Meeting Report: July 11, 2018 - The David Gerard Lecture

“That was the best lecture ever!” The immediate response on Ring 216 social media was unabashed praise for the presentation by David Gerard. The Bay Area magician and long-time friend of the Ring had devised his lecture to answer the questions he had been most asked by the members: How to develop entertaining presentations? How to succeed at marketing and producing a show? Few suspected that his talk on the practical business of magic would turn out to be as lively and funny as his magic performances.

Being entertaining is not one secret, David said, but a combination of hundreds of small factors. When he started out eight years ago, what he cared about most was to perform one effect in a local magic show; his goals grew every year as he felt he could always find ways to get bigger applause. Now he had eight hundred professional performances behind him and this lecture consolidated his lessons learned – implicitly, it seemed, in preparation for his next phase of development.

The two-and-a-half hour lecture was overwhelmingly generous in its range of subjects, from strolling at company parties to managing a mentalism show. There was an abundance of anecdotes, from the trials of performing for CEOs at private dinners to the chastisement received when attempting to perform for an unappreciative clique at a party. There was a flood of practical advice, from the use of video to judge spectator interaction to how to stage the visual texture of your presentations. David discussed the five effects he used for all situations and did a deep dive into one card routine, covering the fine points of how it made use of misdirection in a strolling environment, with an ending that probably fooled most of the magicians at the lecture.

For many, the highlight of the lecture was David’s explanation of his characteristic back-and-forth banter with his audiences. He described how he achieved this through a mixture of planned branched responses and spontaneous risk taking, and art he illustrated with numerous stories from his shows.

The Ring 216 members appreciate how much of himself David put into this lecture. He exemplified his most daring advice for connecting with an audience: “Be vulnerable.”