A little Magical Mental Experiment.
I hope I’m not turning scholarly! It did occur to me that it would be a fun experiment to have all my readers to take part in a little experiment. It is a neat mental manipulation of neurons, designed to shake things up a bit, and maybe give a boost to your act. The only side effect is that it might affect your complacency.
One of the many nuggets of wisdom I ponder upon in the Bible (AKA ‘McCombs Magic: 25 years Wiser’) is the tiny hint about combining two tricks into one effect. It’s only a couple of pages long, the essay in question—but I have found much wisdom therein. I suggest you seek it out and read it carefully.
—–It is sometime in the early 80s, I get a call from the talent agent booking ‘The John Davidson Show,’ “Got a trick that will work with the theme of ‘Hill Street Blues?” he asked. “Of course I do—the perfect one!” I lied in response. “OK, we tape tomorrow afternoon.” He concluded. I was already panicking.
I went to that little chapter in ‘McComb’s Magic’ and read Billy’s priceless advice and the routine that he illustrated it with. The routine (when I finished with it) involved a card in wallet, a set of linking rings, a tambourine and a pair of thumbcuffs. I rehearsed the routine, taped it the next day and have used it on occasions ever since.
I then did a little thinking about this ‘two for one’ approach to magic, and how much it strengthens the performer’s show. I combined two of my favorite tricks into one routine and it was a smash hit. There was something very special at work here, I might not have known the word at the time but it was ‘synergy.’
Since that first discovery of linking two routines together, I have allowed this philosophy to color my entire performing repertoire. It achieves surprise, originality and unique results, even when performed with very familiar tricks and effects. You can use the same pieces of the jigsaw puzzle to create a different picture. To put it another way, I can work on a cruise ship following 6 other magicians, do the same tricks and make people forget they have already watched something very similar.
Here is where the mental experiment comes in, sit down comfortably and with pencil and paper or pixels make a list of the various tricks that you can perform in a pretty decent manner. Don’t write much down—just the name of the tricks. When you have completed the list—sit and stare at it, for a while. Keep your mind as blank as possible and gradually try and see if any of those tricks seem to gravitate towards each other in your mind. Maybe because of the props they use or even just the way they hit an audience when you perform them. Just mull things over in your mind.
The ideal solution you are looking for is almost an equation: Perform a trick, add another trick and allow each trick to improve the other in some way. You should end up doing more magic in less time—a great goal for this day and age.
Next make out a new, much shorter list that combines the names of those tricks you have united mentally. See if you can find two or three such pairs of tricks, then spend a few days running this new list through your mind. Notice if anything exciting bubbles up to the surface, it certainly has for me over the years. If the experiment doesn’t work initially then repeat it—eventually it will work.
If you have any brainstorms and want to share them, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org