Ian Adair – Timing Tricks

Columnist:
Ian Adair

Timing Tricks

The wise performer will have all of his effects (tricks and routines) timed and listed so he knows the duration of each and every one. This is essential for:

a) Making up a programe from start to finish to the length a potential booker wants.

b) So you can build up say, a forty-five minute to one hour performance for regular kid show dates.

c) Alternatively, should it be entertainment for adults, you have a concise time to work to. Most music-hall artists, when told they had to do a nine-minute act, had to work precisely to time. In variety, as indeed in television, times were always adhered to.

To prepare this, get someone who is perhaps your wife, partner or a trusted friend with a clipboard and papers. Given a pen and a stopwatch or normal watch, he or she will be able, through one of your performances, to list the effects from start to finish and provide the duration times of each one. This information is ideal too for repeat shows, so that when preparing another, and different programe, you can leave out certain effects and routines and also slot in some new ones.

I personally have a complete list of all working effects and routines with their duration listed as well. These are listed in alphabetical order so that, knowing the name of the effects or routines, I can immediately find them. It also means that I can make up a programe for any timed performance, even a TV slot, if asked to do so.

I prepare each item on a single card, having larger cards, or those stepped-up with alphabetical letters, rather like an index file. It makes it so easy to find an individual effect and then its duration. This means that you can also remove the cards from your file and work out a show, complete with duration time.

Certain remarks on each item can be added to the indivdual cards to give you further information. Although we performers don’t have to work to seconds, we do need to work to minutes. We often have other show’s on the same day, and mistiming the first show can mean chasing your tail for the rest of the day. Of course the same effects can often last longer or even less in time from venue to venue, from audience to audience.

Cut out the padding and provide your audience with real solid entertainment. Those magicians who still state that they obtain 20 minutes or more from one effect in a kid’s show are out of date. Just imagine if one or two of those 20 minute effects didn’t happen to interest or entertain the majority of the children. What would you do? So timing effects is sensible.

One thing – it can be done, but never seems practical, you can time yourself whilst performing an effect, routine or complete act. Personally, I feel this is not a practical way of achieving the information. It is always best having someone timing you whilst you are in action.