MAGICIAN’S MASTERCLASS ARTICLE

How committed are you to a career in magic? 

As far as I can see, there are two simple secrets to becoming a successful entertainer  1) be interesting and 2) create*

A few thoughts on both.

By Ryan Joyce
The problem with magic is an invisible third option, Purchase.  The way I see it every great entertainer I’ve idolized, admired or worked with can be summed up in with two observations.  Are they interesting and do they create stuff (new material, write, etc.) 

The first step: How to be interesting.

Be interesting? How.  Be the most authentic version of you. That’s not an excuse for being lazy. You may not be naturally funny but that doesn’t mean you can’t work hard to add comedy to your show.  Take a few risks, push yourself and make mistakes.  You need experience and that takes time.

Building your brand makes being interesting a lot easier.

A holiday photo I shot and used for social media and printed cards.

The more you understand your brand the clearer your decisions become when selecting material and creating content.  Have you dedicated a lot of your time onstage and completely neglected promotional material or marketing?

I had an embarrassing realization recently about my promotional material that I shared on a recent podcast with fellow Penn & Teller Alumni Matt Disero and Scott Boyd.  You can listen to that podcast here.

That clarity shapes the decisions you make onstage, backstage and in the office.     The secret to becoming the best you can is to do as many shows as you can.  They go hand in hand.     When you start asking yourself “am I too good to do this show?” keep doing more.  Take all gigs you can and to learn your material inside and out.  Make mistakes and improvements.  Ask for help.  Then shut up and listen– the wisdom you seek can’t be heard if you’re talking.  You never know where your inspiration will come from.  Keep an open mind.

And for @*[email protected] sakes don’t expect anyone else to do your work.

*There are never two simple rules. Ever. That’s rule #3.  Here’s #4: Nothing is easy  #5. You’re gonna break and throw shit. #6 The more time on stage you have the better you become.

The second: create stuff and things.

All of that stuff  (it pains me to reduce all those hours on stage and mistakes down to the word stuff.) Well, that stuff makes you interesting.  Your emotional baggage character is like a filter you carry around with you and bring to the table everytime you create things.

An endless stream of content can be found if you know your character and understand your brand.

Like adding new material, scripting becomes easier when you know yourself and your brand.

Content creation is the new business of magic
 A few thoughts for performing.  

Record and review your shows and ask for feedback. Mentorship is invaluable.

Learn other skills, practice other talents and explore other interests than magic.  Find ways to incorporate them into your show.

In the beginning, you may use a little too much of other people’s material.  That has an expiry date.  Creating unique material is just a little extra work and the payoff can shape your career.  Being original is hard work but originality is heavily rewarded in the business of magic.

Start thinking about your branding this year.  Check out some books with your holiday gift cards let me know what you find in the comments your favourite branding book. (I also highly recommend this post from Graeme Reed on how to organize your digital lifestyle:  WATCH: The Magician’s Digital Toolkit)

Here are a few holiday inspirations of the content I’ve created for my social media and marketing uses in years past.  All this fits my brand and identity.  I hope you find it interesting.

Now go create.

A few thoughts about your brand.

No matter where you are in your career, we all feel overwhelmed.  Adapting technologies, a virtual business model and social media.  How can we make that fit for us as magicians?  Branding is key to answering those questions.  If you have been thinking about a career in magic I recommend you start by defining your brand.  (Related: A brand is different than a logo) Your brand is your foundation and once you’ve figured that out, some choices get easier.  Like content creation.

I have no graphics training it turns out I loved designing longer than I sucked doing it.  Magician’s today need to enjoy creating content and decide to get better all the time.

Your brand is specific to you.  Like a fingerprint– can you describe you in a paragraph? A sentence? One line?  Can your description be used to described someone else?

Start by understanding your likes and dislikes about magic, life, performance, business and art. Oh! And pick up a book on branding or watch a How-To video on YouTube.  And most importantly check back in with Magician’s Masterclass.

Was this helpful for you?  Do you want to hear and see more about this topic? Let me know in the comments.

We talk about this and more on the upcoming podcast with Comedy Magician Matt Disero and part-time pro Scott Boyd.  Listen to that podcast here.

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