Best Narrative Magic Trick Presentations

By Joshua Jay - Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Damian, who serves as both our marketing director and our resident free-style rapper, has asked me to write about some of my favorite “story” magic tricks. But I’m calling these tricks “narrative” because “story” magic to me is quite a narrow category, and it conjures up presentations in which an actual story is told.

Joshua Jay performs trojan deck magic trick for woman

To me, a narrative presentation can be anything that explores a topic in a fascinating way. If you’re familiar with my trick, “Hitchcock,” it’s “about” Alfred Hitchcock, but he’s not a character in a story. He’s Hitchcock, and I spend about four sentences talking about him, all framed around a card trick. To me, that is still a narrative presentation.

Recently, we finally released “Trojan Deck”—one of my most cherished creations and an effect that is perfectly suited to be weaved into any personal narrative. When I perform it, I ell the true story of how my parents met, as part of a trick in which two shuffled decks perfectly match in sequence. So let’s explore some of my other favorite narrative magic tricks.

Here are three narrative presentations I like very, very much. When we think of “story magic,” we think of long, boring stories with characters and a plot and many phases. But notice that each of these tricks are defined, in large part, by how short and direct they are.

I think one of the greatest misconceptions in scripting magic is that the scripts need to be long and flowing. On the contrary, I think some of the best presentations I’ve read are just a few sentences long. Enjoy these three marvelous presentations...and I hope you enjoy "Trojan Deck."

Cosmic Thread by Eugene Burger

One of the greatest three minutes in all of close-up magic, Eugene Burger does the smallest of tricks: the Gypsy Thread, as he talks about the largest possible concept: the inception of the universe. He tells an origin story of how the cosmos came into being, from the standpoint of the Hindu religion. It’s heavy, but at the same time really pretty.

Ring, Watch, Wallet by Tommy Wonder

Most people don’t realize that Tommy Wonder did not invent the “Robbed” premise at all. But he did perfect it. In this case,we do find ourselves in the midst of an “actual story”. Albeit, it’s told tongue-in-cheek. I mean, I doubt that anyone actually believes Tommy was robbed just before he walked onstage. But the story is so quick, and quirky, that it perfectly compliments the amazing magic that we see.

Exdyslically Shunuffled by Francis Menotti

An outstanding, punchy, inherently funny presentation about how his words become shuffled as he shuffles a deck of cards. I just love watching this, and was honored to publish it for Francis in my “Talk About Tricks” column in MAGIC Magazine years ago. (p.s. keep an eye out for an exciting projecting revolving around that column in 2022.)

Reader comments:


Tuesday, 30 November 2021 22:19 PM - Reply to this comment

Thanks, Joshua Jay. You are one of the best writers in the art of magic today. This was a well-written look at storytelling and I appreciated the videos included as I have not seen them before.

In my profession, I teach ‘never make a point without a story, and never tell a story without a point.’ (attributed to Ed Percival). Roberto Giobbi just sent me “Sharing Secrets” and he makes similar observations. You add to the craft of storytelling in “How Magicians Think.” I highly recommend your work (writing and inventions) and have gifted them several times.

Thanks, your work is appreciated.
Dale Mullen
Full time advocate, part-time-half-baked conjurer, fidgety skeptic.

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