SHOWMANSHIP AND PRESENTATION—Continued.

OK. Here is more from the chapter.

But how do you develop this capacity for showmanship? Well, we’ll come to that but first, here are a few general tips:

 

1.NEVER REVEAL HOW A TRICK IS DONE

This rule should be obvious to most readers although some beginners feel tempted to show how smart they are by revealing the secret. This is a mistake for instead of impressing people with their cleverness they have lowered their standing with the spectator. Once the secret is know the viewer’s opinion of the performer’s ability will decline since the secrets of some tricks are so simple that the spectator will think, “Oh, is that all there is to it?” and give the matter no more thought, whereas if he is in the dark he will puzzle over it and be impressed simply BECAUSE he doesn’t know the secret. Remember, a good trick is like a precious diamond; protect it and it will give you much joy. A secret exposed is like a burst balloon-there’s nothing left.

 

  1. NEVER REPEAT A TRICK BEFORE THE SAME AUDIENCE

 

This, like the above, is one of the standard rules of magic. There ARE a few exceptions since there are a tiny minority of tricks that are actually improved by repetition. By and large, though, it is not wise to repeat a trick for the simple reason that the audience is more likely to figure out the secret on the second showing. The first time a trick is performed the audience does not know what to expect; the magician might make a card disappear or he may change the four of spades to the four of hearts; perhaps the pack of cards will rise mysteriously in the air without visible means of support; in other words, anything could happen. The point is that the spectator doesn’t know what is coming so he is at a disadvantage when trying to figure out the secret. On the other hand, if the trick is repeated, the onlookers have far more chance of deducing the method since they know in advance what is going to happen and consequently are on their guard. They are in a better position to know what to look for and as a result are often able to work out the secret after proclaiming so in a loud voice much to the magician’s discomfort.

 

  1. DO NOT SAY WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO DO BEFORE YOU DO IT.

 

For the reason outlined in rule two it is unwise to let people know what is going to happen in advance. A possible exception to this would be just before the climax of a trick when all the secret moves and preparation have been completed. It may then be in order for the purpose of showmanship to announce the climax of the trick. Generally speaking though, the less said about what is going to happen the better.

 

  1. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.

 

As I stated in the first chapter, even the simplest card illusions require practice. For some of the more difficult tricks and sleights that follow in later chapters I recommend practice in front of a mirror. This will help you to judge the effect as the spectator sees it. However do not overdo the use of a mirror since too frequent use may cause you to get lost in front of an audience. You will be so used to seeing things from the point of view of a mirror that it’s absence will feel strange and you will flounder.

 

Another possible argument against injudicious use of a mirror is one that I have not personally come across. However, since various authorities in magic have stated this view I will give it for what it is worth. That is that frequent use of a mirror will cause the magician to develop a nervous habit of blinking whenever a secret move is executed. This may or may not be true, but I would certainly say that used sensibly a mirror is a useful asset to the budding performer.

 

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SHOWMANSHIP AND PRESENTATION—Continued.

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