Learning, performing , creating and adapting. 4 skills that work well together!
I have recently marketed several items from my own act within the magic world. I tried very hard to pass along every nuance of what I bring to my own performance of these effects. Like many other people who have done something similar I urge the purchaser to learn the routines as I present them before attempting to reinvent them.
It is a scary project to try and release and launch a routine that you have spent decades polishing and perfecting. New purchasers can’t wait to tell you the changes that they are going to make! They usually have no idea (and will not believe) that you have often thought about these changes yourself and rejected them for some very sound reasons.
It is, of course, the goal of anyone who releases a favorite routine to have it blossom in the hands of its latest performer. To see someone merely recite your patter and follow your actions blindly can be very depressing. In deed the way that an original routine can become a standard within a single generation is a very sobering thing. It can make you despair for the lack of creativity that is often on display in our fraternity.
As a dealer it is nice to feel you have done your best to pass on a routine that really works and is “bulletproof.” However there is really nothing you can do to help or hinder the performance of your latest routine after someone lays down their cash and buys it. You just add the little note that I mentioned earlier and hope someone is listening.
I recently reviewed two items by Joe Monti that were superbly detailed routines that had been carefully polished for decades in the heat of repeated performance. Joe included that same simple request that I make and asked his purchasers to take the time to perform the routines as written several hundred times before making structural alterations. I nodded approvingly when I read his words.
It is currently my goal to buy a few strong routines, review them, learn them, and then to actually perform them. At that point I plan to write a little bit about what I learned presenting them. I thought this might be an interesting take on the normal process of reviewing a marketed effect.
I went through Joe’s routines, carefully studying them. In doing so I found it astonishingly easy to fail to follow not only Joe’s words of advice but also my own very similar request. No sooner was I “learning” the routines than my mind was spitting out “improvements” to me. My ideas were soon getting in the way of the delightfully stripped down directions that Joe had supplied me with. I realized that most of us magicians are really obsessed with the small changes and minutia that are going to be able to allow us to call the trick our own. It is much easier to adapt than create.
Noticing this, I then decided as an experiment to take one of Bill Abbott’s recent releases “Celebrity Smart Ass” and just add it to my act a couple of times. Bill supplies his customers with what he calls a Pro-Package. Every necessary detail and even a detailed script accompany these items when they arrive in your hands. I just did exactly what he suggested, and after the minimal practice required to guarantee physical success I added the trick to my act in that perennial sweet spot for launching a new routine—second up in the show!
I was amazed at the success I was rewarded with. This was a great commercial routine that I had initially slightly underrated by mentally pegging it as a hybrid of two tricks I had performed before. There was quite a bit more going on than I had previously thought about however. The simplicity and effectiveness of The Force involved created a totally new and exciting dynamic.
The first time I performed “CSA” I was so excited by the success I immediately rethought the entire routine! I had a chance to perform it again the next night for a different group of 250 people. Fortunately I managed to leave my notes in my computer and continue my experience of “just” performing someone else’s routine. It killed once again and I continued observing what was happening and making notes for future use.
Will I be doing this routine “as written” in another few months? Not a chance in hell! However I did learn an important lesson about not confusing learning and creating.We are very lucky in the magic world because unlike almost any other form of variety entertainment we are encouraged and enabled to buy big hunks of commercial material that has been road tested. I found it fascinating that as a performer who has been buying magic props/routines for about fifty years and selling them himself for five, I had such very basic issues to explore about how to build a better relationship with my next potential performance piece.
Visit my online store at www.lewinenterprises.co I have exactly 10 of my Lemon Aid effects still available for purchase before the price is raised and they become a custom item. Check out the video on my website—it has been getting raves from purchasers around the world.