How long is the ideal length for a show

Long before you get to the venue, unless you have an act with removable segments, you should have ascertained from the person who booked you how long they want you to perform for. It is then up to you to design an appropriate performance that will leave the audience wanting more. Don't overrun. It won't make you any better, and it certainly won't endear you to the booker or agent!

In one of Paul's first shows in London at the Hilton on Park Lane, the organiser asked Paul to 'keep it short', as one of the honoured guests had to leave early. "No more than 15 minutes", the man said. As he left, the agent then said, "that's no good to me, one of the other acts hasn't turned up, and I need you to do a much longer time." Paul went on, confident of his ability, and ended up doing an hour!

Afterwards, the organiser went backstage and said, "you were fantastic, and as it happened, the guest of honour decided to stay but I did tell you to only do 15 minutes."

Smiling, Paul gave the organiser a friendly smile, and said "I'm so sorry, I thought you said 50 minutes!"

Sometimes you have to think on your feet!

The length of each effect needs to be assessed too. Make sure you use variety so that longer and shorter routines are mixed. That said, generally, around 3 minutes for each effect is a good average to work towards.

Again, think of the music analogy. Most pop songs last around three minutes, because it gives time to build interest for the listener, but it isn't too long so that the interest wanes. The aim is to keep the attention span sustained throughout each effect, and throughout the length of the show.

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