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John Neely
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One reason I'm doing card magic today is because I was completely fooled by a card trick my uncle used to show me. He would show me the three cards asking if it was my card. None of them were. He showed them to me again and still they were not my card. He would line the three up in a row and I would select one and to my utter amazement it was my card. It was like real magic to me! I don't think I have had as profound of an experience watching magic then with that simple trick which used only the glide and magician's choice. My Uncle didn't really know how to control a card so he slipped my card second from bottom which always looked kind of fishy to me, but it didn't matter because still one card changed into another and cards don't normally do that!

Sometimes when I look back on this experience I wonder why I was so amazed. I show people some of the most amazing tricks many times better than what my uncle showed me, and eventhough people are fooled and entertained I don't think they are anywhere near as affected by the magic than I was with the trick my uncle showed me.

This makes me wonder if they type of effects we perform and the order we perform them matters to help "break in" the audience and make them more suseptible to such an experience. If from the first moment cards are changing and flying from here to there, people are getting used to it and after a while they just take it for granted. Maybe it would be better to start by doing some sort of coincidence effect, yes it seems very unlikely that all four aces are on top of the four packets and for that reason it seems like magic, but it is not an impossible happening like one card changing into another. Than you could do a very good location effect. You could end by changing a card into a selected card by building up the effect to emphasise the impossibility of doing such a thing and leaving the audience with that to think about. Would this be a more effective way of presenting magic and be more likely to leave someone with the same feeling I had when my uncle showed me his trick? Has anyone else thought about this? What do you think an effective line-up would be to achieve this sort of result (not necessarily specific tricks but more types of tricks such as locations, coincidence type effects, ect.)?
puggo
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An interesting thread. Here's my 2 English pence worth, based only on a few years of part time working (so I look forward to reading the thoughts of more experienced peers).

Do you think it depends on the context and moment? That is, when your uncle performed, were you distracted or with a crowd of people? Perhaps your uncle created a sense of anticipation and expectation that got you really focused.

Perhaps when performing at functions etc, it is harder to create that moment, especially if competing against a disco etc.

I agree that if people see a string of 'miracles', then perhaps they are less affected by them. When doing a strolling gig though, I know that I can might only be able to perform 2-3 effects for a group, therefore I want maximum impact as it is unlikely that I have the time to progressively build up the moment.

One thing that I have done on occassion, is to just perform one effect, a good example being Bro Gilbert's Deep 3, so the moment and impact is not diluted.

Charlie
The Burnaby Kid
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John,

Two thoughts on this.

First, the idea of starting with a low (but still impressive) claim before building to a higher claim is a somewhat old idea, which goes at least as far back as Henning Nelms as an identified concept, and likely further as something that magicians put into practice, either knowingly or unknowingly. I use this myself when I perform. Pretty much everything I do in my close-up set is by sleight-of-hand, and everybody in my audience gets the sense it's sleight-of-hand, but the last thing is just far enough beyond sleight-of-hand that it catches them off-guard. Don't get me wrong -- I work really hard to make sure the first parts of the set are deceptive and difficult to deconstruct, but I'm also not flying around the room or anything. If you consider the idea from Billy McComb that you can really only wow them once per show, it makes sense that you could use other effects in order to properly build up to that final experience, or to let them know what you're all about, so that, when it comes time for that final effect, you can leave yourself out of it and leave the magic to itself.

One can also take this idea of starting low claim and ending high claim within the concept of a single routine structure. This is one thing that I think most people do wrong with the Ambitious Card, in that they start with the tandem 2 phase sequence of Tilt-DL-"magic"-insert indifferent-"magic". That sequence is one of the most powerful that exist in all of magic (let alone card magic) specifically because of the fact that both phases complement each other so well, they both seem to look identical, if competently executed they survive a good burning, and yet they offer completely different proofs. In my opinion, one of the best things you can do with that phase is to move it deeper into the routine -- I personally think it's best to use right before the climax, but that's just my two cents -- and to open instead with methods that, while impressive, don't hold up to the exact same scrutiny.

Second, though, while I think much of the above theory has value, I'm not entirely sure that it's exactly what happened to you during your experience. I think what's more likely is that you had a sort of lucky incident in which you had a set schemata about what you thought was possible and impossible, and your uncle had a trick that managed to trump that schemata and blow your mind. When we find ourselves performing magic for people, we don't know exactly how much they know. If they've never seen magic performed before we're in a fairly lucky position in that we can make assumptions about that schemata, and just employ whatever tricks we happen to do best. That said, one of the smartest things you can do before performing in an impromptu or a one-on-one setting (and I take no credit for this idea) is to ask them early on what sort of magic they might have seen before. This, combined with the proper background and training, would actually allow you to figure out what tricks could best be applied to the spectator you're performing for. It might be as simple as figuring out that they know ye olde 21 card trick, and then repeating that exact same trick for them, only this time having them answer your question of "Which row is it in?" mentally, and you using ESP to pick up on which of their cards is the one they're thinking of. On the other hand, though, if you've got somebody who loves magic and was lucky enough to see several magicians perform over their lifetimes, I don't think that there's any implicit guarantee that such a low-to-high structure as described above will work -- more likely, the experience you give them will be competing against the experiences the other magicians gave them. Don't get me wrong, even if those other magicians were really good, you still have a chance to kill them, but if all those other magicians gave them the ACR with the pop-up card climax, and you give them the ACR with the pop-up card climax, I don't think you're going to be dealing with the same situation as what happened with you and your uncle's trick.
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S2000magician
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This reminds me of an old joke:

Two men are talking about miracles. The first says, "If I jumped off a 100-foot cliff and landed unhurt on the rocks below, that would be a miracle."

The second disagrees. "No, it's possible that a sudden gust of wind could catch you just before you hit the ground. Unlikely, but hardly a miracle."

"Well," says the first, "suppose that I jumped a second time, and landed unhurt a second time. Surely that would be a miracle!"

Again, the second is unconvinced. "Two sudden gusts of wind in a row are incredibly unlikely, but not miraculous."

The first persists, "What if I did it a third, fourth, and fifth time? You have to concede that that would constitute a miracle!"

"No," replies the second, "by that time, it's not a miracle; it's a habit."
Cain
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Quote:
On 2009-09-24 14:35, John Neely wrote:
This makes me wonder if they type of effects we perform and the order we perform them matters to help "break in" the audience and make them more suseptible to such an experience. If from the first moment cards are changing and flying from here to there, people are getting used to it and after a while they just take it for granted. Maybe it would be better to start by doing some sort of coincidence effect, yes it seems very unlikely that all four aces are on top of the four packets and for that reason it seems like magic, but it is not an impossible happening like one card changing into another. Than you could do a very good location effect. You could end by changing a card into a selected card by building up the effect to emphasise the impossibility of doing such a thing and leaving the audience with that to think about. Would this be a more effective way of presenting magic and be more likely to leave someone with the same feeling I had when my uncle showed me his trick? Has anyone else thought about this? What do you think an effective line-up would be to achieve this sort of result (not necessarily specific tricks but more types of tricks such as locations, coincidence type effects, ect.)?


Order is vitally important because every time you show something to your audience, the audience changes. The same applies not just to individual tricks but performers as well: if someone had shown you Chicago Opener before your uncle did his glide trick, then a card changing its color would probably stand out in your mind more as a formative experience than whatever your relative did. As for routining, the principle of progression applies to almost any performance work. On the Fourth of July they don't start with the most dazzling display of fireworks, movies save the most thrilling chase sequences for last, etc.

I prefer to compare magic to boiling a frog. You don't drop Kermit into scalding hot water from the first moment.* Every feat you demonstrate changes the parameters of the performance. I think Darwin Ortiz covers pretty much all of this between Strong Magic and Designing Miracles. What you're poking around in your final paragraph has to do with conditioning the audience, managing their beliefs and expectations. Whether or not certain genres or plots are more powerful than others does not offer much guidance since there's so much variation in each area, along with how you present it to an audience (almost everybody reports stories of how a charismatic performer sold the hell out of some grandpa trick and elicited incredible reactions). What about coincidence tricks involving three mates versus the whole deck? Three mates might work somewhere in the middle of a performance, but matching the whole deck (as in Marlo/Ackerman's "Finally Matched") probably best comes at the very end. Or take your standard ace assembly and compare it to MacDonald's Aces. Personally, I think "paradox effects" are strong because people naturally intuit their impossibleness. Does that mean Carpenter's "Mysterious" must come after Bannon's version of the Christ ace trick, since the latter is a four card location with a kicker ending? No. Some offerings transcend their genre: Groundhog Day is not remotely comparable to typical romantic comedies.

*Maybe some performers do begin by dropping the frog in boiling water. If these people turn out brilliant performances, then chances are they're consciously aware of whatever rules they're breaking.
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John Neely
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Wow! Great thoughts! I think I was in my mind considering each audience to be a clean slate and thinking it would be possible to build up the magic for every one in the same way by choosing the right order of effects to perform. But our audiences are not an empty slate. Each one comes to the table with different magic experiences and so your magic will affect each one differently. The thought that you actually add to their slate during your performance which can affect the way they respond to the remaining part of your performance is something I've never considered. Tis should certainly be a consideration when routining your performances.

Personally I had very VERY little experience of magic before my uncle showe me the trick and so I think Andrew's analysis of why I was so profoundly fooled is right on target. It certainly was a "sort of lucky incident" as Andrew puts it. It caused me to search through any and every book on card magic I could find and I learned a lot of the basics of card magic because of this. Lucky indeed!

Charlie also has a good point. Most walk around situations are full of distractions which cause people to not experience magic in the same way as I did when my uncle showed me his trick.

Great thoughts guys! Thanks!
Bob_Hummer
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Personally - I favour hitting them hard with a single strong effect (an approach recommended by Paul Harris) and letting it sink in. Also - I like to let on that I am not a magician. I just mention that I want to show something pretty weird that I learn't off somebody else (perhaps a grandfather who used to be magician). In many ways this is what your uncle did. I think the effect he performed is a lovely one - much stronger than cutting the four aces, a key card location or ye olde 21 card trick. I might start using it myself...

Joe
John Neely
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Quote:
On 2009-09-25 11:37, Bob_Hummer wrote:

...I think the effect he performed is a lovely one - much stronger than cutting the four aces, a key card location or ye olde 21 card trick. I might start using it myself...

Joe


If you start doing it make sure you pass on that experience of magic I had with some younger audiences so that they might develop into future magicians. = ) BTW this discussion would be a good one for magicians who specialize in children's magic.
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