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Peter Marucci
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Profile of Peter Marucci
Flourish Dude writes: ". . . if I do only 1 or 2 effects are you saying I can not do a card trick?"

No, what I am saying is that I wouldn't do a card trick.

If it works for you, then do it!

I don't know your audience, your venue, or your style; so it may (probably does) work very well for you.

Remember, the first question here was "what opening trick do you do".

I would make it something quick, visual, and not requiring any audience assistance (remember, you don't know yet whether they want to see you perform!) And by "quick" I mean less than 10 seconds (which is probably more time than you realize!).

I open with a business-card prediction that involves a joke on me, that eventually includes them. (See my Showtime column in the December issue of the Linking Ring magazine for a full description.)

Sorry, EranRaven, that we got a bit off the track.
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Profile of IanBrodie
I'm only just starting out in restaurant work so perhaps I've jsut been lucky so far, but I really can't buy this "no cards" line.

Surely there are just as many Uncle Yodar's who know a dodgy french drop - does that rule out coins too?

I would hope that any reasonably skilled magician would be able to very quickly differentiate what he's doing from Uncle Yodar's stuff and get the table on their side quickly. That does mean the magic has to start to happen quickly and be visual - something they can't get from a 21 card trick or similar.

I'm not really worried when I hear "oh I know this one" or "my brother can do this". I just smile, wink, or whatever's appropriate - confident that when the card appears and it's odd-backed, comes out of my wallet, visually changes or whatever - that it won't be what they're expecting. In some way's the magic is even stronger then.

As regards religion, many of the "anti cards" religions are anti all magic anyway. I would hope that after you introduce yourself they would point out if they're offended by magic rather than let you offend them.



PS Jon - had some fantastic reactions from Double Back - lot's of "no-ways" and real live scream once - well worth my investment.
On a couple of occasions though I've hit the problem many of the "put this under your hand" tricks run into - the spectator (both times male) has peeked at what's under their hand too early. Does anyone have any ideas or techniques for avoiding this?
Jon Allen
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Profile of Jon Allen
PS Jon - had some fantastic reactions from Double Back - lot's of "no-ways" and real live scream once - well worth my investment.
On a couple of occasions though I've hit the problem many of the "put this under your hand" tricks run into - the spectator (both times male) has peeked at what's under their hand too early. Does anyone have any ideas or techniques for avoiding this?


I'm glad to hear you've been getting those sorts of reactions from Double Back. You'll find they'll become pretty standard. Believe me!

As for someone sneaking a peek at the cards you put down, I've never had this and I'll explain why.

I do not ask somone to cover the cards; I do not put any emphasis on the cards I put down. In the routine, the cards are being disgarded. It's a memory test and I've moved on to the next card.I'll even start asking the next question before I've set the card down. If you are disregarding the cards, so will they.

When I do it for a standing group, I'll ask someone to hold out their hand for me. NOT at the beginning, but as I've turned over the card and need somewhere to place it. Sometimes, somebody will offer their hand as they realise the situation.

I hate tricks that show a wrong card which is then turned face down and placed under someone's hand or finger. If it's wrong, it would go back in the's important to the trick....which leads to people checking the card again.

I will sometimes start at a table with Double Back and nopbody cares about the cards on the table until it is too late. It's all a question of attitude. If you don't care about the cards; neither will they.

Hope this helps.

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Profile of Spydur

I do a trick that I can do while I walk around the restaurant that is going to garner a reaction from guests of the establishment. I do not reccomend starting with the idea of stealing the glasses off the table(as posted by Pyro Magic, however this is a great closer or next to last effect.) I tend to do The Hummer card, or Dlites(yeah I know, but hey it gets a great reaction. Kids go nuts.) If you walk up to the light and pull a bit off and eat it. When I worked at a Mexican Restaurant I would say becareful of the salsa, it can be VERY hot. We use special chilies. Then pull out the Dlite and go to town.

I feel that if I can get the guests to ask me to come over then I am in. I have to do less "cold" approaches, which I like and I do not have to worry about bothering someone in the middle of a deep conversation.

Corey B.
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Profile of Kaliix
When I perform Daley's Last Trick, I put the cards in the spectators hands. What I found is that instead of using there hand like a table and thus giving them a chance to give into the peeking temptation, I ask them to put their other hand on top of the card immediately after I place it in their hand.

I set it up like they are supposed to be guarding the card, so that neither I nor anyone else goes near the card or has a chance to "mess" with it.

Their hands are opened up briefly while the second "Ace" goes on the bottom, and then their hands are sandwiched again.

I find this makes the "in the hands" experience just a smidge stronger as they KNOW they where holding those two cards the whole time. Smile
The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge.
~Daniel J. Boorstin
Jim Robinson
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Profile of Jim Robinson
Of course Frank's opening with the Twins not only violates the rule of not opening with a card trick but also violates the rule about not opening with a story trick. It seems that these rules don't always apply.

Maybe instead of searching for some generalities to guide your way, you should use a more scientific approach. Make a hypothesis - an educated guess - about what trick might work for you as an opener. Then run the experiment - try that trick as your opener. Try some other tricks as openers. Which works best. Why do you think that trick or tricks works best as an opener? Try other tricks that seem like they might fit your new suppositions about openers. Did these tricks work? And so on. That is the only way you'll ever find what works for you. I think one of the biggest advantages of restaurant performing is that it gives you an arena in which to learn what works for you.

"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.... He to who this emotion is a stranger ... is as good as dead: his eyes are closed." Albert Einstein
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Profile of TheAmbitiousCard
I really think it has to do with what you say when you walk up and your demeanor.

If you feel like a card trick won't work... it won't.

Sometimes I open with a card trick.
Sometimes I don't feel so "card-esque" so I pick somethign else.

I used to feel like I REALLY didn't want to open with a card trick. But now I could really care less what I open with. Whatever feels right at the time. Hand Crafted Magic
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Profile of WayneMagic
I gear my routines toward close-up mind reading and illusion, so my style lets me open with a simple prediction on the back of my business card. I use a swami gimmick and do a prediction of a number the person is about to say. It's simple and direct, and boy does it pack a punch!
Revelation X is the coolest close up effect of all time!
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Profile of victorkent
I walk up to a table and greet evryone asking how they are enjoying the meal or their evening then I reach over (if there is a candle or light source or somthing red) use my d'lite and say, "Excuse me... I just wanted a light snack and couldn't resist." I do a quick routine with the light then seque into my second trick.
Or I will say (after the greeting) "Hi I am the wandering magician and I was wandering if you'd like to see some magic." I've heard others use this but I picked it up from a clown in 1984 while working restaurants.
-vk Smile
John 3:16
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Profile of IanBrodie
Thanks Jon - I guess I accidentally "enhanced" your trick & made it worse! I'll do the casual discard in future.

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Profile of Leland
The rule is, if it works for you then do it! Myself, introduction, quick coin vanish appear behind my knee or other place of choice, then card trick. I love cards! San Dimas Opener, John Lovick's.
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Salazar Magic
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Profile of Salazar Magic
I do a spoon-bending routine sometimes borrowing the spoon from the table.
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Profile of kasper777
After talkin with the customers and finding out they would like to see something amazing I then go into "animated matchbox" Here is why: for some people the only magician they have seen in person is Uncle Joe doin the 21 card trick and messing it up. Also, it's short and sweet. By opening with the matchbox, I show them something amazing, by that they know they are going to see other tricks just as good. Also, the way my patter is scripted, as I'm putting it away everyone is laughing, so that helps to set the mood as well.
Jack Bryce
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Profile of Jack Bryce
Thank you Peter for your words of wisdom, I totally agree that some audiences see cards and instantly think of an uncle that has bored the socks of them with his version of the 21-card trick or something similar!

Here in England working as a resident close-up magician in a restaurant, is not something that has taken off, and is not as popular as it is in the USA or Canada.

Unless you live in London, most restaurant owners/managers don’t see the benefit of employing a magician on a regular basis except for the odd special occasion, at Christmas or New Year etc.

Work in the UK mostly comes from agents, private parties, wedding receptions and corporate functions. At these events you are usually expected, it is therefore much easier to establish yourself to the audience as they are expecting you to arrive and entertain them.

Nevertheless, if I am booked to entertain at a venue where the audience will be seated at their tables, I will always arrive early, and catch them at the bar before they sit. I will then move from group-to-group establishing a rapport with the audience, and performing a few quick tricks for them in this setting, usually a coin trick like china town half then maybe CMH and maybe Dr Daley’s but it depends on how I feel at the time.

The important thing is, this does a couple of things. It introduces me to the audience and warms them to me, it shows that I am capable of doing some good magic with very little props, a few coins and a couple of rubber bands, more importantly it primes the audience for my arrival at their table, they already know me and are expecting me. It is then easy to blow them away with some outstanding magic, using coins, cards or whatever you feel in the mood to do at the time. Smile

I never forget a face but in your case I will gladly make an exception...Groucho Marx
invisible inc
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Re. Jack Bryce
I totally agree with Jack on the fact that the British public have not taken to magic in the same way as the American public. However after reading a lot of the responses on the two pages about opening effects I would just like to add my thoughts. On one of the responses I noted someone said "I ask the table if they would like to see some magic" in my opinion BIG NO NO!! This gives them the opportunity to tell you no and leaves you in a sticky situation where you have to just walk off.(embarassing) don't ask them or give them the opportunity to reply with a negative answer. I approach the table and say something like " Good evening ladies and gentlemen are you enjoying youselves" the answer is almost always YES. At this I say "good then I'll soon put a stop to that, what kind of magic do you like and don't say the good stuff because I don't do that" at this there is always a giggle and by this time they have either answered with a certain kind of magic normally coins or cards or vanishes. At this I pull out a silk and ask a lady on the table to inspect it then go into the vanishing silk with old faithfull (thumb tip). Once this has been done there is a gasp and they are hooked, then I go into ambitious card to wallet, then coins across and finally finish with ring flash (killer) then I thank them and tell them to enjoy the rest of their evening. I hope this is of some interest to somebody.
[/quote] Smile
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Jim Robinson
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Of course Tom Mullica said the opening didn't matter much as it would be forgotten by the audience(at least if the rest of the show is any good). I guess that starts to make sense when you realize that THE OPENING EFFECT IS YOU.

Appearance, grooming, wardrobe, attitude, smile, movement, approach, presentation. If those are mastered it probably doesn't matter what you open with ... as long as it furthers the character that you are trying to present (See Darwin Ortiz's Stong Magic).

"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.... He to who this emotion is a stranger ... is as good as dead: his eyes are closed." Albert Einstein
Mickey Cohen
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Profile of Mickey Cohen
This is a very personal question. What do I open with. I open with three card monte. Why?first off I am from New York City so my routine gets my audience used to my accent and they get some kind of insight into my personality.Second off I can qualify various members of my audience for future volunteers I will need in several of the effects in my show.Thirdly I make them feel comfy with me and they learn that I am on their side and I would never make a fool of them and only want to share some fun with them.They begin to be intrigued because they never met anyone like me before .They become curious and want more.They even start to like me .I believe the success of my entire act depends on how well I can win them over on this opening effect .I have been opening with the Monte in this way for the past 31 years .I have it down to a science .Sure closers are also important but if you don't win that audience from the get go ....your history.
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