You know being a magician is difficult and requires a great deal of training, practicing in a mirror, video yourself, writing scripts and analyzing those scripts meticulously with a fine tooth comb. But and honing in on your skills as a Magician that works with animals takes it to a new extreme, since you now become an animal trainer, and animals for the most part are unpredictable. So your script that you have worked so hard on often times must be fluid and adaptable for any given situation. Basically you have to think of any situation of what could go wrong before it does and prepare a script for what to do in those situations. For Example...I work with Exotic Animals, and my parrots are a big part of my performance and they are potty trained although accidents do happen and you must be prepared for them to happen at the worst times because they will. But it's all in how you handle that situation, you must remain in control and find humor in the things that go wrong, or at least let the audience find humor in them. The Show Must Go On...you simply can not pull a Mariah Carey performance as she did on New Years Eve 2017. When you are able to "Carey" on your, showmanship shines bright and the audience will not only appreciate it but they will remember it.
There are a lot of frustrating moments when performing with animals, but there is also tremendous joy that comes from showing love and attention to an animal while spending time every day training. And when I say every day I mean that literally, especially working with Large Birds, they are basically toddlers that live to be 80-100 years old. They demand lots of attention, and require time that many people just don't have to invest. Not to mention the lifestyle changes that come with Large Birds. Some examples of this: You can't use scented candles in your home. The types of pots and pans we use can not contain any Teflon. You have to use organic cleaning supplies, so no harsh chemicals like bleach or even 409. Their respiratory systems are very sensitive and smells that we humans don't even notice can kill them almost instantly. Not to mention many people can get very sick because of having birds in their home so often you will have to have an aviary or separated living quarters for the birds to live in, and you especially should never sleep in the same room as your birds as their droppings leave particles in the air that can also lead to illness if exposed to them for long periods.
Aside from birds I also have reptiles which I perform with, Now the Snakes are by all means the show stoppers as almost everyone is afraid of snakes. But honestly they are the most docile creatures and literally take NO training what so ever to incorporate into an act. They literally go into a secret compartment and wait there until its time to be revealed. Now other reptiles are much different such as the Lizards I perform with. I have Iguana's and a Tegu Lizard and these animals to take quite a bit of work handling them frequently and making sure they are petted on, have their nails trimmed, giving them baths often, and just overall showing them lots of love. This keeps them from running away or trying to escape when its time for their big tricks in the show. Certainly no ones whats an iguana running on the floor during an event, not to mention the panic that would cause. So again that is a scenario that must be accounted for in the scripting phase of preparing for a performance.
I don't think many magicians realize the importance of scripting your shows, and not only that but really critiquing your own scripts to the point of body language and movements, it's not only what you say but how and when you say it. Timing is a critical part of my scripts. If I am going to tell joke I need to make sure it's funny obviously, but I need to make sure its the appropriate time to tell it, that I give the audience time to laugh before moving on, that I understand what my hands, or props I'm using are doing during that time so that it looks natural and doesn't come across in an awkward manner to the audience members.
I sincerely hope that before you decide to incorporate live animals into your performances that you would consider first looking into rescuing animals, as there are so many animals that need loving homes. I will tell you all of the animals I use in my performances (I currently have 27!) are rescue animals and they all have different back stories of neglect, abuse, malnourished, etc. but they are all loved, trained, and cared for every day which has led to them being happier and healthier.
One of the stories I am most proud of is my Parrot Memphis. Memphis is a Scarlet Macaw and came from a home in North Carolina. The family had just went thru a divorce and the wife was the one who cared for him. At the time his name was Ruckus or Ruck for short, he was severely overweight from a poor diet that included only nuts and bird seed. Which is essentially the equivalent of eating Krispy Kreme Donuts every day of his life for every meal. Well the wife is the one who left and when she did she left Ruck behind, he was EXTREMELY aggressive, and very cage territorial. The room he was kept in had only the cage he was in and TON of wood shaving splinters all over the floor which was from where he had chewed the baseboard around the entire room and was working on the walls wood paneling next. His Water Bowl was covered in slime, and it took us 2 hours to get him out of his cage and into a travel crate. We changed his name to Memphis as he associated the name Ruckus to his old life. Now Memphis has the coolest personality and loves his life, he goes on tons of adventures and is the main Parrot that I use in my performances. I am so proud of what all he has accomplished and it's only been just over 1 year for this transformation to take place.
Thanks for reading!
Aaron Clark (The Amazing Ziggy)
As a full time magician how many hours a week could you possibly work?
Well I personally work about 60-80 hours a week...now that doesn't mean I perform 60-80 hour a week. I typically work 3-10 events a week each event is 1-3 hours typically. So at most I am performing 10 hours...you the other 50-70 hours are spent driving to and from gigs, and the rest is spent working from home. Majority of my time is spent marketing, updating my website, blogging, writing contracts, emailing clients, and the remaining time is spent learning and practicing new magic.
There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes to be able to prepare for each performance I do. The show is constantly changing so that each time I perform clients always get to see something new.
How much material do you need to perform a magic show?
Well in the beginning you need to have at least enough materiel for 45 minutes stage and at least 20 minutes of roaming. But that will only get you by for about a year, then you have to change things up and add some new material and bigger tricks.
I have enough magic to perform 7 different magic shows with different themes. Each of my shows is 1 hour long. Then I also have enough close up magic to perform for 1 hour without doing the same trick twice, but that never happens! You repeat the same 5-7 tricks over and over for every roaming performance I have ever done.
So why have so much material? For me I need to be able to perform for many different types of events...the kids show magic isn't going to entertain the adults and vice versa. So I have to know my audience before I perform so I know what magic I should perform for them.
Do I need a script?
YES! One very most important parts of performing magic is coming up with a good script for you show!
Then videoing yourself and going back and tweaking the performance until you're satisfied with how it turns out. If you think you are just going to wing it, you are basically setting yourself up for failure. That being said you need to know your script inside and out, if you sound like your reciting dialog from your script and not telling a story that is smooth and flawless then you haven't practice enough and you shouldn't be performing for a live audience yet.
Like in movies, theater, or novels, in magic everything starts with something very simple: an idea. Ideas are the cornerstone of any art piece. In magic the path from the idea to the illusion is different from other arts.
No matter if you are working on a routine in card magic, coin magic, a manipulation effect, etc...ALL MAGIC including stage illusions to the simplest close-up magic, will all have the beginning idea as the starting point. An idea is much more than a set of linked effects which is something really powerful, but meaningless in its essence. Ideas give meaning and make magic bigger allowing it to become beauty.
Scripts are the tools needed for anyone who’s transforming an idea to the real world, to the stage, and achieving a goal to make it into an art form. Becoming a professional magicians is a natural evolution that happens in three phases: 1.) You begin performing a magic effects to family and friends. 2.) Create a story, magic involves a tremendous about of story telling to express an idea and share that idea with a beautiful effect. 3.) You need to learn how an audience will react to the effect so you can then mold the trick into a spectacular performance. There are many ways to achieve this but busking is my favorite method as I get to get tips for showcasing my newest trick that I want to add to my show.
Some questions you need to ask yourself when in the design phase of your new trick: Why this effect? Where in my show can I best perform this trick? What do you expect to happen with your volunteer? What is achieved with the effect? Does it have any meaning placed at that particular point? Does it flow well with your other tricks? Does it fit your style of performance? These are all questions that magicians have to ask themselves in the idea stage of the trick. By making a script magicians answer those questions which will help give coherence and meaning to the performances. Which in the end is what matters to the audience.
Let’s think about an example, how many times you’ve seen a sub-truck routine? Think about the ones you liked the most, how was that performance and the history behind it. When performing is not just about the technical level of the magician, it is about how a story is told in a performance.
Master the technique, learn the theory behind the art or magic, and most importantly learn how to make a script. Your Magic will improve because of it and your audience will certainly appreciate all of your efforts.
Salvador Calderon – a.k.a. Conde Magnum who is a semi-pro magician from www.magicshowbuilder.com
Salvador has the following to say about the importance of scripting for magicians:
Not that long ago, after reading "Scripting Magic" and "Maximum Entertainment," I decided that to improve my act and move to the next level of earnings I needed to begin writing scripts.
Unfortunately, I hadn’t written very much when I quickly ran into a problem. Keeping things organized was very hard. The truth is the whole thing quickly became a mess. I got confused easily, my acts started running together, my performance suffered and instead of growing my career it began to look like I was actually destroying it.
I needed to do something and I needed to do it fast. I could either stop writing scripts and basically give up any hope of growing my magic career … or I could find another solution.
Well, I definitely wasn’t ready to give up my dreams of being a successful magician so I began to desperately look for a solution to my problem.
The first thing that came to mind (besides being a semi-pro magician, I also work as an engineer in my day job) was creating some type of database that would allow me to catalog each of my acts so there would be no more crossover confusion.
But I figured finding a database program that would work for magicians would be impossible. However, I began to research the subject anyway, simply because I was desperate to find anything that might help me succeed as a magician.
But I found nothing. Well, I actually found a couple of magic programs that say they can be used for this purpose but both were very poorly done and in the end weren’t able to do what they promised. They were just a waste of money.
So I kept looking and just when I was about to give up I found Celtx, an open source scriptwriting software.
This software sounded promising. A few magicians that I talked to said they used it and that it did a lot of great things.
But unfortunately, I found the learning curve for Celtx to be HUGE. It is an incredibly difficult program to use and I didn’t have time to devote the hours and hours and hours a it would take to learn to use this program effectively.
In today’s busy world, who does? Plus, I also wanted to be able to keep my growing list of magic acts in YouTube videos and Celtx didn’t offer me this option.
So I went back to researching and looking … but again I found nothing … until one day I got so frustrated that I decided I would just create a program myself.
I figured I can’t be the only magician struggling to organize their acts. So I decided to tap into my engineer’s training and design my dream magician’s software and then have it programmed by the best professionals I could find. The result … MAGIC SHOW BUILDER
Here are some of the testimonies:
“'Magic Show Builder' isn't a very precise name for this magical software. It not only builds your show, it BUILDS YOUR BUSINESS! Keeping your material, show, and schedule organized will not only help to improve your show, but more importantly, help to save you a lot of trouble on the business side of your career. Highly recommend it!” -
“I don't want to recommend Magic Show Builder to anyone... It's just THAT good! You have to use it to know how effective it is in dealing every aspects of your magical art! Wow, it reminds me all the elements of a good magic piece, and I'm intrigued at the powerful system and organizer it serves to all the fellow magicians! Perhaps the pioneer in its field!” -
Perl, psychological illusionist, Taiwan Kaohsiung
“Magic Show Builder is a very useful tool for magicians or anybody else who is putting together a performance and needs to organize, search, and store information related to his work. If you have not yet figured out an efficient system for yourself, I recommend Magic Show Builder.” -
“Magic Show Builder helps every magician do what he should be doing to create a strong, clear and cohesive performance. Use this tool in conjunction with your scripting and rehearsal regime to be the best you can be!” -
John B. Pyka,
-Aaron Clark (The Amazing Ziggy)
My Name is Aaron Clark and I'm know as The Amazing Ziggy. I've been a Professional Magician for over 20 years performing all over the US and internationally, but mostly for events on the east coast in the Atlanta Area.