One of the main goals of this blog has always been trying to make magic better. That's an extremely simple way of explaining something extremely complex. It involves so many layers and so many steps I don't even know where to begin. Some days it might involve ranting a little bit about laziness and how we should practice more. Some days it might be about respect and ethics. A lot of it is about what happens off-stage.
Since you are reading this blog, I can make a couple of assumptions.
1) You are probably a magician.
(If not, that's cool too. There aren't any secrets on here, just thoughts on magic as a modern form of art and entertainment)
2) You are serious about magic.
3) You are putting as much time, money and energy as you can, into making your act/show/magic as entertaining, technically flawless, engaging, unique and impactful as possible.
So in a weird way I don't really see too much need to talk about the things in point 3) - I'm assuming that that is the case already. That leaves us with everything that happens when we are not in front of an audience, performing.
As magicians we are also ambassadors of magic. We represent magic. Which means, that if you are arrogant, vain and difficult, and people know that you are a magician, they will think that magicians are arrogant, vain and difficult. However, if you are humble, intelligent and respectful yet mysterious when you engage and interact with people (especially in a semi-formal setting where it's established that you are an entertainer) - you will help upkeep a good reputation for magicians. Not just yourself - but all of us.
And part of that comes down to how we talk about magic.
I'm sure everyone here has gotten the questions;
- "Where do you learn everything?"
- "What you do must be really difficult?"
- "I saw this guy once and I signed a card and even though he lost it in the deck it was back on top every time. Do you know how he did that?"
- "I saw this trick on TV once, can you do that?"
- "Can you teach me a simple trick?"
And the list goes on and on.
How we answer those questions and interact with people when we aren't performing, says a lot about who we are as magicians, even how good we are and it also becomes representative of magicians in general, not just ourselves. This is because people rarely get to talk to a magician, which is why we need to make a good impression.
Answering some of those questions is difficult. Especially the "Do you know how [TV Magician] does this card trick?" . While it might be very tempting to say "Yes, I know that trick too", because it's probably the truth, it might inadvertently make the piece seem simple, and maybe by extension everything you do seems simple too. Maybe it makes you come across as arrogant. Maybe it sets you up for a "Well, why don't you do it then?" - if you're the type to perform outside formal shows.
On the other hand, if you say "No, I don't know how he does that!" - trying to take the high road and be humble and modest, you might inadvertently end up sending signals that you don't really know your craft. Maybe people will take you less seriously.
These are just hypothetical situations of course - I'm describing the worst case scenarios and the most ridiculous things that could happen, but it's very rooted in reality. I think the best way to go about something like that is to be intrinsically honest, but withhold information where beneficial.
I think I would say something along the lines of: "Well, once you get into magic and you study your craft really seriously, you learn a lot of techniques, principles and ways to achieve an effect. He does that trick really really well, and since I'm a magician I can think of a few ways it could have been done, but I don't really want to know! I just watch it and enjoy it, and I try to share the same feeling with my audiences."
On the other hand, if presented with a video of a really terrible magician doing a poorly performed and presented piece of magic, I would feel the need to be honest about that too. I'd find a way to word it nicely though. When it comes down to the question about where we learn everything from, I think it's beneficial to be completely honest. Me saying that I've spent the last 15+ years reading and studying old books and seeking out mentors and teachers and socializing with other magicians to get feedback and input on my work, that doesn't take away from what I do. It enhances it. It makes it seem like I live in this mysterious world inhabited by interesting and intriguing characters. And it's even better because it happens to be true.
The lesson to be learnt is as follows. If you you can't be honest, and the truth doesn't sound interesting enough, you're probably doing it wrong, and you are probably not the magician you want to be or should be.
I think it's important to come across as humble, respectful, serious and intelligent all at the same time. It's also important to just be able to take a break and not talk about magic for a while. If magic is all you have, all that makes you interesting, you're doing something wrong, too.
Just try to be a normal person. It keeps you grounded.
Just keep that in mind the next time you talk to people about what you do, if it happens to come up in a social setting, after a show, or in any other scenario in which it would come up that you are a magician. How you interact with people off-stage will greatly enhance your magic if you do it right. Bonus points if you can be honest and candid, because the truth is more interesting than they could imagine.
"Oh, I learn my tricks off YouTube" just doesn't have the same ring to it.