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I found something interesting on Richard Osterlind’s website. He discusses in an ebook a principle of performance I have held dear in my heart long before I read him validate it. The principle is about the old proscription in magic not to repeat a trick to the same audience.

Let me quote the blurb of Osterlinds book titled The Principles of Magic.

“Is it possible that some of magic’s most sacred axioms such as ‘never repeat a trick’ and ‘never tell an audience what you’re going to do’ may ultimately be responsible for the huge amount of mediocre magic that abounds?”

It’s a good thing that Osterlind is the one who teases us with this blasphemous thought. If it were I who articulated it, I would probably be up to my neck with spits by now. I think in the magic world, derision is a heretic’s daily wage if the heretic does not have a name as big as Osterlinds.

I remember posting in another forum that, yes, I do repeat a trick. I even repeat it up to three times to the same audience at the same event. I also find repeating a trick profitable, especially if the client, who pays my bill, is the one requesting the repetition.

I suspect the “never repeat a trick” rule was invented largely by close-up magicians of long ago who didn’t have the techniques, technology and sophistication that modern close-up workers have. However, I believe magic has so advanced over the years that, today, the age-old “don’t repeat a trick” rule has lost its absolute validity. It still applies in most parts, but exceptions have increased over time to warrant another closer look at this rule.

Of course, a magician performing the 21 Card Trick is well advised not to repeat it, for the sake of his audience’s sanity. A card trickster who uses a Svengali deck will do well also not to repeat the trick, otherwise people will wonder why they always get to choose the same card.

However, if our card trickster had the foresight to bring another Svengali deck with different forced card, then he could repeat the trick using a second deck. Not smooth, but it allows repetition, thanks to Mr. Foresight’s help.

Repetition does not seem to pose a problem for children audiences. Children would watch Shrek 3 movie over and over, so why wouldn’t they watch the same magic show as many times?

I once had two shows for a July 4th picnic organized by the American Association of the Philippines. After the first show, I had a 30-minute interval to reset my stuff for the next show. Three girls from the first show refused to move out of the function room. I went to their seats in the front row and told them there were games in the playground and that why don’t they go out and play with their friends.

The girls’ answer? “We like the show so much, we want to see it again.”

At the next show (featuring the same tricks, patters, gags, etc., as the first), the three girls still occupied their front-row seats, laughed, and shouted at the right places in the program.

That was one of the weirdest behaviors that have stumped me for years until I read Osterlinds recent quotable blurb.

Stay magical,



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