Monday, April 19, 2010

DIY Curry & Me

I spend quite a bit of my TV time watching Gordon Ramsay's various shows. I love his passion & focus and the brutally honest way he approaches food & business.

On BBCAmerica, I was watching an episode of Kitchen Nightmares where Ramsay was working with The Curry Lounge, an Indian Restaurant in the UK. And during the episode, I was hit with an interesting correlation. The chef of the lounge was an experienced, very skilled chef but the owner was someone who had never run a restaurant before this one. And his big gimmick was a Do-It-Yourself Curry where the customer chose from a list of different options to create a unique curry, no matter how disgusting the combination was. The result is that there was over 100 different dishes that could be made and all of them tasted similar, bland, and generally not good at all.

It pointed out to me something that is greatly amiss in magic (coupled with a conversation I had with a fellow magician). There are magicians out there who have a dozen different "show options". Now, there's nothing wrong with have a close up show, a stage show, an illusion show, etc. You have different sized audiences and different types of venues and you want to be able to accommodate. I'm talking about the guys who have a "Kids show", an "adult show", a "clown show", a "Harry Potter" show, an "Anti-drug" show, a "Reading is Magic" show, a "Wizard of Oz" show (I swear on all that is holy and squishy that all of these exist). And they have a "different character" for each one.

When a magician offers a hundred different shows with a hundred different characters, the result is a variety of mediocre (or worse) shows and a bland magician. And I think it stems from the fact that the magician in question doesn't have a character at all (either professionally or personally). And this normally wouldn't be a problem if it didn't reflect badly on the rest of us. But it does. Because every "Renaissance-style" show some hack does for $150 by wearing a cheap Halloween costume and saying "Ye Olde Hippity-Hop Rabbits" takes a real show from me and possibly ruins that client on Renaissance Style Shows forever.

I have performed for Corporations and Private Parties just as much as Ren Faires and when I do, I don't drastically alter my style to fit the venue. They hired "Daniel GreenWolf" and that's what they get. You'll never see me perform in a tux or with a playing-card covered vest because that is in no way my style. I've turned down several of such offers in my life and never looked back. Not saying I haven't "toned down" my look, but it's still my character doing my show.

Back in October of 2009, I performed a Steampunk-style show for Legends weekend at Washington Irvin's home in Sunnyside, NY. They contacted me with the concept and I, being a lover of the Steampunk Genre took it as a challenge. I spent months creating the show and the look and the plot for my show. I performed a 25 minute show 6 times that weekend and got very good reviews for it. But even after that, it wasn't where I wanted it. So I continue to work on it now, hopefully to be better polished and up to my standards sometime late 2010- early 2011.

My point is that with such a drastic change in my show, I spent a long time on that ONE variation... and it's still not truly the level of my regular shows and I don't offer it for sale because of that reason. And that level of dedication is sorely lacking in many of my fellow "magicians". And I only did it because I truly love the genre, not because "It's a gig".

My character can fit to MANY venues... but not ALL venues. And I'm fine with that. Because those people who want "Daniel GreenWolf" will (hopefully) want my show for years to come because of who I am and what I can do. And people who call me from a random Yellow Pages search (yup... people still use them) who are looking for a "magician" will want my show too... they just don't know it yet.


  1. Well I would have to agree with you and I am not even a magician. Thanks for sharing. Keep up the good work. Hoping to see you sometime this faire season! Which is starting very soon. Which is very cool!
    Type to you later,
    Lloyd III

  2. Your point actually carries over to a lot of professions. Too many people spread themselves too thin, trying to do everything rather than doing just one or a few things *well*. Good for you for recognizing where to stop.

  3. Wow. I am appalled at the lack of respect for fellow magicians in this blog post. One thing that is often said of magicians is that they are a close-knit group and they help eachother out. You seem to be alienating yourself.
    My husband is what you call one of these "Kid's performers" and with 20+ years experience, is beloved by all children because of his characters that add to the magic he brings to these youngsters.
    Before you go spouting off about what is correct and or/hurting you as a magician, maybe you should take the time to learn a little more about what you are scapegoating. If you are a magician performing for children at a library/day care or birthday party, often times these venues ask for different themes. Not only does it take skill in magic to do this sort of show and have it be a success, but it takes acting skills as well. And a love for interacting with kids is huge. Working with children is a challenging, but uplifting job. And it takes many different forms. Those who are up to the challenge are the ones you are insulting in this blog.
    Daniel, take some time to step out of your box...not everyone enjoys a renaissance faire magician either. But having been there and done that, I would *never* insult anyone for doing it for a living. And doing it well.
    P.S. we read your blog from time to time to see what our fellow performers are up to and hope that they are working their magic for people in these difficult times. Performers are needed more than ever in times like these. Glad to see you are doing well...but maybe you could work on that outlook of yours.

  4. Wow, reading this I was very offended.I am a kids show performer, I do have a character, but I also do other shows, like the ones you mentioned.I do a Mad Hatter Tea party show, and I picked mt routines that went very nicely with that character.A lot of work went into the routines, practicing and patter. Same goes for our wizard show.Oh by the way I started out as a clown as well. I will only do characters I know I can do well, that kids will like, and allow for my humour to come out.My daycare show, because of the young kids is very different from my family show because of the different ages, so as you can see I do a number of different shows.Before you make general statements get to realize all of the people you are insulting.Being a fellow magician, I'm always inspired by what other magicians do, you are an amazing skilled magician, and I hope to see your show soon.

  5. Wow. Thank you for insulting me. I am a magician greeter at Walmart.