Watching a magic show like a real person, instead of a magician……

There are vey few things more uncomfortable than watching the average magic audience responding to a magic show.     We magicians tend to sit with a fairly combative look on our faces and are then more sparing with our applause than it is possible to believe. An impartial observer might be tempted to believe that we are hating every minute of the performance until after the show when everyone discusses how much he or she loved it! This general negativity is a curiously contagious approach to the business of being a magician spectator. I have certainly found myself staring glumly at a magician and primarily rewarding him with an occasional muttered “Nice.” However, this is better than making a spoken comment about a secret move during an effect, and I have seen that happen a time or two!

I know we are all primarily trying to concentrate on what is being done by the performer, however, there is a very definite give and take between a performer and an audience member, and it is important that we enter fully into our part of the allotted interaction. Sometimes I am tempted to think that there is actually a fairly meditated ungenerous decision involved in not fully responding to the efforts of our colleagues and peers. It is almost as if responding warmly to others might in some way belittle our own talents. It takes a bunch of nerve and courage to perform for one’s contemporaries, and I for one want to try and fully express my utmost enthusiasm for their efforts, rather than sitting in some form of stolid judgment.



~ by Nick Lewin on January 20, 2018.

5 Responses to “Watching a magic show like a real person, instead of a magician……”

  1. Mr. Lewin is 2 for 2 over the past weeks of essays.
    This week’s words hit home with his descriptions of watching and performing for other magicians and performers. I have many times found similar feelings and reactions, especially in my early days of studying this Art.
    If you have not had this experience, try it sometime. It is an emotional learning event unlike any other. (BUT…Make sure you try this experiment far away from your magic club, organization, group sessions, or other venues that rarely, if ever, give you honest reactions and constructive input, both in front and “BEHIND” your back).
    I have found that this negativity is almost always motivated by one’s ego, jealousy, or lack of knowledge.
    To really learn the knack of how to watch and comment about a show or performer, make sure you locate intelligent, caring, and seasoned pros, like Jeff McBride, Larry Hass, Robert Fitch, and the late Eugene Burger. They will sit with you and give quality and insightful commentary, and help you understand what you saw as an audience member, or gave as a performer.
    As Mr. Burger said many times, especially in his and Mr. Hass’s recent book, “Teaching Magic;” ‘It is more important to discuss “what could be made better” than tearing down a persons efforts.’ (And feelings)
    Remember, no matter how good you think you are, or how much you know, there is always someone, somewhere, who is way ahead of you, both amateur or professional.
    With the right attitude in mind, when you do locate these people, it really is “a breath of fresh air!”

  2. Actually I find the same reaction in other art forms, e.g. a choreographer watching other dancers or a lighting designer viewing other designer’s works or a costume designer assessing other costumers’ designs. The blindness comes from a tightly narrow pt. of view, i.e.many magicians’ view methods & not personalities, stories or entertainment values. In fact they have no training in assessing those broader aspects of the craft. Look at it this way…other art forms have mentors, teachers, coaches…who teach not only the skills of the art, but the history & comparative points of view; a broader outlook, a way of seeing and then frees them to help find their own way to go from craftsman to artist. So their education in the art form creates more awareness, more possibilities and helps the artist to think vertically unbounded by rules and thus more creatively. Magicians mostly, learn from media, i.e. books, DVDs, streaming video and some lucky few with coaches. But even then it may only be about moves and structure perhaps. The digital age producing many copy-cat clones, but not necessarily how to think about it. It takes many years for most to realize that there must be more or that I need something?? but what?? Thank you Nick for bringing this to light; for kick starting our awareness & perhaps??? our etiquette!

  3. Hi Nick
    I would love to include this piece in our club magazine/newsletter for the Bristol Society of Magic with your permission.

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