Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bluffing Onstage.

One trick I've learned in show business is to perform prepared material in such a way that the audience assumes I'm improvising. On their part it's a reasonable assumption since if I'd actually prepared material, it should be tight. So if I'm standing onstage and it looks like I'm thinking about what to say next, it's fair to assume that I'm making it up as I go along.

This technique (accidentally) worked for me this past week. I was messing around onstage rapping with two percussion players. My rhymes were all prepared but I took my time and did them so slowly, so randomly, so patiently, that it seemed like I was making the entire thing up in that moment. The pauses weren't planned. They were unintentional. They were due to my not remembering all of my rhymes. But the audience ate it up.

The audience's reaction is proof that life is all about expectations. If this same audience had expected a tightly memorized rap, then I would have failed. But to a group of people that thought I was making up rhymes on the spot, I looked like a rapping genius.

The bluffing part was amusing post show. I was chatting with some folks and well aware of just how sloppy my performance was. But these members of the audience would hear nothing of it. They were too impressed with how I had just spit out 5 minutes of clever rhymes off the top of my head. I told them the lines were prepared but they didn't believe me.

What they don't understand is that if I could improvise rhymes that well, I'd be the world's greatest rapper. Not some guy who's pausing every 4 to 8 sentences because he's trying to remember what obscure reference comes next.

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