Those three words are how David Regal describes himself over on his website www.davidregal.com
However one of the first things we think you should acknowledge here is that amongst other amazing things, David wrote for Rugrats and Everybody Loves Raymond… WOAH.. that’s pretty cool!
David is a TV writer/producer who loves magic – which he describes as a sort of a double life.
Of course people are going to care about David’s opinions, after all he has received the Genesis Award, been named twice as the Lecturer of the Year by the Academy of Magical Arts (the parent organisation of the Magic Castle), and is the recipient of the AMA’s Creative Fellowship.
On a dreary Thursday night here in the UK we got to share some of David’s thoughts, where his interest of magic came from and have a real insight into his mind!
David how old were you when you first got into magic? I’d been given a magic set when younger, and loved it, but I was 11 or 12 when I went to the next level. My childhood friend Jerry had a father who was pretty well off, a doctor who made trips to New York now and then (we lived in Newton, a suburb of Boston). Jerry would show me expensive ($25!) magic props like an Appearing Wand, Forgetful Freddie, Rice Bowls, etc. I had no idea that one could buy that stuff. Jerry then informed me there was such a thing as a magic catalogue, and gave me the previous year’s Tannen’s catalogue, a thick hardbound tome. I was astonished. It looked like a freaking bible. I read it cover to cover, ordered my first oddball items, then started making forays into downtown Boston where all the joke/magic shops were located.
What inspired you to learn magic? I think different things inspired me at different times in my life. When I was small, I liked knowing something special, and gaining a sort of control that’s generally lacking in a kid’s life. In addition, the home I grew up in was unhappy and tense so the ability to lose myself in magic was a balm. Later, I loved learning new skills and finding ways to give people joy that were unique to magic.
Do you have a personal favourite magic trick? No, I do not. It’s like saying “Do you have a favourite song?” We want to experience different things at different times.
Most difficult trick? I feel one of the hardest things for a student of magic to learn is a vanish based on a false transfer. Not because it’s technically difficult, but because it represents the ultimate lie.
On average how long does it take you to learn a new trick? There is no average. Some effects are simple to pick up technically but understanding where the beats should fall and how to best deliver the impact inherent in the plot might take a good amount of time. Of course, there are moves that might take more practice than others, as well. It’s one thing to learn a move so that it cannot be seen, and another to hide the moment via relaxation, choreography, and management.
Have you ever botched a trick in front of an audience and how did you handle that? Every performing magician has failed. How to handle it? The short answer: The audience cares as much as you do. If you appear horrified, it will be painful for all. If you shrug, smile, and move on no one will hold it against you. In my book Interpreting Magic, I talk to one of the best magicians alive, Lance Burton, about a time he failed when I was in the audience. The way he handled it was masterful.
Most embarrassing moment? I once performed at a high-profile magic convention where I wanted to impress and did not. It really was a travesty, and there’s no “funny story” associated with it. The lesson I eventually learned from it was that my future came to a binary decision: Do I give up and stop, hiding in shame forever, or do I go on and keep trying? I went on.
What’s the best thing about being a magician? Magic has made me friends, and the fact that I can go to different places in the world and find people happy to meet me is exceptionally life-affirming.
And the worst thing about being a magician? Theft.
Who’s your favourite magician? Derren Brown. His level of showmanship, intelligence, and commitment is a thing to behold.
Do you enjoy watching others performing and what goes through your mind when you watch magic? It’s all about the moments of beauty. By that I don’t mean “beautiful” in the isn’t-that-pretty sense, I mean the moments that feel absolutely correct. It could be a collective laugh, a moment of shock, a sense of astonishment, etc.
How many shows do you do a year? I’m not a professional performer, but when there’s no pandemic I’ll work at The Magic Castle frequently, and cruise ships when I can squeeze it in.
What’s your preferred size audience to perform for? Do you prefer intimate or large-scale events? There are things to love about the opportunities provided by different venues.
Most rewarding career moment? In magic, I like seeing good magicians performing my effects. That’s not a “career” thing, but it gives me the greatest satisfaction.
How diverse do you see the magic industry? Magic is filled with a lot of guys, and in the USA a lot of white guys but thank goodness it’s more than that, and hopefully the diversity within magic will continue to grow. Certainly, I have always felt that a nice thing about magic is it tends to be a meritocracy. I remember hanging out with a roomful of jaded, experienced magicians. A 15-year-old kid came in and started demonstrating a great false cut he came up with… and everyone gathered around that table. Good is good.
David is a true oracle of wisdom and we highly recommend checking out his website www.regalmagic.com where you can purchase your very own magical effect and any of his books which will help educate and shape your career.
David – thank you for your precious time, it’s been an honour.