This week Jonah sits down with Michael O’Brien to talk collaboration, developing material, and making effects relatable for your audience. Michael is a sleight of hand magician known for his work with the linking rings.
At the age of six, Michael remembers receiving the Jawbreaker Magic Set and putting on shows alongside his friends for their families. Once he was in high-school though, his interests slowly drifted towards music and wrestling. It wouldn’t be until his graduating year that he met a busking magician who pulled him back into the world of magic by peeking his interest in sleight of hand.
After obtaining a copy of Royal Road, Michael was pulled back into the world of magic. He started a job at a magic show at Disney, where he spent hours working on tricks to show and gaining performance skills. When he went home, he would pop in a DVD to learn new effects. Nowadays, his time is spent refining his presentations and working on his marketing material.
Shoot Ogawa’s Ninja Ring routine was Michael’s first exposure to the linking rings. He, up until this point, had only seen card, coin and the little tricks he sold at the shop. After witnessing Shoot performing it at the Magic Castle, Michael dropped everything else he was learning for five months to focus solely on learning that close-up linking ring routine. While the technical aspects were straight forward, the actual presentation aspect took work.
When he was comfortable with the rings, Michael began to look into other linking ring routines, which led him to discover Ninja Ring Plus by Matthew Garrett. Being able to link a wedding band to the ring and then being able to let the spectator examine it was too strong of and effect to pass up. Michael eventually had the opportunity to work with Matthew on Fusion, a collaborative project that saw five magicians release material on the close-up linking rings.
Michael highlights that his routine came from years of practicing, integrating, and changing the material to eventually create his routine.
Making it Yours
So often, magicians can railroad themselves with presentations, limiting themselves to the standard props like cards. Michael explains that if you really want to shock the audience and create a presentation that you’re passionate about, you need to bring in something different.
In his case, Pokemon cards.
Michael performs his card to pocket routine with Pokemon cards, with the impossible location being a modified Pokeball he picked up at Toy ‘R Us. This presentation stemmed from his desire to perform card magic for children in a way they understand. The routine has now turned into a full fledged performance, with music and hat, and has become one of his most requested effects—people love that it’s not just a standard card trick. They’re captivated well before the actual trick begins.
What do you like about modern magic? What don’t you like?
Brian loves that social media has allowed magicians to connect and get their name out there, but he dislikes how it allows for people to easily put down others. He reminds the audience that we have a duty to help incoming magicians, not shame them for questionable technique in their videos.
Take Home Point
It’s going to be a journey. You might go into magic thinking it’s going to go one way, but it might end up going another.