(Note: this piece was actually written about three years ago, when I was still working full time at Accenture. Since then, the motivation of full-time performing and producing has changed my views on some of what follows. Specifically, I now find myself performing in more and more situations where I’m willing to accept far more logistical hassle for the sake of a great effect. For the majority of casual performance situations though, I think the the article still hold merit.)
Laziness is not necessarily a bad thing. It can sometimes be a powerful trigger for innovation, frequently of the “work smarter, not harder” variety. One thing I am very, very lazy about when it comes to performing is carrying around the necessary props and equipment.
For the past three years I’ve worked full time at a large consulting company. Long hours, high stress, the usual drawbacks of a “traditional” model corporate job. On the occasions I’ve had a gig to perform, I’ve usually had to head there straight from work. Surviving the business hours has been hard enough on it’s own without having to worry about schlepping around complex props and costumes, or needing to be at the venue early to perform elaborate setups.
Hence the vast majority of the material I’ve ended up performing can be done with minimal baggage and minimal preparation. Sometimes it has taken me a lot of work to get it to that stage. For example, I spent about three years working towards the coin vanishing routine I currently use in casual situations. About half of the effort was on trying to find a robust enough method, and the other half on configuring it to work with no setup or reset.
If I can’t achieve the latter, it’s usually a deal breaker. I know from experience that if a routine requires any unusual pocket management, I will simply end up leaving it at home. This has played out again and again over the years. I come across a new close-up effect that I love. I work on it until it’s ready to perform. I get really excited about the fact that finally I now have a solid anytime/anywhere illusion worth carrying around with me.
And then I end up never performing it again because the need to dedicate a pocket to a gaff or duplicate coin or whatever is just too much of a hassle in the real world. “The real world” in this case being my own highly subjective reality that involves having a job, something resembling a social life, and too few pockets in which to carry the apparatus for an otherwise excellent illusion.
As a consequence of this laziness, almost all the routines I now perform have close to zero setup and reset. Sometimes getting them to that stage took an enormous amount of research and development. Research and development which I would not have done, ironically, if I hadn’t been such a lazy bastard in the first place.