10 Things I Wish I Knew as a Kid Magician
A little bit ago I spoke virtually for the Philadelphia assembly of the Society of Young Magicians. These were my words of wisdom I imparted on them, and I hope at least one young magician can read these and feel a little inspired.
Lean Into Being a Kid: Audiences want to see who you are and what makes you unique. When you’re a kid, you have a very unique outlook on life and probably have a lot of things that you love, so why not use your favorite things in magic routines? If you love Legos, build a routine around a self building Lego house. Don’t make jokes about paying taxes and having a mortgage. Make jokes about going to class each day and how heavily that weighs on you. It’s an easy way to make people like you even more than your adorable little face. Also, kids birthday parties are so much of an easier sell when you tell them it’s a show for kids made by a kid.
Do One More Take: I’m scared to know the number of magicians who get a trick in the mail, watch the DVD, do it once for the camera, and then throw it up on Instagram. When you flash on a public video, you might as well give the audience a private lesson. In person, you have the ability to cover your mistakes and get the audience to forget about your mishap. Even if your mistake on camera is miniscule, it can be magnified by the repeat viewings we can expect by our followers. Even when you think you have the perfect take, watch it back once and do one more just to make sure it’s ready to go online.
Restaurant Gigs are the Perfect Starting Point: I was lucky enough to start my magic journey performing in a restaurant and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s the perfect spot to pass out 15 business cards nightly and get to be a good performer quickly. In a restaurant you get multiple reps of a trick per night to take advantage of. Maybe try a new joke every time to see if it lands or add an extra convincer that you weren’t necessarily sure would work. If you mess up, you have another table waiting to try something new. I owe so much of the mastery of my routines to the restaurant I started working in at 14.
Reach Out to the Magicians You Look Up to: When I was younger, I was told that I would meet all my idols if I stuck with magic. At only 22, I have had the pleasure of speaking with a good chunk of the people that made me the performer I am today. All it took was a visit to their website and sending a quick email. It’s really that easy. If I were to get an email from a kid magician I would be ecstatic to help them along their journey, and many of the top professionals share the same sentiment
Don't Listen to Every Piece of Advice: This is one I have struggled with over the years. I was working on a routine and I brought it to so many people I looked up to and all of them gave me different comments on how to improve it. Some of their comments even directly conflicted with one another. This was the first time I realized that even the people I idolize will not always have all the answers for me. This is not an invitation to deny any piece of advice you disagree with. Moreso, it is important to get as many opinions as possible to synthesize what you think is the best action plan to move forward with to make the routine the best it can possibly be.
Ask People for Help: This piece of advice is important to note that it extends outside of people in the field of magic. Magicians know a lot about magic but they don’t know everything. There are a multitude of people around you at all times that can help you out in ways you probably don’t even expect. Your math teacher might be able to help you get the dimensions together on a new prop you’re building. The local librarian might know what books in their collection can help you research the size and weight of coins for your new Miser’s Dream routine. Your parents/caretakers know the most about you and if you want to add a storytelling aspect to your show, I bet they’ll know exactly what story to tell. The best resources are around you at all times, you just need to ask.
Script it Out: Think about your favorite magic routine. One you can watch every day and it would never get old. I would bet you $100 that the routine you’re thinking about was carefully scripted out. Before you get all up in arms and say the style of magic this performer does is more conversational and it couldn’t be scripted out, think about it more. The most famous magicians are famous for a reason. They’re great performers because they know exactly what they’re gonna do and say every night, even when it seems like they’re pulling new things out for every show. Whenever you have an idea for a routine, write it out. Whenever you come up with a good comeback in your shows, write it down. It’ll skyrocket the effectiveness of your magic and if you don’t believe me, it’s at least worth a try.
Your Friends Might Not Understand: The first time I sat one of my friends down to show him a card trick he looked back at me and said “This is what you’ve been spending your time on?” And I had nothing else to say other than yes it was. Whenever you do something different from your friends it’s very easy for them to look down on it because they don’t understand it. It isn’t your fault if they’re weird about you doing magic, that’s on them. The only thing you can’t do is not let any of it stop you from doing the magic you love. It’ll make it all the better when they buy a ticket to your show years later.
Find Your Stages: When you first start out performing magic, it can seem like it’s hard to get stage time. In reality, anywhere can be a stage if you treat it like one. You or your extended family’s living room can transform into a stage during holiday events. When you’re waiting in a long line you can get “on stage” and perform for the people waiting behind you. In my senior year of high school every Friday I performed a trick for my World Cultures class. There are stages all around you, you just need to be brave enough to claim them as your own. You’ll slowly find yourself on bigger and bigger stages as long as you keep performing whenever and wherever you can.
Keep Doing Good Magic: This is the most important thing that I wish every magician would realize. Everything in your magic journey will become clearer if you keep doing good magic. The more you work your butt off to make sure you’re doing the best magic you could possibly be performing, the more opportunities will present themselves to you. The better you are, the more people are going to talk about you and the more events people will call you about. Everything you want to achieve in the magic world is within your grasp, you just need to put in the time to make sure you’re ready when the opportunity comes.