My Purpose in the Pandemic

By Joshua Jay - Saturday, February 27, 2021


There was a turning point for me, sometime around the holidays, when I figured out why I needed to continue doing virtual shows. With a packed schedule of virtual holiday shows, something fundamental came into focus for me: my purpose in the pandemic. I’ve never experienced audiences who were more primed for entertainment. Forget wonder; most of my audiences would settle for a momentary escape from their isolated existence.

What had felt like work started to feel like a privilege: here were families who couldn’t be together to open presents, but they could congregate online as part of a magic show. As magicians, we deliver experiences. It didn’t matter that the card tricks were hard to see on the screen, or that the lag between myself and my spectators made every interaction a chore. What mattered, in the end, was the shared experience of wonder.

Magicians aren’t first-responders, and we played no role in developing the vaccine. But what’s significant about our craft’s tiny role in the pandemic is that we kept going. In the face of adversity, magicians fulfilled their purpose. We did what we always do: we kept performing.

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Reader comments:

Matthew

Monday, 01 March 2021 11:43 AM - Reply to this comment

"Forget wonder; most of my audiences would settle for a momentary escape from their isolated existence."

This line really struck me -- I have been developing a virtual piece for my local theatre and have been reaching out to friends between my hometown and my new home to be little test groups for purely the magic. I have a loose theme of Love, and one show I absolutely bombed, but after the show one of my friends from High School said she wanted to be a part of the next audience as soon as she could.

I asked "Why on Earth would you wanna see that again?"
She responded "It's just really nice to have somewhere to go and something to do and you were really fun to watch even though some stuff didn't go right, and you were really genuine."

This really struck me. This made me feel like I am doing exactly what I should be doing right now in this moment on this Earth. -- The next weekend (this last weekend) I had the most ideal performance I could have had, and I have myself a 30min set and now I am putting together my full hour show from this as the foundation with ALL of this in mind.

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