Orky on Magic


Adding magic to your show requires three part planning; an illusion, lots of practice, and a routine.

The planning starts while you are still at the educational suppliers (dealers table or have the magic supplies catalog in hand. Experience (that’s years of doing this wrong) shows that you need to ask yourself these questions before you buy that neat magic gimmick you just saw at the workshop, vendor presentation, or read in the descriptive ad.

First question: It’s a terrific magic trick, but does it fit with the type of act I do?
Some venues, such as stage performances require large visible display and only a one-time presentation. Walk around or table presentations, on the other hand, need to be light, portable, and reset frequently. Magic that requires privacy to reset creates problems in those settings.

Next, Is it in keeping with my clown character? Is all that flashy chrome suitable for my tramp? Why would an Auguste be carrying a black and white cane anyway? Are card tricks suitable for the age of my typical audience? Most of us have been attracted to great magic that appeals to our adult curiosity and taste, but is totally inappropriate for the children we entertain.

Does it require a level of skill beyond my current ability as a magician? It is a poor choice to buy magic that we cannot do and have it sit on a shelf unused. Unfortunately, a lot of clowns have many such items as the result of gaining experience.

Not until we have resolved that the illusion is one we can use because we can apply it within our act, it is in keeping with our character, and we are capable of handling it, are we ready to invest in the apparatus.

We always should have practiced and accomplished the skill required in private before attempting the magic in public. Professional magicians, with some justification, are critical of clowns who “give away” the magic through poor performance skills. We might laugh this away as just clowning, but it is a reflection on the credibility of our performance. If you are going to do magic in your show, do it right, with flubs only as planned added attractions. Even planned flubs need to be practiced, as a comedy art, not as a result of poor performance or actual incompetence.

Without routines, a ½ hour magic show would need sixty 30-second magic tricks. I’m certain there are that many available, but it wouldn’t be a very interesting show. With good routines, you can have a much more interesting show with many fewer tricks. It is the routines that give magic character and individuality. The canned routines that come with most magic supplies have neither, but they do give you clues to developing your own presentation and style. If you are creatively challenged in this area, a good stimulus is available from MAGIC, INC. CHICAGO, IL 60625. It’s “Kid Stuff”, the Frances Marshall Series, and it is where I was referred when I was struggling with creating routines. It is 500+ pages compiling a history of other’s approaches. In fact, it would be a helpful guide in helping to decide what kind of illusions you might want to get, before you make your purchases. “For every person with a spark of genius, there are a hundred with ignition trouble.” – Pun American Newsletter.

One concluding suggestion for those of us who have a collection of new but unused magic comes from my wife, Chips. This has been working for us and I believe is worthy of consideration by others. We have a collection of good magic that we were sufficiently impressed with at one time to buy, but never used in a performance. Periodically, in planning for future scheduled shows, we retire one piece of magic that we have been using for a long time, and replace it with one magic item that we have but not used before from the shelf. This gives us time to practice the skill and a routine, and add variety in our schedule.