By Dominic Twose - Tuesday, August 20, 2019
What do you say when you are doing tricks?
In his indispensable book, Sleight of Hand, Sachs says that patter should be like the piano accompaniment to a singer; it is there to support or accentuate the main action. There is an argument that for mentalism more talk and less action is the way to go. Maybe.
But either way, what should you say?
‘Here is a perfectly normal pack of cards’?
‘No the clean hand’?
‘When I grew up, I had fairies at the bottom of my garden and they taught me…’?
I guess there is no one right answer to this.
In part it depends on your acting ability. I’ve seen magicians refer to individual cards as if they were people. That can be great, if you have the relevant acting skills.
Fred Robinson generally used questions. His presentations sometimes consisted almost entirely of questions. This had several key benefits. It ensured people were following the effect. ‘What is this card?’ ‘Where is it now?’
It also conditioned people to look at his face, which aided in misdirection. ‘Will you promise me one thing?’ ‘Have you got a good memory?’ He told me that questions particularly if you used their name, inevitably brought their eyes up to yours.
If you have the book of his magic, you’ll know about his wonderful pass. It is a move he splits into two parts. If he sensed a magician was burning his hands, after the first part he’d say, ‘How can I do it if you stare at my hands like that?’ This would inevitably bring their eyes up, and he’s complete the pass.
When performing magic for small groups, questions can be a valuable part of your arsenal of techniques.
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