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In college, I augmented my meager monthly allowance by writing short stories (using my trusty old typewriter) and selling them to a widely circulated vernacular magazine. I was one of the richer students in my class every time I received a check from the editor.
So when I later turned to magic as a pursuit, I wanted to perform magic that tells a story.
Storytelling, however, cannot be done in all tricks. Some tricks happen too fast (like the appearing cane), and some tricks straddle between being magic and special effects (like throw streamers). In both cases, adding a story to their presentation is difficult, if not impossible.
So try to tell a story with your magic, if you want to touch the emotions of you audience. I believe that to be more entertaining, magic should in most part tell a story.
Never mind if the plot is tenuous. The magic should move along a line that audiences can follow, understand and empathize with.
For that matter, your performance must have a beginning, a middle and an end. Beginning: Here’s a handkerchief in my right hand. Middle: I close my hand around it, and it’s gone. End: The handkerchief travels through time and space, and it’s now in my left hand.
Most magic tricks don’t have such a well-defined structure. In most cases, the phases overlap, leaving the performer clueless as to where he is exactly at certain points of the performance.
Still, if the magician takes the time to bring his audience through these stages at a leisurely pace, his audience will understand better the story he wants to tell through his magic.
Let me give you a concrete example of this principle by showing you a performance by comic magician Michael Kent of the Snowstorm in China. As I said in previous posts, many magicians in the Philippines perform this potentially beautiful magic as a special effect. As a result, they rankle me for days on end.
Michael’s version of the Snowstorm in China, however, is nicely wrapped in a tender but thankfully not saccharine story. As a comedy performer, he sprinkles his performance with humor—but just a dash of it, so as not to overwhelm the magic.
Watch for yourself and be the judge. (Don’t look for cutting-edge moves. There isn’t any. Just appreciate the way he presents beautifully a trick you probably perform in your program as a throwaway. He performs his as a closer.)
Michael is a genius. He is my idol. I will petition the Pope to beatify him.
If Michael happens to visit Philippine soil, I will kiss his footsteps wherever he goes. I just hope he won’t go to the rice fields.
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