A friend gave me a copy of Billy McCombs First Book of William published in 1947. It is a wonderful little book of great magic (Check out Williams Fantastic Fez). In the biographical note one sentence caught my eye, Finally, he believes in entertainment first, magic second.
I have been musing on the thought for a while and concluded that the statement seems pretty much right, but not in every instance (with all due respect to Mr. McComb, of course being that he has more talent than most and has proven the fact, again and again).
Going magic conventions one invariably sees lectures and performances by some fine magical technicians. Their work is flawless, but lacking entertainment value (sometimes these folks look like they could not entertain themselves out of a paper bag, but they have the best pass you ever didnt see).
Or sometimes you see work by fine entertainers who have wonderful presentation but use straightforward methods (Sometimes the method is too transparent or a bit hackneyed).
I find that the former leaves me feeling unfulfilled, while the latter is at the very least enjoyable and generally magical, especially for lay persons.
Occasionally you see someone very special who has blended entertainment value and technical ability in to superbly beautiful presentations. Everybody can enjoy these folks. Tom Mullica, Tommy Wonder, Mark Haslam, Michael Skinner, Ricky Jay, Eugene Burger, Juan Tamariz, James Lewis, Roger Klause and many, many others come to mind.
So where does that leave me? Well, I find myself inspired by the names I just mentioned and am working on developing both sides (technical ability/entertainment value). In the end, I find it harder, yet more satisfying, to develop good presentations. At the same time, I absolutely see the value of developing both and, in some ways, they can be of equal worth if used in good, thoughtful measure. Whatever the case, it is a wonderful journey.
What do you think?