Impossible feats and clever tricks are only a small part of every magic performance. A magician’s “patter”, or prepared speech, and unique identity are as much a part of his performance as the sleight of hand techniques he’s spent years mastering.
Almost every great magician has a gimmick or unique facet that makes them stand out from the crowd. Channing Pollock would never smile until the end of his performances, Cardini pretended to be drunk, Teller doesn’t talk, David Copperfield performs to rock music.
It is up to every magician to create a character that matches and enhances their personality.
When putting together a magic performance there are many considerations that must be made ahead of time. Where are you in position to the audience? Can anyone see you from a strange angle that might give away a trick?
A magic performance needs to have structure which should also be planned ahead of time. It should have a clear beginning, middle, and end. You should start with tricks that are flashy and grab the audience’s attention, do more technical tricks in the middle, and finish with a trick that will leave the audience stunned.
Variety is key to an enjoyable performance. If, for example, there is a portion of the routine that involves a large number of card tricks in a row, mix it up by including some flashier tricks. You will better hold the audience’s attention.
Never include a trick that you can’t do in your sleep. Tricks must be practiced over and over until you develop muscle memory and can do the tricks easily, without thinking. The great magicians are extremely meticulous in their practice. It is part of the magician’s code not to perform any trick until you have practiced it enough that you can maintain the secrecy of the illusion.
It’s best to practice your routine as well before trying it in front of a live audience. Practice in the mirror, for friends and family, or film yourself performing the routine. Once it is perfected you will be more confident performing in front on a crowd of strangers.
If there are any tricks in your routine that require a higher degree of concentration or that you are worried about, apply some classic misdirection. Work out a way to distract the audience during sticky moments, and perform the trick in between two tricks you are very comfortable with.
When first starting out it is more important to concentrate on your performance and become comfortable with your patter than it is to perform big, technical tricks. Start simple and really try to learn how to connect with your audience.
Performing a magic routine in front of a live audience can be a daunting task for beginners. The magician must combat stage fright and nervousness with practice and preparation. If you know you can do the tricks easily, and become comfortable talking to the audience, then you can enter every performance with the confidence needed to dazzle the audience.
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