Jonah is joined by Mario the Maker Magician this week to discuss bringing value to your show, learning to be a flexible performer, and instilling passion into your magic. Mario is a children’s show performer who uses D.I.Y robots, handmade props and a slapstick performance style to show that magic can be found in anything.
At seventeen, Mario left him with his dog Cloudkicker to hitchhike across the country as a street performing magician. His decision was inspired by an encounter with a street performer who told him that this was how he lived, and that idea of a wanderer’s life appealed to him. During his travels, Mario happened across a magic store an was instantly hooked. He spent the days watching people perform and learning from the likes of Rick Merrill and Gene Anderson. Soon, he was performing in a Chinese restaurant alongside a friend he made at the store.
At twenty-three, Mario returned home, still trying to figure out who he was and what he was meant to do in life. While his friends had all graduated college, he was in his parent’s house with a pack of cards and sponge-balls. After a dream one night, Mario realized that he shouldn’t be avoiding children’s shows. Doing magic for adults didn’t let him embrace the person he was like children shows would.
Bringing in Your Interests
If you ever watch Mario perform, you will see that he strays away from the traditional cards and rings and sponge-balls. Instead, you will see a myriad of props and robots that perform the magic alongside him. His creations stem from his love for old magic automatons, and he found a way to mix this with his love of magic.
Mario recommends to performers that they should fnd what they’re truly passionate about and integrate that with your magic for a more genuine experience. Whether it’s Dungeons and Dragons or robots or film, you can find a way to bring the passion for that into your performance for a more authentic feel. People want to know who you are and they want to be able to feel the love you have for what you’re doing on stage. You have to be passionate and willing to share that passion with the audience.
Learning & Teaching
Mario explains that throughout his life people taught him to continue learning and to seek out the information you’ll need, and he wants to pass this on to the future generations. When he performs for kids, he will gladly show them how his rabbit or his case works in the hopes of inspiring them and helping them learn. Mario goes as far as using software designed for kids and points them to the resources if they’re interested:
He wants to encourage kids to learn and experiment; if they understand how something works, they can understand how to fix it and make improvements.
Mario applies the same ideas to helping newcomers in magic. He believes that there shouldn’t be a divide in the old and new generations of magicians; they should be working together to further magic by applying the lessons of the past with the new take on magic that the future magicians have to offer.
Life on the Road
When you leave your hometown, nobody cares about you. You have to make a name for yourself and that requires a lot of work. Mario reached out to a couple hundred theaters to see if they would have him on, sending each on a personalized email. Some replied back, and even fewer agreed to bring him in. Another year, Mario and his family decided they would save the money and rent out a theater space, sending targeted ads and reaching out to schools. Every year, Mario explains, bring something new to learn and overcome.
Travelling in itself is difficult. He, alongside his family, travels across the country, going from gig to gig. After every performance, his kids want to do something while Mario is often spent from the shows. While it may be exhausting, Mario explains that it’s about finding a balance between work and family life.
Creating Value in Your Show
One of the biggest things for Mario is being flexible in you performance. While he believes heavily in scripting, he recognizes that you shouldn’t be held to your set list. Allowing the audience and environment to influence your act will allow for a more impactful show; you can better connect with your audience if you’re in the moment. Mario recognizes that it’s not about him, but the audience he is performing for and how they feel after the show is over.
If you really want to improve your show, you should be seeking the advice of people you trust who want to help you tell your stories. Don’t be afraid to take criticism and apply it to your show – it is the only way you can truly grow in your performance. Furthermore, Mario recommends actively trying out new things. Not everything will work, but it will eventually lead you to effects that do work.
What do you like about 2019 magic? What do you hate?
Mario likes the way magic is evolving. Places like YouTube have allowed people of all levels in magic to have better access to content. He points to people like Xavior Spade who’s online presence has had a major impact on magicians from around the world.
Mario doesn’t like the dwindling numbers of magic clubs. While he recognizes the world is moving to a more online place, he enjoys the personal feeling that magic clubs and conventions bring.
Take Home Point
Mario wants the listeners to remember that we cannot do great things, only small things with great love. When we’re on stage, we have a small job to do, that being to entertain the audience. If that job is done with a real authentic and great love, you have the chance to change a life.
Mario wants to draw attention to the juggler, Chris Ruggerio, who told a story of how he once looked out on the audience before his show and thanked each and everyone of the individually for attending his show. It was the only show that year that Chris received a standing ovation for. To Mario, that means something. That appreciation you extend to your audience will show through your performance because it is them that are allowing you to pursue the thing you love.