Considering a life in magic? Think Twice!

I’ve been back from Canada for almost a week and Summer Camp still sits fresh in my mind. Some have been campers at Sorcerer’s Safari for years – these days they miss camp for gigs, just like their counselors sometimes must. A bunch are getting ready to start University. Like Ricky Martin, their time in Menudo runs short. A few want to know – should they consider a career in magic? Should they study Theater? Maybe they should go on the road instead and learn hands-on from a real professional?

CAMP 2007 PANIC STAGE

Photo by Carey Lauder

The following story will be helpful not just to students considering the future, but their sensible parents as well.

At 17, I made my own choice about college with little delay or concern. I would go to study the theater – and very little else. Older people warned me that a back up plan would be wise. I didn’t want to hear it. I’d read an essay by David Mamet, written for young actors that argued ‘back up’ plans as self fulfilling prophesies. I was sold.

I made the call with no regrets. Those came later.

I still believe Mamet had it right. Professional magicians need many things to excel, but a back up plan isn’t one of them. You’ll need business acumen, marketing skills and internet savvy – and that’s just the beginning. You crazy kids will say there’s nothing to worry about. Of course! You’ll have people to do those things for you. That may be true – I hope it is. But in any case, you can still expect a fair amount of time to pass before you find yourself such enviable circumstances. Even then you’ll have to direct your team and talk about meta-tags with your webmaster. You’ll always have to negotiate with your agent.

If, like me, you enjoy comedy, read that last sentence again.

Many of the campers at Sorcerer’s Safari have already become incredible performers. So can you. Your craft and love for our art will serve you well, but it won’t be enough. Seek a well-rounded, practical education as well. You’re going to have to earn your dreams.

Gratefully,

Aaron Fisher

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5 Responses to “Considering a life in magic? Think Twice!”


  1. 1 Rosemary Reid September 9, 2007 at 4:58 pm

    Aaron, I’ve had a chance to catch up on your blog so I want to start out by telling you that everything you said about camp is exactly right There is no other experience that could match it, and no other week in the year where I could learn as much about magic and performing as I do at camp. You and the other magicians really make camp what it is. While some magicians can only make it for one year, it’s awesome that you have been able to come back for a few years and now camp would definitely not be the same without you.

    Also under your “Panic” post, I completely agree with your point about the fact that as magicians, we do have access to a tonne of material and that perhaps we should focus on developing what we have to the fullest rather then focusing on coming up with new material all the time.

    You make some great points and arguments in your blog, I look forward to seeing what else you have to say. =)

  2. 2 Tom Begley September 9, 2007 at 7:24 pm

    Nice article Aaron.

    I myself am 17 right now and I am at a stage where I am starting to get offered a fair few gigs. Yet I still am not even sure I will ever become a full-time professional. In fact at the moment I am concentrating on my application to university the most.

    Sure, I’d love to be a pro. There’s nothing better than being paid to do what you would probably be doing anyway, and it would sure beat some office job in my opinion. But I am sure there would be no harm whatsoever in having something to fall back on. If everything goes well I won’t need it, but what if I do? What if 20 years down the line I start hating magic? (Unlikely, but I would still like a fairly decent job)

    I think your advice is well worth taking note of Aaron.

    Tom

  3. 3 Michael Kelley September 9, 2007 at 7:26 pm

    Great advice Aaron. On another note – becoming a proffessional performer is like getting your motorcycle. Boat. Taking that 4 week Euro-tour. Do it early:) As you mentioned “you can still expect a fair amount of time to pass before you find yourself such enviable circumstances.” There’s nothing I’d love more that to take up performing as my full time career. I love it, and do quite well if I do say so myself. But how long would it take to earn a take home of $60-$100K a year? It certainly isn’t something that you can just “turn on” and start making that much and more. It takes time, experience, knowledge to get to where those you look up to in our industry are.Those at camp got it right – they started early. Get the education you’ll need to work your buisness, and get out there and perform. Get your buisness rolling. Get your career in full effect so when the life comes at you…you’ll be ready.

  4. 4 Andy Wallace September 9, 2007 at 9:09 pm

    Think twice about going into a life of magic- good words, if you ask me. I’d say it would be a safe bet that when people first get into magic, they think something along the lines of ‘hey, I see these guys on TV every now and then, and they’re awesome! I want to be just like that too!’. However, this is before they realize all the stuff that comes along with being pro. Constantly being on the road, having little free time to yourself, all for the love of magic. Or at least, that’s the impression I’ve gotten from some people who are pros, and I could be wrong with those impressions. However, I do know from one who is a professional that it is quite the difficult life at points. Still, for those who can do all that’s required, excellent. I personally know I couldn’t do it, and that’s why I plan to stay at the level of ‘amateur’. But if going pro is what you want and one can handle it, then hey, go forward with it. I’d say you just better make sure you really know what you’re getting into.

  5. 5 aaronfishermagic September 10, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    Tom

    They used to tell us in acting class that if you can find ANY other job you can stand besides working in the arts, you should take it. Performing, like it or not, will be a tough road. Many fail, and many others only succeed to a small degree, and far short of their original expectations. It will be such a challenge, should you choose to go for it, that you’ll likely not stick it out unless you run out of options.

    In my experience the bottom line is this – if you go to law school, just to make sure you have a backup plan, at some point you will most likely start practicing law. Most simply won’t have patience to stick out the rough spots inherent in show business. So, essentially, I agree with my old teachers – unless you’ll simply not be able to live without performing full time, save yourself a lot of trouble – find an ordinary profession.

    For the rest of you – saddle up. It’s going to be a bumpy ride, and the most fun you could ever have!

    Gratefully,

    Aaron


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