Serious Comedy Magic
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|Posted on October 27, 2013 at 8:46 PM||comments (9)|
When I was living and performing in Branson, MO, I put together a short routine for a show called the Friday After Dark Cabaret. I was trying to create a short stand alone piece that would serve as a commentary about the nature of magic as an art which at the same time would be an actual magic trick. I liked it a lot, but could never find an appropriate placement for it in my show. When I returned to Austin, TX, I tried putting it in at the beginning of my show, as a prologue to the show itself. The reaction to the routine and the impact it had on framing my show pleased me so much that it has now become the official opening to every show I do.
“There are those who say that a magician’s job is to fool people. I couldn’t disagree more! I’d rather believe that a magician’s job is to entertain people and at the same time to remind people that things are not always what they seem”.
I then proceed to fool the audience and conclude that perhaps my only job is to fool them. The thing is I am not really contradicting myself. It is the very act of fooling people, which causes them to stop, think and realize that perhaps, not everything in this world is as we perceive it. Think about it. We tend to reward and praise people much more for answers than for questions. This is certainly true in the realm of education, where advancement is based almost entirely on being able to recite the correct answers. This is strange, when you realize that answers close doors and questions open them. We like the certainty of living in a black and white world where everything is either right or wrong, black or white, up or down. The magician challenges all of that. “This is a solid impenetrable object” says the magician, and he “proves” it… and then he asks the question that we should always be asking ourselves. “Are you sure?”
In my next few posts, I will be discussing how magic, with this power to make us question things, can become a great tool in education, marketing and personal development.
So Why Do People Like Watching Magic Shows
The short answer is: They don’t. But most people love watching good magic shows. For the most part, people do not like to be fooled. Who in their right mind would like to have someone point out how easily they can be proven wrong about their assumptions. For that reason, fooling someone alone is not enough. There must be enough entertainment value to take the sting off of being fooled. A good magician will not only entertain the audience, but also stage the situation in such a way that the audience not only does not mind being fooled, they actually enjoy it.
When you get past the initial sting of having been proven wrong about your most basic assumptions, there is a certain freedom that comes with the discovery that we live in a world with infinite possibilities. When we are fooled by a magic trick, we discover subconsciously that the world is not divided into just the right and wrong answers we have learned. Being fooled by a magic trick opens the door for us to a world of possibilities. It frees us, in a sense, from the bonds of what we think we know and exposes us to the adventure of the unknown. Once we have gotten over the sting of being proven wrong, that sense of adventure eventually overrides the first emotion. In the hands of a true magic artist, the feeling of doubt is quickly replaced by an amazing sense of wonder. Wonder is one of the greatest gifts we can receive, because it opens up the doors to an infinite number of possibilities and who would not want to live in a world where anything is possible.
|Posted on January 23, 2011 at 1:08 AM||comments (291)|
Welcome one and all, to the first blog of my new "Blog Site".
I have spent days trying to figure out what my first post should be. As I was writing out an outline for an upcoming show, it dawned on me that the best place to begin, is with the ending of my show. Those who have seen me perform know that I end almost every show in the same manner. I end it by letting the audience in on "The Secret of Magic". Actually, it is my understanding of that secret. So I will start by posting the script to the end of my show:
The Secret of Magic
Peter The Adequate
When I was a little boy, I wanted to do magic very badly… and do you know what? I did magic very badly. The reason I did magic so badly, is that I thought magic was all about me, all about showing everyone how wonderful I was and how stupid they were for not figuring it out. It wasn’t till years later that I realized that no one cared how wonderful I was and, quite frankly, no one liked to be told they were stupid. It took me a little longer to discover that if I really wanted people to watch me, I had to think about them and not myself. As soon as I learned that, a strange thing happened. My friends started saying: “Can you show us another magic trick? My parents started saying: “Have you met our son the magician?” People started paying me money to do what I enjoyed most. I was getting paid to have fun. That’s when I learned the biggest secret of magic and for that matter, the biggest secret of life. It’s simply this:
“Remember, it’s not always about you."
As a matter of fact, it’s never about you.
Learn this, and your world will be a very special place.
You see, each of us has been given a gift or gifts. We call them talents. When you discover what your talents are, your world suddenly is filled with color. But when you learn to use those gifts to make other people’s lives better, when you use them to make the world a better place…
Then You Have Real Magic.
So, that's how I end every show, but it's also how I start and end every day. I have discovered that focusing on yourself tends to magnify all of your woes. Allow me to give a simple example. If you have a pounding headache and you focus all of your thoughts on that headache and how much it bothers you, the headache seems to get stronger and stronger. However, if instead, you divert your attention and focus on some other project or task, it seems to diminish the effects of that headache. No, it won't necessarily make the headache go away all together. I suffer from extreme sinus headaches due to airborne allergens. In the past I have been know to spend days on end in bed unable to rid myself of the pain. I am not sure exactly when it happened, but at some point I came to the realization that if I get out of bed and focus on things other than the headache, the pain seems a lot more bearable. I also discovered that the best way to take the focus off of your aches, pains and woes, is to reach out and help others.
Some might say that means that helping others can be somewhat selfish, or at the very least self serving. They are right in the sense that the results benefit the person who is reaching out to help or benefit others. However, if the reason you help others is to benefit yourself, then your focus is still on yourself and all of your problems. It's like the experiment of the "Pink Elephant". If I were to ask you to try and not think about "Pink Elephants", you would be unable to do so. The very process of trying not to think of something, means that you are thinking about it. However, if instead of trying not to think of them, you instead tried thinking of something else, you would by those very thoughts rule out the possibility of thinking of "Pink Elephants".
I have thoroughly enjoyed the last twenty years of my life and have seldom been angry or extremely upset at anything or anybody. I am not trying to pat myself on the back and show how wonderful I am, instead, I am basking in the joy of my discovery that when you live your life to make the world better for others, your life improves to the same degree.
This is why I end every show and start every day by recognizing "The secret of Magic".