We discuss how to build your magic tricks into magic sets that flow together. Constructing a magic act.
One of the most common questions our magicians get asked is how to order magic tricks into sets for performing to the public. Let’s look at the types of magic tricks that can be built into working magic sets, and how to order them into your act to get the best results.
The first step is to understand what kind of magician you are. Do you enjoy comedy magic? Perhaps you prefer a more serious style, featuring hard hitting mentalism? Your magic style should dictate the shape and style the magic sets, and how you will be perceived by your audience. Take time to decide exactly which style of presentation would suit you best. Choose tricks that compliment and communicate the ‘style of magician’ you want to be.
Once you have a style, it’s time to build magic sets. We will build 3 magic sets, each containing 3 magic tricks. The three sets will each have a different pace, designed for specific parts of an event, and types of spectator.
Set one: The approach.
Magic Trick 1) The Impression.
The first magic trick will be your opener. This is the trick you will use when you join the first group of the evening. It needs to be quick, with a goal of capturing the attention. The magic trick must show that you are professional and skilled. When you join your first group, they may not know that a magician has been booked, so may not have anticipation of the magic they are going to see. Choose a magic trick that requires little initial attention. Think quick, fast, and impressive! A simple coin routine works well in this position, especially a 3 fly coins across. Perhaps a colour change card trick with a little flourish built in? If you use comedy, make sure you get a laugh with a strong line. The aim is to make everyone notice, and focus on the magic as quickly as possible.
Magic Trick 2) The Build.
After your opener magic trick, you will have the group engaged with your magic. This is the time to perform a longer trick that will stand up to focused attention. You are now interacting with the group. Start using spectators names, and get them involved. It’s this point that will most often have new spectators joining the group to see what is going on. Open up the circle if you can. Involve a few spectators, and look for magic that takes place in their hands. This could be a strong card routine, an expanded sponge balls set, chop cup routine. The aim is to relate to the group and expand it.
Magic Trick 3) The Shout Out.
Your final magic trick in this set should cause people to freak out. The aim is to have people getting noisy about what they have just seen. The goal is to capture the attention of other people in the room. Go for a magic trick that blows people away, and gets a round of applause, or some high fives. A bill in lemon, an omni deck, a bottle through table. This trick is a closer, so should end in an applause cue stance, with your arms open.
Keep it to three.
Each set should contain maybe 3 tricks. You want people to remain hungry for more. Explain that you need to visit everyone, but will show them more later.
Set Two : The group next door.
This set follows set 1 as you move to a group nearby. It may be the case that some of the first group will follow you as they want to see more. The new group may have watched a little of you magic from a distance as they heard the reactions form the first group. You now need a new set of magic tricks to perform for the new group.
Magic Trick 1) Moving house.
You are already warmed up, and the reactions you have been getting from your first set, will have been notices around the room. This first magic trick also needs to be quick and capture the attention. This magic set doesn't need to demonstrate your abilities as much as the first trick in set 1. A three card monte works well in this position, or an ambitious card routine. Short, punchy, and lots of climaxes and the secret to opener tricks. Your aim here is to move to the new group and get them engaged quickly to keep the buzz about you going from the first groups reactions.
Magic Trick 2) The Meat.
Now is the perfect position for a more meaty routine. Perhaps some mind reading, metal bending or a levitation routine. Play to the whole group and expand it. Card magic works well here as you could do a multiple selection routine such as the MRD deck by Liam Montier.
Magic Trick 3) The Big One.
To end the second set, we recommend that you hit them hard with a signature piece that will cause a stir. Ring flight, ring in walnut, bottle through body. Something that makes everyone applaud and freak out.
Set Three) The Circus.
You’re in the middle of the room and at a point where a large group is all around you. Most of the people have already seen your magic from sets 1 and 2. This set is almost like a theatre show.
Magic Trick 1) Helpers.
Magic Trick 2) Comedy.
Magic Trick 3) The Closer.
To end The circus set, you need your most dramatic closer. Something that gets 3-4 people joining you to help. Bring in some interaction from tables near you as well, and address the whole room. At the end, go for an applause stance. If you are performing to a single table, have the guests stand during the trick as this is a feature effect and should aim to be as visible as possible.
It's about pace.
So there you have three sets of magic tricks. Each set designed to be used at a different point in an event. You repeat sets 1 and 2 around the room, working towards the middle of the room, stage, or towards a top table. If you have the whole rooms attention, set 3 brings everything to a climax.
The pace for each set is different. Building from fast and flashy, to engaged and interactive.
Once you understand the flow and goal of your magic sets, it becomes much easier to choose new magic tricks to include, and to be able to order the magic tricks you already know, to be positioned within your sets to get the most out of them.
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