Here’s my take on it. Those competitions are not made for magic. A magician is not cut for it. He is like a swimmer who enters a 100-meter-dash track-and-field event. Or a turtle thrown into the desert, not into the water. If he joins those contests, he will join them at a disadvantage.
That explains why in America and Britain, even name magicians have failed to get the prize. Curiously, you will hear no shortage of complaints in many online forums from magicians of lesser status and skill how those contests gave them a bad deal.
The truth is, those TV competitions don’t single out magicians to treat them badly. The rules are the same for all types of performers who join the contests. It’s just the nature of the beast that those contests don’t allow magic to shine in 90 seconds.
Therein lies the hurdle that magic performers must overcome in joining those TV contests. The time constraint of 90 seconds is just too short for a magic act to be effective—meaning, to be entertaining and to allow the performer to shine brightly enough to get the judges’ nods.
Most magical moments happen in the climax of an act. They happen fast and last for a few seconds. To get there, a magician has to lay the predicate. He has to build up his act to reach a suitable and satisfying climax.
However, the judges of those reality TV don’t look kindly on long foreplay. They want contestants to come fast and furious right off the opening notes of their background music. They want them to reach the climax in the first few seconds of their act, maintain the sensation and build it up to a crescendo until they reach the big O.
Now, not even sex acts can accomplish that, so what chances a magic act has?
Most well-routined magic acts need ample build-up to be entertaining. Take away that build-up and you are left with magical moments lacking in drama and style.
The choices for quick, visual, no build-up tricks are limited. Appearing/disappearing canes and candles, silk productions and vanishes are the few I can think offhand. A magician can conceivably use them to build a rapid-fire act of productions and vanishes, but then how many of them can do such acts without repeating each other?
After saying all this, I think there are ways to hurdle the 90-second limit, formidable though it may seem. Some performers in the USA are breaking out their big guns when entering TV contests. They perform shock-and-awe and fast-furious illusions like producing tigers and teleporting beautiful ladies to the audience. Those illusions are so strong they don’t need long build-up, yet they blow away the judges and millions of televiewers.
If you want to join TV contests, I think this is the way to perform magic for the judges. Shock them and awe them in 90 seconds with large animals or appearance of huge objects like an aircraft carrier. Flaming wallets will just not do.
Meantime, I’ll pass up the opportunity to join and just quarterback on Mondays after the weekend competitions.
- 5 Things Magicians Can Teach You About Blogging (bloggingtips.com)
- You: So You Want My Job: Magician (artofmanliness.com)