The Burnaby Kid writes:
Figured I'd toss this out there, since SN was asking for interesting story submissions. I'm a professional magician working abroad, and I've been indulging in this incredibly geeky performing art for almost two decades. One problem that happens a lot when it comes to magic is that the nature of secrecy means that we don't get open dialogue with the muggles we perform for, and that leads to us getting into this weird sort of insular and incestuous discussion with other magicians, which ends up warping our minds to the extent that we start doing moronic things like... oh, I don't know... referring to our audience members as "muggles". We get into some pretty weird debates, and I've been trying my best to argue for raising the bar, such as by suggesting that we need to be more sensitive about what you guys like, such as by making sure that if we pull out a deck of cards, we've got something to perform that can compete with Card Through Window. And yet... Maybe I've got it wrong? What DO you guys like? If you like watching magicians perform, what do you like about it? If you don't, why not?
What impresses me the most is a feeling how "How the did they do that?!" (the same as with the demoscene) - this single point is paramount (otherwise it isn't entertainment but simply distraction).
Anyhow..What impresses me:*) Not being able to figure out the trick*) Tricks based on psychological bugs*) New tricks - they however only last exactly once
What I only find annoying*) Tricks based on misdirection*) Assistants (best show I've ever seen was performed by a lone guy against the stark background of a concrete building, then again, he probably had pickpockets as assistants. Yes, I do enjoy streetshows)*) Nudity/flares/sparkles/lasers/smokemachines*) Slight of hand*) Mirrors (they only increase the processingtime of the visual data, nothing more or less)*) Grand gestures*) Falmboyant setups (if you are going to shoot someone with a crossbow just do it across the stage, do not bother with a target behind them, or putting them on a swing or whatever)*) Running around/moving boxes - this could with great advantage be replaced with a big sign stating "please wait while trick is being performed".
Or to sum it all up - I want a show that stimulates/challenges my mind and not one that assults my senses. And yes, I do enjoy magic shows actually - but I find good shows to be increasingly hard to find (most ones degenerates into a show of fireworks/lasers/low-light - in effect saying that the trick will not survive being done in the middle of a warehouse with proper lighting)