Did you ever think about it?
How many people know magicians by their name?
I'm talking relatively between magicians and other "performing artists", such as: Singers, actors, movie stars, stand-up comedians... among those we are remembered the least.
Why is that?
Why is it that when I tell someone I'm a magician, he immediately thinks where are my cape and hat to pull the rabbits from? Or dares to asks me "Can you do the trick where you cut a lady in half? How is that one done anyway?"
I think one of the main reasons is that - For other people, we are all the same.
Let's take cards for example. How many beginners don't perform any of the tricks from "Born to Perform" DVD, word for word?
How many actually put time and effort to come up with their own presentation and patter for their tricks?
Most magicians just look for "the easy way out". They see a trick they like, buy it, read the patter... and just present it as it is, or even worse... as they saw someone else do it.
Think about how ridicules this is... You buy a DVD to learn a certain trick, with a certain method and a certain presentation, and you just go out and try to be that same magician.
It's like watching a stand-up comic, and doing the same jokes with the same tone as he does.
Did you ever watch an advertise such as:
"Born to be funny! In just 2 hours after learning all these next bits, you can be the next great Stand-Up comic!"
It doesn't work like that in any other art...
The difference is, in my opinion, that it's easier to become a "Beginner Magician", than a beginner in any other performing art.
By easier I mean, that if you take a 10 year old kid, with no talent as far as he knows, and he has a talent show in two weeks, what should he do?
Should he try to write jokes? Learn to sing a song? Or buy a few gimmicks from the Magic Shop around the block that would at least get A reaction?
I believe that in the "Magical Art", it's quiet easy to perform magic, and be a beginner magician. What's hard, is to become a GOOD magician, and even harder... to make people appreciate you and your magic.
So... why doesn't anyone care about magicians?
I think, that mainly it's because most magicians make it about the trick.
"I'm now going to take your card to the middle.. With a snap of the fingers it jumps to the top..." and again I proved how much smarter I am than you are.
Most magician present magic as it was a puzzle, or how smart they are, instead of magic. People trying to "catch you", instead of experiencing something completely different.
It's like I'll send you a really funny Youtube video, you won't think I'm funny, you'll think that the video is funny.
Same goes with the trick - you won't think I'm amazing, you would think the trick is amazing.
How do we change all that?
Well, I think first you need to change your thinking. You don't need to have the best or strongest magic effects in your act in order to be a GOOD magician. You need effects that you can relate to. If Michael Finney can do "Professor's Nightmare", and Jeff Hobson can do the "Egg Bag" with unbelievable reactions, I think you can do anything that will fit you as well.
Well, so how do you become original?
There are many books out there about creativity, originality, writing, comedy, acting, and believe it or not... Performers actually read those books!
Instead of practicing "The Pass", for the millionth time, or trying to do a "Diagonal Palm Shift", pick up a book that will teach you a thing or two about performing.
I think that these days magic is so open, and anyone that would really want to know how something is done, could just go online and look it up.
A magician that wants to stick out, would have to do it by being different, and projecting himself to his audience.
So... what do you do different from everyone else? How do you make your audience remember you? Also, if there are any books / movies / different artists that inspired you in some way or another, post them up.
Best of luck,
Great post Tomer. I read one of Derren Brown's books I forget which one off the top of my head but it was all about how you present yourself. It contained many great snippets but the main thing that stuck with me is to appreciate how amazing what you are doing can be to an audience. He says if you don't take it seriously neither will the audience.
I like what you say about having the focus on yourself not the trick. To many people present a trick as if to say "look how smart I am I bet you can't figure this out" when our attitude should be "this is amazing and I want to share it with you"
Maximum Entertainment by Ken Webber. It will change your perspective on all aspects of your performance.
I think another thing that's important is to use your name several times during performance in a way that will help the audience remember who you are. People often have difficulty remembering names, and when you only say your name at the opening of the act (or not at all if someone else introduces you) there's plenty of time for the audience to forget. However if you repeat your name several times, perhaps combined with some kind of memory hook, the audience is more likely to remember it. Of course you need to make your magic memorable, and have your personal character be appealing enough that they want to remember you.
You'll notice Bill Malone repeats his own name several times during a performance. This is because he wants people to remember him by name, and not just as 'that magician we saw that one time' The focus should be on you as a magician, not just the tricks. Your character needs to be interesting and entertaining, bringing your own unique personality into your performance and using it to enhance all your magic.
The main reason no one cares about magicians, it that most magicians are infinately forgetable. They do tricks, but they have no character to their magic and so the only thing people remember is the tricks and not the person performing them.
I heard from a friend that anecdotal evidence is actually quite reliable.
On 2011-09-26 06:44, MagicJuggler wrote:
Very well said!
"Most magicians are infinitely forgettable". That's the key right there.
I couldn't agree more with what has been said thus far. It kills me a little bit that magic isn't seen as an art form on the same level as physical art of music, and unfortunately, we only have ourselves to blame for it.
My go-to comparison is to physical art. The reason amazing paintings, for example, are so intriguing and memorable is because of the emotive value they have on so many people (in my opinion). When you stand under the Sistine Chapel ceiling or in front of the Mona Lisa, you get chills seeing something so incredible. People don't like art because they feel fooled by the artist. They like how the feel when they see it. Interestingly to me, it seems like the more one understand about the creative process and the actual creation of a piece of art, the more they enjoy it. So knowledge of Renaissance painting theory and composition of a particular piece makes it that much more interesting to examine. One problem magicians have is that we don't explain any of our "hows," so our audiences are led to think that the secrets are the driving force behind our art. It's our job to direct attention not only away from the secret workings of the effect, but away from the idea of secrets in general so that they're more prepared to listen to the message of what we present.
I'm going to second that line about being infinitely forgettable as spot on. I think the main reason this is true is because of our material. No great artist sits down and thinks about how they're going to re-paint all of the classics of past masters and copy the works of their contemporaries. The majority of us don't take pride in advancing our material and innovating when we can so simply buy a prefabricated product and change a few details.
I know I'm sounding a bit rant-y, so I want to close this by saying I have no problem with people that want to learn a lot of secrets and a lot of tricks. I like learning how stuff works too. My issue arises when magicians take principles and unrefined secrets (the "finger painting" of this artistic metaphor) and try to pass it off as art. So the solution to all of this? It's as easy as shifting the worldly perspective from magic being about fooling people to it contributing to an audience's creative and intellectual fulfillment. Simple, right?
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