(A bit over a month ago, I won a big award at the FISM World Magic Championships. This is one of several stories from behind the scenes.)
Along with all the time, effort, money, huge number of playing cards, and all the other things that went into the preparation for FISM, there was one in particular that you wouldn't normally hear about. Specifically: two shots of vodka, thirty minutes before the competition.
Back in the Melbourne Comedy Festival last year, we experimented with drinking different amounts of alcohol before the show, and seeing the effect it had. The show was in a licensed venue anyway, so we were really just doing semi-formal analysis on the drinking that was already happening (mild and responsible drinking – hi there, kids).
Over the 16 shows in that run, we worked out that if I drank two shots about half an hour beforehand, the show was visibly more relaxed and engaging. Three shots was a little too many, but two shots tended to genuinely improve the show.
Fast forward to FISM, and because of all the last minute changes, we knew that I was going to be much more stressed and edgy than normal, so decided at the last minute that the two shots protocol was the way to go.
However, it was hard enough to find alcohol at short notice, let alone shot glasses or other receptacles. It was also pretty cluttered backstage between us and the other thirty competitors and all their gear that day.
Hence, half an hour before I was due to walk on stage, everyone else was treated to the image of Dave and I looking at the clock, nodding at each other, him handing me a bottle of Smirnoff, me taking an approximately-two-shot-sized swig, swallowing, grimacing, and continuing to practice.
It’s not what you’d normally expect as final show preparation, but looks like it did the job.
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