Michael Ammar joins Jonah this week to talk about signature tricks, mentors, and leaving room for your audience’s imagination. From teaching to creating to performing, Michael Ammar has done it all, building his name in the magic community.
Magic never seemed like a viable career path for him. Sure, he liked it, but he always thought he’d take over his father’s steakhouse. The turning point came one busy day at the steakhouse where his father told him that the restaurant would one day be his. Realizing that the steakhouse wasn’t fun the way magic was, Michael made a deal with his dad; he had two years to do something with magic or he’d come back.
Knowing what would wait for him if he didn’t succeed, Michael started doing conferences and schools, alongside winning at a SAM convention which led him to doing lecture tours. Along the way, he’d perform some of the best spots on late night shows, create one of the most in-depth magic tutorial series, and become a mainstay in the community.
If you’ve seen any of Michael’s material, the word “visual” would most likely come to mind. The effects he chooses, Michael explains, are simple to explain and visual because it is a visual art form. However, over the years, he’s come to appreciate the cerebral aspects of magic.
Referencing the book Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud, Michael explains that by leaving spaces for the audience’s imagination to fill in the blanks, you create a collaborative environment. Suddenly, the audience and performer are working together to create the magic. After they’ve filled in the blank, Michael will then hit them with the strongest visual possible.
Writing & Performing a Script
Michael approaches scripting by sitting down, writing too much to say, and then scrapping what doesn’t feel right when he’s on stage. He explains that he’d rather have too much to say while he’s performing on stage rather than having nothing while he’s performing. That is the key, Michael points out. You have to find a safe stage to be able to perform material to find what does and doesn’t work.
Creating Magic Tutorials
When he set out to create magic tutorials, there was always the temptation to teach more than what was necessary. But, knowing that they not only wanted to set but elevate a standard, Michael went into creating the tutorials by asking what they could to make it a more effective teaching device. He spent hours immersing themselves in material longer than other people because they could. The market was ripe for good learning material which is why the tutorials hold up to this day.
Nowadays, Michael says, the shelf life of this products is limited. Most products aren’t meant to sit on a shelf or become a mainstay in a collection. Putting the time and effort into products like they did back in the day isn’t necessarily worth it today with how quickly the market turns over.
What do you like about modern magic? What don’t you like?
Not being able to predict trends, is what Michael does and doesn’t enjoy. Trends today are things that he wouldn’t have banked on being successful a decade ago.
Take Home Point
It doesn’t matter where you are. You can benefit from the wealth of magic knowledge that is out there.
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