Can You Do It For Drunk People? by Doc Dixon
Reviewed by Jamy Ian Swiss (originally published in Genii September, 2005)
I'd never so much as heard of Doc Dixon until these lecture notes crossed my path, but a
quick glance at the author's point of view, experience, and abundance of attitude quickly
caught my attention. Doc Dixon is a professional magician who does close-up magic,
stand-up magic in both comedy clubs and corporate settings, and even school assembly
shows. He obviously cares a great deal about his art and work, he spends a great deal of
time thinking about it—sometimes a difficult feat when one is trying to make a living as
a performer— and he has a healthy dose of wit. As of this writing I haven't met Mr.
Dixon yet, but I like him already.
This manuscript consists of six segments of thoughts, opinions, recommendations,
and/or essays about a variety of subjects from a full-time pro who has some strong,
informed opinions and isn't afraid to express them clearly. I would emphasize the word
"informed" in that sentence—which doesn't necessarily mean that I agree with
everything Mr. Dixon has to say. Harlan Ellison once wrote, "It's that old saw that
everyone is entitled to his/her opinion. In my own wonderful elitist fashion I've never
accepted that for a moment. What I will accept is that every one is entitled to his/her
informed opinion." Agree with him or not, like him or not, Mr. Dixon offers a great deal
of valuable and persuasively-offered advice in these pages on a wide range of subjects.
The title essay is an impassioned yet pragmatic call to excellence in magic; "Memories"
considers the audience's overall experience of a performance of magic and weighs the
elements of effect, experience, and the memory of that experience; "Ethics, Shmethics"
presents three older strategies and one new one—of questionable use but nonetheless
unquestionable appeal—for dealing with those who steal material from you; an inspiring
but still quite direct essay about goals; "Ten Commandments of Elementary School
Assemblies" is filled with eminently useful and succinct guidance for anyone interested
or even experienced in this market; there is a brief but good list of recommended books;
and a somewhat odd essay entitled "Magic is a Religion." This latter segment is filled with simple but well-targeted advice about practical and important performance issues,
mostly concerning personal appearance and attitude; unfortunately, these matters are
explored by way of a rather contrived and over-extended metaphor which compares
magic to religion. While the author does establish his guidelines early, there is much
room for confusion here, and frankly, there seems little benefit in muddying up such
otherwise rational advice with irrational matters. That said, while much of this kind of
advice has been offered before and by others, Mr. Dixon presents it in his own,
sometimes refreshing way, and it's the kind of advice that magicians, all too often, never
seem to stop needing.