M

it very valuable effects on th thoueh you may al . M your toio™al

^ on the spur of the moment d«Lld' 8ub,rart. or substitute oZtTK' W'th a «>und nnde " ,™'mPromP«« performance.

™ple of fr,end" 2 "i ^ 0nly »Wtr, those three trSs -n »^*far"" ^ &r 3

construction *<*ordance wjft ^tronger if you choose

'fs a precept f P«"ciples of proper act are yZ ^flT' yo^ M f .

determines whether th^ T ^ ^SSL"**"* «*»»•

whether the audience vriU both« ? °e 18 the one that " tening to the rest of t sentence is the one they'll remember best. For a magic performance, your most important

S'^ jrCner and your Cioser.

the Opener effect must achieve two very important goals, first, it your "PenillB^r tin, audience. Second, it should set the tone for the has to win wh(;!1 I taUt ahout winning over the audience I mean rest of the ac " g^art perform you are on trial. The audience has not that when you ^ watdlin6 your performance. If you're performing in yet cotnmt situation where people are walking by. you may notice ,t]irofessio ^ are hanging back, standing at some distance, that -rnar^aci tQ uiove in close if the performance captivates, but just 1 'to move on if it doesn't. Even in a non-professional setting as ready ^ ^ where you have something closer to a captive saf. aB the situation is psychologically the same. When you start j' the audience is waiting to make a decision whether to V attention for the rest of the performance or tunc you out and daydream about more interesting activities.

mat you must realize is that, not only are you on trial, but the verdict is going to be handed in very soon. The audience is not going If rive you much time to establish that you're worth watching. Consequently, vour first effect must not only make the case that you're worth watching, it must make that case pretty fast or itu be too late.

This will usually mean that your first effect should be most of the other effects in the act, perhaps the shortest one«Uhe act. However, the really critical point is not how short toeffect is but how much time elapses before something J^pe™ A

four-minute trick in which the first magical climax ««W"^ first forty-five seconds will make a better opens,than thre^

minute trick in which nothing magical atoroaS The

'The Ambitious Card" is a good example of the toner_ ^mwfc Ihe routine may be moderately long but, once the card is selected signed, it's non-stop magic. . uar,npn

My own rule of thumb is that I fg*

within two minutes of tiae start of ^rX ^urant magic for is only a rule of thumb. In son* ^^^ and „here the example, where there ^e numerous^ low, even two minutes performer's prestige at the outset is usually may be too long.

Alternatively, if you can intrigue the audience at the very outset „, v an interest catcher of the kind we discussed earlier, you may hf/",h little more time. The important thing is to hook them into f.a performance fast—get them psychologically committed to watch! the rest of your act. Then you'll have the freedom to get into some of your more elaborate mysteries.

The second thing your opener should do is to set the tone for the performance. Whatever you do at the outset, the audience will expect that the rest of the performance will be in the same vein. If it fetf» they'll spend the rest of the act confused. If you open with a mental effect, they'll expect mentalism to play a major role in the entire performance. If you open with a broad comedy effect, they'll expect the rest of the act to follow suit.

Your opening effect should epitomize your style and your slant on magic. It should give them a taste of your persona and start to develop the atmosphere you want to generate throughout the act. 1 realize that'9 a tall order. That's why you may find you'll have to search long and hard for ideal opening material. Personally, I have found it much harder to find good openers than good closers or good middle-of-the-act material.

The key is to give serious thought to the kind of style, tone, persona, and atmosphere you want to create, as we've already discussed. If you do, youH be light-years ahead of most magicians and you'll readily recognize the kind of opener that will work for you when you encounter it.

On this same point of setting the tone, you should consider the possibility of introducing yourself with an appropriate tagline. A1

Goshman used to start by saying, "Hi, my name is A1 and I'm going to

'magish' for you." In one sentence he had already communicated that his approach was informal ("Al"), and lighthearted and tongue-in-cheek ("magish").

I start all my formal performances by saying, "My name is Darwin

Ortiz and for the next few minutes I'd like to show you why you should never play cards with strangers." This immediately establishes that they're going to see a "card" act and that the subjects of gambling and cheating will play major roles. It also suggests that I know more about those subjects (cards, gambling, and cheating) than the average person.

While delivering this line I "absentmindedly" give the deck an imprcs-sive flourish cut. Immediately, they know I have skill with card8—that I won't be subjecting them to the "Twenty-One Card Trick." The line and the flourish distinguish me from their Uncle Joe who does card tricks. They intrigue the audience, suggest that I'll 272

watching. give them some idea of what I'm like, be wortn __ _e TV>pbp nrp iunt the thins-s vmi hiibly be worth watcmng. s». *—---------------------

prTet the tone for the rest of the act. These are just the things you want to do at the start of any performance.

Build

In order to properly do its job, your opening effect should be a strong one. as should every effect you do. But it shouldn't be too strong. In fact, it's vitally important that it be the least strong effect in the act. rn discussing progression in individual effects I quoted F. Cowles Strickland to the effect that, "That which follows must always be made to seem more important and more interesting than that which has preceded. . . Even an attempt to maintain the same level of interest, will not satisfy an audience." This is just as true about the entire act as it is about each individual trick in the act. In Magic and Showmanship, Henning Nelms speaks of the "interest curve." The notion is that one can, in effect, graph the audience's increasing or decreasing interest at each moment. This is a very useful way of thinking about the concept. Proper build means that the interest curve rises continually from start to finish. As Nelms points out, the interest curve for an individual effect is (or at least should be) shaped like a wave with the peak coming at the very end. Therefore, it isn't really possible for a series of effects to achieve a smoothly rising curve. They will be a series of waves. But— and this is vital—in an effective act, the crest of each wave must be higher than the one before. If you were to draw a line connecting all the crests, that line would form a smoothly rising curve. Some effects have more than one climax. As we've seen, in such cases, each subsequent climax should be stronger than the one before so the interest curve keeps rising throughout the effect and we avoid a deadly anti-climax. When a multi-climax trick is placed within the context of an act, even the first of the multiple climaxcs shoidd be stronger than the last climax of the previous trick. But the last of the multiple climaxes should still be less than the climax of the next trick. Just remember the image of that connect-the-dots line stringing together all the climaxes of the act and remember that this line must always rise. Any downward dip is fatal.

This means that when you put together an art you must order the tricks from weakest to strongest. Each one should be more impossible than the one before. Yes. I know that logically something is either possible or impossible. You can't speak of one impossibility being more impossible than another. That's logically true but omotionaUy false. Intuitively we all feel that some things are more impossible

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