Roy Johnson: the experience.

In my opinion, one of the most awesome forces in British magic ever to be underestimated is Roy Johnson. While my meetings with this remarkable magician are less dramatic than others, his effect upon my understanding of magic is enormous.

Most magicians familiar with Ken Brooke and his “Magic Place” are aware of Roy as one of the background figures behind Ken’s success. His carefully detailed routines were the backbone of the magic that Ken presented to the magic community. The thorough and detailed edge to Roy’s routines allowed you to start your own work on the tricks light years ahead of where you could reasonably expect to.

I first met Roy when I was sitting in Ken’s studio, we were introduced, and away I went to royjohnson3get cups of tea from the café across the street. I spent a very pleasant hour or so in Roy’s company while he ran through some routine (I believe it was his unsurpassed envelope switch Flawless) he was giving Ken to market. I next met Roy at a convention in Bristol where I learned his unique coins across routine.

The next time I met Roy was much more exciting, it was in his own home in Leicester when we got to sit for an hour or so and really chat. What a joy this was, I’m not sure I have ever met a more gentle, quiet and friendly soul. We sat, drank tea, talked magic and the Roy Johnson who had been a name on of a routine came to life for me. I left with several sets of lecture notes and manuscripts and a much understanding of why Roy’s routines packed such a punch and worked as smoothly as they did.

I could write for a year without being able to describe how effective Roy’s routines have been to me in my career as a performer. Sufficient to say, Roy’s books have been a mainstay in my magical library since each of them was published. At first I just performed them as written, as I learned more about magic I began to dissect them to appreciate the subtle way they achieved there goals. To my mind any performing (Especially comedy) magician who hasn’t studied these books has a treat in store.

If you want a real lesson in magic, study Roy’s handling of the “Sidewalk Shuffle”. If you like clean and amazing magic then check out his ultimate one-ahead miracle “Tri-pred”. The goldmine of material in these books just gets stronger every year even if they no longer wrap chewing gum the right way! While I consider McComb’s “25 Years Wiser” the Bible of comedy magic I have to say that if you want to put together a really strong comedy magic show then Roy’s books and the Ron Wilson book will get the job done, big time.

If I had to choose the one piece of philosophy I have learned from Roy it is his belief that it doesn’t matter how much preparation before you leave your home, what matters is how little time it takes to prepare and set up the show when you arrive at the gig. If you are not a full time pro then this may seem like a strange thing to place such emphasis on, but to a pro the truth and wisdom is self-evident. If you spend an hour at home and it saves you even five minutes prior to showtime then your performance will improve automatically. To this day I set my entire show (45 minutes to an hour) the night before the gig. No rush, no panic, just the satisfaction of knowing the work is done, at show time it just comes down to performing and if that isn’t fun then find another job!

The Roy Johnson I have met was a gentleman with such inherent humility that he almost vanished in front of your eyes when you looked at the man behind the miracles. If you haven’t discovered his work yet then take the opportunity to observe the meticulous mindthat helped make “Ken Brooke’s Magic Place” so magic.

~ by Nick Lewin on February 16, 2010.

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