Personality, Television, and Magic Competitions with Ryan Hayashi
October 24th, 2019
character, closeup, competition, creativity, fool us, penn and teller, performance, tv
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Jonah sits down with Ryan Hayashi this week to talk about finding a personality, magic competitions, and the ins & outs of television magic. Ryan is a hobbyist sleight-of-hand magician with a number of competition wins and television performances under his belt.
At the age of eight, Ryan’s uncle gave him a magic kit for Christmas. While the other kids around him eventually lost interest in magic, Ryan’s only grew. Obsessed with learning more about the art, he would seek out any magic book he could in his small hometown, Dunnville, Ontario.
After attending Carleton University for language and linguistic studies and failing to get into the police force, Ryan decided to pursue his two passions further, magic and martial arts, so he moved to Japan to study. In Japan, he taught English, opening each of his classes with a visual magic trick. Eventually one of his students approached him and asked him to attend a magic club meeting. Agreeing, Ryan attended the club and met a man who would be fundamental in developing his skills: Shoot Ogawa.
Growing up, Ryan was the dorky, nerdy kid doing card tricks. At the age of nineteen, he made a conscious decision to improve himself. He started to work out. Study voice. Work on body language. Anything related to self improvement, he studied and implemented to eventually become the commanding figure he is today.
Ryan makes it clear that if you’re happy with who you are, and you’re able to just connect with people without needing to change, you don’t have to change. But, he points out that everyone is capable of increasing and decreasing the gifts we’ve been given.
In 2001, Ryan decided he wanted to become a World Champion of Magic. To him, competing is a way to measure where you abilities stand compared to your peers while also forcing you to work towards a specific goal. Since the first competition he entered fairly blindly in 2001, Ryan has become a seasoned competitor with multiple FISM and other competition titles to his name.
For those looking to compete, Ryan recommends dedicating three years to creating, crafting, and polishing the routine you wish to perform. You’ll be going up the best in the field – if you want an idea of where magic currently sits, he suggests looking up recent FISM performances. To have a chance at succeeding, Ryan gives some advice. The first being that there are endless possibilities with magic, you just need to figure out where you want to take it.
For FISM, look at the eight categories you can enter – five being stage, three being closeup. Then you need to figure out the effect(s) you want. From there, the most important aspects, you need to determine not only the story of the act, but who you want to come across as on stage. What do you want the audience to take away fro you at the end of the act? What story do you want to sell? Ryan also suggests optimizing the balance between the visual and audio aspects of the act for maximum impact.
Appearing on Television
Ryan has appeared on a number of television shows, from Fool Us to Britain’s Got Talent, so he knows the ins and outs of appearing on television. With this in mind, Ryan makes it clear to the audience that when you’re going on TV, you’re selling your soul. Once you sign the release to appear on the show, the production now has free reign to edit you however they want. If you did good, they can make you look bad, and vice versa; it comes down to their goal for the production at the end of the day.
Once you’ve sold your soul, Ryan explains that it comes down to the material you bring on. Now with the likes of Eric Chien and Shin Lim raising the bar for magic on TV, you need to bring material stronger than sponge balls; the lay audience now has an image in their mind of what magic can be. If your hands shake or you waver, the audience and the camera will pick it up.
On top of the effects you perform, the scripting also needs to be tight. No longer can you string together effects and call it a day. Referencing his brother, a film industry veteran and script writing teacher, told him, Ryan lays out the four points you should try to encompass in your script to truly capture your audience:
- Three act structure
- Change of heart
- Statement of humanity
What do you like about modern magic? What do you dislike?
Ryan likes the current creativity and innovative material coming out of the competitions.
Ryan isn’t a fan of people who just send him videos of them performing sleights without any thought put into scripting or routining. He wants the other 98% of the effect.
Take Home Point
Decide for yourself what you want your magic to be. If you make a conscious decision to hone your act and be professional, then you need to pay attention to the entire overall presentation.