The Card Geek looks at the receptionist who is staring at him. After telling her his name, she looks rather excited, “Oh you are the magician !!”, he cringes, that word brings up images of middle aged guys pulling quadrupeds out of some out- dated headwear, but ‘such is life’ he thinks.
Following her down the impressive hallway with posters of advertisements on the walls the receptionist remarks with excitement, “I know we have never paid for a speaker before, but the boss insisted we did, you made an impression on him” . “That’s nice of you to say”, the Card Boy says despite the fact has no idea who the boss is or where this impression came from.
He does a little check list in his head:
1: Cards -- yes.
2: Bill -- yes.
3: Idea of what they want you to speak about -- no
The long oak table stretches across the entire room. There are about 10 men and women wearing suits sitting there, their eyes lit up with anticipation. The card nerd pulls out his life (disguised as Tally-Ho’s ) and opens the pack, “Here we go again….” he sighs….
For so many years I remember dreading to tell people, at a party or something , what I did for a living because I knew it would be responded with “Show us a trick !!!”
I didn’t want to show them a ‘trick’. I wanted to be AT the party, not BE the party.
Sometimes I suspected I was only invited to those gatherings to be their free entertainment like a court jester, to dance in and make the evening magical.
This became frequent, everywhere I went it was ‘Show us a trick !!’ never anything personal at all, as if I was simply sleight of hand with a person attached.
After my gigs, people would STILL come up and ask to see tricks. Part of me knew that the tricks must be excellent if they are still wanting to see more, but the other part…. Why not me, without the tricks ?
I felt like one of those people who walk around the park with a cute puppy because attractive people would come and talk to them if they do.
Increasingly I became insecure, nobody liked me for who I was and I blamed magic.
So I went to think long and hard about why I was performing magic at all if I resented it so much. I was tired of people looking at me and seeing a pack of cards and I was the Joker they discarded.
He flips out the Joker’s and shuffles the remainder of the pack, asking somebody to name a suit. “Clubs” a lady at the back of the room yells. A quick flip of the wrist and the ace of clubs spins out of the deck. The other suits are named one at a time and without looking at the pack they all come out one at a time in order.
They applaud loudly and he thinks “Wow, that’s a minor trick, they are going to be knocked back into their chairs for the next 25 minutes” but little does he know, they aren’t going to let him perform much more of his beloved sleight of hand….
People often say “Entertain your audience first !” and that is true, the audience is the reason you are there. But, you have to entertain yourself also. What I mean by that is, if you are not happy with performing, or WHAT you are performing, you will never be satisfied and sooner or later, it will catch up with you and it will come out in your performance as well. I don’t care how good an actor you are, you will ultimately just be an actor.
“An actor playing the role of a magician” ?
Nice thought, but what magician is that exactly ? What on earth is a magician supposed to act like ?
You should act like you, who is a magician.
It is easy to pushed into the back row while your magic takes center stage. Magic is good at crossing language barriers, cultural differences and most things in between but you must always be there guiding it. “Be yourself” is a vague suggestion. If I was myself as I am in day to day life while performing, I would be a very depressing entertainer indeed. So, when I perform, I DO act like myself but act like I would when I am at my best, the most clear headed, the most insightful and the most charming.
I finally figured out that it was not that they liked my tricks more than they liked me. It was that it was just the only thing they could see, I was hidden behind a flurry of card fans and second deals.
There are numerous essays with people saying “Be yourself” so I will not say it again here because you already are yourself, and that’s the point. You are more than likely lots more interesting than the latest effect at Penguin or the latest ‘My Sybil is bigger than your Sybil’ argument. You should be the best part of your performance, the highlight, the one thing people remember when they leave.
I have no doubt that every single person in this world has something that makes them special. If you have the ability to entertain, you have a something very special already.
He spins a card behind his back, it sails into the air and lands in the pack, he cuts and shows it landed between the two selections. They cheer loudly and enthusiastically and when it quiets down, a woman asks “Tell us about yourself, what did you want to be before you were a magician ?”
The sleight guy stops and looks into her eyes, he was not expecting a question like that.
“A puppeteer” he replies truthfully. Nobody laughed, they looked around at each other smiling as if it was the best idea they had ever heard “How about you ?” He asks back. She beams, as she replies.
Then more questions for the magic man that have little to do with cards and fingers, HE was important, the cards were laid out on the table but they were no longer Tally-Ho’s, and they loved it.
They forgot about work, they spoke for over an hour before the nimble-fingered one had to leave for another gig. They all groaned, disappointed he must depart, many gave him hugs and warm shakes of the hand. The boss wandered up and said “We have never met a person like you, or seen anything like that. I have never seen my staff actually want to listen before, Thankyou”
Marc looks back and says “No, thank YOU”