A good opening trick must capture the audience’s attention within the first 10 seconds.
Audiences will judge you quickly. Today’s attention span is short. Win them over to your side quickly. Capture their attention before it wanders to their smartphones.
In ordinary workaday life, the audience will buzz you if you start the show with a long preamble. There’s no real buzzer. However, you know you have been shut off—and maybe silently asked to leave the stage—when you see the children gamboling around, the adults talking.
All quick tricks can be good openers, depending on how the magician delivers them.
I know this is a non-committal answer, but that is the truth. There is no definitive answer to the question. You will be hard put to find one trick that will work the same way for every magician of different performing skills.
Just keep in mind that the opening trick must capture quickly the audience’s attention. Not two minutes after, but preferably within the first 10 seconds of your entrance.
Other magicians may open leisurely, and they sometimes can get away with it. A magician who is a raconteur can elicit rapt attention by telling stories. A comic magician can build interest by dropping laugh lines for five minutes before performing his first trick.
Many magic performers can open their acts slowly without flopping if they perform in a theater before a paying audience. Paying patrons are willing to give more leeway to a slow opening sequence. However, the same audience is impatient when watching a show in an event they don’t pay money for to watch—as in family days, birthday parties, etc.
The general rule, though, is that opening tricks must be short, quick, and attention-grabbing.
And the audience should like the performer within that equal length of time. No matter how short, quick and attention-grabbing your opening trick is, if the audience doesn’t like you, the rest of the show will be an uphill battle.
Come to think of it, the best opening trick is to raise your likeability quotient the moment you enter the stage.