Contrary to many names I have been given by spectators: Godlike, Inhumane, Moses, David Blaine, and Houdini – to name a few. I am human, and humans are fallible. Magicians are human and even the most skilled magicians make mistakes. I mean I made a mistake 3 years ago March 3rd. Haha I’m kidding folks. Magicians have off-days too.
So how does a magician pick him/herself up after a mistake? I was listening to an interview with Jay Sankey (website) on magicnewswire.com (click here for the interview) and Dodd Vickers asked Jay about his magic in the early years and this was his first paid gig. Jay mentions how he was approximately 15 years old and he was performing for a Church in the basement and almost killed a kitten and set the church on fire. I kid you not! Listen to his interview for the details. But it got me thinking. Here is a young teenager with very little experience and a self – esteem that is very fragile (as are most teens) and he stuffs up. Big time. He says he was on the verge of balling his eyes out.
I remember I was at camp when I was 17 and was performing for the annual talent show. I had a fantastic effect and I practiced in until it was coming out of my ears. But what happened? I got up – 17 years old, 1200 (one of the biggest camps to date) faces looking at me and my spectator (my fault for picking him) decided to shuffle the deck of cards (which obviously I said not to as I had stacked it). So little did I know when I was dealing with my 2nd spec – the 1st one davka (can’t translate this) shuffled the deck without me knowing. I walked right into it. I realised the trick had gone pear-shaped and just apologised and walked off, blood red from embarrassment. I sat there thinking: “my short-lived magic career is over.” I had people coming up to me trying to sympathise and giving me those condescending half-smiles “it’s okay Greggi.” I thought to myself the only thing I could – I picked up a deck and pleaded to a friend to show him a trick to get back on that horse. I did and he was amazed.
So that was in 2004. It is 2013 and I can honestly say I have made many… many mistakes. Mistakes either happen if you have not practiced enough (which did happen to me sometimes I won’t lie), the sleights are angle-sensitive and you don’t take those into account, dropped a concealment for whatever reason/excuse, you’re not confident enough, or you’re just having “one of those days” *shrugs shoulders*
The end of the interview with Jay is that he did some other effects and continued his show as best he could. That, my friends is the best advice I can give. To end your show abruptly is the last resort. You have to carry on and I promise you the audience will side-step the mistake you made and enjoy the rest of the show. They will not forget it but it won’t be the most important thing they say when they come to you after the show.
Craig Ballantyne put it perfectly: “Never forget that failure isn’t bad. Failure isn’t final. Don’t let the fear of failure stop you from achieving the success you deserve. If you’re struggling, keep hustling. Keep taking at least one big action step each day.”
Being a magician is a lot more than just knowing tricks. You need balls. You need charisma. You need to be able to give over of yourself in a way that spectators will want to be sucked into your show. Those qualities take time and effort to perfect. Some quicker than others, but you deserve every applaud, every laugh at a stupid joke you make, every compliment. You deserve them. Let the failure that you will experience along this journey only help you understand yourself and help teach you how to act in those scenarios. DON’T let failure be the closer of your magic show/career.
Good luck and remember: You are awesome!