SO this week we have seen an amazing final for Britains Got Talent. But Why has it been so amazing? To start with we have had more magicians than ever, surprisingly as SiCo initially hated or avoided them. However, they have had to bow to public opinion and have now realised just how popular magic is amongst the general public. But why do we love magic so much? Some people hate it… although in my experience the reason why so many people hate it is because they don’t like not knowing how things happen or that feeling of being fooled. Often however these are the best people to entertain! Not because I want to fool them even more but often because as an entertainer its always very rewarding to be able to entertain and have these spectators feel entertained and not fooled. Also they will often be the people who will tell everyone about how good the magician is, usually with the words “I dont like magic or magicians…but…”
So just for now let’s forget the tricks (Well lets come back to that later or the next Blog)…what is it about magic (or maybe just my magic!) that people love?
Before anyone is given the puzzle to work out I always believe that I am there to ENTERTAIN. I am an entertainer and that means that I spend a lot of time thinking not just how perform a trick in an entertaining way. (Once I have the plot, then I know how I can fit the misdirection in to it and all the other things that make the trick mindbogglingly amazing!)
Everyone loves stories! Magic tricks usually give us an opportunity to tell a story and sometimes add a personal connection particularly if that story includes a personal borrowed item. With the opportunity of telling a story comes the opportunity to involve people, draw the audience in, involve them emotionally. This gives people the opportunity to responded create a connection with the performer and then respond, celebrate or just applaud the grand finale of that story or adventure.
Again having the opportunity of telling that story gives a lovely opportunity to involve some rapport and comedy with an audience to make them laugh and draw them in even more emotionally.
Of course not all magic needs a story or even not all stories need to be comedies however for me this is how I like to perform, I love the intricacies of a joke, comedy humour etc, everyone loves a good laugh. Sometime they also need a good laugh!) Oh and it also doesn’t need to be at someones expense in fact that’s my first rule of entertaining, If everyone can’t laugh at a joke then its not funny. If you want to explore more about finding a funny joke or what makes us laugh dig out Richard Wisemans Quirkology book! Any way back to the magic!
The trick is all about the plot of the story. I hate magic routines, I hate it when magicians suggest you have to start your routine with a trick that instantly engages (they call it “an opener”) Its a bit like when a stand up comedian gets on to the stage, the internal dialogue of the performer and audience is saying…whats the first joke going to be, get that first laugh then it will be ok? Although wait a minute, look around and you will see the best comedians will actually not even have a first laugh joke, they have the confidence that they don’t need that first laugh. It’s all about meeting the audience, saying hello and getting them to engage, join in and start that journey of entertainment.
A good magic trick or magician should also be the same. My magic performances usually start with mingling during a drinks reception, this is often the best way of getting to know people as well. Often the best trick is saying hello, making your new friends smile and engaging with them socially. Then they know I’m just there to entertain (and not to fool or make them feel fooled). I do this when perform my magic, but also my magic is laid out like a story with moments of fun and building to a sudden and unexpected surprise ending. Some stories need a big surprise but some stories are great because you know what the ending will be but you just want to relive that experience.
(That’s a bit like watching your favourite film several times, you know the story but you just want to be involved in the telling and the emotion over and over again. People say you a magician never repeats his tricks. I probably try and avoid repeating the same tricks to the same audience, not because I am worried they will see how its done – they won’t – but why not tell a different story if I have a wealth of great stories to tell!! Often that one guest does follow me or insist that I do the trick again to another group or they sneak a peak at me doing it to another group. They are quite welcome to do that I’ve nothing to hide! )
Back to the story…If I am performing a routine…errr…. story….trick then the magic is there to add those special moments. Often I have a start usually just saying hello or asking to borrow an item or just simply welcoming body language is enough for people to want to engage in what follows. The middle is just the journey to get to the end, it can be where those little moments happen the card that disappears and then reappears without thought, an action that might hardly get noticed but when it is it adds to lift the storytelling. (A bit like when that stormtrooper hits his head or when Stan Lee appears as a cameo or the irrelevant but deep characters of a Coen Brother movie make them so watchable!) I love adding those tiny parts, (often they might cost more perform then the final effect, but so worth it!)
Then the big finish happens the surprise ending and people love it because the story has been well told!
But with every good story there is always the Epilogue, this is the bit I love to add in. Coming back to a comedy analogy (yes I’m a comedy geek, have you noticed) a great comedy moment happens when the gag is done but then its taken that one step further and then further again. That’s what makes a great comedian, the mind that spots those extra moments past what most of us have already expected…(Its why Airplane IS the funniest film of all time, there are the gags that you see coming then they just squeeze in one more and then another and another). Once the main trick is done it’s great to just be able to add that bit more. Like the borrowed bank note that appears somewhere amazing…before its given back it might accidentally vanish again and reappear and then get wiped clean of any signatures etc. Its those added moments that add the surprise the fun and ultimately entertain and not bewilder!
Everyone loves Stories and if Magic is performed well then it performed with a great story. The best story is sometimes when you don’t know that it is being told!
Back to BGT…my most hated performance this year was Mr X, great tricks but a magician hidden behind a mask. Why was he hiding, really I though “get out there let’s see some engagement with an audience”. It frustrated me so much. I genuinely hated it until that final DUH! moment I hadn’t seen coming, that moment when Marc Spellman revealed the whole story, which for him has been a journey of probably about 3 years. The parts that start right from the first, first audition, we think its over when he finished his journey at the semi finals but then there’s that killer finish a huge surprise that took an unlikely to win act right to the top with probably the biggest piece of showmanship that the show has ever seen. But even more blowing the roof of the production and pretence of the “TV show” experience of what is unseen as BGT!
Thank you Marc!!