Updated: Apr 19, 2020
Watch the interview with Shawn Farquhar, Two-Time World-Champion Magician coming to FISM NACM 2020 in Quebec City! May 6 - 10, 2020!
In addition to the Magicians Masterclass blog, I also get a chance to create content for FISM NACM 2020 the North American Championship of Magic. I have been having a blast interviewing some of the world's greatest magicians. Here's my interview with Shawn Farquhar, a two-time World Champion Magician. Watch below!
Register for FISM NACM 2020 here
VISIT FISMNA2020.COM TO REGISTER
This is an exciting time for magicians! In May 2020, the North American Grand Championship of Magic is happening in Quebec City, Canada.
This is a great interview for magicians who are interested in adding the title World Champion Magician to their resume. For the first time in 73 years, North America will host the World Championship of Magic, FISM 2021 in Quebec City.
Two-years of magic happening in Quebec City
In 2020, The North American Grand Championship of Magic (FISM NACM) is happening in Quebec City, Canada! This May 6-10 magician convention is jammed packed with incredible gala shows, game-changing competition events, and lectures. (Visit FISM NACM 2020 Official website)
In 2021, The World Championship of Magic (FISM 2021) is coming to Quebec City once again, but this time to determine WORLD CHAMPIONS. (VIsit FISM 2021 Official Page)
Shawn Farquhar proves how hard work and originality can change your life. He is a two-time world champion magician, here is my interview with the incredible Shawn Farquhar who shares a look into the competing in magic, how it has changed his life, tips and advice for magicians, and so much more.
Watch Shawn Farquhar Interview
BEHIND THE SCENES WITH SHAWN FARQUHAR
Shawn Farquhar's first appearance on Penn & Teller Fool Us
Shawn Farquhar's second appearance on Penn & Teller
Shawn Farquhar: You like my eclectic background. I love it.
Ryan Joyce: I love it. Now these are all magic books. Is this all magic?
Shawn Farquhar: It's just a photo.
Ryan Joyce: It's just, it's like one of those, the L&L publishing.
Shawn Farquhar: Yeah. That's all. That's all magic books. I have another, uh, so three walls about that size.
Ryan Joyce: Could you pick three that were your favorites?
Shawn Farquhar: Easy? Uh, I put the books that I read all the time, uh, right there in the very center. If I was going across the Gaeton Bloom, uh, Woody Aragon's two books switch cause it's tried a thousand things. Jim Steinmeyers Anthology for conjuring a next to it is of course, um, uh, taught me wonders. Books of wonder. Um, then no, the magic way by one Camrys, uh, followed by, um, in a class by itself, just cause he's kind of cool. And at the end would be maximum entertainment.
So it kind of covers and of course to the, that side are four different volumes of Tarbell. And so how important is a good library for a successful magician? Oh, it's paramount. I think I have, uh, including periodicals, uh, probably close to 10,000. Uh, yeah. And I devour them on a regular basis. And uh, being ADHD and dyslexia makes it really challenging for me. But I worked very hard to read. Sometimes I read the same thing three and four times. Give him a note-taking process. Are you one of those that doesn't write in the, in the, in the books? Nothing written in the book. Everything's, we'll post it notes. Uh, I got stacks of post notes and I love my phone for putting little tiny notes in and carry those with me so that when I'm thinking of something else, I can go back to it.
Yeah. How do you, how important do you think it is for people to have their own original ideas to be able to succeed? Um, that's a real good question. I don't think, uh, it's been proven that you don't need them. Uh, I'm not so sure those people are as happy as the people that have original ideas. I just saw a great, uh, comment, uh, just the other day. The, the fellow said, you know, no man's an Island. He said, it took me 25 years to learn that. He said, I want it to be my own man and make it myself. But soon as he had this opportunity, he surrounded himself with creative people and they being around each other became even more creative. And as a result, you know, uh, he's on, well, it's just finished two and I think he's already doing number three for, I'm speaking of Justin Willman and his magic for humans, uh, that he added all these other people in.
And I thought it was great because I'm a big fan of Justin's. And to hear him say, you know, you can't do it on your own, cause I spent my life doing it on my own, but telling other people on there to help you thinking, wait a second, why aren't you taking your own advice? Right. A perfect example, when I went to visit to compete, it was all okay by myself, create a whole thing. And I did it and it was good. And that was my first trial. Uh, but then I looked at all the people who we're competing around the world and they all had teams. I mean, not just one or two people. Uh, France. David Stone was, you know, team stone. It was, you know, a dozen people working for him. Uh, Jim had a dozen people and it was like, uh, Laurie and had it looked at me when we got the stock opened.
She goes, says, uh, hadn't looked at, excuse me dad, where's your team? I said, your team Farquhar and she goes, no, the people that can actually do something for you said, yeah, I got to work on that. I hope you came with jackets, team Farquhar jackets. But a good idea. No, I can barely afford to go to Stockholm. And I wanted my wife and daughter to experience because my first trip was just me going to the Hague, den Haag. And, uh, I left the cruise ship, uh, flew there, uh, with the time change and everything. I was all thrown off. I thought my rehearsals where the next day and my contest was the day after. Uh, but apparently, uh, I arrived at like four in the morning. The hostel that I was staying at, he closed the door bed and breakfast while I was in the attic of a place they were closed.
So in the morning when they opened the door to get their milk, which was, you know, next to me, they were like, are you the boy from Canada? And my guess is they called yesterday. You missed your rehearsal. I'm like, no, rehearsals. Today's, no, I think you're competing today. So without changing, I grabbed my suitcases through him on a rail car and went out. Cause the conference center was quite a distance came in and the guy said, don't bother registering. Just go in there waiting for you. I was second act on the first day. Uh, uh, came into the room. John Allen, Nicholas, I know where to look. You dude, man. That you were coming. I was shaving going, yeah. Yeah. Putting on my tie, watching and ran out as they were introducing the first act. I was almost ready. Set some props. Yeah. So there was no team Farquhar jackets or anything.
So you were well-prepared? Yeah, it was. I went into wrote, I literally just, I knew what I was doing. Uh, I was having a conversation with Nick and John while shoving this stuff in my pocket, moving everything around, doing it at the time, and walk out the door, go wish me luck up and what I want. This was, I didn't have the pressure of a competitor who watched three days of contests and saw the level of the contest that was there. I'd never been to a physio. I had no idea the level. I mean, I knew, you know, people like M J Scott buried one, people like beat a loophole in one. Uh, Lance Burton, those were my North American guys. And you know, I never dreamed to be like a Richard Ross or you know, uh, uh, Fred caps, uh, that was worn in my mind and I was going, I'm here just to see where I stand in the world and I'm so happy I went so early because I probably could have psyched myself out and not been so prepared or relaxed because of that.
Um, I think I had an advantage in my brain of let's just get this over with. I'm here to have a great time. And then, and now it's the awards. And it was fun because I got to watch all the acts going. Aye. Aye. Aye. I'm okay. I'm good with that weekend. So confidence building as you go. So there's multiple categories and you hold world championship on to two different categories. What two are you working on now? Oh shit. So this is a true story. Um, uh, just before Italy I decided I was going to compete in wherever it was going to be after Italy, which would have then been Korea and I was going to go into mentalism because I am not a mentalist. And I figured if I went and mentalism and I lose people just like, Oh, Shawn had a moment of, you know, insanity, that'd be fine, but if I want, and they'd be like, where did that come from?
And so I, I, and fizzle hadn't given away a mentalism award in decades. So I thought this is the one to go into. And then the clairvoyants came on stage and did their act. I started laughing and people like me to say what? I said, well, I don't have to work on my mentalism activity blue or they're about to give the award to this couple. And they did and taught me Natalie are dear friends and I love them. And I told them the story. They're like, Oh yeah, there's over a hundred percent. I don't know where I'd have gone with it, but that's what I was planning was mentalism. And yes, I will go back and compete at FISM one day because I find that it competing is one of the best things in the world for me. I'm not a competitive individual when it comes to things like that, but I am, um, uh, a procrastinator.
Uh, it may look like I'm getting a thousand things done. It's because I have 2000 things on my table, I would assume as an amazing deadline. Oh yeah. It, yeah. Uh, nothing beats being embarrassed. Uh, you put your name in, they posted your competitor and uh, then you're on the hook and that makes you go out and do something. And deadlines for me are necessary. Without them, I don't get anything done. Uh, I'd start to procrastination association, but I haven't figured out a logo yet. Well I haven't half done. What would you recommend to someone who is about to compete for the first time and really wants to bring their level best to the first competition? That's a really good question and I can explain it kind of by explaining to situations. So the first time I went, I had no idea what design was and I didn't do a lot of research other than to watch some bird acts and stuff that, you know, I've known over the years.
But the accent they competed with at FISM and the acts that you see are not the same anymore. And so first go find footage of actual films and what the competition level is and then see the acts when they competed, not where they are now, but when they can beat it. That's really good for structure, for your brain. Good thing to do. I went to the first one really unprepared. And so I just practiced my act, uh, in front of live lay audiences and was done with it. Uh, and so that was it. So when I went back the second time, I went back knowing because going and watching a FISM is not the same as competing in Sufism. They are completely different. And anybody who thinks there's similar has never competed at FISM. Uh, the second time I practiced setting up, I practiced explaining my tech, I practiced talking to the technicians and checking the lighting and doing it repeatedly, uh, to new people and then asking them to repeat back what I had because I speak fast and I think people understand what I'm saying.
And many times you'll have technicians that nod their head up and down. Oh. And then they just have no idea what you said and they go on and you're only giving them an a certain amount of time for your tech, uh, in close up on stage. So I, I tend to my deck, I rehearsed my tech. I then rehearsed the app, I rehearse, striking the act, uh, all those things are important. And then I blocked it out so that there were segments. I wanted the, the activity, like a plague, a three acts and put that all together. And then I started looking at it as a judge. And what would the judge be judging on? Um, F.I.S.M. Is a little different than IBM or Sam or any other investment competition. Uh, they have a form and you check off, you know, Oh, contest a competition, clothing, uh, a stage presence, magical qualities, originality.
FISM doesn't work that way. FISM just allows the judge to be subjective. And so knowing who the judges are is a wonderful thing. If you have an idea what the judging panel is going to be, because some judges judge totally on technical, uh, the other things are secondary to them. How important is it to fool? Yeah. Um, I think it's important cause it's magic but don't go in there trying to fool them if that's all you do. If all you do is you fooled them. Uh, so you'll get some points on, but you're going to lose points on everything else. Um, perfect examples are a Tom Mullica. He fooled them completely and was disqualified because they thought he really swelled to cigarettes. Uh, Leonard green fooled them completely because they thought he uses stooge. So maybe fooling them completely is not the best method.
Ryan Joyce: Well, and this is a big historic event, really. I mean, 73 years FISM is not come to Canada. And now we've got the North American championship and then the world championship same spot, same venue one year apart. This is how credible the dream come true for this Canadian boy.
Shawn Farquhar: Uh, when I went to the first one, I never ever dreamed it would come to Canada. And it wasn't until Beijing when they'd left Europe and went to China, cause had gone one time to Japan, but I guess it wasn't that great. Although it turned out phenomenal. Acts like Greg Fruin, Franklin, tons of people came out of that. Uh, that didn't, didn't resonate with the majority of people who went to fizzle. So when I went to China, there was this protest. A lot of Europeans didn't go because they were like, Oh, it's not in Europe, and it's European contests. I said, well, if you want me to call it the European championship, it can stay in Europe, but if you want to be the world championship it's got to travel. And, uh, uh, I got an opportunity to, producers allowed me to speak before the presidium, uh, inquiry, you know, asking, you know, for the vote.
And I remember saying, you know, basically I said, we can keep doing what we've been doing, or we can change history and we can bring it to North and to Canada. Uh, the best part in North America, the creators of hockey. Um, and I know that producers are going to do an amazing job, and the North American's going to come first. They're going to get a great experience, uh, because they get to see North America. FISM it's phenomenal. FISM FISM is historic in itself. There is no other competition convention like it in the world. It just eclipses everything. And it's hard to explain until you've been to one. Uh, I can say all the, you know, superlatives you want to, but it doesn't mean anything until you go and go, Oh yeah, I get it. You're seeing the best you tell. Just talk about comeback city for a minute.
Love Quebec city. It's one of my favorite places in the entire world for our North American. It's like when you go into the old city, it's like stepping into Europe that you can sit in cafes and have a coffee. Uh, they have their home art festival, the lobster festival. It's the die for cause. It's Atlantic lobster and it's inexpensive. It's not expensive. The cobblestone roads, the little horse-drawn carriages, the amazing architecture. Uh, I'm not even into stuff like that, but it's hard to deny it and you see it and you just go that spectacular. Uh, everything is walking, uh, and to walk from the hotel to theaters and around that area, it's just spectacular. I, every time I go there, I see something new and I feel like I've just been dropped into this old world charm that's so special. The language, English and French is spoken all around the city.
It's very fluent in both languages. It's cool, you know, at first, because I speak so little French, but I love to hear it because it makes you feel like you're not at home. Uh, yeah. If you went to Germany and all you heard was English, you might as well stay at home. Hearing that little bit of language all around you really gives you a, an amazing feeling of I am away from it all. Uh, and it's so close. I mean, places like Boston and New York are just a hop, skip and a jump away. Uh, it's further for me to go than it is for the people from Paris. Yeah. Our country is a little bit, it's like, just have a little bit. Yeah. Uh, yes, it's closer for most of Europe to get to than it is for me to get to production to Canada.
People haven't been to our beautiful country, so it'd be, it'd be a real trees for everybody. And the fact that it's two years in a row, once this North American championship is, is closes and then we're back for the big old world champion will get that way because the producers get the opportunity to get the field before they get to work out bugs. Cause there's always going to be bugs. No matter how great you are producing. I've seen the productions, they're phenomenal. They've been doing them for years and their shows and their conventions are outstanding. I've been a part of them and felt like a star when I was there. They're a B, the way they treat their artists and the audiences and how they react. Uh, there are, Quebec is like a European style audience. They go out for theater. It's not, Oh, you're a magician.
Might bet my kids would love you. Magic is actually an art there and the festival phenomenal. The laypeople are, this is the thing that's always bothered me. FISM goes to a place like Busan, Korea, and nobody outside of the magicians know that it's even taking place. Uh, Oh, Beijing was different. Beijing, the whole country knew it. We had stamps made. Uh, that was cool. But like in Lozan Switzerland, uh, nobody even knew it was happening besides the people. Uh, we all arrived the best magicians in the world and everybody else. And we only show each other with it being a festival style and the way they develop their, their festival, the world around us gets to see our magic and that's the best thing that can happen to magic because when you have the best and you bring them there and allow the public to see some of it, well then we all get more work and magic becomes more respected and we become more visible, which means when it's a win-win as opposed to, well, we're going to hold it in our ballroom and no one else will see anything.
And that's the end of it. Yeah. Yup. What's in the future for you? Vich for me, uh, I'm trying to stay at home. I was doing 280 days a year on the road and it's been exciting. Uh, Disney has been one of the best clients I could ever imagine. Having a, now I built my own little theater hidden in a historic Chinatown in Vancouver. It's called hidden wonders. It's hidden behind. Well, right now it's a tailor shop, but we changed the shop's facade so that people don't know where it is or what it is. It's a little 30 seat in a mud show where I get to do sleight of hand and I've made it a choose your own adventure where the audience selects the effects are going to see and the order in which they see them as the night progresses. I only know the opening and the closing and everything in between is made up by the audience.
I've had people come three and four times to see the show. Uh, it's to me, uh, the prettiest little jewel box theater. If I tell the audience, if my wife allowed me to decorate the living room, this is what it would look like and it, it's the best. So I'm hoping to stay there for as long as possible, and I'm starting these little things called secret sessions where I travel around the world and spend a weekend with people. Uh, not just teaching tricks, but teaching my philosophy of magic performance, end of life. Uh, cause I really want you to get the best out of your life. And I think I've been having the best time ever, and I want other people to share. That's the future for me. Amazing. The legendary Shawn Farquhar.