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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » All in the cards » » When you do self working card tricks, do you play it like real magic? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Profile of Vaderbreath
Just as the subject title says. Some tricks seem almost obvious that they are mathematical or self working. When you perform them, do you wave your hands or do some other "magical" move to make the spectator believe you performed magic, or do you let the trick just play out? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

Justin R
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Profile of Justin R
I would say-yes- play them as real magic. You may know they are self working, but your audience shouldn't.
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Profile of karbonkid
My question to you is, why would you not?
Doug Arden
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I play it like I'm the greatest sleight-of-hand artist they've ever seen. Why would you not?
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Profile of dpe666
I agree with Doug. I play it as if I am the Sleight-Of-Hand God. People do not believe in "real" magic anymore. Any magician who claims that people do are either fooling themselves, or playing to a tribe in the jungle. Smile
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Profile of mzr9mm
YES ! definatly YES !

Why not, specs have no ideea what is going on Smile
Either I do a self-working trick or any other kind of trick that involves a little more sleight of hand I normally do a little "magical" gesture, often it bulds the climax. I sure recommend it Smile

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Profile of SIX
I see self working effects as perfect timing to practice my presentation.With a good patter they would believe you have great skills.I usually do a gambling demo to throw them off and lead them to believe I used a lot of slieght of hand.
David Nelson
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Profile of David Nelson
You should find a presentation that maximizes the interest and magical impact.

A self working effect that is obviously self working is to be changed. Eliminate the 'tells' that make it appear self working the same way you would eliminate the tells that you are doing sleight of hand. If you play it as real magic and it obviously isn't then you will look like an fool. Your audience will likely be offended that you think so little of their intelligence that you would try to pass it off as anything other than than a mathematical oddity.

You can play it as a mathematical oddity and your audience won't feel belittled or you can presentationally try to shade the self working aspect.

Once you've changed the effect so it is no longer obviously self working then you've got an effect which should fit in with the rest of your effects. Like all the others you perform it should be a solid mystery that appears sleightless. The audience is completely aware of the condition of the deck at all times, is able to follow any movements, shuffles or cuts yet the outcome is not only not the expected one but completely impossible.

At one time, when I was performing a lot, I learned that I could achieve a certain level of perfection with some of my signature effects such that they appeared self working. It was interesting to see how various audiences, based on their preconceptions, viewed the same effect. There are those who only appreciate an effect in which the performer obviously works. Most new magicians fall into this category. If they catch a pass, a couple of Faro's, a double lift and some sort of palm then they'll feel that you're a great performer and give you major props. But, if you completely fool them and leave them absolutely no clue how something is accomplished, regardless of the method, they'll assume it's self working or a gimmick and they consider you an inferior performer.

Fortunately, these are not very common outside of the magic community but it does bring up an interesting point that you ought to size up your audience before you think about doing an effect and either alter it or do another effect if your audience will not appreciate it.

That brings up another thing that's tough to believe but good to learn: since magic occurs in the mind and is based on preconceptions, different audiences will react differently and come away with different experiences. This means either having multiple sets for different audience types or not performing for those audiences with whom your act doesn't resonate.

Good luck with the self working stuff and it's a good question but I don't think "real magic" will play until you cover the obviously self working aspect. To be clear, with obviously self working stuff I think putting the audience on your level and sharing a neat puzzle with them. They will appreciate that you have apperently leveled with them and the trust that develops may help in future effects in the same set.

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Profile of scorch
On 2006-06-29 13:52, Vaderbreath wrote:
Some tricks seem almost obvious that they are mathematical or self working. When you perform them, do you wave your hands or do some other "magical" move to make the spectator believe you performed magic, or do you let the trick just play out?

I think you need to ask yourself whether it's the effect that seems obviously mathematical or self-working, or your presentation. If it's a weak effect (i.e., lots of counting, adding, multiplying, separating into piles, etc.), I think the only real choice is simply to not do it. Otherwise, if it's a great self-working effect, why should you let on to the spectator that it's self-working by presenting it as if it were less than purely magical? The spectator should not be aware (and therefore should not care) about the difficulty of the method.
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Profile of JackScratch
A good rule to follow, and I believe most will agree with this. "Never perform an effect you do not have faith in." This has far less than anything to do with a particular effect, and more to do with you subconcious selling of the effect. If you do not have faith in it, how will you convince anyone else. Of course the strong magician has faith in himself, and any effect in his/her hands will be a good one. However, Rome was not built in a day.
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Profile of magicfish
Of course.
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Profile of Jaz
I let the audience decide if it's real magic or not.
Depending on the the trick I may snap my fingers or something to add to the moment.
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Profile of dobber
Corey, What tricks or effects do you classify as self-working? I'm just curious is all.

IMHO it is a mistake to classify sleightless magic as self-working. Strictly speaking, such effects as Invisible Deck,OOTW,Do As I Do, Gemini Twins and countless others are so-called "self workers", but they hardly "work themselves." One could literally carve out a career for himself using these effects and it is a shame to feel sorry about using them IMO.
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Profile of foolsnobody
I much prefer understatement to melodrama most of the time. On the other hand, there has to be a moment when the magic happens which is separated in spacetime from the moment the magic is accomplished. So something *like* the finger snap must exist, but you needn't make expansive "magical" passes and incantations. The distinction is not whether the effect is self-working or not. It's whether the method by which it is accomplished is obvious. To the audience. And in that case, obviously you shouldn't be performing it. It still needs work.
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Profile of Vlad_77
Once AGAIN we have this method thing. Okay, read Annemann: EFFECT is EVERYTHING. Yes, method IS important, but, there SHOULD be NO delineation performance-wise on how you approach an effect.

I REALLY would like to know where it states that an effect MUST have 236 sleights to be strong!! If you approach a "self-working" effect as a throw off, or that it takes little effort, your audience WILL know. And if you think that "self-working" requires little effort, you are in the WRONG field. Magic is a performing art. You stay CONSISTENT when you are doing The Unholy Three or Gemini Twins.

Some of the hardest hitting magic ever unleashed IS in fact "self-working". (Please note the continued use of quotation marks).

Maybe I am really misreading the OP, but, I sense a performance where everything goes into a sleight heavy effect whilst a "self-worker" just gets the blow-off. If this is so, you are doomed. I am not being nasty when I say this. You WILL get caught - and quickly - if you do not have good "theater." You can get busted on a classic pass and you can get busted on a short card - either way, it sucks.

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Profile of arizona
I disagree that people don't believe in "real" magic anymore as dpe666 puts it. A lot of us often had responses giving the impression like we dable in evil stuff. Also many times I often here people discussing if some the performers they see, on t.v. usually, was real magic that they did. It's especially the case with some the mentalism effects that people start beleiving we actually do have some sort of esp or can predict the future. Just look at all the believers of the coming armeggedon in 2012. Or how about some of the scientist that study esp or ones that were doing tests with Gellar. So if some can be convinced I want to beleive that theres a perfect effect for even the most skeptical skeptic out there where they will start wondering.
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Profile of Oyama
Is their any other way?
"it's better to live one day as a lion, than a thousand years as a lamb."
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Profile of warren
JackScratch simple but great advise !
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Profile of RealityOne
On 2006-06-29 13:52, Vaderbreath wrote:
Just as the subject title says. Some tricks seem almost obvious that they are mathematical or self working. When you perform them, do you wave your hands or do some other "magical" move to make the spectator believe you performed magic, or do you let the trick just play out? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!


I agree with David Nelson and Vlad and the others that said to focus on presentation. One of my favorite effects is John Scarne's Nomenclature. My presentation focuses on the power of family. A spectator picks a number of cards and I deal off that amount of cards and hand them the packet. I again count off that number of cards to determine the selected card. I return the selected card to the deck and show them what they are supposed to do. I return the originally counted cards to the deck and give the deck to the spectators to spell the names of their family members so that they find their own card. If a spectator repeated everything I did, they would be able to replicate the effect. However, the spectators just marvel at the fact that they picked the number of cards and that the effect used the names of their family members.

As for using a magical gesture, that really is a style issue. I think it helps as long as it isn't overplayed. In Nomenclature, right before the reveal, I ask them to name their card and then say the name of their cards, count to three, snap my fingers over the deck and ask them to turn over the card. In many cases, your patter can provide the "magical reason" without a gesture. I could ask the spectator, "do you believe that there is something magic about families?" I've never had anyone (I use this line primarily on women with children) say no. I then respond, "so do I... turn over the top card."

The reason for the magical gesture is to disguise the method. Even if you use slight of hand, you want to make the spectator's think that the magic happens at a different time then the actual move. In an ACR, I do a quick wrist turn with the deck to have the card jump to the top, even though the card is there long before that.

Any perception of reality is a selection of reality which results in a distortion of reality.
Geoff Pfeiffer
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Profile of Geoff Pfeiffer
Some of Harry Lorayne’s work uses self working principles, but you would not know it as he is a master at presentation!
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