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The Magic Memories (180)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Negative comments on Internet/webshops; How To Be a Better Magician; How To Prepare For A Competition

These are The Magic Memories 180, gone online Sunday, June 9th, 2024, at 0:07h sharp.

All The Magic Memories from 2021, 2022, and 2023, including the Magic Advent Calendar from 2020, can be found HERE.

Negative comments on Internet/webshops

“One plus one is two, and not four, just because everyone is entitled to their own opinion.” (Volker Grass)

I do not look often into what people write about my products, nor have I ever been part of any forums (or fora), nor joined any discussions, but occasionally a link takes me to one and I cannot help reading them.

Of course, it pleases me to read all the positive things people have to say about my publications, and some of the negative comments amuse me, such as a twelve-year old who said about my Card College books: “These books are so boring, I did not even read them.” We will cross that bridge when we come to it 🙂

Some of the comments really surprise me, as the posters seem to be quite uninformed and still voice an opinion. Wonder if “poster” is the correct term for someone who writes a post… it seems so close to the “imposter” 🙂

Anyway, it is pointless to discuss such comments, as here is nothing to be done against negative criticism, because it is the price we are paying for freedom of expression and democracy. I am willing to accept that price, but I want sincerity and transparence.

My solution to the dilemma is this: Everyone must reveal their real identity, full first name and family name, and why not a photo. In any case they should not be allowed to hide behind a pseudonym.

After all, they are voicing an opinion about authors who also reveal their full name, most of the time including one or several photos of said author, plus, of course, revealing a lot about themselves by giving away their secrets. As far as I know this is the same regulation newspapers apply when they publish reader’s letters: If you voice an opinion, positive or negative, state the full name and city.

Wonder what your thoughts about this are. Let me know on the occasion of a magic convention we might meet.

How To Be a Better Magician

Not all, but many of us, are trying to get better at what we do, in small and big things, and a few of us recognize that this is arguably the best way of also becoming a better person. Because in order to improve as a human being you need some kind of “vehicle”, and to many of us this is the study and practice of magic.

In a recent show I did together with other performers, I had a chance to rethink a few ideas concerning how one could improve one’s performance. The occasion was a formal close-up gala of about 100 minutes, with a 20-minutes intermission, in front of an audience of 30 people, and I was asked to do the complete second part of ca. 40 minutes.

I usually do not watch the other acts going on before me, as I need to go through some kind of mental preparation before going on (I know, this is another interesting subject…). But on this occasion the break between the two parts gave me a chance to watch the other performers of the first part closely.

Here are a few thoughts I had:

Do not open your performance with lengthy chatter: Neither with a lot of talk, nor with verbose tricks that more often than not are also procedural, i.e., require lots of actions from you and, even worse, from audience members.

This, of course, means that card tricks and mental tricks are out, as a rule. However, I will quickly add, that there are exceptions to the rule. For Card Magic I am thinking of “Six Card Repeat”, or a short card manipulation routine to music. For Mental Magic maybe a quick succession of number predictions (Nail Writer).

But generally speaking, the vast majority of card tricks – and I mean the very best ones – are procedural and are not ideal to open a show.

What struck me, is that three of the acts who performed with me on that particular afternoon did just that.

The first performer, for instance, did a really very good card trick, but it took him about five minutes to get to the first effect, and to me this felt like an eternity.

The proof that some of the audience members must have felt similarly, was that after the lengthy introduction and procedure, the performer asked a lady in the audience to decide on a card suit, whereupon she answered, “Oh, sorry, I did not pay attention, what should I do?”

There and then I was reminded of the true challenge of the teacher, the eternal question: How do you get the information to the students, and once you have been able to formulate that information, not an easy task in itself, and have been able to deliver it understandably, with adequate metaphors and examples, how do you get the students to instill this Information, i.e., how can you help them transform the knowledge in a skill, the actual ability of doing what you know should be done.

In many of my books, also in live and video lectures, I am saying, explaining and demonstrating these ideas, e.g., that you should not open with a lengthy, verbose and procedural trick.

And all readers or attendants of the lecture nod their heads in agreement, or shrug their shoulders thinking, “Of course, I know that… can you show another trick…”

But the truth is, and the reality proves it, as it did for me on that afternoon, that even if they have read or heard it, or both, they do not do it!

This leads to the ultimate question: How else can it be instilled, learned?

And this is my ultimate answer (for now): Take a coaching with someone you trust being more knowledgeable than you in the matter.

In that one-to-one, private, personal coaching, a good coach will tell you: “This is an excellent card trick you just did, and you did it very well. It is a very good trick to do later in the act, as it is not an ideal opener. Let’s discuss this in the second part of today’s session. In the first part let’s look at a fundamental question: How do you open? Let’s look at how to be introduced, how to enter, how to greet the audience, and what to do then. What do you say, and what trick do you do?”

This is what I would say to such a performer.

To be thought about.

How To Prepare For A Competition

Just before FISM 2022 I received a lovely message from Marc Bittar, aka Markobi, who won first prize in the category of “Card Magic” at FISM in Quebec in 2022.

Since it fits in with the subject discussed in the previous article, some of you might be interested in the additional information contained therein.

Hello Roberto,

First of all, thank you for all you have done for magic: For The Art of Switching Decks, Secret and Hidden Agenda, your articles on Mind Mapping and many other subjects, the videos, and other publications, the magic community owes you a lot of resources, and I have had the opportunity to study some of them in the last few years.

I am currently preparing for the next FISM in July, and I ask magicians who have been part of my apprenticeship, or my journey, without their knowledge or not, and who have already competed, the following question, if you are willing to answer it: What would be your best advice, or flagship advice, before this competition, or in order to approach it as well as possible?

In any case, thank you for your attention.

Yours truly, Marc Bittar (magicians name: Markobi)

I did not at the time answer his question, but did something which I hope has been far more useful, I sent him the essay I wrote from my Ask Roberto project, an e-book where I answered fifty-two questions, on a total of 332 pages.

Practically the same question had been asked by Craig Longhurst, and I answered it as the 29th question:

Dear Mr Giobbi,

A personal goal of mine is to enter the annual close-up competition at my local magic club. I am interested in your approach to magic competitions – building the act, choice of material, rehearsal process, etc., and any top tips that you can offer me.

Thanks, Craig Longhurst

If you are interested to read my six-page answer, along with the other fifty-one answers, you can get it HERE.

Wish you all a successful and happy week,

Roberto Giobbi

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