Recently I replied to a post whichapparentlyeschewed the concept of emotional hooks for magic tricks; particularly card tricks.
I noted that a response from the audience that was described was in fact an emotional response and, though I didnt expand on the thought (I didnt feel it appropriate to the thread), by extension the performer in questionRichard Turnerhad hooked his audience through emotion.
Ive been giving this some thought, and I think Ive even talked about it here before, but its certainly worth reiterating.
I understand what the poster meant. He was talking about a contrived emotional hook: a warm & fuzzy aint that sweet; it makes me think about my youth and grandpa Fred kind of emotional hooks.
These certainly have their place in magic, and I believe only the very best showmen (and I mean that for both genders) can create these kinds of emotional hooks without them appearing contrived and schmaltzy.
But that notion also presumes that warm & fuzzies are the only kinds of emotions. That when we use the E Word that we are talking about love, hate, nostalgiathe obvious emotions.
But isnt amusementfor amusements sakean emotion? So are curiosity and awe. Simply being impressed by someones overt skill is an emotion. Envy, desire. Greed is a big one with which magicians who work with money and playing cards can cast as a hook, and it need not be contrived. A decent performer doesnt even have to work at it. Done correctly, its automatic.
Can you tell whats in here? I ask as I jingle a full coin purse (at the beginning of my Spellbound routine). If someone says coins, thats fine, but I know Ive really got them when they answer money (and thats the most common answerthank goodness). Right or wrong and no matter what people think of it, in our society money is an automatic emotional hook. Theres nothing schmaltzy or contrived about it.
With card tricksand most of the time I just do card tricksthe hook is simple curiosity. Hopefully I can move them past that and into the realm ofto borrow Paul Harriss well-worn phraseastonishment. But What can he do with those? is good enough for me when Im standing in the middle of a room at a social function or during a break at a business meeting.
This subject always makes me think back to my friend Martin A. Nash. When he walked into the room, he owned it. He was handsome, dressed to the nines, and wore a tasteful display of diamonds and gold. There isnt a real advantage player in the world who looks like that, but Martin knew that the vast majority of the audience didnt know that and this fact was his advantage play. His character was his emotional hook and he had them the second he appeared. Men wanted to be like him (envy) and women wanted to be with himor someone like him (lust). Curiosity would kick in when the cards came out and then awe often led to a standing ovation.
Not bad for a bunch of card tricks.