In this article I will share some of my thoughts and opinions on how a magic act should be presented. For many years my act was just faff, random tricks that had little to do with each other. I would make lots of coins appear, then put a phone in a balloon or cut and restore some rope etc.
For a while, this scared me away from thinking about my presentation as I'm a simple guy. When I try to be profound, there is a great risk of it sounding cheesy. My opinion is that we should leave philosophy to philosophers, art to artists and storytelling to script or novel writers. A magic show should be about magic. I believe my job is just to entertain people, or brighten their day a little, not to tell them the meaning of life or provide nuanced analysis of the human condition. If you try to include too many different fields of expertise in your performance you risk diluting your efforts too much, ending up with a chaotic act with too many elements that are unrefined. You can either do one thing very well, or many things in an average way. For this reason, for many years I just aimed for my act to just be as deceptive and magical as I could, or as impossible as possible. This can sometimes be very effective, if your magic is strong.
Having said all that, there still needs to be something that ties the whole performance together to prevent your show from just being a bunch of random meaningless tricks. Recently I've been trying to structure routines around a simple concept, theme, plot or message, like my routines about being sick, cleaning up garbage or planting a pot plant. I've seen this approach work very effectively in an number of acts. The fact that Hector Mancha is not wearing any shoes and looks a bit scruffy suggests to me the he is supposed to be a tramp or homeless person who has just discovered a miraculous solution to his desperate situation. His act would probably be great even without this little story, but I feel it definitely adds something very important.
Another good example is an act that won FISM in the late 1990s that was built around a story set in the 19th century about a pretentious gentleman who was having his shoes shined. He was very rude to the shiner boy, who used magic to take revenge by magic knives appear and then passing them through the snob's head. It was an uncomplicated story, but a very entertaining performance. Unfortunately I can't find footage of it on Youtube.
In short, I think magical presentation doesn't need to be complicated, but you do need a central concept or story to structure your act around.
Julian is a magician in Sydney helping you make the most of your special events. He has performed many hundreds of magic shows over the last 11 years. Call him on 0437896344 or email email@example.com