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Profile of Raymond42
Controversial view! I've so often been bored watching performers spinning lengthy, improbable tales around their magic, so that the magic can be blurred and weakened.

Yes, you do need patter to explain & clarify your effect, so the audience understand what you're doing. Telling a tale or telling jokes require acting abilities - lacking in my particular range of skills.

Patter needs careful editing, in order to maintain interest and to ensure it's not overly long.

My patter is minimal, due to a lack of decent acting ability. Instead, I concentrate on the clarity of the effect, so the audience can easily 'keep up' with what they're witnessing.

As I'm not a natural comic (very sad if I try to tell a joke) I rely on, and milk, the natural humour that often arrises as a magical effect progresses, usually to good effect

Great patter and comedy IS provided by many magicians who DO possess the requisite skills and experience which is always a joy.

Anyone can tell a joke, but how many can raise a smile with that telling?

Anyone can tell an improbable story, but how many can make it truly believable?
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Profile of ProfessorMagicJMG
You raise a good point. I will say that with storytelling magic, the emphasis tends to be on the story rather than the magic. Mystery performers try to weave an atmosphere with stage craft, props, costume, character, it's really a one-man magic theater show if it's in the category of "Bizarre" or storytelling magic. I have seen a lot of effects with a creepy story, aged props, and a very old trick from a magic book in the public domain that has been "tweaked" or altered beyond (all but magicians') recognition, with a very simple method that is not likely to break. This is why I think there are so many coin, card, and box tricks involved with storytelling magic and mystery entertainment.

You are right that not many folks can actually pull off an evening or even a few routines as a Storyteller primarily, who reveals something impossible in the middle of the tale for added entertainment. "Maximum Entertainment" by Ken Weber is a great book for taking performances to the next level from being just tricks to being moments of awe or humor that is a believable step into the twilight zone.

I think the biggest factor is audience expectation. If they are expecting magic, they don't want a lot of story. If on the other hand, you offer them "an evening of enchanted tales," or "an amusing display of historical oddities" in which the focus is on the story or the props with their stories, they aren't so much "expecting" magic, so when it happens, it's a cool surprise, and if it doesn't happen fast enough for them, they aren't sitting around thinking (yada yada yada DO A TRICK!).

If your patter is minimal, you could maybe include music, pantomime, photos, etc., to create a sense of character and plot sort of like silent theater, or silent films. Like the old screenwriting and novel writing advice, "show, don't tell."

For example: Pulling a big old brass key slowly out of a strange box, showing it around, and then showing an antique photo...putting them together, all while a vintage song is on the radio, then holding the key flat in one hand while you sort of "wave" the photo over the key, not looking at it but sort of looking up at the ceiling, around the room, all the while not noticing the key begins to turn...and BOOM there's your story, with no dialogue, and it's a haunted key routine they will never forget!
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." - Clarke's 3rd Law

"Any sufficiently primitive technology can mystify a postmodern audience." - JMG's Corollary to Clarke's 3rd Law
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Profile of 61magic
Raymond42 you hit the nail on the head. I too find it hard to accept someone telling various stories about mystery travels to far away lands to learn the inner secrets of magic...
Setting a story to magic, or adapting magic to a story is an art in itself and now all of us have natural talent for this. One can learn the skills needed by working with the right people.
Acting classes at a local junior college helps, many of the same schools offer classes on story writing.
I don't have the natural gift of story telling but I've worked hard to learn it to the best of my abilities. One thing to keep in mind fit the story to your personality, age and life experience does make a huge impact. How many 12 years old Magicians have traveled to India to study with a village Magi?
Also welcome to the Café.
Professor J. P. Fawkes
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Profile of Woodini
Most all of my magic has a story that goes along with it. You got to do it well. But when you are on, it really kills. Example is Harry Anderson's three card monarch.
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