The Biggest Danger to Showbiz in Las Vegas

“The play was a great success, but the audience was a disaster.”
—Oscar Wilde, playwright

The Biggest Danger to Showbiz in Las Vegas?

Our friend (and magic fan) Robin Leach recently wrote a story on the new trends in Las Vegas entertainment. “The hotels looked at mega-clubs as a golden egg, but those crowds shelling out steep admission prices and highly expensive bottle service, sometimes running upwards of $5,000, don’t have any money left over for shows or gaming.”

“It used to be tourists would book two or three shows on a visit here. Now we’re lucky if they see one.” The concern that Las Vegas shows might disappear and harm the image of this city being The Entertainment Capital of the World, and change it into The Nightclub Capital of the World has prompted action.

“We’ve got to get back to the intimacy of original, classic Las Vegas entertainment. The close-up factor. The superstar names. Where are today’s Rat Pack performers instead of unknown DJs playing other people’s music,” said one of the entertainment council advocates. “If we don’t change it soon, Las Vegas may never be the same again.

“Our town was filled with almost 200,000 electronic dance music fans last weekend, and only a handful of them went to see a Las Vegas show. There were too many empty seats in our theaters.”

Read full story:

The Secret Ingredient for a Successful Magic Show

If  you’ve been to Burning Man as many times as I have, then you know  the  secret. If you’ve been onstage in a hypnotism show then you know it, too!

The secret is participation! If you think folks want to come to Las Vegas just to sit in seats and watch the show… they can do that at home! Now, folks want to be in the show. Some shows in Vegas “get it.” I spoke with both Lance Burton and Mac King this week. They both said that the secret ingredient that keeps a show fresh is audience participation… it keeps you on your edge!   Blue Man Group has moments in the show that are full on participatory; our very own WONDERGROUND is also driven by “be the magic” philosophy. At our events, people are encouraged to be part of the show and the evening’s events. WONDERGROUND is as much a party as it is “show.”

Jeff & Abbi McBride at Wonderground

This week’s new WONDERGROUND video is here

“People will support that which they help to create.”
—Mary Kay Ash, American Businesswoman

People support what they help create, regardless of whether it is a political movement, a sports team, or even a live performance. When you get people involved and committed to helping  create an experience, they feel invited and part of the experience.   Participation is the key. It creates connection, community, and art.

Look at the “old words.”

Audience:   The root of the word audience comes from “audio,” which has to do with  listening.   The spectator spectates… and can remain detached from the action, but participants party!    They are part of the action; they have a role to play; they are  in  the show, not observing the show.

Jeff McBride

“I embrace emerging experience. I participate in discovery. I am a butterfly. I am not a butterfly collector. I want the experience of the butterfly.”
—William Stafford, English author, courtier and conspirator

Student Spotlight

John WaltonJohn Walton & the World’s Most Original Magic!

Master Class student John Walton won The Originality Award at the recent Society of American Magicians convention.   John presented his “Titanic Magic Square.” His routine fooled many of the most knowledgeable magicians in the world! This is the first time the award has been presented since 2001, 12 years ago. It has been awarded only a few times since 1902. Read more about the winners of magic here:

Jeff McBride on TV

This week I fly to Hollywood to film a few TV shows for MASTERS OF ILLUSION. I will be performing NEW magic on these shows and you will get to see a few of the magic effects that I am releasing to the magic fraternity! Your can also catch my shows 24 hours a day on  WWW.MCBRIDEMAGIC.TV.

See you on the air or on the road,

Staying Afloat in a Sea of Noise

Dear friends:

We’re fortunate to have wisdom from our Associate Dean for you this month.  I know you’ll enjoy this, from Dr. Larry Hass:

Staying Afloat on the Sea of Noise

“What’s new is an interesting question, but one which, if pursued exclusively, results only in an endless parade of trivia and fashion.”
—Robert M. Pirsig

I invite you to remember one of your “get-away” vacations, perhaps spending three days at the beach or a long weekend in the mountains. Recall how you could dream and drift, resting your body and your brain. Remember the delicious food and the fresh clean air. Ahhh!

Next, remember how it felt to come back: emails to process, phone calls to make, “statuses” to update, blogs to check, fires to put out, content to produce. You have to get back up to speed, back on the wheel, back to the grind. Uggh.

I begin with this “memory experiment” to make three points. First, it really does feel better to be on vacation, to rest and reconnect, to taste your food, to be “unplugged.” Second, “life at speed” has become the new normal, which means that everyday life has a low-level, chronic “uggh” to it. Third, it is exceedingly easy for this to leak into our time with magic.

Here is the irony: most of us get involved in magic to have experiences like the get-away vacation, but much of the magic culture around us feels more like the daily grind. In magazines, online, posts, and tweets, we are drowning in magic news and trends, the relentless selling of endless products, and more “content” than we can possibly ingest. It is easy to become numb or superficial, lost in the sea of noise.

Dr. Larry HassIt is easy . . . but not necessary. In the spirit of helping you surf and sail over the waves, here are a few practices I use to keep the magic alive in my life and in my work as a magician.

1. Less is more. Look at the clutter. Look at all the unread books, the unused tricks, the un-viewed DVDs. Remember them the next time someone is getting their sales hooks in you. Give some of it away to young or developing magicians who need access to resources. (This is great for them, and it will feel good to you.) With what is left, honestly ask yourself, “Will I ever read or watch this (again)? If no, then sell what you can and throw away the rest.

2. Just say no . . . and yes. Turn off the TV, get up from the screen, unplug from the phone, turn off the “ping.” Screen life is mediated life. Further, addiction to checking devices for the latest email, tweet, or post, turns us into Homo Interruptus. Instead of that, just say “yes” to real face time rather than face-book time. Have lunch with a magic friend. Spend time with a wise, real teacher of magic. Pick up your props and practice rather than post. Having “big yeses” in our lives make it really easy to say “no.” Which reminds us that much screen time is a boredom default.

3. Cleave to quality. Part of what makes it “noise” is all the junk: low-quality tricks and books, poor writing, undeveloped content, superficial thinking. So here is one rule I follow: as soon as I get bored or put-off, I instantly stop reading or watching and move on to something good. Here is another one: I spend a large majority of my time and money on the work of proven, dependable, high-quality magic writers and creators. With both rules, the principle is simple: “Life is too short!”

4. Re-Read a Golden Book. All of us have “golden books,” ones that have a special place in our hearts. These are the books that inspired us in magic and have a strange power to instantly reconnect us with positive feelings and productive insights. (One of mine is Eugene’s The Experience of Magic.) Re-reading a golden book is always good for the soul.

I hope you enjoy these practices! I hope they help you make every day feel a bit more like that get-away vacation.