it adds to the overall energy when I perform. That and it will be automatic to do in the future when I’m not wearing a mask.
This week I’m performing at a fair and it’s a fairly challenging experience. The crowd is fairly far from the stage and the seating is socially distant. It’s challenging to get them to unite as a crowd. Hopefully I’ll have it figured out by the end of the run.
The other challenge is that I can’t use people on stage. It’s a no contact show. This is fine, but has some problems. The big one being the audience is masked, so talking to them is difficult. It’s hard to tell who says something, and it’s hard to understand what they are saying. Indoors in a theater where there is less ambient noise, it’s much easier. This is something I didn’t anticipate (I should have).
I’m working out how make my show more successful this week, hopefully I’ll only need it this week. It looks like most COVID restrictions on the west coast are going to be lifted in about a week. Too late for this fair…
As we move forward and out of the COVID pandemic and venues start to reopen and live, in person entertainment begins to come back, we’re going to have to follow some rules. There are tons of magicians that are saying, “I’ll never do a show with a mask on” or whatever, and that’s fine…it’s their personal choice. The venue’s don’t get a choice, they are given guidelines to follow by the state/county/city and must follow those. So your personal choice will affect your ability to perform.
I think that the fear of performing with a mask, or a no contact show comes from a place of laziness. Why wouldn’t you want to figure out how to do your show no contact? The answer you hear is, “My comedy comes from interacting with people”. Great! you can still do that without someone physically onstage…or onstage 6 feet from you. It just takes some work.
I’ve had to recently reblock my show so that couple things I still do with someone onstage can have the person six feet from me…and we both can be masked. I’ve had to reexamine my show and figure out how to make it work…but that’s something you should be doing every now and then anyway.
Something that still bugs me are performers that are still using facemasks in their shows as if they are topical. They really aren’t, it’s lazy creativity. I’ve written about this before (you can read it here), and my thoughts haven’t changed.
Not too long ago I figured out what the problem with 99 % of the mask tricks are:
YOU HAVE TO TAKE THE MASK OFF TO DO THE TRICK
By simply doing the trick, you are defeating the purpose of the prop. That’s the flaw in all of these tricks. The rare exception is something like a color changing mask. If someone came up with a trick where you didn’t take the mask off for the trick, that would make it make sense.
Keeping the mask on really limits what you can do. That condition pretty much leaves you with a color change, with out doing some actual thinking. Here’s some ideas that I don’t have a method for:
Tongue thru mask
Eating / drinking thru the mask
shrinking / growing mask
things appearing on the ear loops: Kinda like the Ring Flite trick
Broken and restored ear loop
It moving by itself: Running gag: while you are talking it keeps moving up your face. You move it down, and it moves up again
Multiplying: you keep taking them off, and there’s always one on your face. You’d have to remove a large amount, so that it’s clear you didn’t just have four masks on.
All of the above tricks keep a mask on your face. However you still have a problem to face, it’s a used hygiene product you are using. Doing a trick with a tissue from the box uses a clean hygiene product. Doing a trick with a tissue you just blew your nose on is a used hygiene product. That’s something else to consider, technically once you touch or take it off with your bare hands, you are supposed to wash your hands.
How do you solve this?
I don’t know the answer, but then I also really don’t want to do a trick with a facemask, so you’ll have to figure that out for yourself if you want to do a trick with a face mask!
In the past I think I’ve written about this, however there are a few instances recently that got me thinking about using face masks and hand sanitizer in magic routines. First of all, it’s no longer the elephant in the room that needs to be addressed. It was in March and April, but not now.
If you’re shoehorning in a mask to your show to try to be topical, it’s lazy creativity. Simply swapping out a silk or a drink coaster for a face mask and having not other context to it, then you’re fooling yourself into thinking you’re being topical. I think an audience can feel when someone changes a prop for no reason other than to try to make it topical.
If you’re doing a bit with a mask that actually has purpose or a point of view, I’m 100% for that. For example if you linked the ear loops of a mask, that’s using the property of the mask, you aren’t simply finding a place to substitute a mask into your show.
Personally I’d love to see a mask bit by an anti-masker, I think that would be very interesting. Using the mask and magic to show how masks don’t work would match well with and having things pass thru the mask. Of course you could do the opposite and show how the mask protects the wearer by not letting things through doing some indestructible type tricks with the mask. However thing like that take actual thinking and work to do well. It’s not easy to do, which is why you don’t see much of it.