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For this blog, I’d like to talk about a few things where my thinking was completely wrong. We are all at different stages in our careers as magicians. So the amount of experience you each of us has is different. We base our knowledge off our experiences. I can remember magicians older than me telling me things I just knew weren’t true. Because in my world, things work my way. However, over time I’ve noticed that I was wrong about a few things. So here are a few things that my position has completely changed on:
“A worn in deck of cards is the perfect deck.” I used to hate brand new playing cards. They were so slippery and it was hard to keep all the cards neatly squared. When I fanned the cards about for a selection, they all slid around and it looked terrible. Certain sleights were almost impossible to do because I couldn’t control the cards. Twenty years ago, I would have told you to only use worn in decks. Today I prefer a deck that’s fresh out of the box. Every performance I do starts with a fresh deck. My reason? A new deck is consistent. No bends, no dirt, no nicks, or warps. Each card is the same and I know exactly what to expect. Older worn in decks will always have several flaws in every card. I don’t trust an older deck with the heavy-duty routines I do these days.
“Never script. You’ll sound like an artificial robot.” Well back then, I did. It sounded so fake and so artificial. I knew I was right. However, today, everything is scripted. Every line, every joke, every beat is thought out. My reason? I’m covered when something technical goes wrong with your trick. When you screw up without a script, you’re in front of people and you’ve got nothing to say except what you can think of on the spot. Not only do you have to create patter on the spot, but you also need to simultaneously solve whatever has gone wrong in the routine and try to come up with some alternate ending… good luck with that. A good script allows you to deliver your lines with confidence while you’re internally melting down and creating some sort of “out.” And, a good script will sound like you’re talking in the moment if it’s written properly and you have a basic understanding of acting. Just watch a nine-year old kid read off a paper at a high school assembly. People aren’t really listening to the content. They’re distracted by how bad the delivery is. Now watch a great public speaker reading off a teleprompter. (Bill Clinton, Obama, Biden are great examples.) You know it’s scripted, but it feels like they’re just talking. If it feels like the person is just talking, you’re much more likely to absorb the content. A good script delivered the correct way is imperative to being a solid performer.
“You can never make a living with cards.” From 1997 to 2008, I toured with several local, national and international bands. I did recording sessions with major artists and major labels. I taught piano and guitar lessons when I wasn’t on the road. I knew that’s where the money was and I did about 20 magic gigs a year. At that time, I knew I couldn’t make it as a magician. In 2013, I finally made the jump and since then my only source of income is magic.
“Audiences hate gambling demos. They want to see magic tricks.” I’ve already talked about this in a few other blogs. I’ve done a complete 180 on this issue. My act is now almost all gambling routines. Based on the audience’s reactions, I know these effects and demonstrations are playing stronger than the magic act I had previously.
Remember, when you’re disagreeing with another magician on a topic, remember that both of you have completely different experiences with performing. You may have more or less performing experience. You have different material, different characters, different style, etc. Both of you are probably right! But remember, you keep changing with more experience and the views you hold now maybe different in a few years.