There are lots of mistaken impressions about magicians. Chief among them is the idea that they are here only to "fool" audiences. Anyone past the age of 10 who watches a magician perform knows intuitively that there’s some kind of trick at work, but they’re still surprised, and therein lies much of the attraction. So how do we get around the whole "fooling them" problem?
As my mentor, Jay Sankey, writes:
"As for fooling people without making them feel fools, my thought is to first completely divorce ourselves from the word ‘fool.’ It’s another example of something slowing down the evolution of magic. There is nothing foolish about sharing or witnessing the inexplicable."
From the antiquated image of men in tuxedos with dancing girls and tigers to the dressed down street magicians with nearly monosyllabic patter, the images are holding us back.
Part and parcel among the public misapprehension about magicians is the idea of being fooled by them. Most people do not appreciate being fooled.
Magicians lie to our audiences to create the illusion of magic. Just like actors aren’t really the characters in real life. Being deceitful is part of the game. However, another part of the game is to create a style which allows the audience to enjoy being fooled at your hands. Contrary to popular belief, the essence of a good magic show is not fooling the audience; it is letting the audience enjoy being fooled.
The cardinal rule to follow when determining your style is to be original. It's not easy.
The production of your style comes from your dress, your delivery and your personality away
from magic. In deciding your character, it is best to pattern it after your natural personality.
Make no mistake about the character you are.
- If you are by nature quiet and soft-spoken you might be able to pull off a serious and mysterious character.
- If you are by nature gregarious and animated you can probably pull off a humorous touch (but steer away from jokes and puns).
You must be consistent. You cannot be mysterious and then do a card trick that's silly and pun-filled. If you're going to be humorous, don't attempt a mysterious, serious attitude for one effect.
A more important sleight than a double lift is the art of making the audience like you on sight.
It is achieved by having a genuine regard and affection for the audience. It involves a great degree of unforced self-confidence and a willingness to sell yourself. Ultimately, improvement comes only when you learn to see yourself as the audience sees you. By realistically evaluating the effect you make on your audience, you can best use your particular strengths and limitations.
Maturity is the key factor in finding your style as a 21st Century magician. You must master your ego to build your ego. Self-awareness is the hardest task to master; but concentrating on it consciously is a sure step in the right direction.