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.