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 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 –
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 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:
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:

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!
Jeff – and all your friends at the Magic & Mystery School!

Empowering Your Audience with Stories

Dear Friends,

Our guest contributor this month is long-time Mystery School friend and supporter Jonas Cain. Jonas is an author, magician, and facilitator of fascination. Through his company, Hashtag Positivity, he helps individuals, teams, and communities experience abiding joy by mindfully transitioning through change. 

“That was just what I hoped for!” she exclaimed, firmly shaking my hand. “You gave us time to rethink what we do with a fresh outlook. This was the perfect segue for the rest of our conference!” 
Nancy had booked me to deliver the keynote address, so her praise came as affirmation of a job well done! I was still basking in the afterglow the following day when I received an email from her, which reminded me that “all glory is fleeting.”
She shared feedback from the conference attendees, and they weren’t the words I wanted to read:

  • “This was entertaining, but it wasn’t a valuable use of our time.”
  • “I like the idea of a motivational speaker, I just didn’t think he was very good.”
  • “I want ideas to help me improve. We need more serious and less silly.”

 It was like a dagger to the heart. To be fair, the overall feedback was quite positive, yet even the positive feedback revealed an uncomfortable truth. Though regarded as entertaining, no one responded that the presentation was both memorable and meaningful—the hallmark of a truly empowering experience that can transfer well beyond the stage.

Worthy Goals
Laughter and applause can be worthy goals in the right circumstances, but in my work as a keynote speaker and workshop facilitator, laughter and applause are at best interesting stops along the way to aid engagement. At worst, they can be distractions from the primary goal.
In Growing in the Art of Magic, Eugene Burger reminds us to “look at the reaction we’ve been getting and ask ourselves whether that’s the reaction we want. And if it isn’t, how can we change to get the reaction we do want?”  In that spirit, rather than being discouraged, I used this feedback to grow, to discover what could be changed to have a more empowering impact for the people I serve.

What Story Are You Telling?
At the Magic & Mystery School, Jeff McBride teaches that everything you say tells a story. The question is, what story are you telling? And is it the story you want to tell? This teaching is in harmony with a dynamic line from the movie Walk the Line: “You can’t help nobody if you can’t tell them the right story.”
Being intentional with our words empowers us to deliver the right message with a throughline that can genuinely help people—because in the end, they may forget what we said, but they will remember how we made them feel through the meaningful stories we share.

The 5 C’s of Empowering Stories

When applying effective storytelling techniques, there are five key components that have been most effective for my work. Whether writing a script for my show, or a story for my blog, I ensure each story reflects each of these five components: context, conflict, choice, consequence, and connection.

1. Context: Context identifies the characters and puts them in a specific time and place, preparing the audience to understand the emerging conflict that sets the story in motion.

  • Essential Question: How can you introduce the context of your story in a way that paints vivid mental images for your audience?

 2. Conflict: Avner the Eccentric teaches that “everything can be seen as a problem to be solved, a knot to be unraveled.” Conflict is interesting because, when you “pull the string tight,” it creates tension between obstacles and desires, motivating the audience to lean further into the story.

  • Essential Question: What is the conflict in your story?

 3. Choice: The choices a character makes is an opportunity for the audience to see their own reflection and glimpses of their potential.

  • Essential Question: What critical choice is made to help resolve the conflict?

 4. Consequence: The law of cause and effect reveals that everything happens for a reason—the consequences for how characters choose to respond to conflict.

  • Essential Question: How do the characters change throughout your story?

 5. Connection: Making clear connections within your story ensures it is equally memorable and meaningful, which is defined as relevant: relevant for your audience, for your message, and for you. In our search for meaning, rhetoric theory aligns relevance with pathos, logos, and ethos:

  • Pathos (emotion): Why should the audience care about your message?
  • Logos (logic): How does what you say support this message?
  • Ethos (credibility): How are you a credible messenger?

 In the book Story Dash, David Hutchens explains that “you can’t trust your audience has landed on the conclusion you wanted,” which is why explicitly weaving answers to these questions within your stories is crucial for helping people connect with the message.

  • Essential Question: How will you embed meaningful connections within your story?

Final Thoughts

Even before your performance has ended, your audience will have forgotten most of what you said, but when you “pull the string” of your throughline tight, you empower them with an experience that can transfer well beyond the stage.

The storyteller Robert McKee reminds us that “stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience,” and since applying these five storytelling components to my work, I have consistently created far more meaningful experiences for the people I serve:

  • “Not only was it engaging, every level of employee got value from it!”
  • “In my three-decade career in education, I’ve had my share of professional development. This was shockingly different. The method of instruction was the most valuable.”
  • “This was a really valuable use of our time! If our leadership team tried to deliver this message, it would have been received differently. It’s great to have your outside perspective.” 

Laughter and applause can be worthy goals, but for me, the best “applause” is empowering audiences to be positively changed as a result of the experience—because that kind of glory is never fleeting.

How might you use these ideas to create memorable and meaningful experiences that empower your audience?
Jonas Cain is an author, magician, and facilitator of fascination. Questions or comments? Email him at

Your Free Copy of “The Mystery School Book of Secrets”

McBride’s Magic & Mystery School has a new book! Would you like to get a copy of it…for free?  If so, read on.
Did you know that each and every day McBride’s Magic & Mystery School will be holding free magic classes and hands-on training at the FISM convention in Quebec City? Jeff McBride, Dr. Larry Hass, Tobias Beckwith, Will Bradshaw, Scott Steelfyre, and the friends of Mystery School will be hosting daily and late night magic classes.
Subjects will range from Parlor Magic Classics, to Impromptu Masterpieces, to Mysteries from our Mentors, and even a special “Eugene Burger Night.” Here is our full schedule of classes and lectures.

Magic & Mystery School 3D Walkthrough
Take a look at the Magic & Mystery School installation with this amazing 3D walkthrough created by our own technowizard Scott Steelfyre.

The Mystery School Book of Secrets – Free!
This is our new (and until now, very secret) special interactive book/video compendium that will be given to each and every person who visits the Mystery School Room installation at this year’s FISM convention. This is the only way to obtain this book! 

The Mystery School Book of Secrets is free, compliments of our school, and will be given to registrants of the conference. The only way to get this book is to visit us in our Mystery School Room at FISM. We look forward to meeting you in Quebec and sharing our mysteries and magic with you!

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