Three Cards Across

After Hours Magic: A Book of Al Thatcher Card Magic

Encyclopedia of Card Tricks

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This concludes the routine with a fine trick which to the audience is the most surprising feat of all those you have performed.

A routine of card tricks which may serve one person admirably may not be nearly so effective in the hands of another, for the personality of a performer has much to do with the entertainment value which is got from the routine.

As you perform the tricks given you in this book, you will find that you enjoy performing some of them more than others, and usually you will get a stronger audience reaction from these tricks. You should remember the ones from which you get the most effect and use these in building your routines. You should also try to remember any amusing byplay or incidents which happen, so that you can keep these in your presentation. You will find that the more you perform a trick the better your presentation will be, for a good presentation grows, like Topsy, as you incorporate these extemporaneous bits of business in your routine.

The building of a routine is one of the most fascinating aspects of doing magic with cards. The clever performer always considers his tricks from the viewpoint of the audience and strives to make them more and more entertaining. Your talk, or patter, is an integral part of the routine and should be given as much thought as the mechanics of the trick. In some of the tricks in this book we have sketchily indicated a suitable patter, but if possible you should contrive your own talk, which will then be in keeping with your personality. You will find that as you perform your tricks you will make amusing or showmanly remarks extemporaneously, and you should remember these, if you can, as carefully as you remember the bits of byplay we have mentioned.

In constructing your patter, which will follow the plot line of your trick, be careful not to be verbose. The student often feels that he must talk interminably, and this becomes boresome. You will know quickly enough if what you are saying is effective. If it is not, rewrite your patter. If you are talking too much and your audience looks unhappy, cut your patter mercilessly. If you have attempted to be humorous and no one laughs, throw out the pseudo-humorous lines and find others that are really amusing or witty. It is only by self-criticism that you will perfect and smooth your talk.

The plot line of a trick is usually indicated by the trick itself. In devising your presentation, you should apply the laws of interest. If you say, "Let me show you a card trick," you have not necessarily succeeded in arousing interest. But if you say, "You have, no doubt, heard of the lie detector, the complicated machine which science has devised to determine if a person is lying or telling the truth. Well, this pack of cards is my lie detector, and I'd like to show you how it operates." If you make some such introductory statement, you have piqued the curiosity of everyone present. Even so simple a statement as "This is a trick which Herrmann the Great performed for over thirty years" will arouse. interest, for everyone has heard of Herrmann, and the spectator's reaction is, "If this trick was so good that Herrmann used it for thirty years, it must be worth watching." Your patter thereafter will follow the plot line which you have suggested in your opening statement.

It may be wise to tell you at this time that you cannot gauge the effect of a trick accurately when you perform for your family or intimate friends. They know you too well. They will either tell you that you are wonderful or that you are not very good, and neither may be the exact truth. To determine the value of a trick and its presentation, perform it for strangers.

One final word concerning routining: Construct your routines so that they can be performed in from ten to fifteen minutes. You will build a number of them, using different types of tricks--those performed at the table, those for use when standing and surrounded by people, and so on--and by limiting them to fifteen minutes at the most you will be sure that you do not monopolize a gathering. If when you have finished a routine your audience clamours for more, you have only to perform one of the other routines.

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