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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » New to magic? » » Why? (10 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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I read "Magic as Cause not as Effect" in the excellent book Scripting Magic and thought I would share my thinking in the hope that someone (not everyone) will find it useful.

Exposition (saying what you are doing) has its place in magic but consider when you perform why things happen. Take an ACR.

The card comes to the top.

The card comes to the top because it is trained.
The card comes to the top because it is a loner and doesn't want to hang out with the other cards
The card comes to the top because my magic wiffle dust makes it insubstantial and light so it rises to the top
The card comes to the top because, I have no idea why, must be something freaky with this deck - would you check it for me?
The card comes to the top because....

The effect is the card comes to the top. The magic is the why, so when you do something ask yourself why the card or whatever is behaving the way it is, and remember sometimes exposition might be the best route for your style.

Note don't expect to develop your own style overnight, don't expect your idea will be set in stone. The tricks I do today are often developments (either of method or of presentation or both) of what I did before. Be prepared to evolve.
Let the Entertainment Commence!
Ray Bertrand
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The card comes to the top (on command) because I told it to.
The card comes to the top because I told it I would be forced to deal with it if it didn't.
The card comes to the top because it is hiding from the other cards.

Mentalism in Ontario.
Doug Trouten
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The card comes to the top because it doesn't quit. It faces one setback after another, but never gives up.

Thanks for sharing this, RedHatMagic. People may wonder about the "how," but they'll be touched by the "why."
It's still magic even if you know how it's done.
Terry Pratchett
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Profile of george1953
The card comes to the top because of my incredible skill ;-)
By failing to prepare, we are preparing to fail.
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The card comes to the top because it has a crush on you.
The card comes to the top because it wants to see what's going on.
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"...because it can!"


aka Steve Taylor

"Every move a move!"

"If you've enjoyed my performance half as much as I've enjoyed performing for you, then you've enjoyed it twice as much as me!"
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Profile of DaveGripenwaldt
This is such a good post, RH, because so few take the time to make their magic entertaining by creating a relatable story line/presentation. It reminds me of Henning Nelms' Ham Sandwich point. If you "magically" pull a ham sandwich out of your empty pocket, you have a curiosity. If someone you’re with says, "I’m hungry" and you produce the sandwich, you have a miracle.

I think Magic is inherently intriguing, but it isn’t inherently entertaining - and the "why" you are talking about is part of making that transition from randomly interesting to entertainment.
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The answer to why can lead to a presentational theme or can be discovered from the presentation developed. Eg, for me the card comes to the top because it is proud to be individually recognized. This "why" lead to misdirective points and a raison d' etre for the ambitious card overall.
Custom Props Designer and Fabricator as well as Performer from Indiana, USA
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Profile of Aus
MRSharp is on the money with his comment, that is how I create presentations, mostly from the perspective of using the effect of a trick as my starting point. If on the other hand I'm creating a routine with a set theme running throughout I develop a presentation then find a trick that fits or can be modified for the set presentation. I guess it's a kind of chicken or the egg type of thing, but the end result is the same.

One trick that always seemed to have no real reason for what was happening in my view was the cups and balls, sure there was always loose presentations on it being "the oldest trick in the book" or "being depicted in hieroglyphics in an Egyptian tomb" or some version of the "three shell game" but in my view those presentations apart from being hackneyed also didn't explain why the balls traveled in the fashion they did.

So I looked at the trick and found a presentation that was new and different and explained WHY things where happening in the fashion they were.

Why am I using cups?
Why am I using balls?
Why are the balls behaving in this strange fashion?
Why do the final loads appear at the end of the routine?

All these questions in most performances of the cups and balls that I have seen have never addressed these concerns. So to remedy that I came up with a presentation that addressed all those questions.

I would explain that a cup-bearer was an officer of high rank in royal courts, whose duty it was to serve the drinks at the royal table. On account of the constant fear of plots and intrigues, a person must be regarded as thoroughly observant and trustworthy to hold this position. He must guard against poison in the king's cup, and was sometimes required to swallow some of the wine before serving it, in which case his own life and not just the kings was at stake.

Under this guise I would present the cups and balls as an aptitude test for becoming a cup-bearer, testing the audiences aptitude for the job. the movement of the balls from one cup to the next in whatever cups and balls sequence I was using was a test of their observation skills ending with three final loads of three poisonous substances at the end which the spectators miss.

Now everything made sense.


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Harris Deutsch
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Because it's ADHD out rules it's
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
music, magic and marvelous toys
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