What separates the pro from the amateur?

All beginners in magic should address their questions here.
User avatar
Zig Zagger
Posts: 120
Joined: March 20th, 2008, 6:59 pm
Favorite Magician: D. Regal, P. Harris, A. de Cova, D. Vernon
Location: Germany
Contact:

What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby Zig Zagger » March 26th, 2017, 7:51 am

In a recent discussion, we tried to nail some of the most important aspects which separate the consummate pro from the magic amateur when it comes down to performing. The purpose of course not being to blame any amateurs, but to help them realize what they probably need to work on most to become better performers. Here's what we have come up with.

On the pro's side: Full technical, psychological and theatrical mastery of each trick; stage movement; efficient routining; audience command.
Haste, overproving, lack of drama and lack of personality on the other.

What are your thoughts?
Have a look at our magic blog, http://www.zzzauber.com
Advancing the art in magic one post at a time (yeah, right!)

mbreggar
Posts: 3
Joined: March 14th, 2012, 9:26 am

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby mbreggar » March 26th, 2017, 8:39 am

Man, I know many "pros" that fit in the latter category and lots of "amateurs" in the former.

The answer is semantic though. A professional, in any calling, is one who is paid for their work as opposed to an amateur who is not. Info so as magic and many other art forms are concerned, the term "professional" is further defined as one whose sole source of income is based on magic (in any form).

Your points are well taken, definitions aside, Zig. What you discuss is really a level of table of compentancy in the art form. One would hope that level is higher in pros than in amateurs; but he long history of magic shows that some of our greatest magicians were not "working professionals" but ameteurs, strictly by definition.

brianarudolph
Posts: 360
Joined: February 26th, 2012, 9:22 pm

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby brianarudolph » March 26th, 2017, 10:30 am

Agreeing with all of the foregoing, I'll add another point made by Harry Blackstone Jr.

Blackstone was talking to folks after a performance in Cleveland and autographing posters and programs. When a kid (mid-teens) in line ahead of me was getting his stuff autographed, he told Harry "I'm a magician too! I've been doing it for 5 years now and I know over 200 tricks already!" Handing back the kid's autographed program, Blackstone replied "Wow, that's great! I only know these twelve."

I was 22 years old at the time and those words and their subtext stuck with me and have shaped my magic ever since. There are a lot of effects that I "know" and, don't get me wrong: I enjoy learning new ones all the time. But there are relatively very few over the years that I feel I've honed and polished to something even somewhat approaching a professional level/table competency that I actually perform. And I'm certainly not anywhere near a professional in the strict income sense of the word.

User avatar
Zig Zagger
Posts: 120
Joined: March 20th, 2008, 6:59 pm
Favorite Magician: D. Regal, P. Harris, A. de Cova, D. Vernon
Location: Germany
Contact:

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby Zig Zagger » March 26th, 2017, 3:05 pm

mbreggar wrote:Your points are well taken, definitions aside, Zig. What you discuss is really a level of table of compentancy in the art form. One would hope that level is higher in pros than in amateurs; but he long history of magic shows that some of our greatest magicians were not "working professionals" but ameteurs, strictly by definition.

Please note that I wrote "consummate pro," implying a highly skilled, seasoned professional with a polished act. Let's replace "amateur" with "budding magician" and we're on track again.

Any further help?
Have a look at our magic blog, http://www.zzzauber.com
Advancing the art in magic one post at a time (yeah, right!)

User avatar
Q. Kumber
Posts: 1422
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Manchester, England

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby Q. Kumber » March 26th, 2017, 4:36 pm

Arguably the biggest difference between the consummate professional and everyone else is, in addition to the tricks, the attention to the details of things that aren't the tricks.

User avatar
erdnasephile
Posts: 3478
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby erdnasephile » March 26th, 2017, 5:30 pm

I'm no pro, but I would think the consummate pro would also need to be a great businessperson. (Perhaps that is included in what Q is referring to?).

User avatar
Q. Kumber
Posts: 1422
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Manchester, England

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby Q. Kumber » March 26th, 2017, 5:55 pm

You are correct (in order to make a decent living) , but I was specifically referring to performance related details, to do with prop management, dress, staging, blocking, show construction, applause cues, showmanship, audience control and management, and the art of presenting oneself to an audience.

I would also add that a consummate professional is more likely to think in terms of routines, rather than tricks.

performer
Posts: 2261
Joined: August 7th, 2015, 10:35 pm

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby performer » March 26th, 2017, 8:58 pm

The main difference is mental attitude. A different approach to things entirely. There is a very interesting sociology book dealing exclusively with magicians which does compare the amateur outlook to to the professional's. Here it is:

https://www.amazon.com/magician-culture ... 0772014523

And consider this.

Dai Vernon was an amateur magician. Criss Angel is a professional. Take your pick.

performer
Posts: 2261
Joined: August 7th, 2015, 10:35 pm

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby performer » March 26th, 2017, 9:03 pm

brianarudolph wrote:Agreeing with all of the foregoing, I'll add another point made by Harry Blackstone Jr.

Blackstone was talking to folks after a performance in Cleveland and autographing posters and programs. When a kid (mid-teens) in line ahead of me was getting his stuff autographed, he told Harry "I'm a magician too! I've been doing it for 5 years now and I know over 200 tricks already!" Handing back the kid's autographed program, Blackstone replied "Wow, that's great! I only know these twelve."

I was 22 years old at the time and those words and their subtext stuck with me and have shaped my magic ever since. There are a lot of effects that I "know" and, don't get me wrong: I enjoy learning new ones all the time. But there are relatively very few over the years that I feel I've honed and polished to something even somewhat approaching a professional level/table competency that I actually perform. And I'm certainly not anywhere near a professional in the strict income sense of the word.


I have heard that story told many, many times. And attributed to many different magicians. David Devant being the main contender. A bit before your time I imagine. As for Blackstone Junior his father the senior Blackstone was an amateur at heart and probably knew a hell of a lot more than twelve tricks. I heard he would perform impromptu every chance he got. I can't see his son doing that.

brianarudolph
Posts: 360
Joined: February 26th, 2012, 9:22 pm

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby brianarudolph » March 26th, 2017, 9:56 pm

performer wrote:I have heard that story told many, many times. And attributed to many different magicians. David Devant being the main contender. A bit before your time I imagine. As for Blackstone Junior his father the senior Blackstone was an amateur at heart and probably knew a hell of a lot more than twelve tricks. I heard he would perform impromptu every chance he got. I can't see his son doing that.


I heard Blackstone Jr. say it in person. He also told me at the Abbott Get-Togethers in the late 1970s and early 1980s when I asked him about it that he'd say it to any youngster telling him that he was a magician too as warranted. No doubt Jr. heard the story and liked the wisdom within too. I used to chat with Jr. for a few minutes on several days when we stayed at Miller's Landing during the Get-Togethers since the Blackstone homestead was just a few steps away from the Miller's Landing office - Jr. needed to go to the Miller's Landing office since his house didn't have a telephone!

Ian Kendall
Posts: 2333
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Edinburgh
Contact:

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby Ian Kendall » March 27th, 2017, 3:35 am

Dai Vernon was an amateur magician. Criss Angel is a professional. Take your pick.


Heh. Mark wins this one...

I'll add something else; Sammy Davis Jr's definition of a professional: someone who does a good job even when he doesn't feel like it.

performer
Posts: 2261
Joined: August 7th, 2015, 10:35 pm

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby performer » March 27th, 2017, 4:07 am

brianarudolph wrote:
performer wrote:I have heard that story told many, many times. And attributed to many different magicians. David Devant being the main contender. A bit before your time I imagine. As for Blackstone Junior his father the senior Blackstone was an amateur at heart and probably knew a hell of a lot more than twelve tricks. I heard he would perform impromptu every chance he got. I can't see his son doing that.


I heard Blackstone Jr. say it in person. He also told me at the Abbott Get-Togethers in the late 1970s and early 1980s when I asked him about it that he'd say it to any youngster telling him that he was a magician too as warranted. No doubt Jr. heard the story and liked the wisdom within too. I used to chat with Jr. for a few minutes on several days when we stayed at Miller's Landing during the Get-Togethers since the Blackstone homestead was just a few steps away from the Miller's Landing office - Jr. needed to go to the Miller's Landing office since his house didn't have a telephone!


Oh yes. I wasn't saying that you were spinning a story! I hope you didn't think that! I merely assumed that Blackstone Jr had known this standard story and used it himself to make a point.

The downside of this is that professionals often (but not always) end up in a bit of a rut doing the same 12 tricks for years on end. In some cases it is all they can do. Thus you would get Cardini just doing the same act time after time for decades. He probably was no better than anyone else when he did other material. Same thing with someone like Goshman who just did the same old tricks. He did them to perfection but sometimes people want to see something else after a while. You can watch entranced month after month and even year after year but sometimes you need a bit of a change.

And you can go a bit stale doing the same stuff for years on end. You can drop details over the years and it wasn't quite what it was and you don't know why. One factor that is rarely considered is that your personality changes over the years and what used to suit your personality doesn't quite suit you now.

As for professionals vs amateurs I think it is a major mistake for professionals to look down on amateurs as they so often do. The amateurs are the ones who invent the tricks that the pros perform. They are the ones who keep the art thriving. A few of them are very good indeed and many are even more knowledgable than professionals. As I have stated in the past they tend to get far more fun out of magic and it can even become a bit of an obsession for them. A professional needs to get away from it and needs a rest from it. An amateur embraces it and never needs that rest. I envy the amateur and never look down on them. Oh, and they often earn more money than the starving professionals with their very good jobs. Doctors, lawyers, business executives. They are often the ones who HIRE the pros! So why would you look down on them? They probably should look down on YOU but they rarely do.

Besides it was professionals who built the Titanic.

Joe Mckay
Posts: 1205
Joined: April 13th, 2008, 6:56 am
Favorite Magician: Lubor Fiedler
Location: Durham, England

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby Joe Mckay » March 27th, 2017, 6:35 am

Pros are more interested in discovering a line/detail which helps improve a trick a small amount, than they are in learning a new trick.

performer
Posts: 2261
Joined: August 7th, 2015, 10:35 pm

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby performer » March 27th, 2017, 9:36 am

When I was an amateur I was also very interested in those fine details. I have always been more interested in the presentation side of things than the trick itself because, thank goodness, I learned very early on how important it was and took it to heart, rather than simply pay lip service to the concept of good presentation as most amateurs do. When you start doing magic for money the presentation automatically becomes paramount because it has a lot to do with whether you continue to have food with your meals.

Every professional was once an amateur but not every amateur becomes a professional. A thought to ponder.

MagicbyAlfred
Posts: 638
Joined: June 7th, 2015, 12:48 pm
Favorite Magician: Bill Malone
Location: Santa Rosa, California

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby MagicbyAlfred » March 27th, 2017, 11:37 am

Fascinating topic, with a variety of intriguing and thought-provoking comments by those who have responded. Part of the challenge in trying answer the question "What separates the pro from the amateur?" is in nailing down a definition of terms ("pro" and ""amateur") that are susceptible to a variety of definitions. ZigZag did narrow the question down somewhat when he wrote: "Please note that I wrote 'consummate pro,' implying a highly skilled, seasoned professional with a polished act. Let's replace 'amateur' with 'budding magician' and we're on track again."

In rephrasing the way he has, he has, in a sense, answered his own question. i.e., The "consummate pro" is highly skilled and seasoned, with a polished act, and the "budding magician" is not yet highly skilled and seasoned, nor have a polished act. But ultimately, this simply leads to a new set of questions, such as what does it mean to be "highly skilled" and "seasoned?"

I think that if one is performing magic for people, whether the performer is paid to do so, or not, being highly skilled involves more than the clean execution of the moves, timing and misdirection (which are essential), but encompasses a full palette of performance paints. This would include: (1) great presentation (kind of hard to define in itself, but you know it when you see it); (2) excellent patter and pubic speaking ability (assuming it is not a silent act or routine); (3) having and being able to project a charming, intriguing or otherwise attractive personna (easier said than done); (4) the ability to draw people in and involve them; (5) being able to improvise and play off spectators' comments; (6) construction of routines; (7) how the routines are sequentially ordered (openers, middle routines and closers); (8) smooth connection and flow from one routine to the next -- and MORE.

As for "seasoned" and "polished," well, I would think that comes down to a matter of experience, and I am definitely a believer in the time-honored maxim, "Experience is the best teacher."

User avatar
Q. Kumber
Posts: 1422
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Manchester, England

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby Q. Kumber » March 27th, 2017, 1:17 pm

MagicbyAlfred wrote: "Experience is the best teacher."


After forty years as a professional, experience is what I think I have lots of, until I get more of it.

MagicbyAlfred
Posts: 638
Joined: June 7th, 2015, 12:48 pm
Favorite Magician: Bill Malone
Location: Santa Rosa, California

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby MagicbyAlfred » March 27th, 2017, 1:48 pm

Q. Kumber wrote:
MagicbyAlfred wrote: "Experience is the best teacher."


After forty years as a professional, experience is what I think I have lots of, until I get more of it.


Well said. So I guess that one of the things experience "teaches" is that we thought we knew more than we did. She is also a very tough teacher, as most of the lessons I've learned in magic (and life) have been the hard way...

performer
Posts: 2261
Joined: August 7th, 2015, 10:35 pm

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby performer » March 27th, 2017, 6:43 pm

A more cynical view of this is to surmise that all experience may be (and usually is in the case of magicians) is getting more practice at doing things the wrong way. And it becomes so embedded that it is too late to do it the right way. At least the inexperienced can change tactics quickly once they realise they are on the wrong path.

Jack Shalom
Posts: 463
Joined: February 7th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Brooklyn NY

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby Jack Shalom » March 27th, 2017, 8:52 pm

I really like the Sammy Davis Jr. conception of professionalism that was posted previously. I think that's true for any field where one is expected to be at a certain level consistently: to be good even when you don't feel like it.

On a related but different note with regard to the scope of one's act: I have to say I am enormously impressed by those like Derren Brown and Louis CK who revamp their entire act regularly, and still hit a consistent mark.

performer
Posts: 2261
Joined: August 7th, 2015, 10:35 pm

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby performer » March 27th, 2017, 9:04 pm

Yes, but Derren Brown uses profanity on stage and by doing so automatically becomes a bad magician. Or if you want to be pedantic---mentalist. The second you swear on a public stage is the second you become a bad magician. One does have to set standards of propriety you know. Any other option I cannot possibly approve of.

Jack Shalom
Posts: 463
Joined: February 7th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Brooklyn NY

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby Jack Shalom » March 27th, 2017, 9:39 pm

Silly criterion, as you well know.

performer
Posts: 2261
Joined: August 7th, 2015, 10:35 pm

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby performer » March 27th, 2017, 9:53 pm

It is NOT a silly criteria! And I do NOT well know it! I mean EVERY word of it! The very SECOND you swear on stage is the very SECOND you become not only a bad magician but an ATROCIOUS one. There is utterly no excuse for this kind of disgusting low standard and it is the very WORST thing you can do. It doesn't matter how skilled you are, how charismatic you are, how funny you are. You are a sub standard perfomer the moment something like that comes out of your mouth.

Luckily it is the easiest thing to rectify. It can be done overnight. All you have to do is stop degrading yourself and the art of magic is simply to refrain from doing it. Not hard is it?

Jack Shalom
Posts: 463
Joined: February 7th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Brooklyn NY

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby Jack Shalom » March 28th, 2017, 1:11 am

Sleep well, Mark.

performer
Posts: 2261
Joined: August 7th, 2015, 10:35 pm

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby performer » March 28th, 2017, 4:23 am

I just woke up. 4am. However, it is hard to sleep when "magicians" think it perfectly reasonable behavior to use bad language on stage. But Jack is not the only one. To my utter horror more and more people nowadays seem to favour this option. I find it DISGUSTING to say the least. It is sleazy and inartistic. And very bad manners. It sets a bad example to children to whom magic has always had an aura of wonder and amusement. Magic should be a wholesome art not something that one should view as pigsty entertainment. If you have no respect for your ART then you have no business doing it in the first place.

Tom Moore
Posts: 393
Joined: February 7th, 2012, 6:45 pm
Location: Europe
Contact:

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby Tom Moore » March 28th, 2017, 12:12 pm

"The Understanding of the importance of time"

In the stage & illusion world I generally find the amateurs want to buy a routine/idea/prop all complete and ready to go and will be presenting it on stage within days of receiving it (I've seen people take delivery of one of my designs and have it in a show 48 hours later) doing the "default" performance they saw on the video and never re-evaluating it ever again unless something is too tricky or expensive then they'll compromise with a cheaper/easier solution. Conversely professionals will spend weeks or months considering a purchase and discussing variations and ideas, when it's built they'll then spend many months rehearsing and refining the performance in secret until they have a routine they are happy with and which plays to the strengths of the performers, the props and the routine. There's a clear divide in my client base between people who perform something within days of getting it and others who spend 6 months working on it before putting it on the stage.
"Ingenious" - Ben Brantley: New York Times

thomasmoorecreative

User avatar
Zig Zagger
Posts: 120
Joined: March 20th, 2008, 6:59 pm
Favorite Magician: D. Regal, P. Harris, A. de Cova, D. Vernon
Location: Germany
Contact:

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby Zig Zagger » March 31st, 2017, 2:35 pm

Thank you for your comments and observations, folks!

It seems that I could have avoided some detours if I had simply asked for some more factors that set apart a great performance from a weak one, without touching that touchy "pro vs. amateur" thing...

However, it also seems striking to me that the top criteria we notice positively in a great performance are not necessarily the same ones (or of same relevance) we find neglected in a poor one. Example: A weak performer may rush through the effects and we may immediately realize and criticize that; on the other hand, the right timing and speed of a strong magician may not be among the top three factors we notice when we describe why his performance was great.

Would you agree to that? Does it matter? And as I am looking for these little criteria, which ones that have not been mentioned yet would you find rather obvious on either end of the great/weak performance scale?
Have a look at our magic blog, http://www.zzzauber.com
Advancing the art in magic one post at a time (yeah, right!)

MagicbyAlfred
Posts: 638
Joined: June 7th, 2015, 12:48 pm
Favorite Magician: Bill Malone
Location: Santa Rosa, California

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby MagicbyAlfred » March 31st, 2017, 3:09 pm

i would not disagree with your astute observations, ZigZagger. But I would add that attempting to categorize anything into "top 3," or top anything, we are immersed into the realm of subjectivity and opinion - which i guess is what you are asking for in any event. As to the detours taken on this thread, such as they may have been, the journey is arguably as important as the destination (another opinion!). So, even in the taking of a detour, new and interesting things can be, and often are, discovered along the way...

Bill Duncan
Posts: 1437
Joined: March 13th, 2008, 11:33 pm

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby Bill Duncan » March 31st, 2017, 5:01 pm

performer wrote:Magic should be a wholesome art not something that one should view as pigsty entertainment.


Agree. Except the buzz saw illusion. That's some F'd Up S#!+ right there.

Also, we should all wear tuxedos so people will take us more seriously.

Brad Henderson
Posts: 3589
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: austin, tx

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby Brad Henderson » March 31st, 2017, 5:16 pm

"we demand to be taken seriously."

performer
Posts: 2261
Joined: August 7th, 2015, 10:35 pm

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby performer » March 31st, 2017, 6:51 pm

Bill Duncan wrote:
performer wrote:Magic should be a wholesome art not something that one should view as pigsty entertainment.


Agree. Except the buzz saw illusion. That's some F'd Up S#!+ right there.

Also, we should all wear tuxedos so people will take us more seriously.


I really think your language is quite disgraceful. No wonder you couldn't get on Scottish television like this chap:

http://www.pressreader.com/uk/the-press ... 8836713413

MagicbyAlfred
Posts: 638
Joined: June 7th, 2015, 12:48 pm
Favorite Magician: Bill Malone
Location: Santa Rosa, California

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby MagicbyAlfred » March 31st, 2017, 7:53 pm

This thread has somehow led me to contemplate what I guess is kind of a profound question: "Why do I perform magic?"

Well, of course, I love and am fascinated by magic like most everyone else on here - I have since my first trip to the magic store at age 6 and began giving magic shows soon thereafter at the parties of my parents, other family members, and their friends. But if one is going to perform for others (paid or not) I think it's good to evaluate and re-evaluate what the goal(s) is/are. Over the past couple years, I have spent a fair amount of time contemplating just what it is I am looking to deliver to an audience, whether it's one person, or 100.

I have come to the abiding conviction that it's got to be something more than, "Hey watch this impossible thing I can do." Of course, we must fool them, if we are purporting to perform magic, but lately I have been looking at that more as a starting point than the goal. And I am realizing more and more that, as a performer, I want to give the audience something beyond showing my skill as a wizard or a sleight of hand artist. Yes, i definitely want to impress them, astonish them, to blow their minds - but even more importantly, I want to make it fun, to make them laugh, to put them in the spotlight, to make them look good and feel special, maybe teach them something they didn't know, to tell fascinating stories using my magic, to engage their emotions, to inspire them, to show them a great time, to help take them away to another place where their minds are off the problems and issues that might be stressing them out.

I believe that is the approach that will enable me to be a good ambassador of magic, who is going to elevate their conception and opinion of magicians...

performer
Posts: 2261
Joined: August 7th, 2015, 10:35 pm

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby performer » March 31st, 2017, 10:24 pm

Years ago when I was a teenager in magic there was a wonderful old duffer who came to give us all a lecture at the Junior Section of the London Society of Magicians. I think his name was Jack Griggs. I can't remember a single trick he did which is probably just as well but he did say something with left an indelible impression on me. He said, "the first thing you must all do is say to yourself, "What am I in magic for?" He went on to explain that the kind of magic you will pursue depends on your goals in magic. Are you going to be an amateur who just does it for fun? Or are you going to be a pro? Or a semi pro? Or a creator? A collector? A writer on magic? Or someone who sells magic? Or do you just want to fool magicians? What is your goal? And of course your goal is going to change over the years. But you have to continually consider, "What am I in magic for?"

Come to think of it I still don't bloody know............................
Sometimes I wish I hadn't bothered!

Joe Mckay
Posts: 1205
Joined: April 13th, 2008, 6:56 am
Favorite Magician: Lubor Fiedler
Location: Durham, England

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby Joe Mckay » April 1st, 2017, 7:36 am

Asking yourself, 'What am I in magic for?' is always a useful thing to do. With some people, their goals are not clear to themselves and as such they can chase after mutually conflicting ones. For instance - the amateur who only cares about fooling his buddies, caring about the reset time of a magic trick. When it shouldn't really be of any importance to them.

The role of magic today is another interesting subject. One thing that holds me back in magic is I have zero desire to impress people. I am a bit aspie and as such - seeking to impress other people has zero value to me. It is like being paid in a currency from a country that no longer exists.

My favourite word in the English language is 'ingenuity'. And I find more examples of ingenuity in magic than I do anywhere else. A lot of the best ideas in magic are often the ones that stared magicians in the face for generation after generation until some bright spark spots what should have been obvious to everyone else. I am sure genius and ingenious must have similar etymological roots in the English language...

How I translate the things I love about magic into an experience that laypeople find compelling has always being a challenge for me. My heroes in magic are people like Karl Fulves, Lubor Fiedler and Paul Harris. They are not known for their performance skills.

One of the reasons I bang on so much about Andy's blog is because his writing in this area has spoken to me on a deeper level than anyone else I have come across. In this post he does a good job of capturing one of the unique benefits of magic for today's audiences:

http://www.thejerx.com/blog/2015/6/24/the-purpose-of-magic-in-the-early-21st-century

And this post does a good job of capturing a lot of the cool reasons to be interested in magic:

http://www.thejerx.com/blog/2015/8/26/dear-jerxy-why-magic

User avatar
Q. Kumber
Posts: 1422
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Manchester, England

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby Q. Kumber » April 6th, 2017, 10:54 am

Tom Moore wrote:"The Understanding of the importance of time"

In the stage & illusion world I generally find the amateurs want to buy a routine/idea/prop all complete and ready to go and will be presenting it on stage within days of receiving it (I've seen people take delivery of one of my designs and have it in a show 48 hours later) doing the "default" performance they saw on the video and never re-evaluating it ever again unless something is too tricky or expensive then they'll compromise with a cheaper/easier solution. Conversely professionals will spend weeks or months considering a purchase and discussing variations and ideas, when it's built they'll then spend many months rehearsing and refining the performance in secret until they have a routine they are happy with and which plays to the strengths of the performers, the props and the routine. There's a clear divide in my client base between people who perform something within days of getting it and others who spend 6 months working on it before putting it on the stage.


So true. Years ago I would add a new trick with minimal thought and rehearsal. These days it will take months and even years. But back then, I didn't know, and probably couldn't know or appreciate, the really important details on which to focus.

The late Irish magician, Albert le Bas used say, "You can spend £5 on a trick but another £25 to get it to performance level." And it isn't just money, it is the time spent in research, history, development, and most important, editing.

performer
Posts: 2261
Joined: August 7th, 2015, 10:35 pm

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby performer » April 6th, 2017, 4:59 pm

Magic was not Albert Le Bas's full time living. He worked for a Ford distributor in his day job. So much for the difference in attitude between professionals and amateurs.

Anyway, I came across these references to Albert and his day job:
.................................................................................................................................................................................................
I am going to drift a bit off (Topic) but I started an appenticeship as mechanic with Archers in Dun Laoghaire and I am trying to recall the Managers name ? He was a Magician Albert La Ba I think :? The first Gentleman I ever met in Real Life , a No [censored] Man , said it as it was , I still go by the advise He gave me .
..............................................................................................................................................................................................

And also:
.............................................................................................................................................................................................
bought my second car from Archers in 1964 a square box type Ford Angila with three forward gears beige colour from Mr O Brien the salesman and the manager was Albert Le Bas who lived in Monkstown. it was my first car with traffc indicators front and rear before that my Morris Minor only had arms that came out between the doors with little lights on them, I had to wait until my next car anAustin A 40 before I got seatbelts great memories.

User avatar
Q. Kumber
Posts: 1422
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Manchester, England

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby Q. Kumber » April 6th, 2017, 5:42 pm

Yes, Albert le Bas had a day job as manager of Archer's Ford dealership in Dun Laoghaire. Trevor Lewis was an engineer on the car ferry between Holyhead (Wales) and Dun Laoghaire (just a few miles south of Dublin, Ireland). Back in the 60's they didn't have drive on drive off ferries, so it would dock overnight. Trevor spent a lot of time with Albert and often going to shows with him. Albert taught Trevor a number of his routines, which Trevor credits in his book, 'Routines Matter'. Albert also taught some of his routines to Billy McComb.

The fact that he had a day job didn't prevent him from being a consummate professional in his work. For ten years he worked at Jury's Cabaret where he was the MC as well as doing a spot. It ran seven nights a week from Easter to September. In the autumn he did dinners, often doing multiple ones a night. In Dublin the main hotels were close together and some of them large enough to cater for more than one dinner a night. Nearly all the dinners had a cabaret after. Eugene Lambert (vent), Hal Roach (comedy) and Albert were three of the main acts at the time. Eugene Lambert once told me the most dinners he did on one night was seven - and he had a day job as well.

I think his workload, plus the worry of his wife coming down with MS, may have contributed to his early death in 1972 at the age of 44.

But the main thing about him that stands out in my mind was that for years after people I met at shows would talk about him and they remembered his name.

magicfish
Posts: 134
Joined: April 12th, 2008, 8:19 pm

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby magicfish » April 6th, 2017, 5:51 pm

performer wrote:The main difference is mental attitude. A different approach to things entirely. There is a very interesting sociology book dealing exclusively with magicians which does compare the amateur outlook to to the professional's. Here it is:

https://www.amazon.com/magician-culture ... 0772014523

And consider this.

Dai Vernon was an amateur magician. Criss Angel is a professional. Take your pick.


This is precisely why, often, the opinion of the amateur far outweighs the opinion of the professional, contrary to what some believe.
A master of the art is a master of the art regardless of how he makes his living.
I know great magicians on both sides.
I also know of terrible amateurs, and professionals who have been deluding themselves for decades.

performer
Posts: 2261
Joined: August 7th, 2015, 10:35 pm

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby performer » April 6th, 2017, 6:59 pm

Q. Kumber wrote:Yes, Albert le Bas had a day job as manager of Archer's Ford dealership in Dun Laoghaire. Trevor Lewis was an engineer on the car ferry between Holyhead (Wales) and Dun Laoghaire (just a few miles south of Dublin, Ireland). Back in the 60's they didn't have drive on drive off ferries, so it would dock overnight. Trevor spent a lot of time with Albert and often going to shows with him. Albert taught Trevor a number of his routines, which Trevor credits in his book, 'Routines Matter'. Albert also taught some of his routines to Billy McComb.

The fact that he had a day job didn't prevent him from being a consummate professional in his work. For ten years he worked at Jury's Cabaret where he was the MC as well as doing a spot. It ran seven nights a week from Easter to September. In the autumn he did dinners, often doing multiple ones a night. In Dublin the main hotels were close together and some of them large enough to cater for more than one dinner a night. Nearly all the dinners had a cabaret after. Eugene Lambert (vent), Hal Roach (comedy) and Albert were three of the main acts at the time. Eugene Lambert once told me the most dinners he did on one night was seven - and he had a day job as well.

I think his workload, plus the worry of his wife coming down with MS, may have contributed to his early death in 1972 at the age of 44.

But the main thing about him that stands out in my mind was that for years after people I met at shows would talk about him and they remembered his name.


I actually worked with Hal Roach the comedian for an entire week in Manchester. I learned a lot from watching him. When I worked the US army bases in Germany I used to hear all the entertainers talk about him admiringly in hushed tones and a week after I returned I found myself working with him!

As for Albert Le Bas, I do know he was one of Ken Brooke's favourite magicians.

As for Trevor Lewis I bumped into him once at a train station and spent several hours with him. He referred to his part time status saying, "Magic can be a good icing but a lousy cake"

performer
Posts: 2261
Joined: August 7th, 2015, 10:35 pm

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby performer » April 6th, 2017, 7:11 pm

magicfish wrote:
performer wrote:The main difference is mental attitude. A different approach to things entirely. There is a very interesting sociology book dealing exclusively with magicians which does compare the amateur outlook to to the professional's. Here it is:

https://www.amazon.com/magician-culture ... 0772014523

And consider this.

Dai Vernon was an amateur magician. Criss Angel is a professional. Take your pick.


This is precisely why, often, the opinion of the amateur far outweighs the opinion of the professional, contrary to what some believe.
A master of the art is a master of the art regardless of how he makes his living.
I know great magicians on both sides.
I also know of terrible amateurs, and professionals who have been deluding themselves for decades.


If a professional deludes himself for too long he ends up not eating. If an amateur deludes himself he can still end up on the fat side.

Dave Le Fevre
Posts: 43
Joined: December 24th, 2015, 10:29 am
Favorite Magician: Paul Megram

Re: What separates the pro from the amateur?

Postby Dave Le Fevre » April 7th, 2017, 5:32 am

Tom Moore wrote:There's a clear divide in my client base between people who perform something within days of getting it and others who spend 6 months working on it before putting it on the stage.

I consider myself to be primarily a hobbyist. But by that criterion, I'm a professional.

Dave


Return to “General”