Magi-Fest: You have performed at virtually every major convention around the world. We’re HONORED to have you at Magi-Fest. You have also organized dozens of conventions yourself. What, in your mind, is the secret ingredient to a great convention?
Shawn: I love magic conventions! I think it is the one place, other than the stage, where I truly feel at home. No two conventions are ever the same, and what sets them apart is the vision of the organizers. Some convention have become stale as they stick to “working formulas” while others try new things that sometimes fail. I’d rathe be at one that tries new things and fails as they are far more exciting and fresh. The one thing all great conventions have in common is talent that is approachable. I don’t go to a convention to see the act do their signature routine, since I can watch that on YouTube or their DVD. I go to the convention to experience them as performers. On and off stage. The chance to rub shoulders, ask questions and hang out is what makes a convention special for me. I have seldom left a convention without feeling inspired and motivated.
Magi-Fest: What can registrants look forward to seeing from you at Magi-Fest?
Shawn: Lately I have been working on some fun new ideas and the Magi-Fest seems like a pretty awesome place to try them out. I’ve been getting a lot of buzz from my variation of the ACAAN, which I call the H.G. Effect, and I have a few new presentations for it and look forward to giving them a go. I can’t wait to come hang out and share my magic and see others as well.
Magi-Fest: How has your lecture grown as you’ve gained experience with it?
Shawn: I think I’ve done my old lecture in just about every country in the world now. Seriously. So last year I put together a new one and did it at the Magic Castle. I was nominated for the Lecturer of the Year and although I dint win, I thought it was a strong representation of my style and thinking of magic. I have been working on a few new things and will do a customized lecture just for the Magi-Fest.
Magi-Fest: You burst into the public’s eye with a FISM Grand Prix win, and then appearances on Ellen and similar shows. What do you make of the recent, eye-popping clips from America’s Got Talent from some relative newcomers?
Shawn: I’m really not a fan of contest style shows like AGT, but I totally understand how they can help launch a career. I have numerous friends who have benefited greatly from their appearances on AGT, and the thing I find odd is while the audience as a whole seem to embrace these new artists, the magicians tend to disparage them at the same time. AGT really knows how to make you look great or if they choose, make you look terrible as well.
Magi-Fest: You are the only person who has fooled Penn and Teller twice on their hit show, Fool Us. Many of our attendees might like to compete on this show some day. What advice would you give them?
Shawn: When I was first approached to do the show I said “no thanks.” As I already mentioned I’m not a fan of contest shows. It wasn’t until I discovered Johnny Thompson was involved that I agreed to be a performer. I knew then the show wasn’t about fooling Penn & Teller, that’s just the hook to get an audience. The purpose of the show is to showcase amazing magic and magicians. If you are considering being on the show, don’t go with the mind set that you’re there to fool them, but instead create a great piece of magic and enjoy the adventure. If you get them caught up in the fun, you stand a far better chance of fooling them in the end.