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Making it Feel Real

In Workers 1, I discussed my philosophy of magic. I want to perform magic that leaves the audience with no explanation and is entertaining in the process. At this stage in my life, I don’t need to show off; I don’t need the ego gratification of someone telling me how skillful I am. Instead, I want to be a conduit that allows my audiences the opportunity to feel the thrill of astonishment, and to use that experience to reawaken the memory that that the world is an astonishing place, full of mysteries that will never be solved.

In order to accomplish this, I must construct my routines so there is not a single moment that feels false, contrived, or unnatural. The entire experience has to feel real. I’m not saying that I want people to believe that I have supernatural powers. In fact, most of my routines are structured in a way that minimizes my involvement. The magic just seems to happen. This was the great lesson I learned from Harry Riser. Many were the occasions when he would finish a trick and I would say to him, “But you didn’t do anything.” This is what I want my spectators to say.

Making a routine feel real is not easy. It requires skillful, underplayed acting. It means that I must be fearless enough to allow my personality to come out so my audience thinks of me as a person first and a magician second. It also requires that my routines are seamless: every action is motivated by the situation rather than the method. Incidentally, there is an easy way to see what actions of a trick are motivated by method. When studying a new trick, videotape yourself performing the trick as if you had the powers of a real magician. That is, perform the trick, but don’t do any moves. Simply handle the props as you would if the magic were real. Obviously, the trick won’t work, but you will have an ideal model of the trick. Now videotape yourself performing the trick using the moves that the method requires. Any discrepancies between the ideal model and the actual trick are places that have to be fixed if you want the trick to feel real.

I’ve written this before, but I’ll repeat it now. For my audience, no logical explanation should seem possible, and no rationalized explanation should satisfy. The repertoire in the Workers series and the routines you are about to read fit these stringent criteria.

[From Closely Guarded Secrets]

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