Debate: Should we forgive ‘America’s Got Talent’ now that magicians have had success?

September 19th, 2010 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under General


Debate: Should we forgive Americas Got Talent now that magicians have had success?

It’s been almost a week since the finale of the most recent season of NBC’s America’s Got Talent, where singer Michael Grimm walked away with the top prize.

We haven’t covered AGT much for a few reasons, but the main one is that the show has a terrible reputation of treating us magicians like redneck freaks of nature. We’ve read too many horror stories about inaccurate editing, miscasting and more — magicians seemed doomed for failure and mockery.

Until this year.

Four magicians — Murray SawChuck, Michael Grasso, Dan Sperry and Antonio Restivo — made it to the show’s final 12 competitors. Though none of them made the “final four,” they each represented well and gave the show some of its more memorable moments (lookin’ at you, Sperry… we love you for what you did to Howie).

Criss Angel was featured on the show, and none other than David Copperfield performed during the show’s finale. The tricks were much bigger (lookin’ at you, Murray’s train) and the stories were touching and heartwarming. Even judge Howie Mandel trumpeted AGT for featuring magicians.

But did magic really get better represented during this season?

Sperry was called out on the carpet for a performance that failed to “convince” one of the judges (whether Piers committed exposure is another debate). Restivo was also called out for a lack of variety. Grasso was brought back as a wild card, then eliminated after being called “the king of magic” (voters voted him off the show). And Murray’s largest-ever trick was treated with a collective “meh,” aside from Sharon’s glowing praise, and reduced to an homage to Copperfield.

Bizzaro made the point on his blog that a variety act will never win AGT, because magicians’ true talents are hidden, and therefore, unappreciated compared to a singer or juggler. Judges constantly talked about what made magic acts succeed this year were how they brought bigger and bigger illusions. Compare that to how singers prepare a simple song, and Bizzaro sounds like he makes a good point.

So should magicians keep trying to be on this show? Is the exposure and publicity worth competing at what would seem to be an unfair advantage? Or should magicians concentrate their efforts in venues where they know their art will be presented respectfully? The floor is yours: Leave your comment here, post your POV on our social networks, or join the ultimate debate in the forum.

A tip o’ the rabbit-stuffed hat to iTricks, which made it so easy to find all the above videos. Its publisher, Andrew Mayne, had some great advice on what magicians can learn from the show.

16 comments

  1. Did 'America's Got Talent' do enough to redeem its poor treatment of magicians? Is it worth it to try competing? http://bit.ly/9gnjuK

  2. Fernando Contreras on:

    RT @Ellusionist: Did 'America's Got Talent' do enough to redeem its poor treatment of magicians? Is it worth it to try competing? http://bit.ly/9gnjuK

  3. They may not have made it to the top 4 but they’re names I’ll remember from this point on and so will many others.

  4. AGT slaughtered magic for years and magicians kept coming back. Now that magic had a great year just WAIT and see how many come out of the woodwork.

    Specifically illusion guys….

    I don’t think it’s about forgiveness. AGT is a platform, the question for magicians has always been, will they give me a fair shake. This seasons they showed they could.

    My prediction: the magic Kraken is released this winter during auditions. I’m putting the over/under on “Guess who’s going to be on AGT this year??” emails at 35

  5. I think that if your good, go to the show to show the world what real magic can do, but if your a redneck with no skill please don’t go ( be honoust there are a lot of failing magicians there, the one with the self levitation for example, he fall down the stage) .
    but if your a good magician you will get respect and regicnition of this show and you might not walk away with the price but it can help you go further in your carreer like with Kevin James.
    who became verry populair after AGT.
    so if you are good go, but bear in mind that you probably won’t win because of the reson the judges said.

  6. I think that if your good, go to the show to show the world what real magic can do, but if your a redneck with no skill please don\’t go ( be honoust there are a lot of failing magicians there, the one with the self levitation for example, he fall down the stage) .
    but if your a good magician you will get respect and regicnition of this show and you might not walk away with the price but it can help you go further in your carreer like with Kevin James.
    who became verry populair after AGT.
    so if you are good go, but bear in mind that you probably won\’t win because of the reson the judges said.

  7. I loved the preformances of all the magicians mentioned in the description(Michael Grasso forever!)and will continue to support them. However I did think that what they did to Dan Sperry was completely unfair(you who actually research the behind the scenes stuff of AGT will know what I’m talking about)and Murray’s illusion was nothing short of spectacular, but he got voted off simply because the judge’s didn’t like it. I think AGT is slightly unfair in the respect that they treat magicians like any other act on the show. I’m certainly not saying that magicians should receive special treatment, but the judges should be aware how much harder pulling off a stage illusion is than singing a song. Some of you may disagree with me on this and I am open to discussion, but first let me ask you this question. Which of these sound harder to you,singing a song elaborately rehearsed with expensive voice teachers(I’m looking at you Jackie :( ) or putting a magic illusion together in two days using borrowed props. Thats just my opinion.Comments welcome. Peace out, yo.

  8. they each represented well and gave the show some of its more memorable moments (lookin’ at you, Sperry… we love you for what you did to Howie

  9. Yeah, I think what they did to Sperry is wrong, and I think Piers should offer a public apology for it! Dan Sperry is the man, but i really didn’t dig that effect. As we all know, not every illusion is going to get that huge reaction, but Sperry is right, it isn’t always about being convinced that it actually happened. Sometimes it’s about letting yourself go and using your imagination. Piers, as far as I know, is not a magician yet he is sitting there telling a very talented and successful magician what magic really is. I don’t want it to sound like I think Sperry was the only one worth anything, Grasso blew my mind as did Murray. No, i wasn’t thrilled with the presentation, but he owned it. He knew what he wanted it to be and made it just that, OH YEAH, he also made a fricking train disappear in the process!

  10. Hey guys,

    Haven’t figured out how to present a NEW topic to post on, but would like to submit one within a thread so that we can discuss it… can I do that or is that a faux pas? Anyway, here it is…

    What about the writing of “patter,” and presentation? Most of us are not actors, no matter what Robert Houdin may say about what we SHOULD be… but we are intelligent, imaginitive people and yet our patter lines, or as I like to call it “an interactive monologue” are mostly exposition interspersed with only a few lines of personality. When I watch a movie… the greatest writers combine exposition WITH personality. This has been my major complaint with watching tricks from magicians. There are only a few performers that allow each time a trick is performed to be unique instead of obligatorially rehashing what they have read from a book or written down themselves. Daniel Garcia to name one, Chad Long to name another. I know there is not much of a question yet, so let me specify:

    “How do we combine our abilities, tricks AND our personality into one cohesive multimedia performance without taking away from but rather enhancing the MAGIC?”

    thanks,
    dave

  11. well lets think magicians are not that common any more but the don’t treat us like redneck freaks its just they have never seen all that many good ones but maybe they never needed forgiving

  12. Magic is generally not an art that lends itself to be compared to other forms of entertainment. It is very hard for people who have no idea of how difficult some of these effects can be, so when they are compared to a “flashy” and difficult-looking stunt, it is easier for everyday-Joe to be impressed. The whole point of magic is to not let-on how easy or insanely hard an effect can be. I don’t think it’s a bad thing that magicians don’t win on AGT; if the magician can make it look natural or simple and fool the judges and viewers than they’re doing a fantastic job. On the other hand, it is incredibly disrespectful for a show to portray any art form as a redneck-fun-fest, especially an art that spans so many venues, ages/generations, types, and styles. While it is entertaining and appropriate to see magic on a show like this I don’t think magicians really have a chance; therefore, they should be represented, but they should understand the unequal playing field and should focus on what really is important: making people believe that magic really exist.

  13. Man, don’t forgive them. They really don’t understand why magicians do magic in the first place. When Piers was judging Dan Sperry, he thought all tricks HAVE to be convincing. Of course the tricks have to make a spectator believe that it is real, but not everyone can be fooled.

  14. Dave: Great question. You should post that on our forums. Go to forums.ellusionist.com, get registered and join in the conversations.
    ~joe

  15. I haven’t really been following these shows. I’ve seen just a few episodes from time to time, but I’ve really noticed how they sometimes like one trick and get excited but when the guy returns, he isn’t really liked or somewhat..
    I’m just so tired of all this American Idol and then AGT where it’s always Singers that get all the fame/success for just singing. I mean, just, it’s a talent, but there are so many that can actually sing.
    I hope magicians will win that show sometime in the near future.

    Kaj

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