What is pocket management for magicians?
I have always been fascinated by magic, but before I studied the art and began performing I clearly remember one evening being out with friends when and a guy came up to us and said “Hey guys, do want see some magic?” Of course we did so happily accepted his request. He proceeded to do a pretty impressive card trick. Then the problems began. He put the cards away and started rummaging in one pocket then another, and then after what seemed like 5 minutes he pulled out another deck of cards from a different pocket, as he removed the cards a silk fell on the floor. He bent down to pick the silk up off the floor, and in the process some loose cards and a pen fell from his breast pocket. He picked the items up, and then spent a good 20 seconds trying to cram them into any pocket he could. By the end of his ‘performance’ he thanked us and walked off with the lumpiest disfigured suit jacket known to man! What began as an impressive performance ended as a miss mash of messiness, in my mind the guy had gone from hero to zero.
What is even more important is that this memory sticks in my mind to this very day. First impressions are paramount when performing. This can make the difference between the spectators liking you and therefore wanting to engage with you, or judging your appearance and therefore any tricks you perform for them.
The moral of this story? If the guy had taken 5 minutes to stop and think about his pocket management he would have left the impression of a guy who knew his art well, and all our attention would have been on his performance.
So, how do you put pocket management for magicians into practice?
It’s very simple really…
Firstly, stop reading this for a moment and go and put on what you would wear if you going out to perform magic… don’t worry I’ll wait.
Wow, that was quick!
This will help put you in the right frame of mind for when you are performing. Now that you’re wearing your gear, it will help get the enthusiasm going. Grab a piece of paper, don’t even look in your close up case yet. Establish exactly which items you perform the majority of the time. Personally I have 3 or 4 items that I always perform. I keep those items in separate pockets. For example, a deck of playing cards in one trouser pocket, rope in jacket breast pocket and coins in my other trouser pocket. Oh, and a sharpie pen (top outside jacket pocket for that one!).
It is best to keep flat objects (coins or playing cards) in trouser pockets as this keeps your clothes looking less bulgy and tidy. This also leaves your inside jacket pockets for larger items and for any extra magic tricks.
Whilst deciding on which pockets to place the items in, take a good few minutes to think about your routine. For example, can you reset as you go? If you make a deck of playing cards vanish for example at any point, can you ditch the deck of cards into the same pocket from which you start? This can apply to any trick where items change or vanish or you need to ditch a gimmick. Not only are you then managing your pocket space effectively but you are also eliminating any unnecessary reset. This can be aided by performing your whole routine start to finish, noting where the items start and more importantly where they end up.
I’ve run out of pockets!
So you simply don’t have enough pockets for the tricks you want to perform? Doh!
Fear not! There are many ways around this. For example, the props you have can be used as dividers. Here’s an example. A deck of Bicycle Playing Cards is one pocket. If you arrange your routine accordingly, this deck could be used as a divider. You could have your coins in the same pocket but placed behind the cased deck nearest side to your body (this also reduces the sound of clinking coins), and then on the outside place a small packet trick for example. By doing this you have created an extra pocket. Another option is that if you use a card to wallet, this also could be used as a divider. Also why not utilise the space in the unused pockets in your wallet for gimmicked cards, packet tricks or even coins. Essentially the goal of good pocket management for magicians is to simplify things as much as you can.
Another tip is to use your sharpie. I always have two spare sharpies clipped to the inside jacket pocket as back up, and the sharpie I’m using in performance is clipped inside the outside breast pocket, this makes an impromptu card clip, which I use in walk around and close up situations. This is brilliant as it allows cards tho be displayed up high (in the eyeline of the participants), whilst allowing you to use your hands as usual, this will also eliminate the need for a surface.
When performing you want to know exactly where each prop is before you approach an audience, and also know where they are when you finish your performance.
Hang on, I want to use a large prop too!
No problem! Once you have ‘managed’ your pocket space, you should be able to begin with your hands empty. This allows you to carry an item of interest, a prop that wouldn’t fit in your pockets. For example, a chop cup, a box or even a prediction. Personally, I find this important, it immediately gains the attention of the spectators. I use this item as a point of interest saying we will come back to it at some point in the routine. You can then place the item on the table creating a focal point, and also establishing your ‘area’, this frees up your hands enabling you to greet your spectators and gesture. All of these subtleties help frame your performance and create an area of interest, your platform so to speak. If your item is a chop cup or a box it can be used throughout your performance as a raised platform to display items, again, framing the magic. You can then return to the item at the end of your routine and make this your closing piece.
So, what is the benefit of pocket management for magicians?
Pocket management is very important not only for you, but the spectators. Why confuse matters for the spectators and yourself? By simply taking 10 to 20 minutes going back to basics and putting on your performance clothes you will establish which magic tricks you like performing most. You can then toy with different pockets until you are comfortable, your performance will improve ten-fold I can assure you of this. You will also be very surprised how quickly it will become second nature as to which pockets you go to each and every time. Much like when you are learning a trick, think of your act as one trick. Once you have managed your pocket space, your pockets will become part of the routine, as your hands will, by second nature, go exactly where they need to go. Your spectators will instinctively be relaxed.
Last of all you will be amazed at how much confidence this will give you in your performance. Your spectators, and of course you will benefit hugely from it. Remember, its supposed to be fun for all involved. Simplify where you can and leave room for the entertainment.
Do you have any advice about pocket management for magicians? Please leave your comments in the section below.