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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » Should magicians use the word trick? (3 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Bill Palmer
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The meaning of the word "trick" depends entirely upon the context in which it is used.

For example: if you have The Trick Brain by Dariel Fitzkee, you will recall that he has a specific definition for the words "effect" and "trick." He uses "effect" to mean one of the 19 basic "things you can do with an object or person," such as a production, vanish, transposition, transformation, etc. He uses "trick" to mean "an effect performed upon a specific object," such as "producing a rabbit," "vanishing an elephant," "the color-changing knives." In this context, "trick" is a trade term, and it should not be offensive to any of us, as long as we are using it among ourselves.

Our choice of words when performing for the public is an entirely different matter. The spectator does not understand the word "effect" when we say, "For my next effect..." Statements like that set up what I call "red flags" in the minds of the spectators. Sometimes it is best not to call the "next trick" anything at all. Just do it.

Jonathan Townsend suggests "piece, routine, something." These work, and can even be the source of a good laugh, used in the proper (or improper) context. "Trick" can be used on occasion, if you have the right context for it. "And now, the most difficult trick I know -- I'd like to borrow some money."

I think we would often be better served to worry about how well we do our "tricks" than what we call them.
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Wolfgang
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Quote:
On 2004-05-01 15:39, Bill Palmer wrote:
I think we would often be better served to worry about how well we do our "tricks" than what we call them.

Well said.
"Sure, I do Scotch and Soda in every show. What? You mean there's a trick by that name?"
vincentmusician
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Doug Henning said Magical Demonstrations. Someone said dogs do tricks. I perform Magic. My opinion is that I try not to use the the word Trick. I usually do not say anything at all. I just go into my routine. At the end I just say thank you, I hope you enjoyed my Show. Cheers!
gregg webb
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I usually think it is o.k. to use "trick" when among other magicians, but to use something else when in public (with non-magicians). Then, there are many words that could be used, like experiment, or feat, or wizardry. Right now in history I would say use anything but "magic". Just my 2 cents.
George Ledo
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I don't understand why they need to be called anything. They're supposed to be stuff that magicians can do, i.e., the impossible. No need for a label.
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funsway
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On Jan 7, 2022, George Ledo wrote:
I don't understand why they need to be called anything. They're supposed to be stuff that magicians can do, i.e., the impossible. No need for a label.



Yup, I remember an old guy back in 1960 saying to an audience, "When I was young, I was given a magic set and had fun doing tricks,
just like many of you. But, somewhere in my thirties I moved beyond that and can now show you some awesome glimpses of wonder."

and he did ...
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst

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Pop Haydn
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Eschew excessive pretension. Smile

Your story determines what you call things in front of your audience, why you are doing them, and what you want out of it.
Julie
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To build on what Pop said: sometimes, when setting-up the audience for a friendly "sucker trick", the word "trick" is entirely appropriate.

It makes a delineation between this fun trick and your other more impressive "miracles". Smile

Julie
tommy
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Legitimate magicians tell the audience it is a trick: they normally do so by first proposing some incredible nonsense which cannot be true and then it is proved true with a rational experiment! The procedure results in a simultaneity of opposites: where the audience knows it is a trick but it looks real in effect. One could just tell them it is a trick up front but that would be rather crude an inartistic. Better to tell them a tall nonsensical tale, through which they can enter into the absurd spirit of the thing, knowing it is for entertainment purposes only.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

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Ray Pierce
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Much of my life I have spent as an educator and when I’m on stage, it’s no different. I begin by explaining to the audience:

“Many people don’t really know what to call what I do for a living. Others may not even know what I’m going to be doing here tonight. Is it magic? Is it a trick? I like to define it like this. A trick is something I read in a book, buy in a magic shop or learn from someone else. When I take that, develop it, hone it to make it something unique and special then in my hands, it can become magic… but that’s not what matters. The most important part in this process is you. Because when you see what I do and your brain short circuits for that millisecond to create a sense of wonder and amazement, then in your mind… you have created the illusion. That’s what makes what we can do here so great! If I was just here by myself I would just be doing some tricks but together we have a chance to make something really special that I hope you’ll remember for a long, long time.”
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funsway
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Ray - a fine clarity as always. I would venture that there is a factor of 'confidence" involved too. You "know" what is possible with a live audience, and they follow (lead?)

Your words take me back to my first Magic Convention in the late 50's. A group of us teenagers were in a side lounge where several "notables" dropped by and offered advice. One was a person I thought I would never meet - Cardini. To paraphrase his words:

"You can show tricks to spectators or create magic with an audience. When they participate in the wonder they own it."
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst

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Ray Pierce
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I will admit that it took me many years to have the confidence to say this with impact. For me, framing what they are about to see is vital. It places their expectations where I want them. More importantly it establishes our relationship as non-adversarial which is unlike many magicians. I want them to understand we are working together for a common goal and are on the same team. In some ways this is my greatest lie as it is an all out battle for total control to fry their minds in the most powerful way possible… yet, if I framed it like that, it probably wouldn’t be as achievable. It is in fact a classic con but for the right reasons… to give them a rich sense of wonder they will cherish forever.
Ray Pierce
tommy
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My magic typically operates by me first proposing something which my audience knows is fiction and then proving that fiction true with facts in effect.

It’s no wonder my audience wonders how can that fiction be true and hopefully that wonder will last for ever and ever after.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Dannydoyle
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When did there become a universal truth as to what "magicians" should do?
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
tommy
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Ever since magicians transcended the state of the physical universe, they have done whatever they like. Smile
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
stevevoltz
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I agree with Pop and Ray and that it's all about the framing and what words your character would say to describe what's about to happen. I use "illusion" because it's what my old professor character would say, but that said, in my opinion there's barely a dime's worth of difference between much maligned word "trick" and the usually preferred word "illusion." Both describe something that will look like one thing but in reality, the secret of which the performer isn't going to reveal, is another. "Now I know it looks like I just tore this newspaper up, but I didn't. It's an illusion," is not a whole lot different from "I know it looks like I just tore this newspaper up, but I didn't. It's a trick." "Trick" does have some connotations of hidden mechanics that "illusion" doesn't so to misdirect from that you might say "It's a trick your eyes are playing on you" or something similar.
tommy
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I use the word experiment, because my experiments are scientific in effect: which more than I can say for my patter.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
DragonLore
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Since this seems to be a recurring discussion here on this forum, I have a strong feeling that the most correct answer is the intellectually unsatisfying “It depends”.

That being said, I am a big fan of the Spanish school of magic and have seen many performances by Juan Tamariz that start with something like “Now I going to do a little trick for you”. He then proceeds to entertain me with his unique presentation style and to amaze me with what seem to be impossible miracles.

This leads me to the conclusion that it’s ok to use this much maligned word in one’s act, though there are, of course, other options that may align better with one’s character or with the particular theme of the show.

Among magicians or in the literature, I’ve seen a more narrow definition of the word being used, but this is a different topic.
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