After yesterday’s Daily Dose featured Ice McDonald, it’s time to link you to another Shawn Farquhar (www.magichampion.com) video that he just posted to his YouTube channel last week. I’ve linked to a couple of his videos before (here and here), and he’s always someone to watch. The fun part of this video is that it was done while goofing around with the Vancouver IBM Ring #92 (The Vancouver Magic Circle) at a restaurant. It’s one more demonstration of how you never know what to expect when Shawn’s involved.
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.
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.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted in this blog, and it’s time I got the ball rolling again. Fortunately, in this review, I get to review one of my established favorite magicians, whom I wrote a review for before, and a magician whose lectures I just dig, plus one magician I hadn’t heard of before.
OK, to start off with, one of the things Shawn Farquhar ushered into the IBM when he took the presidency last summer was the idea of an IBM Jam. These are member-only events that are a combination of fellowship and presentations. The lecturers donated their time and expenses to be at these events. Shawn was able to schedule a handful of these, and St. Louis Ring One was able to host the final one of Shawn presidential tenure. Also on hand at each event was Kenrick “Ice” McDonald, who in addition to being an Order of Merlin in the IBM, is also the current president of the SAM. For those readers who may not be familiar with the organization acronyms I’m throwing out, the IBM is the International Brotherhood of Magicians, and the SAM is the Society of American Magicians.
The Jams are open to all IBM members, and even though Ring One hosted, we had magicians show up from all over the Midwest and also from the South. I’ve been working with thimbles lately, so I started talking to few guys also into thimbles from other rings, not to mention got some ideas from my friend Joey Night when he pulled out a thimble he made.
After about an hour of everybody talking, jamming different tricks (mainly cards, but also coins and whatever else people brought with them), and just getting to know each other a bit, our first lecture started.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Ice McDonald!
Okay, this is the second time I’ve seen Ice lecture, and for me, the man is like a tent revival evangelist preaching the gospel of performing good magic. Seriously, I dig this man’s lectures. If there is one magician who gets me fired up to not only perform, but go out and perform well, giving everything I’ve got both in rehearsal and performance, it’s Ice.
One of the topics he focused on was practicing your outs. An out is what you do when a trick fails, whether it’s at the end or somewhere midway. His delivered thoughts on how to practice outs in a way that, even though I hadn’t thought of them that way before, I’m sure that there were some that had. I could go into detail about his thoughts on this, but it wouldn’t do justice to Ice’s message.
Here’s the kicker, though. Another strong message Ice preached was not just to go out and perform magic, but that we owe it to the art to go out and perform good magic. See, it’s a message we’ve heard plenty of times before, but Ice’s message is not as much a condemnation of bad magic (it’s there, but that’s not the focus), as much as “Go forth and perform Good Magic. Your audience is watching and they deserve it.” Coming from Ice and his passion for the art, it’s a bit inspiring.
Now, Ice is noted mainly as a stage magician who has made his mark mainly for his routine with doves, and his act is outstanding, but where I’ve appreciated his magic from the first time I saw him, I can say I became a fan and thoroughly appreciate why he’s the president of the SAM (first black president, by the way) at dinner after the Jam. This is a bit of a digression, but it is why as much as I think of him as a friend in this business, I’m now a fan.
See, we had dinner at the hotel the Jam was at, and we had one server for the horde of us. As soon as the server found out what we did, magicians at the table started performing for him and frying the poor guy’s head. Now, we’re getting ready to leave, and he wants to see one last trick. Ice has been ready for this. This kid is the only layman watching, and Ice performs a couple of mentalism tricks with cards. His final trick in his routine is one I know I’m familiar with a variation of, so I’m sure I wasn’t the only one, but damn! When Ice finished his routine, it felt like a miracle. His poise and command, it was like watching a wizard with every other magi a trickster. When Shawn said before that Ice sweated magic, he was not kidding. When Ice was done, it was a proverbial mic drop. I saw every bit of why Ice has the respect he has. If I had known what was coming, I would have filmed it. Then again, all I would have filmed was floor as I was pretty much dumbstruck.
Okay, back from the digression.
Next up, Ladies and Gentleman, Chuck Arkin and Shawn Farquhar…
Part Two can be read here.
Shawn Farquhar (www.magichampion.com) re-posted this yesterday, and it is a fun piece of magic. This was filmed some years ago for Toronto’s “Breakfast Television,” and I saw this recording on his DVD lecture notes “Bread and Butter.” I said it before when mentioning Shawn, but it is the sense of play combined with such beautiful slight of hand that makes him such a great performer to watch. That comment alone feels weird to write, especially when the beauty in sleight of hand is in what you don’t see. I guess the only other area I think of like it is diving, where the smaller the splash (the less you see), the better the performance.
I’ve mentioned Shawn Farquhar (www.magichampion.com) a few times before in this blog, but I just realized, even though I may have posted links to some of his routines on Facebook, I haven’t had any of his performances as a Daily Dose. This is one of his signature pieces, “Shape of My Heart,” and it is one of my favorite card magic performances. He used it as the finale to his performance at the 2013 IBM Ring 1 President’s Banquet, and it was a perfect closer to the show.
Tonight’s routine was a mixture of victory and frustrations. I had been working on new material for doing shows, and this was a test of some of the new stuff in addition to using some of the material I used all summer. All in all, though, the crowd was good and we had fun both during and after the acts. At this point, I’m hoping to pull enough into a good act to start performing, probably starting with the elderly care facilities and working my way into bigger gigs from there. Some of this I’m sure I’ve mentioned before in other blogs, but for anybody just joining in, I figured I’d do that little bit of recap.
After Ken Trokey did his routine, it was time for me to take the stage. After I got my gear in place, I started off with my Linking Rings routine. Now, before, my routine was pretty much Al Schneider’s, just adapted a bit for myself. Since the last time I performed it for a crowd, though, I’ve been reworking it. Between Levent’s Linking Rings DVD set and various lecture notes and printed routines, I had reworked things to a routine that I feel is strong for me, and I was jazzed to perform it. It’s still a five-ring routine, and I think it should be a stronger opener in addition to still being a good routine for busking when I start that again in the spring. And, even though I started strong, I got a bit confused in the routine and got some stuff out of order. Freaking ouch! I got to the point where I couldn’t see my outs, so I ended the routine while it was still okay. Because of the amount of manipulation involved in the rings, I know that either I should have put more time into the new routine or used the old routine while working through the new material until that was set enough for me to focus harder on the rings. Strong opening to the routine, but not so grand in the finish.
In the set list I had, I ended up dropping the next routine. It’s not a hard one to perform, but at this point I felt it was better to skip over the new and go back to one of my time and tested my routines. Okay, I hadn’t lost the crowd with the rings, but it felt like now I had them back on my side. And seriously, if you ever use the line, “Pull my finger” at the end of a routine that has fathers in the crowd, you know you have them in your corner. Cheap gag, but it seems to work.
The next two routines, my sponge ball bit and the Ropes Thru the Neck, were as solid as I knew they would be. It was at the performances for the Purina Farms Haunted Hayloft that I decided I needed to add a stronger ending to the sponge ball routine, and I had that at the ready, but at this point, I felt it was better to stay in my comfort zone because of my finale routine. As it was, both routines were happily received and we had fun.
And now we come up to what I’ve been stressing out about for the past month and a half, my new finale bit. Bits and pieces have been things that I wanted to do, but I didn’t know how to tie them up together, and at this point, it’s feeling like I’ve got something I and the audience can have fun with. It starts out with my variation on Dan Garrett’s “World Famous Banana Trick” (carrot variation) before leading into my production of Reggie the Rabbit. We do a number of spring animal puppet gags before Reggie reveals a card selected by an audience member (this uses a prop made by Fort Wayne magician Dick Stoner). There are quite a number of tricks involved with the finale routine, so between going through the script and blocking, I was a bit stressed and excited about doing the routine. I might be using bits and pieces from throughout the magic books, but like the new Linking Rings routine, the arrangement is mine, so I’m a bit proud of it.
As it was, some bits got left out and some (a lot) of lines got dropped, but it worked! Not ready for a competition or anything, but we had a lot of fun. Bonus, though, is that the assistant I picked out for the routine is having another round of surgery tomorrow. Bad thing is, I never quite caught what her name was. I know there are plenty of ways around this as far as dialog is concerned, but this kinda means something to me. I love connecting to the audience as we play together, and it helps if it starts by knowing their names. On another note, I started working through this routine a few months ago, and when I performed for the hospital last, a girl by the name of Valora wanted to see a rabbit production. This pushed me to move this routine to the top of the list of routines to add. Sadly, even though she was supposed to be at the hospital until the day before Thanksgiving, she had additional surgery yesterday and wasn’t able to make it to the show tonight. Even worse, she’ll be in the hospital for another six months, so there’s a good chance she’ll be able to catch Reggie’s act. Sadly, she’ll still probably be in a halo. Poor kid, and that goes for all the ones who are out there. Considering the types of treatments kids receive at the Shriners Children’s Hospital, they’re not there just for an overnight stay.
As it was, it was a good night, overall. After our acts were done, I hung out with the kids some more, did a little bit of close-up, was shown a trick from my same lovely assistant from the Reggie routine, taught them a trick, and got out before I got dealt in to a game of Skip-Bo.
My main take-away from tonight’s performance, though is about playing with the audience. I found the more comfortable I was in performing a routine, the more it was me playing with the audience. I commented about this in my review of Shawn Farquhar’s performance, and I’ve been reminded of this while watching DVDs from John Shyrock. I love calling people up to the stage to keep them part of the act, and I find that I can’t stop smiling the entire time. In Shawn and John’s (sorry for the rhyme) performances, that’s the joy that I feel in the performance. Going with a combination of Murray Hatfield’s and David Ginn’s routining structures, I see how the routine selections can be applied in building that act. Also, going back to Levent, and reviewing his performances, I appreciate how much magic is built into a routine without ever saying “For my next trick…” while performing copious amounts of magic.
Also, I’ve got a greater appreciation of adding new material to routines. My prowess in magic isn’t to the point that I’m able to do a whole new 30 minute act of material I’ve never done before. My new finale was big enough that I should have stayed on with tried and true for the rest of it until the finale was solid enough. Problem is, I’ve broken the seal on some stuff, like the rings routine, I don’t want to look back. The other new material can be worked in and I think I might have to perform a hell of a lot more at club meetings to get the kinks worked out of some other bits. It feels close to go time, though, as far as going to market.
And, hey, a few hours after the performance is done, I’m still smiling about it. How cool is that?
Oh, and for little Paige: You may find out sometime how I did the sponge ball routine, but you won’t hear it from me how it’s done.
Some time ago, I was in a discussion, and I brought up advice given to me about busking and who gave it to me. Now, the advice was that if I wanted to make money busking, that I should give up on doing magic and just twist balloons. Though this advice is valid, and it was given to me by a fellow magician who does more than just magic when he performs, it’s not advice that I want to follow and mainly because I want to do magic. So, yeah, I’m gonna go the hard way through. When I mentioned this, though, one of the prominent members in the group replied that, well, the one guy would say that, but he’s not a real magician. The comment stunned me, and I didn’t reply at the time.
The entertainment industry is full of egos, and the magic community is no different. Face it, to get in front of people and perform, whether it’s acting, performing music, dancing, or doing card tricks, takes a certain amount of confidence and bravado. Even more so if you’re going to be paid and hope to continue getting gigs. Skill is a given, but to a certain degree, a lot of tricks don’t require a whole lot of skill to perform, just a lot a showmanship to be done well for people.
I do mention the part about skill because I do occasionally see top magicians make an appearance on television on one chat show or another performing tricks that are so well-guarded all it takes is a trip to the library to find out how they’re done. (Please don’t get me started on YouTube and how much you can find there showing how a trick is done in such a way that it’s embarrassing and painful to watch. Worse than all the drunken karaoke renditions of “Friends in Low Places” I’ve endured.) Even in cases where a gimmick does the work, thus, removing the skill factor, it does take showmanship to make the moment seem like a miracle.
Any way around it, though, practice is needed.
Now, in a way, each performance can be practice. New lines can be picked up, especially when the routine isn’t silent. But even in a silent routine, timing and crowd reactions to moments is learned, especially when the routine is new. Routines and acts are always evolving. Case in point, Howard Thurston, one of the greatest American magicians, paid attention to his audience. If something got a good reaction, he made note of it to keep in the act, even to the point that if it was a heckler who got off a particular good line, he would have one of his crew in the audience as a stooge to repeat the line in later performances.
Admittedly, though, once you start performing in the magic community, there are going to be two main types of people you will perform for: laypeople and other magicians. And really, the technical difficulty involved in a show to entertain magicians might not necessarily get as good a response with a crowd of laypeople. Even Shawn Farquhar’s performance for our I.B.M. Ring 1 President’s Dinner was not filled with illusions that I didn’t know the secrets of. Other than his final routine, I knew the tricks he was performing. Then again, even though the dinner was for a magic club, there were plenty of spouses and family members in attendance. Shawn, being an excellent performer as well as magician, was able to put on one hell of a show. I’ve not heard any complaints from anybody and even heard some people who weren’t sure it was a good idea to bring him in (mainly being cost-conscious) admit they were wrong. I’ve certainly not heard any complaints that Shawn didn’t perform magic.
Boris Wild did a lecture a while back (I didn’t get to see it, but I have the lecture notes) called “Creativity & Impact.” It focuses on those two aspects of creating an act and designing it for the best impact with an audience. I took quite a bit to heart and am working with the concepts in building my current act. One line does stick out, though, and that’s “To optimize the impact of your performance and have the best possible reactions from the spectators, you have to make sure they are interested in what you do.” Boris’ “Butterflies Act” moved me to tears. He knew what he wanted to do to make the act as strong with the audience as he could. In that act, he focused on the concepts of love and loss, but when he does other card tricks, he aims for just as strong of reactions, just with other emotional strings. Hell, if Boris did “Hippity Hop Rabbits,” he’d be playing it for as strong a reaction from the kids. (Note: “Hippity Hop Rabbits” doesn’t seem to be Boris’ style, but playing a routine for maximum impact certainly does.)
Going back to the “non-magician” who was discussed, the man performs magic in addition to a good amount of comedy and non-magic bits in his routines. He’s had some pretty strong gigs and gets even more because of his reputation. He has the audience eating out of his hand when he performs. The one who said that about him is even more prominent in the area and has a lot of gigs and also has the audience in the palm of his hand. If one had called the other an asshole, that’s fair. It would have never bothered me. You don’t have to like everybody you know in this business, but, you know, call it straight.
After reading through some message boards to see how other people responded to the question, “What is a magician?” I’ll leave it to the words of Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin, considered the father of modern conjuring: “A magician is an actor playing the part of a magician.”
I challenge anybody to say it better.
I’ve now been to a number of magic lectures, today’s being with Shawn Farquhar, and it has me thinking about what people intend to get out the lectures they go to.
Now, admittedly, I haven’t been to as many as a lot of the people involved in the magic scene have been to, and I don’t know what percentage of magicians, hobbyists, pros, or semi-pros, intend to get out of the lectures. I know for some people, if the lecturer isn’t selling a bunch of stuff, then they feel let down. There are an awful lot of magicians out there that are looking for that new trick being demonstrated that they can feel is a reputation maker. Some people are just collectors with hoards of stuff they’ve bought and the lecture is more or less a demonstration. I get that, but because I need to focus on learning and becoming proficient with the fundamentals. Maybe someday, I’ll buy more stuff at the lectures, but to me, I appreciate more than a demo show. In fact, one lecture I saw a number of months ago, I know I felt like it was lame because it seemed like mainly a sales pitch for a lot of gimmicks and was thoroughly unimpressed while some of the others, who walked out with loads of stuff, thought it was the best lecture they had ever seen. To this date, though, there are four lectures I’ve seen that stuck with me, and I’ll discuss why.
The first one on my list was with Ice McDonald (http://www.ice.mcdonald.net). In his lecture, he seemed to know his audience was mainly hobbyists or people wanting to break out and start really performing. He had stuff to sell, but mainly, for me, it was like a tent-revival encouraging magicians to perfect their craft and get out there and perform. Man, did that message sink in for me. Yeah, he sold some stuff, but what impressed me a bit later was watching Silly Jilly (http://www.sillyjilly.com) take something Ice had taught and sold and adapt it to her kids show. She combined elements from other tricks and came up with something that stuck with the kids. Ice’s routine wasn’t for kids. Not that it was inappropriate or anything, it just would have been lost on them, but Jill’s spin on it was what makes the trick work for her. Jill’s already a serious working performer, so I don’t know how much inspiration she got from the lecture other than the routine, but I know I came out wanting to perform even more than before.
Boris Wild (http://www.boriswild.com) is the next lecturer I want to discuss. To me, Boris is a true artist in magic and one of the nicest people I’ve met in this field. (All things considered, though, of the people I’ve had the privilege to meet in magic, most of them have been really kind, but Boris stands out.) In the notes for one of his past lectures, in the forward he states,
“…I am sure your closets at home are packed with props, books and DVDs you probably
have not had the time to study yet. So you already have a lot to play with. This is why I
would rather focus here on something other than tricks. I would rather focus on things
that professional magicians often keep to themselves and very rarely reveal to the magic community.”
That lecture was called “Creativity & Impact,” and even though that was not the lecture I saw, there was an awful lot of that attitude with what he taught. He sold only one gimmick, but what he showed us was how versatile that particular gimmick could be. What he encouraged was to take it and play with it. Jam with it and find new ways of making it work for you. It wasn’t a matter of letting the gimmick be the trick but rather and instrument for magic to be played on. Now, Boris’ talent and skill is insanely good and has one him awards and a hell of a lot of respect in the magic community, but it was the encouragement of taking this tool and playing with it to constantly come up with something new that was inspiring to me. Boris is one of my inspirations to going back and hammering out the fundamentals so I might be able to see the possibilities with educated eyes.
Shawn Farquhar’s lecture today (http://magichampion.com) was similar in some ways to Boris’. Shawn went through a lot of tricks and routines, but even more to the point, he strongly promoted the attitude of working and being creative with the gimmicks, utility moves, and concepts. The man has explored all the angles and is always delving into more. He didn’t discuss or show anything without going through additional concepts and applications. As you can see, I like the idea that Alton Brown promoted in his show, “Good Eats,” of avoiding uni-taskers as much as possible. Shawn is constantly inventing and building on tricks, whether he is the originator or it started out as someone else’s. It’s the joy of taking something known and turning it on its ear so that you’re constantly creating. It’s the joy of creation in addition to performing.
Finally, we get to Levent. (http://www.leventmagic.com) Levent, in addition to being an amazing magician and performer, is one of the best researchers into the history of effects. For me, I was completely sucked in to his lecture when he started an in-depth discussion of the Linking Rings, which have become my personal favorite piece of magic to perform, whether I’m performing for myself or for other people. When he gets into a piece of magic, it’s full immersion. He just recently released a 7 ½ hour four DVD set just on the rings, and it’s on my wishlist. What he has inspired in me is the desire to research what has been done with a particular routine to find out what has been done so that I can make something new from the pieces.
I’m still a student tracing drawings until I learn enough to draw freehand, but I can see the beauty and art that will be available to me once I’ve put in the time, whether it’s in performance or skill.
Man, I love this gig.
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.