Monday, November 30, 2009

What Laryngitis Taught Me

Since today was dominated by my laryngitis, this story came to mind.
I actually learned something from being sick once, and perhaps this will help someone else.

First, please understand that I had Crohn's disease for 15+ years and I know very well when I am sick and how serious it is. I spent 15 years in continuous, sit-on-a-tack pain with a constant low-grade fever. So I've probably spent the majority of my magic career performing sick.

However, on this occasion, I was getting over a cold. Have you ever had this? It's that day where you're no longer contagious, in fact, you feel fine, and you KNOW that you're well again - but your voice is gone. Totally absent. No other symptoms. It's like the cold's final practical joke on its way out.

Well, this happened to me on a Sunday when I was working brunch at Clyde's, and I was frantic. I do talking magic, with lots of storytelling, and how in the world could I perform?

Here's what I learned in a nutshell:

  • I got MUCH better responses from my audiences. Looking back, I realize it was because I was gentler in my approach to the tables. I am 6'4" tall, 250 lbs., with dark hair, a dark beard and a loud voice. when approaching a table, I am standing and my audience is seated. It's easy to forget that all this together can be intimidating. My laryngitis evened the playing field, so to speak, and folks felt more comfortable. I now approach tables with more relaxed body language and lower vocal volume.
  • Many of my routines need few, if any, words. I found I was able to get very far into many of my pet routines with no words at all. This also helped focus attention on the magic, and I got much more applause and laughter. So I have gone back and severely trimmed my scripts.
  • If you simply tell people "My voice is gone," you build rapport very quickly. I think most people have been in that situation. So rather than trying to hide it, I was honest about it. But of course, not being contagious helped!

Hope this helps,

Eric Henning
Eric Henning Magician