Keeping the Magic Alive
In Summer of 2016, I booked a show at the Stardome in Birmingham. It was my first solo show at the Stardome, and I wanted it to be something special. I worked for months trying to find perfect effects for the crowd that would be entertaining for them, and equally as fun for me. When the show finally rolled around that July, it was sold-out and I think the audience had a blast.
This year, when it came time to open my new show, I decided to go with all new material with the exception of one effect from the Stardome show. The reason I did that was because I wanted to give folks who had seen me before a reason to come back again. No stagnation here.
The result was another several weeks of picking through countless videos and books, trying to find effects that worked well together while at the same time being fun to perform. Eventually, it all paid off as I began my 2017 show with brand-new material with the exception of one effect from my Stardome show that I loved too much to give up too quickly.
The show has been a success so far, with folks having nothing but positive things to say. It's different from last year, while still being the clean "grown-up magic show" I am known for. The energy is there from the moment I begin to the last second of the show, and I'm hoping the folks can tell I'm having just as much fun there as they are.
Unfortunately, I know a lot of magicians who won't take that route. They have a show that may have taken them years to perfect, and it's the same show they're going to do until they retire. When they first started, there may have been fire in their eyes and passion in their hearts, but now they are just going through the motions.
Recently, my wife and I went to Las Vegas for a magic convention. While there, we went to see one of the most famous magicians in the world do his show there. I was so excited to see him live again after having seen him once over a decade again in his touring show. We bought our tickets and got ready to have a blast.
It was so sad.
It was obvious the magician had long since lost his passion for the show. He was going through the motions, saying the same stock lines he'd probably said a million times before, and there was absolutely no fire in any of it. If you had given his show to another magician (or even him from ten years ago) he would have gotten the crowd into a frenzy. Instead, we all just sat there feeling sorry for him having to do this again.
He fell into a comfort zone and never got back out again.
I know a local magician who had the opportunity to perform a big show for a few hundred people, but he dropped out of it because it would have required him to learn some new material. And he had some incredible stuff he was working on that he had shown a few of us that would have been ready with just a little effort.
Instead of seeing this as a challenge and jumping into it, he gave up. He wanted to do his comfortable material, not learn new stuff. Understand that folks don't realize the countless hours it takes to practice a trick and get it just right. It may take one minute for you to see it, but that one minute cost the magician weeks of late nights to get just right. It's not easy, but it's worth the effort.
My encouragement to my fellow magicians is this: learn some new stuff. Maybe you don't have time to create an entirely new show from scratch every year, but at least shoot for a 40% new show next time. I'm not talking about ten-thousand-dollar stage illusions here; I'm talking about cracking open the magic books and finding something that plays well for a crowd that you might already own. Sympathetic Silks is a blast that can play big and requires little more than six silks that you probably already have. Cut and Restored Rope requires little more than a trip to Home Depot.
People can tell when we are going through the motions. People can also tell when we are lazy. There's nothing wrong with polishing a routine so well it has to stay in your show for a while, but don't keep the exact same show forever. Even if all you can do is commit to learning one new effect, do it! Start somewhere!
Believe it or not, the audience can tell if it's fun for you or if you're just doing the same stuff you've been doing for years. And worse yet, if the same crowd comes to see your show a couple of times and sees the same stuff, it won't take them long to start looking for other magicians to book. The first time they see a rope trick, it's cool. The fourth time, it gets old.
Don't allow yourself to stagnate as an entertainer. Force yourself to be a life-long learner. Even if all you can do is try a new card trick on a few friends, don't let that stop you! I think you'll find the positive reaction you get from them is enough to spark you on to learning more new material.
Keep the magic alive to those around you!