Mapping Out a New Show

Today was a fun day. This morning I coached a gentleman for a while on his act.  I helped him add comedy to a couple of his tricks and then we worked out a few routines we would do together in an upcoming school show.  The plan is to put together a 35 minute show using a few tricks we knew and also add a few new ones.

I taught him a few of my comedy skits, bits and tricks. I have confidence that this will go well because he and I are dedicated to planning and practice.

Planning and Practice

The key to any successful speech or presentation is preparation.  The better prepared you are the better response you will get and the less perspiration or nerves day of show.

Practice may seem boring, but I would rather be bored with practicing than full of fear in front of an audience. Most stage fright comes from lack of preparation and rehearsal.

Organization Tip:

One suggestion for him was that he take his huge trunk of tricks and get rid of anything that does not belong there. Any tricks that are not part of the show need to go. Then place cardboard slots in there to separate the tricks into an orderly fashion. They will travel well this way and will not be a stir when he opens the huge trunk.

Another important consideration was to then get the show order down. This way the  tricks in the trunk can be placed in order from right to left. Then at showtime he can start with the first trick in the trunk and work through to the other side. Everything has a place and is organized in show running order so if he forgets where he is at… he can simply look down and pull out the next trick in line.

I also recommend that he print out a show order in large print and paste this inside his show trunk. so he can glance down during the show and see the list of tricks. The large print allows him to see the show order from 4-5 feet back.

Blocking the Act

Another consideration is blocking.  This is a theatrical term that means working out where everything sits on stage and also what our stage movements will be. We need to think through where the tables and props will sit. We need to know exactly where in the show case that the magic wand sits so when we reach for it we can grab it without having to look down.

Once the props are set we will then consider our movements throughout each routine.   We will also need to practice as if a volunteer from the audience were actually up on stage helping us. Is the volunteer to the right or the left of us? We plan this as it should be the same every time. As you practice you will burn the pattern into your mind and make it easier to make the show run smoothly. We also need to think about how we hand the volunteer props or items they will hold and help out with. Practice as if there is an actual volunteer next to you on stage.


Transitions in a show are so important so it is important to rehearse those also.  What will you say or do as you put away one thing and get out the next. This needs to be thought through and then done the same way each time.

Final Rehearsals

Finally, we need to rehearse everything in order from first stepping on stage to final goodbye and exit.  This way the order of the show and the movement on stage will become second nature.  If it is a 35 minute show the rehearsal should get to the point where it is about 35 minutes each time.  If you set aside a little over an hour you should be able to rehearse the entire show twice.

Tip for Getting Stronger Laughs

Remember to pause for laughter and applause. The pauses should be rehearsed as we don’t want to step on the laugh by talking while they are still laughing. If we start talking while they are still laughing we will teach the audience to laugh less as they will not want to miss what you say next.

It is very fun to create and develop new material and the above items of blocking, transitioning and layout of props are as important as learning how to do each trick.

When developing a new act we need to first plan and then rehearse all the components together in their show order.  This way the show can run smooth as a whole.

More on Norm’ classes and workshops for entertainers at:

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One Response to “Mapping Out a New Show”

  1. Gary Says:

    Thanks for the awesome time we had together the other day Norm! It was a great experience for me. I enjoyed talking over ideas, theories and tricks. Thanks for all of your help. You are the master! I’m very excited for our upcoming show and think the kids will really enjoy it! That’s it for now…back to practicing!!


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