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Anand Khalsa
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Phoenix, AZ
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Hello! I am not new to magic, but I thought this would be the best section to post under.

I am looking for some assistance and feedback with my current act. Here is a raw list of my entire repertoire:

Chop Cup
Egg Bag (Ken Brooke handling)
Sponge Balls
Ring and String by Diamond Jim Tyler
Messado Rings (Joshua Messado)
Six Card Trick (Pop Haydn)
Chicago Surprise (Pop Haydn)
Ambitious Card
Stand-Up Monte (Garrett Thomas)
Intricate Web of Distraction (Pop Haydn)
Invisible Deck
Nut and Bolt
Blindfolded “Think-Stop” Trick (using Vibe by Bob Solari)
Fast and Loose (Chef Anton routine)
Three Card Monte
Three Shell Game
Fair Deal Kid (self-working Paul Wilson effect)
Professor’s Nightmare
Triumph & Triumph Again (Asi Wind)

I have split these into four sets: a parlour set, a children's set, a walk-around set, and a con game set. Many of the effects are part of multiple sets. I have specifically purchased/developed effects that work with mixed audiences. I only have a few tricks that only work for adult audiences. I didn't split these up because it would be repetitive and I didn't want to take up an unreasonable amount of room in this post.

I was wondering if any feedback and advice could be offered in regards to the structuring of these effects, and the effects themselves. Anything will help.


- Anand
Anand Khalsa
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Phoenix, AZ
210 Posts

Profile of Anand Khalsa
Is there somewhere I could post this that would be better?
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Hollywood, FL
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Profile of Zephury
I feel like you need to ask a more specific question to get more answers. The area of which you're asking is definitely appropriate.

Do you personally have any concerns with your set up? Where are you unsatisfied? Give us more details and tell us what type of places you perform to better get an idea of your surroundings as well. What are the actual sets you have?
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Profile of jimhlou
Get a copy of Dan Harlan's "More than meets the eye". He'll walk you through putting together each set.

Anand Khalsa
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Phoenix, AZ
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Profile of Anand Khalsa
Here is my repertoire split into sets:

Children’s Party Set:
Chop Cup
Egg Bag
Sponge Balls
Ring and String
Messado Rings
Six Card Trick

Walk-Around Set:
Chicago Surprise
Ambitious Card
Stand-Up Monte
Intricate Web of Distraction
Messado Rings
Chop Cup
Egg Bag
Ring Routine (Ring & Rope/Bandwidth)
Invisible Deck
Nut and Bolt

Parlour Set:
Chop Cup
Egg Bag
Ring and String
Messado Rings
Six Card Trick
Intricate Web of Distraction
Chicago Surprise
Vibe (blindfolded)
Triumph & Triumph Again
Three Shell Game

Con Game Set:
Fast and Loose
Three Card Monte
Three Shell Game
Self-Working Gambling Trick


I am performing in restaurants, and for adult and children's parties.

I am satisfied with my set, but am having trouble structuring/organizing it and creating an overarching "feel" or narrative.


Thank you Zephury for the feedback, I appreciate it.

Thank you Jim for the book suggestion. I think I'm going to get it.
Dick Oslund
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Profile of Dick Oslund
When I was your age (n the late '40s) the late Clem Magrum, one of my mentors, told me, "It takes years to develop an act!" I didn't want to believe him. But, as I grew older,and gained experience, I learned that he was right!!! I was a part timer for about 20 years, and a full timer, almost 50 years.

Although I worked mostly schools (Primary, Elementary, Jr. and Sr. Highs, and Colleges) I also worked phone promotion dates, banquets, Lodge Ladies Nights, Kid Parties, Hospitality Suites (strolling) grandstands and free acts at county and state fairs, ETC.! I started out in a carnival sideshow at 15, and worked the Magic Castle,too. (also several National Magic Conventions, and MANY regional conventions. I only mention this so that you'll know that I speak from experience!

From your ORIGINAL thread a month or so ago, I also concur with those who recommended college. (suggest "business", "communications", etc.)

You can read all the books on showmanship and presentation, but you still must experiment and try out things.

If you haven't already read "MAXIMUM ENTERTAINMENT" by Ken Weber, I recommend it. "SHOWMANSHIP FOR MAGICIAN" by Henning Nelms, although a bit outdated, is still well worth a read. I consider it a college text. The Dariel Fitzkee Trilogy: "SHOWMANSHIP FOR MAGICIANS", THE TRICK BRAIN, and, "MAGIC BY MISDIRECTION" are also worth your time. (Fitzkee was a better showman, than a businessman.) "OUR MAGIC" by Maskelynne & Devant,is rather "dry", but, you should read it. Finally, if you can find a copy, "SHOWMANSHIP & PRESENTATION" BY Edward Maurice, is long out of print. It's a little paper back pamphlet, but Maurice was a great help to me when I was 16.

I spend a lot of pages in my book talking about producing an act or show that can play almost anywhere for almost anybody. MOST of the props I use are GENERIC. They're not "by" anyone! A majority of the tricks and routines were found in, and learned from, TARBELL. From Tarbell, you will learn PRINCIPLES! Of course, I don't use Tarbell's patter! (It's archaic!)

It has taken me a lifetime to really learn the dozen tricks that I perform. That's a major reason that I learned tricks that could play for almost anyone,almost anywhere. Much of my routines,and tricks can be presented close up, parlor, platform or stage -- and have used them successfully in all those areas.I've played an audience of seven, and audiences of 2,000. (Several million if we count numerous appearances on BOZO TV.)

My working act weighs about 22 lbs, and carries in a 13" x 20" x 8" case. It can be set up in 4 minutes, packed in 2 minutes, and it fits my criteria ("my nine important things"): Visual effect, Visible prop, Versatile effect--and prop, Angle proof prop, Recognizable prop, Little or no set up. No table needed, Spot adaptable, Packs small & light, Windproof. (I know, that's ten!)

I haven't mentioned specifically ANY of the tricks that you listed. I don't know your personality or how you present them.

I learned from a half dozen full time, successful, professional performers over a period of several years.

Yr's, 'til the deck is shuffled...

The sneaky, underhanded, devious, and surreptitious itinerant mountebank
Anand Khalsa
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Phoenix, AZ
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Profile of Anand Khalsa
Thank you SO MUCH, Dick! You made me think about my material in a completely different way. I really appreciate it!
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Profile of Aus
Looking at your tricks I have some concerns and suggestions. Firstly some of your sets have a lot of material in them and well you might perform them comfortably now consider the extra length your sets will be when you find a narrative or presentation angle. I consider 5 to 6 items at the most to be enough for a short formal performance.

Now depending on your definition of walk around your set needs a little context, if we are talking about table hopping walk around in a restaurant setting then you need to brake your tricks into 3 or 4 trick sets as is normalized practice in most cases.

There are a couple of reasons for this mainly it is to maintain a short and sweet performance that can be entertaining yet be ejected from quickly if the food arrives or other interruptions occur.

Another aspect to this area is requirements of a trick, I personally like to travel light and every trick be self-contained in terms of requirements, the step-up is quick or resets itself, can be done without a table if required and the prop used can be used in other tricks you perform as well. Where pocket space is at a premium getting the most bang for your buck is important so things like invisible deck which might be a great trick in its own right, might not really address one or two of the those requirements.

If on the other hand you’re referring to a David Blaine street style walk around type setting then individual trick presentations might be more of a focus then an act since his style is very in then out much like a flash mob.

As you can see different performing situations and audiences require different things and that’s why context is so important.

Moving on to the narrative or presentation aspects you needed help with as outlined in the first post I have my own views on this which I’ve written extensively about on here at the Café. If you interested I can give you the link which goes into detail of my approach and the ways I formulate it. For now a synthesized version will do.

To describe my approach is much like a pearl necklace. Each pearl is each trick in your act and the cord that runs through each pearl (trick) is the presentation that holds the whole thing together. This is how you should view an act in my view.

To give a better illustration of this let me take your children’s party set which are the following:

Chop Cup
Egg bag
Sponge Balls
Ring and String
Messado Rings
Six Card Trick (Repeat)

I would reorganise these tricks as:

Six Card trick (Repeat)
Chop Cup
Egg Bag
Messado Rings
Sponge Balls

Six Card Trick:
I would walk on stage and say that today is a special show because today we are going to teach all the boys and girls how to make egg nog. Now before we start that we have to look at our instructions on these six recipe cards.

Since we are at the beginning, we will put cards 4, 5 and 6 which are the end steps to one side for later on.

Now that should leave us with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 cards…huh?

That’s not right, let me try that again.

The routine would continue as per the standard six card repeat byplay until you’re ready to move to the next trick.

Chop Cup:

Wow what a strange problem that was. Now I think it’s better if we start with only the first instruction card and use each one as we need it, does that sound like a good idea?

Children: YES!

Hmmm let’s see, step one, place empty cup on the table, step two, place a lump of sugar in the cup (the ball), step three……….
Continue your chop cup routine following the steps but ever being more perplexed by the antics of the lump of sugar (ball) as your chop cup routine progresses, ending with a final load of the egg for the egg bag routine.

Egg bag:
After the final load of the egg in the chop cup routine I would start a story that one of my jobs around the house was to collect the eggs from the chook house. I would carry this egg bag to collect them in, but these chooks weren’t normal chooks, they were super smart chooks and didn’t like people taking their eggs.

Get a boy or girl on stage to pretend they are a chicken and get him/her to make a chicken noise then get the rest of the audience to do the same then proceed with your egg bag routine.

Messado Rings:

After I out smarted the chooks and got my eggs I would take them to the kitchen ready to make some eggs on toast. I like fried eggs so I need some egg rings (produce the Messado Rings), but those funny chooks sabotaged them.

Proceed with ring routine.

I think I’ve given enough of an example to illustrate my point, see how the central theme connects each trick in the act? That is in my opinion what you should do, and over time like Dick has mentioned you will refine it over time until it’s a glistening piece of entertainment.


Anand Khalsa
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Phoenix, AZ
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That helps so much Aus, I love your approach and will use it!
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Great book from Jamie Grant, The Approach, might have some helpful info for you (from the book):

Chapter List

1|How many tricks you should know -Article
2|Who are you? -Study
3|Developing your sets~ Part I -Lesson
4|How to practice -Essay
5|Your Magic Fridays -Anecdote
6|Business cards -Advice
7|Websites -Tip
8|How Do You Look? -Study
9|What are you wearing? -Advice
10|Funny or serious? -Anecdote
11|Are you any good yet? -Lesson
12|Starting Conversations -Advice
13|Touching people -Trick
14|How Much To Charge? -Article
15|The Cocktail Party -Essay
16|Getting started -Advice
17|Volunteer gigs and charities -Advice
18|What to say in emails -Tip
19|The telephone call -Trick
20|Getting There -Lesson
21|Developing Sets- Part 2 -Article
22|Silence -Advice
23|What does my contract looks like? -Anecdote
24|Transitions -Advice
25|Conquering nerves -Article
26|How to get gigs -Essay
27|Getting ready for your first one -Essay
28|Fingernail care -Trick
29|How much time to prepare -Tip
30|Pocket management -Article
31|Your list -Study
33|Your closeup bag/case -Advice
34|Things to never forget -Tip
35|Hat or No hat? -Essay
36|The handshake -Tip
37|What to put in the lobby -Trick
38|Who to approach first? -Article
39|My first effect -Advice
40|What rubberbands to use -Tip
41|Moving through a room -Article
42|The first words you (I) say -Essay
43|Highs and lows -Article
44|Getting applause -Essay
45|More transitions -Study
46|Saying goodbye to your group -Essay
47|Tables versus standing -Advice
48|Dealing with the Alpha male -Article
49|Staying in one spot -Advice
50|Busted! -Advice
51|Getting compliments -Tip
52|Letting spectators shuffle -Article
53|Reset. Reset -Study
54|Venue Staff -Tip
55|Kids at an event -Advice
56|Burning through material -Lesson
57|How many hours? -Lesson
58|Remembering names -Article
59|When to show the event planner -Tip
60|The card force I always use -Anecdote
61|Accepting tips -Article
62|Wallets -Anecdote
63|Handing out business cards -Tip
64|What to never borrow -Anecdote
65|Someone wants to show a trick -Article
66|Regular decks -Study
67|Weddings -Lesson
68|Large tables -Anecdote
69|Do you join them for dinner? -Anecdote
70|Vest or jacket? -Tip
71|The second Big Secret -Trick
72|Do it again -Article
73|Another magician shows up -Anecdote
74|Gigs outside -Advice
75|When only ten people show up -Anecdote
76|Do you need a stage show? -Study
77|Dance floors -Advice
78|Checking back in -Tip
79|Dropping cards -Tip
80|Sponge balls -Trick
81|Dealing with disappointment -Advice
82|Hecklers -Article
83|Open versus closed body language -Lesson
84|One handed spectators -Anecdote
85|Stick lines -Essay
86|Lone stragglers -Tip
87|Journal -Advice
88|Leaving them with something -Essay
89|Custom decks -Article
90|False memories -Article
91|Invoices -Article
92|How to get testimonials -Article
93|Getting all the money -Article
94|Increasing rates -Tip
95|Busking -Advice
96|Repeat gigs -Study
97|Pictures -Tip
98|Social media -Advice
99|Going full time
100|Agents -Anecdote
101|Essay -Article
102|Go get it -Advice
103|The beginning -Thanks

"Let me tell you 5 reasons why I think you should spend your hard-earned money on this...

1. I just did a Walkaround gig last night for $ 1500. I did that, honestly, by doing all the things in this book.

2. To become a doctor, a single textbook, for a single class, can cost $ 200. The Approach is under $ 100 for my entire guideline.

3. There is a chapter called, "The Big Secret". Trust me when I tell you that, once you start doing gigs, will be worth the price of the book alone.

4. I've never believed in "outsourcing". Everything, from the layout, the design, and the printing, is done here in Vancouver, Canada. By buying this book, you're positively affecting a community.

5. You have my promise that, as a purchaser, you'll be able to ask me anything you need to help you with your career. It's ALL covered in the book but, if you hit a stumbling block, I'll be here to help. I guarantee it.

- Jamie D. Grant
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