This week Jonah connects with John Graham who has just released his new book, “Stage by Stage”, which is all about transitioning to stage magic.
Jonah goes behind the scenes with John and asks him every question he has about stage magic.
The Magic Shop Of Solitude
John was fortunate enough to grow up in Pennsylvania where Mel’s Magic City, which is still open today, was his place of solitude. The owner had the shop almost as a hobby so John would spend many weekends there by himself learning all he could and meet anyone he could meet who wanted to talk about magic.
Even as a teenager he knew he loved magic and he saw lots of people who loved magic but also had other jobs and couldn’t devote more time to developing their own magic.This seemed like a travesty to John that they would only have a few hours in the day to work with their magic. That’s when John decided to make magic his career so that he could work on magic all the time.
Transitioning To The Stage
John had been doing close up magic his whole life until he was 25 when he decided to do his first stage show. And it was hard. He made some disastrous routines that performed terribly. But all those trials helped him get better as he learned from them.
One example he shares with Jonah is a Sands of the Desert routine. He thought he had a great idea to change up the effect where he would have more than loadable and while he was pouring water from one hand he’d be filling water up with the other… the only problem is this process took forever and the routine went on and on and on and on. John could see him losing the interest of the audience and even when the effect happens it wouldn’t matter because it took so long to get there. He learned from that experience that you have to trust your material and you have to work on it and be realistic as you’re working on it, so that when you’re doing it on stage you can trust what you know and you can trust what you’ve rehearsed and do it the way you’ve planned so you don’t doubt yourself in the moment.
The Opening and The Closing
John and Jonah also break down the process of finding a good opening and how to develop a memorable closing.
For opening, John recommends one of his favourite effects. The Nielsen Bottle Vanish. It’s quick, it’s easy, it doesn’t require special clothing, and if you happen to arrive at your venue or event space and the set up is not as you were expecting you can still open with this effect and calm your nerves with a really effective trick that will jump you right into your show.
For closings, John suggests that you say something at the beginning of your show, almost as a question. Something for the audience to ponder. Then, later, do your closing effect and the audience claps and they take their seats and when you’re thanking them you recap your show a little bit and go back to that question you asked and then reveal an answer or an opinion about it. Now that becomes your closer. So your closer is not necessarily an effect. There might be an effect but there is a closing that happens after it.
What do you like about modern magic? What do you not like?
John loves that more things are coming out for magicians where people are giving away their actual working routines and working acts because there is still so much work to be done. There’s a lot there if you’re ready to absorb it.
John does not like that there is a rush to judgement. It’s too easy to put a product down by people who have never really seen it or worked with it.
John’s new book, “Stage by Stage”, is published by Vanishing Inc and is now available.