One thing that stopped me from becoming a professional magician for years was the feeling of “not being ready.”
I didn’t think I was good enough to work as a magician. I compared myself with giants like Doc Eason, Michael Ammar, Eugene Burger, and Harry Lorayne. I looked at their material and saw them perform impossible tricks with ease. I never felt I could reach their standard.
By continually comparing myself with the true masters, I looked down on my own knowledge. I never felt ready, which stopped me from taking on gigs as a professional magician for almost 20 years of my life.
But. There is a flaw in that thinking, and it took me many years to figure it out. Once I “got it,” it changed everything.
There’s a fascinating book (and movie) called Catch me if you can. The story is about the con artist Frank Abagnale.
Among other things, Abagnale has said that he worked as a sociology teaching assistant at Brigham Young University for a semester. When a journalist asked him how he could pull that off considering he didn’t know the subject, Abagnale had a great answer.
All he did was to read one chapter ahead of the class he was teaching.
you don’t need to be the best to become a professional magician.
There is a vital lesson to be learned from that simple answer for anyone wanting to become a professional magician.
You see, you don’t need to be the best magician in the world to become a professional magician. You just need to be good enough to entertain laypeople.
There will always be others who are better and more successful than you. But that’s okay. You can learn from them and become better and better as you progress in your magic business.
But most people have never seen a magician in real life. They may have seen one on TV or Youtube but never really experienced it themselves.
To entertain these people (who make up over 99.9% of everyone globally), you just need to be one chapter ahead of them.
As magicians, we often make the mistake of thinking that everyone knows about marked cards, double lifts, and false shuffles. The reality is that most people have never heard of those things, let alone seen it live.
That is a massive advantage for us. You don’t need to buy fancy props or learn impossible sleights to make a living as a working magician. You only need tricks that are “good enough” to fool laypeople.
That doesn’t mean you can skip your practice or perform poor tricks. On the contrary, you should only perform well-rehearsed tricks that you have carefully selected to fit your style.
But you don’t need to be a “magicians fooler” to entertain laypeople.
Back to the roots
Speaking of magicians foolers. That is another thing we as magicians often get wrong.
We see tricks all the time. We’ve seen fourteen different versions of Any Card At Any Number (this week). If we see a performance that fools us, we instantly think it’s a good trick. If it’s a marketed piece, we might bring out the credit card and buy it.
We love to be fooled, and we often want others to experience that as well. Thus, we seek out new and more advanced tricks.
We completely forget about the first trick we ever saw, long before the magic bug bit us. I bet it was something straightforward, like a “key card” trick or a simple force. Yet, it fooled you so badly.
When you’re working as a professional magician, you meet people in that same state you were when you saw your first trick.
Use that to your advantage.