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There are several things you should bear in mind when doing tricks. The surprise of not knowing what is about to happen is one of the things that make people like magic, so never repeat the same trick for the same audience. Have another trick ready in case you are asked to show the first trick again.
Never tell what you are going to do before you start a trick, because if you do, it will be easier for your audience to see how you do a trick, and that spoils the fun. Keep them fooled!
Don't expose the workings of a trick after you have done it, or a fellow-magician either. It's more fun to keep your friends guessing, because magic isn't magic to people who know what methods you use.
You may present your magic in a natural, comedy, or mysterious way. In the natural way of presentation you should strive to be yourself and not imitate anyone else. Be casual and easy-going. This is usually the best way to perform your magic before a group of people you know well.
The comedy style is used if you are before a larger group and have a natural flair for comedy. You should joke with your audience, but never poke fun at them laugh with them-not at them. Remember, your audience is every bit as ready to be entertained as to be fooled. Comedy is a good form of entertainment. Remember though, not to be a show-off or act smart-alecky.
The mysterious style is usually best suited to a large stage and, as a rule, to an older person. If you are naturally very serious, and are really not the type to be funny, you may be able to present your show in a mysterious manner. Don't try to be too mysterious or you may end up being funny.
Don't mix the styles of presentation; either be natural, funny or mysterious.
Patter is the name magicians give to the running line of talk they use while they are performing a trick. It's a good idea for you to learn to keep up a continuous flow of chatter or patter as you perform because this will make your magic more interesting and entertaining. You should not memorize what you are going to say. just get an idea of what you want to say as you perform. Then fill in with what comes to your mind as you do your shows. This will only come with practice. You may tell certain things that you may do, or call attention to the various articles you use. This is, of course, just the beginning. You must say other things in between so that your show will not have "dead spots" in it. All of your patter must be in the same style as your presentation, such as: natural, comedy, or mysterious. Some tricks have a story attached to them naturally such as the Four Robbers Trick (page 14), and the Afghan Bands (page 124). Try most of all to be original in your stories and don't copy other magicians you may see. It is not only unfair to take someone else's patter, but it probably won't fit your style of magic.
If you are going to do a complete show and not just a few tricks, it is important to arrange them in a good program. The opening trick is the most important because it introduces you to your audience and makes them either expect to see a good magician or one not so good. You should choose a trick that is quick, and attention-getting. Do not use a trick which requires the use of spectators from the audience, but one that you can do quickly, and that will baffle the audience.
The last trick should be fast and colorful as well as mysterious as it is the last time the audience sees you, and you want them to remember you as a pleasant person with lots of skill and talent.
Your dress is also important. The best thing for a boy to wear is a suit with a tie. Also, be neat and clean in your appearance, as this will make the audience like you better when they first see you. Boys will find coat pockets handy in many of the tricks. Girls can wear slacks and a coat, or a skirt or a smock with pockets.
Magicians use a language all their own. You will find some of these terms useful and interesting, and they form the basis of a great many tricks. If you want to fool your audience you will have to practice certain tricks until you can do them without hesitating. You will find references to the following "Fundamental Tricks" throughout the rest of this book:
Palming is holding something in your hand without the audience's knowing it is there. The easiest "palm" is called the finger-palm because the object is held in the natural curl of your two middle fingers. With a small object, such as a coin or a ball, held this way, you can move your hand freely and naturally. Your arm can be held in front of your body, or dropped to your side without the object's falling out.
Forcing is causing a spectator to pick a certain card when he thinks he has a free choice. To "force" a card, place the card you wish to force, on the bottom of the deck-that is, under the last card of the deck. Hold the deck on the palm of your hand, and ask the spectator to cut the deck at any point he wishes. Have him place the part he cut, and now holds, on the palm of his hand.
Place the portion you hold, crosswise on top of the portion in his hand. Ask him to pick up the top part of the deck (the one you have placed crosswise) and look at the bottom, or face-up card. To him it appears as if this was the card he cut to, but it is really the card that was on the bottom of the deck at the beginning -in other words, the "force" card.
This may sound very simple. It is, and because it is so simple, it really fools them. Try it and see!
Another Force is called the "bridge" force. Place the card to be forced on the bottom of the deck. Cut the deck at about the center, and bend the top packet along the ends in a concave "bridge." Now complete the cut and place the unbent portion on top of the bent portion. Ask the spectator to cut the cards near the center, and glance at the card on the bottom of the packet to which he has cut. He will cut to the force card.
Before doing this, it is a good idea to notice whether he cuts the cards at the sides or the ends. This will work very well if he cuts at the sides, but if he cuts at the ends, you must bend the cards at the sides when you cut. Most people cut at the sides.
The Pass is a very difficult but skillful trick which is used to bring a selected card to the top of the deck. This lets the spectator take any card from the deck, replace it, and lets you bring it to the top. This variation of the pass is very easy.
Fan the cards out and have someone select a card. Square up the deck and cut it at about the center. Ask the spectator to return his card, by placing it on top of the bottom pack, in your left hand. Hold the pack in the palm of your hand with the fingers curled around one side and the thumb on the other.
Replace the packet from your right hand on top of the one in your left, but as you do so, slip the tip of your left little finger in between the two packets. Riffle the outer ends of the cards a few times but keep looking right into the eyes of the spectator. Do not look at your hands.
Grasp the ends of the cards with your right fingers at the front, thumb at the back, and cut the cards at the break held by your little finger.
Now riffle shuffle the cards, being sure the top card on the packet held in your left hand falls on top. This will be the selected card. You can shuffle some more, but you can always locate the card very easily, as you will keep it on the top of the deck.
The One-Way Principle means using a deck which has a picture or figure on the back which is non-reversible. The back design has a definite top and bottom (rather than a pattern which looks the same in either direction) and you can tell if one of the cards is upside down. To use this principle, arrange the cards so that the back designs face all one way. Fan the cards and have someone in the audience remove one. If you fan the cards in your left hand from left to right (top to bottom), and someone selects one, continue to close the fan in the same direction. If you use the left thumb and fingers as a pivot, you will find that when you square up the cards, you will have turned them completely around.
Have the card returned to the deck, and let the spectator shuffle them, or shuffle them yourself. Now fan the cards face-out toward the spectator, and have him make sure his card is in the deck. While he is looking for his card it is easy for you to find it too, as it will be the only one with an upside down pattern!
The Key-Card Principle is nothing more than using one card to locate another. To use this principle, note the bottom card of the pack. Have a spectator select a card.
While he is looking at it, cut the cards, and ask him to replace his card on top of the pile you have cut from the deck. Now complete the cut. This puts the bottom card that you remembered, the key-card, directly over his selected card.
Now turn the deck face-up in your hands and look for your key-card. You will find the selected card to the right of your key-card.
In the following chapter, you will find tricks in which these principles are used, and also many others which you will find just as easy to do.