Before I can get to the point that I want to make, I have to give you a little bit of background. Earlier this week I published a couple of videos. One of them was a performance of a classic card effect; "The Time Machine" by Steve Freeman. (Which can be found in CC vol 3 if you're a magician and you don't already do it)
Here is the video:
I posted this video in a couple of places. YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. For some reason it really took off on Instagram and it got a considerable amount of views and likes. Mostly from laypeople, who are still tagging their friends in the post and probably sharing it internally. This is really nice of course, and I thought about why for a little while.
It's a straightforward effect. It has a simple and clear plot. A fun, intriguing concept. It's visually appealing, clean and neat. It takes less than a minute to perform, and it's (in my humble opinion) well executed and well presented. It fits the bill for something that will catch people's attention online and be worth sharing.
Now, I noticed a fair amount of comments from magicians/card guys on this week's videos. Most of them were along the lines of "Smooth, great presentation, perfect execution, you're so smooth" and so on. I'm flattered. Very very nice of those of you that said that.
We're getting to the point.
However. There were also lots of comments, somehow incorporating the word "easy". Here are a few of those comments:
I chose to blur out the names of the people leaving these comments. Obviously I'm not interested in comment-shaming, I just wanted to provide a sample of the comments so that you know I'm not making this up.
Now, I'm just having a problem understanding why so many people have to comment that something is easy. Do they feel compelled to let the world know that this is easy to them? To comment "easy trick" on someone else's performance video just reeks of insecurity to me. It might not be the case, but it definitely comes off as if someone needs to validate their own talent (or compensate for their own lack of talent) by saying that something is "easy". They're saying it's easy, almost as if it is a bad thing.
I have been in the magic scene long enough to know a thing or two about how magicians think.
I think that one way that some magicians get validation, is by learning and showing off things that are technically difficult or challenging. That's totally fine, it's even fun sometimes! However, I feel that some people have this notion that, if you post a video of something and it's not hard or knacky, it's not a good video. They fail to separate what they know from what the audience knows. By that logic, if they understand how it's done, it's "easy", and therefore it cannot be good. These videos were never made for the magic community, they were made to appeal to a wider audience.
I just think it's a shame that "easy" is used as a negative word, when it's really anything but. I often respond something along the lines of "I love easy".
As Ascanio explains in his fantastic quote, you will most likely not appreciate or enjoy simple/easy methods and effects until you are very experienced and very knowledgeable. You have to go through all of the hard stuff to appreciate the easy stuff.
I love easy magic. I love magic that is well constructed, well thought out, has a clear, simple and easy to follow plot, an interesting progression and internal dramatic structure. If I can also make the method easy, that's a win-win situation. That makes it more reliable for me in performance settings. It removes tension from my body, making it more deceptive. It also allows me to be more in the moment, focusing on what truly matters, which is forming a connection with the audience, having stage presence and presenting a wonderful piece of magic they will hopefully never forget.
Doing easy magic doesn't mean that I don't have chops, or skills. Anyone in the magic community reading this will know that I do. Of course I do. It's evident from videos, even the easy ones. I am willing to wager money that the people that left the "easy" comments couldn't get those effects and techniques to look so relaxed, effortless and smooth as I do. That's because they're not easy to begin with, but through years of practice, effort and hard work, I have made them easy.
Loving easy magic doesn't make me any less of a magician. If anything, the opposite is true.