Posts tagged magician
Grow Your D*** Size 10 Times with this Easy Card Trick! Learn NOW!

Did the clickbait work? Be honest with us.

Either way, this video we made a while ago just went randomly viral and logged in about a half a mil views a few days ago. The power has gone to our heads. We’ll be selling ourselves out for cheap product placements soon. It’s going to be a mess. And whenever I have a mess at home, I always prefer to use Brawny brand paper towels.

— J.R.

P.S. — I’m really trying to make a video with that title soon. Wish me luck, lest I not be able to wear shorts this summer.

"It's not about how you start, it's about how you keep going."

Dear Reader --

Epiphany time: “It’s not about how you start, it’s about how you keep going.” -- J.R.

I’m happy that with all my nonsense quotes from last week’s post, I’ve made one up for myself. I Duck Duck Go’d it, and the first thing that came up was something about couples therapy, with a loose usage of the quoted words above, and then I Google’d it, and some shit about climbing mountains came up, so I’m pretty happy to say I’ve produced some minorly unique thought here.

Anyways, I get asked the question a lot: “How did you get started in magic?” and I’d always give people what I THOUGHT they wanted to hear, some vague explanation of when I started and what circumstances I started with. However, they don’t really GAF about how I got started, because it’s ALWAYS some variant of: “I saw someone do magic, then I wanted to do it.” like I contracted it like a bad STI (if you have a story any different, please write in, and then I’ll tell you why you’re lying).

Point is, they don’t really care about that. Almost everyone does a magic trick once in their life, just like almost everyone tries homosexuality at some point in their life (or should). Or how everyone slips into their mother’s undergarments and dances to Blondie in their attic (or definitely should). ANYWAYS, they don’t care about that first experimental time, everyone has that time. What they CARE about (and what actually matters here) is how/why you stuck with magic. After you got past that initial surge of instant rapport with strangers and impressing people with a couple days worth of practice on something, why did you stick with this weird art when most people just give up after that immediate gratification of knowing a secret or performing it at a party?

Think about that. I don’t know if I found out entirely why myself yet, but I’m getting close to it.

Happy Holidays,

-- J.R.

Wrapping up Shit in a Bowtie

Dear Reader --

The holidays are upon us, which means a lot of gift giving is to be had, and keep in mind your greatest gift of all: that of a dirty diaper. Just kidding, not a dirty diaper: magic. The greatest gift of all is magic. Well, WONDER is the greatest gift of all. “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.” -- Einstein (I’d quote Einstein more but then I’d be quoting more Einstein)

So keeping in mind that your greatest gift is magic, keeping in mind that as the goal, why the ass do I see people giving dirty diapers dressed up in a nice suit acting like it’s magic? Meaning: WHY DO I SEE SO MANY SHIT MAGICIANS?

I was just watching a performer, who strangely is lauded by their peers, and their superiors, perform some diaper magic. That is to say: when someone actually calls out your stack work during a show (didn’t actually think this was conceivable or possible, but I’ve never abused stack like what I saw), don’t you think that it’s time to stop using so much stack work and be literally using 4 decks of cards with literally no other reason than to “change up the color” for one close-up performance? BUT, to them (and to others close to them) none of this matters at all, they’re getting paid, they have a good look, and they’re a sufficient vessel for technical skill.

Now, I understand. I’ve been that shit magician. I wanted money and I was too young to gaf about anything else that wasn’t cash-effective. I had a “nice” suit and “cool” props and had “fun” delivery. But you know what that describes? That describes a nicely dressed prop comic (not knocking prop comics). “However, where TF is the mystery, I ask?” -- Einstein

So you see, this holiday season, with all your holiday gigs and all your money. Keep in mind this: if all you’re doing is covering up your diaper magic in a nicer package, you need to get all your shit together and throw it out. Decide if you’re a prop comic or a magician. “Give me mystery or give me death.” -- Henry. “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for mystery.” -- Hale

-- J.R.

Beauty in Magic & Theatre

Dear Reader —

We’re back after ALTÆR, a public thank you for joining us on that journey… With reflection on performances in general, I give to you this meditation on beauty within art…

We like to view beautiful things.

Because beauty so rarely exists.

Everyday life is ugly, there are struggles we all face. When we watch theatre, when we watch magic, we want to partake in a hyper-curated beautiful reality, we want to see a world in which we do not live. This is why the archetype of the magician has persisted throughout the ages. They are the harbinger of the fantastic. While there may be elements within our falsely constructed fantasy that connect us to daily life, we in no way want to see something that is everyday life.

There may be “ugly” art, but there is no doubt some way in which this art is has the qualities of beauty. Perhaps these ugly beauties exemplify something within us that is painful, visceral and vile, something heartbreaking or moving, however make no mistake that these too are beautiful moments, even though they may superficially harbor pain for us.

Therefore, only put things before an audience in which you have defined the beauty you will share. What are you showing them that gives them a new perspective, what are you giving them that shares some of the beauty from your life? For it is only when we do this, that, in return, you will receive the greatest response of all from them: you will receive their beauty back to you.

-- J.R.

What it’s Like to Work in Magic

What it’s Like to Work in Magic

It’s been a good 7 years or so since I first started working with Magicians.  When I tell people, I almost always get asked the generally bewildered, “wow…what’s that like?”

It's pretty damn special, I'd say but it's a much harder than any artistic medium I've ever worked with.

That's a sweeping generalization, I agree. I can’t help but point out Magic as an outlier in the performing arts, I realize I am heavily biased because I’m spending a disproportionate amount of time with Magicians with aside from designers and filmmakers. In my observations over the years and being the quiet spectator at many heated “definition of Magic” debates, the similarities and differences are starting to surface more distinctly about why working in the field of Magic is so different from other performing arts.

Here’s my small attempt articulating what's a stake when working in Magic by observing the motivations of a Magician and their metaphoric cousin, a Comedian in effort to illuminate the obstacles at hand and what is gained when performing in a spectacular, yet equally unforgiving discipline.

The Intention to Perform

The Comedian

I heard a comic once say that a good Comedian exposes the truth in clever ways. This is a great reinforcement of a general evolutionary psychology theory that laughing is how Bonobos ⎯ one of our closest animal relatives ⎯ respond to the stimulus of learning something. Sure, those are monkeys and we’re the evolutionary marvel of the Earth’s history ⎯ how dare you claim we still act our primitive ancestors! Well, it’s because we kind of do. It’s the reason Seinfeld is the most successful and longest running comedy shows ever. The premise is 4 friends just going through their everyday life in New York City and the punchlines are these self-aware moments of insanity about the nuances of everyday interaction. It’s a show about nothing, yet it exposes the truth that underlies our day-to-day that we overlook. When we recognize this truth, we laugh; the more the truth resonates, the harder we laugh – the more we learn about ourselves.

Ever see a bad comic? A kind of innate rejection occurs that often manifests as a biological response, like gut twist of empathetic anxiety or an eye roll, maybe a squirm of visceral shame. When Comedy sucks, it’s painful, much like when you’re sitting through a disingenuous moment but when Comedy is good, the high from a good laugh is delightful and addictive.

The Magician

A Magician practices exposing the truth and then bends that truth right in front of you. When experiencing magic the Magician leaves the audience with a choice: do you accept the limitations of your reality or will you, for a moment, believe mine?

To fool people in a way that they’ll enjoy it is a bold way to live. To not be the ‘Asshole Magician’, as Derren Brown says, you have to fool them in a way that doesn’t feel deceitful or malicious but wonderful, which makes it even harder. To make matters worse, not only are you bending reality for the audience, you have to be confident enough to believe that what you’ll show them is presumably better. Basically, you’ve got to be quite the cheeky, charming son-of-a-bitch that people won’t hate.

This is why when you see bad magic it momentarily destroys your soul of joy and wonder and it leaves you empty, betrayed and annoyed. It takes a lot out of people to be open enough to trust a Magician to deceive them in a way that will be worth it. A bad effect will not only extinguish the audiences’ trust, they will carry the impression that anyone who shows them a variation of that same effect will also be terrible. A Comedian may have a bad night and ruin a delivery of a joke but jokes can be reshaped, recycled and recontexualized. A Magician shows a terrible trick, that trick is now a symbolic experience for the audience because the significance is placed in the subjects they manipulate, whether it be objects or even people. The next time that same audience encounters that same trick in a different presentation, there’s a good chance the bad taste of that memory will rear itself. This memory flavors the experience, the skepticism brews in their mind and it’s the responsibility of the Magician to make sure that this effect will turn the ever-present skeptics into believers, even for a second. Sometimes, that’s all it takes.

That moment is what we do it for. It’s what all of those hours of obsessing over details, practice and mania over ‘perception’ in all its forms amount to. And when it really works, the practitioner will even surprise themselves.  

Let’s not forget that Magicians, sadly, are not super humans with extraterrestrial abilities; if they were, this whole thing would be a lot easier to do. It’s the fact that these skills even appear to be otherworldly in quality and at the end of all of it you realize, they’re just a person like anyone else but with very, very niche interests. As humans, we have very serious flaws in perception and cognition and we all are naturally prone to them, this is why things like misdirection and optical illusions are so powerful when done right. To create a moment of “magic” is to use these cognitive processing limitations to our advantage to create something seemingly impossible. A Magician, in spite of these cognitive limitations, must successfully manipulate the perception of their audience to see something different, knowing they won’t be able to perceive their method ⎯ this a little more than an act of confidence. It takes a very specific kind of person to be sure enough about their ability to defy the crowd’s perception and impress a new reality upon them when they themselves have the same limitations.

Underlying all the theory, technique, charm and the inevitable pretentiousness, we’re all a bunch of monkeys gathered around each other watching another monkey show us how to open a coconut with a rock. We laugh, scream and run away and back again as we realize that we’ve all played with rocks before but not like this. This is new and astonishing and now we’ll never look a rock the same way again. Maybe, we learned something about ourselves or how the world isn’t always as it seems.

-- H.A.