Jay Sankey sits down with Jonah for episode 147 to discuss magic online, creating and persuasive communication. Not only does Jay hold the world record for creating the most original illusions, but he runs a successful YouTube channel, is an international public speaker, comedian, performer, and consultant.

Jay’s interest in magic started when his grandmother gave him a magic set for his eleventh birthday. However, she had picked up the magic set during a European tour, so the instructions were in German. From the get-go, Jay had to develop his own way to perform tricks.

He kept with magic because it was something that he wasn’t necessarily good with at first but he had the drive to improve. As he continued with it, he found it was a way for him to show his awkward self without having to actually reveal his actual self; he found that lay people were happy to accept the cardboard cut out of what a magician is perceived to be.

Jay began performing at birthdays and in church basements when he was fifteen. When he won the award for close-up magic at Tannen’s Magic Camp, Jay believed that his fate was sealed. Although he did attend the University of Toronto to study philosophy and psychology so that he could go into advertising, Jay was deep into magic.

Persuasive Communication

Alongside his magic, Jay is an international public speaker who presents on and runs workshops for persuasive communication. Using his background in marketing and ad copy, Jay explains how people’s choices are primarily driven by their emotions as much as the ideas they’re presented with. His core goal when approaching copywriting is directing the audience to a certain collection of emotions but allowing them enough room to apply their imagination; you are inspiring the audience to create their own interpretation which is a concept that can be applied to presenting magic.

Jay goes on to explain how communication, especially in our current landscape, is about brevity. If you don’t grab the audience’s attention right off the back, you have nothing. However, simply getting their attention isn’t enough. You need to get their attention while remaining on brand. When you do get their attention, you have the opportunity to continue to sell yourself and your magic. From there, it’s about finding a throughline that allows you to transition from trick to trick without losing the audience.

Teaching Magic Online

Jay began to put magic on YouTube after realizing that he isn’t thrilled with where magic is today. The often condescending and dismissive nature towards magic by the general public, and the confusion between an amateur and a veteran performer, frustrates him. With this as his basis, Jay figured he needed to do something to change how magic is viewed. His question is not “should these secrets be revealed?’ but “how and where should these secrets be revealed?”

Secrets like a thumb tip or invisible thread are not the real secrets of magic to Jay. The secrets of magic come in the form of the psychology and theory behind the tricks that employ these tools. However, most people aren’t concerned with this content when they’re trying to discover these tricks online. By teaching magic on YouTube, he has the opportunity to distill the important information alongside the usage of magic tools by bringing his own authenticity to teaching the material. His belief is that if there is going to be bad magic, he might as well balance it out with his knowledge and appreciation for the art.

Overall, Jay wants to move the art of magic forward. He wants to improve how it is viewed by the general public, and this is his way of helping that cause.

Creating Magic

When you’re creating magic, you need to consider your relationship to your ideas, Jay says. If you are judging your ideas and comparing them to others, you’re going to find it difficult to create. Creating is about expressing who you are and how you relate to magic. You need to be able to give yourself permission to write down your ideas and allow them to develop over time. Additionally, don’t put your ideas on a pedestal as it will only halt your creative process.

Jay doesn’t mind that people are doing his tricks the way he does them because he understands not everyone can create magic. However, when someone expresses an interest in creating their own magic to show themselves, Jay wants to encourage that desire. Jay goes on to remind people that just because you’re performing an already created or established trick, you shouldn’t stop yourself from bringing in your own personality and interpretation to the actual performance.


Endless Chain

Richard Sanders

David Acer

Mike Scott

What do you love about 2018 magic? What do you hate about 2018 magic?

Jay likes the fact that we are being exposed to different, interesting personalities in magic. The growing diversity in magic is fantastic and is causing magic to move away from the narrow representation we often see.

Jay doesn’t like the culture of stylization that we have moved into and how there is a lot of magic that is made exclusively for camera. There is a lot of content that is obviously stooged and rigged that is being represented as magic. He isn’t a fan of the confusion this brings.

Take Home Point

Jonah liked the overlap copywriting/marketing has with magic, and how we should be focus on staying on brand.

Jay liked the idea of finding and following your joy in magic, and not getting caught up in other things. He reminds everyone that we all generally got into magic because of joyful, goal free reasons.


Jay’s Instagram

Jay’s Youtube

Sankey Talks

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