In my previous post for the Tips for Starting Magicians series, I discussed how many tricks you need to be a magician. Unlike that post where I could only give you a vague answer, here I can comfortably tell you no. No, you don’t need to be well-versed in all facets of magic to be an entertaining magician.
Certainly 50 years ago it was considered a badge of honour if you went through classic magic schools like the the Chavez College of Magic. It was founded in 1941 by Ben Chavez, establishing for the first time a bona fide school of magic. In 1946 the course of study was approved by the California State Department of Education, the only school for magicians in America where veterans of World War II could study under the GI Bill of Rights. The curriculum covers billiard balls, cards, coins, thimbles and more.
What I strongly believe you need more than anything is a passion for a certain type of style of magic. Then that will be your guiding light as to what you need to learn. So if you really, really like card tricks, then sure, you can entertain solely with playing cards.
One name that springs to mind for performing with cards is Ed Marlo (born Edward Malkowski in Chicago, Illinois, October 10, 1913 – November 7, 1991). One of the most notable names in card magic, Marlo himself coined the term cardician, which has since been used for magicians who perform only card magic. The many sleights he created have changed the face of card magic. One notable example is his Snap Change, used in David Blaine’s Street Magic Special.
Another name, this one more recent, is Bill Malone. Malone is an American magician who primarily earns his living with only a deck of cards. He was a student and friend of Ed Marlo.
I can highly recommend his ‘On The Loose’ and ‘Here I Go Again’ DVD series. Remember earlier I pointed out this rule: If a professional magician offers to show you their own repertoire, then you should pay attention. Well this is a great example of that. Malone gives you his workhorse routines plus so many good tips about ‘how the business works.’ This is worth the price of the videos.
Personally, I like variety in the shows I watch and this has been my guiding light. I include cards, ropes, juggling, physical comedy, sight gags. I do very little coin magic—apart from the Misers Dream routine that I just love—because I’m not very good at most coin magic and it doesn’t play that well for larger groups, as coins are relatively small.
Perform magic you like doing and watching and let your enthusiasm for it shine through. That is the right magic for you to be doing.
Listen to your instincts, not other magicians.
In my next installment, I will discuss one of the most often asked questions: how good do you need to be before you start performing?