And I remember he and I watching David Copperfield's ABC specials and me being frustrated with how little actual "magic" was in each special. David spent way too much time talking... and dancing for my taste. In my impatient youth I just wanted rapid fire one-after-the-other tricks.
But my Dad tried to explain that the talking (and the dancing) was the trick. I saw this most evident when I would learn a new effect and then race downstairs to show him. I went through the entire routine from start to finish in lightning speed accuracy and when it was all done - I wanted the shock and awe that I was craving.
But my Dad would just nod and say, "that's neat."
That's neat? That's it? Where was the jaw-dropping, hair pulling, "Oh my gosh!" that I was expecting?
Today, it's not David Copperfield on ABC (although I wish it were) it's advertisements that try to convince you to buy a magic trick. I would argue that 90% of the time we as magicians don't buy the effect because we identify with the trick or even because we think it would fit into our persona - no, we buy it from the "reaction" we see the spectator's give.
They scream, they stumble backwards, they run away crossing themselves.... and we think "that's the one I need to buy."
But then what happens? You buy it, open it up and instantly you see that it's a piece of string, or a piece of tape or a bent card.
That's it? This is what makes people scream and run away?
No, what makes people react to magic is the story. It's all that talking and dancing that we sometimes don't get to see in the video. Listen, the prop is just that... it's a prop. When I got to see a play, I might marvel at the set design or the costumes - but its the story and the actors that make or break the performance.
Does that mean I believe the old adage, "there are no bad tricks only bad magicians?" No, of course I don't believe that, I have got some real stinkers in the mail and so have you.
But my point is this. There is no magic trick on earth that will "floor people" or make them "scream" or "run away."
All of that comes from you.
You wanting to be magician, means you want to be a performer.
A pubic speaker
A story teller
A good convincing story, with a well thought out plot, will destroy your audience. If you craft your effects together to follow a single narrative thread... one where you take their hand and guide them down a path... they will remember you and they will react strongly when it's over.
Is it more work? Yes.
Is it hard work? It can be.
But this is where your hours of practice pays off.
Be honest, you didn't get into magic because you wanted to do card tricks, you got into magic because you wanted that reaction from the audience.
You wanted people to look at you with shock and awe.
You wanted to inspire wonder and give people a light to believe in.
Don't' deprive yourself
Don't deprive them
Talk more.... dance more
Embrace the story.
* What was your favorite David Copperfield special? I liked the one where he put on the karate gi and floated up the pole to retrieve the necklace. Was that the building explosion one? Post your comments below