Should there be a ranking system in magic? I heard this question while listening to episode 18 of Magic on the Side. (check out www.magicontheside.com) They brought this up because someone at one of their magic club meetings was billing himself as a professional magician, while his act was less than professional. They began to ask should magic club meetings, such as I.B.M. or S.A.M. have a ranking system that would classify your knowledge level or skill level in magic that would be more accurate than the current terms that are used so loosely today Armature, Magician, and Professional Magician. Eric and Seuss suggested their ideas for rectifying this issue by having an entrance “exam” of sorts that you would be asked to answer of perform when signing up for a club membership. A few of the examples of this “test” would be to perform 3 classics of magic to which your ability to perform of attempt to perform would determine your level. Eric even suggested asking you historical question so magic, such as who is Vernon? Your ability to do any of these would mark you on entrance to these clubs as to your level.
While I and I would bet a lot of others have contemplated this same question. I have to disagree with these ideas they threw out in their episode. A few issues came to mind while listening. First off there are so many areas of magic one can get interested in and learn from in magic that it would be impossible to determine someone’s skill based on a per set up test. How good will a sleight of hand artist be at cups and balls? I know I would suck at it. I have no interest in the cups and balls. Does that mean I have to be labeled as a beginner in magic because I do not know how to perform the linking rings? While other may be able to completely entertain spectators and magicians with their rubber band magic or ball manipulation, should the not really be considered a magician until they can do professors nightmare?
The other thing that got me was I have met people who have amazing chops when it comes to cretin things, but would not be able to tell you another magicians name other than David Blaine? Should these people be excluded because they have not spent the time to learn or remember the history of magic?
I love the idea of a ranking system because far too many magicians claim things about their performance level on their promotional material, and sometimes to other magicians at lectures, conventions, or even meetings. The issue is not the labels we give ourselves but the false advertising that is being used. It is unfortunate that these magicians are billing themselves as professional when they are not; it is unfortunate that they are giving magic a bad name to their clients, but I think it would be even more unfortunate to start labeling ourselves based on criteria that can only be used for a few people. The best way to determine ones skill in magic is still going to be and always will be to just watch them perform.