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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » Do bad magicians create a problem for the industry or an opportunity for good magicians? (8 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Sk8rDave
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Quote:
On 2004-06-30 14:19, Jive-Turkey wrote:
Are there more bad magicians now compared to the older times during the years of Eddie Fechter, the magic bars, or even earlier?


One needs only to look at Fitzkee's Magic and Showmanship to see that at least one magician thought the magic community was overrun by hacks. In that book Fitzkee states multiple times that magic had become a second class entertainment and was doomed to stay that way if practitioners didn't put more thought into their show.

I don't have access to my library at the moment but I believe Magic and Showmanship book was written in the early 1940's. He has San Rafael CA listed as his location in the preface so I'm not sure if his opinions covered chicago magicians or not Smile

We can go further back to Our Magic from around the turn of the century. Maskelyne wasn't quite as pessimistic about the general state of magic. He said "the modern magician stands on a plane far higher than that occupied by his predecessors 2 or 3 generations ago". I wonder if that's because magic had come so far or because most magicians 2 or 3 generations before them, which would have been the mid 1800's were all snake oil salesmen and hucksters. Regarding the subject at hand, he did say that there were quite a few in his time who likely would never exceed what he termed "false art" and could, at best, copy a great magicians act without any knowledge as to what made it so great.

I think there have always been bad magicians. However, I think that the dissemination of information makes it easier to be a good magician than it was in the past. The downside to that is that with more people joining the art you get a greater number of bad magicians even if the percentage of magicians who are bad goes down.

One other point regarding good vs bad magicians. There are lots of different kinds of magicians out there. I think there are a lot more magicians who do shows out of their element than magicians who do just bad shows in general. Someone may hire a magician expecting a mentalist or bizarre slant and get a bachelor party magician who does the bra trick and the sponge dong. Someone may hire a magician for their kids (Yes, some people only think magic is suitable for kids, sigh) and get a Max Maven look alike who sacrifices bunnies and drinks the blood to bring about his special powers.

My avatar was originally created for my business cards, it was based on a picture that captured me at the climax of a trick. Despite having paid for the art I chose not to use it for advertisement because I think people would get the wrong idea about my show. While I push to get full effect on every trick and things can get pretty intense there's a lot of joking between effects to relieve the tension. I'm afraid that the picture doesn't convey that and people who would like my show might be scared off by the picture while people who hire me after seeing it on my card might be disappointed.

Everyone has their own personal idea of what a magician should be and I try to only do paid performances when I think my act fits the bill for the person hiring me. As someone with a day job, I can afford to do that. Many people who start out with magic as their primary means of income don't have the luxury of passing on shows. If someone hires them, they do it because that's how they feed their family. I hope that most magicians in that situation have several shows so thay can taylor the show to be the magician their clients are expecting or pass it along to another better qualified performer. That's not always the case and I think it's these performers, doing shows that are incompatible with the audience's expectations that are seen as bad performances more often than some complete hack blowing everyhing during a paid gig. The truly bad often don't stick around too long, it's the mediocre who can keep themselves afloat that I worry about.

Dave
Sergeant
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Sk8rDave makes some great points...and he is right, read the Fitzkee trilogy, he (Fitzkee) makes many references to the poor quality of magic done at that time (1940's). Really, it is the same arguments that are made today about bad magic. He was much like the Eugene Burger of his time in that he was asking magicians to think about their magic and performance and to make it meaningful.

And it goes even further back. I will simply add this quote by Harry Kellar 1902,

"Ignore the opinions of magicians, but put forth every effort to please and mystify your audiences. A successful show that pleases the public and draws the money is generally criticized by the magicians."

Sergeant
Lee Darrow
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There's an old maxim in sales - You can't take back a first impression. If someone's first impression of magic is a bad one, then it will tend to stick until replaced.

If that impression is reinforced, then it will tend to become a belief.

QED bad magicians hurt magic if they perform for a fee for paying audiences.

Having worked in almost every bar that Bish (Hi Glenn!) mentioned, I have seen the good and many of the bad as well (the bad would come in and try to either work or "share" their magic while the rest of us were trying to make a living). Once one of the poor performers had worked a table, the territory AT that table became very difficult to get to warm up to something a bit more professional. In a significant number of cases, it was almost impossible.

QED, as I said.

Lee Darrow, C.Ht.
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<BR>"Because NICE Matters!"
javamantis
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Hey guys, be realistic. A very wise soul once proclaimed that "ninety five percent of everything is crap." And, I think he might have been generous in his numbers. All one has to do is walk down the street and look and listen. There is terrible magic, sure. There are also lousy restaurants, tone-deaf singers, inept artists, boring writers, and substandard products of all shapes, sizes and prices. These bunglers aren't shutting down the assembly lines, stopping the presses, breaking the paintbrushes, ruining radio or causing people to starve.

There will always be bunglers who flash and expose. We'll always have those among us who were the victim of too many "Kick Me" signs who have to be rude and vulgar and victimize their audiences for some bizarre sense of retribution--or because they just don't understand "funny".

We just have to concentrate on building our shows and we can succeed despite them. After every show, you should have at least one lead to another show. If people aren't coming up to you and talking about their club-meetings, special dinners, and grandson's birthday party, then something is missing from your show.

There are a lot of great ideas above and tons of good sources. Think about what people hear and see and touch when you are doing your magic. Emphasize those parts of your personality that make people smile and like you and the bad magician will be something you can joke about with your clients.

Best wishes for better magic and less worry about the geeks.
vincentmusician
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Bad Magicians can hurt the business. However, all you can do is control what you do. I try to be better and learn from every Show I do. I like what the above person said about showing your strengths be it your personality. I also have learned to take the best of what you do and strive to make it better. Cheers!
Mindpro
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On Sep 16, 2021, vincentmusician wrote:
However, all you can do is control what you do.


And herein lies the problem.
Dannydoyle
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I don't know about this at all.

I think it is a bunch of excuses. Take ownership of your own destiny. If you think the bad magic of others is affecting you, I disagree.

I spend time at the front end of my show sort of "diminishing expectations". Heck other bad magicians HELP that process!

99% if not more of my work is from folks who have seen me and KNOW what they are getting.

Now if you want to run your business by robo calls and emails and off of sites like Gig Salad and such and lump yourself in with others, then I guess it is a problem now isn't it?

All of this was true in 2004 when this thread was posted. I can't figure why he keeps posting decades old threads, and not responding when others do.

It does indeed show how long magicians have been making bad excuses for their own shortcomings though. It is easier to blame others than to fix problems.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Pop Haydn
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Do your work, quit looking over your shoulder at those who are behind.
Fedora
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I honestly can't see it hurting professionals. For example if you had an industry or market where most are "bad" someone who is good say a pop haydn of there market
will probably get all the work they want. BUT that market likely will not grow to be very large. In my opinion good entertainers grow markets, bad ones not so much...
vincentmusician
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Bad Magicians that bungle and expose how effects are done can hurt the business. They can give people a bad impression of Magicians. However, they are usually cheap and I have had several people hire me because of bad performances. They now realize that you pay for what you get. I recently performed for a customer who did not like my price but booked me because I guess he had a feeling I would be good. I showed him. At the end he had a big smile on his face and thanked me. So I just try to be better every show I do. Cheers!
Jerry Hornak
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I agree with Pop and ran my entire career doing just that.

Magicians bungling "effects" are only remembered for being bad. No one remembers they flubbed or exposed a particular effect.

Especially when compared to someone who crafts an enjoyable presentation to the same effect.
Making Happy Memories for Children since 1980!
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gregg webb
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Some people try using a different word than "magician" for themselves - to not be lumped in. Try illusionist, sleight-of-hand artist, playing card expert, mentalist, etc. Each one has less of an instant dislike. The public doesn't really like magic in this period, as a general rule. If you are good, they'll like it. I'm sort of tuned to this and I hear all the time on TV that so-and-so will say they don't like magic. It has sort of become a joke. A regular magazine covered FISM one year...the opening line was "I've never seen so many ill-fitting tuxedos in one room in my life". So, yes, bad magicians hurt the whole art.
Dannydoyle
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Does a bad restaurant hurt another great one? Does bad music hurt the whole art? Does a bad painter or sculptor or any other form of artist being bad hurt the entire whole art? OF COURSE NOT! Magic is no different. A performance stands on its own period. If you can't get folks interested because of another magician that is on you.

You can only be responsible for what you do and how you do it and the standards which you hold yourself too.

I will freely admit it is very convenient as an excuse for not being quite where one might want to be in a career or what not. But it is just that. Others have zero affect on the industry. Certainly folks take Copperfield, Blaine, Angel, Penn and Teller, Lance Burton, Mac King and so forth quite seriously. Your own personal microcosm of those who don't enjoy TV magic not withstanding the world at large is quite drawn to the performance of it. Penn and Teller have a long running quite successful show on a major television network. Most of those names I mentioned are currently in Las Vegas, there are 4 major illusionists in Branson Missouri. New York has several off Broadway magic shows running and Derron Brown was just quite successful there as well. The idea that the public as a general rule doesn't like magic just doesn't hold up. Across the country in cities are permeant magic venues scattered and running with success.

Your own personal experience may be different, and that is OK. But it is not anywhere near a universal experience.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
George Ledo
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I think part of the problem is that so many magic performers just don't have a personality. They're totally focused on their act to the point where all we see is the tricks, but don't have a clue who the performer is or why he's doing the act. People are interested in people, which is why there's so much attention paid to "celebrities," but some of these performers don't give us a clue as to who they are.

So, to some people, a "bad magician" could be just someone who did tricks (well or poorly), but came across like a nerd who was just doing tricks one after the other.
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
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gregg webb
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If the magic is good, they'll like you. Act like someone who wants to flabbergast them and then you have to flabbergast them. It is o.k. to be a good or great magician. You don't also have to be a comedian, or a dramatic actor, or a raconteur. Smile at the end of your act.
George Ledo
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Sorry, but no. If the magic is good but they still don't have a clue who you are, they have no way of knowing whether they like you or not. People are used to entertainers having a personality, which they do because they need to in their line of work.

I learned this the hard way when I was a kid starting out. One night I was performing at a grown-up event, and I thought everything was going well. Afterwards, a very nice older lady pulled me aside and told me I was a good-looking kid and looked good up there, and the magic was fine, but I showed no personality. She went a little deeper into it, but that was the gist of it. It was probably the best piece of advice I ever got about performing, and I never forgot it.
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Mindpro
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I couldn't agree more. With no disrespect from Gregg Webb, as I do not know who you are but I would bet you are an over 55 senior magician. I could be wrong and if so I apologize. I say this because of being in entertainment both as a performer, and agent (and owner of five entertainment agencies) I can honesty say years ago, magic alone could have sustained. It was about the magic and any decent magician who executed properly could have done well for himself.

Today, and in more recent decades. it has changed drastically in all areas of entertainment - how people (audiences, buyers) see magic, expect magic, experience magic, image and stereotype, and like it or not it is not about the magic, it is about the performance, personality, and the entertainment value of it all.

As I train the entertainers I work with, personality is first and foremost. I believe this is 100% true in performance as well as in the business of entertainment and operations.

Magic alone can no longer sustain. This is for several reasons, but nonetheless it is a different world today than just 25 years ago.

And it does affect others in the industry and with magic in its current state. Magic has been diminished to its current state due to much of this combined with the greater profile of bad magicians and their poor performances.

As someone also mentioned earlier, I agree thee is a huge difference in a magician and an entertainer.
Mindpro
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Quote:
On Nov 9, 2021, gregg webb wrote:
The public doesn't really like magic in this period, as a general rule. I'm sort of tuned to this and I hear all the time on TV that so-and-so will say they don't like magic. It has sort of become a joke. So, yes, bad magicians hurt the whole art.


The magic community better wake up or magic will soon go the way of clowns and clowning.
George Ledo
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On Dec 28, 2021, Mindpro wrote:
Today, and in more recent decades. it has changed drastically in all areas of entertainment - how people (audiences, buyers) see magic, expect magic, experience magic, image and stereotype, and like it or not it is not about the magic, it is about the performance, personality, and the entertainment value of it all.

One of the conceptions (for lack of a better word) I've seen here in the Café for years is that "magicians are different." IOW, that they don't need to be like other entertainers, because "magic is different." That general audiences want to see magic for the magic itself.

The problem is that general audiences don't know that. They see magicians as people who get up there for entertainment purposes, and yes they perceive them like any other person who gets up there for the same purpose. Successful entertainers in any field are individuals, not two-dimensional cartoon characters: they go on talk shows, they show up in the news, they have lives, they're interesting. They become what the media calls "celebrities" because the public likes them and follows them as individuals with interesting lives. It may have been different years ago, but today's reality is that audiences expect more from an entertainer than just getting up there and acting or singing or telling jokes or doing magic.

Ironically, one of the major reasons I decided to drop out of performing many years ago was that I knew I had to become a "celebrity" in order to make it big (my focus, as a teenager, was to end up in Vegas and doing touring shows). If I had known then what I learned much later, I would have continued, but I'm too private of a person to want to become a "celebrity," and, with my cards-and-doves act, the process had already started.
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
www.georgefledo.net

Latest column: "Sorry about the photos in my posts here"
Mindpro
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On Dec 28, 2021, George Ledo wrote:
Successful entertainers in any field are individuals, not two-dimensional cartoon characters: they go on talk shows, they show up in the news, they have lives, they're interesting. They become what the media calls "celebrities" because the public likes them and follows them as individuals with interesting lives.


I agree with this comment and is exactly why I wrote the book (and now live training program in 2022) Press & Media For Entertainers as this is something that is missing from most magicians today except for the top maybe 5%.

https://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/view......forum=44

Magicians need to understand the business of live entertainment and all that running a performance business entails, and yes, press and media are part of that. Most magicians think all they need to do is string some tricks together (which they call a "show") and market it. There is so much missing from this, yet as we see in the Tricky Business forum here on the Café, few really want to learn this business side. I always say and firmly believe success is created in the business behind the performance.
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