A lot of magicians went on line to complain that the tricks of Richard Jones and Jamie Raven were not very difficult in sleight of-hand-terms. The newspapers in Jamie’s case even quoted that you could buy a trick pack of cards for £10 – a trick that really impressed Simon Cowell at the time. Richard Jones’ tricks were not particularly difficult to master in purely technical terms. Neither of them used really complicated, hard core sleight of hand.
So do I personally think Jamie Raven and Richard Jones are good magicians given these facts?
The short answer is YES.
In any a longer analysis… the answer is still YES!
So why is that my verdict? Why do I as a fellow-magician (who can analyse a few things from an ‘insiders’ perspective) concur with very many of the general public who thought Raven & Jones were great?
Raven did a trick where he used playing cards with a cartoon figure drawn on the back of the pack being animated (by being flicked through) so that the figure ‘moved’ and picked out the playing card that Simon Cowell merely thought of – he never touched or selected a card physically. Jones did something where predicting words that Amanda was thinking of and utilised his soldier background to tell a story about a war hero and then brought him on stage.
My point of view is that we saw great magic and great routines. Jones and Raven a really engaging magicians that the audience liked and loved. The routines mystified the public and above all, they entertained the public. But I’ll tell you a secret (no, not how it’s done!), I’ll tell you that pretty much all of the tricks performed during BGT are being done each week by competent magicians everywhere and certainly the same level of technical skill is used each week – and often at a higher level.
BUT, and it’s a big ‘but’, what Jamie and Richard did was great not so much because of what they did (many of us magicians can do them) but how they did them. How they presented their ‘takes’ on these classic pieces of magic, how they adapted the routines, how they personalisd them, and above all – how they entertained the audience. This is the real secret of being a great magician – not just fooling your audience – but entertaining and engaging them. Not many magicians can do this – and certainly not as well.
Many wise-heads amongst us older magicians like to tell young magicians (who are obsessed with learning fancy card moves and advanced sleight of hand)to concentrate on developing an entertaining personality and approach. That ‘it’s not the trick, its the trickster!’ is a phrase magicians have sometimes used in mentoring young magicians. In other words, it’s about doing any trick, in your own way, infused with your own personality and patter, and in a way that is highly entertaining. It’s not about showing off advanced sleight-of-hand! Many great tricks are technically not very difficult but a great magician who is first and foremost an entertainer puts them across in ways that pack a big punch. You can’t buy that ability for £10! A great magician needs to not only mystify, but needs to be engaging and likeable. That’s what makes a great magician.
Richard Jones and Jamie Raven are great magicians