Introducing Discourse in Magic

Earlier this month, I sat down with Tyler Williams and Jonah Babins, the hosts of the Discourse in Magic podcast. The podcast is primarily a resource for younger magicians who are looking to improve the quality of their performances in a thoughtful way. So, with a bit of a beginner's mindset, we discussed some of the finer points of putting together a longer-form magic show. Listen here...

The theme of the discussion was the long list of little things that goes into making for a better show — thinking in terms of marginal improvements instead of trying to hold out for "revolutionary" ideas. The idea is that invisible insignificant changes add up to something extremely significant.

One of the most effective techniques I've employed for creating a more complete and inclusive magic experience is the notion of subtly pushing up the start of the show so that you have a head start making a positive impact in your audience is something that I've enjoyed for years. At all of the Magic Tonight & Magic & Martini shows, we work on setting the stage well before the curtain goes up. One of my favourite steps in this process is taking the usual boring pre-show announcement about turning off your cell phones and exploring different ways to make that more fun and exciting and providing more evidence that what follows is more unusual than what you were expecting.

One small part of this is by providing your own introduction. Most people don't know how to give an introduction (because it's something they rarely have to do in their every day lives). The closest they get is saying, of a person standing beside them, "This is Steve." And introductions are hard. How would you compress the decades of your life into something under 100 words? Now add the challenge of making not sound like someone was monotonously reading out an Encyclopedia Britannica article about you. Now also make sure it doesn't sound like a aggrandizing commercial written by your press agent and/or mother. 

So I wrote an introduction for the hosts, which was supposed to be a quick invisible subtle addition to the program, and in a meta-ironic twist, it became all they could talk about. So while there is a rather severe face palm moment at the beginning, we do get around to talking about some very interesting things in what I will always remember as the interview about introductions