Be Yourself

A while ago I ordered a Baker Boy Hat.

I’d seen Brad Pitt wearing one in Inglorious Basterds and he looked rather good in it.

Anyway, when it arrived, I realised why he looked in that particular hat. It was because he was Brad Pitt. Just a few centimetres below the hat was Brad Pitt’s face, and that was why he looked good. When I wore the same I hat I looked considerably less good. Probably because I didn’t have Brad Pitt’s face.

Believe it or not, performing close up magic raises similar issues.

When I first got into this art, I was inspired by David Blaine. He was cool. He was a little surly. He didn’t say much. The crowds went wild for his tricks. There was some crossover in our repertoires, and I have to admit that I often performed them in a “Blaine Style”. The result was akin to me in a Brad Pitt hat – it just didn’t match.

I’ve seen many magicians now. And in my early days I often tried to copy them. A Derren Brown line here, a Paul Daniel’s gag there, and a Woody Aragon facial expression thrown into the mix too (They were great when they did them!).

What I learned is that I’m no good at doing “cover versions” of other people’s material, style, mannerisms, phrases or gags. I learned that magic is best when it’s got your own personality stamped over it isn’t a tribute act to someone else.

I also learned that I don’t suit hats.