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Topic: Cups and Balls Patter
Message: Posted by: VMC_Alex (Mar 26, 2003 07:27PM)
I appologize if this is the wrong place to put this, but I was wondering if anyone here had any good patter for cups and balls. I feel that my finish is strong but the first half of my routine is a little dry. If anyone could help me it would be greatly appreciated. :)
Message: Posted by: Emily Belleranti (Mar 26, 2003 08:37PM)
One of the first steps to writing patter is to choose a theme for the routine/effect. By theme, I mean the way the trick is presented. Some possible themes for magic routines would include presenting the item as:

-A lesson on the history of the item (or the history of magic or significant historical figures)

-A demonstration of magic experiences the magician has had

-A demonstration of unusual yet useful skills the magician has aquired

-A demonstration of things that are impossible (the theme of magic; of course this theme should be in every presentation of magic, but there are times when this will be the only theme)

How do you currently present this routine? Once you decide on the theme you have chosen for the routine, creating patter will be easier. I have found that a good theme for cups and balls is the simple theme of magic. In this presentation, you can just emcee your actions as you go along. However, if you choose this presentation, you'll want to make it interesting. (Maybe by including a few jokes, if it suits your character.)

There are a few steps I take when writing patter. Once I have the mechanics down, I perform the routine for myself and try to think of possible themes along the way. Eventually I decide on how I want to present the trick. Then I perform it again and again, saying things that come to mind as I go along. I write down any good lines until I have a rough draft of a script. Then I revise it, memorize it, and rehearse the routine with the patter. And I also keep in mind that the script is always open to changes. There have been times when I add something a spectator said during a performance, if it added to the entertainment. I also make small changes with my own lines from time to time.

Don't expect writing patter to be easy. There are a lot of things that must be done, and it will require work, but it is worth it when you are done.

Hope my words were of help!

Emily B.
Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (Mar 26, 2003 09:02PM)
Believe it or not... but doing the C&B close up, I do an impression of a Hindu boy, and talk double talk in a high voice. Hard to describe, but I found that playing the character and saying words that make NO SENSE at all works for me. :cups:

One of the German lads in the "Flicking Fingers" group uses a birth control theme for his patter and it was hilarious.

Message: Posted by: VMC_Alex (Mar 26, 2003 10:10PM)
Thanks for the help guys. I think the East Indian voice is a little controversial for me. Do you know any jokes for Cups and Balls Emily B? :)
Message: Posted by: Emily Belleranti (Mar 27, 2003 01:57PM)
I'm glad I could help, Alex.

I'd help you out with the jokes if comedy was my kind of thing, but I'm afraid it's not. I usually present magic in a more serious manner, as I am a more serious person, and I find this style tends to work for me. Getting laughs is a great thing, but that stunned, awed silence that comes from sheer amazement is something I thrive on.

However, jokes might be something that would work for your routine. I can recommend two sites:


These sites give ideas on patter that may be helpful to you. I don't know if they have any patter specifically designed for cups and balls routines, but you might find something that could help you out.

Emily B.
Message: Posted by: net7 (Mar 30, 2003 04:42PM)
Hey thanks for those, they are very nice sites. I am also learning patter, as I am pretty new to actual sleight of hand/'real' magic.
Message: Posted by: Dan LeFay (Apr 3, 2003 08:01AM)
I am very impressed by Emily's thoughts on writing patter. Thanks!

Keep in mind that cupsandballs can be a confusing trick in unexperienced hands. Add to that "interesting" story or patterlines and you will have the opposite of what you were looking for...
Cups and balls might be just that routine that needs only a props-and-hands patter to keep it clear. (Of course you have other routines with more elaborate stories..?)

An option might be the strategy that practitioners of bizarre magick often use; first tell your intriguing story, then introduce the props and just do the thing...
I use this strategy a lot, but especially with Dean's Box and Cups and balls.

I have learnt to be very careful not to confuse my magic skills with my writing skills, after all I am a professional magician but an average amateur writer.

Message: Posted by: oldwilson_2000 (Apr 7, 2003 03:25AM)
I agree with Dan. Putting crocheted balls under inverted copper cups or having them vanish from the hand and reappear in surprising order is such an absurd thing to do that any sensible patter blurs the otherwise clear effect.
Before the routine begins, I briefly tell the audience about the history of the Cups and Balls and how they were used to attract a crowd before then selling lotion and potion. Then I present the routine with a kind of medieval marketplace patter. To the audience this routine is supposed to be a little trip back in history.

Message: Posted by: kaytracy (Apr 8, 2003 04:53PM)
I thought I would share my "V-hare-i-ations on the Spring!
Crochet balls ..well said indeed! If i were but not allergic to chickens, I would do it with eggs and the chick at the finish in the Egyptian tradition, though I scored some fun at the local drug store the other day. They had, among the Easter goodies, plastic oversized, you fill em' jelly beans! (set of 12 in different colors for about $2).
I am using little buckets from the craft store, and "eating" the jelly beans as I go through the routine! The buckets are painted in different colors, so that I may point them out, and further confuse!
The jellies in my pocket are the same color, though with two pockets, I can make them change color....and the large one, can have both colors if you want, or be one color filled with the other! (enough to share): just be sure to either pack it full, or use some of the paper grass stuffing to keep things form talking.
Have fun! :bunny:
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Jul 18, 2003 10:37AM)
I enjoy John Bannon's Cups and Balls routine.
He's quite a creative guy.
I hope I meet him some day.

I also like his chop cup routine. Not just the patter but how the routine was constructed.

Good stuff!
Message: Posted by: Lee Darrow (Jul 18, 2003 01:21PM)
Well, in one instance, I bring out the cups in a Crown Royal bag. "Before we do the next part of the program, we must invoke the spirits - only the best will do, of course!" A Lu Brent line if I recall correctly.

"Instead of using clay pots, however, I've updated it. I use three old Thermos Tops instead." My own line.

Get the idea?


Lee Darrow, C.Ht.
Message: Posted by: Danny Magic (Sep 10, 2003 09:32PM)
If you are doing C&B in a show, it should follow the same theme. (serious, comedy, etc...) My show has a chili pepper theme throughout. so I perform the classic mexican effect known as the cups and chili peppers. I'm glad you are asking about patter. Alot of magicians work very hard on sleights (as they should). I also think being entertaining should be practiced and not to sound contrived or be stumbling for the right things to say
Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (Sep 10, 2003 11:34PM)
One of the guys in the Flicking Fingers group did a hilarious cups and balls with the patter themed as a high school sex education class.

I laughed so hard I can't remember any of the lines.
Message: Posted by: what (Sep 11, 2003 10:38AM)
I have been working on my cups & balls routine as well for the last few months(more than I care to admit). I have gone through numerous patter themes.
I am arriving at a theme of having aquired a set of cups from an old, excentric looking wizard. He warns me of their "anti-leftist" behavior, but I purchase them anyway, wondering why he cared about their political tendencies. My routine becomes a test run of my new found magical aquisition. It gets a little comical in that every time I tell the balls to go to the left (under the cups), they go to the right instead. When I tell them to go to the right, they go to the right. They go up and down just fine. In the second half of the routine, I ask the audience to say "right" (my left) and they go where they are supposed to. In the end, I ask the audience if they think my new props are keepers or lemons (take a guess what final load is?)

This is my latest idea, maybee it will give you some inspiration?

Message: Posted by: DwightPA (Sep 11, 2003 07:32PM)
I use two different themes. In my usual program I present myself as a medicine show magician of the late 1800's, so I patter on about atmospheric energy, and how it mysteriously causes the effects, but generally just describing the actions as I go through the sequences and ending with potatoes as a final load.

I a more modern style, I discuss quantum mechanics and how the theory is that as you approach the speed of light that matter can "leak" from one place to another, solids pass through solids and so on. Naturally the balls are acting at the speed of light. I'll end this then with two eggs and one of those little chickens that peep when you touch the contacts saying "..and we still don't know which came first!"

Dwight Powell
Message: Posted by: rickmagic1 (Sep 12, 2003 09:09AM)
Well, I don't do the C&B, but my big finish to my show is my chop cup routine that I call "The Magic Lesson". My first magic teacher, who I visited every Saturday, has me sit on a couch. He took out a little copper cup and a small cork ball (but since cork isn't very elegant, his wife knitted it a little sweater!). He then said that he would teach me the REAL secret of magic. The ball never appears where I say it will and each time I'm wrong, my teacher says that "it's because you don't yet think like a magician". At the end when I have produced two lemons, my teacher says "NOW you're thinking like a magician".

As for the routine itself, I do the version that I learned years ago watching Doug Henning do chop cup on one of his specials.
Message: Posted by: Indyfan (Oct 21, 2003 08:00PM)
"Star Wars"
I just left the 'sleights' forum, after posting in the 'weird final loads' topic. I posted my idea, then started brainstorming before dropping by here. Anyways, feel free to add.

A Star Wars routine around the cups & balls could very well work. First you have:
a) the force - wand thru cup
make balls disappear & reappear
b) mindforces - make the audience only 'think' the balls vanished.
c) instead of a magic wand, a real miniature lightsabre (they MUST make those, right??? Heck, make your own!)
d) instead of fruit (or any other final loads), my idea from the other topic was to load only the 'sweaters' of the crocheted (sp?) ball, 'benkenobi-osh' (you know, when Vader strikes Obi-Wan down).
e) other final loads? Action figures?
f) have theme song as background music
g) replace the cups with __________?

Other ideas?

Another for 'the force'....you could do the cup thru cup move.
Message: Posted by: Curtis Kam (Oct 23, 2003 03:23AM)
A light sabre for a wand would be really funny. You stick it under your arm, and the arm falls off. :rotf:
Message: Posted by: Indyfan (Oct 23, 2003 10:04AM)
That would be pretty funny if you could pull that off!!! The rest of the routine would be tough though with only one hand!!
Message: Posted by: Lee Darrow (Oct 24, 2003 09:49AM)
OMG, Curtis! THAT is a FUNNY bit! Pure Karrell Fox if I ever saw it!

It would be a GREAT MC bit for a convention, too!

Lee Darrow, C.Ht.
Message: Posted by: Ron Giesecke (Oct 26, 2003 10:40AM)
On 2003-10-23 04:23, Curtis Kam wrote:
A light sabre for a wand would be really funny. You stick it under your arm, and the arm falls off. :rotf:


Curtis, that is beautiful! Bob Read's gotta hear about that one!

To top it off, Indy Fan comes up with a great way to continue. Somebody's going to have to mess with this.