My friend, John Kinde of Humor Power Tips (www.humorpower.com), recently wrote an interesting article to his readers, detailing how we let our strengths become our weaknesses. He was specifically speaking of public speakers, his specialty. But, after reading the article, I realized that this mode of thinking applies to magicians equally as well.
Sometimes we let what we interpret as our strength hold us back. We rely on our strength to the point where we fail to develop our weaker points. It's possible that we may find what we think are our weakest points are potentially our real ice breakers.
If, for example, you feel that your ability to make your audience laugh is your strong suit, you may be ignoring your skills as a manipulator. Strong magic, done slowly and in-your-face, needs no laughs. Let the magic speak for itself. This is simply an example, but maybe it will serve as food for thought.
Cards. Everyone has their own preferences. Some swear by Bicycle. Others swear by Bee and an assortment of other brands.
Regardless, there IS a difference in different brands. The difference may not be dramatic, but once you begin to learn flourishes and double lifts and various cuts, you'll notice each brand has a distinct feel.
No one can tell you, or try to tell you, what deck or brand you should use. No one handles a deck quite like you. Personally, I have been critized by other magicians who feel that I shouldn't use Bee brand. They give all sort of excuses why I should use what they use.
Resist. Use what feels comfortable to you, offers you confidence, and is visually appealing to YOU.
Most importantly... be YOURSELF.
Ask a spectator to chose a card, including the suit. They can choose a card from a deck or simply make up one at random.
Once done, have them assign a numerical value to this card.. ( Ace=1, Jack=11, Queen=12, King=13 ).
You may want to give them a sheet of paper or a calculator for the following:
- Have them double the value of the card.
- Have them add three to the total.
- Have them multiply their total by five.
Now.. for the suit. using the standard 'CHaSeD' suit memory method..
- If the card is a Club, ask them to add one.
- If the card is a Heart, ask them to add two.
- If the card is a Spade, ask them to add three.
- If the card is a Diamond, ask them to add four.
They then tell you their total, and from this total you'll know the chosen card. Really...
All you need to do is subtract 15 from their total. The total can be either two or three digits.
The last figure will give you the suit (Club 1, Hearts 2, Spades 3, Diamonds 4.) and the first figure will give you the value. For example, a Jack of Spades would reveal itself as follows:
- A Jack is 11.
- 11 doubled is 22.
- 22 + 3 = 25
- 25 x 5 = 125
- Add 3 for Spades = 128 (You will be told this number)
- Mentally subtract 15 = 113.
You know 3 represents Spades and 11 represents Jacks. The Jack of Spades !
Be prepared for a trick to fail. It happens to everyone who performs magic. What can you do about it.. not much. But you CAN be prepared for failure.
Is it possible for your effect to have an alternative ending? If not, is it possible for you to have a really funny one-liner for that moment?
The audience sometimes wants to laugh when you blow it, but they don't... But, if you have the ability to make light of your failure and crack a joke, it allows them to laugh. Everyone feels so much better !
You can turn a bad moment into a funny one if you're prepared. You may actually look forward to the moment to see just how well your preparation works. Simply knowing you're prepared takes the fear from failure... OK, maybe not ALL the fear, but it certainly helps keep a smile on everyone's face.
Think about it...
What you'll need... a deck of cards, a note pad and pen, and two spectators.
Shuffle a deck of cards. Have the spectators shuffle the deck as well. Tell the spectators that you are going to perform a math miracle and you'll need to first remove all the two's from the deck. Look through the deck and remove the four 2's. While looking for the 2's, look at and remember the second and third cards from the bottom.
Divide the deck into two unequal halves. Give a half to each spectator and ask them to count the total number of cards in their stack by dealing them face down onto the table. After they are finished, pick up the former bottom half and casually place it on top of the former top half. You now know the identity of the second and third cards from the top. Remember, the spectators reversed the order of the halves, and you put the bottom half on top of the top half.
Feel free to tell the spectators beforehand that this effect requires you to make frequent calculations. While the spectators are counting their cards you can quietly jot down the value of the two cards second and third from bottom.
Ask the spectators how many cards they had in their stacks and write these numbers on your pad.
Ask one of the spectators to pick up the deck and put the top and bottom cards into the middle of the deck to add additional randomess to the pack.
Ask the spectators their favorite month and day of the year. Write it down in numerical form - or at least pretend to..
Now, have the spectator give the other spectator the top card of the deck and keep the next card on top for themselves. Remember that their order will be reversed from the order they were in when you glimpsed them on the bottom.
Do some imaginary math on your pad, the more writing the better... and then tell each spectator that the math reveals that their selected cards are the ____ of _____ .
If you don't totally trust your memory, simply say " My calculations reveal that one of you has a three of hearts and one a seven of diamonds. Is this correct? "
The more complex you can make it sound, the better. The spectators will not understand how their birthdays can calculate into their chosen cards. Make up something about how Einstein used this effect to fool his friends. This is a nice effect when combined with the proper patter.
Here is one of my favorite card tricks. It's easy to remember and plays well, particularly with the bonus handling.
The trick looks like this... The magi looks through the deck and removes the two red Jacks. He tells the spectator that these are to be his 'marker cards'. He gives the Jacks to the spectator.
The magi begins to lay cards from the top of the deck face down onto the table. He asks the spectator to say 'stop' at any point. When the spectator says 'stop', the magi asks the spectator to lay one of the Jacks, face up, on top of the last card layed on the table. The Jack should be outjogged so it will be visible through the remainder of the effect.
The magi places the remainder of the cards in his hand onto the stack on the table and picks the entire deck up as one. Again, he deals cards face down onto the table until the spectator says 'stop'. The second Jack is placed on top of this stack, face up, just as he placed the first one. Now, the magi drops the remainder of the deck on top of this stack and again picks up all the cards.
After a little patter, the magi spreads the cards and removes the two face-up Jacks and the two cards ABOVE each of these Jacks. Reminding the spectator that he stopped only where the spectator told him to stop, he then turns over the two face-down cards to reveal that they are the two Black Jacks.
The Secret? Begin the effect with one of the two Black Jacks on the top of the deck and the other on the bottom. That's all you have to do... really. If you follow the handling as I described it above, the effect is self-working. Try it and see.
If you have a deck of blank cards, add the four Jacks to the blank deck and follow the directions. Look through the deck for the two red Jacks, which you've randomly stuck in the deck beforehand. Of course, don't let the spectator see the face of the deck as you look for the Jacks. Once you reveal that the Jacks match, you can spread the deck and show ALL the remaining cards blank.