Outsiders looking in at magic often stand out.

After a performance, I enjoy meeting people who have some  interest in magic, especially if they developed that interest during the show.

 just And within that group, there’s a subset of hobbyists that really stands out to me – even if they’ve been actively developing their interest over the last year or two.

It’s hard to put my finger on, but I’ll notice something about them that marks them as an outsider to our trade.

I remember meeting such a kid just after one of my shows. Cards in hand, he hovered nearby, totally looking the part – torn jeans, leather bracelet, the lot.

“You do a bit of magic?” I asked with a bit of dryness in my voice that he must have missed.


“What kind of magic you do?”

He just jutted his chin and said, “Street.”

Those who are just getting into magic may not see what, to me, was a funny response. Those who’ve been in the business a few years will laugh only because they’ve met the young and enthusiastic.

I’m not recounting this story to poke fun at the kid. But for the outsiders who are looking in – looking to fit in, it can be frustrating. How does one learn what it means to be a part of the group? And where can they develop the skills needed to become a part of a community that is secretive by its nature? And how does one communicate to an insider that they are truly a part of the group?

And the memory of this kid stands out to me particularly because I remember being the beginner magician trying to talk the way I thought magicians talked. I tried to dress and act the way I thought magicians dressed and acted.

Jafo and Teller. Looking in at Magic.I eventually did find some of the answers I was looking for. I’ll tell exactly where that answer was not – YouTube. The fundamental premise of magic is to protect the secrets.  And as stated in a previous blog, my goal as a magician is to give people a really awesome experience that they can’t get from anywhere else. I want to blow some minds. More importantly, I want their minds to remain blown. That is to say, I want them to remember the feeling of amazement and keep it with them always.

If I reveal the secret, that amazement is gone. The magic has been destroyed. I’ve defeated my own goal.

Given the goal, then the difficulty in answering the following question becomes apparent: how can one learn to become a magician from YouTube videos? How can one learn to value the secrets from a community that exposes the secrets in the most public forum available to us today? Well, you can’t.

You can learn tricks, merely.

Well, let me correct this – you can learn tricks only, or you can eventually redefine what a magician is. I think we’re in the early stages of that. But that’s a subject for another blog post.

Okay, you’ve found me out. This isn’t really a blog to poke fun at beginners or to trash YouTube magicians. It’s a rallying call for anyone interested in magic to find a local magic club or a magic convention. That’s where I found many of the answers to the questions I asked earlier. For those who are outside looking in at magic, your local magic club is such a valuable resource.

Yeah, but there’s not a magic club near where I live.”

NONSENSE! They’re everywhere! When I lived in Tennessee,  I used to drive, every month, for more than an hour each way to meet up at the local IBM ring in Nashville. Great bunch of guys; I learned a lot. And not just about magic, but what it means to be a magician. I learned how to honor the art and uphold its standards. And now, no matter what city I live in or even visit, I seek out the local club first thing. What an amazing resource!

Magic has always been intended as a live performance. So, since you’re here at your web browser, go ahead and start searching for your nearest magic club. Swing by and show them how passionate you are to learn. But also keep your ears and mind open to any advice. Instead of looking in at magic, you’ll be an insider in no time.

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