Last week I was in New York City for work and decided to stop in to visit the local magic shops. I checked out Tannen's, of course, and I also swung by Don't Blink Magic Shop for a bit. I'll write a separate post about this experience, but today I want to discuss an epiphany I had after my second visit to Don't Blink.
It was the end of the week, work had ended early and I had a late flight, so what to do? Well, go chill at Don't Blink of course! And so, I did.
Up until this point in the week, I didn't get a chance to perform any magic for any of my colleagues, even though I was constantly prepared with at the very least, a deck of cards. What would I have performed if anyone asked? Well, that's what I'm getting to...
So, I'm at Don't Blink and hanging out with Magick Balay. Being the only customer in the store for a little while gave me a chance to really chat with him and we started talking about sleights with regular decks. I pulled mine out and he said words I'll never forget:
Why will I remember these words? Because I had nothing. I blanked. Or, rather, I had a thousand different tricks run through my mind -- all things I've worked on in the last few weeks -- and when it came to it, I explained just that. I've really been focusing on multi-spectator routines, it was quite literally my primary focus for days, and my deck was even set up to kick one off, and ugh.
Magick understood though, he said that that's a problem sometimes. You just have to get out there and perform more and more. It's a combination of that "stage fright" effect and also just not practicing a smaller set of routines. By performing, not just practicing, you gain confidence and also figure out what routines work and what don't. Then, when you start working on new material, it's not an entire book's worth -- it's either one or two new tricks, or a variation of something you're already doing. Easy peasy.
On my flight home later that night I was thinking about it and I really could have shown him just about anything. However, I started thinking about what I would've shown any of my coworkers if they had asked and then it dawned on me, I would've likely only had less than 10 routines to perform that could've really fit into the venue.
Only 10?! Didn't you just say you had a thousand?!
Why yes. Yes I did. And therein lies the problem... I read magic books routinely. I watch magic videos and tutorials quite frequently as well. I take notes. I practice. I practice. I practice. However, I'm only practicing the routines and sleights that I think are really strong and really good -- and it turns out, almost all of them are tricks for other magicians. They're sleight-heavy. They're using magician-knowledge as misdirection. They could be performed for lay audiences, definitely, but there are less-sleight-intense ways to perform the exact routines that I just haven't really practiced.
So, what then? Well, it all circled back to the question: why do I do magic?
My answer is, to make people experience magic. To make people happy. To learn, to teach, and everything in-between.
You'll notice that my answer isn't "to perform for magicians." If it were, I would've knocked out some routines at the counter at Don't Blink for Magick, and later for some of the other guys that were in there. Instead, I was in a mindset to perform for lay audiences while only prepped for performing for magicians, so when the time came, I performed for nobody!
And so, the epiphany came through in full force. To perform magic, to make people experience magic, I need to actually do magic. Do it for them, not for me. Sure I can still practice the sleight-heavy routines, and I most definitely will. But, let's throw some workers in there. Something that is usable in an environment where I would typically show something off -- like in a walk-around situation. Perhaps it's in the kitchen at the office. Maybe it's in a bar after work. In both examples, I'm standing... coincidentally, I've almost always performed standing -- and I'd wager more than 90% of what I practice is sitting. Yikes!
Luckily, my repertoire is actually extensive already. Am I well-practiced at most of the routines? No. But, I have them there and can practice with them. What I need to do now is to re-review everything and perhaps come up with a better labeling system. Maybe a simple "worker" tag or "good at a table with friends" tag, and maybe one that reads "magician fooler". Yay, more work! =P