This is the first of a recurring series within the podcast – focusing on the work and wisdom of Tommy Wonder.
To me, Tommy Wonder is the greatest magician who ever lived.
Granted, I did not see Robert-Houdin, Bosco, Hofzinser or others of long ago.
However, when it just comes to reading the wisdom of his “Books Of Wonder”…
or watch his performances on various DVD’s throughout the years…
literally no one has had more of an effect on how I think about magic than Tommy Wonder.
His work is near and dear to me and thus has always been a focus of the work I’m putting into my magic podcast “Magic From Wherever I’m At.”
So now and again I will add yet another episode featuring what I’ve come to call the “School of Wonder.”
To start with, there will be four such episodes in a row.
Episode 81 is the first.
So enjoy, like I have, the wisdom and work of Tommy Wonder now and again on the podcast…
and if you’re not already hot on his trail…
immerse yourself in his work NOW.
You can check out all the episodes of the podcast HERE.
Subscribe to my almost-daily free emails on improving your Magic HERE.
Episode 82 - School Of Wonder 1 Full Transcript
[Music] you’re listening to magic from wherever I’m at with your host the magician time traveler and charmer d’Artagnan [Music] come to the children it’s time to leave all our fears and frustrations behind we Minnesota training we’ve been so terribly betrayed are we all here welcome to another edition of the podcast I am d’Artagnan and today we start a very special series one I’m going to call the school of wonder and we’re gonna start with four episodes in a row to touch on some of the wisdom I have gleaned from the works of a person I consider to be the greatest magician who’s ever lived Tommy Wonder now I have never seen robear who Dan performed live I never saw Bosco write or serve a Laroy or or even you know a young Vernon in the Rainbow Room or I never saw a KJ live you know I’ve never seen some of the people who are of course now legendary in the Canon and history of the magical arts but to me in my own development to me there is no equal to Tommy Wonder and his books of wonder really contain probably all you’d ever need to know to be a great magician you know I’ve read most if not all of the great books in magic and these books I continue to return to to review there’s other books I do too but probably nothing has the magnetic power of the Tommy Wonder books because in my mind he’s just like years ahead in his thinking in the way he performed and he has influenced me more than any other person through their work I would say and so this will be something we’re gonna start with four episodes in a row on and I call these the school of wonder because I think there’s an immense mountain of knowledge subtlety all sorts of things you can get from reading Tommy wonders ideas to watching him perform that can influence you in the best of ways so that you get out of this low-level puzzlement which we’ll get to in a moment where you’re simply nothing more than a demonstrator putting a methodology in essence on display so all this we’re gonna start with these little ideas out of the world of Tommy Wonder I’m gonna do four episodes of these in a row and then from time to time I’m gonna re Institute so this will be a special series within the series of podcasts and hopefully we’ll crop up from time to time when I am motivated thusly to include some more work of Tommy wander because there’s simply never too many lessons I don’t think you can get from Tommy wonders as they say so let’s start out with something that is very near and dear to my heart and really what has become the battle cry if you will of this podcast people who listen this podcast regularly know it just drives me absolutely insane that people just are so absorbed with the tricks and just never never make it past that level and the way they perform the tricks is of the lowest most rudimentary way without a presentation without a hook without a theme without a character with nothing essentially most of the time and of course there’s some elements to which they attempt to drag into from now and again which only worse in this situation usually or try to provide some sort of theatrical context you know like blowing smoke or something which hasn’t really no place no meaning and no value within the given routine it’s demonstrated in and that was really one of the distinctions going through a lot of the literature over the years and I mention in another podcast like really people demonstrate tricks they don’t really present magic and that is why this podcast exists to attempt to be that battle cry to say look magic can be something more important but we have to do undo or do our part perhaps to raise it back up and of course it will probably never have a widespread effect just given the ratio of performers to hobbyists in the actual art in the you know participation in the art however you yourself like Tommy wonder like I try to be like the Ricky J’s of the world and the Michael Webber’s and so forth and some of my mentors all try to be a standard where everything is raised up a level or nine so that you are doing your part to raise the art back to where it belongs which is near the top of entertainment because we have things available to us most of which most people most so-called practitioners never avail themselves of course we have very special things within our earth that no other art possesses and this feeling this mysterious deep feeling of astonishment and wonder being part of that hence Tommy Wonder so today’s excerpt from his books of wonder Volume one under one of the chapters entitled tough customers probably wonder and wonderful prose yet again makes a point I have attempted to make on this podcast going on now more than 80 times by the time this is listened to and so Tommy Wonder says it is highly desirable not to push spectators into the role of detectives on the trail of your secrets because it can make your job harder and what is more important it can prevent prevent your audience from experiencing other elements of your performance and listen closely to this part right here elements capable of far greater entertainment potential then mere puzzle REE can offer good magic has so much more to give than puzzlement if you can transport people out of the role of detective or better yet prevent them from entering into that role you will have done them a good service since you can then offer them something of much greater interest and they continues with the solution which should of course by now shock no one listening to these words probably the best way to stop people from assuming the role of detective is to be sure that something besides the mere posing of a puzzle is present in your work something to watch and enjoy this means drum roll please an engaging presentation something to get involved in other than puzzle solving when spectators concentrate too much on discovering how a trick is done in 9 out of 10 cases it is probably because the effect and listen closely has nothing to offer them than the challenge of detecting the trickery involved with no I repeat no interesting presentation to enjoy no wonder they grab on to the only interesting aspect left them so there you have it right from the world of a person I consider to be the greatest magician who ever lived who’s obviously deep me and deeply influenced me as you can tell from these words and the passion which I recite them because this is really one of the most important aspects of magic and so few performers ever engage in this aspect and people wonder why it’s now associated with children and clowns and balloons you know nothing against those things those things can be perfectly you know good in their own right but they should not be associated with something that’s powerful deep and capable of such entertainment as a magic show done properly or at least done to the specifications of how Tommy Wonder is laying it out here and he’s 100% right on this because that’s what happens and you see it happen all the time to people you know essentially what you’re doing a trick we’re all you’re doing is using this processed patter and you’re just moving through the steps with no no logic no internal logic no external logic no reasoning no storytelling nothing nothing of course they’re gonna glom onto the puzzle now Tommy when it goes into other aspects of this but we’re gonna focus on this one aspect here today because this particular idea of having an engaging presentation having something else to offer other than puzzle REE is the cornerstone the most important aspect to differentiate yourself as a magician the role that you play who are you when you’re performing do you have any idea who you are who this magician is so to speak why is he showing us these things why should he why should anyone care you know that’s one of the classic mistakes is doing magic for Magic’s sake is like hey do you want just want to see magic that’s something most people approach him I’ve been guilty of that in the past myself because I was so enamored when I first got into magic of learning about it that you assume everybody loves it in the same way or would be interested and it’s simply not true just think of anything that you’re interested in you know if I run down a list of my own life of things I spend like 99% of my time on it’s magic marketing you know both of which contain elements of psychology that I read a lot about I watch a lot of film I read a lot of books it’s a storytelling and general sense is a huge part of my time I spent and I spent socializing talking to people and stuff and of course doing these things which is doing this podcast which is all sort of connected to all those things you know I have zero interest in stamp collecting sheep-shearing fine furniture art paintings I know a little bit about some odd stuff but I really don’t give a flying fuck about any of it and when you look at what people value like magic isn’t very high on the list of the average person it’s not that they hate it because hate is not the opposite of love in differences and like most things in your life you’re just indifferent to them you don’t hate them you’re just like I don’t care about it like for me I used to care cuz I had a lot of friends that were cared about this too is I used to watch a lot of professional football from the age of like 13 to about 37 38 I watched basically with at least with one of the same friends almost that whole time and others over the years every Sunday like clockwork we watched football when I started to travel and I moved away and I started street performing and stuff basically football I didn’t give a fly and it was already waning to be honest by that point my interest was already already waiting those last four or five years I would say leading up to it but I you know I’ll watch the Superbowl now or something I’ll watch some of the playoff games I’ll watch little bits here and there I’ll watch some highlights but for the most part I don’t give a flying fuck about any of it I don’t hate it I just don’t care about it and so when you do magic tricks as puzzle r-e which is what Tommy Wonder is referring to it here when you’re just a trickster and you’re just doing tricks instead of magic you’re not helping the cause of people being more interesting because you’re not providing like Tommy Wonder says you’re not providing anything else that has far greater entertainment tential than mere puzzle recan offer this is the importance of like if you study the other things like film and fiction writing you know any kind of poems any kind of story where a storytelling is present stand-up comedy not a good example you know there’s often a hook they start in the middle of the action it’s like typical advice when you’re writing a fiction and the screenplays and stuff you start okay a good example is you know Ben rewatching some of the Star Wars movies an anticipation of the end of the year coming when the latest Star Wars movies coming out and so so for instance a good example of this is the original Star Wars movie which probably everybody listen to this has seen at one point in another how does that movie start well of course you get the crawl at the beginning where it gives a little exposition but then immediately a ship spaceship this rebel transport ship with the princess comes over top of your head essentially which is being fired upon by a Star Destroyer of the Empire so you literally start right in the middle of the action that is one of the best examples in fact you look at all those Star Wars movies yeah they kind of all start in the end and start in the middle of the action which is sort of the best practices when it comes to hooking people’s attention and dragging them into the story from the get-go and that’s a principle you can use in your magic but when you start it off by just saying oh we’re just gonna do a card trick let’s pick a card and stuff that’s just horseshit you should never do that that’s just boys a bomb that’s just fucking boring and just leads to puzzle r-e and shit so you gotta start thinking about how to improve these things and make them better and raise your own magic to a level that is at least acceptable and doesn’t degrade further the public’s opinion because you don’t to be associated with these sort of white van you know weirdos who people often associate magicians with so you separate yourself out from those people by actually putting some real work into the part that matters you know once you have the trick down and stuff which does matter of course but that’s only a small percentage maybe like you know 15 20 percent and then you got to do the rest which is the other 80 percent you come up with a hook why is your character showing this to anyone why should this matter what does any is there any meaning to this is there any normal you know real world logic to it or doesn’t have its own internal logic how are the how is the reveal done the day Newmont all this kind of stuff you gotta put some real work into this and that involves thinking and then it involves testing and refining and iterating and that means performing right you’ve got to put it in front of strangers and then ultimately you will see for yourself because if you do those things I just mentioned and you put it in front of strangers what’s going to happen is they’re no longer gonna associate you with the tricksters you’re gonna be seen as something completely different they’re gonna start calling you a real magician as opposed to our people who are not and that is a designation you want because then you stick in the mind of the audience literally forever and people start seeking you out they come back to your shows again and again and again and they can’t get enough they’re basically hypnotized by your character and your personality and the way you perform your magic which has set you apart from all the pretenders from all the hacks the copyists the plagiarists which so invade this noble art so that’s it for today we’re gonna stop on this note here remember let the words of Tommy Wonder echo in the recesses of your mind as a battle cry to put some real work into the other 80% of your magic and this was part one of the school [Music] you