that what he did half a minute ago was very clever, now they smile and show their appreciation. For some working conditions, close up for example, this technique can be quite good. But for stage work it is bad. You cannot afford the time to let people think back over all your movements before they realise you have done a trick. It has to be more obvious than that—avoid the flash back type of trick for large audiences.
Now what about the most important trick in the act, the last one you do. It is the most important because it is the one that leaves, or should leave, the final impression you create. To find a really good ending trick is not at all easy. To start with, unlike all the other tricks in the routine or act, this one has to be a trick which at the end leaves you and you only, on the stage. Quite clearly, for close up mentalism it is not the same and does not matter if you are left alone or not. But it is extremely important when working from the stage. It is quite wrong to conclude a performance and attempt to take a final call when you are standing on the stage surrounded by half a dozen people who have come up from the audience to help you during the act. If the last trick requires assistants, as it probably will do, it will have to be constructed so that you can politely dismiss your helpers back to the audience before you finally end the trick. Therefore, talking of good tricks, one that allows you the opportunity to do this is one worth having and you know where to use it. As a detail, I think that the last trick is also best if you can finish empty handed. It is not imperative—but at the very end you should think of every way to focus attention on yourself and try to eliminate anything that may become even a slight distraction. If you are forced to finish with some thing in your hands, do so and when the final applause has ended walk off with the object. Don't cross over to a table and put it down. Make the end, and end and be done with it.
Now what about all the little things that go into making a trick good or bad/ We can argue about the type of prop you use, how it should be decorated if decorated at all; we have to consider visibility, angles of working, variety of effect (i.e. no one act with six consecutive prediction effects) and so on.
These things are all details, they are the little things which are quite frequently passed over and forgotten. To do anything properly, you have to pay attention to detail. You don't have to give yourself headaches worrying too much—but keep the little things in mind. For example, suppose you have a good effect that uses a prop which looks fancy and magical. The answer is very simple, if the effect warrants the use of the apparatus, go to a bit of trouble and redecorate the apparatus to make it appear less conspicuous and more suitable for mental magic than conjuring proper. As a rule, it is better to use things that seem commonplace with preference to anything that looks as though it has been designed for the purpose of tricking an audience. Nearly any piece of conjuring apparatus can be skilfully explained away so that it becomes usable for Mentalism. You may remember how I gave you an opening mental effect in Step Four—and the apparatus used was the common design of Card in Balloon.
Bear in mind that aside from the appearance of the apparatus you use to achieve a trick, what can be just as deceptive is the way you use it. But all the same, it is my opinion that the best mental tricks are those which do not require very much apparatus, and if they do, the apparatus is such that it will not attract attention.
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