Archives for posts with tag: Magic

This is one of the busiest times of the year for magicians. Simply because there are so many events happening around the country. Weddings, cocktail parties, corporate events and anniversary parties are just a few to mention. The simple fact is that more events are organised when the evenings are longer and the weather is nicer. Who wants to have a celebration in November and January, when Christmas overshadows it slightly and you are force put to book an indoor venue, regardless of the weather?

I am fortune enough to keep very busy and this season has been the busiest yet. I absolutely love it too! The busier I am the better I will become as a performer.

Part of striving to become a better magician is adding new material to my act, which is something I am trying to do. This surprisingly isn’t easy. At every event I want to the best job I possibly can and this is clearly not the time to test out new material and iron out the glitches. 

As I am heavily involved in the Magic Circle, I network with magicians every week. Most of my best friends are also magicians and we do meet up to share ideas, routines and work on new material. I can then put this into practice on other friends and family before spreading the net wider at unpaid events and in bars/restaurants etc. The worst thing that I can do is perform 2nd rate, underworked material at a professional event. It does me no favours whatsoever and it will certainly not impress the booker. Keeping the standards as high as possible will only lead to more work and keep me even busier in the future.  

Perspective and empathy

Every event I go to, I try my very best to embrace and gauge the atmosphere appropriately. Clearly a formal diamond wedding anniversary celebration will have a different ambience than that of an 18th birthday party. Empathising with the group of guests I perform to and trying to understand how I would feel if I were interrupted in a conversation, is something I am always aware of. I pride myself on having a polite but confident approach. Certainly, when performing at academic conferences, I interrupt conversations that are deep and meaningful and I am mindful of this. I also try my best to understand how the orangiser of the event must be feeling. Apprehensive, with lots of things to remember and organise.
Weddings are no exception and are among the best events to perform at. However, it wasn’t until I actually got married myself that I could truly understand how people feel on their wedding day.
Typically for a wedding, I recommend some magic during any drinks reception, followed by some table magic in between the courses of the wedding breakfast. 9 time out of 10 I will perform for the head table after the main course and in the lead up to the speeches. The logic is that they are more relaxed and settled by the time I get to their table. However, on my own wedding day the 3 people making speeches (myself included) were nervous. Would I have liked to have seen a magician at this point when I am concerned about remembering certain anecdotes and thank you’s for the day? Probably not.
I have learnt a lot from the experience of organising my own wedding day and I genuinely feel I understand the day and industry better than before. I guess it’s all part of the experience as I strive to improve my performance and ability as a magician.

After Dinner Cabaret

Although I perform predominately as a close up magician, I do also have a cabaret act that I perform as after dinner entertainment. The cabaret act I perform can last between 10 and 25 minutes and involves a mixture of routines from audience interaction to visual magic that can be watched passively. More often than not I perform this act having worked my way around the tables earlier in the evening. This makes life a little easier as I remember people’s names and, hopefully, the guests are more interested in my act as I have met them before. The cabaret act I perform seems to be a nice way to make the magic more of a feature of the evening and brings the entertainment to a natural conclusion. It’s also a nice prelude to any speeches or other activities. I have performed the cabaret act at weddings and private parties which are great fun as I can involve key guests in the show! On Friday night I performed at a charity event and as part of the promises auction they offered the opportunity to be the “Glamorous Assistant” in the cabaret show. The bidder happened to be a parent of the child in the photo. We performed a 15 minute cabaret act together which I had planned as an impromptu double act. It was such fun to do and the audience reaction exceeded all expectations. It brought a level of comedy to the act that really made the evening.
It’s worth mentioning that the art of magic is so versatile and being able to involve other people, products or themes is more than possible.
For Larger events I perform a stage illusion act. The scale of this show is much larger and appropriate for venues with the space and technical set up to accommodate the act. For more information pleases visit http://www.youngandstrange.co.uk

The World's Biggest Magic Convention

Blackpool Magic Convention is the worlds biggest magic convention. It’s an annual event and about 3,000 magicians from all over the world descend on Blackpool. It’s a whole weekend of performances, lectures and demonstrations. It’s much like any trade show or conference but for the art of magic. Throughout the weekend there is a dealers hall, for magicians who sell all types of magic, from stage magic to close up and mentalism (mind reading magic). This is the perfect opportunity to chat to dealers and see other magicians perform magic.
Going to lectures and wandering around the dealers hall is a great chance to keep up to date with the new and interesting magic effects. I do normally come away having spent a good amount of money and more knowledgeable about magic than before.
Having been a magician for 9 years now, I do know most of the magicians in the country. It’s great because many of them are good friends and it’s always a great social occasion too! All in all a brilliant weekend and one which makes me grateful for having a job that is also a passion and hobby!

I’m lucky enough to have performed magic on the radio on several occasions. That sounds like an odd thing to say as “magic on the radio” sounds like a terrible idea…..How can an art that is so visual work with someone who is listening in the car or at home? 

There are plenty of tricks and performances which can work on the radio and appeal to people outside of the studio. I performed a trick on air last year where the prediction or revelation of the effect was in the Classified section of the local newpaper- it seemed to be well received both by the presenter and the listeners.

On Saturday morning I was interviewed on BBC Radio York. This was in order to promote a theatre show I am performing in on Valentines day. It was refreshing to be interviewed without being asked to perform as well. It gave the presenter and an opportunity to ask some interesting questions about magic and performance. The link to the interview is below and it starts at about 1 hours and 4 minutes in. The presenter is Russel Walker who is clearly a magic enthusiast, which was a real benefit in the interview.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p001pz3g/broadcasts/2014/02

 

 

 

 

 

   

Earlier this week I was performing in Berlin at an economics conference. The conference was hosted by a company called Oxera and there were a number of professors and guests with many letters after their names; never have I felt so academically inadequate……

I have performed at a number of all-day conferences and they can, at times, be a challenge. The guests tend to spend most of the day in lectures and seminars, with my job to entertain at interludes during the day. This can create quite a sedate atmosphere and the guests, having flown in from all over the world, are understandably keen to talk about the subject matter. Interrupting conversations, especially when English is not the delegates first language, can be difficult. Having said that, after the first 2 or 3 groups that I performed for, it soon became clear that a magician was circulating and the guests were increasingly receptive.

Having performed at pretty much all the Oxford colleges and many academic events, they are always fun. Without creating a sweeping generalisation academics like to analyse, understand and dissect the magic. This interest in understanding the mechanics and methods makes the magic easier to perform. The more attentive an audience is, the easier they are to misdirect and subsequently fool. At times though, I wish some people would simply sit back and enjoy the performance, as entertainment, rather than a game of self-congratulatory “one up man ship” which magic shouldn’t be. 

 

 

 

Highlights of 2013

2013 was one of the best years yet and it’s only at the end of the year, when I reflect on the past 12 months, that I realise just how much fun it has been.
There have been many highlights professionally including having some new stage illusions created for my stage act, promotion within the Magic Circle, performances at some very exclusive parties and a more successful year with regards to business than others.
However the real highlight was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I was able to meet, and spend an evening with, David Copperfield. David Copperfield is the most successful magician of all time and still performs regularly on the Las Vegas strip. To say it was an honour to spend the time with him would be an understatement. Having watched his spectacular stage show myself, and my double act partner, were invited on an exclusive tour of his warehouse and museum- an opportunity that very few magicians can boast. We were able to ask questions, watch him perform close up magic and I was even subject to a practical joke he played on me. It was a surreal experience and one which I will always remember. Definitely the highlight of 2013.

For many years I have been interested in the art of Card Cheating and Card Sharps. At the age of 18 I spent a long time practicing false shuffles, cuts and deals. It was a real passion for a few years and I used to perform demonstrations of how you could be hustled in a card game. On the back of that passion I learnt a few simple card tricks. It was a steep learning curve, as it didn’t take me long to realise that people were more interested in magic than the demonstrations of card technique.
I do try and keep my hand in by practicing regularly and I am occasionally asked to perform as a card sharp for the evening, which I really enjoy. Tonight I have been asked to perform some of these demonstrations on a blackjack table. It should be great fun!
Apologies for the poor quality of the video- it was for my own reference and I never really intended to publish it on my blog. It’s worth saying that these cards are regulation casino playing cards and there is no trick, gaff or gadget to it. The shuffles and cuts are still used in casinos around the world.

The Christmas Party season is well underway and it’s a busy time of year for magicians around the country. Quite a few parties started in November and I do have a number of “Christmas” events booked in for January. It’s important to remember that some businesses are busy in December and it’s simply not practical to have a party in the lead up to Christmas. 

I have to say that I do love performing magic. Having performed professionally for about 8 or 9 years now I still enjoy it, very much so. Christmas parties can sometimes be a bit difficult though, especially when competing with loud music, streamer balloons and, something that is all too common, the drunken party goer….

As a rule, the more you drink the better the magic will look, but from time to it can be difficult to battle with a drunken heckler who is consistently disruptive. Don’t get me wrong, I do love interaction and joking with disruptive guests, however a line has to be drawn somewhere. It is very difficult, almost impossible, to do a great job at a table when you simply don’t get the opportunity to speak or deliver the magic. This can happen when you get a guest who is a few sheets to the wind and constantly wants to be centre of attention. I tend to think that the skill of handling people is more of a talent than the sleight of hand involved in any magic act. I have a keen interest in comedy and I have learnt lots from watching comedians handle hecklers and drunks.

Irrespective of the situation, including the inevitable abuse from the occasional drunken guest, it is important to maintain professionalism. At no point in my career have I lost control or been abusive back, despite the temptation to do so! I am in the fortune position to walk away from guests who are continually rude- a luxury that a stage magician or comedian doesn’t have.

I do have a real range of events booked in for the coming days. Last night was the Ericsson Christmas party with 500 guests and tonight is a family party of 16. I do enjoy the range of performances and every event is an experience which I can learn from…..  

Recently I performed at an event alongside another magician. A magician that I had never met or heard of before.

Now, I thoroughly appreciate that any performer, the magic they perform and their style of performance is subjective. I get that.

This magician was absolutely terrible. 

He probably goes down as the worst magician I have ever met. I’ve met a lot of magicians too.

All too often magicians are heavily critical of other performers and often this emotion is envy or insecurity. Having said that, I feel my resentment towards my “colleague” was thoroughly justified. This magician was absolutely terrible. Almost, without sounding contradictory, astoundingly terrible.

The actual magic he performed was simple and with no skill on part of the performer. Surprisingly it wasn’t his actual magic that I grew to dislike. It was the magician himself. He was unprofessional, telling me on one occasion “I’m going to do as little magic as possible this evening as I’m not feeling in the right mood”. He was defensive and not at all personable. His personal hygiene was non existent- dirty hands and fingernails, not to mention the odd attire and body odour. His props looked battered and, what’s the word….grubby?

It goes without saying that he was sold as an “additional extra” by the company running the casino tables after the meal and by no stretch of the imagination was he a professional magician.

So, why do I actually care less? The problem is that for every event or table that magician performs at, he damages the reputations of magicians everywhere. There are so many truly brilliant magicians performing today who constantly get rejected, and told “I don’t like magicians” , by guests at events. The reason 9 times out of 10 is that their perception of magic is based on a terrible close up magician they saw once.

I genuinely wish there was a distinction between a guy that does a couple of card tricks and a “Magician”. Lumping us all together simply isn’t fair…..

So what’s the lesson? The lesson is to only ever book a magician you have seen footage of, up to date pictures and reliable testimonials. Either that or go on recommendation. Better still go with someone you have seen before, if possible. 

    

  

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