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Asheville, NC
246 Posts

Profile of Wilktone
Hello, everyone.

I'm working on developing a close-up routine and wanted to bounce my ideas off of the community here. My goal is to perform about 20 minutes of close-up magic telling the monomyth story throughout. As you'll note from my draft below, I'm borrowing ideas from a variety of familiar myths.

I decided to start planning this out by pretending that my skill and money for effects are a given and then alter accordingly as I go. Here is the gist so far.

Sam the Bellhop - Well, not really that specific effect, but my idea here is inspired by it. What I'd like to try is come up with some way to set the stage by using cards to accentuate or represent people, objects, or events that I'll refer to throughout the routine. For example, I might start off by telling a story about the creation of the universe (earth, wind, fire, and water appear as the four suites, etc.). I can set up the land by describing the four kingdoms (the four kings pop up). A comet blazing across the sky (ace of diamonds) fortells the birth of a hero (jack of diamonds) who is destined to defeat the evil despot king. You get the basic idea.

I don't want the cards' representations to come across as forced (“forced” as in I'm trying too hard to connect a particular card to a character or object, not as in forcing a particular card). Because of that, I don't think I'd go through the entire deck, as Sam the Bellhop does. Can anyone think of another effect that I could more easily adapt here?

Card Case - The villain king (I need an evil-sounding name for him) learns of the birth of our hero (I don't want to just call him “Jack,” so I'll need a suitable name for him too) and the prophecy, so he strives to avoid his pending demise by locking the infant hero in a chest to perish. Our hero escapes, perhaps with the aid of the “threshold guardian” motive (another card that represents the kindly wizard, e.g., Merlin or Obi Wan Kanobi type of character)? Maybe I could also incorporate additional effects here like Crazy Man's Handcuffs or Grippo's Wish to add in additional escape-type elements to this scene.

Do As I Do or Triple Coincidence - A spectator plays the role of the hero being educated in the art of magic by the wizard. Basically I want some effect here where a member of the audience seems to do something magical.

Our hero grows up and decides to travel and seek his destiny. The villain king hosts a great tournament where the victor will win a great treasure. The hero enters the tournament.

Ambitious Card - The first event in the tournament is a race. The competition keeps cheating and shoving our hero back into the middle of the pack, but he magically is able to transport himself into the lead. When the card goes in upside down I was thinking of maybe having the hero running backwards and still managing to take the lead of the race. I haven't yet come up with an reason for why the hero would travel to last place when the card ends up on the bottom of the deck. Ideas?

Twisting the Aces - The next event is a wrestling match. The hero defeats four opponents at once, pinning their backs to the ground with a magical twist. The final ace (ace of spades, of course) is the strongest and so it takes two twists to pin the last opponent.

The Tantalizer - A card is selected by a spectator to represent the hero again. As cards are dealt face up, all other opponents (the non-selected cards) are eliminated until the hero stand alone (last card).

Winged Silver and Matrix - The villain king reneges on giving the prize to our hero. The hero manages to magically take the prize (the four coins) anyway. I'd like to transition from Winged Silver to The Matrix, but I'm not certain how I might make this fit the story beyond an “instant reply” using a different method. Does the villain take the treasure back and lock it up again, this time into four chests? Do I do the Matrix with four different valued coins and come up with a different scene to justify doing another coin trick? Drop either Winged Silver or The Matrix and perform only one?

One thought that occurred to me is that in the Matrix the cards over the coins could represent locked chests holding the treasure. If I use that angle, I could easily transition into the Skeleton Key and talk about the magical key the hero has that opens any lock.

Cutting the Aces - My idea here is to somehow work in our hero rescuing four damsels in distress (the queens instead of aces) who are locked into the castle of 52 towers. This story could also transition to the Skeleton Key effect in order to show how the hero can open up the locked tower doors. I haven't yet thought of a good reason why the last damsel/queen would be missed and then counted to by the number of spots on the missed card. Ideas here?

Wild Card - The hero must battle an army of monsters who are zombified when they come into contact with each other. Not sure how I can make the hero victorious at the end of this effect, as all the cards change to the zombie card at the end of the effect. Maybe I could reverse the situation and the cards start off as minions under a powerful mind control spell who are rescued by the hero.

Chop Cup or Cups and Balls - Right now I'm leaning toward Chop Cup over Cups and Balls, simply because it's easier for me to pull off. I have to admit that one of the reasons why I want to incorporate one of these routines in here is because I like the idea of using a variety of props. My best idea so far for blending this effect into the overall story line might be something about a castle or tower siege and the hero somehow being able to enter and leave the tower at will. Or maybe our hero is captured and magically escapes his imprisonment (which was a plot I also thought about for the Ambitious Card). I haven't yet thought of a way to explain the the reveal of a large object under the cup at the end that fits the story. Ideas here?

The Albo Card/Backwards in Time - I just learned this effect at a Michael Ammar lecture. Any torn and restored card effect would work here, though, but the effect of having a card signed and restored with the one corner on backwards is just beautiful to see. The hero and villain meet for a final battle and the hero is seemingly mortally wounded, but magically is restored more powerful than before.

Our hero saves the day, defeats the villain, and everyone lives happily ever after.

Obviously, this is a work in progress. I'm guessing that as I refine this routine I will find that paring it down will tighten it up better than trying to add more to it. I'd like to not break character as much as possible throughout, so I will try to come up with a reason for my actions that fit the story. For example, in Twisting the Aces I will explain flipping cards over at the beginning as describing the rules of the contest and how the hero must “pin his opponents on their back.”

What suggestions or criticisms do you have? Do you have thoughts on altering the order of the tricks or alternate effects that might fit better? Ideas for patter than I can incorporate? Are there other things I should be considering that I'm not thinking of?

Thanks for reading!

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Toronto, Canada
274 Posts

Profile of MGordonB
Hi Dave

Thanks for your comments on my post re: Matrix. I didn’t realize until after I read your post that you had a Matrix routine with a similar theme…great minds and all that.

Your routine idea sounds very interesting. I like the idea that you have developed a unifying theme to connect your effects. This is hard to do and I’m really struggling with this myself, so good on you! My only comment might be on the number of card tricks you’re thinking of doing – I understand why you went this way as the face cards lend themselves very well to your overall theme. In putting together my own routine, it was suggested to me to mix it up a bit and not to do too many card tricks in a single routine. I see that you have included a C&B component but are there some other effects, such as sponge balls, ropes, silks that could help tell parts of your story?

Happy conjuring
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141 Posts

Profile of kenodad
I love the thinking here. You might want to check out John G's Postcard Routine he performed on his Penguin lecture...only for ideas about incorporating a theme into a close up set. I think your plan is a bit more ambitious than his, but his ideas were good and the set was entertaining.
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Profile of landmark
One or two story tricks in a set is plenty for an audience in my opinion. The imposition of a story between the performer, the magic, and the audience weakens the impact, allowing too much distance. And for a whole set , it would get very tedious. It's kind of like going out to have fun at the beach in a snowsuit and galoshes.

The magic didn't happen once, long ago, in a far off land in a world billions of miles away to someone's great-great-ancestor. It's happening now!--look quickly!--it's happening now in front of your eyes! Tell your children!
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