Over the years I have seen many celebrities attempt to perform magic- typically as part of reality TV shows that look to challenge them in supposedly interesting ways.
As a general rule I don’t like these programmes, as it trivialises the art, gives the impression it’s easy to do and most importantly creates a mediocre performance that leaves the audience thinking that ‘magic shows aren’t for them’.
However, on Friday I had my first personal experience of ‘celebrity magic’, when I was asked to consult on a TV show called ‘Bring the Noise’. It’s a Sky One studio show, with a live audience. From the outset it seems like the sort of show I would hate. A handful of ‘celebrities’ keen to promote their own careers and become TV stars without a nod to the talent that got them their profile in the first place. It’s important to say that I haven’t actually seen the show, so my opinion at this point is null and void.
I was asked to help with the performance of a chair vanish illusion, which I perform in my live show. It was also the illusion that featured in a recent video we filmed in Swindon. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SN23J7G4kqk).
My role was to teach to a singer called Tinie Tempah and a comedy called Katherine Ryan how to perform it. All of this had to be done within 90 minutes. I was fortunate enough to work alongside another magician called Ben Hanlin. Ben has his own TV show on ITV 2, so could ensure it was shot and edited properly for television.
Although the chair vanish did look OK, I was left with the overwhelming impression that it’s not something I would do again. The problem you have with a large TV show like this is that the performance of the illusion is a small part of it and is shown little respect from the producers and directors. That’s completely understandable, as there is so much content to the show and so little time to make it in.
The De Kolta Chair Vanish was invented by a French magician in the late 1800’s, and it’s still a mainstay of many acts performing today. That’s testament to the genius of the invention. What would he think of the way I prostituted out his illusion for a few quid?
I have no doubt that in the final edit and the context in which it is performed it will leave the viewers thinking ‘that was fun’, but I left a little disheartened and confused as to whether what I did was good or bad for the art of magic. Any opinions are welcomed. It’s on tonight (12th November) at 9pm.