What I Learnt From Watching The World’s Worst Magician
A few days ago, I attended a magic show in a theatre recently. It was an intimate show to an audience of about 30 people. It’s was billed as ‘a night of unique mentalism and mind tricks’. The show consisted of two 50 minute halves with a 15 minute interval. Honestly, the interval was the biggest highlight.
I thought the show was absolutely terrible with no redeeming qualities at all. For the record, this is not from a single opinion, I attended the show with another magician and four people ( who do not know about magic). All of us agreed it was a bad show, without a doubt. In fact, one person said that it was so bad, they felt sorry for the act in question. There were four women sitting on the row in front of us. Admittedly, they were a little drunk and for once, can't say I blame them for sneaking in alcohol.
Despite their state, even they said that it was the worst show they had ever seen. After the show finally concluded, the act said he would be in the lobby asking questions. By the time we had got out the theatre, literally everyone had left and gone home, some of them even running.
You may think this blog's intention is to criticise the magician, but the main intention is for other magicians to learn about this particular act’s mistakes and avoid similar performances that may cost them everything. Without further ado, let’s count down the eight reasons the show was so bad.
The old saying, "practise makes perfect" is no exaggeration, especially within the magician world. There were so many problems that occurred within the act that were easily avoidable if he had rehearsed the show. This isn't just limited to practicing the tricks, I’m talking about a full dress rehearsal. Part of the problem was he didn’t know where props were or where volunteers should stand, basic concepts that even a rookie magician should know. To give you a visiual idea, it’s like he had practiced a few tricks and assumed he could improvise the rest out on the night. When you put on a show, you need to rehearse every aspect of that show until it is second nature.
Despite suggesting that there would be unique routines custom designed for this show, I saw nothing like that. Instead, I saw a series of tricks you can get from any magic shop performed the exact same way the instructions tell you, something a parent could have figured out within an hour. It was like the magician in question went into a magic shop, spent a few hundred quid on magic tricks, watched the instructions and put together a show with these props and convinced himself, "Hey, that'll be perfect!". In the almost two hour show, there was nothing here that was original or different then a show you'd see in a club at Benidorm.
Have you ever seen a show where the performer walks on stage and lights up the room? Entwining the crowd with their very presence alone? Sure, they might not be the best magician, but they are so charismatic and getting the crowd impressed by your charm is a big step alone. Unfortunately, this guy was the exact opposite! From the moment he walked out on stage, he sucked the life out the room. The room was so dead, you'd think you were wondering through a cementary. There was no WOW factor, no charisma, nothing captivating at all. Some of the money he spent on magic tricks should have been invested on a copy of ‘How To Win Friends and Influence People’. It’s important when you are a performer to understand how to get people to like you and make sure you have that charm that captivates the audience.
There's nothing worse then having a trick go wrong in the middle of a performance. Yes, we did discuss rehearsals and why they are important, but even perfect rehearsals can sometimes take a turn for the worst. But as a magician, the best alternative when a trick goes wrong is to know how to bounce back into action. There were so many instances of things going wrong in this show it was laughable. His tossed out deck broke after been thrown by a spectator, the balloon for his lottery prediction wouldn’t pop and I could go on and on with other instances where things were really badly handled. The routines you perform have to be flawless. You have to work out every way they can go wrong and come up with a solution beforehand. That way, you won’t be left scrambling and looking silly.
Another problem was that the performer had decided to emulate Derren Brown. The style he attempted to create was very ‘Derren’. The problem is Derren Brown is a world class performer who can hold an audience in the palm of his hand. This act came across as a cheap imitation. People aren't there to see you try and one up a famous performer, they are there to see you what you can do and bring to the magic world. A performer should strive to be the best version of themselves. Create your own character and your own mannerisms. Be unique in everything that you do and say. That way, when people talk about you to others, they won't use terms like, "He's just like Derren Brown!" They'll be talking about your unique traits without comparing you to anyone.
Another problem with this show was that the performer had a total inability to read his audience. As I mentioned earlier, the ladies in front of me were a little tipsy. They were just ignored by the performer and by the end of the show, they were shouting out and trying to disrupt the show (not like that would have made it any worse than it actually was). This is a situation that anyone with performing experience could have dealt with quickly and easily. Instead, the magicians way of dealing with this was to ignore the ladies, which only made things worse. Learn to deal with every situation that arises whilst performing so that you are not left flummoxed. If someone interrupts, use the opportunity to respond and maybe even embarrass them a little to sit an example.
Depending on the magicians' background, they may have never performed in theatre perform, accustomed to clubs and the like. If you are going to perform in a theatre, make sure understand theatrics. From watching the first ten minutes of the act, I honestly believe he has never performed in a theatre before. For example, for his opening routine, he asked for the house lights up. He then forgot to ask for the house lights to go down again. It meant that the house lights were up for the entire first half of the performance. In an ideal world, he should have had lighting cues for the lighting team or worst case, ask for the lights to be dropped again after the first routine. There were several moments like this that should have been thought through before the performance.
The key to a successful show is to make the performance entertaining. It can be funny, it can be magical, it can be mysterious, all based on how the magician performs. Regardless of what type of act, it is crucial that the audience enjoys themselves. Unfortunately, the general opinion of the audience was that this performance was boring. Not something that you want to go for!
So, there you have it. Eight points that I learnt from watching a terrible magician do a truly awful magic act. If you are a magician reading this, remember that every time you perform the audience is making a decision about whether magic is a fun thing to experience or not. Please make sure you put 110% into making sure your performance is truly awesome.
You wouldn't believe how many people hate magic and as fun as card tricks can be, too many of them are boring. Ever heard of The Magic Circle? They are far more irrelevant than you might actually think. Thank you for reading; you can visit our website if you would like to read about how magicians can improve their skills. Furthermore, if you are looking for an AWESOME magician for your next event, visit our website to fill out a form and we'll get back to you with no obligation consultation! Thanks for reading.