A question that I am often asked is “Why aren’t you on TV?”
It’s lovely to get that comment because it means that they have enjoyed my magic and mind-reading, and consider it to be of a high standard (which I feel that it is) and should be viewed by a wider audience (again, I can’t disagree there either). However, I don’t feel that TV is the correct medium for me.
It sometimes seems to me that I’m the only magician to think this. Everyone seems to want their own show, their own special, to be the next David Blaine, Derren Brown or Dynamo. I have my videos on YouTube and even a DVD of my stage show but these are more for people that may be interested in booking me, not a route to international fame.
But haven’t I seen you on TV before?
I must admit I have skirted around the TV industry and been at the business end of a TV camera, but it’s not something I actively pursue. Some people it seems will travel the length of the country to perform somewhere for free because the person on the phone said it may be on TV, and that might lead to…
Sure, buy a lottery scratch card when you are at the till in Tesco, but don’t go out of your way to drive to the Sainbury’s across town to buy them – that’s not a good business model.
Those that have seen me perform and mentioned the prospect of TV usually say this because they have been entertained, and at the same time, tricked. Usually by this point I’ve created a relationship with the spectator, I know their name, and tailored my presentation to them and the group they are in. I can’t do this in a two minute section on stage in Britain’s Got Talent.
I can probably do something that will trick the audience, but to me that’s not good enough. People get a feel for my humour and personality when I perform them, and both of those can be quite complex, and not something I can get across to a Saturday night TV audience before Simon Cowell presses his buzzer to “ad-lib” some scripted comment pre-written by the producers.
This can work both ways. For example, those that do want to break the TV market use those that have made it as a template. They perform tricks that have maximum visual impact within a two minute segment – whether on the stage of BGT or on the streets of New York. (I admit there are exceptions, this is not a rule, merely a common trend.)
Whilst this works great initially, once the trick is over the impact is gone. A two minute trick cannot be sustained over a two hour wedding breakfast. A two minute trick that plays to the lowest common denominator does not get inside people’s heads, it doesn’t spin the brains and it doesn’t create a connection.
It may give people something to talk about at work on Monday morning, but does it give the lasting experience that someone will recount to their friends at a dinner party in 10 or 20 years time? That’s what I aim for. I don’t think every person that watches me will still remember me then, but having this is my objective in my mind at least ensures that my presentation as strong as I can make it, and increases my odds of being someone’s future anecdote.
It’s ironic that what prompts the question of why I should be on TV, is also the answer why I don’t want to be.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, firstname.lastname@example.org.