6 sure-shot ways for magicians to be more entertaining

A performing magician must understand that he is performing for general people and not for the group of magicians. The general audience is going to judge you from the total entertainment you offer and not only from your clever sleight of hand. Two magicians can make silk disappear, one uses TT prop other uses the retractable reel. But for an audience, it is the just same thing that silk gets disappeared. They are going to decide who is a better magician on the basis of which of the magician gave them more entertainment in terms of humour, story, surprise, drama etc. The magician takes significant efforts to perfect the skills, but he also needs to give equal importance to perfect the script. Following are six tried and tested ways to offer more entertainment to your spectators.

Use Humour:

Let it be a movie or a magic show, absence of humour is an absence of entertainment. A magician need not be as humorous as a  stand-up comedian, but he definitely needs to be humorous. A stand-up comedian delivers rehearsed comic script, but magic show being an interactive form, a magician needs to the have presence of mind to produce quick comedy punches. Mentalist should be even more concerned about humour, because most of the mentalism presented is goes without humour and with a complicated script, which unknowingly belittles the performance and reduces the entertainment.

Apply Simplicity:

“Simplicity ain’t simple” as goes the quote. The clean, clear, simple effects brings much more wonder and amazement than complicated tricks. For example, doing a mind reading effect with swami gimmick makes greater impact than doing it with centre tear method. Don’t use methods which looks different than the common course. Using an unusual method will make some
people from the audience suspicious and after your cliamx you won’t fetch full applause because those people who sensed fishy move will not give you limited applause.

Art design:

If you host your own show, then design the stage as beautifully as possible. Your stage should look inspiring and captivating. Use the new and beautifully built props. Let your audience see the things they have not seen before. I use round (circular) cards for one of the card trick I perform. As soon as I spread my round cards, people widen their eyes with wonder before I even start performing. Because round cards are something most of them never seen before. These little things which they see for the first time entertain them implicitly.

Storytelling:

David copperfield is a billionaire magician because of his skills and storytelling ability. A magician who is a good storyteller takes his audience to a different world and this feeling of sensing a different world adds to an entertainment value of your show. So build a relevant story and then deliver it like a dominating actor while performing magic tricks.

Build Drama:

The reason we remember and follow actors is because they give us visual entratinment with their expression and voice tone. It is good idea to change your voice tone and facial expressions like an actor as per your script in your magic performance. As you manoeuvre your voice and body language, audience’s feelings get hightened and it gives them augmented entertainment.

Play Music:

Just like having a background score in a movie when characters are talking is important, same way having a background music for few magic tricks can create a great impact on the audience. Because music itself is such an entertaining entity that blending it with right magic tricks will work wonders for you.

– Amit Kalantri (Magician & Mentalist)

7 challenges professional magician encounter

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1) Getting the right price

The entertainment industry is swarming with all kinds of average artists at a cheap price. Though average in their performance these artists still serve the purpose of entertaining the audience. Your clients don’t know much about the difference between an average magician and an exceptional magician initially, so obviously, they go for a magician with low price and you get rejected only for quoting the high price. Because of this an exceptional magician who charges high struggles to get the more shows in starting years.

2) Getting the full attention of the audience

Even the extraordinary magicians performing for a private party goes through a scenario where all people don’t pay attention to magician’s performance and disturbs the whole surrounding with their chatter. After this kind of shows, magicians don’t feel good about themselves even if they get the good money for the show.

3) Waiting for the show to start

As a professional magician you value the punctuality and reach to the venue on time, but guests arrive late sometimes too late. Client requests you to wait more and more till maximum guests arrived. The result is you get exhausted and your time gets wasted which could be put to good use and client don’t pay you extra for waiting time. Because your show begins late, you may also have to curtail the performance time to accommodate other sequences of the party.

4) Cancellation of the show from client

You prepare and plan your week for the next show and couple days before clients inform you about the cancellation of the event because of unavoidable reasons. This is annoying for the magician because he must have denied other leads which came from other clients on the same day, same time because your date was already occupied. This is a straight loss to the magician because he don’t get paid fully and he loses the performance at both the shows which may have fetched him future shows.

5) Cancellation of the show from magician’s side

Sometimes even the magician needs to cancel his performance for the event because of an emergency situation like severe sickness, family issue, flight cancellation etc. This is an unfortunate situation and nothing makes magician feel bad if he himself had to cancel. This puts clients event in jeopardy especially when your performance was the only entertainment activity planned for the event.

6) Managing back to back shows

A magician wishes to perform every day because he loves doing magic and it gets him good money. Sometimes a magician gets lucky and he gets two shows back to back with a time gap of an hour in between. But reaching to the second show on time is challanging because most of the times your first show will start late and that puts magician under pressure because he had to reach the other show on time especially if the client of second show is ready to start the show on time. If magician reaches to next show late, it spoils his reputation.

7) Maintaining a sense of wonder for himself

Magic creates instant wonder, a solid surprise and a delightful mystery for the spectators. This wonder was the primary reason why you became a magician. As a professional magician, you know many secrets, techniques to achieve the end result of a magic trick. Even if you watch other magicians perform you tend to be less surprised. This feeling of not experiencing the wonder may force you to question the purpose and meaning of your work and you may feel that you are not doing enough.

– Amit Kalantri (Magician & Mentalist) 

Why “sleight of hand” is the most important skill in magic?

These days many magicians keep looking for easy to perform self-working magic props. They keep on buying most of the automatic magic props which hit the market. It is possible to be a good magician using only props along with good storytelling and showmanship skills. But it is not possible to be a great magician without being good at sleight of hand. A magician who is good at sleight of hand not only satisfy the people with entertainment but also satisfy himself with his skill. Following are some worthwhile reasons why you should practice and get good at sleight of hand.

1) You can truly perform impromptu magic tricks anytime anywhere

2) You can perform magic tricks with borrowed objects

3) At the end of sleight of hand magic trick, the magician is clean, spectators can verify everything

4) Sleight of hand is not easy to catch using eyes and logic

5) You need not buy expensive fancy props, so ultimately you save money

6) Because of fewer props, you can pack less, travel light and still play big in the show

7) Sleight of hand magic makes you look like real magician

8) Sleight of hand makes you respectable even in the magic fraternity

9) With original sleight of hand moves, even magicians won’t be able to catch you

10) A magic trick which is performed with original sleight of hand moves does not get copied easily unless you reveal the moves

11) Once you get good at particular sleight and stop performing it after few days, you will still be able to recall it quickly when required in the future.

12) With enough sleight of hand moves, you can repeat the magic trick without getting caught.

– Amit Kalantri (Magician & Mentalist)

 

8 little things to grow the reputation of magic show

A professional magician is adept and master of sleight of hand. He can make people wonder with his skill. But even if you are an expert magician few little things in your show can double the positive impression of your show. It takes 20% effort to score 8 out of 10, but it takes 80% effort to go from 8 to 10. A magician should never get complacent, he must think that every magic trick ever invented can be improved and so does your magic show. A magician should be sharp-eyed to notice the changes in the reaction of audience whenever things happen coincidently. He must note those occurrences and adapt it to his shows to take the shows to next level.

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1) Punctuality
If audience arrives late for the show you wait to start the show, but if the audience is on time, don’t make them wait even for 5 minutes. Starting the show on time makes the audience have a favourable opinion about the magician, and also your client will appreciate your punctuality which would help you in the future.

2) Background music
If the audience is large and music system is in place using the power of music to heighten the senses of the audience can be a difference-making factor. Don’t use rare and unpopular music, instead do some research and adapt popular music to your tricks. Presence of music in your show make your show look extravagant.

3) Mass magic tricks
Do at least one significant trick in your show which involves the whole audience (Don’t do twisting the hands gag, it ain’t effective). If your mass magic or mentalism trick is impactful, the audience will talk about it more than any other trick because here you have affected everybody at the same time.

4) Use Humour
Having a right balance of humour in a magic show is a thing missing even in the greatest magicians. Making people wonder is not enough, you must make them smile. Developing a sense of humour is not that easy, but to pretend to have a sense of humour can be done by writing a comedy script for your acts, it will take some efforts. A magician pretty much controls everything during the show, so using a scripted version of your humorous presentation will make people remember you as a great entertainer.

5) Vanishes
As a magician, you might perform a transformation, transportation, transposition, restoration, escapology, levitation, mental magic, productions effects but you must not miss doing at least one trick which makes something disappear. No type of magic is stronger than pure vanish because as per popular opinion magician is someone who can make things vanish.

6) Perform an inspiring act
During your magic show include an act which explores the art of comprehensive storytelling. Use a story which would inspire the audience, make them feel good about their lives and imply how impossible things can be achieved, but don’t preach, don’t act like a self-help or motivational speakers. You must inspire through an entertainment.

7) The closing effect
You last trick has to be the most influential magic trick of your show. That trick must get the loudest applaud or even standing ovation. Imagine, you are ready to perform the penultimate trick of your show, but client tells you that they have limited time and it has to be the last trick. You must abandon the trick you were ready for and perform your closing effect. This happens frequently so keep yourself ready for this scenario.

8) Post-show discussion
If your audience is curious and wants to know more about your life and your skill, do stay at the venue post-show and talk to them. Sometimes you can do it right after the show so that all the audience get to know more about you. If selective people come to you, do give them access to talk to you and hand over your business cards in the process.

– Amit Kalantri (Magician & Mentalist)

Why magicians must refer and recommend other magicians?

A magician’s competitor is not another magician but other artists like dancers, stand up comedian, mimicry artist, singers, juggler etc. In India when people hear about a magician, they imagine an old man in shining colorful clothes with a hat on his head performing old and traditional magic tricks. Most of the Indians don’t even know that art of magic has advanced to some unimaginable level. They don’t know that many youngsters are professionally doing a modern magic show. They are even more ignorant about the art of mentalism which is a very unique addition to magic shows.

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Magicians shouldn’t behave like archers who always pursue to find out who is better. But magic is not like archery there is no such thing as best magician in the world. Anyone who loves magic shows would want to see the magic shows of different magicians. If you frequently go to Las Vegas would you see David Copperfield’s show every time? I don’t think so, sometime you might go for Penn & Teller’s show, isn’t it? Magicians shouldn’t be envious and competitive towards each other because “being the best” is not the goal of a magician “being unique” should be the goal. Following are some strong reasons why magicians must help each other for mutual benefit.

To establish art of magic as mainstream entertainment:
A magic show is still not considered as a mainstream entertainment, in spite of the fact that it is a suitable option for all kinds of social and corporate events. If you are not available for a magic show because of prior booking, you can give the client reference of another magician who is available. If the client gets another magician he will continue to plan to have a magic show for the event instead of looking for some other entertainment option. Naturally, if more magicians make more magic shows happen, people will start treating it as mainstream entertainment and ultimately there will be more inquiries for magic shows.

To prevent clients from going to amateur magicians:
Let’s assume that client is determined to have a magic show for their event. He calls you but you are not available because of some other show. You know a magician who is as good as you but you don’t recommend that magician to the client. Now, the client will search for other magicians from various sources and eventually he will find one. Now, the magician who performs for the client is an amateur, he doesn’t create the impact which a magician suppose to create. The amateur magician has not only spoiled his show but he has damaged the reputation of the art of magic and in the future, the same client may not opt for the magic show again.

People want to try different magicians:
You can perform for the same client two or three times but they would like to try a new magician fourth time before they hire you once again in the future. So even if you recommend other good magicians to the client first time, they might call him two or three times, but fourth time they would want some other magician which could be you.

More business for everybody:
Even if you are a magician, you cannot perform at two places at same time. If you are already booked for another show, you can give the lead to other magician and you can charge some fees from the magician, let’s say 10-20%  of the deal amount and if the deal gets closed, you earn extra 10-20% without even performing.

Referral is contagious:
There will be a day when you would want to perform and make some money but you don’t have any lead. But, magically some other magician to whom you have recommended to clients in the past recommends you and you get the show, wouldn’t that would be cool? If you refer other magicians in your unavailability they would want to return the favor in their unavailability by referring you and that will build more business for you.

– Amit Kalantri (Magician and Mentalist)

Art of Misdirection

What is misdirection?
Misdirection is a skill in which the attention of an audience is controlled to focus them one thing in order to distract its attention from another thing. For example, a magician first show the audience his both hands as empty then using some script/story/patter he will make the audience see his left hand in order to take something out from his right-hand sleeves in his right hand. Managing the audience’s attention is the aim of all professional magicians; misdirection is the central secret of all magic, most important principle of magic.

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How to misdirect?
There are three basic ways to “misdirect” an audience. One is to encourage the audience to look away for a fleeting moment, so that the sleight or move may be accomplished undetected. The second approach is to make a large visible movement which looks significant but has no direct role to play in accomplishing the magic and behind large action make a small action which actually matters to accomplish the act. First two methods are used by almost all the magicians. The third approach has much to do with maneuvering the audience’s perception, where the minds of the audience members are distracted into thinking that an extraneous factor has much to do with the accomplishment of the feat, whereas in reality, it has no bearing on the effect at all. This approach is generally used by mentalists.

How to practice misdirection?
1) Magician Harlan Tarbell suggests trying this little experiment to prove to yourself that people follow your eyes. Pretend you are throwing a coin up into the air and look up to an imaginary point that the coin reached — but really retain the coin in your hand. The eyes of the spectators will look upward just as you did. You can do this many times and each time the audience will look upward.
2) Stand before your mirror and watch yourself. Take a coin in your left hand. You are going to get the effect of passing it to your right hand. For a few times really pass the coin from your left to your right hand. This is to give you Naturalness in faking the pass and also to give you an opportunity to observe how your eyes go from your left to your right hand. After you have done this a few times, go through the same moves but retain the coin by finger palming it in your left hand. Close your right hand as if you had the coin. Your eyes must follow the pretended passing of the coin just as they did when you actually passed it. Your audience will follow your eyes to your right hand and will not even notice your left hand. It is unbelievable until you try it yourself how easily large objects like bottles, glasses, balls and even rabbits and pigeons can be moved about almost under the very noses of the audience without their seeing or suspecting anything if you know the Art of Misdirection.

Precautions:
While applying misdirection magician need to be careful about the glance of his own eyes. The audience follows magician’s eyes. If you are showing left hand to the audience hiding something in your right hand, then you must never look at your right hand, you must keep looking at your left hand only. Your audience will follow your eyes to your left hand and will not even glance at your right hand and you can comfortably achieve the desired result. Even a sleight glance at your right hand will lead someone in the audience to follow your glance and suspect that you have something concealed in your right hand.
Almost every trick has some element of Misdirection in it. So remember, in performing your trick —never look at the opposite end of your effect. By the opposite end, Tarbell means the thing you are really doing — that is, looking at your hand which is holding the coin, rather than looking upward for the effect. If you look at your hand, the audience will look at your hand—that is the opposite end. If you look upward, the audience will look upward — that is the effect.

Audience Management:
One thing you must keep in mind is that it is a psychological fact that a person does not hold his attention on any one thing for more than a few seconds. Your job is to keep renewing his attention by the things you say or by varying the thing this person is to attend to — until you get your work out of the way. You must work fast so that you don’t bore the spectator and find him watching you instead of the thing he should be watching. You must remember that his attention wanders and you must be quick so that you are through with your “opposite end” before his attention comes back to you. Nearly the whole art of Sleight of Hand depends on this Art of Misdirection. Your seemingly miraculous effects depend on speed and cleverness in directing the attention of the audience away from the opposite end of the effect – away from what you are really doing.

Benefits of Misdirection:
Once you learn the art of misdirection you can perform unlimited magic tricks with it. With misdirection, you can perform magic tricks at any time and anywhere with no special props. A magician should never repeat the trick for the same audience but sometimes it may be necessary to repeat a trick within a short period of time and some of the old audience may be in the new one. You can throw these spectators off the track by presenting the trick by a different method of working. You can add some little twist to the trick, and even those who see it for the second time will not discover how you do the trick. There are “close investigators” in some audiences. You will have no difficulty in mystifying them if you vary your effects, even just a trifle. A magician with expertise in the art of misdirection often fools another magician with this skill. He will introduce a new twist of some kind or a new method of working and he has his fellow magician puzzled.

Credits:
A considerable information of this article comes from magician Harlan Tarbell’s work.

– Amit Kalantri (Magician & Mentalist)

10 Mistakes new professional magicians make

Most of the magicians in their first year as a professional magician feel very satisfied with their skill and their earnings. But when they hear about some other magician charging a high amount for almost same kind of show which they offer, the seed of dissatisfaction springs in their mind.

They even get disturbed by a particular effect other magicians perform which they cannot do. If their lead doesn’t close and the show goes to some other magician they get more restless and they assume several things which lead to following mistakes.

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1) They think other magicians are their competitor: But if more magicians perform more people will get aware about the art of magic and it will increase the demand in the market which would give you more shows. Because you can not be present at several places at the same time.
2) They try to charge too much too early in their career: Some magician charging Rs.50,000 (USD 800) for one hour show could well be a rumor. Even if they get it, they must have spent several years and efforts to build the reputation. You must focus on building your network by charging a reasonable amount and automatically you would be good enough to charge like a celebrity.
3) They use fancy ready made props and very fewer skills:  If you keep searching for magic props which require no special skill and is easy to operate you are going to rank among amateur magicians. The most entertaining effects in magic can be done with skill like misdirection and sleight of hands. You will never build a great reputation as a magician if most of your professional tricks are based on self-working fancy props. This point is not directly applicable to illusionists who perform big stage shows.
4) They use stooges, pre-show work and assistant’s help: Magicians and Mentalists who lack good magic skills try to compensate it by using secret accomplice who looks like a randomly chosen volunteer and pre-arranged conditions to perform effects which make them look like real magician or mentalist. One or two tricks doing it occasionally using above things is fine, but if you do it regularly in your every show, people will figure out your mediocrity.
5) They copy tricks of other magicians: In magic, there are limited principles but unlimited tricks. Ask ten great magicians to perform the same trick, for example, a bill in a lemon. You will see all of them have added something of their own. To build your individual reputation as a magician people must see something unique and original in your show.
6) They consider audience as ordinary and themselves extraordinary:  Doing a magic is very rare art unlike other art like painting, stand up comedy, music etc. This feeds the ego of some magicians who think they are special because they can do something impossible. With that false sense, they worry too much about their persona and not enough about their performance and the audience. Magicians must remember that audience can live without magic, but a magician cannot live with magic.
7) They try to learn every good trick: If a magicians see other magician performing a good trick which they couldn’t catch each hurts them. They will waste considerable time trying to learn its secret. Whereas they should have spent that time improving their tricks which they have been doing. There will always be a magician who will fool you with his new trick. Once you spend enough time in professional magic, you will catch many tricks just with a second glance for which you had to spend a lot of time in your starting years. Don’t try to learn all tricks, get expert at those tricks which are entertaining and suits your audience.
8) They focus on techniques and not on performance:  Some magicians get delusional with their technique and assume that audience would catch them. They try to improve their sleight which is already well enough to perform as a professional effect. In a process, they forget to check the entertainment value their undetectable trick creates because their ordinary presentation and the mediocore script does not create the required impact. Such perfect magicians get applause but no standing ovation.
9) They take credit of other magicians: I have met few magicians who perform Aces Transposition trick where they hold the folded aces one in their mouth and other in spectator’s mouth. Then they do a kiss like a move where cards touch each other and seemingly cards change places. All of them said they have created that move. Obviously most or all of them lying about it. They probably picked that presentational move from some legendary magician who may not be alive today. As starter magician, you must give credits to the original inventor. If you will respect other magicians, one day you will be respected.
10) They don’t spend much time on marketing and personal branding: Magic is an art, if you want to keep it as an art then don’t think of earning money from it. But the moment you have decided to earn your living through magic you must think like an entrepreneur or businessman. You must invest money and time in marketing your art and establishing yourself as a brand. Getting enough shows from only your previous shows and not external marketing will take a long time. Treat your magic show like a product and do everything it takes to sell a good product just like other businesses.

– Amit Kalantri (Magician & Mentalist)