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Inner circle
Milford Haven. Pembrokeshire wales U.K.
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Profile of p.b.jones
Hi Drew,
Or maybe we caught on years ago and were keeping quiet about it.
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Inner circle
Rhode Island, USA
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Profile of Jared
There's tons of great 'impromptu' magic that you can choose from. Sometimes I'll simply do a torn and restored napkin, a short coin routine or choose something on a whim.

Most of the time however, I have 'something' on my possession. Now, by definition I suppose that it shouldn't technically be defined as impromptu- but I really don't care! I perform because I enjoy the feeling that I get by amazing others.

That said, I carry Roger Klause's 'Slow Motion Bill Transpo' in my wallet and many times have 'Trick-Tac' in my jacket pocket.

What can I say....I need CASH and like to have FRESH BREATH- what's so PREPARED about that?

- Jared
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Hobart Tasmania Australia
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Profile of amagician
First Yakandjak, "But, even Patrick Page will be stumped when someone approaches him and says, "Hey, show my brother how you change this one into a hundred." The next time Pat Page is stumped will probably be the first time and I don't think that would do it Smile
I think his idea that you keep magic for performance times as far as possible without being boorish about it is probably the best way to go.
But we all can do something with coins, clips and such stuff, just in case, can't we?
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Burt Yaroch
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That's pretty lofty talk about Mr. Page. This guy is a mere mortal right? You're telling me he can do a $100 bill switch without even having a $100 bill on his person?

Oh wait, it has been said Mr. Page won't perform unless he's paid so he would just palm off one of the hundreds he had just been given and do the bill switch with that. Great routining!

(Please read the above as tongue-in-cheek. It was not meant as a personal attack on Mr Page, just my thoughts on how he has been quoted. I'll save the personal attacks for when he's here to defend himself.)
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Profile of Fon
I personally do an improp trick with a tapered deck.

I simply explain that the guest will make the trick up as he goes along, But at some point he has to take a card and put it back. the rest is up to him.

Every single time they take a card, put it back, shuffle it,

Then they always say "what next?"

I say, "what do you want me to do",

Now I have had all sorts of things from make it on top of the deck, to pull it out of your A**

I have never been stumped once, and the guest always thinks that they actully made the trick up,

Try it, It works, a treat,


Always thinking..........?
Paul S
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Well I think of 'impromptu' as being magic that doesn't require advance preparation (other than practice of course).

By preparation I mean having cards in a particular order, or having a gimmick handy. So if a trick involves setting something up in private before hand then it is not impromptu. If you can set up in front of the audience without them realizing you are setting something up (like for example, Vernon's 'Cutting the Aces'), then that is impromptu.

Am I making sense here? Impromptu or not, most magic ought to seem 'spontaneous', in that it seems to happen as if by magic, Smile

I like the earlier post about impromptu being magic with borrowed items only. I don't agree that the items must be borrowed, but it's a nice idea.

Here's what I mean by unprepared. You pick up a coin. It disappears. You make it reappear and give it back. Impromptu.

But, you borrow a coin, swap it for your gimmick, make it vanish with another gimmick. Make the original coin reappear and give it back. NOT impromptu. Nor is using gimmicked cards. How could it be?

Sorry, I just realized my post might have been more appropriate under the
'defining impromptu' thread. It just bugs me when an effect is described as 'impromptu' when there is a gimmick involved. Sure, the effect ought to APPEAR to be impromptu, on the spot, call it what you will, but if you are using some mechanical gizmo that you happen to have on you then it's NOT IMPROMPTU.

My favorite impromptu thing is to vanish a coin, using sleight of hand. Dan Harlan's
'Staracle' thing with a napkin would probably be my favorite if I could actually do it. You tear off a piece of a napkin, and reveal a round hole in the napkin. Then you unfold the bit you tore off, but it is star shaped. (that's what appears to happen, and there is no preparation, other than separating the napkin layers if the napkin you are using is two ply. Saw it on the
'Combined Classics' video). I'm going to pipe down now.
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Profile of brainman
Twisting arm illusion, Thumb through ear, finger vanish (with a child`s... David Harkey proposes in his book A-HA), cold reading, balducci, ..with no props.. and the rest depends on which prop they give you.

The more you know-the more you will be able to react appropriately in an "impromptu" situation.

You also have the possibility of always carring props with you and only acting out an impromptu situation...

my opinion
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Profile of trilam
In even the most impromptu of situations you can count on someone having some coins in their pockets, so an ungimmicked coin routine or even changing a $1 to a $2 (Canadian coins) in the specs hands.
Cups and balls with tea cups and napkin balls, or sponge balls with napkin balls. I would also usually do a torn and restored card with a business card.
The twisting arm illusion is a perfect impromptu effect, though still can't be done poolside. Smile
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Profile of Gawin
I prefer the Twisting Arm Illusion but also CMH - the first because you really need nothing, the second because it´s always knocking off!

But normally I carry a card deck and a TT, but this is enough!

In my opinion, you shouldn´t do more than 3 tricks impromptu. You aren´t on business, you are just there and have to do something or isn´t it so? Smile
Mark the Balloon Guy
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I was a student of improv opposed to impromptu. I worked with a Comedy Troupe called ComedySportz. Though improv is consider not usual in magic. There are ways to have an improvisational presentation.

One trick I do is called "Miss Cleo's Cards" In a nut shell I force a card. and then have them shuffle and cut the cards. I then tell them I will interpret what the cards say.

I then do a Psuedo-Psychic (is there any other kind?) Reading. All with a Jamaca accent.

The improvisational asspect is I don't know what cards are coming up. I do try not to jump on their card if it turns up, unless it is the first one, then I just step back and smile.

The key to it is not to handle the cards much, let them do it as much as possible.

It is fun and it is chancy, but you learn a lot about thinking on your feet.
Mark Byrne
AKA Mark theBalloon Guy
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Profile of magic_kris

A similar idea called Jazz Cards was presented at the Tim Ellis lecture I attended. Only he did his "reading" after the cut with the card face down before revealing it.

He contended that more often than not the spectator will cut to their card, often on the third attempt. This is exactly the way it played out during the performance before the explination. I thought the trick was really strong, however, it seemed that a lot of that depends on the luck of the draw. It could have just as easily been only mediocre.

Have you found any similar trends while performing this type of effect?
Geoff Williams
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Regarding Dan Harlan's "Starcle":

And there is no preparation, other than separating the napkin layers if the napkin you are using is two ply.

Why bother? Just do the routine and, at the end, seperate the star into two stars.
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Matt Graves
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Profile of Matt Graves
I've always thought "Two Pennies On The Leg" from Modern Coin Magic or "Coin From Hand To Hand" from the Amateur Magician's Handbook were great for impromptu work. For a quick closing trick, the Gadabout Coins from Modern Coin Magic is a great one - I've never gotten a less-than-overwhelming response, no matter who I've done that trick for! For anyone who has not learned it yet, you don't know what you're missing!
Dr. Jakks
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I prefer "Thumbs" it is a REALLY big shocker.
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Profile of DarryltheWizard
Jeff McBride does magic whereever he goes, even on the escalator in malls. I'm more like Patrick Page who mainly works for a paying audience. If I had to peform impromptu, I'd start with Dan Harlan's Starcle where a paper napkin is folded and torn to make a moon. The spectator holding the ripped section of the circle finds they are holding a star. This impromptu effect is so good I use it to open my adult and my kid shows. It shows no special props are required, for you can take the ordinary and make it into the extraordinary!
Darryl the Wizard Smile
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with a snuffed out flame." Albert Einstein
Jim Short
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While I agree that advance preparation is a wonderful thing (and hey, learning a trick with borrowed materials is advance preparation...), I think there is a difference between "impromptu" and "seemingly impromptu". The purpose of language is to communicate, and to me, truly impromptu is different than seemingly impromptu, which is why I have two phrases to communicate the two different ideas.

*pedantic mode off* The (truly) impromptu routine that I really love to do is a dollar bill mentalism bit from one of the "Brainstorm in the Desert" videos. Smile
Drew from Spotlight
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Profile of Drew from Spotlight
I do perform when I’m not paid to because I enjoy it – no I don’t do an hour show. I do a lot with the children in my area and when they see me out they always scream for me to do something. This happens the most when I go up to my son’s school. The kids just love magic. And don’t you believe their parents don’t enjoy watching either.

I always have rubber bands ready to go. The kids love it and it freaks the parents out. I usually won’t do a “pick a card” routine with them but I will use a Hot Rod. I like the brass one because it’s examinable at the end and the parents who think they know what I’m doing have no explanation. Other than that quick basic coin vanishes work great.
Alan Wheeler
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Inner circle
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A Chinese student here taught me an impromtu trick (that can be done anytime, anywhere) with matches. He starts with a match gripped at the inside base of each thumb. He grabs the top and bottom of each match with each thumb and forefinger of the opposite hand. The matches seem to pass through each other. It looks really good, but may be 5,000 years old.
The views and comments expressed on this post may be mere speculation and are not necessarily the opinions, values, or beliefs of Alan Wheeler.
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Mr. Ed
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Alley cat, that effect is a nice little effect. I usually do it 2 wine corks.
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Scott O.
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Profile of Scott O.
On 2002-01-29 11:06, Mr. Ed wrote:

I also agree with Yakandjak that you should always have something on you. However, I have been approached at the swimming pool with my daughter, by her friends, to do something magical (no better pitch man than a 3 year old). Now how do I (or where do I) retrieve that ITR?

I recall a story told by Billy McCoumb regarding his days as an entertainer on a cruise ship. Each night he performed his magic routine on stage. But during the day, he would often be greeted with "Ok, so do some magic now." He was always prepared.

Then came the time a wise guy caught Billy in the pool, and said in essence "Ok, do some magic now." At this point Billy produced a silk scarf, and then vanished it again. -- Improv or not, that's a strong magical moment.

I believe the idea is to be prepared to present a bit of magic when called upon to do so. If you carry the props with you, great. If you borrow the props, great. As long as it looks unprepared, who cares?

One of the items I sometimes carry is the pen through bill. Mine uses a very inexpensive pen and creates a very stong little piece of visual magic. The pen isn't even suspect--it's just there. The effect, though, bugs people's eyes out in disbelief.

Scott Smile
Do not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time you will reap a harvest, if you do not give up. Galatians 6:9
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