Ahhhh. The wonderful art that is translation. When I released my DVD Stone Cold Magic in 2007, there were some exciting and quite funny moments. I just found a website that I believe is Chinese. At the bottom of the site was a “blurb” written in Chinese characters. I ran them through the Google translator, and this is how some of the phrases from my ad copy translated:
- English: Including bonus material
- Chinese: Inspection bonus material!
- English: Including the “spectral chill” concept, a rockin’ idea…
- Chinese: Including the concept of ghosts cold-rockin’
- English: Check out the following list of killer effects
- Chinese: Check the following list of role murderer!
- English: Including 13 killer effects
- Chinese: Including the 13 murderers…
- English: Get ready to experience 17 effects that will stone cold kill your audience
- Chinese: Ready to experience the cold killed stone-throwing your audience.
- English: Imagine a playing card vanishing right under your audience’s noses
- Chinese: Imagine a pack of playing cards disappear – in your audience’s nose
I Just hope they know what they’re really getting when they buy it!
I bring this up, a) because it’s funny, and b) because there is a lesson here, I think. The lesson is the fourth and final in the Know Your Audience series. Things get lost in translation even when both people are speaking the same language. In this case, the “audience” I’m referring to is the person who hired you to do your gig. Take a moment to make sure that you both are on the same page regarding things like: date and time of event, fee, required equipment, etc. Make sure they know what you actually will be doing.
I was once hired as one of several entertainers at an outdoor party at a huge home owned by a very rich lady. When the gig was over, the owner of the home gave me a piece of her mind and told me how upset she was that she didn’t see me perform at a single table. She said that all I did was just stop by a bunch of different tables and talk to people. Long story short, she thought I was a musician and that I’d be playing a song at each table.
In this case, I can blame the agent who got me the gig. He didn’t communicate clearly with the owner. However, ultimately I’m the one hired, and I’m the one leaving the impression on the owner, so I should have made sure my agent knew what he was talking about. Make sure that everyone is on the same page. This includes your customers at the table you’re approaching as well.
Take a moment to make sure they know why you’re interrupting their meal, party, etc. Make it clear to them yourself, and also work with the host to make sure that they are spreading the word that there is a magician in the house.
You don’t want to end up wit a deck of cards vanishing up your spectator’s nose, so take some time to communicate properly with all parties involved, and make sure that you not only know your audience, but that your audience knows you.