Top 3 Performance Tips For Magicians
There are many secrets in magic and there are tens of thousands of magic tricks to learn but the true secrets of magic do not lie in doing good tricks but rather in doing tricks good.
In this article I would like to share my top 3 true secrets of magic which, when used well, will make your magic great. I will show you how you can take a simple trick and make it look like real magic.
We will explore a secret ingredient that you can add to any magic trick that will make it unique and memorable and guarantee you will get astonished reactions.
Ask yourself this.
- Are you a kid looking to learn magic tricks?
- Do you want to get the kind of reactions you see the television magicians getting?
- Do you want people to comment on how amazing your tricks are?
- Do you want to be remembered by people wherever you go?
If you have answered yes to any of these questions then this article will be valuable to you.
Being recognised, getting great reactions and leaving your audience with a memorable experience is not about what tricks you do. A simple magic trick done well, is worth way more than the latest greatest magic shop release.
Why I Share With You
My magic career has been rich and rewarding with numerous awards, multiple television appearances thousands of performers and I even built a chain of magic shops which ran for some years. Magic has given me so much; I have travelled the world, met the most fantastic people and experienced some things that without magic would never have happened. By far the best gift I have received from my magic is meeting my wife Colette as a result of a show I did. Now that’s real magic!
I want to give back now, share what I know and pass on the knowledge that has served me so well. I don’t want to share this information with just anyone; I want to share this knowledge with the future of magic, with young people who want to learn and if you are still reading this, that is probably YOU!
This is not about me sharing how to do a pile of magic tricks. This is about me sharing the real diamonds of magic; it’s about me sharing that missing piece that I searched for, all those years back. I want to share it with you.
Secret #1: Magicians don’t do tricks.
One of the most important secrets to being a magician is to never do a trick. What? Yes you heard right: a good magician will never do a trick.
The logic behind this is that dogs do tricks and magicians do magic.
To properly understand this statement, we need to step away from reality for a moment and imagine we really were magic and we could control supernatural forces. If this were true and we really could do real magic, how would we present it to an audience? There would be an excitement as we shared something truly special, a glint in the eye as we warped the very nature of science! We would not glibly count piles of cards out and say “is this your card?”
French Magician Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin is referred to as the modern father of conjuring (a big word for magic) and he said “A magician is an actor playing the part of a magician.”
This is true, as there is no such thing as a magician. There are only actors playing parts, and just like in the movies, some actors are better than others.
There is a UK magician that is big at the time of writing this article. His name is Steven Frayne and he goes by the name of Dynamo Magician Impossible.
I was at an event just last week and after I had finished performing at a table a person said to me “Hey have you seen that Dynamo guy? Now tell me the stuff he does, is that real magic or hypnotism or something?”. Steven plays the part so well that his audience want to believe that he is for real. This is not something new. I remember back in the 80’s when David Copperfield was the big name in magic, and the questions were the same.
If you present the magic realistically and you appear to believe what you are doing, your audience will believe with you. If you show even the slightest doubt in what you are doing your audience will join in your doubt and the illusion will never be convincing. For this reason, a magician works hard to practice the effect to the point of being so familiar with it they can give 100% of their energy to the performance, to the acting.
Secret #2: Sneaky moves always look like sneaky moves
When I quoted French magician Robert-Houdin previously in this article, I deliberately left part of his famous quote out. I now include the full quote:
“A conjuror is not a juggler; he is an actor playing the part of a magician; an artist whose fingers have more need to move with deftness than with speed. I may even add that where sleight-of-hand is involved, the quieter the movement of the performer, the more readily will the spectators be deceived.”
The above statement refers to the execution of the secret moves that are necessary when performing magic.
We know there is no such thing as magic or magicians, so to make it appear that magic is actually happening, we often need to do things that the audience do not know about. These secret moves can sometimes be very simple and in some effects they are complicated slights requiring dexterous hand movements.
An inexperienced magician may fumble the move or make the move at an inopportune moment which may draw attention to it. Even if the audience did not see what you did but saw something, the effect is broken and the magic is lost.
Some inexperienced magicians will try to use slick cuts and shuffles to hide a move with cards, this is not good for magic as the audience simply say “oh its sleight of hand” which again means the magic has been lost.
It is tempting to get drawn into learning one handed cuts, multi way shuffles and card flourishes. But remember, we are not jugglers of cards. We are magicians. It is better to handle the cards naturally, even clumsily, and for the magic to seem to happen without fancy finger work, that way the only explanation left is that it happened by magic.
Secret #3: Fool the audience, not yourself!
This is a difficult secret as it means being honest with yourself so that your magic can be the best it can be. Fooling the audience is part of being a magician. However, sometimes magicians fool themselves. This does not mean that the magician does a trick and doesn’t know how it works. It means that some magicians will perform poor magic and fool themselves into thinking it is good enough.
An example of fooling yourself is performing a magic trick you have not practised, thinking it will be good enough. Any good magician knows that only well rehearsed magic gets performed.
Audiences are sometimes polite and they will not point out that they saw how the magic was done to your face, but believe me they will say it to their friends when you are not around.
To avoid falling into the ‘fooling yourself trap”, follow these steps:
- Practice your magic many times over to get confident with the moves and your presentation.
- Film yourself with a smartphone and watch it back and look for any moves that look suspicious and work on making them smoother.
- Once well practiced, show your new routine to a fellow magician and be prepared to accept advice on what they feel needs improvement.
- Once you have followed these steps perform the magic for friends and family and agin ask for their feedback and work on the suggestions.
Then and only then, is the magic ready for an audience. Getting a new trick and performing it the same day is truly fooling yourself. Don’t fool yourself, fool your audience.