Let Them Know You’re There!

When I was a teenager I saw a magic lecture (Michael Close?) where they did a trick that left the audience with a little prop. I think it was an origami bunny from a dollar bill. The lecturer said that clients could see that the magician was actually working by how many people had the origami bunny.

The idea of having something visual that people walked around with after you performed for them has stuck with me. I’ve had versions of things over the years. Currently the end of my ambitious card has the face of the card peeled off and stuck to the person who drew on the card’s shirt.

close up magic

Recently I was performing at a large event and afterwards the booker commented on how many people had my cards on their shirts. Having visual reminders for bookers that you’re there and working is smart! While not 100% necessary, it is helpful at large events where the booker may never see you.


Making Props…

As I’ve been showing magicians the trick I’ve been doing where I peel the face off of a signed card, one of the comments that I’m frequently getting is that it must be a lot of work making the cards.

Full Face Peel Off Magic Trick

Honestly it is work, but not that much work. I’m frequently in hotels or AirBnB’s and have plenty of downtime. I can make big batches of them while I watch movies on Netflix.

Also, it’s worth mentioning how lazy and cheap many magicians are. Soo many magicians are amazed that I spend about $5 per show in things that get used up, or that I have to roll up balls of yarn for my show. That little bit of effort is what sets people apart from the pack!


Watching Audience Magic…

I don’t get it when magicians are annoyed when people in the audience want to show them a magic trick. If I was guessing it comes down to an ego thing. When I’m doing roving close up magic, I always let them show me their trick. Sometimes you’ll be surprised at what they show you…usually it’s just the 21 card trick.

Occasionally I get to see this two card change:

However sometimes you get to see an amazing trick, this is probably what I’d consider the greatest trick I’ve ever had someone in the audience show me!

Letting someone from the audience have their moment makes you a generous performer. Now there are times where it’s inappropriate to have them do a trick, but in 95% of times when they offer there’s really no reason for you not to let them show you the trick aside from you being worried that someone will steal your spotlight.


Unsigned Cards…

When I’m doing close up magic, one thing that I don’t do is have people sign cards. There’s frequently a strange hesitancy when you ask people, like they aren’t sure exactly what you want them to do. Instead I have people draw a picture on the card.

I say, “Draw a picture on the card, it can be anything…Bigfoot fighting a ninja, so it’d just be a picture of a bigfoot. I won’t judge you…till later. I don’t care what you draw, I’m not your mom…wouldn’t be the first rocket ship I’ve seen today.” That has 2-3 laughs but it also gives them a moment to think about what to draw and I disarm them about worrying about the drawing being bad. It also takes away the incentive for a teenage boy (or drunk adult) to draw a penis as I’ve already gotten the laugh from that.

The other thing this does is gives me a real moment in the show that’s happening now that I can comment on. I can talk about the picture and everyone knows this is real and not preplanned.

Play around with using alternatives to signatures you might like it.


Some Card Trick Love!

One quote that soo many people like to say, which I dislike is

“A magician is an actor playing the part of a magician.” 

Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin

The reason I don’t like the quote is usually who says it. It’s a lazy way to say you don’t like someone’s routine. Not all people who do magic tricks pretend to have magical powers. The people who quote the above are usually the same people that dislike card tricks.

Here’s fun Houdin quote I came across the other day:

Of all the marvels produced by Sleight-of-hand, card tricks are, beyond question, the most amusing, and the most generally appreciated.

Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin
Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin card trick quote

You can’t have one quote and not the other. They came from the same person. I think I’m going to try to popularize this quote whenever people show their dislike for card tricks!

Cincinnati Cards!!

I recently ended up with about two dozen decks of bicycle cards that are the old stock of Cincinnati made playing cards! I just started using one of the packs of cards as my “pocket deck” at the fair I’m performing at. This is the deck that’s always in my pocket when I’m around the fair, and if someone recognizes me as a magician, it’s the pack I’ll use to show them an impromptu card trick. It’s not the pack I use when I perform, for that I use the normal bikes that are currently available. I just throw away the deck after each show.

What’s great about these cards old stock cards is that they way they are cut, they faro really easily. Anyone starting out right now that was trying to learn to faro shuffle with the new stock cards is going to have a hell of a time!

There’s a lot of physical differences between the new stock and the old stock. One that just hit me is the finish is a little bit different. I wonder if you put an old stock into a deck of new stock cards if it would work as a slick card?
Or if not a slick card, some other sort of subtle locator?
Unfortunately I don’t have a normal deck with me right now, so I can’t try it out for a few days.

I’m not a “card snob”, however it’s amazing how much easier it is to use a good deck of cards for pretty much any sleight of hand.

Magic Jam..

I’m cleaning out the computer and found a video of a magic jam from a while ago when my state was briefly open for people to hang out before closing again. Jamming in person is the way to go, you can creatively play off of each other a lot more efferently than over Zoom.

In the video there are a couple of cool tricks. The trick with the arrow drawn on a card and it makes the coin move was interesting to figure out. Then the ketchup packet to ketchup filled portion cup looked great!

If you don’t jam with other magicians, you are really missing out on fun, and working on your creativity!

Less Than Triumphant…

Way back in March I was playing with using the old card reveal where you drop the deck on the table and the top card flips over as a clean up for a Triumph type effect.
You can read the post here
It’s an interesting way to clean up a reversed card on top of the deck. You get a little trick that happens that does the dirty work for you.

Last night I was shuffling some cards and came up with a Triumph sequence that left you in position to do the drop clean up. Here’s the sequence:

  1. Card is selected and controlled to the top
  2. Zarrow shuffle with half face up and half face down (selection remains on top)
  3. Strip the face down bottom half to the right, flip them face up. Riffle shuffle by running about 10 cards with your left hand, then shuffling with both hands, leaving about 10 or more cards of the right hands stack to fall on top of the left hands stack. This will put the face down selection about 10 or more cards from the top of a deck that’s face up (the audience thinks they are mixed face up into face down).
  4. Strip the top half to the left, flip them over (face down card will show) and do a Zarrow Shuffle.
  5. Strip the bottom card (face down cards) the right and shuffle the card together. Have the left hand’s packet’s top card be the top card of the shuffled deck.

    The order from from the top down is a face down card, then the rest of the deck face up with a selection face down somewhere in the middle of the deck.
  6. Do the drop flip over reveal thing to flip over the top card of the deck.
  7. Spread them out to show all of the cards are now facing the same direction except for their selection.

I’m going to be 100% clear that I think this sequence isn’t the best way to do a this style of trick and is inferior to the common method of a Zarrow Shuffle, Daryl’s Triumph display (Don’t know the name of it) and then openly flipping over half the deck.

It is a sequence that gets me into a position where I can do the drop flip over thingy. It was also a fun exercise to try to figure out how to get the cards where I needed them to be.

Make It Easy To Watch!

This morning a buddy of mine sent me a video of a magician doing a card trick and wanted to know my thoughts on it. The thing that stood out to me, and is something that I should have realized before is that most of us are doing card tricks for social media incorrectly.

Many videos of just the hands have them coming down from the top of the screen, or are from the spectators point of view showing more of the magician. If you are doing any card tricks that require you to spread the cards, the indexes are upside down.

If you are someone that frequently handles cards, it’s pretty easy to tell what is what. However, most people are not. If you asked someone to memorize a card and they saw it upside down there’s a great chance they will struggle with it. It’s also visually unappealing to look at. Here’s my suggestion, use a left handed deck of cards.

left handed cards

This cards spread this was a so much easier to identify for someone that’s not familiar with cards. If you don’t spread the cards, like in an ambitious card routine then it’s not really a issue.

Best Card Gaff!

One of the coolest card gaffs is the Modern Flap Cards by Hondo. He makes the as a premade gaff, or as a video where you can learn to make your own. The video is the way to go, as you’ll be a lot more versatile with what you can do. There’s a little bit of a learning curve to making them, but it’s really not that hard.

I use one in my preshow video in my cruise ship show, and in a lot of social media videos. I haven’t used them in a live show, simply because I don’t really have a place for them. The problem is a playing card is small, and the change is hard to view from the back row.

It hit me a while ago that you can do the change with the card isolated in a cup. I hadn’t had time to really play with it before the self quarantine, however I played around with it and here’s the card color change change in a cup:

There’s a little bit of knack to do the move in a cup. In a nutshell I’m using the weight of the card to keep the change from happening. It’s all about the angle you lean the card at. I think the next time I make some of the flap cards, I’m going to have a bit less tension, so that I have more wiggle room with the angle of the lean.

The discovery of doing the change in a cup is the direct result of playing with the gimmick and a good example of why you should be playing with gimmicks beyond what’s in the instructions.