Magician v. Clown – Magician Wins

As noted by early Irish Magicians, “There are no winners in a career death match between a clown and a magician.” (“Níl aon buaiteoirí i gcluiche bás gairme idir fear grinn agus draoi”).

By attributing this aphorism to people no longer walking this earthly turf, we realize some unenlightened readers of this daily alternative to staring blankly into space may poo-poo the notion as outdated and irrelevant.

However, they poo-poo at their peril.  The truth of this truism is irrefutable; so don’t even try.  Recent studies demonstrate one cannot swing a virtual dead cat in the online academic journals without pinging solidly against scholarly work on just this point.

Our recently published survey on the topic found that while the vast majority of all academic writing said nothing about clowns or magicians, some did.   Most of the literature including the words “clown” and “magician” did not address competition between the two performing arts, but some did.  Of those studies where the words “clown” and “magician” were written and their inherent struggle for predominance was examined, most of the researchers agreed with the old Irish saying – or at least did not disparage the theory.

(See, “Magician v. Clown: A Survey of Scientific Literature from Gutenberg to 2010,” Tim Quinlan, Performance Science Quarterly, 2007, No. 8;  “The Psychology of Conjuring Deceptions,” Norman Triplett, The American Journal of Psychology, Vol. 11, No. 4 (Jul., 1900), pp. 439-510, http://www.jstor.org/stable/1412365; “Madmen as Vaudeville Performers on the Elizabethan Stage,” Louis B. Wright, The Journal of English and Germanic Philology, Vol. 30, No. 1 (Jan., 1931), pp. 48-54, http://www.jstor.org/stable/27703444;  Mitochondrial Dating and Mixed Support for the “2% Rule” in Birds Irby J. Lovette The Auk Vol. 121, No. 1 (Jan., 2004), pp. 1-6, http://www.jstor.org/stable/4090049 (An example of article with mention of “clown” or “magician” but not both).

Given this axiom, therefore, it is difficult to understand how a magician or a clown could willingly enter into battle.

Yet, we read in the New Zealand Herald today that “a magician and a clown have fallen out after one claimed the other stole the name of a top magic community award.”

We are not familiar with the clown (he goes by the name of “Cornflake”) but we are very familiar with the magician, Inside Magic Favorite Alan Watson.

The trademark “The Grand Master of Magic” is at the heart of the heated heave-ho down under.[1]

The clown gave his protégé the Cornflake’s Magical World Grand Master of Magic award.  Alan Watson is a past winner of International Brotherhood of Magic’s Grand Master of Magic award and felt – correctly – the clown’s award infringed and cheapened the magic prize.

“What he’s doing is using the name of national awards and is creating his own for publicity,” Mr. Watson said.

“It disappoints me because it undermines all the people who have gone before us that have done so much for New Zealand magic over the years – it’s just about respecting our heritage.”

The New Zealand Brotherhood of Magicians banished Cornflake.

Cornflake told the reporter that he will fight the accusations and that he is not willing to rename the award.   Cornflake is not the victim of coincidence and he did not stumble upon the name for his prize.  The New Zealand Herald reports he “chose the name of the award because he thought the words ‘grand and master sounds really good’ but knew the other award existed.”

You can read the newspaper article on line here.

Check out Inside Magic Favorite Alan Watson’s weekly newsletter Magic New Zealand® here.  It is truly essential reading for anyone interested in magic.


[1] Ironically, “Heave-Ho Down Under” was our first educational filmstrip on the subject of lifting heavy things.  It was intended for occupational hazard prevention but sold equally as well by a small but dedicated group of erotica collectors who specialize in filmstrips.

The publisher instituted a no-refund policy and the misguided smut seekers pushed the title to the top of The New York Times Bestsellers List on June 14, 1969.  Our success was short-lived, however.  The world seemed more interested in the Apollo moon landing than the trending titles on The Times’ Educational Filmstrip Bestsellers (Non-Fiction) list.  The space program also developed technology that made filmstrips an irrelevant medium – just as Tang had replaced Orange Juice as the citrus flavored drink of choice.

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2 thoughts on “Magician v. Clown – Magician Wins”

  1. corn fake the clown has trampled over any and every entertainer in nz who he has seen as a threat. Very sad. He has abused anyone who has helped him – including alan watson.

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