“I don’t need to go to a magic show, I can watch all the magic I want on YouTube”

These are some words I have heard from people more times than I would like to admit.

We live in an age of information where there are countless forms of entertainment and knowledge, literally at our fingertips thanks to advanced technologies and the internet. For magic, this is both a blessing and a curse as it can act as a vehicle to promote magic and magicians (especially through social media), but it can also lead to people only watching magical entertainment via the internet, neglecting the opportunity to watch live magic shows.

Brendon Peel performing at Cape Town Magic Club, January 2017. Photo credit: Andrew Goreman

Brendon Peel performing at Cape Town Magic Club, January 2017. Photo credit: Andrew Goreman

Personally, I am a big fan of live entertainment in general: whether it be magic, theatre, or any of the other performance arts. Of course, going to a live magic show, or any live entertainment show, will more than likely cost you some money (although not always). Having access to the internet also has costs involved but in the long run, it is far cheaper when looking at money spent per minute of entertainment gained. I feel this is one of the main reasons that people tend to focus on online entertainment rather than live shows. Another factor that swings in favour of the internet is that you can consume the magical entertainment from the comfort of your own home; in fact, you don’t even have to put your pants on if you don’t want to. The content on the internet is good too so you are more than likely to enjoy the magic tricks and illusions that you witness on YouTube or other online platforms.

These factors combined make our jobs as live magic entertainers more difficult.

I produce and perform at many Festivals and other public shows which require audiences to get out of the house, buy a ticket and come to the venue to watch the show. This also means I need to promote the show and try to create some excitement around the show without actually giving away what happens exactly in the show – otherwise there would be no point to someone coming to watch. It often feels to me that the odds are stacked against the live performer who is trying to get as many people as possible to his/her show. Of course, the internet is not the only reason for this difficulty but it is most definitely a major contributing factor.

If you research ‘magicians’ online and see who is the most popular right now on social media, you will see the likes of Zach King, Jibrizy and the cringe-worthy Julius Dien (all considered online magicians) have a much larger following than many very talented and professional magicians that do live stage shows on a regular basis. The reason is that these online magicians are catering to the online ‘masses’ who just want to watch a couple of ‘Vine’ tricks and then continue watching cat videos. Yes, there is definitely a demand for this type of magic but many people have got caught up in only watching these magic videos and have become less interested in watching magic live. These internet magicians hardly ever do live shows and put most of their focus on creating content for various online platforms

Brendon Peel performing in Season 3 of Monday Night Magic at Cape Town Magic Club

That’s all good and well but there is one thing that online magic content lacks that live magic has: creating a genuine connection and sense of wonder right in front of your own eyes.

There is nothing better than witnessing magic and illusion happening right in front of you… every emotion, every feeling, every moment is amplified to an extreme point that can never be matched through a laptop or cell phone screen.

That moment that you look into your own hand and see that a card has changed is a moment of complete awe that can only be achieved through the means of live entertainment.

And this is why I love live entertainment and will continue to perform live shows and promote these shows to as many people as I can.

Yes, occasionally you do have to put your pants on and go to a venue and spend money for a ticket, but trust me, the value of that feeling you get in a live show is well worth the price of a ticket.