I am a huge fan of smart bits, ingenious business and classic shtick. Love ‘em.
However, they will hold you back as an interactive character.
Bits, by their very nature, are pre-planned. They’re something that’s been thought out, rehearsed and then repeated.
Think about a time in your life when someone started a conversation with you because they have a plan to get something from you. You know exactly when it happens. You see it coming. How do you feel?
Now think about a time in your life when you were with someone who was just focused on themselves. It wouldn’t matter that it’s you or a million other people. How’s that feel?
When someone focuses on us in real life, it is a special moment. We treasure the feeling. We grow attached to the person who treated us that way. We remember it and will come back for more of it.
Believe that it isn’t any different in our work. Visitors know if they are the focus of your attention or if you are in your own head giving them something you’ve done before.
If it’s not challenging enough, visitors come prepared knowing that characters are supposed to ‘entertain’ them. And pre-planned bits confirm it for them. To the visitor it’s clearly not about them as an individual. They are an audience, there to watch. They are separate from the environment and the character.
To bridge those gaps, to include the visitor, the interactive performer focuses outside of themselves. Putting the focus on the visitor, the performer is free to respond to cues and clues from the visitor. Connections are based on an honest give and take. Interactions can happen in an authentic, genuine way. Interactive characters now make visitors feel they are a unique and important part of the character’s own world.
There are times when you will need help from a bit or business. In another blog I will write about when they’re a good thing to have ready.
For the majority of your work, commit to staying alert, observant and focused on the visitor. Everything you need will come from them.