Realizing Magic Part 2: Other effects than Cut and Restored Rope.

By Pete McCabe - Friday, April 17, 2020

If you didn’t read part 1, start here

Last time, I talked about a way to create an emotional experience for your audience, based on the idea of controlling the moment when people can see that the magic has happened. Now we’re going to see if we can apply this idea to other tricks, and create similar moments we can create for our audiences. You might not end up using it on every trick, but it’s always good to have the option.

But first, it’s worth considering that this entire idea runs somewhat counter to the biggest trends in magic over the last several decades. Over that time, I would say that tricks have generally gotten more and more visual. The results are eye-popping, and having your eyes popped can be very enjoyable. But it’s much harder to create the kind of slow-dawning realization with a trick that happens in an instantly visual way.

Anyway, as I began running through tricks in my head, to see how many of them could work, I found myself remembering a couple of things I had read over the years, all of which now seem distinctly related to this same idea.

  1. Prediction Could I create this slow realization with a prediction? Remember the basic idea is that the first time you try to do the trick, nothing happens, and then you try again, and slowly people realize that something impossible is happening, a realization that spreads across the audience. This stumped me at first.

Then I remembered something I read years and years ago—can not find the original source. Somebody who was friends with Karrell Fox did a show with Fox in the audience. In one trick, the magician pulled a prediction from an envelope and showed it was correct.

After the show, the guy asked Fox for any suggestions. His reply was great: I don’t know how you did that prediction trick, but I can tell you how to get a bigger reaction. His solution was to show the prediction to the audience at far left, so only a few people could see it. Then you show it to a few more on the far right. Only then do you show the whole audience.

This is very much along the same lines we are exploring here. Gradually, people realize something impossible has happened, a realization that slowly spreads across the audience. If the method fools people, there will be a “that can’t be” mindset in the audience as you go for the prediction. When you show it to just a few people, and they react, the rest get the “Wait—can that be?” moment that is so strong.

This is basically the same idea as the tried-and-true technique of having a card selected and lost, then producing a card back out, and holding it up to the spectator who chose it, so only they can see that it’s really their card. Their reaction then primes the audience to react when they see it.

  1. Mind Reading I used to do a routine for my students that I don’t think I ever published because the method is nothing. This was before I had come to understand that this is a feature, not a drawback.

The deck is stacked in any order that lets you tell what card follows another, like Si Stebbins, Jackass, Eight Kings, etc (or any memdeck). Any false shuffle, including one that cuts the deck, is good.

Three spectators. Each cuts and completes the cut. After the last cut, each takes a card from the top of the deck, so they get three cards in a row. As soon as you know any card, you know the other two.

Now I try to read the first kid’s mind. This was all played for comedy, like it might not even be a trick. But it’s very clear that I could not possibly know what cards they have.

I get the first person’s mind completely wrong. I’m basically acting like a 12-year-old trying to pretend to be a mind reader. This goes on for maybe 30 seconds of interaction, during which they tell me their card and I try to pretend that I knew it, but it’s obvious I was just guessing and pretending.

Now I turn to the second person, and with the same comedy demeanor, try their card. I get the color right. I get the suit wrong, but I’m right that it’s a high card. Finally I narrow it down to two cards. One of them is the card.

I turn to the third person, concentrate, and name their card.

This plays very well and is obviously dead easy. (And preserves the stack.)

I’ve done this trick a few times for my students, ten or more years ago. But when thinking about this slow realization idea, I realized how it’s all there. The audience starts with “this is not real,” then goes to “wait—is it…” and finally “It is!”

The only thing it doesn’t have is the slow wave of realization going from front of the audience to back. But it’s a close-up trick, so I’m not sure how you’re going to get that with a small audience.

This is another great trick if you are interested in trying out this idea, especially if you mostly perform close up.

  1. Prediction You can apply this mind-reading idea to a trick like Mental Epic. You’re going to have to get the first answer mostly if not completely wrong. The second, maybe it seems wrong but there’s a not-entirely-convincing sort of near save. Is he really doing this? And then finally the last one is dead on. With this presentation you only have to use one ahead for two of the three predictions. It sure cleans up a lot of Mental Epic routines if you you’re willing to get one of the predictions completely wrong.

A lot of mentalists talk about how a mistake can strengthen what follows. I wonder if that’s because it activates this same cycle in the audience: that’s not happening, wait is that happening, oh my god that’s happening!

Well, we applied this idea from everything from a prediction, to mind reading, and all the way back to a prediction. I have some ideas for how to apply it to a coin vanish. I’ll share them later, after your subconscious has had time to consider the question.

Reader comments:


Friday, 17 April 2020 23:01 PM - Reply to this comment

Extending the principle to mentalism is important. The title of the two parts of the blog piece that refers to ropes may help keep the idea contained for a while...

Leave a comment

Log in or sign up to post a comment about Realizing Magic Part 2: Other effects than Cut and Restored Rope..

Back to blog homepage

Similar posts on the blog: