The history of magic extends back as far as human civilisation itself.

Cunning and enterprising individuals have always used conjuring tricks and illusions to bamboozle their audiences into believing that they possess mystical powers.

It ancient times making people believe in mysterious powers was a great means of wielding power and control and there  is a long history of the cunning using magic tricks to relieve people of their money.

Today everyone in the developed world knows that there is no such thing as magic and that what they are witnessing is artifice.

So is there a place in the 21st century for magicians and are they worthy entertainment?

Modern Magicians

In the modern Era the top magicians became television stars and performed huge extravaganzas in Las Vegas.

In the late 20th century magic was hugely popular on the TV with audiences not so much marvelling at the magic but rather the fascination of how the tricks were performed.

Masters of the grand illusion like David Copperfield and Lance Burton became worldwide stars but in recent years the popularity of magic has waned and is rarely a feature of prime time television scheduling anymore.

Perhaps people have simply grown tired of the art or possibly much of the mystery has been shattered by a proliferation of programmes demonstrating how the tricks are performed.

For whatever reason traditional magic has somewhat dropped off the map but a new kind of performer has moved to centre stage.

Street Magic

Amongst the stars of the televised era the act which has managed to remain very popular across the world is Penn and Teller an American duo who still manage to draw big audiences for their live performances too.

This could be because their act is free from the rather anachronistic and over dramatic presentation of many magicians, favouring humour and plain dress instead.

Their performances also uniquely hinge on kidding the audience that their trick has failed and then revealing an even more impressive achievement and taking the onlookers by surprise.

Penn and Teller aside, popular magic is now all about the street and mind games.

Street magicians like David Blaine and Dynamo have brought a new kind of magic to the masses with their youthful and current image appealing to a younger audience.

Their acts are based on wowing people in the street using everyday objects and the landscape around them.

The entertainment factor is as much about people’s reaction as the illusions themselves but they do have some pretty sensational tricks up their sleeves.

Performers who can read or manipulate minds are also very popular with acts like Derren Brown having successful television series as well as creating big headlines about the morality of what they do.


These days there isn’t much of a market for old school magicians in dinner dress sawing ladies in half or pulling rabbits out of hats.

Popular magic is about stunts in the street and playing with people’s minds.

Close up magic is still popular at corporate events and weddings and with good reason as it is still captivating and provides plenty of talking points for the guests but as television entertainment it has all but disappeared.

Magic is also great for kids to learn, teaching them manual dexterity and application to a task as well as being fascinating and entertaining.

Learning magic tricks is a lengthy process and requires practice and so is great for filling time and engendering self-discipline.

There is certainly a place for magic in the modern era but it must keep evolving, be modern is style and show the world something new once in a while in order to survive.

Featured images:

License: Creative Commons

image source

Sally Stacey is a regular blogger who loves a good magic show, especially Lance Burton in Las Vegas! Check her out now on Google+