In my last post for this Tips for Starting Magicians series, I discussed what to keep in mind when choosing the tricks for your first magic show. Now I’ll focus on a question that many who are thinking of trying their hand at magic ask: how many tricks do you need to be a magician?
This story is told to me often, and for every telling to me, you could easily multiply that by thousands around the world. The teller of the story follows this line of thought: that once I have the correct mix of the tricks that are just - right - for - me, then I can structure them into a routine. All I need then is a little bit of rehearsal and—voila!—a knock-'em-over magic act is born. This story sounded okay to me and I started to hear it often.
But when you ask them how it's going, they commonly tell you it's just about ready to fly ... just one more little thing to get. When I heard this answer just as much, I started to sniff around for another explanation.
Uh oh, this is where it gets a little uncomfortable. We're at the point where we have to admit something to ourselves if we are going to get to where we want to be, and that is earning money from magic— sooner than later. This isn't going to relate to everyone, but more of you than not.
Let's face up to this home truth after we ask ourselves this question: just how many tricks do you need to be a magician?
It's a good question. Would ten be enough, thirty too many, two or three not enough? A lot depends on the type of magic you are intending to do. According to magicians who are seeking the 'perfect tricks' for their act, there will never be an answer. I'll tell you why.
Is this you? If it is, then that is something we have in common, because it was me too. That's why I can recognise it so easily when I see it. But I've moved on, and upwards, from there ... and I tell you, you feel so much better for it.
Fear of failure is a debilitating thing and I've had my fair share of it throughout my life. I still suffer from bouts of it but I have learned to control it and use it to actually make me stronger.
The important thing right now for you to realize, if you are on a never-ending search for new tricks, is that it might be this very problem that is holding you back from really moving forward as a magician.
Of course, this may not be you at all. You might be someone who just loves buying tricks, and if you have the budget, then all power to you. I'd love to be able to potter around playing with tricks but I just can't seem to find time—I’m too busy performing them in front of people.
I know of a very likeable person who has what must amount to an entire magic shop of tricks and props. I am not overstating that. On his business card he has printed MAGICIAN. Truth is, he has never performed as a magician, ever, but in his mind, should anyone ask, he could show them his vast collection. The sad irony to all of this is he has another job where he performs in front of crowds of passersby, and he is very good at this. In fact, I think he has a great personality. He's one of those people who would really suit magic. However he has unwittingly locked himself into this habit of buying just one more trick.
So to the question of how many tricks do you need to be able to call yourself a magician and earn from being one, the answer is not a definite number. For me, there is no real answer. The essential thing is not to get caught up in the unrelenting cycle of buying and never performing. At the end of the day, you don’t need to hoard Magic; you’ve got to share it.