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Hi Leodini,

I know you have advocated writing a script of magic performances. Enlighten me on one minor matter that bugs me.

What do you think about using stock lines? Wouldn’t they just turn me into a hack?


Baffled Magician

Hi Baffled,

I lack the talent for enlightening my readers. My answer may complicate the issue and further baffle you.  Confusing my readers is where my talents lie.

PhotobucketFirst of all, if you are performing for magicians, you should guard against using stock lines.  Some magicians, especially online and armchair magicians, will walk all over your if you use them. They’ll brand you a hack.

However, if you make your living performing magic for lay people, what the heck? Lay people don’t watch magic often enough to know you are using hack material.

Second of all, not all stock lines are hack material. There are original stock lines, which, if  you haven’t figured it out yet, are the lines you write yourself.  If your conscience bothers you, or if the expert advice of armchair experts drive you nuts and make you feel like a leper, then come up with your own stock lines. That will soothe your feelings.

This is one of  Leodini’s more brilliant ideas. Listen to me and take this lesson to heart, because I’m tired of being the only one who listens to me.

Write in advance your stock lines the way you write in advance your patter. Anticipate situations and emergencies that may arise during a performance, such as music miscues or technical snafus. In that way, you have a line or two, specially funny lines, to drop and fill a stage wait.

PhotobucketFor example, if electricity trips in the middle of a spiel and the microphone goes dead, I’d say, “Somebody just stepped on the cables.  Don’t worry, the guy’s already in the hospital.”

I used this line in last Saturday’s party and got a huge laugh. Instead of giving the audience the silent treatment while the sound technician scrambled to fix his equipment, I was able to make people laugh. I couldn’t have done it if I didn’t stock up on “emergency” stock lines.

A few months ago, during a national convention of surgeons, the hotel electrical system kept tripping up and disabled the sound system several times. In one of those power outages, I shouted to the surgeons in the audience, “You guys don’t need a magician. You need an electrician!”

The payback for that line was a huge laugh and applause.

I couldn’t have gotten that response if I didn’t have a stock line in my emergency kit.

Again, don’ t listen to armchair experts. Listen to me instead. Stock up on your stock lines.

Drivers fill their gas tanks when they take an important trip. Airline pilots fill their planes with jet fuel before they fly, lest they crash. But magicians—the ones who pitifully grope for words while performing—go to a performance with empty tanks. No ready lines, no learned ripostes, no tucked-in-the-back-of-the-mind repartees.

Ever wonder why they crash even before they lift off the ground?

PhotobucketDon’t be caught speechless onstage when something goes wrong in the performance. Have a ready line to use in case of emergency. Always bring to your shows a tool kit full of stock lines.

Stay magical,