Let's explore how magicians can link the magic tricks they perform, by using continuity. One of the skills that separate professional magicians and amateurs is the degree of continuity within their magic tricks. Most magicians perform one of their magic tricks, put it away and then start performing another one. There is no continuity between the magic tricks they perform. Each of the magic tricks is unrelated. The tricks are bookmarked by a moment when the magician puts it away and starts another trick. Let's look at introducing continuity into the magic tricks you perform.
Performing one magic trick, then putting it away and taking out another is like being a comedian that fires off unrelated gags. The comedian tells a range of jokes, knowing that sooner or later, one of them will hit the spot and make the audience laugh. Your magic can be much better than that. You can build in a theme that runs across all your magic tricks and ties them together to create something greater than the sum of it's parts.
How Your Magic Starts.
Rather than getting out the props for a new magic trick, could the previous trick introduce the props for the next? Could it make an object appear that you then use for your next trick?
Here are 5 quick easy card magic tricks bound by continuity. Notice that they flow together as they tell a larger story about the most amazing playing card the magician has ever seen.
You take a shuffled deck of playing cards and magically find all four aces. You explain that one of the aces has very special properties.
The aces are then used for a mentalism trick, and the spectator is asked to choose one, and it matches a prediction because it is the 'special card'
Once the prediction has been made, the chosen card vanishes and appears in your wallet
You then destroy it, only for it to reform, as a torn and restored playing card.
One corner remains unhealed. It vanishes and appears in an impossible location.
How Your Props Vanish.
A previous magic trick, could give an explanation to your spectators, as to why an object vanishes in a magic trick that follows. David Roth uses a Portable Hole, and it's a great example of this. The idea of a portable hole that makes your props vanish can run through all your magic tricks, appearing to cause trouble for the magician and bring props in and out of play.
Thinking about joining the magic tricks you perform into a set that has continuity and a story line that runs through it, will greatly improve the reactions you get from your magic tricks. It will improve your pocket management, the timing and flow the act and will create an overall 'message' that is far more memorable to spectators than a generic magician what performed a series of unrelated magic tricks.
Many magicians seem to think that any group of magic tricks can be built into an act.
When we begin learning magic, we learn as many tricks as possible that come our way, that fool us and seem easy enough for us to learn. During the early stages of learning magic, we don’t think about performing a magic act, just performing great tricks.
It’s only once we acquire a range of tricks, that we begin to think about how to build tricks together. But by then it’s too late. We have spent out time collection random tricks, and have a chaotic collection of magic with no common thread.
Who’s to fault?
We tend to define the type of magic that we perform by the props we use, saying to ourselves: ‘I’m a coin worker, a cardtist, a mentalist’ etc.
It’s easy to collect new techniques and routines simply because they are ‘what’s new’, rather than because they would be perfect for the flow or theme of a set we are constructing.
Popular magic TV shows often seem to be a disparate collection of tricks shown one after another, but that’s not the case:
Dynamo magician impossible, presents seemingly random tricks, but each one is introduced and a scene is set. A theme runs through each episode of Dynamo, tying the tricks together.
Derren Brown builds each show into a theme, choosing and presenting tricks which build to present an overall message or theme.
These are distinct from ‘audition’ shows, where the contest and voting create consistency and each performer is presented as an individual to be judged. It doesn’t matter that there is no theme between acts.
Do you approach creating your magic act, the wrong way around?
Imagine going into a supermarket and buying a basket full of random ingredient simply because each one tastes nice, then going home and planning the menu for your dinner party, using all those ingredients. The meal would be a complete failure.
You need to plan the menu FIRST, then buy the ingredients. The same planning you would do for a meal, needs to be applied to creating a magic act.
Start with a simgle theme or one favourite trick, then slowly build up the next ‘course’ in the ‘magic meal’:
- Starter – A strong engaging magic trick that captures attention and sets the theme for the set.
- Maincourse – a longer trick that requires more engagment from the spectators.
- Dessert – A strong closer, leading to a climax that gets applause
- Coffees – A professional farewall
Which magic tricks to choose:
Look at the range of tricks that you already know. Just because you know them and they are strong tricks, in and of themselves, doesn’t mean they fit well together.
Choose one trick which you love, and look for more tricks that compliment it and build up your act.
Start from the ground up so you have coherence and structure. Sort your current ‘bank’ of magic tricks into groups that fit their position in an act: Starters, Maincourses, Desserts.
Search for new magic that will fit the gaps in each of your sets. Your best tricks don’t need to go in the same set. Create 3 or 4 strolling magic sets, 3 or 4 table magic sets and 2 or 3 stand up or caberet sets. Spread out your best tricks across these sets and start adding new material to reinforce them.
I can’t be bothered to do that!
You don’t have to work like this. You can continue to present random tricks without a theme or thread running through them. Many successful, professional magicians don’t work on act structure, and that’s OK. You can very easily continue to perform unassosiated tricks and get great reactions. I would say though, that your magic will be getting a great response despite the lack of a theme, rather than because of it. A little thought into act construction will lift the performance to a new level, leaving the spectators amazed at your magic, and feeling that they have seen something greater than the sum of it’s individual parts.