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Preface:

 

                On  August 28th, 2013 I got the privilege of interviewing David Regal.  Over the course of 30 minutes and 11 seconds I was able to ask about his beginnings in magic, philosophies, mentors, and approach.  I know it was 30 minutes and 11 seconds because that’s how long the recording said it was (which I planned to share as a podcast).  However, when attempting to listen to the file……..silence.  When plugging the file into audio editing software, no sound waves could be digitally seen, and so the heartache of the breakdown of technology.  Despite several efforts by this author and the software company, to which this author utilized, that file is nonexistent.  So unless I can get someone in the NSA to provide me with their recording of that interview, it will never be heard.  Instead of floundering in the frustration of such a loss, your author has decided to document as much material as could be obtained (because the majority of exact quotes have been lost to a summation in thine own noodle).

 

Reeling in Regal:

 

                First of all, speaking with David reminded me of talking to an attending physician (whom I regularly work with in an emergency department).  He had that prose, poise and confidence in his speech which immediately makes one take him seriously (even though he is seriously funny).  However, I did not pick up any of the negative components of the aforementioned example of the physician.  He is quite easy to talk to, even if you are nervous when interviewing him (which of course I know nothing about).

                David Regal grew up in Newton Massachusetts where a neighbor friend of his was into magic and happened to have a copy of Tannen’s Catalog.  For those of you who don’t know, Tannen’s Catalog was frequently a 700+ page hard covered book in which dreams were made.  Or as David compared it: to a dirty magazine which was viewed at the edge of the bed with flashlight in hand.  However, those dreams were able to manifest into realities as this friend’s father regularly worked in New York City.  This allowed young David to spend time and learn magic at various “joke shops” (Little Jack Horner’s Joke Shop and another one which the name escapes me).  However, David did not appear to be the normal youth studying magic, as he was reading “adult” magic books (i.e. Al Baker). 

Even at an early age David was inventing his own effects.  As I was spouting off how much I enjoyed his color changing deck, he told me that was an idea that he came up with when he was only 15 years old.  He states for years he always felt it should be printed on a poker deck, and one day finally bit the financial bullet to purchase a large run.  You can get one of those decks from David HERE!




                Eventually David went to Emerson College for acting.  It is during this time that he fell out of magic, focusing on other areas of his life.  After graduating David became a part of Chicago City Limits.  Chicago City limits is a improv comedy troupe, in fact the oldest in New York City.  One of the fans of this troupe was the great Meir Yedid.  This is where David and Meir met.

                David spoke of when he got back into magic that he fell much harder into it then he did previously.  This led him to study and learn much more advanced sleight of hand, and one evening he invited Meir to watch him perform.  Apparently, the performances went well and the audience reaction was the way one would hope for it to be.  It was at this time David was feeling pretty good, and proud of the accomplishment of performing advanced sleight of hand.  He then asked his friend, Meir, how he liked it, and the response was not expected:  “David when you perform improv you’re great, but when you pick up a deck of cards you’re just like every other magician” (I’m not sure if I remember the quote exactly, again if you know anyone in the NSA who can get me a copy of that interview, that would be great).

 

 

                It would be easy for one to get highly discouraged and defensive about such a statement.  However, David Regal has an amazing gift to remain open and flexible.  It’s because of this wonderful quality that he re-evaluated his approach to magic.  I felt the need to ask him how fast the switch occurred from being like “every other magician” and becoming something different.  He told me “a long time” and went to speak of how it’s a continuing process and it is that process he finds most appealing.  Another wonderful quality of this magician!

                David is a puzzle solver, that’s not his words but mine.  He did speak of how much he enjoys the actual process of figuring something out, and stated he may enjoy that even more than the actual performance.  He says that at magic swaps, he usually takes two hundred dollars with him and buys a bunch of two dollar effects.  He then returns home with a couple of bags of magic items (which he calls “Divorce in a bag”) and studies them, coming up with new ideas.  If you know David, you know that he is still married.  So how does he maintain his marriage when engaging in practices such as bringing home divorce inducing bags?  Nope, it’s not another one of his amazing magic effects.  Instead he sells them on ebay after he has utilized their ability to inspire new ideas (and so another lesson I need to take note of to make my wife happier).

 

David on Harry Lorayne:

 

                One of the things I most wanted to talk to David about was his Mentorship with Harry Lorayne.  Before David met Harry he was a big fan.  He spoke of his love of Harry’s book “Close Up Card Magic” which is amazing book, and can still be purchased.  It was while speaking with Meir Yedid that he spoke of his admiration of the man.  Low and behold, Meir knew Harry and arranged a meeting.     

                Fast forward to “the cafeteria”, Rebuen’s and the Magic Towne House.  Not only did David get to spend time with Harry, but he also spent time with Eric Decamps and Peter Kougasian.  However, let me get back to Harry.  David spoke that he has never seen a magician captivate an audience of laymen with a deck of cards like Harry does.  Apparently Harry would pull out a deck of cards, which had looked like they had been ravaged and in a case that was falling apart.  He would then perform, and people were (and still are when he performs) astounded.  Over time, David made the realization that he should pay attention to how Harry was able to captivate an audience in such a way.  What was it that Harry was doing with the deck of cards that made him so effective?  At what point did that excitement invade the spectator?  Upon conscious observation David made a surprising revelation:  “the audience leaned forward even before the cards came out of the box”.  It wasn’t the cards that were captivating, it was Harry himself!

                David’s relationship with Harry continued, and many different effects of David’s were published in Harry’s Apocalypse (a monthly publication).  At this time David was not going to conventions and was fairly unknown in the world of magic. David posed the question to Harry about possibly publishing a book of his original effects, and so the book “Star Quality” was released.  Over time this has been accepted by the magic community, and although it didn’t immediately become a huge hit, that didn’t seem to bother David.  A common theme with Mr. Regal, is that it is all about the process.  

                As we know David has become widely accepted in the magic community as a performer and inventor of effects.  He has even released a book on his methods appropriately named "Approaching Magic", a book which took him six years to complete.  When he is asked when his next book will come out, he remarks “the last one took six years, I don’t know if there will be another one”.  Again, it’s about the process for Mr. Regal.  Did I mention that he likes the process?

 

 

David on a Common Misunderstanding:

 

                One of the things that I have found in common with my favorite performers is that they emphasize on perfecting an effect, as opposed to accumulating a bunch of “tricks”.  David mentioned this same philosophy.  However he does state that we all go through a similar metamorphosis (magic pun intended) of collecting information. 

 

                David also spoke of how some magicians are quick to shun something because they know a little bit about it.  He gave an example of a beginner who is watching someone exhibit a magic effect, and the moment they realize there has been a sleight used they are familiar with there is a tendency to think “oh, I know how that’s done” and move on.   This is a real shame when it comes to magic, because such versatile effects/utility devices may be overlooked and not utilized.  He gave the example of watching Franz Haray perform.  He says that this great “mega” illusionist who “killed” with a thumb tip. 

 

 

David’s Regular Life:


                David currently lives in California and is a member of the Magic Castle.  Not only is he a member of the Castle, but he is on the Board of Trustees.  Some of you may not know that David is primarily a writer and producer of television shows.  Some highlights include: writing for Everybody Loves Raymond, and was also the head writer of the Rugrats.   Again, it appears to all be about the process for Mr. Regal.  He spoke of how when one episode is completed, you now have to solve the puzzle (“undoing knots”) to make a logical jump to the next episode.  And so it is, and so it goes for Mr. Regal in seemingly everything he does. 

                I do want to end this article with a wonderful quote David shared with me from the great Johnny Thompson.  I had mentioned to David that the majority of members at MagiBook are amateurs.  I must have used somewhat of a negative connotation with this, as it inspired David to share Johnny’s thoughts on the beauty of the Amateur magician “I retain the enthusiasm for magic of an Amateur”.  So let us all retain that sort of enthusiasm for this wonderful craft.

To learn more about David, please go to his website at: http://davidregal.com/