Ripping Routine Part V

The additions to the base script are in bold.

“Take a card, and don’t let me see it.”

“And you’re going to grab one, don’t let me see it.”

“On the count of three say your card out loud. If you say the same thing, that’s amazing and it means you’re married in Uruguay. Ready…One, Two Three.”


“We’re going to make it a little bit harder. We’re going to cut the cards”

“I learned to do rip a deck when I was younger. One of my roomates was a circus strongman. He could do things like rip a phone book in half, take a cast iron frying pan and roll it up like a burrito, open a pickle jar on the first try “

The wrist strength to do this is common in every circus strongman and teenage boy.

“You’re going to take a card and you’re going to take a card. Hopefully your cards will match each other and my card.”

Like two turtles, your cards match on the back

The odds of them matching the first time were one in fifty two. Now that there are double the cards, it’s one in fifty two times fifty two. Or one in two thousand, seven hundred and four. There’s also a one hundred percent odd that my math is wrong. ”

“On the front…They match about as much as my mom and my ex-step dad

“Oh, wait. I put my card here, hopefully it matches one of your cards.”

“Like a half Hawaiian, half pepperoni pizza, this end perfectly!”

The ripping routine is now off to a start. It’s brand new, so it’s not the best routine that it can be yet. There is still a lot of work, audience testing and workshopping it.

Ripping Routine Part IV

Today we’ll start writing the meat of the deck tearing routine. Basically I’m going to write a narrative script. This is going to be the essential things that I need to say for the trick to work, or to make sense. I’m also going to write the accompanying action with the trick.

There are essentially two tricks in the routine. The first is where they both pick and card and it’s the same card. The second is where you rip the deck, they both pick an card and they don’t match, but do match your half and half prediction

Here’s the bare bones script:

“Take a card, and don’t let me see it.”
Have a card selected and returned to the deck.

“And you’re going to grab one, don’t let me see it.”
Have a second person select a card and return it to the deck.

“On the count of three say your card out loud. One, Two Three.”
They both say the same card.


“We’re going to make it a little bit harder. We’re going to cut the cards”
Rip the deck in half

“You’re going to take a card and you’re going to take a card. Hopefully your cards will match each other and my card.”
Set your prediction card on the table and have a card selected from each half of the torn deck.

“The cards match perfectly on the back…”
Line up the tear on the face down selected cards.

“On the front…”
Flip the cards face up to show they don’t match, and react.

“Oh, wait. I put my card here, hopefully it matches one of your cards.”
Flip the card over to show it matches the halves they picked and react.

Currently we’ve got three things done. We have a presentation hook, we have a few random jokes and we have a bare bones script. Tomorrow we’ll start working on putting those together and punching it up.

Ripping Routine Part III

It’s time to write the foundation routine for the deck ripping trick. Yesterday’s post I talked about the main 4 different ways that I work on putting together a routine. Today I’m going to focus on method one from yesterday.

1. Write random jokes:

“No one asks me to cut the cards anymore!”

“This skill come in handy almost…never.”

“The wrist strength to do this is common in every strongman and teenage boy.”

“I had to rip over a thousand decks of cards to learn to do this…that means I’m banned from just about every casino in the country.”

“If your cards match, that means you’re married in Uruguay.”

“Like two turtles, your cards match on the back.”

“If you card matches my prediction, I’ve just won the magic lottery”

“Like a half Hawaiian, half pepperoni pizza, this end perfectly!

When writing the above jokes, I didn’t really filter anything, I wrote down everything I thought of. Hopefully out of a dozen jokes you’ll get one or two that are any good. These are going to give us some things I can insert into the the script tomorrow when I write some more.

Ripping Routine Part II

In yesterday’s post I got started with working on a routine for my version of the Split Deck trick. Right now we have the presentation hook for the trick and need to get into writing some jokes for the routine. There are several ways that I typically do this.

1. Write random jokes: This is basically just doing some research on the props and the skill and writing jokes about what turns up.

2. Punch up a basic script: This is where you write a narrative script saying what you have to say, then go back and write jokes to make it funny.

3. Improv it: For this you go out and just do the trick an see what comes up.

4. Workshop it: This is where you get together with a group and brainstorm ideas.

Usually I will use all four of the above methods. I don’t do them in any particular order, I probably should have a system that I follow every time, but I don’t.

One thing that is important for me early on in the process is just to go out and do the trick to see if there’s anything there. You’ll learn a lot by doing the trick once or twice without devoting a ton of time to writing. You may learn that your method doesn’t feel right, or people don’t give a crap about the trick. If you are lucky something major will present it self that will become an anchor for the routine.

Alright, so those are the methods for writing the routine. Tomorrow I’ll start the actual writing (hopefully).

Ripping a Deck of Cards…

A few days ago I wrote a post about figuring out trying out my little routine for ripping a deck of cards in half. Now that I’ve done it once and confirmed that people like the bare bones of the trick, I can start to expand up it and work on a routine.

Here’s the bare bones (the deck ripping trick starts about halfway through):

First thing with a routine is what is it going to reveal about “me”. I used the word me in quotes, because it doesn’t have to be the literal me, it can be what I want to portray on stage as “me”. It’s going to reveal that I hang out with some unusual people. My idea for the opening/hook is:

“When I was younger one of my roomates was a circus strongman. He could do things like rip a phone book in half, take a cast iron frying pan and roll it up like a burrito, open a pickle jar on the first try.

While I lived with him, he helped train me to rip a deck of cards in half”

Another idea for an opening/hook would be:

“I’m always amazed at how many people come up to me to show me a trick they can do. What other profession does this happen in? Imagine after open heart surgery, you wake up and ask the doctor if you can borrow his scalpel to show him that you do a mean amateur appendectomy.”

Both are decent approaches to the presentation of the trick. I think I prefer the first one. I think learning stuff from an old roommate is more relatable than people wanting to show you a card trick. If working at a magic convention, then the second one is probably good.

Ok, so we’ve got the hook, now where to go from there? Tomorrow we’ll start to build the meat of the routine.

Custom Props…

One of the things I’ve been doing over the last few years is getting rid of props that I don’t like, and replacing them with custom versions that are made how I want them. I’m sure you have something that you use, that just not quite right for how you handle it. Maybe you’d like the prop an inch longer, two pounds lighter, or whatever.

Having a 3D printer has made doing a lot of this very easy. I can print something, and if it’s not perfect I can easily tweak the design and reprint it. For example, I 3D printed all the props for my bubble act.

There are a few things that I can’t easily do at home. One of the things is my table top. I love it for when I’m actually working on the table top, but not for stage show where basically just holds props. For my stage show the table top is about an inch too short and I don’t like how everything sits. I just ordered a new custom size table top from Viking Magic:

magician's table

I got a nice bonus with the table top, besides being the size I want for my stage show, it’s also about a pound and a half lighter than my other table top! That means I can pack a little bit more in my case when I fly.

TLDR: Have props you like!

Split Deck…

In a post a few weeks ago I mentioned that I was learning to rip a deck of cards in half. I’m up to consistently being able to rip about half a deck of bicycle cards, but and able to rip a whole deck of cheap cards about 95% of the time. Every now and then I’ll hit a pack that for whatever reason just gives me a hell of a time ripping.

Last night in Seattle we had a magic jam and I threw a few decks of cheap cards in my bag. My routine is basically the “Split Deck” but without any gimmicked cards (aside from the cheap deck). It played well for the magicians, and then later we ended up doing some magic for the table next to us it played for them as well.

In between the two times I did the trick, a little bit more framework had developed in my head. The trick started with two people each looking at a card and they end up having picked the same card. Next I put out a prediction card, and I rip the deck in half. I say that they both will pick a card that matches my prediction and they both take a card (from different halves of the deck). They compare their cards and they aren’t the same card…but then we look at my prediction and the front is two ripped cards glued together and they halves match the selection.

This played pretty well, and I think it’s going to be something that I start to explore as a routine bit more in the future.

Keep It Up (Literally)

When I’m out watching magic shows, whenever possible I like to stand in the back and watch. I don’t do it because I don’t want to be part of the audience, or feel I’m better than anyone, I do it because I want to see the show. One thing that happens with local acts is that they don’t realize how much of their show can’t be see from the 3rd row.

Let’s start with the worst case scenario, you are performing on the floor and the audience is also seated on the floor in multiple rows. If anything happens on your table, it’s really only visible to the first two rows. Yep that means all the action in your cups and balls is really only seen by a fraction of your audience.

Oh, I should clarify what I mean by happening on your table. By this I mean a prop on the table, like a dye box, not something flat like a card. Something lying flat will never be visible to anyone unless you have video projection.

Now let’s look at a better scenario, you are performing on a raised stage. Great, if something happens on your table, it is now visible. However you need to be aware that anything below your knees is invisible. Here’s an example of a group of cloggers I worked with recently, look at the picture:

How much of their clogging can I see from the 4th row?

None of it!

What does this mean to me as a magician? Basically it means I either need to elevate myself, or all the action needs to happen above my bellybutton.

Another Day, Another Shell Game Move

A while ago I posted a picture of some newly acquired three shell games sets for my collection of them. Michael of Wack-O-Magic offered me a set of clear walnut shells he had made, but never figured out a use for. He sent me the only two sets he had made.

This isn’t the first set of clear shells, I also have a set of La Maggiore Cristallina shells, which are beautiful! I never really used them much as they don’t fit into the routine that I do.

With Michael sending me two sets, one set went into the collection and the other set sat on my desk for me to play with. Here’s what I came up with:

Staring at the shells led me to some out of the box thinking that gave me another unique shell game move! I think Terry Seabrooke mentioned how he creates with a prop on an old VHS tape. He said, he puts the prop somewhere where he’ll see it all the time, a place where he’ll basically trip over it every day. That makes him think about the prop in short chunks all day.

I think Terry’s method is a good one, it makes you think about the prop, but you aren’t sitting at a desk having a staring contest with it. I know I’ve come up with many tricks simply using stuff that’s within eyesight of my desk.

Plan B Set List…

Yesterday’s blog post had a back up show set list that I would easily fit in my carry on luggage on an airplane. The next step is going to be to put those tricks into a set list for the show. There are a couple of tricks that are similar in effect, so I’ll have to make sure I don’t put those back to back.

Here’s the list of the tricks from yesterday:

-Card to Pocket
-Card Memorization
-Blindfold drawing duplication
-Book Test
-Cue Card Confabulation
-Coin Under Watch
-Mismade bill
-Color Changing Hank
-Rubik’s Cube trick
-Torn and Restored Newspaper

Right now I know by looking at this list, I’m going to open with ACAAN and close with Torn and Restored Newspaper. ACAAN is an amazing trick, and there’s a decent amount of action right out of the gate, and it uses person, but they don’t have to be on stage…they could be, but don’t have to. I’ve used the Torn and Restored Newspaper as a closer in the past, so I know it will work there.

Right after ACAAN I’m going to do the Book Test, followed by the Rubik’s Cube Trick. These are both tricks I’ve done in that order in the past as warm up for my show at Fairs, and they are a great combo back to back.

Next I’m going to do Coin Under Watch. It uses a person from the audience, and while I coin trick, I can make it play big. After that I’ll do a solo piece, which will be the Color Changing Hank. This has a lot of action, and a lot of jokes.

Now we’re going to get into a mentalism block. I’m going to do the Blindfold followed by my Cue Card Confabulation. The Blindfold routine I do let’s me play with the person from the audience and it’s a longer piece that hits hard! The Cue Card Confabulation is my own creation and it’s just me on stage talking to people in the audience, and it’s joke will build off the strength of the Blindfold routine. The confabulation routine ends with a great surprise!

Next up I’ll do Card to Pocket, the set up to the Card Memorization, the Mismade Bill and then the final part of the Card Memorization. I’m going to use the time during the Mismade Bill for the two people who will help me with the Card Memorization to sort the cards. That will eliminate some dead time.

I’ll play the Card Memorization as the end of the show, and do the Torn and Restored Newspaper as the forced encore with a, “you want to see one more” line. Here’s the set list:

Book Test
Rubik’s Cube
Coin Under Watch
Color Changing Handkerchief
Cue Card Confabulation
Card To Pocket
Card Memorization part 1
Mismade Bill
Card Memorization part 2
Torn and Restored Newspaper

It’s a decent show, not the show I want to do, but it does look solid for an emergency show.