Most comedy jugglers spend a lot of time with comedy magicians. You are rarely booked on a gig with another comedy juggler but there always seems to be a magician around. Often times you’ll find them living in creepy warehouses or sleeping in old Chinese theaters. Despite how much time we spend with magicians and their much higher rate of success, fame, and facial hair we haven’t, as a community, done a great job learning from their many successes. Here is a list of 5 things magicians do that we should be doing too. Magic has so many people thinking about it and trying to solve it’s problems they are bound to come up with some interesting solutions and ideas.
1.They Use IMAG.
IMAG is short for “image magnification”. IMAG is used to live project video during a show. Magicians use this technology to perform close up magic to large theater audiences. The whole set-up can be quite small: you need a camera, a projector, and a screen. Most venues have two out of the three things you’d need and some have all three.
It’s a great example of problem solving: I have these small, intimate tricks/illusions and I want to show them to a crowd. How can I? It’s amazing to me that I don’t see jugglers do this more often. There is a huge list of juggling/manipulation type effects that would be greatly enchanced and performable with the use of IMAG. You could conceivably pull of a RingDama routine for a 3,000 seat theater. Or maybe some dope rice juggling…maybe you’d have to use rabbit turds painted white but still. Small stuff, big crowds.
2. They Use Convincers.
A “Convincer” is the term (I decided) for the things you do on stage to convince people something is real, when it isn’t. Some magicians are great at this and it can really sell an illusion. It’s different from sleight of hand or misdirection which are both a part of concealing how something is done. It’s more about acting, about showing people what something should be. Some really great juggling tricks look like magic. One of the comments I heard most after doing my hoop + glass routine is that it was a great illusion. So I set about finding ways to convince the audience that they were seeing skill and not something I bought from Misdirections. There is a funny paradox: the more you try to convince someone what they are seeing is not a magic trick, the more they think that it is.
In my hoop + glass routine I’ve found some really easy to do things that help mugglers to understand (sub-consciously I assume) that what I am doing is real. I pour the glass of water on stage, into a glass I’ve been drinking out of all show. I make sure that the glass is full enough that water sloshes out during the routine and I regularly toss the glass from the hoop to my hand.
Juggler’s do this to some extent. Most often with blunt machetes and violence towards veggies. We could and should do it more.
3. They Support Non-Performing Professionals
The professional magic community supports a whole host of NPPs. Or Nips as I like to call them. There are prop builders, lecturers, and book writers who have never seen a stage. There are secret dudes building tricks in warehouses and teams of writers working on magic t.v shows and productions. There are even such thing as “magic consultants”. I look forward to a world where there is enough demand for custom props and enough value in the theory of comedy juggling to spawn a sub-economy of juggling Nips.
4. They License & Sell Their Material
When a magician has a great idea and they’ve spent some years perfecting it in front of audiences: they sell it. Maybe they’ll sell it to fifty people or maybe as many as will buy it. It’s genius and it’s a natural reward for inventing and honing original material. If you come up with something great, not only will it be a boon to your show but eventually you can sell it. Juggler’s don’t do this because they just steal the stuff they want. If more jugglers started openly selling routines we could create a culture where our ideas have value and provenance.
I’d happily pay money for the rights to perform Michael Davis’ water juggling routine guilt free. Especially if it came with a little bag of water and an order form to get more when I ran out.
5. They lie.
There is no 5th thing.