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The advent of the Internet has given rise to all sorts of online experts, not only in magic but in all fields of endeavor.
They populate online forums, giving advice to anybody who cares to listen.
When nobody cares, they listen to each other. They pat each other’s backs. And they bloat each other’s egos.
I think they have their own support groups, where they symbiotically feed on each others’ psychological needs.
While many of their recommendations and opinions are helpful, they dispense as many thrash suggestions, junk information and bum lessons in magic performances.
When reading armchair experts’ posts online, be careful. Be wise. Be discerning. Know which of the information they offer are useful, and which will send you on a wild-goose chase.
Here are three pieces of advice they love to proclaim on top of the rooftops for the consumption of the magic community of the world. These lessons in performing magic sound erudite. They must have read them somewhere, decided they sounded erudite and passed it to willing listeners, so they can sound erudite.
1. Online Experts say: Treat audience volunteers with respect. There is truth to this counsel, but it is not the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The way online experts preach this gospel of respect, it seems they want you to treat audience assistants gingerly, as if they had HIV, or as if they were visiting monarchs.
Wrong. If you were David Williamson and followed this advice, you’d kill your onstage mischievousness and lose your entertaining, comic persona.
2. Online Experts say: Make your audience helper the star of the show. This advice is the sister-in-law of the “treat audience volunteers with respect.” This is a sissy advice, without meaning to insult sissies.
You can’t turn audience volunteers into instant stars. It takes years to become one. You may be performing magic for years, but you probably are not yet in the league of stars. So what chances the audience volunteer has in becoming one by merely helping in a magic routine?
Of course, I’m being impertinent. Forgive me for I failed my Philosophy subject in college. Logic and reasoning are not my forte. They are just my cup of tea—a tiny cup, that is.
3. Online Experts say: Listen to our conflicting advice. Many online experts dish out conflicting advice. They will tell you that, to perform a successful show, one should follow the “it is not what you do but how you do it” formula (again another erudite lesson). None of them, of course, is as successful as David Copperfield or Lance Burton who spends inordinate attention on WHAT they do (which comprises huge-dollar illusions) as much as HOW they do them.
I said “conflicting” because the experts who happily tell you “it’s not what you do but how you do it” will also insist, in the same breath, that you get this costly egg bag, or this expensive props, or this branded boxes, or illusions made only by name builders. If it’s “not what you do but how you do it”, who cares about which props or tricks you are using as long as you perform them well?
So if you have to avoid listening to online experts, who then will you listen to?
For a start, listen to Leodini. He is not an expert. He sucks online or off.
Here are his suggestions. Follow them to your own peril.
1. Leodini says: Treat your audience volunteer with playful irreverence, or whatever that means. Play with him. Show some mischievousness. Horse around on the stage, if you have the personality of a horse. Joke, banter, exchange repartee. Sometimes the jokes are on you, sometimes on him. If you can’t do that, then go back to your books and remain an armchair magician dispensing advice on performing magic on online forums.
2. Leodini says: The star of the show is you, not the audience helper. Don’t cede the spotlight to him. You may let him share a part of it, but don’t give everything to him. If you really mean the audience member to be the star of the show, then get off the stage. You have no right being there. Let the real star of the show bask in the audience’s admiration. And don’t collect your check. Let the audience member collect it after the show. After all, he is the star, not you.
3. Leodini says: Don’t engage in conflict. It’s both WHAT you do and HOW you do it. Do your act well, but choose the best material you can find. There are hundreds of thousands of tricks in the dealers shelves and catalogs. Only a few of them will fit your personality and your venues.
Go to great lengths to find the ones with the strongest impact, the most entertaining, and the most suitable to your needs. What you do matters as much as how you do it.
Follow the examples of the superstars in magic. Though they have the personality and the star quality, they don’t come on the stage or national TV performing the 21 Card Trick. Instead they break out their large illusions or do something jaw-dropping like escaping death from an onrushing roller coaster.