He Started Terrible And Then He Got Better
Ben doesn’t think his origin story is all that interesting. He was interested in magic and got his dad to buy him a magic kit and he was really bad at it and then he got better. Throughout his early years he says there were two “aha” moments for him that stuck with him throughout his career. The first was the feeling of “crushing” a show and the second was the realization that he was coming up with ideas that nobody else was doing. One of those first ideas, a pick pocket routine he invented when he was 21, would land him his first consulting job on Mindfreak and open the doors to the rest of his future career performing in magic.
At Mindfreak Ben found himself working between Johnny Thompson and Banachek and for someone so young it was inevitable that he would be feeling some imposter syndrome. But once he offered up ideas that they would say were cool too it was validating enough to allow Ben to give himself permission to admit that the work he was doing had value as well.
Ben’s time as a consultant and advisor helped him to find his footing but performing had always been his goal. Each of his favourite magicians followed what he calls the holy trifecta, they’re very creative, amazing on stage, and also very technically skilled. Checking off those boxes are important to Ben as well as creating emotional hooks with the audience but also keeping it really funny.
The Importance of Remaining Original
Ben is a passionate advocate for original content. Far too many magicians, including Ben up to a point, have relied on phrases and jokes and lines from other performers. Perhaps it’s from the culture where we get the magic and included is the patter and the instructions tell you what to say and so you say it. But if you’re going to perform magic the only thing you can guarantee will be original will be you. Everyone is performing magic and it’s all just… magic. If you hear a line that another magician says Ben will emphatically tell you that you should never use that line in your own routine.
Who you are and what you say is vastly more important to your connection with the audience. The things that you say are what create the moments. So look through what you say in each trick and if you’ve ever heard that line anywhere else just cross it out. If you take those things out you still have to fill that space. You will start saying the things that are you because you have to. If you put yourself in a position where it’s sink or swim, something will come out of you.
Pivoting To Virtual
Ben also stuck around to share more about how the past year of virtual magic has been for him. One of the things he’s noticed is that it’s much easier to connect with fans of his work. Normally while touring his name alone would not be a huge draw on the marquee. He might have a lot of fans but they’re spread out all over the world. Now thanks to virtual magic they can all gather in the same place. So rather than performing on a live stage to an audience that might not know who he is, he’s been able to perform to fans who know his work and are excited for his unique brand of magic. And that wouldn’t have been possible before virtual magic.
Ben is quick to point out that virtual magic shows are not the same kind of magic as a netflix special. You have to make sure you are interacting with your audience, that’s the one major strength you have in a virtual show that you can’t do in a pre-recorded tv special. He’ll also warn you about over spending and over producing your show. You don’t necessarily need a five camera setup with expensive lights and a set. There’s no shame in doing your show on your laptop camera and seeing how it works out before investing more money into your tech. Focus on what you can bring first.
David Jerard. David is a magician and mentalist based out of San Francisco. David is also one of the people that Ben bounces ideas off of.
And also Joe Monti. Joe is strange strange man who Ben loves dearly. He also worked on Mindfreak and has a unique perspective and is super goofy. He talks a mile a minute and his brain works just as fast.
What do you like about modern magic? What do you not like?
Ben likes that more people have access to magic. There was a time when you only saw magic when you were in the upper crust, now anyone can see magic.
Ben doesn’t like that more people have access to magic. There’s a problem with magic becoming trivialised. Far too many people are putting out magic online before it’s ready to be performed. A moment of magic should be a unique thing but if you can access it non-stop, especially from any level of quality, then it’s no longer this profound and beautiful thing.
Take home point
If you forge your own path and you put things into the world that have not been seen before then people get to appreciate you for who you are as opposed to who someone else is. In your everyday life and in your magic try to create moments of joy for people by being the best human you can and trying to be truly you. The more “you” you are the more original you will become, in life and in your magic.
Ben Seidman’s Oracle System is being sold by Vanishing Ink and is available now to pre-order at www.vanishingincmagic.com/close-up-magic/the-oracle-system.
The Oracle System is the only piece in Ben’s repertoire that is available for public consumption so don’t miss out on this unique opportunity.