Jonah is joined by Ken Weber to discuss his revised and expanded Maximum Entertainment 2.0.
Ken Weber is a renowned mentalist and hypnotist who was named “one of the most frequently requested” performers on the college circuit by Newsweek magazine and was awarded the Dunninger Award for Excellence in the Performance of Mentalism by the Psychic Entertainers Association.
Now, having almost completely retired, Ken Weber is a sought-after mentor and performance consultant, author of the acclaimed book Maximum Entertainment and Maximum Entertainment 2.0.
“Hey Kid, You Like Magic?”
At the age of 10, Ken lived at a home for asthmatic children in Denver, Colorado. A chance encounter while walking the streets of Denver would land him in a teen magic club. By age 12 he had returned to New York with his business card ready. By the time he was in college he was a mentalist and after graduating and unable to find a job, despite two university degrees in theatre, he accepted a two week gig working on a cruise and from that point on he never looked back.
Magic and Money
Ken has two hobbies. Magic and investing. In the late 1980’s Ken started up a newsletter to help other people avoid being taken advantage of by stock brokers, which led to him doing a good deed here and helping someone out there and one thing led to another and Weber Asset Management was formed. Now he advocates for the rainy day fund, especially among performers. At a time when he’s advising clients to have money saved away for the changes happening in the world he can see how many performers are not prepared for the hard times ahead.
There’s a lot of mistakes beginners make and Ken’s advice is to focus on the business and not rely on spending every dollar made on tricks and new products. Polish what you have and don’t kill yourself trying new material over and over.
Have You Heard It Before? Don’t Use It!
From music to jokes to phrases every performer has used the same lines or the same songs from other acts. Ken’s advice is to never use a line you hear another performer use. It takes away your creativity, instead ask yourself how you can get the same joke without using the exact same words. Ken’s warning is that eventually you’re going to work with agents and bookers and if they see you performing the same tricks with the same phrases to the same music then that is not going to help you. Classics are fun but Ken thinks you should make your own classics.
To Script or Not to Script
For a long time Ken was a non scripter but he noticed that as soon as he began to write things down it forced him to ask himself if he really needed to say what he was saying or say it in that way. Now Ken is a strong believer in scripting everything you do and recording as often as you can. A script helps you identify when things aren’t clear and improve on the details of your performance in a way that adlibbing everything all the time simply can not achieve.
Additionally, When it’s time to edit your videos, hire someone from outside your magic circles and let them bring their dispassionate objectivity to the editing and help you direct your videos without your ego getting in the way.
Harrison Greenbaum (note: we’ve already talked with him in “A Masterclass in Comedy Magic with Harrison Greenbaum”)
What do you like about modern magic? What do you not like?
The level of magic and commitment is astonishing. And it’s gratifying to see the ingenuity and skill levels even among very young performers.
But Ken does not like the advertising in magic. Every trick is “The Greatest Trick Ever” yet many of them are just tweaks on classics. The worst is when the advertisement is edited in such a way that you can’t see that you would have been able to see how it’s done if you had seen it performed in a magic shop.
Take home point
Every day ask yourself, “what did I do today to move my career forward?” whether it be marketing stuff, learning a new routine, perfecting a routine, or taping something and then looking at it later but every day you have ask yourself what did you do?
For the professional, Ken used to advocate that you have a three month rainy day fund but now that we know that there is such a thing as a pandemic Ken wants all of his professional show business friends to have six to twelve months socked away in a bank account. Investment is important, not just because of a pandemic but because you can also literally break a leg! You have got to have that rainy day fund and you have got to build it up as soon as possible because you never know what tomorrow is going to bring.
Maximum Entertainment 2.0 can be found in every major magic dealer. You can learn more about it at max-ent.info.