Enhance and Improve

Imagine sitting down to watch a popular TV programme only to find that the same episode is shown over and over again, every single time you tune in! How boring that would be. So don't do it with your magic either! Give both yourself and the audience variety.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with including an audiences favourite routines (a bit like a pop group playing their greatest hits at a concert), but you should still regularly enhance and improve your act, giving it very careful thought.

Keep your magic fresh for yourself and your audience by regularly improving.

I was talking to Teller (of 'Penn and Teller') on one occasion, and he mentioned that although their show follows a basic format and structure, they continually add little refinements and additions to keep it fresh. A great example of this was a comic illusion they performed. It involved what appeared to the audience to be an 'exposure' of Teller escaping from a trunk.

Teller was first encased in a clear plastic container which was then placed in a large wooden trunk. The lid was shut and padlocked. The audience were led to believe that it would take great effort to escape, a real struggle, but when Penn dispensed with the screen that normally hides the secret, Teller escaped easily in just a couple of seconds, requiring no effort at all. It was a laughably simple secret, and it was very amusing to see Teller casually exiting from the trunk.

After discussions earlier in the day as to how they could improve this effect, the night I watched the illusion performed Teller had added a new detail to the effect. When he escaped from the trunk, he took out a little water spray canister from his jacket, and quickly sprayed his face as if to make sweat appear, which significantly enhanced the comic element of the apparently 'exhausting and physical' escape!

It was such a simple idea, but it gave the routine a lovely finishing touch, and the audience loved it.

So put your inventive cap on, and try to make your magic unique and evolving, never stale. The effort put in will pay dividends, and will give you a definite edge over the many 'average' magicians, who are content to perform their effects straight out of the packet!

Never believe that a trick is complete. Paul is still surprised to find new lines drifting into his 'three bears' rope routine, which he has been performing for over 40 years now!

This principle of evolving and improving applies to every type of magic. For example, never believe that there is nothing new to be added to even a 'classic' piece of magic.

A case in point: The Chinese linking rings had been done to death in the eyes down, to create one of the greatest linking routines of all time.

What made it unique, and better than those that had preceded it?

Having sat in audiences with lay people, Paul discovered they were never impressed with a silent linking routine. Yes, it was 'pretty', and could be beautifully staged, but magically it was very weak because the audience usually believed it was mechanical.

Three ring routines had been done before, but there was always a visual imbalance whenever an examination of the rings took place. This applied to using five rings too, and there did not seem to be any benefit to using more than five rings.

So Paul and Martin arrived at using four rings, which no doubt upset some 'classicists' of magic. Interestingly however, when this routine was included in the show that won the Golden Rose of Montreux award, magicians in many lands copied it in it's entirety, in their own language!

As Paul says, "I suppose it was a compliment, but it would have been nice to have been asked, or even better to be paid a royalty!"

of most magicians. comedian son Martin, seats of the Prince of London's West End Paul's run of shows they completely

A case in point: The Chinese linking rings had been done to death in the eyes

Paul and his sat in the empty Wales theatre in one morning (during there), and together stripped the effect

The point is that even the classic tricks of magic are worth another look. Don't automatically assume that an effect has been done to death or that the 'standard' approach is the best approach. Challenge everything. Sure, the current way MIGHT be the best way, but don't automatically assume that it is.

Another fundamental performance technique is:

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