Using Your Background

Think about your background. No, we don't mean the cloth that hangs at the back of the stage. We are talking about your interests and hobbies that you have developed over the years. Is there something amongst these that you can use in your routines? A good example of this is the magician Steve Wyrick. When you enter his theatre in Las Vegas, it's styled like an aircraft hangar, complete with landing lights, search beacons, industrial props, and a metallic aviation themed finish to the set.

All these features immediately set the scene, and Steve lets the audience know at the outset of his show that he grew up with a strong interest in aviation. He explains how his father was a pilot, and how he himself also always wanted to fly. With that understanding clear, his show features all sorts of illusions and effects related to the theme of aviation.

There is an effect where he walks through a jet engine whilst it is spinning fast, another where he makes a helicopter appear, and so on.

What kind of subjects could you use? What was your background like? If you grew up on a farm, perhaps you could theme an act around farmyard animals and farm equipment illusions. If you are fascinated by science you might pretend that your parents were scientists, and use that as an excuse for some experiment with various scientific looking props.

You don't have to use the subject throughout the show, but when the topic reoccurs at certain points during the show, it can tie it very neatly together.

None of this is absolutely necessary, but it could well be to your advantage because you are more likely to be enthusiastic about your subject, and that enthusiasm will be conveyed to the audience.

Telling stories is an effective way of developing interest in an routine. Audiences love stories, they can bring the magic alive and give it meaning. They can turn even the most basic effect into something interesting, and entertaining.

If you are really struggling to get your creative juices flowing, here are some specific examples of patter that in you can adapt them, or use them for inspiration in creating your own ideas:

"When I was a lad my father always used to tell me I've always remembered that advice, and It came In useful recently when "

"I have been fortunate to travel the world, and when I was in recently, something strange happened which I'd like to tell you about."

Or if you are younger, " I went on a funny holiday last year..."

"I've always done magic, but not always for a living.."

"if you're Lucky in magic, you get to meet some great older magicians, and they have some great props. Can I show you one of them..."

"you see that group of dancers over there, weLL I went out with the third one from the Left the other night, and we had a great time. That's got nothing to do with the next trick, but i wanted to teLL someone about it!"

"I was approached by a young girL before the show, and she asked me what was the most difficuLt "

"At schooL, one of my teachers was aLways trying out new scientific theories that seemed pretty crazy at the time. He wouLd have gone nuts if he'd seen this one."

"There's a saying in Romania that I didn't reaLise how true that was untiL recentLy when I "

Such lines said positively, and of course with interest from YOU, enhance the performance apparently without any effort. The patter also gives you a reason for performing an effect, even if it is just a few introductory words - sometimes that is all that is needed.

In considering this advice, remember that you are acting. You can say whatever you want to on stage to enhance the effect (within reason), even if you are stretching the truth sometimes! Give the audience a compelling reason to continue watching, and give them entertainment throughout the effect, not just at the end.

In their efforts to do well as a magician, it is very common for magicians to overlook one of the most basic requirements of magic. What is it? We've been saying it all along, and we are going to emphasis it again. It is to entertain. You might think that this comes automatically, but actually it is often neglected.

Many magicians fall into the trap of being so concerned about the technique or presentation of an effect that they forget what they are there for! Don't let that be you!

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