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Profile of samjackgreen

I'd don't know if any of you have already watched this video or there's already been a post about - but I COMPLETELY AGREE WITH TELLER!

In a video, Teller is talking about a film he has made, but at 1:00 in the video, he explains why he doesn't speak as he performs. He only speaks on the subject of patter for 40 seconds but as a magician you'll probably want to watch the rest anyway.

But, he summed up perfectly what I've been thinking when I watch magicians for years now - what they're saying is pointless!! ''This is a red ball''. Really? It's like they're just trying to think of anything to say to fill the time up. This is one of those things that often think of, but it's only when someone puts it into words for you that you realise what you've been thinking: Teller did this for me.

Also, when magicians make up ridiculous and not very funny stories like the Houdini one. Now that Teller has pointed it out to me, I realise that I am not the only one who feels like this and now I definitely feel I'm going to change the way I use patter. The instructions on a trick which I got many years ago (it was a key and you appeared to move the 'teeth' of it around - when the spectator would try it wouldn't budge) told me to tell the audience that the key was one used by Houdini to open any lock. The instructions said ''tell the audience that this is how Houdini did all his great escapes, by using one of these special keys''. I went along doing it for a few years, looking like a stupid child, who was insulting the intelligence of the audience.

So I'd just like to declare my support for Teller's rebellion against 'stupid patter' that makes magic seem so over-simplistic and boring. Good bye.
Terrible Wizard
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Profile of Terrible Wizard
I guess a lot of patter is pointless. Thanks for the link Smile
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Profile of Aus
This is exactly why I'm big on refining presentation and cutting down on filler. Any performer needs to ask themselves fundamental questions of why, what and who in everything they put into a performance.


Why am I doing this?
Why would anyone want to watch this?


What is this piece about?
What would this look like if it was real magic?
What’s my motivation?


Who are you doing this for, who is your audience?
Who are you in this presentation, your character?

I only just told Terrible Wizard and more recently another new magician Gbhunter77 of my Plot structure of:

1. Introduce the props and plot.
2. Develop the plot with word and actions – get the audience involved.
3. Build to the climax
4. Point Up the Climax (the results)
5. End with applause cues – a style off and/or tagline.

In Gbhunter77 case I gave an example presentation that illustrated the above structure in a youtube video he wonted critique on, which can be seen at:

Here is the example I gave:

Step 1 Introduce the props and plot:

When we come into this world we are blank slates, much like these blank cards here {show the four cards blank}. It’s not until we are exposed to family and community values that we develop a sense of our own identity {Spread the deck face up to show the mixed nature and values of the deck then place it face down again}.

Step 2 Develop the plot with word and actions – get the audience involved:

When we are exposed to family and community it’s at this moment our first impressions are made {a blank card is placed face down on the deck}. If you’re born into working class family, things of a practical nature such as finances, possessions and the attainment of material goals might be a value you adopt {have the spectator press down on the top blank card to help establish the impression then reveal the ace of diamonds}.

Or maybe you come from a loving family were passions of the Heart are encouraged like dreams, desires, love and relationships {again a blank card is placed on a face down deck and turned over to reveal the ace of hearts}.

On the other hand maybe a tradition of things of an intellectual nature like high education, Literature and politics might be your thing {a card is impressed and turned over revealing the ace of clubs}.

Maybe you’re the type of person that has a strong sense of purpose that compels you to dig into issues like your community or the less fortunate {reveal the ace of spades}.

Step 3 Build to the climax:

Now let’s see what type of person you are {take the four aces and place them on the table face-down and have the spectator place their hand over them}. Who a person is, is more than just our influences in life, it can also be our choices. Life is a series of choices; we choose our occupations, our friends and even the people we marry. Sometimes the choices in life can be between the path less taken and the road most traveled. Even predictions of the future is a choice of what will happen and what won’t. Please turn over the four cards {revealing them all to be blank again}.

Performance Note: you might need a packet switch a bank of blanks to facilitate this.

Step 4 Point up the Climax (the results):

It seems that who you are is yet to be determined.

Step 5 End with applause cues – a style off and/or tagline.

So choose wisely.


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Profile of Hydrostevo
I agree with Aus, in my day job I use the poem 'Six honest serving men' by Rudyard Kipling to get to the real cause of problems. I have found it I totally applicable to building magic routines.

Click here to view attached image.
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Profile of Tukaram
My 2 favorite magicians for most of my life were Doug Henning and Harry Anderson. They both use patter, but differently. Henning did not use a lot of BS stories would be as amazed by the magic as he wanted the audience to be.

Anderson was more of a comic, that did cool tricks. I saw him a few years ago and he did a 45 minute show where he was very entertaining but only did maybe 3 effects. Lots of patter but fun.

I have seen the Teller interview and like his thoughts on it too. "look... a silk... oh! It is gone... see? It came back" I try not to use that kind of patter ha ha. Penn & Teller used to do the "National Trick" and have the entire audience armed with a silk and TT repeating some hackney patter. They made a good point!

I do mostly kids magic so I am more of a magicina perpetually in trouble. My patter is just enough to keep the kids following me, and hopefully laughing. I use a lot less patter know as I am in the Philippines and English is not very common with the younger kids. Makes it intersting...but I have not gotten to the mime point yet Smile
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Profile of TonyB2009
Teller is watching the wrong magicians. Look, a red ball - that won't get a performer to the top, and that is not the way top performers use patter. So unless he has more insight than that, I think we can skip on his views in this matter.
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Profile of ddamen
Patter is a powerful misdirectional tool, especially if one is employing comedy. Words should be chosen as carefully as the sleights. It's hard to focus on catching the magician when you're rolling on the floor

Nonetheless I understand the sentiment. I watch more magic with the volume muted than not.
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Profile of Xaa
Tom Mulica used "no patter" to his advantage. From his bio:

While in Atlanta, Tom struck up a lasting sincere friendship with Red Skelton, which resulted in some great advice. Red suggested "Take 10-15 minutes of your best material and perform it pantomime to music and you'll be able to work any place in the world - you'll have no language barrier." Tom took Red's advice and after six months of rehearsal moved to Paris, France where he was one of the featured acts at the world famous Crazy Horse Saloon.
"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science." - Albert Einstein, What I Believe (1930)
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Profile of Dr_Bagelman
Suddenly a comedy linking rings video I saw on youtube, that wasn't funny, is now hilarious because I muted it.

However, I agree that the right patter can be completely misdirecting, and great to pull off things like a Hindu Flash Force "Memorize this one, the one you stopped at" is more powerful than just showing it. Smile
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Profile of magicgeorge
There is great power in shutting up!
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Profile of Belanos
Magic skills and patter skills are two completely different things. Some (few) people are gifted with the ability to do both well. Unfortunately, many magicians who have amazing magic skills are horrible when it comes to public speaking/patter/writing/performing. Many magicians make me cringe when I listen to the words that fall out of their faces. This goes for some well-known "legends" as well.
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