There’s an old piece of advice that (usually older) magicians give newer magicians. That is, “you only need to know 8 tricks” and that you should know those tricks inside and out. While that advice may have be relevant over 100 years ago when it was originally given. I think the story was a kid said to Thurston that he knew over 100 tricks and Thurston replied, “I only know seven” or something like that.
Here’s the problem with that advice, look at every modern successful magician, they all know and do more than seven or eight tricks.
Now let’s apply that to the average magician. Yesterday I performed at a company party for people in healthcare. I was hired for an hour of roving magic, and normally I’ll do the same 5ish minute set over and over for the hour. However, this party spanned several hours and the worker came to it when they were free. When I was there the first 30 mins was busy, but the final 30 mins was just about 8 people (who had seen my set in the first 30 minutes of the party). If I only knew seven or eight tricks, I’d be screwed. However, I have a big toolbox of sleights and tricks, I was able to pull out some things I don’t normally do and to improvise.
In the picture above I’m doing Jack Carpenter’s Mysterious from the book Modus Operandi. This is a trick I’ve done since I was a teenager, but it’s not in my roving set because it uses a table, and some specific cards. When I do roving magic, my deck loses cards very quickly, so I can’t always guarantee that I have the needed cards.
The moral of the story is to fill your tool box, if all you have is a 3/8 inch wrench and a hammer in it, you’re in trouble if you need a phillips screwdriver!