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Topic: Patter
Message: Posted by: KyleThorson (Jan 24, 2007 01:25PM)
I am just beginning and I am having trouble coming up with patter for the tricks I am learning... I don't want to copy the exact patter from the DVD's, but that's probably my only option at the moment. Does anyone just use the same patter or do you always make up something new?

Message: Posted by: kroberge (Jan 24, 2007 02:02PM)
I know what you mean Kyle. Fortunately, I think I have an answer. It will involve an anecdote though.

I went to my first magic meeting last Sunday (Ring 362) and saw lots of magic there. One routine caught my attention and caused this recent revelation about patter. The routine was rope magic and I knew most of the tricks. They were executed nicely but that's not what captivated me. This fellow was talking about bullying and using rope magic to illustrate points about bullying. It is the best patter I have ever heard probably because it was all true and very poignant. It fit his personality and it was something that he actually performed for kids when talking about this subject, bullying.

I went away from that meeting realizing what so many magicians have said on this forum. Presentation is key. You certainly have to be technically proficient, but the trick should have context, meaning and those should fit you. Of course, you don't need a lot of patter if you're going to spontaneously levitate two feet off the ground. But I honestly enjoyed this rope magic performance more because of the context.

Anyway, what's my point. I've been practicing for a few months now and when I say practice I mean technique. I'll practice a false count or a palm or something. I'll rehearse a trick. But I've realized that practice also means working on your story or your setting. There's no quick road to patter. You can borrow someone else's or modify it, but its not yours. I'm not talking about intellectual property rights. I mean that it won't fit you as well as it could if you don't create it from scratch.

Of course, this isn't easy. But magic isn't easy. I don't do a convincing classic palm yet and I don't do a very good presentation yet. But now I realize that both take practice and that probably, creating authentic and fitting patter will take more work and more ingenuity.

Here's what this newb recommends: figure out who you are (nothing existential here, just what do you like, what kind of person are you, etc) and then dig from there. I'm a geek (asides from magic) I like math, physics and such. So I'm trying to dig around for stories, anecdotes, properties, and what not that I can fit into my tricks. I'm practicing a cut and restored rubberband trick with a TT and I'm researching the way rubberbands are made and stuff about rubber and so on. I'm not sure what I'll find. But I'm hoping something will catch my eye and inspire patter.

It all depends on you. I've recently enjoyed watching Band Shark by Dan Harlan. I love that guys puns! I could just grab all his patter, but its not quite me. It won't feel like me. I might forget parts of it. The only way to make it "me" and to make sure its internalized and personal is to make it myself.

Sorry this is so long winded, I hope it helps.

Message: Posted by: ryesteve (Jan 24, 2007 02:18PM)
On 2007-01-24 14:25, KyleThorson wrote:
Does anyone just use the same patter or do you always make up something new?
I find that most patter I hear from someone else just doesn't fit me, for one reason or another, so there's really no temptation to copy it. I tend to put myself in the mindset of a spectator watching the effect. What sort of presentation would make the effect "work"? Is there some sort of story that provides a reason for the effect you're doing? For me to like an effect enough to want to do it, there's a good chance I already have something in mind that satisfies those two points. If I don't, then that probably means I don't feel enough of a connection with the effect to want to pursue it.
Message: Posted by: Andy the cardician (Jan 24, 2007 06:21PM)
Presentation is a matter of individual style and personality. Acting a different personality is very, very difficult and requires a lot to practice.

For example, if you are a calm and rather serious person, you will struggle to copy a funny and very talkative magician and vice versa . . . That is why it is better to learn tricks from books so you can adopt it to your personality instantly . . .

Frankly, almost all personalities can be the basis of a strong magician - so there is no real need to become someone else . . . except you want it badly, then you have to learn to start acting.

Message: Posted by: Adam J (Jan 24, 2007 07:35PM)
Kroberge has great advice. Find out what kind of personality you have, and find some stories that you could relate the trick to. I wouldn't suggest copying the patter directly from where you learned it, but you could always use it as a starting place.

Next time you see a magic presentation, think about WHY you like it. Did you like it because it was funny? Because it told a story? Because it had a good moral ending? Why did other people like it? Once you know what you ENJOY, then you can come up with a way to work it into your routine. In the end, whatever fits you is what you'll want to use.

Message: Posted by: Jlowhy (Jan 24, 2007 08:01PM)
I think you should use the patter offered on the DVDs first especially if they are important. Many times, there is a lot of thought that goes into the patter used and there are certain spots where the patter is used to misdirect or mislead the spectator. You may lose the subtleties if you invent your own patter immediately.

Try performing with the given patter first and then eventually, you'll start to understand more about your performing personality and you can then work the patter to become your own.
Message: Posted by: Keith Mitchell (Jan 25, 2007 08:51AM)
I wish I knew the Patter on any of these DVD's. None of them are Closed-Captioning, so how in the world am I supposed to know?

I spend lots of money on these DVDs and watch them moved their mouths, and do the tricks. Most of the time I fall asleep.

There are Closed-Captioning software available for these Producers of Magic DVD's that allow them to do the work themselves. They don't have to spend any money hiring other people to do the work. There is absolutely NO EXCUSE for not including Close-Captioning. Zero excuse! They CAN AFFORD it!

Yeah I am angry as you can see.

Just maybe, if one of these producers did start including Closed-Captioning, then the rest of the magic community will follow the example.

What does any of this have to do with the topic of Patter? EVERYTHING!

Have fun
Message: Posted by: KyleThorson (Jan 25, 2007 10:23AM)
Thanks for the advice everyone. I am truly learning a lot of wonderful things since I signed up on this forum.

That is a great idea and your right, it would be very easy for them to include that information on the DVD's. I wonder if we could create our own and "play" it with the DVD using DVD software on the PC. If that's possible we could create a catalog of them for people to use. I guess the problem with that would be that it would give away the contents of the DVD.... not so good.

Thanks again!

Message: Posted by: MagiClyde (Jan 25, 2007 08:17PM)
Personally, I am a big fan of the idea of creating my own patter for a trick. The biggest single advantage is that you won't have as many problems remembering it. I have the packet trick "Alien Autopsy". It came with a little poem you're supposed to say that goes with the trick. Couldn't remember it, so I wrote my own. Problem solved.

About the only time I would consider another's patter is if it really adds to the trick or would not feel right without it. I have only encountered 1 or 2 tricks that meet that criterion.
Message: Posted by: Dynamike (Jan 25, 2007 08:48PM)
Do not be a Copy Cat. The only way to entertain the audiences is by being yourself.
Message: Posted by: rgranville (Jan 26, 2007 07:59AM)
Kroberge is correct: Figure out who you are, and be yourself. Now take it a step (just one) further: Figure out who you are as a magical character. How is it that you can do these magical things? Do you have magical powers? Are you an incredible card sharp? Are you as confused by what's going on as the spectators are? Are miracles happening around you and you don't even notice? Figure that out first, and the patter will follow. And more importantly, it will be [i]consistent[/i]. You'll go from doing tricks to doing magic.

Message: Posted by: Dave V (Jan 26, 2007 01:13PM)
On 2007-01-25 09:51, madkiki wrote:
I wish I knew the Patter on any of these DVD's. None of them are Closed-Captioning, so how in the world am I supposed to know?

That can be good... and bad. You have the advantage of not being stuck saying the things "their way" but I can see how the explanation phase would be pretty tough. I wonder what the added cost of CC really is, and why they couldn't do it? Or, from their side of the equation, is it worth it for the handful that "might" need it? I'd like to see it simply because I can watch the video late at night without waking up the rest of the household.
Message: Posted by: airship (Jan 26, 2007 03:44PM)
Keith, Ron Jaxon here on the Café has expressed the same opinion about closed-captioning:

Message: Posted by: Gary Richards (Jan 27, 2007 03:04PM)
Much worthwhile advice here. I think Adam's comment about discovering "why" you like a particular effect or series of effects in a performance is key to coming up with patter that is authentically yours. New writers are often advised to write the kind of story they would like to read. Same goes for a magician's patter, I think. Now I've gotta go find my rabbit. But, of course, first I have to find my hat. It's gotta be here somewhere. Good luck.
Message: Posted by: Josh the Superfluous (Jan 27, 2007 03:15PM)
One more vote for kroberge. He's right on the money. Whatever your into, can have a connection. My kidshow theme is about me studying magic; It's not a big stretch. Where are you in life? How do you play? What are your current struggles? Patter is the one place you can be honest in magic.
Message: Posted by: Keith Mitchell (Jan 27, 2007 03:37PM)
On 2007-01-26 14:13, Dave VanVranken wrote:
That can be good... and bad. You have the advantage of not being stuck saying the things "their way" but I can see how the explanation phase would be pretty tough. I wonder what the added cost of CC really is, and why they couldn't do it?

I don't like people telling me what is worth hearing or not, it should be MY decision whether I want to hear or not. With CC I can decide for MYSELF if the patter is good or bad, and it gives me the opportunity to improvise the patter if necessary. This goes for everyone else who can hear what is being said. This might be a wake-up call for the hearing community, get used to it!

In the past Movie producers had to spend a fortune hiring someone or a group of people to include the CC or Subtitles, maybe they still do that. Now with computer technology, you can buy software and do it yourself, and not have to pay someone else to do it. Is it an advantage to include CC or Subtitles, YES! Imagine including Subtitles in other language other than English, then people around the world would want to buy it. That sounds like more money for the Producers. Not only people around the world, but more Deaf people would probably be encourage to buy. Makes me wonder how many deaf people are refusing to buy them?

Patter is an individual thing based on their personality. I am fully aware of that. With the CC or Subtitles I would have a better idea of what is going on, and I should be given the right to choose whether it's good or not. My entire life has been robbed of words, and CC has opened the window for me.

It does not hurt to hear what others say, it's something we can learn from, and that can only be done if the words are known.

Thanks to all
Message: Posted by: Gary Richards (Jan 27, 2007 05:21PM)
I find your comment, "Patter is the one place you can be honest in magic," to be truly thought provoking. There's a lot there to mull over, I think. Thank you.
Message: Posted by: Josh the Superfluous (Jan 27, 2007 07:09PM)
You're welcome.
Message: Posted by: Jaxon (Jan 27, 2007 07:57PM)
As airship already pointed out above. I've pointed out the benefits there would be to CC or subtitle DVD's. Not only for us deafy's but also for translating to other languages. There's one more thing that it might help on occasions. Let's imagine you're learning a technically difficult move from a DVD. With it subtitled you could freeze (pause) the screen and the words will also be paused on the screen. If it's something very involved this could make it easier to fallow. For example: "Move your index finger this way and your thumb that way as you rotate your wrist.....". But I know that only us people who need it will even care about that so I doubt it'll catch on. But I do promise that any DVD I put out will be subtitled in various languages. Heck, if I could hear I would open the service myself and have a new "subtitle Magic DVD" business to run.

But enough about that. I'll bring it back to the main topic of this discussion.

On 2007-01-24 14:25, KyleThorson wrote:
I am just beginning and I am having trouble coming up with patter for the tricks I am learning... I don't want to copy the exact patter from the DVD's, but that's probably my only option at the moment. Does anyone just use the same patter or do you always make up something new?


Sorry to put the quote in but I wanted to bring it down. Here's my thoughts on this.

When you asked, "Does anyone just use the same patter or do you always make up something new?" I think it depends on the trick. Not too often but sometimes the patter can be a key element in what makes the trick work. This doesn't mean that you'd need to copy the patter word for word but there might be some lines in the patter that serve a purpose.

I'll tell you what I usually do when it comes to developing my patter. This might not work for everyone but when it comes to patter and presentation you really do have to find your own way. The only way to do this is through experience.

When I learn something I'll pay attention to every aspect of it including the patter (When I can). Now, I've been performing for some time now so I've been able to develop my own style. So right away I start to think of weather the trick itself would fit me. Or maybe just part of the trick will fit me. For instance I might like the plot of the patter but I wouldn't word it the same way. Or I might dislike the patter but like the trick. From there I try to think of ways to make it work [b]for me.[/b]

Now, if you learn a trick from a book or DVD. Think about weather or not you think it would fit you as is with no changes to patter or presentation. If it fits you then go ahead and use it that way. Since it was taught to you from a Marketed source then you have every right to perform it exactly how it was taught (I don't suggest this but you could). If it already fits you then there's no need to change anything. But know this, you should still keep your mind opened to ways it might be improved. If you think of a joke, line or bit to add to it. Then go out and see how it goes. Some things will work out and others won't. Before you know it the presentation and/or patter is now your own.

Now, if the patter doesn't fit you at all but you still want to perform the effect. Then go out and perform it. While performing it ideas are bound to spring up eventually. The only way to develop your own presentation and patter style is to go out and find what works and more importantly what doesn't work. Now to go a little deeper into that. When something doesn't work then try to figure out why. Who knows, maybe it'll lead to something usable.

To be honest I don't really put much thought into my own patter. Don't get me wrong because patter is important but I rarely sit there and think about it. I mainly let that develop while performing. I'm mainly what you would call a comedy magician so I hope to find lines to make my routines funny. So when one comes to mind I give it a few tries. Some stick and some don't.

Let the presentation evolve is my advice. But like I said, it might not work exactly like that for everyone.

Ron Jaxon
Message: Posted by: Andy the cardician (Jan 27, 2007 08:17PM)

great summary - thanks for that.

Regarding your statement that you do not put much thoughts into your patter, I would see it as something that you do almost automatically, quasi on the run, hence even you do not dedicate special time for it, the grey cells do the work already.

Message: Posted by: Jaxon (Jan 27, 2007 08:51PM)
It's kind of like that. I guess you can call what I do "spontaneous patter" and yet when something works I keep using it. So they become a part of the routine or trick.

Let me try and think of some examples.

One time I was performing an outside show at a performing arts festival. During my act the backdrop (jet set) tipped over and basically fell on my head. There I was with this wall leaning against me. I looked at the audience and said, "I almost fell for it". Every since then if I see someone trip or fall (or I trip or fall) I'd say a version of that line. "Don't fall for it yet, the trick isn't over" or "I'm so good even I fell for it". Things like that.

One time I was performing for a group and they where all laughing and responding very well to it all. All except one girl that is. For some reason this one girl wouldn't smile or respond at all. Now, normally I'd just ignore that and keep performing for those who are enjoying it (That's usually the best idea in this situation). But this night for some reason I started focusing on it instead of ignoring it. I said something like, "Oh, don't worry, eventually I'll do something that she'll enjoy". I performed something else and at the conclusion of the trick when the reaction would usually come I quickly (And very obviously) brought all my attention to the girl as if observing her very hard to see if she'll react. Not much this time but my obvious examination of her face caused her to smile a little. So I performed something else and did the focus on her again. She finally smiled at the conclusion of the trick and I made sure everyone knew it. I acted like I was celebrating "YES! I got her. She finally smiled" all the while I'm patting myself on the back and things like that.

That was a spontaneous occurrence. I never done or thought about doing that before. It just happened and it turned out successful. Since then I've done the same thing a number of times and it's become a routine I go into when a similar situation arises. By the way. If any of you ever decide to try this I should warn you that it won't always work. It's the kind of thing where you need to know when to shut up too.. :)

So these are the kinds of things that happen and sometimes a new patter or presentation develops through this process. It's an on going thing and I'll never stop looking for those kinds of things.

Ron Jaxon
Message: Posted by: Andy the cardician (Jan 27, 2007 09:26PM)
Some years ago I did fall of a stage . . . such things do happen. Always good for a laught - afterwards.
Message: Posted by: Keith Mitchell (Jan 27, 2007 10:55PM)
All this time I have been studying magic for the past year, I noticed that no-one really shares their patter or prestentation. Some people do, but not many.

Is it because of some kind of challenge issue with other magicians, or is it because you guys are encouraging us newbies to write our own presentation/patter for our own benefits?

I am only asking because I am kind of curious. Makes me wonder how far a Magician would go to protect their on vision.

Would it be possible if we could pick just one trick, then everyone share their patter on that trick? Kind of like a brainstorming session. Is this a good or bad idea?

Just wondering
Message: Posted by: Gary Richards (Jan 27, 2007 11:00PM)
I find your personal examples of "spontaneous patter" to be most insightful and helpful. One of the keys to survival in any field, I've always believed, is the ability to adapt. Your closing comment, "It's an ongoing thing and I'll never stop looking for those kind of things," is in my humble opinion what separates a real master, in any field, from a novice. Thank you for hanging around here and sharing.
Message: Posted by: Andy the cardician (Jan 27, 2007 11:43PM)

Patter is personality related - what works for you might not work for me. Also, the impact depends not only on the words but also the intonation, the speech flow and the whole accompanying body language.

Message: Posted by: pradell (Jan 28, 2007 02:44AM)
I acquired a well built Modern Art from a well known magical craftsman who insisted that I had to say exactly what Jonathan Pendragon said during on a television special, and do exactly what he did to perform the illusion. But I'm not Jonathan Pendragon. And I'm not trying to be anyone else in my show except myself. So I thought about it a bit and, being from Alaska, incorporated instead some patter about the Sleeping Lady mountain across the bay from Anchorage, and came up with a tale about cutting her in half....and the illusion began to fit like an old shoe. And my local audience could picture Sleeping Lady in their minds and relate to her, because you can see this mountain from the city on a clear day.
Magical props are just the tools of our trade. We are storytellers, actors playing the part of magicians using magical apparatus as symbols to bring our audiences to a place where they can appreciate their long lost sense of wonder. So think outside the box; come up with a theme or a story and try to relate the things you use, i.e. your tricks, into your act in a way that makes sense to you, your character, and your personality. Your audience will be more likely to travel with you to that special magical place if you believe in your words and your actions, rather than just mindlessly parroting what someone else told you to say on their DVD.
Message: Posted by: Keith Mitchell (Jan 28, 2007 10:18AM)
I have learned a lot from what everyone is saying here. It reminds me of an article that I read in Genii Magazine April 2006. Feature story about magician Arhur Trace. He uses PostModern art for his magic. Paintings that he himself painted. His entire presentation represents HIMSELF. This is a perfect example of what everyone here has been talking about.

That article had the strongest impact on me about finding your own presentation. Arthur Trace went to the EXTREME to make himself into something new. He did not do this overnight, he did this after years of hard core experience. This is the formula for a lot of top magician. Check out this article in the April 2006 issue of Genii Magazine.

I am just a little guy starting out, and therefore I have an overwhelming amount to learn. Will not have my 15 minutes of fame overnight, but can and will enjoy some of the magic that I have learned so far. It's important to learn the basic first and move up the ladder at your own pace. Sometimes people can give the impression that you should move up that learning ladder faster than it is possible.

Patter is an art form. Some people have natural ability to come up with Patter, while others have to struggle with it. I am one of those that have a hard time with words in general. It does not hurt to listen and learn from other magician's patter

I am just a beginner who does not have a clue, or the wisdom from experience to past down to others. Just sharing my observation from the things that I have learned so far.

Good luck
Message: Posted by: Andy the cardician (Jan 28, 2007 07:47PM)
Patter is no chatter
Message: Posted by: airship (Jan 29, 2007 03:20PM)
What Keith said up there about the "Post-Modern Art Magician" is good stuff.

I perform exclusively for friends and family, and they know me too well for me to develop a character that's much different than myself. So instead, I've developed a TOPIC that I use to encapsulate my performances. I focus on the differences between perception and reality, and how our brains sometimes conspire to fool us. I craft my patter to that theme, and it always seems to work for me. It avoids that attitude I used to get: "Hey, you're just a guy I know, you're not really a magician!" Now I get the real "WOWs!"

In other words, you have to go with what works for YOU, not what worked for the other guy.
Message: Posted by: Andy the cardician (Jan 29, 2007 04:22PM)
good point - even a prophet has problems to be recognized as such in his hometown, leave alone a magician.

Message: Posted by: the AuditOrr (Jan 29, 2007 11:04PM)
Now I'm no expert... in fact I'm fairly new to magic. However I am an entertainer. Especially for children. I worked at a birthday place like Chuckie Cheese for 4 years called "Let's Play". As I worked at Let's Play I was expected to pour the kids some juice, serve the kids some cake, and then help the children open their presents. That's all we were supposed to do. However what I found was that I was bored, and the kids were bored (obviously!) and so I stepped out and I actually started to entertain the children. By the time that I left working there I was having a BLAST doing the parties! The kids were having a blast! I got them all RILED UP and better yet I was making a lot more than my $6.00 I started out with. Usually I was getting $40 tips. (now I know that doesn't sound like a big tip, however with how much the people pay for the party already, with how infrequent tips usually are, and with how low tips are usually, $40 is a good tip at Let's Play!) But to get to the point - the patter has to be developed over time in different ways. The majority of the stuff I was doing was pure improv. But I thought about my "performance" after the party. I think if I could go back I would have actually worked harder at making the routines during the parties however what I learned I learned through experience. And everyone has to do it that way whether they've prepared patter before hand or not. So my suggestion is to grab your magic, develop a routine, and then write out patter, think about the patter you wrote, re-write it, and then try the effect out. Once you've performed it a fair few times assess how well the trick is going. If it's not working well then change it! You'll find jokes and little things to say as you go along. BUT ONE ESSENTIAL RULE!!!! - MAKE SURE YOU HAVE FUN! The reason for that is because if you're having fun your audience is having fun!

Hope that helps,
Fraser Orr-Brown
Message: Posted by: jimbowmanjr (Jan 30, 2007 09:22AM)
I have learned quite a bit from reading some of the responses in this thread but just wanted to toss in some of the things I 'attempt' that involve patter.

I have some loose framework that maintains the key elements of patter involved in an effect. I will do a quick study on my audience (kids, teens, adults, elderly) gauge their attention span and interest based on body language and then make a quick decision on how much patter I can fit into the effect. If people are looking around or not paying attention a long-winded patter is probably not the best idea. If you have their undivided attention you can probably get away with something short of a novel.

I am finding that lately certain effects simply don't fit me. I suppose this is part of understanding your character in magic. I prefer to take my chances on the quick study instead of trying to create a character for the spectator that may or may not work for me. Perhaps down the road I will mature into that but for now I prefer to work with whatever audience I am given.