Tuesday 22 January 2013

Review of the Anthony Lindan Lecture

SUNDAY, JANUARY 20th, 2013.

A Review
by "Boychick" Pan

Successful corporate events magician Anthony Lindan was once on the road preparing for a client's show when he found that he was missing a key effect in his act. He immediately put in an emergency call to The Browser's Den of Magic and Jeff Pinsky got the trick out to him pronto. "That's why it's important to support brick and mortar magic shops like The Browser's Den" said Anthony during the opening of his recent well-received lecture.

I'd also say it's important to support brick and mortars like The Browser's Den of Magic because of great lectures like Anthony's. Where else can you get tons of creative inspiration in person from seasoned professionals like Lindan with extensive real world performing experience?

If I had to sum up the key to Anthony's very pragmatic advice, or at least what I got out of it, it would be to find out what works best for you and to strive to perfect it. Certainly not to fool fellow magicians, not even to necessarily mystify an audience (although that's good too) but primarily to entertain an audience and have fun with them. To quote Lindan, "Tricks are a canvas upon which you can do whatever you want". In other words, what distinguishes the truly extraordinary magician from the merely technically competent is what they bring to their performance - the added value of their personality, their style, their patter.

Anthony's years as a well-known corporate performer reflect in his own "added value". His style combines an affable, easy going manner with superb audience management skills. He has an undeniable authority on stage, liberally mixed with humour, which make his presentation smooth and seemingly effortless. (I say "seemingly" because such confidence on stage is obviously the result of years of hard work and invention.)

Lindan opened big. His presentation of "Redonkulous" blew away the packed room. This is Lindan's very own version of a classic - the "psychic" determination of a single word chosen at random from a newspaper by an audience member with the help of another audience member. Coincidence or prediction? It's all in how you play it. I can say without a doubt that this killed and would work well in anybody's stage act. It's available commercially at The Browser's Den as produced and packaged by Bill Abbott.

He then carried on with a very effective presentation/explanation of maybe a dozen or so effects, all covered in his CD-R lecture notes. Highlights for me included: a brilliantly deceptive yet easy way to get the audience to "choose" what theme the show should take (actually decided by the performer ahead of time, of course); a clever prediction effect using a Himber wallet (something I had never thought about using in such an innovative manner); a very very funny bill-in-balloon routine (instead of the more conventional bill-in-lemon); his take on the classic "magician's insurance policy" involving a very cute twist which is perfect for corporate gigs - proving that a good trick can become an outstanding routine if original thought and innovation is applied; an updated "add a number" routine (using a pocket calculator) and an entertaining book test.

Throughout the lecture Anthony imparted much invaluable advice based on his years on the road. On the need to simplify methods: "If things can go wrong on stage, they will go wrong!" On audience management: "Most people have not experienced a live performance. You want to create shared magical moments wherein the spectator has also done something amazing". In this regard, Anthony sees the performer as a facilitator of the audience's own magical experiences rather than as somebody trying to draw attention to their own purported powers. His audience management was subtle but powerful, described humorously in his own words: "Look here, look there, get this done." It was
an invaluable lesson in itself.

But I have to draw attention to two more particular effects. One was his original close-up effect (also good on stage) entitled "Free Fall". Like all of Lindan's routines, it had a funny, compelling story and additionally brought success out of seeming failure. It is a trick with a very strong visual component in which a special postcard helps reveal the identity of a secretly chosen card. Why did it particularly appeal to me? The crowd's reaction - twice. First, upon its performance. It got one of those "Ahhhs" and a big round of applause. Then upon its explanation - the same two reactions again - but out of appreciation for the ingeniousness and simplicity of method. It is another example of Anthony's philosophy behind his effects - keep it simple so you can concentrate on the presentation having first found a method that suits your own mannerisms and approach. "Free Fall" is also available commercially.

But the highlight of the afternoon in terms of pure unadulterated entertainment was without a doubt his closer. It was an hysterical tribute to Houdini entitled "The Incredible Suit-jacket Escape". Again, it killed, both as a legitimate escape act but much more importantly as a funny, energetic parody of a traditional escape act - tailor-made (pun intended!) for a big closing. In Anthony's own words, "You need to end on a fun note". This is a routine that plays big but packs small. Given Lindan posits that there's much more money in performing stage magic than in close up, his commercially available escape routine must be considered money in the bank for anyone who buys it.

Anthony stresses that it is important for a working, successful act to be fun as well as mystifying. He is a man of his word because if I had to describe the essential attribute of the afternoon I would say that it was definitely FUN. Lindan showed that there are many direct methods to achieve that goal and that even standard classic effects can be made uniquely your own by applying his key premise. "Whenever we create a trick we are basically solving our own idiocyncratic issues" says Lindan. In summary, again, it's all about finding out what works best for you. And the real secret to doing that is to first determine who you actually are (or want to be) on stage.

Many thanks to Anthony Lindan (who drove into Toronto on a nasty midwinter's day) for such an entertaining and informative lecture and as always to Jeff Pinsky (owner and chief bottle-washer at The Browser's Den of Magic) for presenting yet another great special event.