"Magician" is a Bad Word | Brad Montgomery

I just got back from speaking to a group of Salt Lake City Utah speakers at the National Speakers Association — Utah chapter.

Magician and speaker Brad Barton and I got into an interesting conversation, and I wanted to ask your opinion.

We were discussing whether or not the “average person” really wants to see a magician, or if they would prefer to see an “entertainer” or “comedian” or “speaker.” Heck, some folks would rather see a mime! (Hey! Be cool… some of my best friends are mimes!)

So often, folks (wrongly?) connect the word “magician” with a kids’ entertainer — a guy in a funny hat, goatee, and magic-wand making bunnies appear out of hats while shouting, “abracabra!”

So when those of us who cater to groups of professional adults (as opposed to amateur adults?) mention the word “magician” we risk being wrongly categorized with those kids’ magicians. We lose the job.

Therefore, if we want to reassure our clients that our programs are geared to corporate and association audiences, we need to go lightly with the word “magician.”

What do you think? I dare you to leave a comment. :)

(Ok, I admit it – I use the word “magician” in my site… take a look.)

Technorati Tags: Magicians, Motivational Speakers, Humor, Comedians.

6 replies
  1. Mark Weidhaas
    Mark Weidhaas says:

    Hi Brad:

    Good post. I think it depends on the client. If they have seen you or another good magician who performs for adults, magician is not a problem. If they have NOT seen an adult magician before, they may equate “magician” to a kids magician (although they may also invision David Copperfield or David Blane). So if you cannot qualify who you are marketing to, I prefer to use “magical entertainer.”

  2. Steve Pellegrino
    Steve Pellegrino says:

    Interesting post and something I can certainly relate to. I started my professional magic career in Las Vegas and was successful. High roller parties, corporate events, trade shows, etc. I left in 1990 and moved to Milwaukee – same thing – corporate events, trade shows – good shows that paid well.

    I did all of this as a “magician”.

    In 1995 I moved here to St. Louis and everything I knew was wrong. I was working 3 nights a week in different restaurants and as a magician, I couldn’t get a break. In this area, magic=kids entertainment and I don’t perform for kids.

    At the end of my first year here, I was devastated and decided to take a year off and regroup. It’s now 10 years later and I’m finally ready to get back to performing and marketing myself in this area. But I’m not doing it as a “magician”.

    I think it comes down to the region or city you’re in. The local magicians in Milwaukee are excellent and it’s an acceptable form of entertainment for any occasion. Most of the magicians you’re going to see here do it all from birthday parties to trade shows, although I doubt many do corporate work even though it’s on their cards.

    It’s difficult to veer off of the “magic” title. Eventually you have to say what you do. Say “I’m an entertainer” and the person wants to know what kind of music do you play. It reminds me when I was growing up my parents were in Amway and one of the things you were taught when approaching a prospect was never to tell them you’re in Amway until you get them to a meeting and have a chance to learn more about it. Sounded kind of sneaky to me.

    If you’re a magician, then it’s going to come out at some point. The best “defense” we have is to show people something. It’s true, the average person has a bad idea of what a magician is. The stigma associated with that is probably the most difficult to overcome when you’re first starting out and do not have a list of clients, letters of recommendation, referrals, etc.

    Again, I think the best way to over come any negativity is to show them something strong. Devastate them and if you’re successful at doing that, you will immediately take away everything bad they thought a magician was.

  3. Keir Royale
    Keir Royale says:

    There is lots of truth to this theory but it is hard to nail down an answer. No doubt ALOT of people associate magic with children’s entertainment and have this “phobia” of hiring a magician for corporate entertainment. However I agree with Mark that alot of it has to do with what they have seen in the past. So in short my answer is yes some people do have a tendancy to stay away from magicians for entertainment other than for kids. But I will keep trying to get hired by those who don’t and to change the mind of those who do through my performances.

  4. Ned Nedbalski
    Ned Nedbalski says:

    Brad: Using the term Magicain depends on how it is used. You have to have perfeceted your style, have a complete control of your craft. The word magican makes people expect you to be perfect in your craft.You can take all styles of magicans and they are truly magicains i.e. Max Hapner, Lance Burton, Tomosini etc etc etc. Then again, there are people who use the term magicain and are not magicans, they are the ones that come to a show with unpolished shoes, have attitudes of “see i’m the best and i’ve fooled you dummy!” Practice the trick like professors nightmare twice and end up saying”THIS IS MY TRICK” as if they had invented it, and end up performing it poorly. The same thing happens with the word Comedian….if your truly funny then your a comedian.
    The lay audience on a whole has seen more “bad” “unpracticed” “uncle type” magicans and relate to the term “magician” with a bad feeling….but those who have seen a great show, Seigfried and Roy, Marlo, Shamada, etc, etc. Have a different out look on the term “magican”.
    If lay people hire a band for a gig, and the band is bad–they will hire another band. If they hire a magicain for a gig, and he is bad, they will never hire another magican. The term Magican has too powerful of a meaning — to a lay person a magican should never perform badly.

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