Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Case for Competition, Part 2

Another type of competition that I think is very useful for growth as a magician is through magic contests.  In these contests, you create an act or routine that fits the criteria of the contest then enter the competition with the hopes of winning the approval of a panel of judges.  This is an excellent process.  If you choose to enter a competition you know that you will be up in front of your peers.  That alone is a very compelling reason to enter.  More than likely you will work hard to represent yourself well.  You will also have a deadline.  Having a hard deadline that cannot be changed is also an excellent way to push yourself to produce.  The best thing that most magicians can gain from this type of competition is not a first, second or third place.  Oh no.  The best thing that most magicians can gain from competing in a magic contest is the growth that comes with setting a deadline, working hard on your material and then getting useful feedback that you can apply to your act or routine.  Again, it really is an act of growth.  I have seen numerous decent magicians turn into really good magicians through the process of competing in magic contests.  That is what we as magicians and entertainers should strive for in our magic.  We should strive to grow as creators and performers.  
When I was actively competing I was forced to use all of my creativity, my routining and my performing skills in order to have a shot at my end goal, which was to win.   What I gained in the process of competing was so much more valuable than winning a place or a prize.  I forced myself out of my comfort zone.  I forced myself to take chances on my magic.  As I got feedback from different judges and other magicians who offered up their thoughts I got some fantastic ideas that I wouldn’t have come up with by myself.  My act evolved and so did I.  The act of competing helped me grow as a magician.
Finally, we should compete against ourselves.  I have the tendency to hold myself up to some relatively high standards.  That can be both really great and very difficult at the same time.  I used to hate watching video of myself.  Now, I know that a lot of people hate watching video of themselves too, but my reason for not enjoying watching myself was because I felt like I was watching someone that could be so much better. 
There were times when I watched video of myself that I felt embarrassed by what I saw.  I knew I was so much better than what I was seeing on that TV screen.  Seeing what I saw, and feeling the way I felt about what I saw forced me to continue pushing myself to grow as an entertainer.  Over time and through constant work I was able to get to a point where I am now proud to watch the performer that I have become.  Sometimes, I actually think I’m pretty good.
The truth of the matter is that in today’s magic world, many times, the act of creating or selecting material, routining and performing is an act that is done by the same person…you.  Consider pushing your limits through friendly competition with your peers and with yourself.  I think you’ll find yourself a better magician because of it!
Until next time...Make An Impact!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Case for Competition, Part 1

I want to explore the idea of competition in order to foster growth as a magician.  While I do fully expect to explore magic competitions as part of this discussion, that wasn’t my initial intent.  My initial thought was that magicians have no competition.  Stick with me for a minute while I explain myself.  I realized that when I was acting and studying acting full time as a student that I was constantly being challenged by other actors.  I was certainly challenged by my own interest in growth but, and maybe more importantly, I was being challenged by and was competing with every other actor who was interested in being cast for the same roles that I wanted.  I knew that every time I auditioned for a role, I was competing for that role with other actors who were just as good, if not better than I was.  Because I was in competition with other actors who also were well trained and wanted the role just as badly as I did, I learned how to fail.  And as I failed in obtaining every role I wanted, it spurred me on to continue seeking out training, workshops, and classes to help me grow.  That is a very difficult, yet wonderful process.  It’s a process that allows driven actors to continue working to become the best they can possibly be.
Magicians don’t have a process like this.  Let’s not complicate things here.  The reality is, that becoming a magician is really as simple as learning a few tricks.  Consider this…once you know a few tricks and share them with your friends and family they will start looking at you as a magician whether you want them to or not.  The bar is not set very high.  The last time I checked, you didn’t have to audition against other would be magicians for the role of a magician.  Once you learn the tricks…you’re in.  That’s both a good thing and a bad thing.  For those of us out there that want to be thought of as someone with special knowledge and skills, but don’t really want to make a living at it, it’s great that you can learn a few things and share them with family and friends.  However, for those of us that have aspirations to become a paid amateur, a part-time or a full-time performer, perhaps we should think twice before we buy a few tricks at the magic shop and go out and perform them without any thought.
As I think about the auditioning process that actors go through, it makes me wish that there was something that would force each and every one of us to hold ourselves to a higher standard.  It was this thought that made me think of the times when I have worked hand in hand with other like-minded performers.   For several years, I performed in shows with friends who were also very fine entertainers.  Knowing that I would be sharing the bill with these other performers forced me to hold myself to a very high standard.  I didn’t want to go onstage after someone who had just had a great set and bring the show energy down.  Likewise, I didn’t want to have someone go onstage after me and completely overshadow what I had just done.  I knew that the other performers would do their very best to be excellent and I wanted to be excellent as well.  It was this type of friendly competition that really forced me to up my game.
To be continued...

Until next time...Make An Impact!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Know Thyself, Part 3

This is the continuation of an essay that I wrote for a set of lecture notes years ago.  I am adapting that essay for this blog.  To read the initial blog post, Know Thyself Part 1, click here.
Part 3
When I initially write this essay, one of the big trends in television were shows about makeovers.  There were many numerous shows that basically focused on changing someone. 
First, the show would introduce you to the subject and then that person shared with the viewer what it is that they didn’t like about themselves and what they wanted to change.  These makeover subjects then typically would undergo surgery to physically alter the way that they looked.  After a period of healing, the show then revealed the “new” person to their family, friends, and the viewer at home.
When I saw these programs, many times, they bothered me.  It’s not true in all cases, in fact in some cases I believe that these shows did a good thing for their subjects.  What bothered me was when I saw someone changing themselves in order to please the world.
As a performer, I want to be an original.  I want to be myself onstage.  I want my audience to perceive my authenticity.  No makeovers.  No plastic surgery for my magic.  I don’t want anyone to ever feel as though I am interchangeable with any other magician out there.  That is why understanding who you are and where you come from is important.
You don’t want to be a clone magician do you?  You shouldn’t, you have much more than that to offer.  Trust me.  It’s there within you.  It may take some time and effort to bring to the surface, but it is sooo worth it.
I wanted to share this essay with you to outline a few ideas of why knowing who you are is important.  I sincerely believe that if you are comfortable with yourself (and that can be quite a large step itself), that comfort will allow you to open up creatively and play with different ideas that you have.  Your creative process will be unleashed because you will not be hindered by fear of ridicule or failure, you won’t be worried about what other people think, and your imagination will be given freedom to create.  So again I say, know thyself.
Until next time...Make An Impact!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Know Thyself, Part 2

This is the continuation of an essay that I wrote for a set of lecture notes years ago.  I am adapting that essay for this blog.  To read the initial blog post, Know Thyself Part 1, click here.
Part 2
So, why is it necessary to explore and seek your personal truths?
Well, this path of self-discovery will help you identify subjects that are important to you.  And if the subject is important to you, the energy, the enthusiasm that you have for it will permeate your performance every time you share it with someone.
That type of enthusiasm, the kind that comes from genuine passion, is not something that can be faked.   That kind of enthusiasm is highly contagious to others.  We owe that kind of thought and energy to our audiences. 
If someone is willing to give you several moments of their life, we should respect that gift and be willing to give them back a gift of equal value.  The gift that we can offer is a piece of ourselves through our magic.  That is a gift that no one else can give.  That is a gift worth something.  
Now, it may not be necessary for you to be talking about a subject that you find highly fascinating to make this connection with your audience.  I believe that you should have topics like that in your magic, but every piece of magic does not need to be that way.
In fact, the voyage of self-discovery may simply be the journey that you need to take that will help you grow comfortable in your own skin.  This may be an opportunity for you to identify with and accept yourself just the way that you are.
As you begin to understand your strengths and weaknesses, your likes and dislikes, not only will you grow as a person, but your creative insights will become clearer and your choices will be more personal and real.  As you learn more and more about whom you are, it is possible that you may find things that you don’t like, but it is my hope that you will embrace your individuality.  It is this individuality that makes you unique.
Your uniqueness, your personality, your originality may be what is needed to make that important connection with the audience.  If you are comfortable being yourself, if you allow your personality to shine through your magic, audiences will appreciate your honesty and that will hopefully help them connect with you on a deeper level.
Click here for Part 3.  Until next time...Make An Impact!
Jason's original cups and balls routine which was inspired from his interest in classic magic and classic theatre.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


That’s right, show me those pearly whites.  Think about this for a minute.  Do you smile enough when you perform magic?  Well, do you?
I’ve recently realized that a smile is one of the most powerful things in the world.  A smile is infectious.  Whenever I see someone else smile and laugh, it puts me in a better mindset.  It makes me smile too.
In fact, a smile (and many times laughter) is one of the most common reactions to a great magic trick.  There is usually a brief moment of amazement that is immediately followed by a huge smile and laughter.  And this is a natural reaction.  It happens over and over again.  The more you go out there and perform magic for others, the more smiles you see as a direct result to the magic you are sharing.
So, if the natural reaction to a great magic trick is for your audience to smile and laugh, shouldn’t you and I be smiling too?  One of the reasons I say that a smile is one of the most powerful things in the world is because I’ve seen the reactions to my smile when I perform.
I love magic.  I really do.  I love to perform it for others and I am blessed to be able to do it.  In fact, it’s that feeling of being blessed that makes me smile.  And when I smile, it’s a very real smile.  When I take the stage, my smile comes from deep within and I believe that it shines out there for everyone to see.  It lets my audience know that I’m here to have fun with them.  It lets them know that I am thrilled to be there with them.  It lets them know that I am a friendly, happy person.  And when I smile, my audience smiles back at me.
I believe that a smile relaxes my audience.  It puts them at ease.  It sends the message that this experience is supposed to be enjoyable.  The experience is supposed to make them smile and laugh too.
And it’s okay to be a serious magical performer and smile.  You can have more than one emotion in a magic show or in a set of magic.  You can have something that is very serious and dramatic which is immediately followed by something that makes your audience smile and laugh.
Why else would we be told to smile for a picture?  Take a look at a picture of someone very serious, and then take a look at a picture of someone with a big smile.  Which one makes you feel more at ease?  Which person do you feel more trusting towards?  Which one seems to be having more fun?  It’s the smiling picture.
Here’s a little exercise for you.  The next time you walk into a busy room, walk in with a huge smile on your face.  I think you’ll find that the people in the room will be way more receptive to you and to your magic if you have that smile.  People aren’t as open to others when they seem to be very serious.  Serious people have a certain intensity that isn’t warm and inviting.
So, the next time you go out there and ‘wow’ someone with your magic, try a smile on for size and see how much better it goes.
Until next time…Make An Impact!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

You Might Be A Magic Junkie If…

…you find yourself listening to hours and hours of magic podcast interviews on your iPhone when you are exercising every day.  Ok, guilty as charged!
I admit it.  I’ve gotten hooked on a podcast that interviews all sorts of brilliant magicians.  On the days when I’m riding the stationary bike at the gym, I listen to these really interesting interviews and the time just flies by.
I wanted to share this awesome resource with you.  If you’re fascinated by all things magic, you’re going to love these podcasts.
I love how you really get a feel for what the person is like.  They are able to relax and just be themselves during the interview and you and I get to listen in to their little conversation.  It’s like being a bug on a wall during discussions with some of the top minds in the magic world.
You’ve gotta check this out!  It’s called the Magic Newswire.  You can go to the website by clicking here.
Until next time…Make An Impact!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Are You Collaborating?

Some of the most fun, creative, exciting times during my magic career have been during times of collaboration.  I’m wondering if you have any friends or colleagues who also have an interest in the art of magic.  And if so, are you guys getting together to show each other magic or work on the latest mystery?

Collaborating, working with, and throwing ideas around with other like minded individuals can be incredible satisfying.  The very best magic I have created has always been improved on by sharing my ideas with my closest magic fiends.  Other people are able to look at a problem and come up with a unique perspective or solution that you (and I) would have never thought of.

I urge you to seek out other like minded individuals in your local community.  Use the internet to your advantage and don’t be afraid to reach out and contact other magicians.  Trust me, the magic community is one of the most friendly and closely knit communities around.

And if you haven’t joined the MagicianMaker.com community on Facebook, click here and become part of the conversation.  You can also follow MagicianMaker.com on Twitter, here.

Until next time…Make An Impact!