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Why I write with authority about these four types of magician?
Because, except for the fourth type, I belonged at one time or another to the three types. They’ve taught me good lessons in performing.
They are the so-called magic’s armchair experts. They possess an enviable encyclopedic knowledge about the conjuring art. They know the biographies of past and present magicians. Blessed with excellent memory, they can trace the origins of tricks all the way back to Adam and Eve.
Who invented what tricks or props, when and where? No sweat. They will rattle off the credits for your enlightenment.
You will often meet this type on online forums dispensing knowledge, wisdom, and theories on performing. Yes, theories. They have warehouses of them but little to show for flight time they have logged performing before a live audience.
Type 2. Magicians who are entertaining but perform tenuous magic. They make people laugh with their funny antics, gags, bits of business, and comical sketches. You will roll in the aisle watching them, but in the end you are left with a hollow feeling that unavoidably raises the question: but where’s the magic?
The packs-flat-plays-big crowd mostly comprises this category. While I agree packs-flat magic lessens the hassle of travelling from one gig to another (I too, have a bagful of packs-flat magic), many of these tricks lack the wallop needed to blow audiences away.
For this matter, like all grand things in this world, they should be used in moderation. Otherwise, if one performs more gags and comedy than magic, then he might as well change career paths, from being a magician doing little magic to being a full-time comedian.
Type 3. Magicians who amaze but neglect entertaining the audience. Many beginning magicians think that because they have shiny props and big illusion boxes, they can be great. Not necessarily. In fact, sometimes, the big props weigh them down like millstones around their neck. Beautiful props often lull inexperienced performers into believing that the boxes are so cleverly constructed they can blow people away all by themselves.
This mentality wears the audience down when watching magicians who depend on their props to create magic. The props may amaze people but they don’t automatically entertain audiences without the magician’s personality and talent to entertain getting into play.
Type 4. Magicians who entertain and at the same time amaze audiences. These are our ideal magicians. These are the type we must all aspire to become. No matter what they do or not do, whatever props they use, big, medium or large, whether they perform with elegance, poise, and panache, or whether they do silly, comical routines, their magic not only drops jaws but also thoroughly entertains audiences.
A difficult aspiration to meet but not impossible to the magician willing to work hard to achieve greatness in the art.
- Review: A Look at a Truly Greatest Magician (abcnews.go.com)
- Disillusioned with The Magicians | Ben Marshall (guardian.co.uk)