Professional vs amateur magicians.
Conjurer's Coffee Break - Episode 011
- OK, the first thing to say right upfront in this episode, is that I have nothing against magicians who perform semi-professionally, or just as a hobbyist.
- Everyone has different lives, and it may be that you have other commitments or even just other preferences.
- I've said that many times before.
- There's room in magic for everyone.
- The difficult part is often finding where you fit in.
- Also, the terms amateur and professional are perhaps the wrong ones for this episode.
- As we know, a magician who only performs a few shows a year can do so in a really professional way.
- And there's the opposite of that, someone who performs every week can act in a very unprofessional way.
- I'm going to presume that you care about becoming the best magician you can be.
- That's probably why you're taking time out to listen to a podcast, even if it is a short one.
- And I'm going to presume that you also care about your audiences.
- Remember by pushing ourselves to become better performers, we are giving a better service to our audiences, and often enjoying the magic ourselves too.
- So, I'm going to talk a little bit more about some of the advantages you get when you perform magic full time, and hopefully, even if you aren't quite able to do that just yet, you can use some of the ideas here as suggestions, and figure out how you can adapt them to your situation.
- The first difference between full time professionals and hobbyist magicians, is that a professional performs the same material to many different audiences, whereas the amateur tends to perform lots of different material to the same audience.
- The advantage to the full timer is that by repeating just a few routines, they really get to know them inside, out, back to front, they can do them in their sleep. Insert your own analogy.
- They can polish those routines over many iteration cycles.
- One of the great things I've learnt from stand up comedy is this idea of improving over as short an iteration cycle as possible.
- Many comedians try to get up on stage three or more times a week, so that they can work on their material and improve as fast as possible.
- We certainly see the same thing in magic, where with close up magic, you might perform the same routine ten times in a night, and after each performance you can tweak a line, or the timing of a line and try it out immediately to see if it's an improvement.
- And that's how you find out what's work best. What amplifies the magic, or gets the biggest laugh, or helps the audience remember you, or even just simplifies the instructions?
- It's more difficult to find opportunities to do that with stage magic, but not impossible.
- Now you might say, that this contradicts what I spoke about a few weeks ago when I encouraged everyone to expand their repertoire of magic.
- However, I stand by that and still think it's useful to try out a range of magic styles.
- In fact, I remember hearing a talk at the Essential Magic Conference, that online magic conference run by Luis de Matos, and I forget who the magician was, but they said they worked cruise ships and a local weekly comedy club.
- The cruise ships gave them the chance to work on the same routines repeatedly and really polish them, whereas the comedy club gave them the chance to try new material to the same audience.
- So, the best option is a balance of breadth and depth.
- By the way, I thought the EMC was a great idea, and it's a shame it only ran for the three years. I'll link to more information in the show notes, should you want to find out more about it.
- Now for those who don't perform full time, you kind of have to engineer the situation, in order to work on your favourite routines.
- One piece of advice is to think about where you perform magic, and expand that out. So, if you usually perform for your family, could you share the trick with your work colleagues.
- Or if you only do magic at the magic club, could you also show some tricks to people at home.
- And with that in mind you could then set yourself a challenge of performing a routine. say, to five different people or groups in the space of a week.
- The advantage of working on a routine over and over again, is my second difference that a full timer gains from performing all the time.
- That is they improve their problem solving.
- We all know, things go wrong in magic.
- But the more you perform, the more you get to a) experience a range of issues and b) solve them, either because next time you prepare better, or because you know what to do if the same issue occurs.
- I was performing a routine a few weeks ago with a balloon, which I blow up on stage. As I was blowing it up, the balloon burst. I think it might have been an older balloon, that had perished.
- Fortunately, I had a spare balloon in my pocket so I was able to take out the spare and carry on as if nothing had happened.
- But here's my lesson for myself: use new balloons if they've been sitting around for a while.
- The other great thing is that the problems you'll encounter may apply across different routines. Not being able to find the spectators card is something that can happen to any close up magician.
- Regardless of which card trick, you're doing, there are multiple ways to either save that routine, so that the audience aren't aware there was a mistake, or play it off as a comedy piece.
- And the truth is, in the moment, if you know your routines inside out, that frees your mind up to process what's happening and quickly find a solution.
- One exercise I run with my magic students, is to have them rehearse while I try to throw them off with the types of things that have happened to me, interruptions, forgotten cards, requests to shuffle the cards, or see that thing over there...
- Another way to prepare is to spend some time doing a pre-mortem, and thinking ahead about what might go wrong. I spoke about that in a previous episode.
- In fact, I'm mentioning a few topics today that I've spoken about previously.
- As I always do, I will link to related episodes in the podcast page for this episode. That way, if you are interested, you can listen around this subject, without me having to repeat myself.
- As I said, my goal is just keep these short and sweet!
- My third difference between full time magicians and hobbyists, is that generally, and again exceptions exist, but generally hobbyists tend to focus on the tricks, whereas a full time magician focuses on the people.
- I think this again comes when you know your material so well, that you can free up the mind to focus on being present for the performance.
- You can actively listen to the audience and look for moments to improvise.
- And improvisation, is a topic I'll be talking about in an upcoming episode, for sure.
- For those wanting to improve this aspect, my advice is simply to make a conscious effort to be aware. Don't just go into automatic performer mode. Take a metaphorical step back and look at the bigger picture.
- For me though, the more I perform, the more I find that magic is a bit like music, there's a rhythm to it.
- And there are moments when I'm trying to fit in with their rhythm, and other moments, when I'm trying to control their beats of attention.
- But the best moments are when there's a connection and we're working together. Neither resisting, nor pushing too hard. We're dancing.
- So to summarise, someone who isn't performing full time, might have some really great routines, but performing several performance per week, for me it's usually between 3 and 8 performances, really hones not only your magic skills, but your performance skills, and your people skills.
- And I think, that at the end of the day, it all builds up to making you feel more confident.
- And when you feel confident and secure in what you are doing, that translates to the audience, and they relax, and have a better time watching your performance, and as such you relax and you enjoy it, and so then they enjoy it more.
- And they remember you and recommend you.
- And if you've listened to any of my other podcast episodes hopefully this feedback loop sounds familiar.
- We build a better business, when we become better performers.
- But, that's the bit that requires the effort.
- Putting in the time and effort to constantly be trying to improve.
- I sincerely hope these podcasts are providing some assistance, or at the very least some jumping off points to help you think or research further.
- If they are, please also share them with your performer friends, subscribe on your favourite podcast platform, and don't forget you can check out every past and future episode, and leave comments at edsumner.com/magcians.
- Until next time, thanks for listening.
Additional Show Notes
- Want to find out more about the Essential Magic Conference, which ran from 2010 to 2012, visit here: http://essentialmagiccollection.com/ The DVDs seem to be available from some magic dealers too, but it was quite a while ago now, so you may also want to look on eBay / Facebook.
- Episode 002 - Luck or Preparation
- Episode 003 - Be Present for a Performance
- Episode 009 - Tools for improving your magic, part 2
- Episode 010 - Are you performing magic or tricks
- Episode improv - link to come
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