I went to see Luciano Pavarotti in concert last week, it was a great concert but he doesn’t like you joining in. OK, it’s an old gag, but do I have a right to join in and perform at another performer's show, what are your feelings on this?
While you contemplate this I will give you an example. Last night I performed at a standard type show, a company party with magic in the reception, and around the tables, over the course of dinner.
One of the guests mentioned to me that recently a new guy started at the company, that he is an amateur magician, and performs magic all the time at work.
As she is telling me, the guy walks up behind us and I am introduced as “David, our magician for the night.” The smile disappears from his face, in disappointment, as he says “well you’re in trouble tonight then!” I ask why would I be in trouble, and he replies “well I know how you do your tricks.” I politely tell this guy that he will know how I do my tricks and that is not a problem, it’s the way that I do them that matters. He then goes on at great length, to tell me how long he has been doing magic, and everyone he knows.
Up until this point this guy is just an idiot, OK we all meet them. But during the course of the dinner the guests on his table come up and ask me to perform magic in front of him as a kind of showdown. I must admit in the old days I would have gone for it, but I didn’t this time, I just didn’t want to get involved.
But I am sorry to tell you that this was like a red rag to our friend - he then went on to perform magic at various tables at the later stages of the dinner, uninvited and more importantly unpaid, I checked with his MD and they didn’t want him to perform.
OK have you had time to contemplate our rights, did he do anything wrong? Did I do any thing wrong? Should I have gone to his table and done the business with my best magic and one-liners? Trust me on this one, I would never have won... what was there to win?!
Is there a difference in class between the actions of a professional or an amateur? Some of the greats in magic have looked closely at this subject (Tommy Wonder - see Books of Wonder).
Is there anything wrong with me treating my family to tickets to Geoffrey Durham's theatre show and then performing magic during the interval? Is there anything wrong with performing at the back of the crowd in Aspen while Doc Easton does his show? I am not making this up it has happened; I have even seen and heard magicians explain and perform tricks during the interval at Steve Cohen's shows in London.
If you agree these actions are OK, can you leave magic and feed your pathetic ego in another way.
Whether, you are an amateur, a professional or a hobbyist, you should strive for class in all you do, not just your performance, but also in your actions as a magician.
Are these actions prevalent amongst magicians? Would a pianist rush up at a corporate event while the hired pianist was having a break, and start to play the piano, just because he can play? I doubt it very much. Magic does seem to attract some strange characters!
A few years back I did a show in London and Paul Daniels was in the audience. I was sitting at a table at the end of the evening, I had the guests in the palm of my hand, a young girl called to Paul and said “we have seen David can we see you perform now?” Mr Daniels replied “I never move in on another performer's patch.” I remember thinking that was a class thing to do.
© David Redfearn, June 2006