What is Your Big Excuse?

Excuses: Are They “Good” or are they “Bad?”

We all make excuses. I remember in elementary school, making up excuses to get me off the hook for not doing my homework. Magic was usually the reason that I did not do my homework. I was too immersed in my passion to toil over meaningless book reports…. My grades may have suffered, but my magic got better!

Magic was a GREAT excuse!

“The man who thinks he can and the man who thinks he can’t are both right. Which one are you?”

Henry Ford

What is your excuse?

I hear the following “cop-outs” almost on a daily basis.  Which one do YOU use the most?

  • I can’t do magic because–My hands are too small.
  • I can’t do magic because–I don’t have the time to practice.
  • I can’t do magic because–I started too late in life.
  • I can’t do magic because–I don’t have the skill.
  • I can’t do magic because–I don’t have the patience.
  • I can’t attend Mystery School–I don’t have the money.
  • I can’t come to a magic class–My job is in the way.
  • I can’t watch  Night Mystery School–I can’t stay up late.
  • I can’t read all those magic books–I learn better from video.

No Excuses!

Mahdi Gilbert amazed the world with his passion for magic. He COULD have come up with MANY excuses for NOT following his passion.

Thank you Penn & Teller for hosting this man on your show FOOL US. Now the magic world has a new hero! Just look at this amazing man doing what he loves. Mahdi inspires all of us to move beyond our limitations.

Are there “Good” Excuses?”


  • Following your bliss is a GREAT excuse for making more time for your magic.
  • Focusing on your passion just might make you take time off from your day job.
  • Focusing on your magic is a GREAT excuse for watching less TV!
  • Taking a magic class in Vegas is a GREAT excuse for taking a ‘work-study vacation!”

Hard questions, easy answers!

Do you get people asking these questions?

“What do you REALLY want from your life?”

“Are you happy with your life?”

“Are you doing what you REALLY want to do in life?”

“What is next for you?”

Wow! I had to sit down to think and write about this for a while. I made a list of what I feel are the most important things in my life. First, I have a wonderful relationship with my wife Abigail. That is the most important part of my life and what I focus on the most. We run a Las Vegas magic show. Our magic school and lovely home are open to friends and students. We have many dear friends and we are in good health… we are very blessed. So what do we focus on NOW?  Now it is time for us to help others live THEIR life’s dream! I am grateful for the great team we have here at the school. We are all here to help and serve YOU!

Scholarships to Empower Your Magic Dream!

Larry Hass helped us develop our scholarship program to help those of you with the passion, but who need some financial help to take advantage of one of our classes. We don’t want that to be an excuse that prevents you from following your magic dream.

Take a look and see how we can help you!  http://virtual.magicalwisdom.com/members/signup

A hint: watch this to the end. It really rocks!

Life Lessons from the Masters

The following 2 great artists never let their challenges get in the way of their passion and vision! Matthew Buchinger was born in Germany without hands or lower legs. He was 29 inches tall. In the 1700’s he became a world famous magician and artist! He toured Europe to entertain kings and aristocrats with amazing feats of physical dexterity, and was known as the “Little Man from Nuremberg.”  Buchinger was married 4 times and had at least 14 children (by eight women). He also is rumored to have had children by as many as 70 mistresses… Go Matthew!

DID HE MAKE EXCUSES? No he was too busy living his dream!

Despite his having small, finlike appendages for hands, his art engravings were incredibly detailed. Despite his handicap, Buchinger was an accomplished magician, causing balls to disappear from under cups, and birds to appear from nowhere. He was reported to be unbeatable at cards and would dazzle audiences with his amazing displays of magic.

The Maestro of Magic

René Lavand was a magician from Argentina. René lost a hand in a car crash at age 9, and taught himself how to perform exquisite sleight-of-hand magic, utilizing only one arm. I had the great pleasure of sharing time and magic with Mr Lavand. He inspires all of us to move beyond our limitations, and towards mastery.

Historic Passion for Life!

25 years ago I was performing in Barcelona at the Olympic Arts Festival, when the following incident took place. This amazing story touched the hearts of millions. Derek Redmond has a magical story to tell you. He will be remembered for his unstoppable passion for running.

Be inspired by this great story.


I hope you enjoyed this month’s McBride Muse Letter. It is a joy to explore these topics with you. We get great pleasure out of sharing our inspiration and magic with you. Please let us know when you come out to Las Vegas. Abigail and I will roll out the red carpet for you!

Yours in  the magic of life,

Jeff and Abigail

p.s. we are having a party…

Your Invitation to Mystery: The Biggest Magic Party in Las Vegas—WONDERGROUND!

photo credit : Sheryl Ann Garrett – Photographer of Magicians

Wonderground News—Meet the Magic Live Mystery Guests!

Thursday August 18th is the next WONDERGROUND. Get to the Olive early to get a good seat! www.vegaswonderground.com

7:30 PM – Christian Diamond is your host

Strolling Magic with Miguel and Juan Pablo

Allen Scott & Mulee Pete offer Tarot Readings


8:00 PM – Jeff McBride MC

Joe Givan and Carol Massie – DreamMasterz

Jhony the Joker! – Magic with Mystery

Kevin Hall — Towers of Teller

Bill Cook – Magic in a Bottle!

Nathan Phan – From TV’s Wizard Wars

BIZZARO – Master of Demented Delusion


9:00 PM – Christian Diamond MC

Nathan Phan – A Man with Magical Plans for his Fans

Bizzaro – For him “Normal is just a setting on the dryer!”

Jeff McBride – Always a wonder to remember!

Tim Wise & Zach at the WONDERBAR


10:00 – Jeff McBride MC

Bill Cook – “The Competition Act!”

Michael Trixx – ABRA-cadab-ROCK!

Natalie and Eli – Quick Change Artistry

Nathan Phan – Magic, Music, and Mayhem

Ryan Stock and Amber Lynn – Rising Stars of the Bizarre!


PLUS: Bar Magic: Zack Pattee, Scott Steelfyre, Iam Creed, The NWR-Tribal Belly Dance Troupe, Mystic Sideshow with Mulee Pete, Alan Scott, live art with Areeya and many more surprises and special celebrity guests!!

Learning From Other Disciplines

They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.

–Carl  Frederick Buechner

Dear Friends:

Tobias here, writing from my Wizard’s Corner!

Jeff, Larry and I have just returned from the National Speakers Association’s Influence conference in Phoenix. Jeff’s mainstage performance opened the first general session with a standing ovation response. We got to present a miniature version of our Magic for Speakers and Presenters workshop, make some new friends, and to attend several of the sessions at the convention. The performance and presentation went very well, and I’m looking forward to seeing some of those who attended at our class for speakers & magicians in November.

We also got to see a number of magician friends who were attending. Pretty much universally, they asked us “not to tell everyone” they were there—or that they are making quite a good living doing magic as speakers. I expect they’re having too much fun, making too much money, and really don’t want too much competition from other magicians! We’re going ahead with the class in November, anyway. It’s not just for magicians who want to learn how to build and deliver great talks using their magic, but for people already doing speaking who want to learn our “magicians’ secrets” for doing better presentations.  As those of you who have attended any of our classes know, “magicians’ secrets” include a lot more than just how to do various tricks.

I’m a rank beginner in this world of professional public speakers, and therefore something of an outsider. I think that can actually be an advantage. As a beginner, I get to see the whole experience with the eyes of an outsider, and take different insights away with me. Here are some that I think you might enjoy:

  1. The true “stars” of the public speaking world are not primarily public speakers. The general session on the opening night featured a magician, a stand-up comedian, and an impressionist–and each one won a standing ovation from the crowd! So: If you really want to make it in the world of professional speaking, perhaps you need to succeed in some other area first. This reinforces one of the big principles in my book, The Wizard’s Way to Powerful Presentations: Every great talk has to succeed on at least two different levels: first, as a sale (more on that later), and second, as a great show. The “stars” of that first night’s presentation were each great entertainers.
  2. In the breakout sessions I attended, one presenter after another repeated, “It’s not enough just to be entertaining. You must be an expert. You must have an interesting experience to relate. You must have a point of view, if you want to succeed in this business.” I’ve seen too many magicians who decide they’ll move into “motivational speaking,” but really have no original thoughts or insights to offer.

So: I know that most of you don’t want to become speakers, and may not be interested in the world of speakers. Still… in the past couple of weeks we’ve endured (or loved, depending on your proclivities) two national political conventions, with the chance to view many and varied speeches before large crowds–and those speeches varied widely in terms of their purpose, content and entertainment value. I generally dislike almost everything about politics—but if you can step back for a moment and look at the whole thing as a big game, with lessons to be learned for all—a campaign is certainly a great time to observe what makes a great talk, and what doesn’t. Not only that, but with this country as polarized as it is, it’s fascinating to observe that the things which make a great talk for one side, with their perspectives, make for a terrible talk for the other, with theirs.

What, you may be wondering, is the relevance of all this when it comes to magic, magicians and those who love magic?

I think it is extremely relevant. A talk is a presentation, and so is a magic show. What makes one great, probably applies to the other. Just as a talk needs to have a clear purpose—a thing that it is selling (I told you we would come back to that)—so does a show. Just as a talk must have a good through-line with a clear beginning, middle and end, so does a good magic show. Just as any good speaker knows, their talk must take facts and logic and wrap them in stories and experiences involving their audiences—so must a magical performer make their tricks into a show that will actually move an audience and be remembered.

So, over the coming weeks and months, I hope you’ll take some time and make an attempt to step out of the fray; that emotional cauldron that is our political system, and watch talks by each of the candidates before various audiences. They each have distinctive styles and messages. Each commands audiences in a different way. As performers, what can you learn from each of them?

Remember, one of the great principles of true wizards—those who make a larger “dent in the universe” than others– are those with the ability to view any situation from multiple perspectives. When you can view even a highly emotional event like a political speech from many different points of view, there is much to learn. For most people, the campaign is a time to align with one candidate or the other, and they limit their experience of the campaign to doing that. There is, however, so much more to be learned by observing the process with different mindsets. Observe not just what each candidate has to say, but how they appeal to their particular audiences. What kind of stories does each one tell? What sort of experiences do their talks provide for the audience in attendance? Are the talks calculated just to affect the audience in front of the speaker, or are they also consciously tailored for the opponent’s audience, to give a different experience? Have they thought to make them effective not only for the live audience, but also for the one watching on video?

In this day of YouTube and on-demand video feeds of all kinds, it’s easy to watch the same speech, or parts of that speech, several times. I think it might pay to do that, and to consciously try and see the talk from a different point of view each time you watch it. First, just watch it as yourself. Then try and see it as someone from the opposite political camp would. Then as if you were a director, hired to help the candidate better reach his or her audience, perhaps a fourth time through. You’ll want to watch as though you were a viewer living in Europe or elsewhere.

This is something I do with a magician’s performance when I’m directing. I generally don’t fully “get” a performance until I’ve seen it at least twice… and my notions of how to improve it often don’t fully kick in until two or three days of rehearsals and viewings. It is only when I’ve had a chance to fully understand what is going on in the performance on several different levels that it becomes clear how we can best change that performance in order to improve it. Often, we don’t know until we’ve seen that particular performance in front of several different audiences.

I hope I’ve made the case that there is much we can learn from speakers—our fellow performers, in many ways. I also hope you’ll join us for one of our upcoming events, whether that be the 7-day Master Class in August (1 slot left), for our new class on business and marketing for magicians, called Money is the Best Applause, or this year’s Magic & Meaning Conference celebrating 25 years with our Dean, Eugene Burger, and with keynote by our good friend Bob Fitch–or any of the other rapidly approaching events here at the McBride Magic & Mystery School. Oh… and, especially, do consider Magic for Speakers & Presenters, which is slated for early November. Whether you’re a magician looking to add public speaking to your repertoire, or already a speaker and you want to learn some magician’s secrets (including tricks!) that will enhance all your future talks, it promises to be a great way to expand your current abilities!

A couple of quick reminders before I go: Our subject on Mystery School Mondays this month is “Paper Prestidigitation,” and our opening, all free episode is Monday night, August 1, on www.mcbridemagic.tv. Also: if you know someone else who would enjoy this Museletter, please let them know! The link to sign up is here: http://www.mcbridemagic.com/join/

Best wishes for a magical August!


Tobias Beckwith




The Three Rules of Life

Three Simple Rules

“Transform Your Magic and Your Life!”

That is our motto here at the Magic & Mystery School. These are words we live by! We know that we are helping our students make positive changes in the way their magic is performed.

I feel that people often need a bit of an “encouraging push” to make positive and lasting changes in their lives. Even I need a push now and then to get me moving again.

Words of Wisdom

We all tend to resist or put off the things we want or need to change the most!  Kate Corrine Van Vliet has a 10 step process for creating lasting change in your life. Kate offers the following:

The Ten Steps of Change

1. Assess how things are now.

What do you see in yourself? What are you doing? How do you operate in a given situation? What consequences (good and bad) are you experiencing because of what you see yourself doing?

2. Accept yourself as you are.

Today, right now in your life, this is who and how you are. Decide that you love yourself no matter what.

3. Take responsibility.

Be honest with yourself and take responsibility for all that you are doing and not doing (good and bad), and the effects your actions have on others and yourself (good and bad).

4. Identify what you want to change.

What do you want to change about yourself? What actions or behaviors are you demonstrating that are not helping you? What would be a better option for you in each identified situation? What do you want to do differently?

5. Commit to making that change.

Make the decision to do the work and to make the change(s) you’ve listed. Form an agreement with yourself in whatever way is helpful to you (written or otherwise) so that you know you will do what you say you want to do.

6. Educate yourself.

Seek internal and external resources to gather information on how you can make the change(s) that you just committed to making. Be honest about your past so that your can use your own set of experiences to break patterns that no longer serve you.

7. Set goals.

Make the change process tangible and measurable, to an extent. What can you do each day to get yourself closer to who you want to be? Write down, from little to big, the goals you will achieve.

8. Take action towards your goals.

Every day, honor your commitment. Act with an awareness of the changes you are making. Do things and engage in behaviors that are congruent with your goals.

9. Have compassion for yourself.

It is said that it takes 30 days to change a habit, so be patient and kind to yourself during this journey. Express your gratitude to yourself for doing the work. Love yourself each day so that you believe you are worthy of the change(s).

10. Take time to reflect.

Take the time to assess your progress. Love and praise yourself for each bit of change you are making. Revise your goals or any other part of this protocol as you deem necessary. Learn from what you’re doing, or not doing. Do the best you can.

You can read the complete article here:


Whenever I need a push I have Eugene, Larry, Abigail, Tobias, and our faculty to get me going again. They are my support team.  Who is YOURS?

Good Habits

Perhaps our team can help YOU get going in the right direction… Our classes and our in-person and online coaching sessions offer you a place to come and get the focus and support you might need to take the next step.


Jeff and Jordan Skype

The Mask and the Mirror

Many years ago I wrote a theater piece about creating a mask that I get stuck in…. Many people who saw this piece said they could really identify with it.  They said the piece gave them hope that if they take a “good look at themselves in the mirror,” then that change is possible.

Mask and the Mirror

Magic That Tells YOUR Story! 

I am willing to ask for help… I remain teachable and open to learning new techniques and lessons.

I know that I have teachers that can help me make better choices… and take BIGGER risks!

In the past I’ve gotten expert direction from Bob Fitch. He is one of the top magic directors in the world, and now he can help YOU. We are hosting a workshop with Bob (right after Magic & Meaning this fall) where you will learn the secrets to making better and more theatrical magic.

Risk and Reward

In the past, magicians have not had many resources available to learn theatre and movement skills. These intensive, structured multi-day workshops have been tailored to magicians, and are intended to help you obtain basic theater tools and self-directing skills to take away and be able to apply to your work. The multi-day workshop format allows time to make real, hopefully lasting, change. For more info:


The Rainmaker

This theatrical magic story is a piece that Bob Fitch directed many years ago.

Jeff Water Bowls

If you would like to learn The Rainmaker and other masterpiece routines, I have a new 3-day class that teaches my greatest works. Read more here: http://www.magicalwisdom.com/masterpieces

Magic for Speakers & Presenters

I see magic as a perfect tool for public speakers! This month I will be featured at the annual convention of the NATIONAL SPEAKERS ASSOCIATION.

“Magic for Speakers and Presenters” will highlight the work we have created to help speakers at all levels add a bit of magic to their talks. Tobias and Larry will join the team and host breakout sessions. Perhaps we’ll see you there!


Magic & Meaning

I love dramatic magic and magic that has meaning… but unfortunately, most of what I see on stage, and tv, and the internet is just a bunch of tricks– tricks without a premise or a plot line. That is a sad state of the art, but here at the Magic & Mystery School we are doing something about this!  Something to take magic back into richer areas of theater, art, entertainment and philosophy.  Every year, we get together with the world’s top thinkers in the magical arts.

We call this homecoming Magic & Meaning.

Come celebrate 25 years of the McBride Magic & Mystery School with us at this year’s Magic & Meaning Conference! We will be honoring Eugene Burger for his 25 years of service as The Dean of the School, and our special keynote speaker will be the celebrated magic director Bob Fitch.

Hosted by the Magic & Mystery School Faculty, the Magic and Meaning Conference is an annual gathering of magicians, scholars, public speakers, professionals from many arenas, and performers of diverse arts. It is for anyone who loves magic, storytelling, or the philosophy of magic, and who wants to think about magic in new ways.  Attendance is strictly limited to 80 people so we can create a friendly, interactive community of learning and performing.

Faculty Photo

At the heart of the Conference are a number of 20-minute presentations from Conference attendees that we call the “PEP Talks” of magic (“Performance—Entertainment—Philosophy”). The Conference also features “Ensemble Shows” during which attendees are able to perform magic for the entire group.

For More info go here:


The 2016 Magic and Meaning Conference will be held at the Tuscany Suites & Casino. For additional information or questions, please contact Katherine Rettke, the Conference’s Executive Assistant, at mmconference@magicalwisdom.com

Jeff and Friends Wonderground

Wonderground News – July 21

7 PM: Christian and Randilyn -Host

Strolling magic with Michael Mirth, Miguel and Jeff

Allen Scott will do tarot readings

8 Pm Show: Tim Wise is your host

Cecile & Mighty – Music, Magic and much much more!

Dyno Statts – Steampunk Sorcery

James Kelsey – Magical & Mischief

AGA-BOOM – Ukrainian Clown Sensation

9PM Close Up & Strolling Magic: Christian Diamond is your host & MC

Michael Mirth, Dyno Statts & Jeff McBride

Bar Magic by Zack, Steelfyre and Tim Wise

10PM Stage Extravaganza!

Jeff McBride is your host & MC

Cecile & Mighty – Magic, Music & Circus Arts

Sonny Fontana – The Invisible Man

Tim Wise – A Man on Fire!

AGA-BOOM – Ukrainian Clown Superstars

Mago Angello – Stage Magic Sensation – Las Vegas Premiere!

Jeff McBride – New Mask Magic

PLUS: Bar Magic: Zack Pattee, Scott Steelfyre, Iam Creed, & Randilyn

The NWR-Tribal Belly Dance Troupe, Psychic Sideshow with Alan Scott, live art with Areeya and many more surprises and special celebrity guests!!

June 2016

Please let us know when you plan to visit Las Vegas…. It would be our pleasure to roll out the red carpet and host you at The Magic & Mystery School!

Be inspired!

Jeff and Abigail

A Question For You

Ghandi Quote


Eugene Burger

Museletter July, 2016

Eugene Burger

Over a year ago I received a comment and an important question from my friend, Rabbi Arthur Kurzweil, the former publisher of the wonderful Parabola magazine. I did not answer it when I received it but feel that now is the time to consider what Arthur sent. Rather than try to summarize what he wrote — and thereby perhaps dilute it — I will quote his comment and question in full.

Arthur wrote:

“I have often heard people say they don’t like magic and magicians. I have often heard magicians complain that the ‘magical arts’ are not taken seriously.

Cat hates magic

“But I often attend lectures and read the lessons of some of the most popular and celebrated children’s magicians. They are offering their ‘wisdom’ and experience on how to be a successful magician for children’s audiences. It seems that their major goal is to get children to laugh, and their tools include fart and body fluid jokes as well as routines based on silly antics that show the magician to be a foolish idiot. ‘Kids love it,’ they say.

“My question is this: aren’t these magicians, who are so often praised by the magic community, despite all the laughter they generate, also sending the message to young people that magicians are obnoxious jerks? Aren’t they really going for the easy laughs? Isn’t it time we woke up to this to realize we are our own worst enemies when we plant these kinds of memories of magicians in the minds of young people?”

A very serious comment and question, don’t you think?

How do you relate to these thoughts? How would you answer Arthur’s question? Are you sympathetic or fighting mad? Thoughts like this do tend to divide and polarize us. But Arthur is serious. That’s the first thing we need to remember.

I have said many times that I think in the United States there are two different philosophies or approaches to presenting magic for children. To summarize them in a very brief way: one philosophy presumes success when the children are laughing and screaming and the other approach presumes success when the children are quiet and listening. This may be too simplistic a summary of these views but I think you get the point.

Which is best? Which do you prefer? Can they be combined?

I do not perform for children. When I began my professional career in 1978, I consciously decided that I would be an adult entertainer. Not that I wanted to present off color humor in my work but, rather, because I felt more comfortable performing for adults. I say this so you understand that I have never had to make a decision about which of these two paths to travel.

Well…what do I think? Which approach do I think is best?

Does it really matter what I think? Doesn’t it matter much more what you think? Especially if you, unlike me, actually perform for children?

So, what do you think?

Back in the early 1980s, when I was performing at Don’s Fishmarket, a restaurant on Chicago’s Rush Street, one of the waiters came over to me and said, “Jean Marsh is here tonight. Should I ask her if she wants to see some magic?”

Jean Marsh was an actress who was one of the stars of Upstairs, Downstairs, a British television series that was very successful on PBS in the United  States. In 1975. In fact, she received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for the show.

I said to the waiter: “Absolutely! Please ask her.”

He did. She replied, “I loathe magic!

At the time, I remember thinking to myself: Perhaps she had an early bad experience with magic and magicians at a child’s birthday party.

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