At Home with Tony Griffith
Reported by Steve Beam
November 13th, I found myself on the wrong side of the ocean (and the wrong side
of the road) in Norton Malreward, a small village south of Bristol. I was
attending one of Tony Griffith's all-day, At Home sessions. Having attended
several of his all-day workshops in the U.S. I had some idea what to expect, but
this session exceeded all expectations.
First, there were far more routines performed and taught on this occasion -- by my count he hit 24. And I don't use the words routine and trick interchangeably. Every item he taught was fully dressed in an entertaining presentation. After each performance, he not only taught what he did but why. He explained the different choices he made for different venues and conditions and why he prefers certain methods over others. He also provided the ancestry of each effect. He included many of his signature routines including his All-Backs, Person Move, and 10-Card Poker Deal. Throughout the day the routines included cards, rings, ropes, paddles, silks, chains, balloons, and mousetraps. There was even some mentalism.
Equally entertaining and enlightening were the anecdotes he told about his 25 years as a full-time professional magician -- detailing strategies that worked -- and those which hadn't. He talked about how best to be seen and heard, even covering the preferred layout of various rooms where magicians perform. He explained his thinking on creating a one-man show, developing a repertoire, openers versus closers, and making smaller magic more visible (converting close-up to parlor).
Under administration and organization, Tony discussed his fee tracking system, advertising, contracts, and client relations and follow-up. In the segment called Cases, Tables, Bags, and Pockets, he covered packing and transporting the props, and his choice -- for better or worse -- to limit himself to items which fit in a briefcase.
Tony is a very detailed person and that detailed approach was evident in everything he presented and discussed. He spent the last 25 years working out the kinks of doing magic for a living and honing his repertoire -- a process which continues today. The eight magicians in attendance (limited by the venue) received a masterclass in choosing material, developing presentations, audience management, and doing magic as a business.
If I had one complaint it would be that I wanted more. As with the previous ten At-Homes and several U.S. workshops, Tony had more than enough material and information to fill a two-day session.
I understand he is planning on taking the workshop on the road to interested UK clubs as he has done in America. I wholeheartedly commend it to you. It will encourage, inspire, and challenge you. When was the last time you got that from a DVD?
From the wrong side of the road...
© Steve Beam, November 2011