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Shawn Farquhar Interview

Shawn Farquhar has been entertaining audiences around the globe for over two decades. His magic has been seen on Television shows like the X-Files and Highlander, in Motion Pictures like Spooky House and the Fly II. Shawn has been a key note speaker/lecturer for the worlds best magic events including The Magic Circle, Siegfried and Roy’s World Magic Seminar and the world’s largest magic convention in Blackpool, England.

Shawn holds some impressive titles, The Canadian Association of Magicians awarded Shawn the MAGICIAN OF THE YEAR, the Pacific Coast Association of Magicians awarded him the GRAND PRIX D’HONNEUR and the International Brotherhood of Magicians awarded him both STAGE MAGICIAN and SLEIGHT OF HAND MAGICIAN OF THE YEAR, making him the ONLY magician in history to win BOTH world championships!

What sets him apart from every other “rabbit pulling” magic act? Just that! He’s not some rabbit pulling magic act. In fact he has been described as having “connected the skills of his talent with the passion in his heart”.

The Magic Convention Guide pulled up a seat and Shawn Farquhar was kind enough to not run away…

How old were you when you first went to a magic convention and what are your memories of it?

My first magic convention wasn’t until 1980 in Victoria, BC Canada. It was the Tri-City Magical Weekend. I made friends with James Dimmer, who later changed his name to Dimmare. I saw some wickedly great magic and a few really weak ones as well. I think the best thing to come from the weekend was my new connections to the magic world and my discovery of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.

What do you enjoy most about a convention?

I love to see great magic. Close up or stage, it doesn’t matter. In fact much of the best magic can be found in the lobby! I was just at the World Magic Seminar in Las Vegas and the best things I saw were all in the hallways outside of the dealer room! Seeing old friends and making new ones is also an important part of a convention.

Have you ever purchased anything so terrible at a convention you feel compelled to admit it now ?

How much time do you have? My most recent purchase was a trick from an inventor I love. His last three pieces are all gems and then I bought his newest “gem” without even seeing it demo’d and while sitting in the airport waiting for my flight I read the basic directions and decided this was one of those “gems” that would be best presented by someone else!

Tell us what it’s like to perform at the FISM conventions, and whats your favorite memory of them ?

To be honest performing at FISM and competing are two completely different things. I watched the paid acts do their techs and it was all quite professional. For the contestants it is always less than professional. I was told we would have 10 minutes to run through my tech and that I should rehearse my tech to make sure I didn’t run out of time. I spent weeks rehearsing my tech! When my turn came, the technicians insisted I sit down and explain my act to them first and they wasted over half my alloted time just chatting to me. In the end I ran out time as I had planned every minute of my tech and was not allowed to utilize it as I felt fit. Odd little things like not being able to “spike” a position on the stage is so unprofessional. If you actually saw my Parlour presentation you would know I was introduced and then left in the dark for over a minute. The tech’s couldn’t recall what I needed for light! Then during the act one of the tech’s was adjusting cable backstage that included my camera feed which resulted in a flickering image! I’m not knocking the tech’s as most are volunteers. They just need to be a little more professional when dealing with the contestants … like they are when they deal with the paid acts.

My favorite memory would be each time I have been called to the podium to collect a prize!

Where did you first lecture? How old were you?

I did my first lecture in 1999 at the Pacific Coast Association of Magicians. I was 37.

Whats the worst memory of a convention?

I did a show at Micky Hades Fun and Film Festival in Vancouver, BC. It was 1984 and I had been working on a new act with a new costume. My teacher, Lottie Hemeon, told me not to reveal the new act yet so I did the old act which I had not practiced in months. I have a video of the act that night and whenever I feel confident I play the tape to remind me just how bad I can really be when I don’t practice!

Where are some of the most interesting places that you have lectured?

I don’t really lecture that often. I have been very selective. I would say lecturing at the Magic Circle was spectacular as was the huge audience in Blackpool. I have received tons of emails about my appearance in Blackpool. So kind of the people. I would also have to mention my appearances in Australia and South Africa as highlights.

Who is your favorite magic lecturer?

This is an interesting question. I don’t like most magic lectures as they always seem to focus just on the finished effect. I like to hear and learn the history of the making of the effect. Back in the early 90’s I flew to Oakland, California to hear Jim Steinmeyer lecture. Following the formal lecture he took questions. What took place over the next hour was the best lecture I have ever witnessed. He explained in great details the way he invented his origami illusion.

What was your all time best convention?

The Pacific Coast Association of Magicians convention in 1993. I was the President that year and was also the convention chairman. I brought in every great act I knew or wanted to see. Over 400 magicians and friends attended and it will always be a fond and cherished memory!

Whats your most embarrassing moment of your magical career?

I have far too many to mention or even try to sort out! Recently I had the thrill of losing my entire stack for my Sting card routine and in front of an audience of nearly 2000 magicians I had to reassemble the stack. All the time my hands were shaking knowing if I didn’t find all the cards I didn’t have an act!

What do you think are the essential ingredients of a good magic convention?

Great acts who are willing to meet the people who paid them to be there in the first place. Plenty of time for the registrants to mingle and learn from each other and make new friends. A carefully laid out schedule that takes advantage of the talents of the performers while allowing the registrants an opportunity to explore the area they are visiting.

Which 5 magicians would you book for your ideal magic convention (living or dead)?

Dai Vernon
Channing Pollock
Doug Henning
Tommy Wonder
Tommy Cooper

Which magicians would you have most liked to see lecture, but were unable to?

Ed Marlo
Dai Vernon
Doug Henning

Magic Conventions have been around for many many years, how do you see them changing in the future?

I think many of the regionals will be hurt as the economy gets worse. I also think the well run small events will survive due to loyalty of the registrants. The big ones will get smaller and leaner if they have any chance of survival too.

You seem to attend quite a few conventions.. how do you fit them all in??

I love magic and to be around people who love it too. I think you have only one life to live and this is not a rehearsal. For that reason I make time for the things that important to me. Family first .. magic second!

If you were trying to describe a magic convention to a non magician, non magic convention junky, how you would explain it’s appeal?

It’s a special moment in time when you are surrounded by people of a like mind. This rarely happens to people who are as weird as myself and I cherish those moments.

If you have one paragraph to convince someone to attend a convention, and how to survive it.. what would you say?

I can quote my dear friend Kieron Buffery. Kieron is the best Cruise Director in the Universe. He tells people every cruise the same thing. “You’re only here for a short time. Make the most of every moment. Sleep when you get home or go back to work … that’s why they invented the desk!”

Where else can we see you? what conventions are you heading to next?

My next events are the Magic in the Rockies convention in Colorado and the Magicians Alliance of Eastern States in Pennsylvania. Following those I will be doing a lecture tour of Scandinavia. I want to do some more lectures so Colin Peters is arranging a tour of the UK for me for the early part of 2009. If you aren’t a part of his lecture tour and want to see me at your club drop him an email at colin@peters22.freeserve.co.uk.

Thank you Shawn, we look forward to seeing you over in the UK.. For more information on Shawn Farquhar pop over to his website: www.magichampion.com