A Halloween Reflection

Dear Friends,
 
Our guest contributor this month is the dean of the McBride Magic & Mystery School, Dr. Larry Hass. Larry offers some thoughts, and a few challenges, that are particularly apropos for this time of year.

Photo by Michael Caplan

It is well known that autumn was Eugene Burger’s favorite time of the year. He loved the transition from warm to cold weather, the turning of the leaves, and the weeks of anticipation for Halloween—the time for his scary stories about spirits, witches, and a haunted bell.
 
Above all, Eugene loved the season because it carried his thoughts to what he saw as the heart of magic: “As the leaves change, life changes as well.” “Halloween has always been a celebration of transformation…” (Eugene Burger: From Beyond, pages 131, 171).
 
With our teacher in mind, these days I have been reflecting on times of transformation in my magic career. As you may know from my book Dying to Change, Eugene was there at the start of it, but he was also there at some of its most pivotal points. Here is a story about one of them.
 
Many years ago, Eugene and I were backstage after one of our two-person college shows. He came up and put his hand on my forearm—his favorite gesture for these moments—and said, “Larry, you were really good tonight…really good!” I beamed because Eugene didn’t give false praise. Then he gently added, “I think you have enough card tricks.”
 
Boom! Wow. Yes. In a flash I realized Eugene was correct. I had more than enough card magic, not merely in that show but in my repertoire. I needed more variety in the props I used so I could create different textures of experience, and a wider range of effects.
 
In retrospect, I understand how pivotal this moment was for the magician I would become. After Eugene spoke from his heart, my mind and eyes quickly opened up to other objects and the effects and themes I could explore with them. For example, my well-known “Philosopher’s Rope” routine grew out of this new perspective, along with several non-card openers and close-up effects that are in the core of my working repertoire.

Photo by John Costello

Of course, I still love creating psychologically “deep” routines with playing cards. I love working on my key sleights to make sure they stay invisible. But after Eugene’s little gift of seven words, “I think you have enough card tricks,” the world of magic got much bigger for me, and I became a better magician.
 
The memory of this moment brings some questions to mind—for me, but perhaps also for you. First, how are we doing with card tricks these days? Do we have enough already!? Have I been backsliding? Perhaps, because after seeing the wide-ranging innovation at FISM in July, I came home and developed four non-card routines. Coincidence? I think not!
 
But also let me ask: what have been one or two pivotal moments of change in your work as a magician? Who or what brought about these transformations? Can you write or tell the story of them? These are excellent tales to share over dinner with family and friends, or perhaps around an October fire when the wind blows cold.
 
And there is one last question for this Halloween reflection. Is there some real change in my magic or in my life I need to make at this time of seasonal turning? If there is, how can I transform that thought into action?
 
At this moment, I feel Eugene’s hand on my forearm and hear him say, “Larry, by taking one single step.” 
 
My best wishes to you during this season of change.

Photo by Michael Caplan

Magic – The Antidote to Deadly “Doomscrolling”

What is Doomscrolling?
 
Doomscrolling, or doomsurfing, is the act of spending an excessive amount of screen time devoted to the absorption of negative news. In some cases, increased consumption of predominantly negative news may result in harmful psychophysiological responses. 

Recently I heard a saying that goes, “Your master is what gets your attention most.” When you doomscroll, your attention feeds the social media machines, but leaves you feeling empty, or agitated, or like you are missing out on something. Now is the time to reclaim your attention and focus on what really matters in life.

What is the Antidote to Doomscrolling?
 
Magic! We all need magic in our lives. Did you know that one of the world’s greatest magic resources is at your fingertips? But, perhaps you didn’t even know it. It is an antidote to doomscrolling! Just watch the video below:

Let Us Inspire You and Lift Your Spirits
            
Magic feeds your mind, body and soul with one of the greatest resources to nourish you and to bring you back to life. The McBride Magic and Mystery School’s online archive is filled with programs that are life enriching and will inspire you. Meet and interact live with a caring community, learn new magic concepts from experts, watch interviews with the world’s most inspiring magicians, and participate in mind expanding conversations in all areas of magic.
 
Hundreds of hours of magic content and training await you. So the next time you hop online, know that you have a choice; doomscrolling, or uplifting magical wisdom. I think it’s an easy choice!

Did You Know?
 
Mystery School Monday is the longest running online magic show in history. It has been going for twelve years every Monday night. Just go to www.mcbridemagic.tv to join in. 
 
I would like to personally ask you for your support for our school. I’ll meet you online every week and we can share inspiration and magic.We are doing good work and we need good people like you to help us share the magic. Please support us and become a member of the most prestigious magic school in the world – https://shop.magicalwisdom.com/m/magic-mystery-school
 
The McBride Magic & Mystery School – an oasis of magical wisdom in a desert of doomscrolling!
 
Jeff McBride

It’s OK for Them to Not Like You!

Dear Friends,
 
Our guest contributor this month is Jay Fortune. A long-time friend and contributor to the McBride Magic & Mystery School, Jay resides in the seaside town of Blackpool, England in the UK, where he follows his passions as a magician, artist, producer, author, and illustrator. In this Museletter, Jay reminds us of a simple, yet empowering, truth.

Back in 2006, during a Master Class in Cornwall, England, I was performing a comedy Lie Detector routine for the group. At the end, we opened to questions and one student asked, ‘How do you be funny?’ Whilst there are many techniques in books on how to write and perform comedy material, it’s what’s implied behind the question that has always stuck with me. As magicians, why do we feel the need, or the desire, to be funny? Is it because the performers we like best make us laugh, so we think that by making our audiences laugh they will like us more?
 
When I was a working professional I always remembered the shows where the audience was enjoying it, but there was that one person who sat with their arms crossed, clearly not having as good a time as I thought they should be having. On the long drive home from those gigs, I would spend my time and energy thinking about that person, that tiny minority, and wondering what I could have done differently to make them enjoy the show more – to make them laugh more. Because in my mind, if I made them laugh, they’d like me. 
 
I was a comedy performer until 2018, when I transitioned into being an artist and author. With the release of my debut novel All Fall Down hitting UK bookshops this summer (cheeky plug!), I have once again found myself returning to the question ‘What if they don’t like me or my art/writing?’ Here’s the thing I eventually learned as a performer –  I stopped doing the mental tug-of-war between that 1% of my audience who didn’t seem to enjoy the show, and the majority who had. I simply dropped the rope. And now, with my art and writing, I’m relearning to do that once again. It’s OK for them to not like me!

If we think about other disciplines like art, writing, or music, we don’t automatically feel we need to laugh to enjoy the experience. Yet, with magic, more often than not, magicians try to be funny, because they think that funny equates to entertainment. Yet we know this isn’t always true. Let me tie these rather abstract thoughts together (if I can!).
 
If you want to make them laugh, do so, but go all in. Use your comedic writing and acting ability to create situations and lines that will really make them laugh. Think about what you find hilarious and then put that kind of humor into your magic. You won’t win them all over, but that’s OK. What you will do is build venues and audiences who seek you out. This is the difference between being a bland run-of-the-mill unmemorable magician and being a personality who people make time and effort, and pay money, to see. 
 
As I write, Jerry Sadowitz has just been canceled from one of the major venues at the Edinburgh Festival. A minority of people were offended by his show. They obviously didn’t know who Jerry was or what he did. Jerry is offensive, but that’s what makes his fans seek him out and pay hard-earned money to enjoy as entertainment. One thing I guarantee this cancellation will do is sell out his UK tour next month quickly! Fans will fight to support those they enjoy. 

Be more Marmite than Magnolia (Marmite is a food spread, and their entire marketing is about people loving or hating it). People either love or loathe Marmite, whereas almost everybody can live for a while in a magnolia-painted room! One is a memorable experience, the other is easily forgettable. I’d encourage you to be more “Marmite” in your performances. 
 
As a past agent, we would manage acts that were “Marmite.” We had countless unmemorable “Magnolia” singers, magicians and comedians. They’d get occasional work, but at a lower fee. The “Marmite” performers would be requested, and that usually commanded a much higher fee. Please don’t misunderstand me; I’m not saying it’s OK to offend, or that you should try to do so!
 
I’ve recently released some ebooks with Lybrary.com which feature some of my pro routines. In these I repeat my Golden Rule; if in doubt, leave it out. As Eugene said, ‘Not all laughs are good laughs.’ But if you really crack-up at a particular line you’ve written or situation you’ve imagined, then try it out at the right venue for the right audience, and then stick to playing those venues! (An example–I recently released Gobsmacked!, a routine about mugging I performed in London, at the right venue for the right audience.)

Many performers take any work offered, even if it is not suitable for their show or style, just to keep working and paying the bills. Whilst I can sympathize with that position, I feel we’d have stronger, more memorable performers if we all played the venues we best fit. We’d then have less chance of them not liking us. To get the biggest laugh, you sometimes need to take the biggest risk, and this is much easier when we’re playing those “best fit” venues.
 
To wrap up, as performers and artists we put ourselves out there – and that’s scary! In a world where everyone is encouraged to constantly review everything, it makes everyone a critic. If you stay true to yourself, your strengths as a performer, play venues that suit you, and build an audience of fans who enjoy your work, then you can sleep well at night knowing you’re not suppressing your creativity and personality (or your magic). 
 
And as for those who don’t enjoy your work…it’s OK for them to not like you! 
 
– Jay Fortune

The Secret of Making Gold…for Real!

Today, I will teach you how to make gold…for real!
 
Alchemists used to make gold in the laboratory. Today, magicians and other performing artists create gold in the rehearsal studio, and by drilling their act before live audiences. A dedicated magician can take the raw materials of our art, and by adding the fire of creativity, focus and diligence, transmute a pack of playing cards into a gold-making career. Just look at Mat Franco and Shin Lim in Las Vegas, who did just that!
 
The New World Champions and Gold Medal Winners – Anca and Lucca!
 
Listen to Anca and Lucca who just won First Place in Mental Magic at The World Championships of Magic at FISM!

Here is a Three-Step Formula for Your Success!
 
Step #1: Focus – target seven minutes of original material and work on your character
 
Research and develop magic and routines that are unique. Television bookers and talent judges love novelty. You must stand out from all the rest to get noticed. My pal Rudy Coby says, “All you need is three minutes of great magic and a unique character to make a career in magic and travel the world!” Rudy is proof of that formula’s success. Only seven minutes of great magic can get you on America’s Got Talent or Fool  Us. Add a unique character and this will make you unforgettable!
 
Step #2: Direction – get expert guidance from professionals
 
This is where a director or magic coach comes in. Today, it is easier than ever to work on Zoom with a professional magic coach. I worked with the legendary magic director Bob Fitch, and that made a huge difference in my career. Want a coach?  Go here: https://shop.magicalwisdom.com/event/private-magic-lessons-with-jeff-mcbride
 
Step #3: Persistence – polish and practice your act to perfection
 
Lance Burton says it takes 1000 shows to become great at performing. Bruce Lee said, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”  
 
Here is another important thought. “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not. Nothing is more common than unsuccessful individuals with talent. Genius will not. Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not. The world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” – Ray Croc
 
Here are a few magicians who have succeeded in their goals. How did they do it? Just read on!
 
Award Winning Magic Students from McBride’s Magic & Mystery School

Daryl Rogers

Daryl just won First Place in the Stage Show competition at the Abbott’s Magic Get Together convention. It was his third  year competing with his act. It was his persistence that paid off! Daryl Rogers is the Director of Communications at the Magic & Mystery School, and is a long time student of ours. Daryl has attended more of our classes than anyone. Perhaps that is why he is leading the pack! 

Scott Hanneman

Scott is also a student of mine. We work on Zoom every month, and in each class we focus on originality. Scott has developed original material. You will understand when you see his act and meet his show sidekick, “Muffin the Wonder-Fish!” Scott developed a unique character that makes him both lovable and memorable.

World Champion of Stage Manipulation Artem Shchukin

Artem is an example of a performer that has great technical ability, original material, and a unique character. Artem said he started his magic career with “The Art of Card Manipulation” videos, and that led him to becoming the first place award winner in the category of manipulation at the World Championships.

Magic News: Mystery School Goes to FISM 
 
Here is a short video from Scott Steelfyre about our Magic & Mystery School room at the recent FISM world championships. Our team taught every day for a total of 36 hours and we never repeated a routine or a talk! Take a look.

Magic & Meaning Conference 2022 Online
 
Superstar of magic Dani DaOrtiz will be our special guest at this year’s online events! Thousands of magicians have been drawn to the magnetic personality, electric performance, and personal vision of magic that is the force of nature known as Dani DaOrtiz. Dani is a living legend in the field of card magic, and one of the most sought-after advisors and teachers of magic. He was recently awarded the FISM Special Award for Theory and Philosophy, and will join our magic community to share his wisdom and some great magic routines!

The Magic and Meaning Conference is an annual gathering of magicians, scholars, public speakers, professionals from many areas, and performers of diverse arts. It is for anyone who loves magic, storytelling, the philosophy of magic, and who wants to think about magic in new ways.
 
Poe’s Magic Conference
 
This week I will be delivering the Keynote Address at Poe’s Magic Conference in Baltimore.

There is still time for you to meet me at this convention! You can join us by registering here: https://poesmagicconference.com

So, if you are a magic lover, an amateur, a magic enthusiast, or just a person that wants to learn better magic, please join us for an online or live class. Everyone can use help and support, and we are here for you! We all need insight and inspiration – perhaps you are just one click away from transforming your vision into gold! https://shop.magicalwisdom.com/events
 
Jeff – and all your friends at the Magic & Mystery School!

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