A Message From the President: January 2020
Remember the days when you only got 4-5 channels on your TV? No cable… no Dish/Direct… no streaming… just a good ol’ antenna on top of your house, or in some cases a pair of “rabbit ears” with tinfoil wrapped around them on top of your television. As a kid magician, some of the best days of the year happened when the TV Guide (remember that magazine?) indicated there was going to be some “magic TV special” airing on a Saturday afternoon. Keep in mind, in these “olden days”, we didn’t get to see magic or magicians very often. During my youth, it was either a RARE television show, a magician at our school presenting a school assembly, or maybe a magic act at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia.
Boy, things have certainly changed! An unlimited supply of magic videos and specials are at our fingertips via our phones and computers. With a few simple keystrokes you can enjoy the legendary performances of Cardini, Houdini, Shimada, Marvyn & Carol Roy, Blackstone… the list goes on and on. Those who are just starting out in magic have no idea how lucky they are to have these resources so readily accessible. But… are they really that lucky?
One of the biggest problems that occurs when watching or learning magic from video is the temptation to emulate or copy the other magician’s performance. When I was a teenager and learning magic from my mentor Faucett Ross… oftentimes he’d loan me a book from his library and tell me to read such and such trick or tricks. He told me to read the description of the effect and the explanation BEFORE he would show me the trick. I’m sure the reason he adopted this teaching practice was because he didn’t want me to just “copy” what I had seen him do. He wanted to spark my own creativity and presentational ideas before I saw someone else perform the trick. Now that I look back at this… it makes so much sense.
Today, beginning magicians are bombarded with videos of performances… and that can make it very difficult for them to “throw out” what they’ve just seen and come up with their own way to present the trick or effect.
I always find myself admiring professional magicians who can take a “standard trick” and make it uniquely their own. Eric Buss is great at doing this… so is Ed Alonzo, Tim Hannig, Chipper Lowell, Jeff Hobson and Derek Hughes.
The next time you’re working a new routine, try to think of creative ways you can “make it your own.” It could be the patter, the theme, the music, etc. Do something that puts a little piece of “you” in the presentation. At our next Ring meeting (March 5), we’re going to try a little experiment in creativity. It’ll be fun… and I’m sure you’ll find a genesis of new ideas or maybe a new approach to your magic.
See you at the March meeting!
Ring 129 President