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A Magician Explains Messing Up On Stage

By January 31, 2022Magician Life

I’ve been performing magic and mentalism for nearly 25 years, and I’ve messed up a lot. It comes with the territory of performing thousands of shows, taking risks, and wanting to improve. If you do the same old routine every day, you may not mess up much, but you also won’t grow as a performer. Understandably, clients and guests often ask if I ever mess up or if I’m worried about messing up a trick. As with anything, if you do it enough, you’ll make mistakes and I like to think that out of all the areas of life and all the careers one could have, messing up a magic or mentalism trick must be of least consequence. That said, people recognize it takes skill, there are a lot of elements in play, and if you mess up, it’ll be embarrassing, so they’re concerned.

Furthermore, I think they’re thinking of themselves a bit as they ask the question. I, for example, don’t enjoy watching figure skating because I know these athletes have poured their entire lives into the sport, some of them are bound to fall tragically, and the anxiety is too much for me as a spectator. Audiences at an event are similarly concerned about the anxiety they may feel watching a magician fail on stage–it’s uncomfortable!

I’ve practiced and performed for thousands of hours and rehearse constantly to mitigate the chance of messing up. That said, I love to try out new effects, I switch up my show almost every time, and I’m mildly attracted to the rush of attempting a very difficult effect and not knowing if it’s going to work. I enjoy the thrill of effects that are challenging to perform and take more pride in those than the easy things any magician could do. Plus, there’s an added element of skill and fun in improvising one’s way out of a mistake. Messing up is not the goal, and is not to be taken lightly, but you have to accept that possibility if you ever want to do anything interesting.