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Review of "The Show Doctor" by Jeff McBride

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Review of

"The Show Doctor" by Jeff McBride

Jeff McBride is a magician’s magician. And this is not only due to his tremendous skill and knowledge of magic, it’s also his mastery of presentation and showmanship. His latest book, “The Show Doctor,” is a “must read” for anyone who wants to entertain with magic and truly polish his or her presentation. If your magic isn’t what it should be, if you’re not connecting with spectators in a manner that you would like, or if there’s something wrong with your performance style, Jeff McBride has a cure.

Insightful Essays

The book is largely based on McBride’s column of the same name that ran in “Magic Magazine” from 2007 through 2010. The book is not simply a reprint of these columns that have been bound into a hard cover book. The columns themselves have been updated and supplemented with interviews and further insights and thoughts.

The valuable and insightful essays, the essence of the original columns, cover topics such as: connecting with audiences during performances, handling and reaching for props, refining one’s verbal presentation, body position, prop management, involuntary body language, selecting volunteers, dealing with nerves and sweating and lots more. I enjoyed the way that McBride served many of the topics in the form of a medical diagnosis with symptoms, causes and remedies, along with bad puns. Still other topics are written in response to a reader’s request. The book is not only a useful read, but a fun one.

Great Effects

The book also teaches 11 previously unpublished routines that include those for stand up and stage, as well as close-up and some mentalism. The routines are strong ones and they come with complete instructions and suggested scripting that you may use as a foundation for your own to customize to your performance persona. There are two excellent openers and the effects range widely.

I enjoyed the card effect that has spectators traveling back in time and reminiscing about their childhoods and that ends with a fun revelation. In particular, this effect appealed to me because of its interaction with spectators. There’s a fun coin vanish with some ideas that will appeal to close-up workers. Still others touch on manipulation (with Chinese “health balls”) and there are some diabolical mentalism effects. (I was downright giddy about the subtle double meaning that forms the basis of an effect called “Perfect Match.”)

A Must Read

In the world of magic there’s a major imbalance between the number of resources: books and DVDs, which offer information on secrets and magic technique, against those that teach how to present and entertain with magic. Jeff McBride’s “The Show Doctor” is a book that offers valuable advice and is among only a handful of books (along with Ken Weber’s “Maximum Entertainment” - please click here to read my review) that should be read by everyone who strives for magic success.

“The Show Doctor” immediately earned a prominent position on my main magic bookshelf and I plan to regularly consult with it to refine my own show and presentations.

Editor's Note: "The Show Doctor” offers an innovative companion app for Apple iPads that provides linked information and videos for demonstration. While I had every intention to install and evaluate it, alas, I allowed this aspect to delay my review of the entire project. As a result, I have chosen to only review and write about the book. (Purchasers of the book are given full access to all the embedded materials created for the digital version of "The Show Doctor" which includes some 30 minutes of new video content, plus pop-up materials and essays.)

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