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Topic: Quick Tricks to Impress on a Plane Flight?
Message: Posted by: John Palazzo (Feb 20, 2006 12:18AM)
Hello All,

It's been quite some time since I posted. A busy life kinda' kept me - well - busy.

So let me just say - Hello Again.

I'll be traveling by plane to Long Island next week and I'm looking for ideas on a few quick tricks to show waiting to board the plane and during the flight.

Cards, coins, mental, bills, strings, rings, rubber bands - any and all ideas are welcome.

Depending on which airport in NY I fly into - I can be on a flight that is VERY LOUD (small plane). I'm in a seat with only one person across the "aisle". It's the "everybody get's a window seat" size plane.

And sometimes that's not a problem - with the regular 3 across seating on a larger plane.

If that helps.

Maybe a ring-and-string routine would work. Get passengers on either side of me to hold the ends. Pull the ring off. That could be interesting. :)

Thanks be well.

Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Feb 20, 2006 10:54AM)
I guess I feel magic is not best for airplanes.

why bother people?
Message: Posted by: aznviet6uy (Feb 20, 2006 01:47PM)
Message: Posted by: John Palazzo (Feb 20, 2006 01:55PM)
On 2006-02-20 11:54, Dannydoyle wrote:
I guess I feel magic is not best for airplanes.

why bother people?

Thanks for your replies.

Not exactly the response I was hoping for after a few years away.

Fair enough questions though.

Like I said - doesn't have to be ON the plane.

You're stuck with a few travelers between flights.

BORED as can be.

Plenty of opportunity to strike up a simple conversation with someone. Get around to showing something small.


Have you ever exchanged business cards with fellow passengers?

Work the biz card into a quick trick.

You never know - you might get the biz card of the CEO your compnay has been trying reach for 6 months. The CEO just might remember the guy who cut and restored his tie.

So let me rephrase the question:

Has anyone ever done some magic for fellow airport travelers while waiting between flights or while on the flight and what did you do?

I'm reviewing a few ideas of my own.

Like to see what others have done too.

Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Feb 20, 2006 03:56PM)
Ok let me tell you what prompted my response.

I do this for a living. when on an airplane I tend to mind my own business. I have PLENTY of opportunity to work with 2 shows a night 5 nights a week. So when traveling I tend to NOT want to do it.

Second of all and more important, I have been in line behind a "magician" who just HAS to show the clerk a trick. Taking up my time and really annoying the clerk who is being polite and not saying something. This goes for the guys who insist on telling jokes too by the way.

Keep in mind nobody likes magic more than magicians. When we insist on foisting tricks on an unsuspecting public, it usually does not work out quite as well as we think.

I have seen many many guys who do this, and then once they leave they are the joke everyone is telling.

I know I know, not you spacifically. I am sure this describes NOBODY on this board and I mean it not to be devisive. But life exists without magic.
Message: Posted by: teevtee (Feb 20, 2006 04:41PM)
I like to do the vanishing pants trick. You sit down, your seat mate sits next you you, they glance away and when they look back BINGO! You are pantless!!!

I'm telling you, it is a laugh riot!
Message: Posted by: williamtbrady (Feb 20, 2006 05:12PM)
How about 'ultimate card thru window' ;)

Message: Posted by: Jaz (Feb 20, 2006 05:57PM)
How about an anti-gravity effect on the plane.
They use planes so astronauts can get used to this sensation.
Hook up some IT and have something float up off your tray.

Something about electromagnetic fields might also freak some people out.

When not playing magician, and sitting by myself I've casually, made things float and move. It's soon noticed.
this is when you can get talking and possibly make some contacts.
Message: Posted by: Clarioneer (Feb 20, 2006 07:35PM)
Time and Place and that's really not it....

BUT.... :) if you want to make someones day why not make a napkin rose and offer it to whomever watches you make it... with your compliments and a smile...

To an air hostess how about this "wierd - a guy dressed in black with a parachute on his back just leapt out of this window"... before he jumped he asked me to give you a rose with his compliments... "naturally I said to him there's no way you'd believe me - but hey... just in case - here's the rose he left :)
Message: Posted by: John Palazzo (Feb 20, 2006 09:53PM)
Thanks Jaz.

The anti-gravity theme is a good one.

Clarioneer - thanks too. The paper rose is a nice touch to say THANKS to the hard working flight attendants. And maybe get another round of peanuts no one else gets. :)

William - man you are right - that would be the ultimate card thru window.

Posted: Feb 20, 2006 11:13pm
I missed two...

teevtee, I'll pass on the pants trick. You seem to enjoy doing it - wouldn't want to take anything away from you, so to speak.

Danny, thanks for expanding on your initial response. Point taken.
Message: Posted by: teevtee (Feb 20, 2006 10:22PM)
OK, serious answer... though a boring one. I find that card tricks work best because they are a natural item to have on a plane and it does not have an schtick stigma to it. On LONG flights, international flights, I have occasionally done some card stuff and it has gone over well. Nothing travel themed or anything, ust your favorite routine.
Message: Posted by: John Palazzo (Feb 20, 2006 11:05PM)
Thanks teevtee.

I would have thought cards might be a little "too much" on a flight. Your experience suggests otherwise - kept to a limit, of course.

Interestingly enough, I was browsing the Richard Osterlind entree (2005) and happened upon this wonderful little item he shared. If I've got a friendly conversation already going, I think I could work this in without forcing it.

I won't even try to repeat it here. You've got to read Richards description in his words. Here's the Café link, scroll down to Richards response to the post. It's the "birthday" pet routine he describes.


What a nifty little gem. This just might be what I've been looking for.

That is, for an opener at least. (I'm just kidding Danny. :) ).

Message: Posted by: NeoMagic (Feb 21, 2006 08:46AM)
If you must, then take something to entertain the kids and keep them occupied... the parents will love you for it ;-) Then if some adults show interest, so be it.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Feb 21, 2006 09:46AM)
John, it is only one mans opinion is all.

NOT a rule not even a guideline. I mean no disrespect.
Message: Posted by: Aubrey de Wet (Apr 3, 2006 11:45AM)
About a year ago I flew from Johannesburg to Dubai (where I stayed for two nights before leaving for Bangkok). One of my travelmates mentioned to the head steward (a guy from Lebanon) that I do magic. He brought over a pack of cards (Emirates brand) and asked me to do a trick. Well, I was sitting by the window (in economy) with a person seated next to me, two people watching from the front and a steward in the aisle. All I had to work on was the tray in front of me.

I performed that classic trick from both Royal Road and Expert Card Technique - I think it's called 'Now You See It!' in ECT. It went amazingly well. That evening we went out to explore Dubai's nightlife, chaperoned by a real-life flightsteward and some of his (mostly female) Swedish, Norwegian, Spanish and French co-workers.

What a trip.
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Apr 3, 2006 12:56PM)
It's great to know things that you can do at the spur of the moment when asked.
Personally, I agree 100% with Dannydoyle.
Message: Posted by: The Great Simon (Apr 3, 2006 02:14PM)
I like the "entertain the kids" idea, not only will the parents love you, but (if they're anything like some of the kids I've shared a flight with) EVERYONE on the plane will.

You should try and avoid doing things too early on a long flight unless you're prepared; I made that mistake on a train journey once.

I was just shuffling some cards (to play solitaire, actually!) and I could see these two little kids watching me, so I offered to show them a few tricks. Unfortunately 20 minutes later I'd done everything I could do to a good standard with an unprepared pack of cards, I didn't have anything else I could do well enough... but the kids kept pestering me for another 1/2 an hour to do something else...

I won't make that mistake again!

Anyway, John, how did it go? Did you do anything?
Message: Posted by: evolve629 (Apr 3, 2006 03:05PM)
If asked to do a trick up in the air, I'd pick Richard Osterlind's Watch Routine.
Message: Posted by: ofrmagic (Apr 3, 2006 10:21PM)
Card tricks always work
Message: Posted by: gollymrscience (Apr 6, 2006 11:59PM)
Your comment about business card exchange reminded me of an affect from Michael Ammar's "Ice Breakers" video. Self printing business card affect. Essentially impromptu and easy reset. He has another tape out called (I think) Business Card Miracles.
Further to the topic I am always reluctant to force magic on people. I lean towards magical things that happen that don't need me to demand their attention. The magic just happens and they happen to be there when it does and usually I do it for myself more than them. If they are entertained in a passive, non-invasive way then fine but I have never been comfortable with magic performances that demand unwilling (even if polite) participation.
I've never done much in the way of magic on a plane anyway as I'm too busy hanging onto my seat trying to keep the plane in the air.
Message: Posted by: AGMagic (Apr 11, 2006 07:23PM)
In keeping with my amature status, I do occasionally perform for kids on planes. Like others have said, their parents and the rest of the plane will love you if you can quiet down a rambunctious kid. Magic in the terminal is a little easier to deal with, especially if you have a long layover or a delayed flight.

Keep in mind that you have to get your props through the security checks, so simple and non metalic is generally better. I remember reading a story about a magician who was stopped going through a security checkpoint. The screener saw something on the X-ray and the magician soon found himself surrounded by armed guards. The screener thought he had seen a hand grenade. The hand grenade turned out to be a purse frame and a pool ball. In another part of the world the incident could have resulted in a bag of exploded tricks!
Message: Posted by: Ireland (Apr 16, 2006 01:56PM)
Here's a great trick for an airplane....buy one of those yellow oxygen masks (comes with a couple feet of plastic tubing). Wait until the person next to you falls asleep....slip on the mask, nudge him awake - look at him and start screaming..... Great trick.....and you saw it here on the MagicCafe!
Message: Posted by: syd_uk (Apr 20, 2006 08:28PM)
On 2006-04-16 14:56, Ireland wrote:
Here's a great trick for an airplane....buy one of those yellow oxygen masks (comes with a couple feet of plastic tubing). Wait until the person next to you falls asleep....slip on the mask, nudge him awake - look at him and start screaming..... Great trick.....and you saw it here on the MagicCafe!

That is a HILARIOUS idea!

Posted: Apr 20, 2006 9:36pm

Ok, I may be in the minority here, but I think a flight is a GREAT opportunity for magicians.

Firstly, people are often bored and are happy for any entertainment.

I also agree with the comments about business card tricks. Not even 'miracles'.. just some fun gags would be a start.

Then, on long-haul flights, you've got those great trays of food and cutlery to fool around with - loops spring to mind.

Little bottles of booze.. inflight magazines for a boooktest.. foreign currency.. pens..

Ok, so angles aren't great on a flight. But you have a pretty stationary audience, so you can make it work to your advantage.

Also, if you do card effects, buying a crappy deck from the inflight magazine and doing some simple effects is always an option.

If I was half as inventive as I'd like to be, I'm sure I could have a field-day on a plane.. or in the waiting room. Someone could write a whole book just about Inflight Magic - you heard it here first.

Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Apr 21, 2006 11:42PM)
I flew a 100,000 miles year before last. I would KILL someone who did what you described.

Many many people who freequent fly really don't want to be bothered with anything more than the book they are smart enough to bring with them.
Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (Apr 23, 2006 05:46PM)
Well you could try Knife thru Coat. Needle through arm. Finger chopper. Cut and restored seat belt. :kermit:
Message: Posted by: mc_magi (Apr 23, 2006 06:45PM)
I think magic would be more fitting for the people waiting, because of all the in-flight entertainments these days and even without you are sitting in a chair, and people may be tired etc.
Although.. if you just started to play with cards and see if they take on interest. Then strike up a converstaion. I found that when things get started this way, its a lot better than cold cold hitting people.
Message: Posted by: syd_uk (Apr 24, 2006 09:57AM)
On 2006-04-22 00:42, Dannydoyle wrote:
I flew a 100,000 miles year before last. I would KILL someone who did what you described.[/quote]

I wasn't suggesting just getting up and walking around the plane, finding unwilling spectators. More just fiddling around and maybe sparking up interest from someone sitting near you.

And if it was me, I'd much rather someone approached me while waiting to board a flight than some David Blaine wannabe coming up to me in the street.

Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Apr 24, 2006 03:53PM)
And the difference is?????????
Message: Posted by: syd_uk (Apr 24, 2006 06:13PM)
The difference is, if I'm waiting for a plane or train departure, or if I'm actually sitting on a plane or train, I'm having downtime. I read a book, or a magazine or watch a film or eat some food.

If I'm in the street, I'm usually on my way somewhere. I have an agenda other than staying in one place.

Not to mention the fact that I can't stand Blaine's performance. I'd just want to punch him.

Message: Posted by: Jerseymagician (Apr 25, 2006 04:35PM)
Cards wouldnt be my first thought, but maybe stigmata or something, I mean its a good angle.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Apr 25, 2006 07:17PM)
The difference is in the way YOU perceive youself and the way you percieve Blaine and nothing else. You are bothering strangers,and that is that.
Message: Posted by: Josh Chaikin (Apr 25, 2006 11:55PM)
I think that if you're going to be doing magic in an airport the best time would be while you're in the terminal waiting to board. I know when I fly, I don't really want to be bothered and from my experience the other passengers don't either.

As for how to break the ice, it's already been covered. Just start doing something and see how people react. A friend of mine was sitting in a terminal, and just started doing sybil cuts, people started watching, he started showing tricks and was hired for a party.

To each his own though.
Message: Posted by: Comedy Writer (Apr 26, 2006 12:43PM)
I'd agree that in the terminal is a much better place to perform. Perhaps between flights. People are bored and waiting --- though I'd let them approach me, not vice versa.

Comedy Writer

PS I'd avoid balloons alltogether though -- loud pops tend to make security nervous.
Message: Posted by: Lee Darrow (Apr 27, 2006 02:08PM)
On the plane - big mistake. Why? Because, on a long flight, you will wind up performing for the entire flight - ALL the way, if you get someone who wants to "see another," or someone across the aisle who wants to "see it again." Been there, had it happen, won't do that again.

It's better to either chat the person up, get their business card and send them your promotional material. That way, you have THEIR contact info and have more control over the interaction.

Lee Darrow, C.H.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Apr 27, 2006 03:33PM)
Lee you are assuming a level of compentence that may or may not be there.

Worse yet, you end up performnig the entire flight, and they are wishing, and hoping against hope you stop! (not YOU Lee, the "greater you")
Message: Posted by: johnnymystic (Apr 27, 2006 03:39PM)
How about this trick...'The Ever Filling Puke Bag'...been there done that!

It's gonna be a bumpy ride! ;)

Message: Posted by: Lee Darrow (Apr 28, 2006 02:12AM)
Danny, you hit the nail right on the thumb, as usual. One of the problems with trying to perform on a plane is that you CAN'T get away from the people! You're STUCK there and if you've got a limited set of goodies to work with, you are going to run out of material quickly and then you will look BAD!

And nobody wants to look bad.

Lee Darrow, C.H.
Message: Posted by: fccfp (May 1, 2006 08:22AM)
I do not regularly perform when traveling. As has been said by others:
People don't want to be bothered
You can get stuck performing for the whole flight
You can quickly run out of material,
Etc, etc..

However, I was on a twelve-hour flight last year. There were a lot of kids and there very loquacious mother's. It was difficult, if not impossible to sleep. Out of sheer boredom I started playing with a rolled up napkin. Vanishes, cup and ball moves, just to pass the time and get a little practice and maybe come up with ideas for a routine. I looked up at one point and this kid across the aisle was leaning around his mom and watching open mouthed. He was really amazed. Hey, it happens, even for me. I invited him over and did some slights pretty soon there was a little group around me watching and laughing. Everyone was having a good time. I eventually snuck in some IT and had fun with that. The cabin lights were dim and I could have probably down it with dark yarn. I finished up by doing a “final” vanish. The kids were then showed simple sponge ball vanish and they went off happily to practice.

It was a one time thing and completely unplanned, but under those circumstances I would do it again. The steward thanked me after because they had never had the plane so quit!
Message: Posted by: Joey Evans (May 4, 2006 09:34AM)
I say, if you want to do magic on a plane, practice something visual. Vanishes, appearances, etc.. This could catch someone's eye and they will ask to see more. I don't normally do this, I like to sleep on flights, but I have. And I have even gotten shows at businesses due to doing this on a flight. I don't push the envelope when I do it. If the person is bored, then they wil be looking around and see it and ask you. This is the best way to go, in my opinion.
Just because some people wish not to perform on a plane doesn't mean it won't work for you.
Message: Posted by: Moyle with Parkinsons (May 9, 2006 10:38PM)
I don't want to get caught in the middle of this, but, I perform on the bus or tram on the way to or from work. I practice visual tricks queitly until someone shows interest, I ask if they want to see something, then I show them one trick and if they ask to see another I show them another but only if they ask. I find this is not a bad way of doing things because people are bored the same as in a plane. I am not bothering them because if they say no I just go on practicing and if they want to see more than one trick then they have to ask. Also even if they keep wanting to see them I wont run out of tricks because I only have like a 15 minute ride to work each day. This works for me maybe you might want to skip the plane and do this instead.

Message: Posted by: derrick (May 10, 2006 10:19PM)
I tend to agree that magic is best not performed on a flight. Saying that, I have performed magic on a plane but it was after I was noticed working on a new card routine. I gave a little 10 or 15 minute performance and then went back to my studies. That seems to me this is the best way to find out if your seatmates are interested in seeing a little magic or not. If they ignore you, you'll have a new trick ready when you get off the flight.
Message: Posted by: Moyle with Parkinsons (May 11, 2006 05:48PM)
That sounds like a good way to do it derrick. That would probably sooth the two major problems that other posters had with this predicament. By just practicing and waiting to be asked you are not bothering anyone, also it will take time for someone to get the guts to pipe up so it wont be too early in the flight and you wont run out of tricks. Good work!
Message: Posted by: Ireland (May 14, 2006 07:41PM)
Whenever I've performed on a plane,people still got up and walked out.
Message: Posted by: Gislain (May 25, 2006 04:06AM)
I use my trusty IT reel and make apaper float on takeoff. I tell them that it is a gravity thing since we're going up so fast.
Love it
Message: Posted by: Lee Darrow (May 27, 2006 03:13AM)
I just flew back from Atlanta to Chicago. A guy, sitting about three rows forward from me was doing some magic. Scotch & soda was his biggie and I had to laugh as he had to keep getting up to go to the lavatory to "do the necessary" and then would come back and do the trick again - the SAME way.

After his fourth trip, the little blue-haired lady sitting across from him said, "I hope you get that bladder infection taken care of soon, young man!"

I almost sprayed the seat in front of me with the ginger ale I was drinking, especially as the flight is only about a 90 minute jaunt!

Just goes to show you that your choice of material is critical on flights like this!

Lee Darrow, C.H.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (May 27, 2006 04:31PM)
Lee thank you for sharing this sir.

It is this person who I feel does more harm than good as far as magic goes. It is also the second reason I don't want to perform under circumstances like this.

I don't want to fall into that catagory!
Message: Posted by: joseph (May 28, 2006 06:19AM)
Don't do coin tricks...Drop one, and good luck finding it... :) ..
Message: Posted by: Lee Darrow (May 28, 2006 05:35PM)
I do coin tricks all the time. Coins are everywhere, and that's the point, however, on a plane, performing anything at all strikes me as counterproductive, as I noted in my earlier posts. On a flight of any length, you will run out of your 'A' list material rather quickly, then your 'B' list stuff and, let's face it, the 'C' and 'D' list stuff probably isn't ready for prime time, so why risk your reputation by showing it to anyone?

Sit back, read a good book, watch the movie, if any, or take a nap. I usually listen to a self-improvement CD because I have SO much to improve upon within myself!

Lee Darrow, C.H.
Message: Posted by: Nick Wait (Dec 20, 2007 11:33AM)
I to tend not to perform on planes, unless of course my neighbour is very hot ;p
And I'll only perform to a friend, someone who has already seen my magic and I know wants to seem more, they'll often ask. From this, neighbours around can watch,listen and join in. It's hardly an ideal location though, one tiny table, people on all sides except forwards. I try to avoid it. I always feign reuctance, and generally this is true(at least initially) and I never perform for more than 10mins.
Message: Posted by: jolly12 (Mar 3, 2008 04:08PM)
After I bought my first few tricks in orlando and had a few days of down time to practice it was time to head home. there was a little kid in front of us (id say 5 or 6) who wouldnt stop crying because his ears popped. so I got out my rising card deck and gave him a dose of that, followed by a shot of Svengali. he giggled for a bit then turned around happy.
Message: Posted by: mrsmiles (Mar 4, 2008 02:47PM)
On a plane - it's got to be a levitation trick, followed by an invitation to join the mile high club to an appreciative air hostess. That's what I'd do anyway.
Message: Posted by: Danny Boy (Mar 5, 2008 09:57PM)
Sorry if this has already been mentioned, but I only perform cold-reading when I'm on a plane. I'm of the DannyDoyle School of Aircraft Magicery, and hate having my already limited space eaten up by props. Do on or two effects, then turn away and go to sleep. You'll wake up a small time celebrity.

Message: Posted by: pepka (Mar 6, 2008 05:38AM)
The Dannys and Lee have hit the proverial nail you know where. I can not imagine doing this on a plane. I guess we all were at a point at one time where we felt the need to constantly perform. Anyone who does this for a living probably does not feel this pressure anymore.