Monday, August 1, 2011

Let's Be Brutally Honest: You Want To Be An Illusionist? Make Your Material Original!

I like watching illusionists that are excellent at their craft. I've seen many brilliant demonstrations throughout times in which I was granted the ability to watch one. Whether it be on "America's Got Talent," on shows such as "Criss Angel Mindfreak," in movies such as "The Illusionist," or in many other possible scenarios. The three of them either have or should have something in common... originality. A great illusionist is someone who can create their own material or introduce us with some acts that have never been done before. When I want to see magic be made, I want to enjoy what I'm watching and then think about what I saw later on. The harder it is to come up with a possibility, the better the trick. I shall warn you that I will be giving away some as to how each of the tricks are done, so if you still want to know how they pull a rabbit out of a hat, you shouldn't read on.

On the contrast, many illusions are overdone and demonstrate that this is not an act that is original. Like any other act, you have to stand out. Illusions are no exception. In this particular genre of entertainment, I'm tired of seeing card tricks that are so overdone, which include many of the card tricks that are being done by amateur illusionists. They can fall under the title of being "birthday party magicians," with magicians being the key word. They will entertain the little ones, but they don't belong in the big leagues until they can take their act one step up. I did, however, see card tricks take a step up when they were featured on "Phenomenon," where one illusionist did a "Human Lie Detector" trick. With this bender, he told his assistant (in this case a "Deal Or No Deal" model) to keep answering "no" when he asked what shade of card she was holding (and he couldn't see). He was easily able to figure out simply by the way she turned her head. The fact it's a reflex is an illusion in itself.

Other overdone acts include the rabbit out of the hat (which is simply scooping up the rabbit), the sawing the body in half (which is simply an act of contortion), the many disappearing of the assistant acts, and the list keeps going on and on and on. However, with those overdone tricks come some acts of variety that make you think about how this trick could be done. Just recently on "America's Got Talent," I saw a magician named Landon Swank, who popped out of a mirror. How he did it I'm still attempting to figure out. Then you have the many acts of Criss Angel, who continues to come up with bigger and better things. One that sticks out is the one in which he has a roller coaster go through him. Another great illusion act is the duo of Penn & Teller, who have a variety of illusions and they perform them in such an entertaining way. The list keeps going on and on as to who's a good act. From Houdini to Copperfield to everybody in between.

When you think about how an illusionist has a wide range of creativity, you start to wonder "what's the need for the redundant world of illusions?" If you want to make rabbits pop out of hats, perform overdone card tricks, or slice a body in half, do it at children's birthday parties, not as a major act. I wouldn't even bother buying a magic trick book either, unless these are tricks that actually stick out as being new. Another important thing to know... keep creating new material! You need to have enough material to make you an entertaining act, or you are going to be considered one dimensional. The more material you create, the more exciting an illusionist you will be. You want to have everyone wanting more, not be labeled as "the guy who does *insert the redundant act*.

Illusions are meant to entertain, meant to make the audience think about what they just saw and come out talking about it. Illusions are far from being a redundant field, you just need brilliant minds that create material that's worth watching.

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