Even professional magicians need lifelong mentors

I’d like to share with 3 mentors who have helped me progress. Here is the first. By way of introducing me to the larger world of magic he’s helped me become a better magician and has been a great friend. Professional, polite and good humored don’t do the man justice. He’s a treasure of Plymouth and here’s why.

This post is about Malcolm Norton and how he helps others follow ‘suit’. Malcolm is a dear friend and a great magician. Not only has he owned a magic shop for decades but he’s worked some of the biggest stages and everything in between. A member of The Prestigous London Magic Circle as an associate member of the inner circle (AIMC) he’s met some of the biggest names (Margaret Thatcher) and get’s visits from the likes of Derren Brown, Paul Zerdin and Gok Wan! He even opened for Ken Dodd and that one got my tickle stick going.

Basically ‘Mal’ is the perfect mentor and here’s why

Things Mal taught me

“Don’t buy it now. Go away think about it and come back. You might think yea I can use that. You might not”

Amateur magicians have an obsession with new toys professionals build an act with less same goes for hiring an act. The fact he isn’t just pushing product on you goes to show it’s not about the money for him. It’s about his craft and caring for the serious students of his art.

“Don’t carry too many tricks”

Entertainment isn’t about tricks it’s about engagement and enjoyment—you don’t need a lot of stuff to entertain. Don’t get me wrong he’s got some killer magic tricks but without his showmanship they’re not worth the playing card pips they’re printed on.

“Keep it as simple as possible. Maybe I’m lazy”

Amateurs often use complicated presentations lots of trickery and less amazement. I’ve tried and tested this and often something that is drawn out and hard to follow loses attention. Doens’t mean you can’t take your time but do it simply. It doesn’t mean you can’t master hard techniques but use them when the pay off is worht it. And although he says he’s lazy he ain’t. He’s spent more time with his props on stage than he gives himself credit for.

“Ask yourself is it necessary?”

Is what I’m saying or doing making a great experience for someone? If the trick is just to satisfy my own fetish for the weird and wonderful world of magical inventions then probably it’s not going to land well when you try to perform it. It’s easy to over engineer a magic trick and a performance. Be wise and remove what is not needed so that what remains works wonders.

“Wear a suit”

A good suit that stands out sets a good mood and gives people confidence in you and confidence in yourself. Power dress the way you would. Express yourself but remember putting some effort into choosing your outfit will communicate that you care about your act. I took that lesson and little things like a classy or tasteful tie get me comments. We live in a visual world and people look.

“Wear a good pair of shoes with a tuxedo”

Unless your act is Dynamo’s wear shoes with your Tux–people will notice.

“Don’t copy someone’s act. They might tear a strip off you (Billy McCombe)”

A lot of amatuers and even some pro’s rip off an act word for word so it’s not genuine–borrow don’t steal and make it your own so your audience gets a show from you not someone else.

“Do you need it?”

Is it going to work for your act? Does it really make your entertainment better?

Mal has helped in many other ways and these are only a few of his nuggets of wisdom. I’ve know Mal now for 15 years and only recently did I perform my first professional gig with him and what a moment.

Hopefully this helps you to see how magicians like other professionals should seek professional development and it should come from the best.

As the old addage goes

One is known by the company they keep