Never mind the Style, feel the Quality…….

 I recently wrote a blog that gave my thoughts on finding the right style to maximize your impact as a magician. It didn’t touch on a parallel aspect of your performance and it’s potential success.  If you have got all the style in the world it doesn’t mean much if you don’t wrap it around some quality material, otherwise it falls into the ‘all style but no substance’ category. You might be a stylish performer but like the 80’s TV commercial—”Where’s the Beef?”

Beef is a great source of protein and protein is what keeps your body really ticking along. If you are a magician it is job #1 to perform good magic. If you are a comedy magician it is your job to amuse your audience while performing good magic. It is necessary to perform strong magic while entertaining your audience. I am all to familiar with the oft quoted, “First and foremost you need to be an entertainer.” Duh, isn’t that a given fact? I guess not when I think about a few of the magicians I have seen perform!

Are there times when a visual gag or magical ‘trifle‘ can be inserted into your show to adjust the pacing and change the tone of your act.?Of course, they are like the sorbet they serve between the courses in a fancy meal at a fine restaurant. They don’t replace the protein–they just enhance it by refreshing the palate. You wouldn’t sit down in a ritzy restaurant and order 6 different kinds of sherbet or sorbet as your entire meal. I have seen many comedy magicians who seem to think that this is acceptable. Just because you are performing a comedy magic act it doesn’t mean that you should present the magical equivalent of a sorbet buffet.

In order to really create a strong comedy magic show you need two things.

1 Strong comedy.

2 Strong magic.

If you don’t balance these two items you are shortchanging your audience. Worse still you are beginning to fall into one of the only entertainer categories held in lower respect in the industry than a magician–a prop comic. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! I will let you take a moment or two to register the enormity of this scary prospect. The next thing to happen is the airline looses your case and ZAP–you are a mime.

I will change the tone of this column before anyone falls into a deep depression.

There is very little emotion involved in a lay audiences reaction to  magicians. David Copperfield is one of the few magicians who created some real emotion with his material and the way he presented it. Yes, I do realize that I put that in the past tense. In his TV specials David created emotions using visuals, music, movement, strong magic and then he tied them up in a tasty package using the skills of talented technicians who were able to film the tricks and make mini-movies out of them.

When you compare notes with musical acts about DVD sales after performances (which is the real nitty gritty of what performers really like to discuss) it is a humbling experience to discover how much more product they shift! The reason usually has nothing to do with the quality of the performers, it has to do with the emotion they invoke. Believe me you will never, ever hear a potential customer say, “Oh, we must buy that DVD–you remember we saw the Torn & Restored Newspaper on our honeymoon.” It does, however, work that way with a music CD that includes a song that the couple heard on that same honeymoon.

This is why the heart of my comedy magic show is an unabashedly nostalgic and emotion filled version of the Gypsy Thread. It is the emotional sorbet in my show that makes the funny stuff seem even funnier. It just makes for a much better entertainment package to deliver to the most important element of your show, the invisible folks who are sitting out front in the dark.

What are the other elements that create strong magical material for you to ‘beef up’ your show? What are the easiest pitfalls to avoid? Well, I have some thoughts on that too, but that is going to be the subject of my next blog. Oh, what a tease I am!

As always feel free to drop me an email at

~ by Nick Lewin on September 21, 2011.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: