About doing magic

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.
performer
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Re: About doing magic

Postby performer » September 4th, 2018, 11:01 pm

Tom Stone wrote:
performer wrote:
Tom Stone wrote:
Nope. Whenever it seems to be valid, it always turns out that the real problem is that the audience doesn't perceive the effect you've intended.


Tom. I can assure you that I am never wrong. I do know absolutely everything about magic after all. However, I have been backed up by such people as Wilfrid Jonson, Monk Watson, Roy Benson who are almost as worthy as myself.

Wilfrid Jonson, Monk Watson and Roy Benson were wrong. The 'Too perfect' phenomena is indeed a real thing, but it is never about anything being too perfect. Whenever it occurs, it is always about the performer not properly understanding the effect, hence putting 'convincers' in all the wrong places.


Jonson, Watson and Benson may have been wrong but I never am. I will concede that I am not overly keen on the expression "too perfect" and would prefer the expression "too impossible" instead. The principle is that some tricks are so impossible that it makes the secret too easy to detect. I do believe this but I will concede that this applies only to a few tricks. Therefore my philosophy is to be aware of the principle but don't worry too much about it. However, a few tricks do require some red herrings.

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Re: About doing magic

Postby Tom Stone » September 4th, 2018, 11:40 pm

performer wrote: I will concede that I am not overly keen on the expression "too perfect" and would prefer the expression "too impossible" instead. The principle is that some tricks are so impossible that it makes the secret too easy to detect. I do believe this but I will concede that this applies only to a few tricks. Therefore my philosophy is to be aware of the principle but don't worry too much about it. However, a few tricks do require some red herrings.

If you approach those few tricks with a different mindset, with the intention of finding out what the disparity consist of, between the effect you intend and the effect they perceive, I am pretty sure you will be surprised over finding out what the problem actually is. And once you know, you will know what to fix. And it will not be that anything is "too impossible".

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Re: About doing magic

Postby performer » September 4th, 2018, 11:46 pm

Oh, as I said--I don't care that much. It happens rarely and when it does I know it. And whoever writes it up usually has a good solution for it. I am not going to drive myself nuts worrying about it.

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Re: About doing magic

Postby Tom Stone » September 5th, 2018, 12:42 am

performer wrote:Oh, as I said--I don't care that much. It happens rarely and when it does I know it. And whoever writes it up usually has a good solution for it. I am not going to drive myself nuts worrying about it.

Let me worry in your place then! Which are the few tricks you know suffer from being too impossible? I can fix them for you, and not by making them less impossible. :-)

Al Schneider
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Re: About doing magic

Postby Al Schneider » September 5th, 2018, 4:35 am

The Too Perfect principle is Too Silly. Magic generally requires five steps: Precondition, change, post condition, review, conclusion.

Example
Precondition: Ball sitting if front of mouth down cup.
Change: Ball rolled under cup.
Post condition: Cup raised to show ball gone.
Review: Observer mentally reviews the first three steps.
Conclusion: Observer concludes magic has happened.

If any step is missing; no magic occurs.
A book can be written about the care and feeding of each.

In Too Perfect tricks, one or more of these steps are missing.
The single absolute truth is that we don't know.

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Re: About doing magic

Postby Q. Kumber » September 5th, 2018, 5:15 am

Al Schneider wrote:
Precondition: Ball sitting if front of mouth down cup.
Change: Ball rolled under cup.
Post condition: Cup raised to show ball gone.
Review: Observer mentally reviews the first three steps.
Conclusion: Observer concludes magic has happened.



The emphasis in bold above was added by me.

In conversation with Juan Tamariz he told me that when people watch a movie, at the end of each scene they think/look forward to what will happen next. In magic, when the effect happens they think/look backward as to what happened and how it might have occurred. It might only take them a fraction of a second, but if there is anything remotely suspicious they will latch onto it and conclude magic has not happened.

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Re: About doing magic

Postby Al Schneider » September 5th, 2018, 8:20 am

Q
This is incredibly accurate.
The single absolute truth is that we don't know.

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Re: About doing magic

Postby MagicbyAlfred » September 5th, 2018, 12:21 pm

The too perfect theory has been a topic of much lively discussion on here for a long time, in connection with a number of different threads.

Whenever it comes up, I always find my mind gravitating to the gaffed monte marketed as the Ultimate Skinner Monte. I have seen the routine performed by reputed cardmen for a lay audience where the cards are shown very clearly and deliberately and laid on the table exaggeratedly slowly with no mixing, and apparently no opportunity for any manipulation whatsoever. In the standard ungaffed 3 card monte, there is a built-in reason to the observer for why the money card is not where it seems it should be (the tossing and mixing procedures). And of course, the cards are examinable.

But in the Skinner Monte, a card is shown clearly to be the ace, then laid down in a certain spot, super slowly, and the other two cards are also then shown as an added convincer and also laid down slowly. With no mixing whatsoever, the card that "had" to be the ace, laying there untouched, turns out not to be the ace. I don't do this particular routine, so I was wondering how the members on here interpret this, as far as what they believe goes through the mind of a layman when what appears to be an absolute certainty turns out absolutely incorrect. Or, what kind of responses and comments have you gotten from the spectators? Do the laymen believe it had to be trick cards? Do the laymen believe it was invisible sleight of hand? Do they start to believe there really IS such a thing as real magic? I am curious about this...

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Re: About doing magic

Postby Al Schneider » September 5th, 2018, 1:18 pm

I did a performance for a singles group. I did stand up stuff and offered to do sit down stuff after. At a card table there were five people watching. Elbows on the table and noses a foot and a half from the action. I did Matrix. They sat quietly and one guy said, "Can you do that again?" I did it again. The question was repeated five times. After seeing the trick five times, one said, "I could watch that a hundred times and not see how it works." What they did not know and you do not know was that I set the trick up before agreeing to perform it. This is something most doing a Matrix do not get. Before performing the trick, 75% of the manipulation is done BEFORE the trick begins. Given this assumption, understanding how it works is IMPOSSIBLE.

The audience cannot imagine how the coins move from place to place but they truly believe they do. Its not they they don't know. Its that they can't imagine how it could happen. Its because 75% of the trick was done before anything happened. And they know there are no gimmicks used. And they never ask to examine the props.

This is in response to Magicbyalfred. What does the audience think?
The single absolute truth is that we don't know.

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Re: About doing magic

Postby Richard Kaufman » September 5th, 2018, 2:18 pm

The so-called "Skinner Monte" is Theodore DeLand's "Pickitout" from 1909 (approx).
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Re: About doing magic

Postby MagicbyAlfred » September 5th, 2018, 2:43 pm

Al, I see the point you are making - also you alluded to it in a prior post. An important distinction.

Richard, I figured as much, and thanks for clarifying the record. I used Skinner Monte for easy reference since most or many magicians know it by that moniker.

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Re: About doing magic

Postby Bill Mullins » September 5th, 2018, 2:51 pm

Joe Mckay wrote:It is also a great way of implanting false memories. This is something Juan Tamariz is a master of. For instance - you have the spectator give the deck as many cuts as they want. Later - you refer to the fact that the deck was freely mixed by the spectator. And then after revealing the climax - and they are in a momentary state of shock - you slip in the notion that at the beginning the deck was freely shuffled by the spectator.

A lot of the time - they will go away thinking they shuffled the deck, rather than cutting it, at the beginning of the trick.


I wonder about false memories. I don't doubt that it sometimes happens, and that magicians should take advantage of those occasions, but it doesn't strike me as reliable. If a trick were dependent on a false memory being created, it stands a (good) chance of not being a trick at all.

I was watching Gregory Wilson lecture once. He was demoing, then teaching, some move with a coin (maybe his "pitch and ditch"?), and said something like "my hands don't even come together", attempting to create that false memory (which he specifically pointed out during the explanation). I had watched closely enough that my immediate thought was "Bullsh*t. Your hands just came together. Don't lie to me." and the experience went from a magic trick to a challenge.

The point being that saying something like "you shuffled the cards", when person involved clearly remembers that, no, he didn't shuffle the cards, may not create a false memory. It may simply make the magician look like an ass in the eyes of anyone who realizes that the magician is misstating what had happened. And while there may be psychological techniques to mask and finesse the deception, almost every explanation of "creating a false memory" I've ever seen will involve, at some place, a statement by the magician that is false. And if the spectator realizes that he's been lied to, that decreases, rather than enhances, the magic of the moment.

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Re: About doing magic

Postby Al Schneider » September 5th, 2018, 3:23 pm

I watched some Tamariz clips on Youtube. I found myself thinking, "No he didn't," several times.
The single absolute truth is that we don't know.

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Re: About doing magic

Postby Brad Jeffers » September 5th, 2018, 3:26 pm

Al Schneider wrote:The Too Perfect principle is Too Silly. Magic generally requires five steps: Precondition, change, post condition, review, conclusion. In Too Perfect tricks, one or more of these steps are missing.
Please give an example of a "too perfect trick" and point out which of the five steps is missing.
Thanks.

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Re: About doing magic

Postby Al Schneider » September 5th, 2018, 3:59 pm

Magician has card selected.
Magician throws deck at window blind.
This reveals card stuck to window.
Upon examination card is found to be stuck on outside of window.
If step 1(precondition) would have been done to show no card on window, the trick would be very effective.
Otherwise, audience will believe card was always on window even if card were selected.
The single absolute truth is that we don't know.

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Re: About doing magic

Postby MagicbyAlfred » September 5th, 2018, 4:20 pm

i agree with Bill's point about false memories. The irony is that while intended to boost astonishment, they can instead destroy credibility. There are enough true memories that can be instilled to create conviction and strengthen a trick such that trying to hoodwink the spectator with false ones is completely unnecessary. As an example, I would point to my previous post on this thread regarding my presentation of the Poker Player's Picnic wherein it is reinforced that they shuffled the cards (they did), that they cut the cards (they did), that they dealt the cards (they did) and they turned over the top card of each pile to reveal the aces (they did). Spectators are often a lot smarter than given credit for, and did not all just fall off a turnip truck...

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Re: About doing magic

Postby performer » September 5th, 2018, 4:54 pm

Tom Stone wrote:
performer wrote:Oh, as I said--I don't care that much. It happens rarely and when it does I know it. And whoever writes it up usually has a good solution for it. I am not going to drive myself nuts worrying about it.

Let me worry in your place then! Which are the few tricks you know suffer from being too impossible? I can fix them for you, and not by making them less impossible. :-)


I don't think there is a single one in my repertoire! I suppose that is why I don't worry too much about it! However, when I get time I will detail the Wilfrid Jonson coin trick where he describes a certain procedure to avoid the problem in question. I think his solution is perfectly valid so I am not sure what you can add to it. Oddly enough he never even mentioned the "too perfect" theory but his reasoning was more or less the same.

When I work I make mistakes at every performance -some deliberate and some accidental--so I never have to worry about being too perfect anyway. I find audiences like you to show a bit of incompetence now and then providing you don't do too much of it. I like them to underestimate me and then I go in for the kill.

Possibly a good way to define the "too perfect" theory is to use child's logic. Kids can often spot the secret of a trick because they seek the simple solution. Perhaps the term should be retitled the "too obvious" theory.

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Re: About doing magic

Postby performer » September 5th, 2018, 5:20 pm

Oh, on second thoughts I won't bother discussing Wilfrid's excellent coin trick since I have just discovered we have been down that road before:

viewtopic.php?f=10&t=49683&start=40

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Re: About doing magic

Postby Pete McCabe » September 6th, 2018, 6:17 pm

I'm with Tom Stone. In his original essay, Rick Johnsson gave an example of a trick that was "too perfect," and which a spectator would know had only one possible solution. He then proposed a couple of things you could do to make it less perfect, and hence more effective.

But the trick he used as an example wasn't too perfect, it was not perfect enough. And the things he proposed to make it better would not make it less perfect, they would make it more perfect. And they would make it more effective, because they were making it more perfect.

So if the originator's own best examples contradict his point, it's hard to take it too seriously.

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Re: About doing magic

Postby Joe Mckay » September 6th, 2018, 7:59 pm

I agree.

Tom Stone has the best analysis of the "Too Perfect" theorem. I remember when GENII devoted an issue to this topic (August 2001). And then a couple of months later - an essay by Tom Stone was published on the same topic which was the best of the lot. It was a great essay.

Check out 'Too Perfect Imperfect' in the October 2001 issue of GENII.

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Re: About doing magic

Postby Leonard Hevia » September 6th, 2018, 11:48 pm

Pete McCabe wrote:I'm with Tom Stone. In his original essay, Rick Johnsson gave an example of a trick that was "too perfect," and which a spectator would know had only one possible solution. He then proposed a couple of things you could do to make it less perfect, and hence more effective.

But the trick he used as an example wasn't too perfect, it was not perfect enough. And the things he proposed to make it better would not make it less perfect, they would make it more perfect. And they would make it more effective, because they were making it more perfect.

So if the originator's own best examples contradict his point, it's hard to take it too seriously.


It would seem that way, that Johnsson contradicts himself with that example of the forcing deck to create a mental miracle. When you read his essay, it's important to step back and understand what he means when he mentions "Too Perfect" and "Less Perfect." When Johnsson mentions "Too Perfect" I believe he means "Too Obvious." The method is not the effect. When he discusses "Less Perfect" he's exploring false trails/red herrings to divert the spectator's thoughts from discovering the actual method.

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Re: About doing magic

Postby performer » September 7th, 2018, 12:12 am

Al Schneider wrote:I watched some Tamariz clips on Youtube. I found myself thinking, "No he didn't," several times.


I found myself thinking, "excitable chap. I wish he would calm down a trifle"

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Re: About doing magic

Postby Leonard Hevia » September 7th, 2018, 12:24 am

performer wrote:
Al Schneider wrote:I watched some Tamariz clips on Youtube. I found myself thinking, "No he didn't," several times.


I found myself thinking, "excitable chap. I wish he would calm down a trifle"

:mrgreen:

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Re: About doing magic

Postby Al Schneider » September 7th, 2018, 6:29 am

I would like to bring this thread back to some starting point. The prime question was about what spectators think of when they see magic. Part of this was that magician’s opinions often do not match spectator opinion.

My goal was to show various examples of these differences. One of my first was that the skill of a performance can be so good that the spectators view it as normal. This thought appeared to me when performing a coin routine. A spectator of whom I did not consider slow expressed the idea that coins behave in a way that I had demonstrated. To him my show was a demonstration of coin behavior instead of magic or at least some kind of manipulation. I have also encountered two people that, upon observing an ambitions card routine, expressed the thought that, “… that is how cards behave.”

I am not seeking an explanation or a way to handle this. It is an observation that what they see is not what we see. Again, this is to serve as but one example of the differences of our perception.
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Re: About doing magic

Postby MagicbyAlfred » September 7th, 2018, 12:06 pm

i would advance the theory that magicians themselves, by the fanciful patter they use, often (not always) may be responsible for creating those odd perceptions on the part of spectators, who in some cases, may take what the magician says quite literally. How many times have we heard a magician say in a coin routine something like, "Now, it is a peculiar property of coins that they will do x..." or, for example, in an ACR, "There is one card, no matter how often you bury it in the deck, will always come to the top."

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Re: About doing magic

Postby Pete McCabe » September 7th, 2018, 3:49 pm

Al you are right as usual. Jay Sankey (I think) has a trick where you flip a finger ring in the air, spinning (like flipping a coin), and then stab your finger through it as it flies. Like some handlings of the Karate coin.

But when he would perform it, some people would respond with "that's pretty cool," assuming he was just actually doing it. One person said "I just assume you magicians can do that."

You're also right about the audience's perspective being the most important. I read in a Jamy Swiss essay that if you do a trick where you do a face-up Elmsley count, showing 3 cards as 4, for someone who plays Bridge, you'll get busted. Bridge players spend hours and hours looking at groups of four cards (a trick, in the Bridge sense, is four cards) and remembering what they all are.

I perform often for 7th graders. What they know, what they think, what they will believe, all these things would amaze you.

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Re: About doing magic

Postby Brad Jeffers » September 7th, 2018, 4:55 pm

Al Schneider wrote:I have also encountered two people that, upon observing an ambitions card routine, expressed the thought that, “… that is how cards behave.”
I'm thinking of appropriating this for use as a tag line when doing a series of card tricks. When I finish the first trick I will explain that of course I don't use any trickery - that's just the way cards behave.

Then it becomes a running gag for the rest of the show.

"That's just the way cards behave!"

Although I don't think it will ever happen, it amuses me to think that occasionally there may be those who will be saying to themselves - Of course! That's what I thought all along.

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Re: About doing magic

Postby MagicbyAlfred » September 7th, 2018, 5:00 pm

"But when he [Sankey] would perform it, some people would respond with 'that's pretty cool,' assuming he was just actually doing it. One person said 'I just assume you magicians can do that.'"

These stories I have been reading on this thread are causing me to rethink some of my presentations. The last thing in the world I want is to perform some miracle, and have a spectator assume, well, that's just what coins or cards do. Where's the magic in that? Or, for them to think, "Ah, no surprise there, he's a magician." It is vitally important that their assumptions be challenged, not merely confirmed. Perhaps this explains why it is so often said that magic that happens in the spectator's hand(s) is the strongest. I have never had a spectator indicate to me after a card changed in their hand, "That is just what cards do." And a Trick like Out Of This World cannot just be written off as the confirmation of an assumption of what "you magicians can do."

I think the problem of spectators attributing the effect to merely the customary behavior of a card or coin or whatever, or of being unphased because they assume it's what magicians do, goes away when the spectator "does the magic," as in Out Of This World or Poker Player's Picnic and/or when the magic happens in their hands.

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Re: About doing magic

Postby Chris Aguilar » September 9th, 2018, 12:44 am

Hi Al,

If you want to effectively ignore Mark Lewis (and instantly cause the cumulative IQ of the forums to rise quite in response to his absence), just click on his username "Performer" and when his profile page appears, click "Add Foe".

You no longer have to put up with his childish trolling as the forums will nicely hide his posts when you log in.

I've had him in that gulag for years and it's really kept the genii forums enjoyable for me.

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Re: About doing magic

Postby MagicbyAlfred » September 9th, 2018, 8:15 am

Al wrote: "I think a magician should talk in a way to keep the audience comfortable with the performance."

Yes, in my opinion, this is very important. So much of what I have learned about performing has been through trial and error. What works for one magician may not work for another because we are all unique individuals with different personalities and world views.

What I have found for myself is that when I present my magic in the form of stories, that comfort level of the audience is widely achieved. I don't necessarily mean every single routine is a story, but many are, e.g. Magician Versus Gambler, The Story of the Twins, my Multiplying Rabbit Routine (done as a tongue in cheek love story), 3 Card Monte and Color Monte, and a routine I worked up called "How I Beat the House in Vegas." In other tricks, like the Chop Cup, I have a story line about magicians who performed in the taverns and pubs of Europe during medieval times, but also there is interaction and active participation of the spectators in the story. Sort of a story unfolding in real time.

It seems people generally love or at least enjoy stories from the time they are little children, and the popularity of the story is evidenced by huge industries having grown around them - books, the movies and television. Interesting to think that one of the most popular and best selling stories of all time (in both book and cinematic format) is built around the theme of Magic - Harry Potter, and the magical escapades of he and his friends. For years, when I performed the cups and balls for children, the routine was a story constructed around Harry Potter characters, and it played quite well.

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Re: About doing magic

Postby performer » September 9th, 2018, 4:21 pm

Strong magic is not strong magic if it is not presented in an entertaining manner. Nobody cares how strong it is if they are bored watching it in the first place. In fact weak magic presented entertainingly is far preferable to strong magic presented in a dull flat manner.

I learned that when I was a kid. It was explained in virtually every magic book I ever read. If you cannot entertain while performing you are wasting your time even bothering in the first place.

The trick, in and of itself is never enough. You need more than that.

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Re: About doing magic

Postby Richard Kaufman » September 11th, 2018, 1:28 pm

Sometimes the trick itself does the heavy lifting.
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Re: About doing magic

Postby performer » September 11th, 2018, 5:54 pm

And sometimes it doesn't. You NEED decent presentation to go with it. If the trick alone is getting you applause then it is the inventor of the trick who deserves the accolades rather than yourself.

The trouble is that most amateur magicians rely on the trick alone to do the heavy lifting. They don't have time or inclination to sit down for 30 minutes or so to think, "how can I make this entertaining or at least interesting?" and yet it is the most important part of learning the damn thing in the first place.

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Re: About doing magic

Postby performer » September 11th, 2018, 7:38 pm

I do find it very frustrating reading the twaddle written about magic and how to allegedly present it and seeing examples of the blind leading the blind in these matters all the time and have done so for years. Incompetent performers abound in magic to an alarming extent and have done so for years, even decades. It degrades the art and it shouldn't be like that.

This stuff isn't rocket science you know. Let me try to explain concisely (and knowing me, it probably won't be concisely) what is required. I am referring specifically to close up magic here.


1. Learn the trick. The mechanics, the technique and so on. But realise that once you do that your work is just starting.
2. Now you have to figure out what to say during the trick. This is where everything seems to fall apart. The average magician doesn't even make an effort to do this or if he does it is a half hearted effort. Or he goes about it the wrong way. He talks too much or he talks too little. He mumbles his words and he performs as if he had the personality of a dial tone. He can go the the other way and get all excited and far too voluble. That is no good either. You need a balanced approach.

If you perform in an overly excitable manner you make people nervous and uncomfortable. They cannot relax because you cannot relax. However, if you perform in too calm and slow a manner there is a great danger that people will lose attention and you will have a soporific affect on your audience.

And the very worst thing you can do is chatter for two minutes to "set the stage" before the trick starts. That is utterly horrendous. People want action --not interminable chatter which may be terribly interesting to you but not interesting to them. And the less chatter when nothing is happening the better. As a general rule you should only patter when there is action going on. If there is nothing happening then cut the yap until there is.

It would take me too long here to tell you how to put suitable patter together. I may do it on a separate post if anyone is interested. It really is more important that the trick itself and special attention should be given to it. Don't make it up as you go along and don't learn it off by heart either. Both paths are fraught with danger. There is another way that I haven't time to explain. Maybe later.

3. You MUST find some way of involving the people for at least 80% of your magic. Now of course some tricks involve people automatically since cards have to be selected etc;. However, there are certain tricks that do not require spectator assistance. Well, you STILL have to bring people into the action! There is always a way---get them to blow on a prop, say a magic word---anything. YOU MUST BRING THE PEOPLE INTO IT!

4. Learn to think like a layman and see things from the spectator perspective. And use psychology in your work. Manipulate the people as well as the props. Magic is PEOPLE.

There. That should get you started.


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