• What are the different types of magic? (pt 1)

  • June 04, 2020

  • There are quite a few different ways to answer this question, but I’ll give you the main breakdown in this article, and I’ll have a second run at this tomorrow!

    The first way of categorising magic, is the scale/size of the performance and the audience who watch it. My preferred form of magic is close up magic, which can also go by a few other names such as table magic, mix and mingle magic or roving magic. There are other names, but these are the most recognisable names that clients and magicians use to describe the nature of the performance.

    All of those types of performance have one thing in common, and that is how close the audience is to the magic, hence close-up magic. Each performance will only be to a few people at once, up to around twenty in a standing situation, though it can be more if there is a big table everyone is sitting at, but then you’re moving into the middle ground of performing styles. Magicians doing close up magic will often perform for the longest time as they will go to every table at an event, or try to perform to every person at the event as they walk around amongst the crowd.

    Stage magic is probably the first kind of magic that comes to mind when thinking of magic and as the name suggests, the magician is on a stage performing in front of an audience of anywhere between hundreds and thousands, if not tens of thousands, of people all at once.

    In between these two types of performers there is the middle ground of parlour magic, also known as cabaret magic or stand-up magic. The audiences for this size of performance tend to be between twenty and close to a hundred. The magician is unlikely to have a microphone, relying on their own voice to perform.

    Each type of performing has different strengths and weakness, with different challenges to overcome in order to succeed. The magic effects that work for one type of performer, will not always work for the others. It’s very difficult to do a card trick so that it entertains thousands of people all at once, and you can’t carry a zig-zag illusion from table to table at a gala dinner. There is a lot of overlap with the two extreme types of magic and the middle ground of parlour magic.

    One of the main differences is of course the way in which the magician will perform. While roving around a room, the magician will have to reset all of his effects before moving on to the next group of people to perform to. This of course limits what kind of magic can be performed throughout the night. With parlour and stage magic however, each effect will only be performed once and can be put aside once it has been completed.

    The other difference is the length of the overall performance. A stage magician may perform for up to two hours, or longer in some cases, sometimes with an interval in the middle of the show. A parlour magic show would be unlikely to go past an hour and would be at least half an hour long. A close up magician may only perform for fifteen to twenty minutes at each table or for each group of guests, but will probably perform for at least a few hours. The longest performance I’ve heard of is eight hours straight, which beats my record of five hours, and that was plenty exhausting I can tell you!

    My favourite is of course close up magic and parlour magic, which has nothing to do with the investment size required to become a stage magician! This is because I like to be close to my audience as I find that they are that much more blown away by the effects they see, because they are so close. My audience will often say things like “but you’re right there” or, “but I was holding them!” The other main advantage is you can be more interactive and responsive to your audience, creating a natural rapport and unique experience with each group of people you perform to.

    I can get instant feedback and can control my audience so much more easily when I can walk over to them, get them involved or, if need be, control the situation so that we don’t get too far off track. I’m also a bit of a control freak when it comes to my magic and am always wary of relying on music tracks, lighting, sound and so on. Possibly because I’ve seen it all go wrong, both for me and other magicians, but in a parlour or close up magic situation, it is easy to rectify any problem and carry on!

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