1. How have you adjusted your act for a virtual audience?
A new medium, like Zoom, calls for a different kind of show. I think it’s important not to simply perform your existing repertoire in front of a webcam, instead of a live audience. So I decided to create an entirely new show – World Wide Wonders – to deliver a whole new magic experience to my virtual audience.
Instead of leaving the audience with the feeling of ‘I wish I could have seen this live’, I wanted to create an experience just as unique, that leaves them saying: ‘Wow, I’ve never witnessed anything like this before…’.
That’s why I made sure to include the audience as a very interactive part of the show. The magic doesn’t simply happen on my end of the screen but right there, in their very own hands. I considered what made our current circumstances unique and different and how I could use that to make for a more exciting show.
For example, where before I often would only see the first few rows of an audience, with Zoom I now have the opportunity to see every single audience member and interact with them.
And in turn, they all have a front row seat to my show; everyone sees the show from exactly the angle I have set up for them. This ‘forced perspective’ opens up a lot of opportunities for optical illusions and deceiving magical techniques.
2. Why do you think incorporating entertainment into virtual events is beneficial?
For the same reason that I think entertainment is needed in live events. Your brain simply works best when it gets to enjoy some kind of distraction and experiences relief from the business at hand. It’s in the very nature of magic, it temporarily transports you to a different world filled with astonishment and wonder. And it’s a bonding moment for the audience as well.
As a corporate entertainer I have come up with many ways of incorporating the company’s message in a fun and playful way, making my virtual show perfect to recap on what happened so far and to connect people, teams and organizations with a mutual experience. Incorporating a visual, funny and interactive show helps virtual events to glue the attendees to their screens and grab their attention.
3. How do you keep audiences engaged when they are watching virtually?
I think in the virtual world you have to be even more personable and energetic. You have to find a way to emotionally connect with your audience through the screen.
I don’t ever want my audience to think they’re watching a YouTube video or something that’s pre-taped. It is my job to create the feeling that the audience is witnessing an event that is happening at this very moment, with and for them.
This needs an individual approach with lots of different impulses to keep people engaged. In my show, every three minutes something entirely new happens: magic with optical illusions, video effects, holograms and even robots. At one point I teach the audience how to create their own illusion using the virtual background that comes with all video platforms.
Audience engagement is key and it takes new and creative approaches to achieve that. That’s why I’m particularly proud of this feedback from Vint Cerf (one of the fathers of the internet), who said World Wide Wonders was ‘one of the most creative ways to use the online world that I have ever seen!!!’
4. Do you think that incorporating entertainment offers a slight reprieve to zoom fatigue?
Personally I am a huge fan of Zoom, as it opened up a lot of new ways for how these events are held. But I understand that many people have spent a lot of time on these platforms since the pandemic started and I get how that can be tiring.
As entertainers we face many of the same challenges in the virtual world as we do in the ‘real world’. You have to re-invent yourself again and again and deliver new content and concepts to your audience.
For example, for the holiday season we created a holiday themed show called World Wide Wonderland. And I am launching World Wide Winners, an award show designed to create a platform for your company to honor those who achieved the extraordinary and I am presenting magical, fun ways to announce the winners.
5. Do you see there still being a niche for this type of entertainment as events come back?
As far as I am concerned, virtual entertainment is here to stay, but these events will co- exist with the kind of live events we have known for so long.
While some things like holiday parties are designed for people to meet in person, there are many conferences that can be done more efficiently virtually. I am sure you’ve seen this question going around on the internet: Who led the digital transformation in your company?
Thanks to the extraordinary circumstances we find ourselves in we are all getting used to working with these video platforms and to seeing the upsides in them.
For me it means I can perform for an audience in Hong Kong and New York City on the same day. No travel costs and a much better carbon footprint for everyone. It is also simply more cost-efficient, which I think will certainly be a factor going forward.
However, I know everyone is very much looking forward to gathering in person again once it’s possible and I myself can’t wait to be back on stage. So I could see many of these events becoming hybrid concepts with half the viewers watching and participating from home. I’m excited to explore the new opportunities that will come out of that.
For more information on his online-shows: Virtual Magic Show