Tag Archives: Ring 1

Review: St. Louis IBM Jam – May 30, 2015 (Part Two)

This past weekend was the IBM Jam in St. Louis. For a little about what it was all about, you can read Part One of my review here.

After Ice’s lecture was over, we had around an hour (give or take) to relax, talk, and jam. (Huh. It’s almost like they planned it this way.) During that time, while Joey Night was showing me his home-made thimble that our little group got a dose of Shawn Farquhar’s mind at work as he played with the thimble a bit, but I’ll expand on that a little further down the line. But now, it’s time for our next lecture.

Friends and fellow magi, put your hands together for Chuck Arkin!

First off, I’m not a mentalist and have no plans in the foreseeable future for doing a real mentalism routine, but as I watch each mentalist lecture that comes around, I do develop an appreciation for the art form.

Chuck’s lecture went into depth about some of the systems that mentalists use. I won’t expand too much on that, except that Chuck’s practical handling of some effective methods demonstrated the effectiveness of the methods, both with effective gaffs and without. Okay, maybe I haven’t seen enough mentalism lectures, I’ll admit, but seeing principles I’ve read about done well enough that I didn’t see through the methods impressed the hell out of me.

This was the first time I’ve seen or met Chuck, and of the three presenters that day, Chuck’s the only one who isn’t a full-time magician. He and his friend, Joe Farag, came down from Cincinnati, OH, to the Jam. In addition to being a presenter, he’s also the International Treasurer for the IBM in addition to being a vice president in major banking organization in the Midwest. Be that as it may, he still gigs and he definitely showed why he had his place on the day’s billing.

The thing is, because of the practical applications that Chuck was showing, I found myself rethinking tricks and routines I’ve been mulling over and seeing new possibilities to applications. Now, it’s something that happens with most lectures, but Chuck’s mentalism isn’t clouded with a bunch of ego that I tend to see other mentalists covered up in. and that little difference made it a bit easier for what he taught to sink in.

After another break for talking and jamming, we come up to the final lecture of the day.

Please give a warm welcome to the IBM International President, Shawn Farquhar!

In all fairness, I’ve been a fan of Shawn’s since before I got back into magic. I saw his appearance on Penn and Teller’s Fool Us a few years before I got into the magic scene and before it made its US appearance. (Thanks, YouTube!) He was also one of the first lecture reviews I did on this blog (without going back to check, I think probably the first) and for as much as he may have a name for himself after appearances on television and world-wide acclaim (the most FISM awards on record to date, in addition to awards from plenty of other organizations), he’s very easily one of the nicest people you’ll meet in this business.

Also, when it comes to magic, he is an analytical, computational machine. The man sees the potential in each trick and gimmick he sees. In this way, I pretty much consider him North America’s answer to Juan Tamariz. In addition to this, in his presidency, he’s been a driving force to add value to being a member of this international club at a time when people have started doubting the value to having membership. In taking on the presidency, Shawn’s worked hard to make sure that taking the job did not just render him a figurehead by adding resources like Ask Alexander to member magicians and giving value to the membership that far outweighs the cost of dues. Before I keep doing the gushing fan-boy thing, though, let’s get back to his lecture, though.

Quite a bit of his lecture was what we saw a couple of years ago, but Shawn’s one of those magicians that even when you know some of his tricks, he still hits you in a way that you don’t expect. I know that viewing one of his routines, even from an extreme angle that should have given it away, and even knowing the damn move, I was still just as caught off guard. Even Dan Todd, who had sat in the same lecture before I had and was on stage with Shawn assisting, was just as taken in by the effects.

And here’s the maddening thing: In general, outside of the use of some specific gimmicks for an effect, most of the moves he is using, especially in cards, incorporates moves that most magicians have in books that they have on their shelves. The man sees all these applications that can be applied to the moves. Using psychology and human perception (after reading Tommy Wonder’s “Books of Wonder,” I’m loathe, for good reason, to use the term “misdirection”), he pulls off stuff that, if you realized what was going on, you’d have a bruise on your forehead from clapping it for being suckered in.

That’s not saying that he isn’t an outstanding manipulator, because he’s one of the best. What he’s demonstrates, though, is how when you have that move or set of moves down, you can stop thinking about the move and open yourself to the applications. In his hands, a simple deck of cards becomes a tool he can use the same way a master painter can realize new realities with paints and a brush.

And like said master painter, like most master artists, he’s not limited in just one medium. Going back to the thimble I mentioned before, when Shawn picked it up and started playing with it, he started spewing different ideas and premises that could be applied, riffing ideas out. Later, at dinner, I mentioned a routine that’s just beginning to take root in my mind, and he started riffing on that, opening me to additional possibilities I hadn’t even had an inkling of. Whether I work the ideas into the routine, it started the juices flowing with a chemistry that I hadn’t even considered.

For everything that happened at the Jam, it surely didn’t feel like six hours

For an analogy of methods and styles between the three presenters, I’ll try this: Ice McDonald is the shot of tequila you and your friends taste and drink down to get an evening’s festivities started. You’re not wasted by any means, but you’re fired up for what’s to come. Chuck Arkin’s presentation and manner is the smooth bourbon you share as you and your friends share a good moment of bonding, maybe after having a bite to eat along the way. And Shawn Farquhar, he’s that cocktail you get you ask the bartender to make you their favorite drink to mix, where you know you’re going to get a combination of liquors in a surprising way that knocks you off your feet. Either that, or he’s the jungle juice of every liquor in the house of some rowdy party. I’m not sure which.

Slainte mhath!

For more information on the International Brotherhood of Magicians, go to www.magician.org.

In St. Louis, you can find out about IBM Ring One at ibmring1.com.

Ice McDonald’s website is at icestormentertainmentgroup.com.

For Shawn Farquhar, you can visit his site at www.magichampion.com or visit his YouTube channel here.

Ice McDonald, Chuck Arkin, me and Reggie, and Shawn Farquhar

Ice McDonald, Chuck Arkin, me and Reggie, and Shawn Farquhar

Lecture Review – Wayne Houchin, IBM Ring 1, 11AUG2014

For starters, by this point in my time while taking this made business of legerdemain a bit seriously, between the couple of conventions I’ve been to and clubs, I’ve only seen somewhere between 20-30 magic lectures. For magicians who’ve been in this longer, that’s quite a small number. That being said, I’ve had the opportunity to see some great lectures. Only a small few have been less than inspiring, but most of them give me something to walk away with that ends up in that mental backpack that carries all the random crap that I end up pulling out at some point and incorporating. By all means, I should have written about a few in general that I never did due to either personal sloth or just plain regular life taking control of my time.

That being said, last night’s lecture by Wayne Houchin was outstanding. My own take-away was this was a great lecture, and the comments by the other magicians that I heard confirmed what I felt.

Now, if you’re one of those people that, like me, has done away with normal television and has opted for just what you can get online, you might not be aware of Wayne’s television appearances, including the Discovery Channel’s “Breaking Magic: The Magic of Science.” I had seen Wayne’s products advertised by magic retailers and knew his name, but before his lecture, I wanted to know more about him before I saw him. Where I saw his name over and over again was behind the scenes as one of the magic creators whose works are used by some very visible magicians, such as Criss Angel and David Blaine. Wayne’s illusions are outstanding and very effective to pleasing and amazing the audiences and this is really where this review starts.

Coming into the lecture, Wayne and his wife Frania were there to meet and greet everybody as they arrived. Wayne’s very bright and personable and the type of guy you just feel you’re going to like. He’s there to please the audience, and as he mentioned in the lecture, it’s that connection that comes from pleasing the audience and feeling that energy flowing back and forth between performer and audience that is the magic that we crave when we’re performing.

Admittedly, when magicians are performing for other magicians, the energy is different than when performing for laypeople. We know so many aspects of slights and performance machinations that it’s got to be different. In this case, Wayne’s main theme of this lecture, called “Remix,” is how he’s taken pre-existing effects and reworked them. In some cases, rebuilding them from the ground up to where the DNA of the original effect is only evident when he tells the lifecycle of how it developed. In fact, when you read the lecture notes (also, the most gorgeous lecture notes I’ve gotten, yet), you’ll find not one trick covered was solely his, even though, by the time he’s done, it pretty much is. It’s kind of like listening to Dylan’s original recording of “All Along the Watchtower” and then comparing to what Hendrix did afterwards. In all cases, Wayne takes a premise and rebuilds it through his own originality and developing the trick to his needs.

Okay, this might not seem like such as big deal, but in addition to discussing the techniques used, he walked us through the observations and thought processes (as much as could be covered in such a venue and still be entertaining). He discussed the evolution of how the effects developed after the initial premise was performed and what he found with crowd reactions and the additional tweaks he made along the way without bogging us in the details. During the lecture, he did this with confidence and enthusiasm without any real sense of egotism. Admittedly, by the point that he gave his lecture to us, he’s performed it around the world, so I doubt we could hit him with much that he hasn’t seen or heard in responses from the magicians watching, but he never gave a feeling of “been there, done that.”

For my personal take-away from this, outside of the seriously amazing work he showed us, his discussions on what aspects he looked at to developing the effect for how he wanted to perform it was the food he gave to my mind. He discussed the input from other magicians and what they called him out on to push the effect from being good to great. Wayne’s confident, but not to the degree that he’s not open to input and criticism from his peers when developing. His development of an effect originally produced by Jay Sankey showed how he took a close-up effect that would work, at its largest working, in a parlor-sized audience, to an effect that could be played to a full-sized theater with no video screens. It was his discussions in aspects like this that had me more sucked into the lecture than anything else.

For me, because I typically perform outdoors in a situation that leaves me in the potential for being seen from 360 degrees by the audience and passers-by, I’ve left some effects that I would love to do either on one of the far back-burners or just to collect dust altogether. It’s left me feeling a bit defeated, but this lecture gave me a renewed sense of “Screw it. Let’s do the impossible, even by magician standards.” I mean, it’s not a particularly new concept, but you know, when you take that inspiration from a man who’s shot lightning from his fingertips (not featured at this lecture), man, it seems all the more worthwhile.

Wayne’s final words were how it wasn’t anything that was on his merch table or in his notes that was important, but what you develop and share between you and your audience where the real magic was. This wasn’t just rhetoric that Wayne was spouting. Anybody who loves performing knows just how true that is.

Wayne, thanks for one of our best lectures at Ring 1 and certainly one of the top lectures I’ve seen in my own development.

Yeah, as per usual, I had to get the fan-boy shot with the performer of the night.

Yeah, as per usual, I had to get the fan-boy shot with the performer of the night.

Another Dose of Magic – Roy Zaltsman in Houston

Tomorrow night, Wednesday, 06NOV2013, IBM Ring 1 will host a mentalism lecture by Israeli magician Roy Zaltsman (www.telepathylive.com). He has a number of videos on YouTube, but I chose one that was taken from the lecture he gave in Houston. Even in this short video, he shows that in addition to being an internationally acclaimed mentalist, he’s also a fine entertainer. It’s a lecture I’m seriously looking forward to.

Roy Zaltsman in Houston

Shameless Self Promotion – Purina Farms Haunted Hayloft

This weekend is the first weekend of the Purina Farms Haunted Hayloft (www.purinafarms.com/media/330080/HauntedFlierver4.pdf). Tomorrow night, Friday, 17OCT2013, I will be doing a 25 minute show with Terry Richison. As of this point, the current line-up for times and performers is:

Oct.
18. Terry Richison, Jason Stack
19. Terry Richison, Steve Zuelke
20. Larry Minth, Tom Westerheide

25. Larry Corona, Andy Leonard
26. Don Burgon, Larry Skorepa
27. Dan Davis, Jeff Lefton

Times are:

Friday and Saturday
5:30, 6:30, 7:30, 8:30
Sunday
3:30, 4:30, 5:30, 6:30

Two Magic Clubs Are Better Than One

In the St. Louis area, we have two magic clubs, which are local chapters of national and international organizations: The Society of American Magicians Assembly 8 and The International Brotherhood of Magicians Ring 1. When I first got into the magic scene almost a year ago, I asked what the difference in the clubs was and, politics aside, was it necessary to have two clubs. In that time, I’ve found having the two clubs does create more opportunity and experience that just one club I don’t think would.

Now, before I go on, let me disclose that I don’t know how the other clubs in the other cities interact with each other. I can only comment on my experience within St. Louis.

When I got started on this personal journey, I had no idea I would want to perform for more than either friends or (and the reason I joined up in the first place) maybe getting a chance to perform for kids at a children’s hospital. In fact, the main reason I had any real interest in finding out about the clubs was about performing for local charities and such.

The first non-lecture club meeting I attended was with Assembly 8. The way the meeting went that night was, after a business meeting, the Vice President at the time went around asking for names of everybody who would like to perform that night. Of course I said no, but I was excited to sit and see what the others did. What I saw encouraged me. I saw a number of members perform, and almost as many tricks failed as worked.

Either way the trick went, the atmosphere was warm and jovial. People laughed and had a good time. Nobody laughed at the performer. It was always laughing with them. The eye of mockery or disdain never showed itself. It was all done among friends.

When I finally performed my first trick for the club a few meetings down the road, it was bad. Certain principles I hadn’t really cottoned on to, yet, and it was clumsy as all hell, complete with club members on the ground helping me find a rhinestone that had fallen out of one of my gimmicks. After that clumsy act, though, some of the members came up afterwards and started telling me stories and anecdotes about their starts. With the warmth and camaraderie, I felt encouraged to meet up with the other magicians at the first of many of the informal Round Table meetings and just listen to the stories that abounded along with whatever magic anybody needed to do. Because of some of the moves I had tried to incorporate into my routine, I got to know Harry Monti, who is pretty much the Godfather of St. Louis magic. When he started working with me on one particular move, the whole table watched like it was a master class.

OK, I’ve digressed a bit, but it’s that warmth in acceptance that drew me further into this whole mess, but what I’m really trying to get at in my roundabout way is that Assembly 8 provides a nurturing atmosphere because, as most of the crowd you perform in front of at meetings knows the secrets behind what you’re doing. If you fail, you don’t have to fear that you’re giving any secrets away. Especially when starting out, because you’re only going to give away the basics that most members know. They’ll also give you a hand in getting better at what you’re doing.

Ring 1 is a bit different. Even though there is a Magic 101 class before each meeting, it feels like the bar is higher when it comes to performing. On the other hand, though, this is a group that provides more opportunity to perform for the public.

A few months after I first started coming to the meetings, they circulated a sign-up list for performers to perform for the Shriners’ Children’s Hospital each month. I signed up once for later in the year in hopes of having a 20 minute routine by then. After that list started circulating, they asked for volunteers to work at a Juvenile Diabetes event, either as a performer or to teach basic magic tricks at a table that would be set up. OK, now I had an opportunity to do something that was basically easy, but still get to do something for the community and learn a bit about working closely with the public as a magic performer. I got to teach some rubber band magic and a simple card trick and never had a moment during that time that I had to worry too much. If I stumbled, there were other experienced guys around me to catch me. I got a chance to listen to patter, try my own, and watch what was working and what wasn’t. For doing something so simple, I learned a lot.

As one of my double majors in school had been in technical theater, when the first show came up, I signed up to work in the stage crew, not realizing I would be the backstage crew. Once again, a good experience as I learned more about how the magicians were interacting with the crowd. You know, you can watch plenty of videos on doing a trick or read the same, but it’s only live that you begin to see it all put into practice. I started to build friendships with the guys I was working with, even if it was just as stage hand.

Admittedly, personal initiative has played a part in opening doors, but Ring 1 has provided throughout the year plenty of opportunity to push myself as a magical performer in front of lay people. Throughout the year, they also offer more lectures by touring working pros so you get additional advice from a wider variety of types of sources.

When it came to the local convention, the Midwest Magic Jubilee, it was two Ring 1 members that pushed me to get out there and play to my strengths. Mike Niehaus and Terry Richison opened my eyes to the possibilities presented. Because of Terry pushing me to compete in one of the competitions, even when I knew there was no likelihood of winning, he explained that I would get valuable feedback from judges who were top magicians. That was very valuable advice. I keep the scoring sheets handy to this day and review the notes the judges made. Personal feedback from the likes of Levent and Boris Wild is just not something I could have gotten pretty much any other way at this stage of my development.  Mike helped me see how much I would get out of working the convention just in what I would learn from working backstage. Damned if he wasn’t right. I ended up in conversations I probably wouldn’t have had any time soon had not pretty much every one of the guest magicians known be by sight, if not name, from doing everything from running one magician all over the North side of St. Louis looking for a late-night Wal-Mart for supplies to working backstage to helping to run the close-up competition.

There are plenty of people who are only members of one club or another for reasons of logistics or internal politics (sigh), but there are also plenty like me who are active members of both.

Between the nurturing atmosphere of Assembly 8 and the many opportunities Ring 1 has provided me, being a member of two different clubs has been a great help in my development as a performing magician.

I raise my glass of water as a meager toast to the friends and mentors I’ve found on this road, no matter where we’ve met. Thank you for the experience and fellowship.

Slainte mhaith!

Me with Harry Monti, the Godfather of St. Louis Magic and the first one to welcome me into this strange business

Me with Harry Monti, the Godfather of St. Louis Magic and the first one to welcome me into this strange business

Experience Review – JDRF Walk for the Cure, St. Louis, 06OCT2013

One of the things I want to write about in this blog are the experiences I have while learning to be a better magician and performer. I don’t know how many people get into magic like this during mid-life, so I don’t know how my experiences compare to anybody else’s, so comments to that effect are always welcome and encouraged.

Right, then. Here we go.

A couple of months ago, a call was put out for magicians from I.B.M. Ring 1 to perform for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (http://stl.jdrf.org) Walk for the Cure over in the Kids’ Corner by Steve Finkelstein, who coordinates our participation with JDRF events. Enjoying the idea of performing, let alone performing for a good cause, I submitted myself.

When Steve responded later, he told me I could perform my busking routine for the crowds, and I was pretty jazzed. That is, up until early the morning of the event after a fitful night of waking up due to my sinuses beginning to drain due to changes in the weather. Sigh. But seriously, not being crippled or contagious (this happening in the spring and fall is nothing new to me) and still having a voice, I was damn sure going to be out there. (Note: This review would have been posted earlier, but said sinus condition has left me incapacitated for the past few days.)

As soon as I got out there, I was warmly welcomed in my Steve, Larry Minth, and Tom Westerheide, who had arrived there before me. After a quick discussion with Steve, I found I was going to set up in front of about 50 seats. After my last trip out busking, where I was set upon by a few teenagers who successfully got into my head a few weeks before, I’ll admit, I was feeling less than outgoing in calling in the crowd. After a little bit of encouragement from Steve, though, I started getting into the swing of calling in the crowds. “Young ladies,” or “Young sirs, would you like to watch some magic?”

All in all, the experience was very rewarding. The groups I performed for tended to start off small, usually about 5-10 people and, except for my last go round, always ended a larger crowd, even if some of the initial people had moved on. After one group, I realized I had performed my 12-15 minute routine for about 30 people. That might not sound like much, but at this stage, being able to get in a crowd that size felt pretty successful. I realize that the folks teaching magic at the booth behind me were probably also sending people my way, but still, that feels like a win.

Before, in my routine, I had started off with my Linking Rings routine hoping the sound and shiny objects would help to draw a crowd, but this time I started off smaller and more intimate doing my Sponge Ball bit. From that moment on in the act, I never had to even ask a second time for volunteers. Only once did the wind work against me and leave me scrambling for a sponge ball that had been sent flying off and rolling about 30 feet. Hazards of the gig, I suppose. Steve Barcellona (http://stevebarcellona.com), one of the small number of pro magicians in our organizations, later advised me against doing the sponge balls for this type of reason, and I see his point. On the other hand, it tends to work for me, so the risk/reward factor is keeping it in the act. When it’s windy, though, I may have to rethink my strategy.

Because he was able to watch my routine and saw me perform one trick that he also does, Steve B. was able to give me performance pointers on my movement which I wasn’t aware of. Even though my ending to that bit always got laughs from dads in the crowd, I can see what he was getting at and the advice was perfect. (Sorry, but when you pretty much get out of a “situation” by telling a kid to “Pull my finger,” you’re going to get dads to laugh.) That may be one of the best things about performing not only for regular people, but also while being watched by fellow magicians: they can help you hone your act. I might not be following Steve B.’s advice on doing the sponge balls, but I know why. On the other hand, with the other bit, I’ve started practicing the movements so I can maximize the impact of the performance.

As for my work with the Linking Rings and my performance of “Ropes Through the Neck,” I found that even though the movements are pretty much fully ingrained into me, whether it was because I wasn’t feeling 100 percent or I hadn’t practiced enough (probably a combination of both) some of the moves didn’t feel as smooth as usual. If the audience caught on to what I was doing, they didn’t show it, but there were definitely moments where things didn’t feel completely right, even if the move was successful.

And then came the worst moment of the entire bit. It was at the end of the three hours, people were packing up and the crowds were thin. I was pretty much spent, but I wanted to give it one more go. I stopped a young girl and her mom and performed the sponge balls and ropes just for them, and I probably shouldn’t have. I wasn’t just phoning it in, but I wasn’t near at the top of my game and the little girl cottoned on to what I was doing and neither trick got past her. I should have stopped while I was ahead, but the high of the last successful group was that little push that makes the little voice inside say, “Just give it another go.” Though the mom was impressed, I flubbed when it came to my real target audience at the time. Hello awkward experience.

One other piece of advice was imparted to me by Steve B., and one that I’ll try to use when I hit the streets again, let alone working any crowd. I told him about the teenagers from the few weeks prior, and he told me to listen to them next time it happens. And busking on the streets ensures it will happen again. Maybe the hecklers are calling me out for something I’m missing when I practice. Despite the ”fight or flight” feeling that goes through me during those times, I’ll try to pay better attention. Admittedly, it might not be anything I’m doing, but in case it’s not a case of jerks being jerks, I’ll try to remain open to what they’re calling me out on.

My thanks and appreciation to those Ring 1 members that came out on a brisk morning to perform, teach, and support the walkers: Steve Finkelstein, Larry Minth, Andy Leonard, Tom Westerheide, Dana Scott, Steve Barcellona, Tom and Audrey Levit, D. J. Lentz,  and anybody else I forgot or didn’t realize was there.

More so, my thanks and appreciation to those kids, friends and family who were at the walk. It was a pleasure making some of you smile.

Ring 1 Members at the JDRF 2013 Walk for the Cure

Accessibility in the Magic Community

One of the cool things I’ve found in the magic community in the short time I’ve been involved is how accessible the top-ranking guys generally are to those of us in the lower ranks. There’s something to the name of one of the major organizations, the International Brotherhood of Magicians, which rings true. Admittedly, the name doesn’t reflect the number of women in the group, which is admittedly small, but it does reflect the camaraderie within the ranks.

I’m not saying I’ll have David Copperfield on my speed-dial any time soon, but in general, I’ve found that, as time and schedules allow, the top guys are willing to respond to emails within a reasonable time and help if you have questions.

Yeah, there are a slew of egos involved, but you have to have a good amount of that to perform this stuff in front of a crowd. And face it, as far as the performing arts are concerned, magicians are held in regard not that far above street mimes. I mean, people know our art is fooling them and messing with their perceptions, so it does take a bit of ego to step out there and perform.

But, unlike other areas of the performing arts, like with actors or musicians, the top people are willing to give time to those of us who are trying to chew our way up.

In a prior post, I mentioned the warm welcomes I received when I first came to the local meetings, in particular by Harry Monti and Dan Todd, but it didn’t just end with those guys. It started with them. Within a short time, I was welcomed in by a lot of the members and was encouraged to keep learning, practicing, and performing in order to get better. Within the first meeting or two, I was invited to hang out after the meetings with this group of friends in arms and meet up on Saturday afternoons for lunch and to hang out at their informal Round Table meetings.

As I listened to the conversations flying around me, I kept noticing that people talked about various other top stage magicians as though friends. And not just one or two names, but a lot of them.

You know, there is quite a bit of truth in that. I’ve been only to one convention so far, and that was due to it being in St. Louis, truth be told, but in that time, I got to meet and talk with the top magicians who were there, and it was more than just in the sense of meet and greet and shuffle along. Now, I was working the convention and was working for them, so I may have had additional exposure, but I also know that these guys were in the dealer room, in the lounge area and just hanging out with everybody else.

At other conventions, it’s pretty much the same. And most of the performers come through doing lectures, where, once again, they’re accessible and generally happy to chat, exchange stories, give advice, and just generally socialize.

It’s great knowing that there is a camaraderie between the artists and performers and hobbyists. I may not be hanging with the highest echelon of the entertainment industry (David Copperfield, aside), but I think I’m definitely in the coolest.

(Then again, I wear a bow tie and either a derby or Panama hat, so my idea of cool might be a bit skewed from everyone else’s.)

Round Table, sometime in June 2013

Just one of the collections of friends getting together at the weekly Saturday Round Table

A Quick Review of Shawn Farquhar’s performance for the 2013 I.B.M. Ring 1 President’s Banquet

Now, for anybody reading this blog, if you are unfamiliar with Shawn Farquhar, he has more international magic awards, not to mention multiple awards from Canada, than most in this business. I could recap them, but seriously, just read the Wikipedia article on him at  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shawn_Farquhar or look at his site at http://magichampion.com.  I don’t need to repeat the credits and discuss what’s already been written.

I could tell you how stellar his act is and do a play by play of what he did, but when a magician is in his class, you know it’s going to be a hell of a show, unless things are really off, which was not the case by far. He is bloody well phenomenal. 

So what am I going to review, then? Well, it goes back to what this blog is in regards to: How his performance affects me and where I’m going.

Do I hope to someday win some awards? Hell, yes. I enjoy competing, and doing magic makes that no different. Really, though, it’s his personality on and off stage.

I’ve been reading a book by a busking magician, “To Lure with Spectacle” by Jimmy Talksalot. He references something said by Jim Cellini about when you perform, you have to play with the audience. In addition to the amazing skill that Shawn shows in his show, he is always playing with the audience. He was cheerful and inviting before the show and continued that same personality throughout the show and afterwards as people came up to talk.

Yeah, there was quite a bit of comedy to his act, but I never got the sense that any of the smiling and joking around were purely an act for our benefit.  Yeah, he is a consummate performer, but when he performed his final routine for the night, “Shape of My Heart,” which was highly technical and is one of the pieces he has won awards for, as I watched the close-up on the projection screen, I also glanced up from time to time to catch the look on his face. It was the look of a man who, even though he is doing some seriously technical work, he’s still a kid at play.

Now, he’s still just another guy, and he’s doing what is his career, so he’s got all the hardship and ugly bits of life that go with that. For all I know, when he goes home, he could go back to absolute toil and turmoil. I don’t know because we all have lives behind closed doors, for better or for worse.

As a magician and performer, though, for all there is of that real life, you see an adult kid at play with a room full of new friends.

When I go out and perform, that’s where I want to be. If I’m busking for a few people or for a large crowd, I want to be able to make that moment happen. I’m already feeling it quite a bit when I perform, but I still have enough nervous energy running that it’s not always as evident on either side of the “stage.”

It might sound sentimental or cliché, but when you play like that and that joy is infectious, for all the sleight of hand and skill, that joy is where the magic is.

Yeah, I want a little of what he’s got, and I will get there.