Where to Find the Patter

What a danger patter can be! Unless he is very careful the magician can easily become trite, dull and old-fashioned. Or plain silly.

Children are particularly apt to spot these things. They don't want telling that it is a red handkerchief; they know that already since their eyes are mighty sharp. Neither are they attracted by reference to characters which were featured by comic papers of 50 years ago. In short, it is essential in ail forms of modern entertainment, but particularly magic, to keep up to date.

Often I hear it said by conjurers "The old tricks are still the best"—which may or may not be true; but 1 wish some of these performers who generally do the old tricks in the same old way and with the same old patter, could hear the comments of the younger generation. Something like this: "Yes, he's clever and all that, but oh so corny".

Now, whatever else MAGIC MAGAZINE has done, it has repeatedly tried to give you something entirely new and also helped you to give existing apparatus fresh twists. But when all is said and done, it is the presentation, the stories, the quips and the talk that make the difference between a mere display of cleverness and a friendly, happy half-hour.

Well, where can we find the patter? Often, of course, it will come with the trick itself;' but the danger there is that it will be widely repeated. So my advice is always to adapt stock patter to your own specific style. Give it some new turn. Don't make it TOO fantastic; keep it human. All true comedy is based on human experience or comment. Listen in bus and train and shops and at home to the various conversations. Keep your eyes open for funny and unusual happenings, They will enlarge your vocabulary no end.

The patter books have their uses; but one man's poison is another man's meat. American humour, for example, is quite different from ours. But it can often be adapted. The trouble with ready-made patter is that it is imposed from without instead of springing from within. So, always give it your own interpretation.

Many of the magazines and papers will at least stimulate good talk. The Daily Telegraph generally has a good story in the "Peterborough" feature. The London Evening News has a daily joke called "Who Told You That?" Tit Bits (bless it after all these years) is true to its title. And the News Chronicle has a brief piece each day called "How Odd" which may give you some sort of parallel with something queer in your repertoire.

Nobody can afford to ignore Punch. Nor, I think, the Reader's Digest and the English Digest. These two magazines have lots of bright things, generally at the bottom of, columns—nice economic pieces culled from a wide variety of sources.

There are a very large number of book£ of sketches from the revues, mostly published by Samuel French. A good sketch is based on one quick joke—and that may be very' useful to a magician.

Don't disdain Shakespeare by..thinking him highbrow. Recently I gave a Talk on "Shakespeare Always Has a Word for it"— and how true that is. I found innumberable references to modern matters including radio, teievison, films, photography and magic. Nearly every public library has a Shakespeare concordance.

Keep up to date with the children. They read Eagle and Enid Blyton—and jump at references to the characters to be found in those publications. Don't monkey about too much with the fairy tales; they are almost sacred to the little ones. But, for adults, a fairy tale can usually be given a new climax.

Even a touch of science can be lightly used, especially with tricks like the hydrostatic glass and squaring the circle. Remember, too, old tags like "You can't put a square peg in a round hole" which can be nicely turned about to suit your purpose. Benham's Book of Quotations has hundreds.

Two final bits of advice. Don't overdo the patter. Make use of it. You are first and foremost a magician; so let the words be magical too And don't be dirty. I'm not a moralist. Dirt may get a cheap laugh at the time; but it puts you at the bottom of the class in the long run.

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