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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » New to magic? » » A question about performing. (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

The Big G
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Hello, I am just starting in magic and my question is, how many tricks should I do to a person (or maybe 2,3 people) when they are for an example, in the park. When I watch youtube videos with magicians, I see them doing only one trick to a group. Recently from the site I read that you need 3 tricks in routine, and the other time I saw someone saying that there must be 10 tricks. I am only starting so could you maybe tell me how many tricks should I do in close-up magic with random people, and how long should it last?
danaruns
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It should last long enough to amaze them, and not so long that they become bored. So, one trick fills the bill. 10 is definitely too much in that scenario. Some magicians fill a 45-minute show without getting to 10 tricks. 10 is a lot.

For a formal show structure, the minimum is 3 tricks, and there is a rule of thumb that you want an odd number. But you're not talking about a show, you're talking about informal social magic. So I think one or two tricks will fit that bill, then you can move on to others. If you're walking up to people in a park, those folks are there for reasons other than magic, and they might not want to see any at all. So maybe start with one trick, and see if they ask for another. If they do, then do a second trick. Then it's probably time to move on.

One of the most common mistakes for beginners is doing too many tricks, staying too long. As P.T. Barnum is famous for saying, "Always leave 'em wanting more."
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
The Big G
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Thank you for response, it clarified a lot for me. If I could have one more question, magician Aaron Fisher has the idea of creating routines that consists 3 things: Mentalism trick , Tactile, and then Visual. I like the idea and do you think it fits more to this informal magic I want to start with, or prepeared show?
charliemartin
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10 is definitely too many for an impromptu show. Barnum said it best.
ThSecret
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Danaruns gave a pretty good answer already, but I really think it just depends on the situation. Be natural about it and just go with the flow. You are not going to spent 20-30 minutes performing in front of someone you just met at the park, right? Maybe try one trick to "break the ice" and then you can go for another one. From there if they were really short tricks you can do another one, or if you left them mind-blown or bamboozled, leave them hanging off that cliff Smile.
The last thing they see if probably the thing they will remember most!
"A play does not take place on stage but in the minds of the spectators."
Mr. Woolery
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With all possible respect to Mr. Fisher, what works for one person may not work for another.

Is there a particular trick that you really enjoy doing? Put that with another that you enjoy doing and you are set for a performance of the sort you describe. You have your opener, you have an encore. Don't worry about whether it is mental, visual, tactile or whatever. Is it fun?

So, for example, spongeballs. Can you do a basic spongeball routine? If so, you are set to delight all ages. Just that simple. It does have tactile elements, but the big thing about it is the impossible antics of the balls.

I would not use that one first, though. It involves touching people who have not yet had a chance to decide whether you are a fun person or a creep. Do a trick that gets them interested. If you are a card guy, do a simple and very visual card trick. I love Eugene Burger's presentation for The World's Fastest Card Trick. That's it. You just got his whole presentation. He tells his audience this is the world's fastest card trick, then changes one card into another. Instantly. There's no real setup in terms of audience investment. There doesn't need to be. He says something like "this is the world's fastest card trick. Watch carefully so you don't miss it." He blows on the card and it is a different card.

I'm not saying to use his trick. Although if you are good enough to do this change, go for it, I guess. I'm saying think about how your audience will feel about a trick. If someone came up to me and started the 21 card trick, I'd only humor him out of courtesy. I know I'll be there for a while. But if he said "can I have 2.4 seconds of your time to show you the world's fastest card trick?" I'm in! I want to see the world's fastest card trick! I know it won't take all day and there's a challenge situation inherent. Have I ever seen a faster card trick? And if he does it cleanly, I will ask for another trick. If I don't like it, I'll be polite and send him on his way.

Now, if you were to want to do Color Monte, I'd need to be hooked in somehow. You are a stranger asking for my attention while I'm at a park. What are you going to say to show me this is worth my time? "Hi! I'm learning to be an entertainer. Can you spare 45 seconds to give me very quick feedback on something new I'm working on?" That tells me you won't take a lot of my time, you intend to entertain, and you want me to respond honestly to what you do. And leaves me the option of saying no if I really don't want to see it.

Do the Color Monte (or whatever your short and punchy trick is) and then if I can only say how much fun it was and how cool that was, you can offer me one more. Nail me with spongeballs and shake my hand. You made my day brighter and you got practice with a small but real audience.

Don't worry about the theory of structuring your show just yet. Pick one trick you personally love enough to practice until it is good and then will still love enough to share with people over and over and over. Pick another trick that you'd want to do for someone who responds well to the first. That's it. What do you want to do, here?

Over time, add more tricks. One at a time.

-Patrick
The Big G
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Thank you Smile
DaveGripenwaldt
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It's an old saying from Vaudeville , but a true one...always leave them wanting more.

How "more" is defined has a lot to do with what setting you are in. Casually with semi-engaged people? Err on the side of less. In a venue where people have been intentional about seeing you? You have a lot more leeway before their eyes glaze over. Smile

At this point try doing one thing then "read the room"...did they like it? Are they asking for more? Is there something else puling for their attention? If everything is going your way, maybe do a second effect then stop (leave them wanting more).
ThSecret
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I am no expert but some things I keep reading over and over on this site;

Pick a select few tricks you really enjoy and "master" them. Debatable, as David Blaine claims he still has not mastered any tricks. But the point is to practice, practice, practice! Once you can perform an act without mistakes you can venture out!

Mr. Woolery gave a really nice response. I'd like to add, that I also saw this posted somewhere here, but I figured I'd link it again... The approach is not quite as important, as it is to break that mental barrier of approaching. Disturb Reality's youtube channel shows a good example in his video by approaching people with completely wacky lines. Link here ---> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwjmTGRsL3Y
As long as you make that effort to approach people, you're more than half way there! If they're not interested, just move on and try again!
"A play does not take place on stage but in the minds of the spectators."
Doug Trouten
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It's a little thing, but instead of doing tricks "to" people, do tricks "for" people. Remember that the audience -- their experience, their entertainment -- is the focus.
It's still magic even if you know how it's done.
Terry Pratchett
Dick Oslund
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George!

Go back up this thread, and read Mr. Woolery's post again (3 times!). Patrick knows whereof he speaks!

Ditto, Doug Trouten's post!T Go back to Doug Trouten's post, just above. Read that one 5 times!

When you are speaking, speak WITH the person or persons, not TO or AT them.

When you are performing, perform FOR them, not TO them!

Prepositions, have meanings!

In any case don't go past "THE END"! It's very easy to earn the "Chinese billing" (ONN TU LONG)!
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Stumpy
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It totally depends on the tricks themselves. If you've got a couple of short tricks that take under a minute, you can do two or three in a row without running the risk of boring them. If your best trick takes three or four minutes, you may want to stick to just it by itself. The attention span of the audience is the most critical factor. If you're a stage act in Las Vegas, you can do ten tricks that are nine minutes each and it's fine. It's fine because the people came there to see magic. Somebody in a park trying to just relax, they may not even be in the mood to see one trick, much less three.
Learn to read the audience, be it two hundred or just two. If you walk up and get a guy's attention and he turns to face you with a horribly angry expression, it's his bad day, ask what time it is and walk on. If he turns and seems pleasant, make a pitch "Hi, I am an up and coming magician and I've been up and coming up with some material, do you mind if I show you a card trick?" If you fire off a trick and he doesn't seem bored by your presence, do a couple more. Read the guy again, does he seem to be a little preoccupied or distracted? If so, move along. If not, maybe do two more and call it a day.

Not everyone you encounter in the park is going to like magic. Some are going to be having a bad day and didn't come to the park to be bombarded by a stranger. Some are just not interested for whatever reason. For me, outside of any environment where people are expecting to be shown magic tricks, I keep it to three minutes, more if requested, less if requested. You don't have to show someone your whole catalog of tricks. Pick your three best tricks, time yourself doing them with patter. Go from there and see if you need to adjust, if it's running too long, if there are points in the trick where there's too much patter and not enough trick.

Better to leave 'em wanting more than having them silently praying for less.
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