, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

PhotobucketMagic gurus have told us that to test the clarity of our magic performance, we must be able to state in one sentence the trick’s plot.

Don’t look at me. I’m not a magic guru, so I couldn’t be the one who said that originally.

However, with all the magic wands I have, I subscribe to the principle of concise magic. Over the years, I’ve stumbled upon a lesser-known truth: the pithier the trick’s plot outline, the stronger is the magic.

A good example of this principle is the lay persons’ description of David Blaine’s Balducci Levitation.  When asked what David did, a girl in a street corner said, “He floated.”

PhotobucketYou can’t get more concise than that.

That’s why the Balducci Levitation, which many magicians sneer at because of the simplicity of its method, has captured the imagination and earned the admiration of the lay public when David Blaine performed it on national television. I suspect this one trick catapulted him to stardom, earning him a few more contracts after his first TV special.

Compare the “He floated” summation of the Balducci Levitation to some of today’s magic tricks and mentalism pieces that some magicians swoon at. Many of these pieces are encumbered with descriptions so long I get tangled in the thicket of words when reading them. A card is chosen, replaced in the pack, found reversed in the middle of the deck, the color of its back changed, surprisingly stapled to a Joker which was previously discarded inside the box, and in the end there is a kicker you would not expect ….


The plot is so tortuous the author need to write a short e-book to describe the trick.

I suspect that people, when watching a twisting, winding and interminable magic performance (especially a card trick or a mind reading piece), feel like they are being subjected to such form of torture that they might as well consider petitioning Amnesty International for the protection of their human rights.

Don’t allow that to happen. Shorten your performance. Streamline it by peeling off the extraneous twists and turns, the zigs and the zags.

PhotobucketA streamlined trick is as graceful and finely contoured as a sleek sports car or an attractive woman.

I said throw out the “extraneous”.  Not all twists and turns and zigs and zags are abominations. They can be useful also when done in moderation. They add suspense to your performance, they intensify interests.

But a profusion of bends and curves will muddle the trick and leave your audience with an empty feeling.

In the end, when asked what they saw the magician did, they might shot back, “Oh, he did lots of stuff.”

A succinct answer, but not the kind you want to hear.

Stay magical,