A place where beginners can participate, ask questions, and post their views. However, beginners typically ask a lot of questions about sources, tricks, books, and so on. In fact, all magicians are interested (or should be) in the provenance of tricks, ideas, and related matters. This department will service these needs.


Postby Guest » January 6th, 2004, 2:06 pm


I hope anyone can give me some tips out there.
I recently went to a works
party and offered to do some card trucks for the party goers. It was my first public performance. Obviously I knew some of the people there but some I did not. Firstly I was really shaking and found it hard to control the cards and it wasn't the beer lol. Secondly I did about 6 tricks 2 of which went wrong which really threw me and I then found it difficult to carry on. Any helpful comments to overome this in the future will be appreciated.

Yours in Magic Barry


Re: Nervousness

Postby Guest » January 25th, 2004, 7:32 am


I read your post and emphasize completely. I'm 47 and am enjoying a rebirth with magic from a long lost youth. When I was young I performed a fair amount - birhtday parties, adult parties, etc. Never got real nervous - just plowed ahead.

Now when I attmept to perform even for family and friend I get butterflies BIG TIME. Not going real deep here but I suppose over the years I have started to care more about how I perceive people perceive me. Not sure what it all means but it is a pain in the rear. I remember reading a few years ago that Carly Simon didn't perform in public anymore because she had such bad stage fright so I suppose it can happen to any of us no matter what talent level.

My suggesstions are (for what they are worth):

Always start with something surefire, quick, and somewhat easy to do (basic prescription for a good opener). This will get the audience relaxed and will give you confidence. After that - practice, practice, practice.

I've found if I dont have to think about what I am doing (well too much anyway) I can enjoy interacting with the spectators more which makes them happier, makes for a much better performance, helps with misdirection, and gives you confidence.

Screwing up a trick in front of an audience is something that we have all done and will all do. Just remember that the audience wants you to suceed as much as you do (especially with family and friends) so they will quickly forget the screw up and look forward to seeing you suceed. A joking line like, "I'm glad I don't do this for a living...." will ease the tension. If you are doing it for a living then you better have practiced more.

In any event, hang in there. I know from my past experiecnce that nothing helps with this like doing it over and over again. Just get back on the horse and ride again.


Re: Nervousness

Postby Guest » January 31st, 2004, 9:06 am

... Once, in doing the Gemini Twins by Bro. Hamman, it t ended with the Red-Haired Lady meeting - the Black Haired Lady (instead of the Red-Haired Man).... I have no idea how i got it that way, I've never been able to reproduce it - but the first thing out of my mouth was: "Dang - she's a lesbian".... the audience laughed, and everyone thought it was planned.......nope.

..."I do Comedy and Magic - if it works it's magic, if not - then it's comedy:)"... I don't know who said that - maybe Bill Malone....

...I've been working cards for two years, and I still get jitters when I have to perform in from of way to avoid it, unless you have ice-water in your veins, and every once in a while i goof up, too - but that comes less and less.... If it happens, drop the trick, apologize and start into the next one...........just keep practicing........

David Alexander
Posts: 1550
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Aurora IL

Re: Nervousness

Postby David Alexander » February 15th, 2004, 10:42 am

One of the best ways to eliminate performance jitters is to have the material down cold. This means that mastery of the necessary sleights is where you begin practice, not where you end.

The sleights should should not have to think about how and when you're going to do them. Rehersal is the key, not just practice. In rehersal you actually do the entire performance over and over. When you have it cold, you can relax knowing that you have confidence in your material...that you can do it without thinking, which allows you to relax and work at making it look spontaneous.

Too many amateurs work on the sleight and forget the rest, thinking they can "wing" it or make up things as they go. They can't. Creating an entertaining performance piece takes a lot of work and thought. Write out what you're going to say, learn it, but don't deliver it like it was being read.

Learning the timing comes from performing...a lot. Knowing where to pause so the audience understands what is happening comes with experience. Don't rush yourself. Too many inexperieinced performers speed up as they're about to do the dirty work.

All your jitters will go away if you concentrate on developing a small repetoire. Jay Ose taught me things when I was 15 that I still use today at 60. Avoid the business of always chasing something new and learn a solid repetoire and you'll find yourself popular at parties. Don't be overly anxious to perform and when you do, think of what the audience is experiencing.


Re: Nervousness

Postby Guest » February 17th, 2004, 6:56 am

When I used to teach presentation skills, the question of nerves came up all the time. So I will explain my advice to them.

1) First examine the reason for the nerves, Fear of failure and losing face in front of peers is one factor. Practise and practise will reduce this factor but can never (IMHO) eliminate it completely, the fear gives us the edge otherwise we could become cocky and sloppy. Fear of being ill prepared is a planning issue. In a non professional format a simple decline to perform can suffice otherwise plan ahead and practices.

2) Know your subject, once again the practise will help you in this but its not just the items you perform, the more knowledge you have the more tools you will have available to you. Mistakes dont happen they are caused, examine why you think this happened and learn from the mistakes. The mechanics of the effect should be second nature and natural, allowing you to focus on the audience.

3) Plan for all issues, again practise and knowledge will cover this tip, but examine the items you perform and think about what can go wrong. For example if the spectator turns their hand around to show in fact they are holding 2 sponge balls not just one.

4) Present your self professionally throughout, you can relate this to magic by saying never admit its gone wrong, the audience dont know what is going to happen so (dare I say) lie to them, waffle them, try to recover from it and if all else fails laugh it off. Never react to a mistake, and in the beginning never turn down a chance to perform, you will learn from a 2 min performance to a real live person than years with a web cam or mirror.

Good luck and keep performing, magic is a performance art, keep on going and practise some more.

Some advice the Late Ken Little give me some years ago, when I was asking him about stage fright, he said start walking towards the stage before your name is called, Ive used this since and it seems to work, for close up dont allow your self to ponder on the event as all the pre-planning and pre-practise will pay off. Also have a post performance post mortem, make sure you learn the lessons each performance offers, if we keep learning magic will only get better, its when we think we know it all will magic suffer.

Saying that I sit my Magic circle exam soon and will be a bag of nerves, performing for magicians has to be the worse thing ever, however I taking my own advice and the advice I have been given by many close friends. Just thought I would explain Barry the nerves will never go completely, you just need to use that fear as energy to improve and learn from mistakes and try not to repeat them. Now Im off for another sleepless night of worry. :help:



Re: Nervousness

Postby Guest » February 17th, 2004, 9:49 am

Nerves are the worst thing in the world, and I've constructed my life around putting them to rest.

When I was 17, I had terrible nerves in a show: palms sweaty, trembling, then messing up my repertoire. Messed it up bad.

Through the years, I've tried to make myself less of a perfectionist and more of a worker. Doing magic on the street helped a lot, performing the same tricks 10 or 15 times a night. If you fail, you're embarrassed for a moment and they walk away and it's done. Then two minutes later, you have a fresh crowd and a fresh chance. After a while, your hands get to know it better than your head. You get into a zone.

You get lots of practice that way. And lots of chances to beat down the nervousness.

There are many ways to defeat nervousness. Lots of good advice right here. Read and learn.


Re: Nervousness

Postby Guest » March 17th, 2004, 12:22 am

Adrenaline is the great thrill of life. It is exactly why I perform. When I started demonstrating seriously, it was like a gremlin was sitting on my shoulder saying, "You are going to BOTCH THIS!" I finally got tired of listening to him and thumped him on his head. This is how I beat the gremlin.
1. I got to my material rock-solid. I quit attempting things that I hadn't practiced enough. I quit "treading on un-rehearsed ground."
2. I rehearsed my DELIVERY until it was second nature." I practiced delivering it "happy", "sad", "mad", "nervous", etc.
3. I remembered to breathe. I was glad I did.
4. I perform, perform, perform.
Have fun!

Brian Marks
Posts: 914
Joined: January 30th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Nyack, NY

Re: Nervousness

Postby Brian Marks » March 17th, 2004, 6:28 pm

1. think of mistakes as gifts. Mistakes give you an opportunity to learn,

2. enjoy yourself. performing should be fin. Its corny yes but if you don't enjoy it, your audience won't.

C. Hampton
Posts: 349
Joined: June 5th, 2008, 12:51 pm
Favorite Magician: Tamariz, DaOrtiz, Coperfield

Re: Nervousness

Postby C. Hampton » March 25th, 2004, 11:24 am

Great advice so far. I will add one thing that is actually a NO NO.
I,ve seen many friends in magic that in order to overcome this nervousness decide to do a beer or 2 befor performing.

Before you know it, the couple of beers turn into 4 and then in a few Jim Beans, etc, etc...

Stay away from this things and suck it up they way you are suppose to. Keep practising, keep performing and you will shake to a point that is comfortable for you and for your audience not to notice it.

Gotto go, I need to practice. ;)
Carlos Hampton


Re: Nervousness

Postby Guest » March 27th, 2004, 11:23 pm

Carlos, you are soooo right!


Re: Nervousness

Postby Guest » March 31st, 2004, 11:43 am

As for that last post, i absolutely agree, don't drink anything to overcome nervousness. It doesn't work. I can barely shuffle cards when i'm tipsy, let alone pull of any magic. I used to have the same problem when i started playing music in bars, if i drank anything at all i just screwed up more, regardless of how much i practiced. Now i don't get nervous doing music so i can actually have a couple of beers and play fine, but it took a long time to build up to that.

In fact i think i'll have one now!


Re: Nervousness

Postby Guest » March 31st, 2004, 12:25 pm

You gents have obviously never tried street performing on Bourbon St. ;) :eek:

If you can't beat em, join em!

ps: that's a joke... well, at least it is now; When I first arrived in the Big Easy I was a lush and 1/2... about the time I turned 21 I stopped drinking (don't get me wrong, I'll still occcasionally tie one on, but the rule for performing is: sober or stay home.)


Re: Nervousness

Postby Guest » April 25th, 2004, 11:47 pm

Well, I'm definitely not the master yet. Here's what I'm learning as I go along:

1. Write out a list of your tricks and keep it accessible when performing. Also keep a cue card of your known tricks in your wallet so you can pick a trick from your cue card when performing impromptu. Preload your pockets with any necessary gimmicks, etc.

2. Open with something easy and self-working. Build up some success and get into the flow.

3. Set your tricks in concrete and get fluent in each trick. When practicing in the past, I've always done 50 variations of the same 4 ace trick. Then when I try to perform it, I studder and get confused as I try to think which way I really want to present the aces. Now I just do very a specific set of moves so there's no confusion. I also try to work out storylines or other patter so I don't have to studder for words during my performance.

4. Practice in front of a camcorder or webcam. Watch the tape and correct any flashes or bad handling. Try to make the routine well presented for the audience (and the audience's perspective is much different than a magician's perspective). For example, I was watching my Triumph performance on tape...I noticed all my sleights were pretty much undetectable, but I also noticed that my big grubby hands were always in the way of the cards so the audience wouldn't see the actual trick.

5. Learn how to entertain and not just show a bunch of skill. The audience will appreciate being entertained and having fun (including screwing up and making jokes) more than just getting a sleight or gimmick demonstration. You're not performing to be judged or criticized, but to have fun.

I guess that's all I have now. I'm still learning and going through this stuff step-by-step. I'm noticing that laymen are entertained and fooled more easily than I typically have thought in the past.

I've played with a lot of difficult sleights in practice, but I'm now thinking that I should keep most of my performances simple until I get a better knack at performing. If things are going well, I can always say "Here's a little something I'm working on", then show a more difficult sleight which may or may not flop.

David Alexander
Posts: 1550
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Aurora IL

Re: Nervousness

Postby David Alexander » April 27th, 2004, 11:18 pm


I would strongly suggest that you understand that you don't show people sleights. You show them presentations, magic accomplished by sleights which are, of necessity, invisible.

The sleight or sleights should be as flawless as you can make them...second nature developed by intelligent practice. When you have the sleight down pat, it is at that point that you can begin to work on the presentation. It should be the presentation that succeeds or fails, not the sleight.

Further, you should not present something that suggests anything other than full competence and security in performing. Don't set yourself up for failure.

Learning to perform magic well is difficult. Proceed slowly and carefully, tend to the details because that is where success lies.

I hope this is of help.

David Alexander

Posts: 70
Joined: September 7th, 2008, 5:25 pm

Re: Nervousness

Postby mago » April 28th, 2004, 3:50 am

One thing that I might point out, is if you make a mistake, do not let on that it has happened. Make it part of your show.

The audience probably has not seen your "show" and will not notice the mistake unless you mention it through your actions.

We are actors, playing the part of magicians and some times the acting takes a little more time to learn.

Tom Wolf


Re: Nervousness

Postby Guest » April 29th, 2004, 7:45 pm

I was so glad to see the last post by Tom. You are a magician, how can you make a mistake in a layman's eyes?? Think of it.. that 4th ace didnt come up?? pretend its supposed to be like that. look through, casually find the ace place it on top.. say you wanna try again.. do fake shuffles and cuts...double lift get the wrong card again.. then magically change it into the missing ace. They caught you with your hot rod?? they wanna see the back of it?? make it vanish!! You drop a sponge ball, bend over to pretend to pick it up and leave it on the floor and come up with a closed hand, then make it vanish. Then reappear on the floor or under your foot in a jokingly manner.. I dont see how we can screw things up.. If you pause and show the look of "i screwed up" on your face, yes it will be embarassing. Think of how many times people have seen a magician, almost never. They dont know what will happen.. Take advantage of that..

As for nervousness, I think you still feel like its a challenge to perform. You think "i hope this works" or "I hope they dont catch me" you have to forget all of that.. And think about these people are watching you do tricks. They are already having a better time than just sitting around talking. You are entertaining them!! Make new friends while performing, get to know them, laugh with them.. And think the tricks are secondary to the charisma and attitude you are giving them.

You cant see it as a chore to entertain..It has to be a gift from you, and when people sense you are trying to show them something cool and not make them look like idiots with an "i can do this you can't" attitude, they will sit there and not even care if you "screw up"

That was my longest post ever.. I am going to bed.hihihi

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