Mike Pisciotta joins Jonah this week to discuss transitioning from close-up to stage, originality, and expressing your you through magic. Mike is an established bar magician at the Magic Castle, having won Close-Up Magician of the Year twice and Parlour Magician of the Year.
While his interest in magic started at a young age, he didn’t begin practicing it until after witnessing Copperfield performing live; the dancing girls and bright lights convinced him that magic was more than just tricks for children. Desiring to know how Copperfield did what he did, Mike picked up a copy of Mark Wilson’s Complete Course in Magic and from that point forward he knew he was destined to become a magician.
Throughout his life, he strayed from his path to becoming a magician several times. At one point, when he felt at his lowest, he left behind a cushy life and moved to L.A. to learn and work among the magicians at the Magic Castle. Although not the easiest scene to break into, Mike’s passion eventually helped him land his dream job of being a Magic Castle bar magician, where he still works to this day.
If you’re struggling to find something to talk about on stage, you’re probably focusing on the wrong subjects. Mike explains that you need to find topics that you’re passionate about and bring you bliss. Those are the things people want to hear you talk about on stage; they don’t want to hear you reciting a script from an old magic book you found on your shelf.
Your ideas can come from anywhere. For example, Mike is a constant reader with an interest in philosophy, who has brought together the ideas of other people to build up his own take on the world. When he goes on stage, he is expressing his interests through the tricks, rather than just doing tricks for the sake of the tricks.
Confidence Through Comedy
When Mike was starting out in L.A., he had a brief stint in comedy. Hopping from open mic to open mic, he experienced how brutal the comedy circuit was, but he gained the confidence to stand in front of a room and just speak. He knows that he doesn’t need to rely on his tricks to be interesting, which has elevated his performance. The best part of shows, Mike explains, are not the tricks but him. People book him for who he is, not because they’re looking for another magician.
From Close-Up to Stage
There aren’t a lot of people hiring close-up performers for intimate sets which is why he developed stage material (alongside the fact he loves it). Mike notes that the biggest difference between the two formats is not only in the trick selection but how you are presenting the effects. Suddenly, you’re trying to give thirty to a hundred people the feeling of magic which means you have to make sure everyone can see and hear what you’re doing.
Mike likes that the art is coming back into magic and that stage shows are pushing magic forward. He, however, isn’t a fan of Instagram or YouTube magic that doesn’t work in the real world.
Follow your bliss.
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