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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » So Happy together... » » Review - Jon Allen's workshop in Israel - January 2016 (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Al Desmond
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Jon Allen will fool you.

Now that I got that minor detail out of the way, I had the pleasure of seeing Allen at the Israeli Society of Magicians' quarterly meeting Jan. 21, 2016, in Tel Aviv. Allen was there for the society's lecture series. Allen spent the evening performing his show and then stepping back to explain the finer details of the how and why of his methods.

The next day, Jan. 22, Allen presented an intimate workshop at the home of one of the Israeli magicians. That workshop is the subject of this review.

According to Allen, this was the first workshop he's ever attempted. The workshop was not designed to teach tricks. Instead, it was three hours of insight into how Allen thinks.

As Allen so succinctly stated to the 30 or so people in attendance, "If it's not broke, break it."

On the surface that just sounds like another way of saying "think out of the box." It's not.

It's more like stepping back and considering, if it's mundane, standard, safe and always gets you by, maybe you're not being as entertaining as you can be.

That is the crux of Allen's workshop. Being entertaining.

Through a series of PowerPoint slides, an easel, a large paper pad and some stream of conscience brainstorming, Allen stepped his audience through the thought processes that he uses to create audience-winning routines.

Allen was even entertaining while trying to be educational. Allen asked those in attendance to mention an effect that they would like to revisit, find a way to break it and reconstruct it as something that is even more entertaining than the whole.

Someone suggested the "Pom-Pom Stick" effect.

It was as if someone had dared Allen to make that effect entertaining. Surprisingly there was one at the house (every household should have one, right?). After it was produced (excuse the pun), you could see the glean behind Allen's eyes. He had the perfect example of what he considered one of the most awful effects in magic. And he was going to show us how to make it entertaining.

Forty-five minutes later, Allen, had guided the attendees on how to re-imagine and rethink the purpose of the prop.

After watching Allen perform the night before at his lecture, I knew instinctively that Allen was a master at being entertaining. Allen knows that bringing an audience along with him for the ride is much more important than performing "at" the audience.

At the workshop, I had wished that Allen had more time to go into detail on how he developed his personal stage presence, his ability to "go with the flow," his impeccable comic timing, maybe recounting some of his "eureka" moments, those quantum leaps that stay with a performer for the rest of their lives.

But time got away and the Sabbath was approaching and Allen had to make an early evening flight back to Britain.

Allen talked about how his takeaway from his first workshop will be his insight on how to improve the next one. I'm sure as clever and astute as he is, he'll find a way to "break it."

If your magic club is looking for something other the same old "show, lecture, then a sale," get in touch with Allen about a workshop. He is a paragon of talent, will help you make a connection to being more entertaining and it would be a perfect score for your organization (ha, I got three product plugs into that one sentence).


Jon Allen holds court at his workshop at the Israeli home of Eyal Bayer, Jan. 22, 2016. Allen held the private workshop the day after performed his show and lecture for the Israeli Society of Magicians meeting in Tel Aviv. (Photo by Walter L. Newton/Al Desmond/ The Naked Journalist)
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