The Magic Café
Username:
Password:
[ Lost Password ]
  [ Forgot Username ]
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » What are your favorite opening lines? (13 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

 Go to page 1~2~3 [Next]
deanpickles
View Profile
New user
42 Posts

Profile of deanpickles
I'm re-focused on improving my scripts, and especially concerned about the opening lines. Reading through Scriping Magic, so many of those by Pete McCabe are conversational, and wouldn't play well in a non-social setting. (For example, "I usually drink a Coke for lunch, almost every day." I suspect I'd come off as even more deranged than normal if I launched into that with a stranger.)

Others in the book are solid winners, if a little draped in hyperbole...
Handsome Jack: "I’ve got something here that can help each and everyone of you with your love lives."
Eugene Burger: "Would you like to see the greatest card trick of the 20th century?"

And some are pure poetry. Truly magical.
Eugene Burger: "Sometimes things that seem simple aren't so simple after all."

What are some of your favorite openers, and what's your advice for an opening gambit?

--

When I begin to work on a new presentation, I usually spend the greatest amount of time on the presentation's opening line. I want the opening line to create interest in what is to follow. I want the opening line to hook them, so to speak, and therefore, I very often use the technique of the direct question--the question mark being the sign of the hook (as Fritz Perls, the father of Gestalt therapy, was so fond of pointing out).
"Would you like to see the greatest card trick of the 20th century?"
It's a direct question calling for a response. "Yes, I would." "No, I wouldn't." The number of people who have said "No" to that question, as I have asked it, is surprisingly small and I have asked the question of thousands of people.
- Eugene Burger
Pop Haydn
View Profile
Inner circle
Los Angeles
3147 Posts

Profile of Pop Haydn
It is good to be careful when you ask a question that you know what the answer will be. The few times that a heckler might jump on an opening like "would you like to see the greatest card trick" will be sufficient reason not to use it. It is hard to recover from. Standup comics will tell you never to ask questions like "You guys having a good time?"

I love the Fritz Perls quote and agree that a question can make an effective opening, but the answer has to be inconsequential or forced:

"For the first time in your life I want you to be honest with me--what's this card?"
"Does this look like a real, solid object to you?"
"Can you count, like up to ten? ...not everyone in here this time of night can."
"Have you ever seen a ghost?"
critter
View Profile
Inner circle
Spokane, WA
2458 Posts

Profile of critter
Not my style but I like how David Blaine is just like "hey, come here a second..."

"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today" is a good cue that it's time for a rabbit trick.
"The fool is one who doesn't know what you have just found out."
~Will Rogers


"This I offer in explanation of how it was that I found myself in my undergarments as I sat in my cell attempting to plot my escape."
~Professor Phineas Valeyard, Miskatonic University Dept.of Psychodynamic Natural History.

New Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/Valeyard-Magic-Stage-233226717588438/
Pop Haydn
View Profile
Inner circle
Los Angeles
3147 Posts

Profile of Pop Haydn
When I was doing street magic in NYC in the 1960's one of Blaine's opening lines like, "Do you want to see something?" would not get the responses he gets on television when backed with a camera and crew. It leaves you open to profane and crushing retorts.

I think "Hey, come here a second..." is probably in the same vein.
critter
View Profile
Inner circle
Spokane, WA
2458 Posts

Profile of critter
Oh I'm certain. But it's funny on TV.
"The fool is one who doesn't know what you have just found out."
~Will Rogers


"This I offer in explanation of how it was that I found myself in my undergarments as I sat in my cell attempting to plot my escape."
~Professor Phineas Valeyard, Miskatonic University Dept.of Psychodynamic Natural History.

New Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/Valeyard-Magic-Stage-233226717588438/
Josh Riel
View Profile
Inner circle
of hell
1929 Posts

Profile of Josh Riel
I hate TV and all the Internets when I perform.
Not because they affect anything I'm doing, I moved past that, but because I hate being asked if I can levitate.
Yes, I can, several ways...
but that's not what I'm doing, not what the group of people watching me even care about.
It's what some guy saw on TV and he isn't getting the attention his dad starved from him, and he's in a corner just talking TV and aaaallll of the Youtubes he's watched.

Stuff on TV is great on TV, but you don't want a TV doctor performing your hysterectomy.
I let Doogie Howser do it and I'm a dude, and this is way after the show (his real name isn't Doogie Howser).. when ABC asks you to be a part of something say: NO! I don't know if Doogie Howser was on ABC...
I was drinking

You don't want to be a TV performer in real life, it's like you're giving me another hysterectomy.

Love,
Josh Riel.

PS: Watch Pop perform, you'll be amazed how much better it is than anything on TV.
Magic is doing improbable things with odd items that, under normal circumstances, would be unnessecary and quite often undesirable.
Josh Riel
View Profile
Inner circle
of hell
1929 Posts

Profile of Josh Riel
Having said all that, my own opening line is:
"I want everyone to be at ease, especially the ladies. This is a safe space!
I want to show you my balls."

I know that seems odd taken out of context (like the contexts I put them in; that's the context they were taken out of, I blame you)
But it's cool, a lot of my friends have balls. Mine are from Sterlini.

Also I blame you for the preposition I used to end a sentance with.
Magic is doing improbable things with odd items that, under normal circumstances, would be unnessecary and quite often undesirable.
critter
View Profile
Inner circle
Spokane, WA
2458 Posts

Profile of critter
I'm more than familiar with Pop Haydn's work, Gazzo's, many of the best. I know there are better performers than Blaine but I still enjoy watching him.

Now, BEST opening line I've heard I might go with Doug Henning. Simple. Inviting. Sets the expectation. Not as into illusions but that was golden.

The one I used at corporate events was just "Hello, and welcome." Nothing near as cool as the greats.
"The fool is one who doesn't know what you have just found out."
~Will Rogers


"This I offer in explanation of how it was that I found myself in my undergarments as I sat in my cell attempting to plot my escape."
~Professor Phineas Valeyard, Miskatonic University Dept.of Psychodynamic Natural History.

New Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/Valeyard-Magic-Stage-233226717588438/
critter
View Profile
Inner circle
Spokane, WA
2458 Posts

Profile of critter
Amazing Johnathan has some great lines too. And the way he delivers them is awesome.
"The fool is one who doesn't know what you have just found out."
~Will Rogers


"This I offer in explanation of how it was that I found myself in my undergarments as I sat in my cell attempting to plot my escape."
~Professor Phineas Valeyard, Miskatonic University Dept.of Psychodynamic Natural History.

New Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/Valeyard-Magic-Stage-233226717588438/
Senor Fabuloso
View Profile
Inner circle
1252 Posts

Profile of Senor Fabuloso
Some of my best lines are,

Wow you have big feet did you walk here? Wait that was a pick up line. Oh you meant asking to perform for people.

If I'm hired by the management to do walk around it is as simple as asking "excuse me but can I show you something magical?" or "If I'm not bothering you I have something interesting I'd like to show you on behalf of the management."

If I'm at my steady gig, there is a table tent on the each table that asks, if they would like to see the resident magician with my name. If they do? The servers will let me know.
No matter how many times you say the wrong thing, it will NEVER be right.

If I'm not responding to you? It's because you're a TROLL!
danaruns
View Profile
Special user
The City of Angels
773 Posts

Profile of danaruns
I'm certainly no expert on this stuff, but this is what I do. I open some parlor/stage shows by bursting on stage after introduction, and loudly proclaiming,

"As I'm sure you know, I am a world class card manipulator. And every expert card manipulator needs to be able to find at least one ace in the deck. This is how I usually do it."

I then go right into my first trick, which is to supposedly produce four aces. Instead, without looking at their faces and acting like I think I'm producing aces, I actually produce indifferent cards, declaring each time, "There's ace number one!" etc. The audience can see that they are not aces. At the end, though, they magically transform into the four aces, to the audience's surprise. After that, I go into transitions. My transition to the next trick is to say:

"You guys, I know what you're thinking. You were thinking that I was messing that trick up. And not one of you was going to tell me about it! [Laughter.] Okay, I see how it's going to be. I'm going to have to up my game for you. Let's see if this can get you on my side." And I go into my version of OLEP, to music.

After that I transition:

"I love food, and I love movies, especially the classics. By a round of applause, who here likes classic movies?" And I move into the audience to ask people their favorite movies, and pick four volunteers for the next trick. So most of my opening lines are transitional, just getting me from one trick to the next.

I'm not a big fan of asking questions, except the kind that Pop Haydn listed, and I'm not nearly clever enough to come up with those. I like lines that serve the magic, get the audience involved, and move things forward quickly. My goal is to not have a single wasted word. So I don't go for clever or moving, I go for getting on with the show.

But as I said, I'm certainly no expert at this stuff.
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
longhaired1
View Profile
Loyal user
Salida
300 Posts

Profile of longhaired1
"My name is Magic Steve. Why do you think they call me Magic Steve? Because I do magic? No, it's because my name is Steve. In my other job I'm know as plumber Bob, but I have much more fun as Magic Steve."

It works for me.
terrillific
View Profile
Loyal user
Austin
219 Posts

Profile of terrillific
Hi, how are you doing?
JimBeta
View Profile
New user
11 Posts

Profile of JimBeta
Quote:
On Dec 11, 2018, danaruns wrote:
I'm certainly no expert on this stuff, but this is what I do. I open some parlor/stage shows by bursting on stage after introduction, and loudly proclaiming,

"As I'm sure you know, I am a world class card manipulator. And every expert card manipulator needs to be able to find at least one ace in the deck. This is how I usually do it."

I then go right into my first trick, which is to supposedly produce four aces. Instead, without looking at their faces and acting like I think I'm producing aces, I actually produce indifferent cards, declaring each time, "There's ace number one!" etc. The audience can see that they are not aces. At the end, though, they magically transform into the four aces, to the audience's surprise. After that, I go into transitions. My transition to the next trick is to say:

"You guys, I know what you're thinking. You were thinking that I was messing that trick up. And not one of you was going to tell me about it! [Laughter.] Okay, I see how it's going to be. I'm going to have to up my game for you. Let's see if this can get you on my side." And I go into my version of OLEP, to music.

After that I transition:

"I love food, and I love movies, especially the classics. By a round of applause, who here likes classic movies?" And I move into the audience to ask people their favorite movies, and pick four volunteers for the next trick. So most of my opening lines are transitional, just getting me from one trick to the next.

I'm not a big fan of asking questions, except the kind that Pop Haydn listed, and I'm not nearly clever enough to come up with those. I like lines that serve the magic, get the audience involved, and move things forward quickly. My goal is to not have a single wasted word. So I don't go for clever or moving, I go for getting on with the show.

But as I said, I'm certainly no expert at this stuff.


So if I understand you right you do not like to use a lot of words to mess up the show. Maybe I am wrong but are the words not in reality the show instead of the effects you just use? But I guess I understand and I am probably wrong. I thought that storytelling was the main factor of an act but maybe I am wrong in this.
danaruns
View Profile
Special user
The City of Angels
773 Posts

Profile of danaruns
Quote:
On Jan 3, 2019, JimBeta wrote:

So if I understand you right you do not like to use a lot of words to mess up the show. Maybe I am wrong but are the words not in reality the show instead of the effects you just use? But I guess I understand and I am probably wrong. I thought that storytelling was the main factor of an act but maybe I am wrong in this.


My opinion is that, generally speaking, magicians talk too much. Again, that's my OPINION. Your mileage may vary. I think telling a story has its place, usually in the middle of a set when doing a contrast piece or a "personal story" piece, but overall I think every word should serve the magic. And if it doesn't, it should be cut. When writing scripts I'm ruthless about cutting to the bone. One tenet of writing is that you have to be willing to kill your children, meaning that you should cut your favorite passages if they don't move the ball forward.

That doesn't mean it has to be devoid of entertainment. On YouTube you should watch one of the many versions of Pop Haydn's Chicago Surprise for an example of an incredible script. Not one wasted word, every word serves the magic, and it is highly entertaining.

But I'm of the school that you don't talk for the sake of talking. If you don't have a specific reason for a particular word or phrase, if a word or phrase doesn't do something then you should take it out. You don't do moves that have no purpose, do you? Every move is important, right? Every word should be important, too. You shouldn't say words that are unnecessary.

Again, that's my opinion. Some people here get very bent out of shape about opinions. Your mileage may vary.
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
Senor Fabuloso
View Profile
Inner circle
1252 Posts

Profile of Senor Fabuloso
Quote:
On Jan 3, 2019, danaruns wrote:
My opinion is that, generally speaking, magicians talk too much.


I couldn't agree more. But lets extend that to mentalist as well since many of them, don't consider themselves magicians.
No matter how many times you say the wrong thing, it will NEVER be right.

If I'm not responding to you? It's because you're a TROLL!
George Ledo
View Profile
Magic Café Columnist
SF Bay Area
2856 Posts

Profile of George Ledo
Quote:
On Jan 3, 2019, danaruns wrote:
My opinion is that, generally speaking, magicians talk too much.

I have to agree with that, and I began to notice it when I was performing many years ago. In my case, I eventually did a cards and doves act, silently to live music, and it worked very well for me once I learned how to communicate with the audience with just a glance or a smile and set them up for what was next. IMHO, magic is visual and anything added to it wordwise "should" be just to explain a point or offer a reason for what's happening. It can be a story or an aside or anything else, but like Dana said, it wants to be there only to move the magic forward. I would say to move the "experience" forward, but that's just semantics.

In the case of Pop Hayden, what I've noticed is that his persona is so tightly tied into what he does and says that it's all one element: take any of it away and it doesn't work. But so many other performers make me feel like the talking was just dumped onto the magic because the performer didn't think the trick was strong enough, and it makes me want to yell, shut up and do the *** trick!
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
www.georgefledo.net

Latest column: "Sorry about the photos in my posts here"
foolsnobody
View Profile
Special user
Buffalo, NY
825 Posts

Profile of foolsnobody
What's OLEP?
Dick Oslund
View Profile
Inner circle
8088 Posts

Profile of Dick Oslund
Quote:
On Jan 3, 2019, George Ledo wrote:
Quote:
On Jan 3, 2019, danaruns wrote:
My opinion is that, generally speaking, magicians talk too much.

I have to agree with that, and I began to notice it when I was performing many years ago. In my case, I eventually did a cards and doves act, silently to live music, and it worked very well for me once I learned how to communicate with the audience with just a glance or a smile and set them up for what was next. IMHO, magic is visual and anything added to it wordwise "should" be just to explain a point or offer a reason for what's happening. It can be a story or an aside or anything else, but like Dana said, it wants to be there only to move the magic forward. I would say to move the "experience" forward, but that's just semantics.

In the case of Pop Hayden, what I've noticed is that his persona is so tightly tied into what he does and says that it's all one element: take any of it away and it doesn't work. But so many other performers make me feel like the talking was just dumped onto the magic because the performer didn't think the trick was strong enough, and it makes me want to yell, shut up and do the *** trick!


YUP!!
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Pop Haydn
View Profile
Inner circle
Los Angeles
3147 Posts

Profile of Pop Haydn
Pop Haydn does seem to talk a lot, but every line is tightly scripted. Any unnecessary lines will sink a presentation really quickly. I especially pay attention to the opening lines of the show and of each routine. But every line must have a reason for being there and needs to carry the show and the effect forward.
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » What are your favorite opening lines? (13 Likes)
 Go to page 1~2~3 [Next]
[ Top of Page ]
All content & postings Copyright © 2001-2019 Steve Brooks. All Rights Reserved.
This page was created in 0.24 seconds requiring 5 database queries.
The views and comments expressed on The Magic Café
are not necessarily those of The Magic Café, Steve Brooks, or Steve Brooks Magic.
> Privacy Statement <

ROTFL Billions and billions served! ROTFL