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Portland, Oregon
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Profile of MichaelDouglas
In performing walk around sets at restaurants, etc. I'm conflicted about how best to group a set of tricks for a table. Let's just assume 3 tricks per set. I can use a finger ring, shoelace, and a spoon that uses these three props for three different tricks/routines. Things flow smoothly from one trick to the next. There is economy of motion since I'm not in and out of my pockets for each separate trick.

There are other sets where I may use a book of matches, then some dollar bills, then a mini chop cup for the final trick. The props are all unrelated. This provides visual variety for the audience in seeing me use different props. It also demonstrates that my ability to entertain with magic is not connected to one or two somehow specially gimmicked props.

Please share in your experience whether you typically use a variety of props in a given set that are unrelated from one trick to the next, or do you provide continuity in using the same props for that entire set?

Do you do both? Do you do one or the other? Why?
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old things in new ways - new things in old ways
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Profile of funsway
Back in my "Camp Hopping" days at Medieval SCA gatherings I would always perform at least one effect using a "found object" from the camp table. These always had a greater impact based on later stories told at other events, and invitations to visit various camp sites. You ar enot looking for such "long term memories" perhaps but consider being prepared to perform with objects from the customer's table or person.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst

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Portland, Oregon
767 Posts

Profile of MichaelDouglas
Thanks for the tip my friend.
Mike Ince
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2014 Posts

Profile of Mike Ince
Continuity of theme or of a type of ability is what I aim for. I might do two or three things that demonstrate mind-control, but the first uses coins, the second uses ESP cards, and the third (if there's time) is a hypnosis stunt using only the participants' bodies. As in a stand-up show, each effect must have more impact than the last.
The secret of deception is in making the truth seem ridiculous.
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Profile of Chamberlain
The way I see it is that this group of people will probably never see me perform again (unless they book me) so I want to show them my best material. My current default strolling act is roths one coin flurry > sponge bunnies > 2 cards selected, one revealed via double lift in their hand, the other revealed via twirl change > ambitious card to wallet > omni deck finish. There's no connection between the coins, bunnies and card effects but they are the strongest effects I do. I may add invisible deck at the end if someone joins or they want to see one more.

I could do perhaps a coins across routine before my one coin routine for continuity, however that's nothing compared to the reactions/screams I get with sponge bunnies. My own theme is that I'm a magician who can do magic, regardless of what I'm using. It's kinda like stage acts by david Copperfield and lance Burton, there may be a loose connection between the effects but really they do what blows the audience away.
Michael Baker
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Eternal Order
Near a river in the Midwest
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Profile of Michael Baker
Hi Michael,

I tend to favor "vignettes". That is, each routine is stand-alone, usually with it's own set of props. I think the audience appreciates the variety, and the surprises that they come to know are around each turn. Since each piece is a complete entity in itself, I see no reason to belabor a "theme".

I do however, tend to work "incidental" effects into the framework of a higher priority effect. I have found that there are tons of little tricks that are perfect for inclusion into larger routines, although they are not powerful enough to stand on their own. In this sense, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

For what it's worth, I have developed my core act based upon audience response. Every routine has been called someone's favorite.

Also for what it's worth, I do pay attention to prop management, so I am not overly loaded down with stuff. If that becomes an issue, I relegate some of them to the bag containing "Round 2". Simple enough.

Of course there are some things that naturally transition into others, and I do not shy from those, But, nor do I strive for that end. As example, if I produce sponge balls from a purse frame and ultimately vanish them, and then remove a coin from the frame, it is a logical continuance. But, I don't take a minimal set of props and necessarily make them jump through every hoop available. I may however, save those other effect possibilities for other sets. There are times when it is appropriate to change things up.

This is just a guess, but I think if you were to ask your audiences to list the highs and lows of your show, I kind of doubt continuity (or lack thereof) would be a high priority with most of them.
~michael baker
The Magic Company
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Profile of Thehedge
I perform many types of tricks during my table shows. I get bored and never stick to the same sets, which breaks all the rules I have heard. I like to change things up. If your show is as choppy as mine, transitions become very important. My style is very conversational, and I change my performance according to the conversation. Cards, rope, coins, or things found at table such as peanuts.

One random thing with the peanuts. Sometimes I ask if the have had any squeaky ones. When the look at me like what are you talking about, I grab a peanut and make it squeak. I have opened with this, added this after my closer, and thrown it in the middle. Reactions almost always get a smile, which surprised me at first. But if the table is having good time, so am I, and so is restaurant.

Basically, depends on style if you have continuity or variety, but I think all performances should a balance.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." - Aristotle
Adam Joseph
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Profile of Adam Joseph
My vote goes for variety. If you've only got 4 or 5 minutes to do magic and you're only going to show someone three effects, I think it's good to mix things up.

For example, let's say you're going with 3 card tricks, 3 coin tricks and 3 ring tricks. I think it's better to show a group one of each. I think they'll remember 3 different effects and have a better memory of the experience. Doing three similar tricks all back to back can really fog their memory of things and they wont really remember a lot of stuff from the beginning and the middle. The stronger parts of the routine make the other parts of the routine forgetable. Whereas when you do three completely different things, they'll be able to go back and remember each effect and appreicate them in all their glory. And I think it just keeps things more interesting.

Then maybe later that night if the people come up to you and say "oh, can you show me that coin trick again? it was awesome!" ... then you show them one of your other two coin routines instead. So with a time delay in between the sets, re-using the same props for different effects I think plays very strong because they'll remember the cool trick from earlier but then be surprised when you take things in a new direction for a new effect.

I'm kind of thinking about the same things myself. I was wondering if I should do 3 color changing deck tricks all back to back to back with deck switches in between each one. I was going to open with a pretty standard color changing deck... then do "the trick that fooled houdini" on one of garrett thomas's dvds... and then close with david williamson' funner color stunner. I wouldn't do this type of set in a bar or restaurant or strolling or anything... but if I can sit down at a table and do some card magic for people... I'm wondering if it would be cool to do these three effects all in a row? because in both the houdini and williamson's version, the color changing deck happens after ambitous card phases and triumph phases... so maybe there is still enough variety in the three routines.
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Eternal Order
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Profile of Dannydoyle
Continuity of character is important. Not so much in tricks.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Dick Oslund
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Profile of Dick Oslund
Hey Michael~

A variety of good comments above! I tend to "side" with Michael Baker's philosophy, but, no one, above, is WRONG, (IMHO).

The MAGICIAN uses TRICKS as his creative tools to produce ENTERTAINMENT, but, neither his PROPS that he uses in performing the TRICKS, or the TRICKS, are nearly as important as his PERSONALITY, snd his PRESENTATION.

I generally use generic PROPS (like "a" silk, a rope, a ring, a sponge ball, a coin,a TT, etc., because they allow me to do varied EFFECTS with the same PROPS. (I'm a TARBELL "graduate", with "advanced studies" in Lorayne, James, Bobo, et al!). I'm definitely not limited to "one EFFECT, magic shop tricks". I guess you might "classify" me as a "jazz" magician,
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Portland, Oregon
767 Posts

Profile of MichaelDouglas
Thanks to each of your for all of the great comments. To summarize, the prevalent wisdom seems to be that continuity in the use of the same props for several affects is fine, but not of any particular value. The greatest value is in how well we entertain with whatever props we happen to use. The magic is the performer, not his or her tools. The advise is further clarified in that the magical entertainment value of the performer is heightened when his or her character during the presentation is consistent.

To illustrate the last point on continuity of character as I understand it is this: Don't do a couple of mind reading or mentalism effects and then for your last trick you break out sponge balls. If you start as a guy for whom magic just accidentally happens and you're not sure why, then keep that persona throughout your performance.

Thanks again everyone.
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1470 Posts

Keep in mind that when you perform tricks you have allready a theme: MAGIC!
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