Category Archives: Alan Greenberg

Magic Should Be Entertaining

Jean Boucher

Jean Boucher came into the shop a little while ago to stock up on supplies. I found it fascinating to learn that Alan Greenberg got hooked on magic by watching the movie Houdini when he was a kid. When I saw Jean and his beautiful daughter, Alyson,  come into the shop, I wondered what got him hooked. This is his story and he’s sticking to it. Jean was about 9 when he saw a Zombie performed on TV on a circus show. He was awe-struck. When he got a magic kit as a present he threw out the thumb tip as it was too big and he didn’t know what it was for.

He bought a book on Houdini and found a book on back palming in the library

His interest waned during the years but he started playing cards at CEGEP (Quebec’s post secondary school) as he had a 3 hour break without classes. He suddenly remembered his card book and thought he could learn second deals, etc. to “help him win” at cards. He went to the yellow pages and found Le Grand Marcis, who had a little shop on Bienville. He saw all these magic tricks but he didn’t want that, he wanted to learn sleight of hand card magic so he could cheat.

Wim Vermeys, Marcis, and Phil - Magie Montreal

Marcis sold him Derek Dingle’s book on card sleights. The book of course was in English and is not a beginner book to say the least.  Furthermore Jean couldn’t speak English at that time, but he managed. He learned sleight of hand and became interested in magic again.

He didn’t know other magicians but when he attended a magic auction at Marcis’ he saw many people there and they all seemed to know each other but they didn’t know him.

Mac King, Jean Boucher,David Williamson, and Carl Cloutier

What are you doing here? They asked him. He shrugged his shoulders. He came for the auction. Someone gave him a deck of cards and told him to do something; so he did a trick for them. Their jaws dropped open. Where did you learn that? They asked. He pointed to a black book behind the counter. A book?

Jean craved books. He never told me if he cheated at cards or not but he mastered hundreds of card tricks.

Michael Ammar

Then one day he met Michael Ammar who told him he only needed 10 tricks to earn a living. Ten tricks! It blew him away. It was then that he learned about the tricks having to be entertaining.

Since then Jean has been working for 15 years on cruise ships doing 25 cruises a year. Besides this he performs in Casinos, for corporations, etc. He carries a small bag. He’s big on books and entertainment.

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Filed under Alan Greenberg, Books, Carl Cloutier, David Williamson, Mac King, Magic, Magie Montreal, Marcis, Phil Matlin, Wim Vermeys

Seriously Magical

From time to time teenagers come in and buy magic for kids’ parties. They think it’s a great way to earn some extra bucks. Hey! You gotta start somewhere! So they buy a few tricks and they’re off!  Alan Greenberg

Early Greenberg

is one of the many started that way. He was serious about it and made a successful career out of it.

Alan was 8 years old when he first became interested in magic. He was home with the Chicken Pox and saw Tony Curtis in the movie Houdini on TV and that was it for him. He got magic books at the library and bought a bag of magic tricks at Henry Gordon’s on Queen Mary Road in Montreal  (before Perfect Magic was born) for a dollar which was a lot of money then for him, but he was on his way. He started getting paid for shows when he was 14 years old and his parents drove him to his gigs and back. He’s been teaching magic in elementary schools since 1984; he does corporate shows, parties, weddings, bar mitzvahs, fundraisers, etc.

If you’re just starting in magic and you are serious, there are a few things I would recommend.

From left, Mark Wilson, Evy and Phil

One would be Complete Course in Magic. It’s a book by Mark Wilson. It covers just about everything from close-up to stage illusions. Being a book, there is no personality to the tricks. You have to find your own personality and put your own twist on everything. You’re not copying someone’s style or jokes…you have to be creative and you have to be yourself. You are unique and if you just tap into your own personality it will come through and you’ll make the trick yours.

Harry Lorayne with Evy Matlin - late 70's.

I don’t have anything against DVD’s. They’re wonderful teaching tools, but its tempting to just copy the performer, word for word, action for action. The name of the game is Entertainment First George Schindler did a DVD on this and it can’t be stressed enough. You can be the best sleight of hand magician in the world but if it’s not entertaining, forget it! It takes time and effort to put an act together.

For an idea of what is involved Scripting Magic by Pete McCabe and 26 other guys is a good start. Foundations: The Art of Staging Magic by Eberhard Riese is another one. Eugene Burger’s Mastering The Art of Magic is marvelous!

"Magic Tom" Auburn, Eugene Buger and Phil

Eugene lectured for Perfect Magic a few times and the advice he gave was excellent, not only for magic but for many real life situations where you have to deal with people.

Eugene with Magic Tom

It’s hard to do magic for people! When you’re alone, it works perfectly; in front of an audience, not always. What do you do when things go wrong? How do you choose volunteers? What do you say to them? They may give you answers you’re not expecting. How do you handle it? Fortunately, others who are successful are willing to share their secrets and ideas. They are your teachers so take advantage of their knowledge. Take the plunge. Just make sure there’s water in the pool. It’s safer that way.

Which books or DVD’s made an impact on you or helped you get started? We’d love your comments.

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Filed under "Magic Tom" Auburn, Alan Greenberg, Eugene Burger, Evelyn Matlin, Harry Lorayne, Magic, Magie Montreal, Mark Wilson, Phil Matlin