I hear quotes like this over and over again in magic literature, in books, lectures notes, DVD’s and forums; it’s also a ‘golden rule’ they teach to magicians that don’t know any better in magic clubs:
“It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as they like you”
At this point, I wish Karl Pilkington clobbered up in his spandex ‘Bullshit Man’ costume would fly in and exclaim
“BULLSHIT! IT’S BULLSHIT THAT’
To which he would then swoop out of the nearest open window leaving the magician to think about the naughty thing he just said. Of course the worst thing about lazy magicians, are the even lazier quotes they’ll produce (copy & pasted, or regurgitated verbatim to justify themselves) with no real thinking behind why they think that’s acceptable. And if you are one of those magicians who firmly believes this bullshit, I hope I can sway your vote, and hopefully peacefully.
Rihanna, my muse…
Think about a musician or band or comedian, in fact any live entertainment you went to see and you paid top money for, if they are considered to be world famous, chances are you don’t actually know them personally, now think about if you actually like them. I like Rihanna, and recently I was about to pay £60 each for a ticket to watch her in Manchester. £60 a ticket, is about £50 more than most magicians in the world can charge for a ticket for their shows, and when I think about it, I don’t know Rihanna, I don’t know how I feel about Rihanna personally, she seems nice enough, but I don’t really like HER, the thing that I actually like, is her music (she’s easy on the eye too). What we all know about Rihanna as a person is mainly hearsay, and mainly from what we’ve gathered from the media, we have no real basis to ‘like’ her as a person in the same way we like people we meet from day to day. Likeability is all well and good, but it is certainly not the only factor you need to worry about. In the case of Rihanna, the reality is, it’s the product I like, not necessarily the person. The idea of liking someone in ‘showbusiness’ is almost always inherited from the liking of their product, and until they do something to upset you, or if your taste changes, you probably won’t have a negative view of them.
I know lots of magicians and performers (both personally and non-personally) who are great people, I really like them, but I do not rate their craft, and would certainly not spend £60 a ticket on their show, even if they where as nice as pie. Would you really walk away from a terrible performance thinking. “Well, that rubbish, but it doesn’t matter because they where so lovely”?!?!
A world class product
Rihanna, in my opinion is a world class product, she has the whole package, the looks the talent and a star quality. Whilst she may not be to everyones liking, we can all learn from her that we should be aiming towards a world class product, not just being nice, and being competent at delivering second rate magic.
David Copperfield is the most commercially successful magician in history, because he has(/had more so), a world class product, not because you think he’s the nicest guy in the world, although he is a VERY nice guy. I went to see Copperfield in 2005 in Germany, the ticket was 115 euros, and I was expecting something just like I had seen in his TV Specials, although it was a good show, it was not as good as I had hoped, the big illusions where scaled back, and a huge majority of the show was hit and miss comedy magic. After meeting Copperfield for the first time I then determined he was nice guy and very likeable as a person, but I wouldn’t go see him again, simply because the product was not good enough. I’m still a fan though, but likeablity alone isn’t enough to warrant £100 a ticket or to invest my time in a show that isn’t to my tastes.
So far I am mainly talking about the likeability of stage performers, where the interaction is limited; but it does also apply to close-up magicians and every area of showbusiness. I’ve always said the magic is secondary to the performer and the performance, but that does not mean the magic should be a second rate product; the magic should be fantastic, you and the performance should be brilliant and the product should be world class.
If you act is world class, I really don’t care who you are, I’m not particularly interested in you, I’m interested in what you can do, and what your product can do for me, if it can move me, if it can make me feel something, if it can completely discomombulate or take me somewhere else, sign me up because I’m up for the ride. Just don’t bore me, and give me a second rate product leaving me thinking it’s acceptable because your a nice person. I’m not alone. The general audience do not care about you, they care about what your product can do for them. Make your product better.