Showmanship and Presentation contd….

I wasn’t sure whether to publish this extract since I have already done it in an earlier entry. However, I am supposed to be posting the second chapter of my unpublished book in sequence so it behooves me to do it again. So here it is:



This is where 75% of all would be wizards fall down. Even experienced magicians are often run of the mill performers simply because of poor or badly delivered patter. I believe this is an important subject, in some ways more important than the trick itself. You see, patter is the vehicle of your showmanship; good patter can lift a performance into the heights of entertainment-bad patter can make a trick resemble the sinking of the Titanic. In other words, a disaster.

Admittedly you will have seen magicians on stage and television perform in pantomime to music. These performances are known as “silent acts”. However this book is not trying to teach you to be a stage magician, but rather to instruct you in the art of card magic for your own satisfaction and the entertainment of your friends. With regard to the purpose of performing in social situations for our family and friends good patter is essential.

Now where do you acquire this silver tongue, you may ask? It’s not really difficult; it just takes some application. First of all, after thoroughly learning the mechanics of a trick, why not spend a half hour or so thinking about what to say for it. Use your brain, that’s all you have to do. With a little imagination you should be able to come up with something. In fact, you can get ideas from almost anywhere. Look around you and see if there’s some object in sight that will give you an idea for a patter line. Perhaps you can pick up a book and browse through it in search of inspiration. Whatever you do try and make it interesting, even whimsical or perhaps a little nonsensical. You may prefer to make your tricks appear dark and mysterious. If so, mould your patter accordingly, but don’t try to be something you’re not. In other words, if you’re not really suited to being a comedian there’s no need to make yourself look ridiculous attempting to tell jokes with your tricks. Be natural, be yourself, but be entertaining.

Now of course this may create a conflict because you may not naturally be an entertaining personality. On one hand I am stating that you should be yourself and on the other hand I’m saying you should be entertaining. So you may well ask, “How am I supposed to be myself and be amusing at the same time? My conversation is as dull as dishwater, I don’t like speaking in public, I am naturally a quiet, shy person, so how am I supposed to transform to a product of Barnum and Bailey combined with shades of the Ringmaster to the Greatest Show on Earth?”

Actually the answer is you don’t. You will find that the more you perform card magic the more interesting your personality will become anyway. You don’t have to change overnight to a reincarnation of Dante, Blackstone, Houdini or any other great magician of the past. As time goes by your personality will become more interesting anyway. However, you do have to help it along a tiny bit. For example, if you should make an amusing remark extemporaneously try and remember it for future occasions. You will find as time goes by you will accumulate a stock of these remarks and you can weave them into your performances. If you think you’re as dull as dishwater and you lack confidence, don’t worry! Magic is an incredible confidence builder. Every time you hear gasps of astonishment it will do wonders for your morale.

We seem to have gone away from the subject under discussion, namely patter. Well, here we are again; all I have to say about it now is that I do NOT recommend learning it off by heart. You will certainly sound stilted and ten to one you will forget the words halfway through the trick. It’s a far better plan to get a general idea of what you wish to say, rehearse it aloud a few times with the cards in hand, going through the motions of the trick as you do, and finally when you come to perform you will sound more spontaneous than if you had learned the patter word for word. After many performances you will find that you tend to say the same words over and over again anyway, but with more flexibility. If someone interrupts you will not be put off whereas if the patter was learnt off by heart a break in the performance could throw you off completely.

There are many more rules of magic I could give you but I think the above five are the basic ones.

Showmanship and Presentation contd….


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:



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.




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.




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.




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.





I am hardly a fan of social media mainly on the grounds that it is beyond my comprehension but I have been amusing myself lately with this Pinterest thing. I have no idea what it is for but it is amusing me nevertheless. I intend to create photos of magicians and post them there until I get bored with the whole idea. So far I have been posting pictures only of myself which is no doubt the reason for this holding my attention so far but sooner or later I will run of of pictures and videos of myself so my self admiration will have to come to an end at some point. When it does I shall post pictures of other magicians or magic related topics.

Right now I have three pinterest boards. One has virtually nothing on it although I could have sworn I posted stuff there but the internet has always been a bit beyond me. That was my psychic related board where I would post palmistry and tarot related material.

However, I have two other boards which are magic related. One consists of videos and photos of my trade show work and the other is made up of everything else that is magic related.

Anyway, here it all is: