The real reason people don’t book magicians (it has nothing to do with the cost)
Let’s be honest, not everyone loves magic. Slightly Unusual perform at over 2000 events a year. Frequently we hear the same thing over and over. After our performance we have audience members coming over to us saying ‘I didn’t think I liked magic. But I loved your performance’
So the question is why do people think they don’t like magic in the first place? I think there are three reasons. In this blog I am going to examine these reasons in depth.
Reason 1 - Magic is an unregulated industry and literally anyone can call themselves a professional.
Magic is unregulated. There is no governing body that lays down rules and regulations as to what magicians can and cannot do. There is no examination or standard of performance that has to be met. I know what you are thinking - what about the magic circle. The Magic Circle is just a very exclusive magic club. They have no control over the industry as a whole. If I’m not a member (which I’m not) they can’t make me do anything in any way shape or form. I wrote a blog about this subject which you can read by CLICKING HERE.
I met a performer once who was absolutely dreadful. When I spoke to him he told me he had been given a magic set for his birthday and two months later he has some free business cards printed up and had started calling himself a professional magician. If you booked this guy without seeing him perform you would be very disappointed. He was that bad! Unfortunately there are lots of wannabe magicians in the same situation.
This is a major issue. Every time I have spoken to someone who ‘doesn’t like magic’ it’s normally because of watching a magician that didn’t engage them. There are magicians that are available to hire that have little to no experience. They just look at magic as a way of making a few quid. These days you can build a website very easily and put across the illusion you are professional whilst in reality being really terrible.
Now this happens in other industries as well. There are lots of singers who can’t sing for example. The big difference is when you watch a bad singer you don’t judge the whole of the music industry. Music is a part of everyone’s lives and therefore people understand it was probably a one off. Magic is already less mainstream so when you watch a bad magician some people can judge the whole of the magic industry.
Reason 2 - There are no mentors
Back in ‘the day’ when I first got into magic things were different to modern day. Obviously there was no internet. Because of this if you wanted to learn how to be a magician you either found an experienced magician to be a mentor or you joined a magic club. Both of these options helped you improve very quickly. My mentor in magic was brutal. He told me daily how rubbish I was. However every day I improved under his guidance and support.
These days things have changed. The internet and Facebook has created hundreds of forums where magicians can hang out online and talk about magic. This sounds great in principle however it has caused a lot of problems. Firstly a lot of the members of these groups are faceless. This means you have so called experts dishing out completely incorrect advice. New magicians take this advice on board and it makes things even worse. Secondly some of these online forums are quite toxic. There are keyboard warriors that are just intent on bullying and acting like they are the best rather than helping and supporting.
As a result of these forums popping up magic clubs and societies are not as popular as they were. Quite often magic clubs are populated by older members who have been doing magic for years and newer, younger magicians are not seen. It’s the same problem with buying magic. Back in ‘the old days’ The only place to buy magic was at magic shops. You got to see a trick demonstrated and ask the advice of the person selling the trick. These days most people buy magic online. Flashy well edited trailers convince you to buy tricks that just aren’t that good. Unfortunately inexperienced performers don’t know better so end up performing these tricks
that just aren’t very good.
So the problem is there is nowhere for new magicians to go to practice and get their performances to an acceptable level. Yes, there are forums that encourage magicians to share videos but there is a massive difference between performing to camera and to a real audience.
Reason 3 - Constructive criticism is non existent
One thing that I have noticed is that nobody is prepared to tell fellow magicians if they aren’t very good. The perfect example is a magic Society I went to recently. There was a close up magic competition with a several magicians competing. The winner was fantastic and was a clear winner. However there was another magician competing that was just terrible. His act was boring and frankly nobody knew what was meant to be happening. I sat there watching thinking ‘this is why people hate magic - performances like this’.
After the competition I watched as people congratulated him on on his performance. These were the same people who earlier told me how terrible he was. This is a major problem. Without being told how bad his performance was and why it was bad then how is he meant to improve. If the competitor in question does this act at a live show because he thinks the act is good that reflects badly on magic.
So what’s the purpose of this blog? Well that very much depends on who is reading it. If you are thinking of hiring a magician then please don’t judge how well magic can work at an event based on one subpar performance. There are bad magicians in the world and you might have watched someone who just shouldn’t be performing live. However there are many great magicians as well. As you are reading this on my website CLICK HERE to see what we can do (I promise you’ll be impressed).
If you are new to magic then I have some advice. Don’t run before you can walk. Don’t rush out to do paid gigs instead take your time honing your craft. Find a mentor who you can learn from. Seek out advice and be prepared to change and improve. Don’t just join online forums. Join a magic club and try to visit an actual magic shop instead of just shopping online. Most importantly have fun and enjoy magic - it’s a great hobby.
If you are an experienced magician take time out to help someone just starting out. Be a mentor. Encourage newer magicians to join a magic society. And don’t be afraid to be honest with your advise. But don’t be harsh or cruel. Most importantly join a magic society. I know it’s easy to think you won’t get anything from joining but look at it as giving back and helping the new generation of magicians.