Here’s a question from one of our readers, James:
“What is that ONE magic trick that will make me stand out?”
I’m so glad I’ve got a chance to address this question. I see it a lot; and the answer might either be a really frustrating one or enlightening, depending on how you act on it.
You can either take this advice and create an incredible, showstopping trick that WILL make you stand out, or you might choose to abandon it in favor of the easier answers out there.
There is no ONE trick that will make you stand out; but there can be YOUR one trick that will.
What do I mean by this?
Even the best effects, if they don’t work with your persona and style as a magician, will be weaker than basic effects that DO follow suit with who you are.
Imagine if Derren Brown were to perform a Dynamo effect. Sure, it wouldn’t be bad, but it wouldn’t be anything memorable either. That’s because it doesn’t fit who Derren Brown is as a magician.
So, the answer is that the ONE trick that will make you stand out is ENTIRELY dependent on who you are as a magician, and ultimately, as a person.
To illustrate my point, let’s compare this to a similar question I often see in the world of fashion.
“What is the ONE outfit that will really make me stand out?”
Again, it’s obvious that this question is completely subjective. There’s no clear answer. The answer will vary massively depending on a bunch of factors; your height, weight, gender, build, etc. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution.
It’s exactly the same in magic. Although the factors that are perhaps slightly less visible, they need to be taken into account nonetheless.
So, how do you decide which trick is the No.1 trick for YOU?
Here’s five simple steps that should help you narrow it down…
Step 1: Evaluate Your Audience; Who Are You Trying To Impress?
You mention in your initial question that you want to ‘stand out’.
Great. But you first need to really zone in on WHO you want to stand out to; the tricks that impress one demographic might fall flat in front of another.
For example, some tricks that might work like a charm at children’s parties would not fool an adult audience, and vice versa, some of the tricks performed for adults would go straight over the heads of any children watching them.
As a general rule:
– Simple and visual tricks will work well for younger audiences as they require less concentration and hold attention better.
– For story or narrative based routines, make sure the audience is mature enough to understand the messages and values you are trying to convey through the story. Consider tailoring the narrative to make it more relevant to the respective audience.
So when preparing to select a knockout trick, you first need to consider your audience. What’s more, your choice of audience will undoubtedly affect the presentation of the effect too.
Once you have your audience in mind and understand what you need to deliver based on their needs, let’s move on to the next step.
Step 2: Persona and Entertainment Level
This is a really key step.
In order to create a trick that will make you stand out, YOU as a person need to stand out. It’s not enough to simply rehash a presentation of the trick that you’ve seen before. You need to find your own spin on it.
In fact, I would argue that the best magicians are remembered for their presentation MORE so than the trick performed.
A great example of this is Penn and Teller; the comedic magic duo. A lot of the tricks they perform are fairly common in the magic world (such as the Cups and Balls) but they have such unique takes on the presentation that their performances are highly entertaining and definitely ‘stand out’ for their audience. This suggests that the real key to standing out is to have a memorable persona rather than just relying on a memorable trick.
How do you create a persona?
I’ve found that the best way to develop a persona is by consistent performing over time. The more you perform, the more your own style will emerge. Initially you’ll be tempted to stick to the same formulaic approaches to effects, but once you gain more confidence, your persona will naturally start to shine through.
Now I’m not encouraging you to just wing it and hope that sooner or later something will stick. Every time you perform, analyze your performance afterwards. Which bits worked? Which bits didn’t?
The key thing is to try to make sure you come away from it having learnt something new. A certain one liner might have landed really well, whilst a new phase to your routine didn’t. As you make a note of these things and edit your performances accordingly, you should see a persona starting to emerge.
Step 3: Mastery
Now that you have an idea of a trick and the presentation you are going to use in your head, you need to practice it until you can do it in your sleep.
Well, the more you need to concentrate on your getting the sleights right during the trick, the less you can perform. As a result, the weaker your grasp of the sleights, the weaker the entertainment level.
So, you need to ensure that you are COMPLETELY comfortable with every sleight required to the point where you can perform the routine blindfolded or distracted.
Basically, you want to be able to place all your focus on the presentation and selling of your persona; and one of the best ways to do this is by gaining a really strong muscle memory of the sleights.
By now, you should have a trick, persona, and a strong grasp of the sleights. What next?
Step 4: You Have The Final Say
Even if you think you’ve managed to tick all the boxes with a trick, the final decision should be made on the basis of how it feels to you personally; whether or not you choose a trick might just come down to the fact that it does or doesn’t FEEL right.
And that’s how it should be.
You might have a great trick that is perfect for your audience, fits your persona, and you can do easily. But if it doesn’t sit well with you, it’s still not going to be that knockout trick you want it to be. At the end of the day, you need to perform what you feel most comfortable and happy performing.
Your attitude will rub off onto your audience!
Step 5: Trial and Error
Once you’ve selected a trick that fulfills all the requirements we’ve gone through, and you’re happy to perform it, the next step is to just get out there and try it!
Don’t be dissuaded if it isn’t a home run first time round. It’s unlikely that it will be!
Professional magicians might perform and refine their material for years before they settle on a few firm ‘signature’ tricks. You might do it sooner, or you might take longer. The important thing is to keep on evolving and improving! Eventually you’ll find a few solid tricks that you can really ‘own’ and will definitely make you stand out!
I hope that helped you gain an understanding into how you can stand out as a magician! The secret is not to rely on the tricks themselves, but your persona as an individual.
I do appreciate that this might not have been the answer you were looking for, and if you have absolutely NO idea where to start, here’s a few solid tricks that you can’t go wrong with to set you on the right path…
The Invisible Deck
A mind reading miracle using a single deck of cards.
Possibly the most visual magic trick you’ve ever seen. Solve a mixed up Rubik’s Cube, INSTANTLY!
A captivating card trick that uses a stickman to read the mind of your audience.
About the author: Benji is a hobbyist magician from the UK who also runs The Daily Magician