We received this email from a magician worried about doing the same magic tricks to different groups that are close together at a gig.
My name is Rodrigo, I'm enjoying your magic blog and Dominic's videos very much, it's really helping me a lot.
How do you manage to present the same routine to groups that are very close to each other? How do magicians repeat magic tricks when some people have already seen them?
How many different routines you usually have to use at a same gig?
I'm asking because I'm worried that it could be bad for my reputation, appearing that I only know a few tricks. Could someone see an effect performed trick and work out my method?
Thanks a lot, I hope you can help me with this question that is really worrying me. I hope some day I can go to the UK to visit your magic shop.
The question you have asked is a valuable question and we are more than happy to help and reassure you!
Professional and Casual Magicians Repeat Magic Tricks
Firstly, you should understand that when working as a professional it is very different from performing casually for many reasons such as the material you perform. When you perform causally you show the same people different tricks, when you perform professionally you will usually be performing the same tricks over again for different people.
A professional will hone their material so it is well structured. The patter and scripting will be much more of a factor with their routines. The props have to be managed well and organized neatly within their pockets so the performance can flow well. All of these things are important when performing professionally.
It's no good going to a gig trying to do loads of different tricks for everyone as that will result in quickly losing any organization in your pockets, and you would need to go and reset everything far too often. If you try to do too much material, you may come across as disorganized and it could even result in you not getting to show as many people magic as you or the client would like.
How do magicians repeat magic tricks to everyone?
It might come as a surprise, but you don’t have to deal with this too much. Mostly when close up magicians go from group to group, each small set of people feels like they have your undivided attention. This means that they will respect you giving other groups your full and undivided attention, and they will know their 'show' is over when you move on. You can help this by saying something along the lines of:
'Thank you so much, I have so many people to get round today, I must go and mingle with some other groups, but I will come back and show you some more later if I have the time"
This is a subtle and kind way of saying that the show time is over now, and I have to give some other people my time. Mostly you will find people will understand this anyway.
You will also find that most people (excluding young kids) don't want to follow you around, they are happy with the time you spent with them. You will most likely be booked at a party, wedding, or corporate event where other things are going on, they have people to see and other things to do. This doesn't mean you were bad and did not entertain them, not at all, it is just they came to a party/wedding or other type of event and not specifically a magic show. They never intended to watch magic all night.
Of course, some people will not want you to go.. These people are golden and you should try to go back to them at some point if you can, they may even follow you a bit or watch you perform to another group later.
What happens if someone does follow me from group to group?
If you do get people following you, that is not as bad as you would fear. We will cover the types of magic trick 'sets' you should have later in this post.
This is important:
Remember, they are only following you because they like what they are seeing. Take it as a compliment.
You must be aware of the fact that they have seen some of the magic tricks, so try to speak with them so that you can use misdirection at key points, the other lay people will follow that misdirection too, but you will also misdirect the spectator who has followed you.
Ben Williams: You can jazz up your routines as well, for example, I often perform Omni deck as a finale to my card magic, sometimes I will do it after card to mouth, sometimes after a double lift or after a triumph routine, just to jazz it up and keep people on their toes so they don't get used to seeing that trick at the same point.
Dominic Reyes: If I have a 'follower' I try to turn that person into an assistant. For example, I often perform a strolling chop cup routine. The follower becomes my helper and I tell them: "OK, it's us two against these guys for a little game.." The routine does not expose the method to the assistant, but with a bit of 'duel reality' they are getting a different experience from before.
How many routines and effects are best?
Ben Williams: This is my own personal way of doing things and it works for me. I have a few sets of tricks on me when I perform, I will most likely perform 3 – 4 routines per small group before moving on when performing Walkaround magic. I will always have at least one 'powerhouse' routine with these, this might be a coin bend, Omni deck, it might be Ring Flight. I will try to make it something unique and not just a card trick. This is what I will finish each set on and it will change between groups.
I will be set up for about three or four powerhouse routines within my pockets for a walk around set. Some of these powerhouse routines need a quick reset, it may be an envelope needs reloading or something needs to be reset in a wallet etc. So when I go from group to group I can do four groups before a quick reset. If I am super busy and have lots of people to get round then I will maybe only do stronger routines that don't need a reset, maybe card to wallet instead of card to envelope. You have to judge this when you get to your gig each time.
Having four powerhouse routines means it'll be rare that someone sees one of these any more than once or maybe twice, which is fine.
For the other routines that go in between I will always have a deck of cards and I have a huge range of card tricks I can do off the cuff, I will also have a few gaff cards on me in a pocket that I can easily load onto the deck should I want to.
I have a coin or set of coins for a one coin routine or a coins across, with these I can add in a watch steal if I see the chance. I will have a thumb tip for other effects such as a liquid vanish, sugar packet effect or bill switch. I will also have a wallet, I can load into and a couple of gaffed banknotes in that wallet for tricks such as £10/£20 transpo, extreme burn or similar.
With all of these together, if organized well, you will have a core list of about 10 tricks and 4 powerhouse finishers that you can easily chop and change between so it is not a never ending list of tricks but you have ample variety of smaller groups.
You will repeat tricks to different groups, but that is good, people love talking about when you did that trick 'where the coin bent in their hand' and comparing stories.
Dominic Reyes: Ben's advice is very good here. Like him, I have a small core set of effects for walk-around. 10 effects that I can perform in any order. From that bank of 10, I choose 3 or 4 to perform for each group. Although I know many effects and techniques, this is my CORE WORKING MATERIAL. It's a small, perfectly polished set of 'mastered' effects. All have 'bridging patter' that makes them all flow. Each effect makes it into that 'set' because it compliments the other effects in that group. Because of this, they become interchangeable.
At the tables I have 4 core 'sets' of tricks, 4-5 effects in each set. These are carefully crafted and staged sets of effects. I've done gigs where I've repeated the same set for each and every table, and other gigs where I've rotated material. You will get a feel for what's needed very quickly when you start gigging.
So my full complete working material for all my close-up gigs is a total of 30 different magic tricks. That's it, 2 decades of gigging has resulted in a repertoire of 30 effects as my professional act. Out of that 30, I perform 15 of them 99% of the time, with the other 15 dropping in and out to mix things up. Over the years, those 30 tricks change. Tricks get cut and new material comes in, but the quantity of material remains constant.
How to deal with a repeat spectator that spoils any surprises.
Finally, this is how I would deal with a spectator that did follow me and ruin things by saying things like, '
"Show them the trick where you turn the cards into glass or do the trick where the coin bends".
You have to understand, most people don't do this to be a pain in the butt, they are doing it cause they are excited and would like to see the trick again. They don't realize that by them saying these comments it makes it harder to perform them. Here is a line I say in these situations, I say it very much as a joke and lighthearted response (I hope it will translate well for you).
Spectator, "Show them the trick where you bend the coin"
Me, "Oh, that's it! Just tell them the punchline before I can tell them the joke!"
It is said with a smile and a laugh, but it gets my point across immediately that I do not want them saying things that may ruin the climax of my effects for everyone. I will most likely then say, "Well, I tell you what, I'll show you something different" and then I will show them a different powerhouse routine. Unless it is something like Omni Deck which only takes a moment of misdirection. In that case I will say, "well, I can't do it now! I will show you later", then I will do a simple double lift and immediately do Omni deck as no one will be expecting it and you will catch everyone, even the repeat spectator off guard.
So those are some tips and suggestions on how magicians repeat magic tricks. Essentially though, if you perform with confidence and charm people will like you whatever you do.
I hope this helps, please let us know if there is anything else we can do for you.
If you have any advice on how magicians repeat magic tricks, please leave a comment below.
Ben Williams and Dominic Reyes