Are you performing magic or tricks?
Conjurer's Coffee Break - Episode 010
- Hey welcome back.
- Before we get started this week, I've found out recently that some of you have missed the web pages that accompany these episodes. Please remember to check those out by visiting edsumner.com/magicians
- Each episode has it's own page, with a full transcript, links to relevant resources and additional thoughts that occur to me after recording the episode.
- So, if a topic chimes with you, and you want to delve deeper, check it out.
- Alright, that's the news bits done. Onto today's topic.
- Are you one of those magicians that doesn't like the word "trick" because magic should be worth more than that?
- So, you say, effect or routine or my pieces.
- Well, I get it. A "trick" can be seen as a negative thing, can't it?
- But I don't think the solution (of not saying trick) fits the problem.
- I use the word trick, because that's what my clients and my audiences say. And saying, my effects, I think makes me sound kinda pompous.
- You're mileage may vary.
- But with that said, a trick is a negative thing, if by that you mean, your only focus is to fool someone.
- Fooling someone is only one part of magic.
- An important part, for sure. Without it you might be fun, funny and really entertaining, but you certainly can't be a magician.
- For more on this, check out the Jamy Ian Swiss article, Why Magic Sucks.
- Essential reading for any magician.
- So much so, that while it was published in his book Shattering Illusions, which I've recommended previously, and I will do again, it is also published on his website for free.
- I'll link to it on the resources page.
- So, back to the topic. What I would suggest is, don't just fool someone. Go further. Add a performance to your tricks, routines, to your magic.
- Otherwise, you're not really performing magic, but instead you're just doing a demonstration.
- And I've seen people do magic that barely looks any better than a dealer demonstrations.
- It's also why I don't like magic on Instagram, and probably other social media channels, I haven't explored
- That short form content is so often, at crotch level rather than face level, or at table level but the point still stands.
- Ascanio wrote, "It is the magician's face that makes the magic experience human and interesting. Otherwise, you might as well be watching a robot do magic."
- And the second point to all of this is, Instagram magic is just a trick, in the sense described earlier.
- It's designed to fool someone and nothing more. In fact, it's often worse than that. It's often a challenge. The performer is saying, "Can you figure it out?"
- And when you do that, the best you can hope for is a good trick, or put another way, a really strong puzzle.
- Ascanio, again! talks about pseudo-magic. Something that might be many things except that which it calls itself. If the audience doesn't believe it's magic, then it's not.
- We can only create magic in the minds, of the audience, right?
- So, the idea of whether we should expect people to believe in magic, is a topic for in person, or maybe for a podcast. In fact, I recently had this conversation with some friends at a local magician's get together.
- For now though, just know that my aim is for the audience to believe they have witnessed something with no possible explanation.
- Another huge part of magic for me, is connecting to others through my performances. Sharing a live moment.
- A moment of humanity.
- People are more interested in people, than things.
- Performance allows us to impart our personality on our routines.
- To say, hey this is me. I'm here. This is my point of view.
- It's something I talk about in more detail in my lecture, Jumping Off Points.
- And I'll also link to those lecture notes in the resources for this episode.
- Instagram magic and other one dimensional demonstrations strip all of that away.
- When it's devoid of personality and literally faceless, it could be anyone's hands doing the moves, or as Ascanio said, a robot.
- The performer, if we can call them that, is interchangeable.
- I think, eye candy is a pretty good name for it, right? It can be fun, but too much candy is bad for you.
- And, hey, it's worth saying, I'm not against the medium.
- I'm against the way it's most often used currently.
- To those interested in sharing their magic in 30 second video clips... Great, do that! But find a way to personalise it, and to connect with others or even to tell a story.
- And you know, when I've discussed this with others, I've had people say to me, it's not possible to tell a story in 30 seconds?
- Streuth, well, if you think that, you need to watch more adverts!
- But let's also apply this to the magic we do in real life too.
- As I said, without a performance, magic becomes merely a puzzle to be figured out.
- As I say to my magic students. Create three minutes of theatre!
- It doesn't have to be a story, per se, and you certainly shouldn't start every routine with... I was walking down street when suddenly.
- but every routine should have a hook.
- Find something to make it interesting and engaging. Here are just a few very quick, and very basic ideas to start a routine...
- Instead of a magic trick, let's play a game...
- I want to try something I've never done before...
- Most magicians do it like this... but for you I'm going to do it like this tonight...
- You know, a lot of people ask me...
- And I mean those are the basic, off the top of my head ideas that take you one step away from the laziest magicians.
- Don't be that person who stops thinking there.
- Most magicians stop thinking too soon.
- Keep thinking, writing, and playing around with ideas about how you can present your magic in a way that suits you.
- But there's another level as well.
- And this is your reward for listening this far!
- When people say they dislike magic, it's often because they've seen a poor magician.
- And if it wasn't someone who insulted or belittled them, it was probably someone who performed at them, not with them.
- But you know what, those are kind of the same thing. A magician performing at you is ignoring the audience. A magician who insults his audiences does the same.
- Both represent a performer who is out of tune who they are performing for.
- Someone who is performing only for themselves.
- So, this next level up is about making sure you stay alert during a performance, watching, listening and reacting to what is happening right there with that audience in that specific shared moment.
- That's true on stage, but it's so much more important in close up magic, which after all takes place in a shared space.
- Go back and listen to my episode about staying in the moment for more on that topic.
- Hey and guess what, when you reach for this higher level, when you are present, that's when you find the opportunities to create real magic.
- When I perform, I actually feel like I become hyper aware.
- I can spot the moment the audience's attention wanes, or add in a line that will emphasise something for that one individual.
-Something that tips them over into believing I just did the impossible.
- It's very often not about what trick you do, but the connection you have with people.
- It's about building rapport with them.
- Now there's a huge topic. Maybe you've heard about pacing and leading.
- So with that in mind, during your performance, can you, and I think this is the right term for it, bring them along for the ride?
- Are you able to grab them by the hand and lead them into the world of magic?
- You've probably heard the saying, "if people like you, they will like your magic."
- But it's not just about them liking you, it's about them believing you, if not deep down, at least for that moment!
- I want to leave you with a quote.
- This is one I ask all my students to write down so grab a pen.
- "There's a whole world of difference between a spectator not knowing how something is done and knowing that it can't be done."
- The first is a great trick, the second is magic.
- Which one are you aiming for?
- There's a few things to unpack there, so feel free to give it an extra listen through, and as I mentioned don't forget to check out the page for this episode over at edsumner.com/magicians
- That's where you'll also find every other episode, or simply check your favourite podcast channel.
- If you're enjoying these episodes please share them with fellow magicians, and subscribe to be alerted to each new episode.
- Thanks for listening.
Additional Show Notes
- One of the things that connecting with your audience also gives you, and this is also connected to next weeks episode, but you get the confidence to be creative during your routine. I find that creative freedom very powerful.
- I also said that I would link to my lecture notes Jumping Off Points - here you go.
- And here's that article from Jamy Ian Swiss - Why Magic Sucks. If you haven't already then have a read through it.
- It's also included, along with some other essays, in his book:
Shattering Illusions - Jamy Ian Swiss
- Finally, here's the Ascanio book, I am reading:
- Episode 003 - Be Present for a Performance
- Episode 004 - Can you Learn Confidence?
- Episode 011 - link to come
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