Hate this one, although rather than rage about the obvious people who go out of their way to self-promote, this one’s coming from a different angle — namely, the necessity of self-promotion itself.
It’s such a necessary evil if you want to get into show-business, and if you’re just starting out, you’d better toot your own horn because there’s no guarantee anybody else is going to too it for you.
I’ve got to do some write-ups for possible meetings with booking agents, and I just want to fill the thing with other people’s quotes, to alleviate myself of the responsibility for telling them what to think of me. The concept of putting “scintillating sleight of hand” in my bio makes me want to blow chunks.
Unfortunately, these formalities are important, and I lack the sort of sense of humour that can soften the self-adulation so that I don’t look like I take myself too seriously, while still making it clear that they should take me seriously.
Alan Wheeler brought up a wonderful piece of theory over on the Food for Thought section, regarding Aristotle’s writing about three techniques for supporting a claim: ethos, logos, and pathos. Broken down, ethos is about having a credible source, logos is about the logic of it, and pathos is about arousing emotions. As somebody who loved every minute of his university logic classes (particularly the logical fallacies bit), I’ve always been focused more on the logos side of things, since things like Appeals to Authority, Appeals to Emotion, and Ad Hominem statements generally fall into the realm of bad rhetoric really quickly.
Unfortunately, as Spock said, logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end, and that particular thread was an important wake-up call, especially when it comes to the idea of ethos. If you’ve ever performed close-up for strangers you know the importance of prestige — not just to make yourself look good, but also to make the magic run more smoothly and more effectively manage spectators. That power can be extrapolated to a much-higher level, to the point where you get what you have in show-business, where people without much talent have so much power, simply because they established themselves a long time ago (ethos) and they make us feel good (pathos).
(As a side note, it’s worth mentioning that these three facets can be useful in making a grander illusion look good, and it’s usually observable in its mis-steps.
Insofar as ethos is concerned, a kid may do a great gambling-themed trick that fools people, but he’s going to have a harder time making people believe that it’s based in true gambling skill.)
But the key to be truly persuasive is to develop proficiency in all three. In a weird way, it’s one side effect of American Idol and similar shows that I’m happy about — for all their attempts to manufacture a superstar, the fact that so few of the winners and/or audience favorites are still around in the public eye goes to show that all that despite them being the center of attention for their season, they’re easily forgotten and replaced. Credibility is difficult to fake.
Which is why I hate writing this stuff up. There’s nothing really special about my situation — anybody who’s been doing the same few tricks for a long time knows with relative certainty and predictability what emotions will be evoked from their audience. Heck, you won’t know just that, but when, in what degree, and in what variety. Still, even though I know the opening phase for one of my routines will get a good laugh, will fool them pretty bad, and establish myself as a skilled sleight-of-hand performer (even though it’s a rudimentary move), it still feels fake to write that “You’ll laugh as this sleight-of-hand expert amazes you!” or some other garbage like that.
Still, it’s got to be done, so I’m spending the day plugging away at it and trying not to hate myself too much.
Did you read it? All of it? Go back and read all of it! Attaboy!
This is a personal issue here. I'm in the process of creating a 90 minute stand up show. I'm no longer in a conceptual phase. I already got the posters and tickets and all of that made. But I need to sell my show. And this is when being not humble at all needs to be a skill that one must have. It is hard for me to say: "You need to book this show, as you got the chance to have rare sleight of hand artist featured in your line up of shows next season." All I really wanna say is: "Please give me a chance, I won't blow it."
It's a bit of self betrayal on my part. When I was creating the posters for the show, I had several inspirations to go for. Namely "Thurston" and "Carter"
I always wanted a very colorful poster, reminiscent of the old times, combined with the growing popularity of Steampunk.
I have always been fascinated with the razzmatazz in which the Jules Verne stories were marketed. "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" and "A Journey to the Center of the Earth" are terrific titles for books, as it invokes Wonder. I always wanted something like this. Think about it. "Around the World in 80 Days" is a great title for a magic show.... Well not exactly but something along those lines. "Journey to the center of deception. An adventure full of Magic, Monster and Mystery."
And now that I finished creating my poster and flyers and having done all the ground work to sell my show I am rather proud of "tooting my horn". It really helps to create a character and a world to promote rather than oneself.