Einen ganzen Tag und Abend lang, mit Ausklang am nächsten Morgen, beschäftigen wir uns mit Kunststücken, Techniken und praktisch anwendbaren Theorien für den Auftritt mit Spielkarten vor einem grösseren Publikum.
Du musst an einem langen Tisch auftreten, wo man nur schlecht auf die Tischoberfläche sieht? Du bist für einen privaten Anlass engagiert, wo das Publikum im Wohnraum auf Stühlen und Sofas sitzt? Oder Du hast gar einen abendfüllenden Auftritt in einem kleineren Theater? In all diesen und ähnlichen Fällen bist Du das, was man bereits im 18. Jahrhundert einen Salonzauberer nannte.
Obwohl sich die Plattformen verändert haben und moderne Varianten dazu gekommen sind, bleiben die Anforderungen an den modernen Stand-up Performer im Wesentlichen die gleichen: die Techniken müssen effizient und umringt vorführbar sein, die Kunststücke gradlinig, eindrücklich und erinnerungswürdig, die Präsentationen zeitgemäß, intelligent und auf jeden Fall faszinierend.
Stand-up Card Magic – Kartenkunst für Salon und Bühne ist eine Full-immersion Masterclass, in der wir gründlich und präzise die Techniken, Kunststücke und Präsentationen für den modernen Salonzauberer diskutieren und einüben. Wir fokussieren dabei auch auf Psychologie, Showmanship, Zuschauermanagement, und all die Dinge, die man am besten in einer persönlichen Begegnung erlernt.
Was machen wir im Detail?
Wir betrachten zunächst, was im Salon anders ist als im vertrauten Close-up. Dann fragen wir uns, wie man mit einer größeren Gruppe interagiert, wie man die richtigen Zuschauerassistenten auswählt, wie wir sie zu uns nach vorne aufs Parket oder auf die kleine Bühne bringen, wie wir mit ihnen umgehen usw.
In der nächsten Abteilung nehmen wir das Kartenspiel zur Hand und arbeiten uns durchs technische Repertoire des Salonzauberers durch: Wie sieht das jetzt mit Falschmischen, Kontrollen, Forcieren, Palmieren, sowie mit Karten- und Spielaustausch aus? Wir erlernen die praktischsten Techniken, um jede Situation zu meistern.
Einige der Techniken und Strategien besprechen wir im Zusammenhang mit Kunststücken, die sich seit Jahren in meiner professionellen Praxis vor internationalem Publikum als verblüffend, unterhaltend und erinnerungswürdig erwiesen haben. Obschon für den Salon gedacht, lassen sich zahlreiche Ideen auch für den kleinen Zuschauerkreis und sogar sitzend am Tisch einsetzen.
Ist das etwas für mich?
Diese Masterclass richtet sich an alle, die mit einem ganz normalen Kartenspiel stehend vor einer kleinen oder größeren Gruppe von Zuschauern auftreten, oder einfach nur ein besseres Verständnis der Zauberkunst erlangen möchten (man muss nicht auftreten, um sich an der Zauberkunst zu erfreuen).
Du erlernst nicht nur neue Tricks und Techniken (das natürlich auch!), sondern erwirbst auch Kenntnisse darüber, wie Du eigene Kunststücke und Präsentationen entwickelt, wo Du weitere Salonkunststücke findest, wie Du Deine Close-up-Kunststücke für den Salon aufbereitest, wie Du effizient übt, auch wenn Du wenig Zeit hast, und vieles mehr, das sich aus der Beantwortung der Fragen von Teilnehmern ergibt.
Standup Card Magic ist nicht einfach nur ein langes Seminarwochenende, sondern ein richtiggehender Kurs, der professionelle Kartenkunst mit Spielkarten im Salon lehrt. Damit brings Du Deine Kartenkunst auf die nächsthöhere Stufe, vor ein grösseres Publikum und wirst bessere Gagen erzielen können.
Vorkenntnisse (Grosse Kartenschule 1&2) sind nützlich, aber nicht Bedingung.
Was muss ich mitbringen?
Fast hätte ich’s vergessen…
Es besteht kein Vorführzwang, man kann alle Einheiten auch «passiv» genießen und einfach einen intelligenten Einblick in die Kunst des Zaubers gewinnen. Aber wer will, kann am SA-Abend in der Je-Ka-Mi-Show etwas vorführen (es muss kein Kartenkunststück sein, aber es darf…), und am Abend selbst eine private «konstruktive Kurzkritik» erhalten bzw. im Plenum am SO-Morgen. Ich empfehle das sehr, denn da können alle etwas daraus lernen!).
Wer jetzt noch wegen der Finanzen zögert, sollte sich klarmachen, dass im Industriebereich Seminare auf diesem Niveau das zehnfache kosten. Zudem sollte man stets unterscheiden zwischen einer Ausgabe, die nicht mehr zurückkommt, und einer Investition, die sich ein Leben lang mehrfach auszahlt.
Roberto Giobbi wird am 1. Mai 1959 in Basel geboren. Nach einem Studium der Literatur- und Sprachwissenschaften arbeitet er als Dolmetscher und Übersetzer. 1988 macht er sein Hobby zum Beruf. In der Zauberwelt ist er eine der gefragtesten Stimmen zu Theorie und Praxis der Zauberkunst geworden.
An den Weltkongressen der FISM, dem Weltdachverband der Zauberkünstler, gewinnt er 1988 und 1991 den Titel eines Vizeweltmeisters in der Sparte Kartenkunst. 1990 ist er an den Schweizermeisterschaften der Zauberkunst deren erster Grand Prix Gewinner (Sieger aller Sparten).
Er publiziert Artikel und Essays über die Zauberkunst in Fachzeitschriften in Europa und Übersee. Von ihm sind unterdessen über siebzig Bücher erschienen, einschließlich deren Übersetzung in acht Sprachen (weitere sind in Vorbereitung). Sein fünfbändiges Werk Große Kartenschule gilt weltweit als Standardwerk der Kartenkunst und ist die am weitesten übersetzte Zauberbuchreihe in der Geschichte der Zauberkunst.
Roberto Giobbi ist Mitglied der Escuela Magica de Madrid, einer modernen Denkschule der Zauberkunst, der weltweit 40 Mitglieder angehören. 2004 drehte das Schweizer Fernsehen einen Dokumentarfilm über ihn und seine Zauberwelt, Il giardino dei giochi segreti – The Secret World of Magic.
1987 ernannte ihn der Magische Zirkel von Deutschland zum Schriftsteller des Jahres und würdigte damit seine langjährige schriftstellerische Tätigkeit.
2012 erhielt er von der Academy of Magical Arts (AMA) in Los Angeles den Literary Fellowship, den Oscar für fachschriftstellerische Tätigkeit.
2014 verlieh ihm der Magic Circle of London deren höchste Auszeichnung für einen Fachschriftsteller, den John Nevil Maskelyne Award for Literature.
2015, am Weltkongress der Zauberkünstler in Rimini, wurde er mit deren Auszeichnung auf Lebenszeit Theory & Philosophy geehrt. Preisträger vor ihm waren Tommy Wonder, Juan Tamariz und Eugene Burger.
2017 erhielt er vom Magischen Ring der Schweiz (MRS) den Magischen Ehrenring der Schweiz für herausragende Leistungen in der Zauberkunst.
Shows rund um den Erdball, sowie TV- und Radio-Auftritte in der Schweiz, Italien und Spanien runden sein Profil ab. Seine Performance sowie seine Vorträge über Täuschungspsychologie, Präsentation und Kommunikation gibt er in sechs Sprachen, die er fließend spricht.
Er lebt und arbeitet als freischaffender Zauberkünstler, Seminarleiter und Fachschriftsteller in Muttenz, bei Basel.
07. & 08.03.2020
Teilnahme-Gebühr: 350,00 €
Abendessen und Übernachtung nicht enthalten
Information & Anmeldung: email@example.com
A superb free resource teaching the fundamentals of card handling
Entitled Roberto Giobbi’s Introduction to Card Magic, this e-book is available as a downloadable PDF file from Roberto Giobbi’s website. It is an actual book, consisting of more than 150 pages of extensive instruction about the basics. But it does take advantage of technology, by including occasional embedded links that take you to videos which demonstrate the techniques taught in the written text and accompanying photos.
The book came about because Giobbi was at one time asked to make an introductory course for newcomers to card magic. As part of that, he created this e-book in 2012. It was previously selling for €9.95, but Giobbi has just revised and updated the entire book, and for a limited time is making it available for free, in order to promote the art of card magic.
In terms of the content, it teaches all the fundamentals of card handling, such as shuffles, cuts, and much more, as well as some elementary basics about card magic, including half a dozen solid self-working card tricks.
All this makes it obvious that I’m very impressed with this e-book, and recommend it most positively and enthusiastically. Unlike a lot of other teaching that passes for instruction these days, this is something that is truly reliable, artistic, and sound, and worthy of careful reading and study. You are almost certain to gain a great deal from reading through this entire book, and it’s hard to believe that Mr Giobbi is making this available to us free of charge. Despite all his many contributions to the world of magic, he’s not a multi-millionaire, but is simply doing this out of his love for the art, and to help others, and for that he deserves our enthusiastic support and applause. And if you do benefit from this resource as I have, then like me, please tell others about it, or consider sending him a donation of thanks, or perhaps purchase some of his other videos or books directly from him. I know that he is appreciative of all the support he gets – and he deserves it. Thank you Mr Giobbi!
I’ve turned 60 on the 1st May, and that’s my birthday present to you, who are on my private list: Four workers I’ve had in my repertoire and honed for over a 30+-years period of my professional life, performing them (almost) all over the world, for top companies and exclusive privates, at first-rate fees. You get all the details of presentation and working, plus a lifetime I’ve dedicated to the study and practice of the art and science of magic.
Penguin started this project called “The Act” about a year ago with the idea of asking professionals to perform and discuss the act they are doing for real audiences (not like lectures, which are mostly done for magicians). Only few have abided by this rule, preferring not to tip what they really do, but rather novel stuff that sells. I must be one of the very few who has performed and explained in the greatest detail I’ve been capable of, what I have been doing, and am still doing, for paying audiences worldwide.
Get it now for € 24.95 at almost 40% off the regular price, for the next 48 hours only. After that it will be € 39.95, still a steal.
I’m very pleased to know that a small “family” has formed who is reading this little newsletter (you can join HERE http://eepurl.com/bMyVIf) of mine – we are now close to 800. Obviously, not being a dealer of things magical, I cannot send you one every week with lots of new stuff. I’m sure you are already receiving your share of that and don’t need one more.
Therefore, in each of my posts, I focus on one subject or question sent in by readers and which I judge to be of general interest. How do I know what is of “general interest”? Easy: if I find it interesting, I assume many others will, too 🙂 That’s also my way of choosing a gift for friends: I only give away things I would like to receive myself. Come to think of it, that might be the best philosophy of how to treat assisting spectators…
This reminds me of what Dan Harlan recently said: “Roberto, what I like about you is that regardless of what subject we touch on, you find a philosophical implication.”
On to this month’s topic:
Ask Roberto: Mentors in Magic & How to Practice Magic
Roger Curtis wrote in to ask two questions:
1. Most professionals refer to having had a mentor(s) in their formative years. How in the current climate would you suggest an amateur learns in the most effective way as whilst books are hugely informative, you still need someone to guide you along the right path?
2. What is the most effective way to practice? How do professionals practice?
These are two BIG questions if we consider all the implications, nonetheless I’ll try to answer to the best of my capacities and within the limitations of this newsletter. And always remember: all you get is my opinion…
What’s a Mentor And How to Find One
Almost 50 years ago, when I started out in magic, you needed mentors to provide you with information, nowadays there is an overabundance of information and (almost) all is available for (far too) little money, so you need mentors to steer you away from the unnecessary towards the essential.
What has remained the same, however, is that associating with people who know more than you and whom you admire is one of the best ways to advance, in any discipline. I had the enormous luck of meeting one of the very few “universal geniuses” in magic, Juan Tamariz, who became my mentor early in my life – that was in 1978, I was 19, and I had been into magic for 6 years. I still visit him every year for a week, and I learn (a lot!). Most mentors, though, are “specialist geniuses”, a term I use most respectfully. It means that some are great inventors, others knowledgeable historians and collectors, other gifted technicians, still others blessed performer, but few are all of that and still fewer look at magic holistically. That’s why you normally need several mentors.
Parallel to having mentors look for exchange of ideas with kindred spirits, people at your level whom you like personally. It’s not necessary that they specialize in the same topics. If you’re a card person, you can get together with a mentalist or a children’s entertainer, provided your ethos is similar. Keep the group small, and get together physically, if possible, although the virtual world offers amazing new possibilities. Discuss all practical questions, and if you are in close-up always keep the instruments in your hands.
The first ten years are all about acquiring the basic skills, mastering the instrument, gaining virtuosity. I’s fine and necessary to discuss philosophical and historical issues, presentation, communication, misdirection, timing, and all these things, but most of all discuss tricks and techniques, for these are the most important things. Unfortunately, as yesterday so today, some believe a lousy trick barely adequately done can be compensated by “presentation”. This has led to the (in my opinion) false belief that presentation is everything. But besides the person (not persona!!!), the most important things are a very good trick, plus an impeccable execution (see “Formula for Success in Magic”, entry for 10th NOV in Hidden Agenda). Once you have that sorted out, the rest will follow. So do a lot of hands-on in these groups. I believe that we become what we do, and if all we do is mostly chatter (keep forum-time to a minimum), we won’t progress humanly and artistically.
How do you find mentors? In the pre-Internet age I went to club meetings in my own city and wherever I travelled to, I attended all conventions near and far I could afford, and respectfully approached those I admired. If I went to a city for educational or vacational purposes, I’d immediately look up “magician” in the local phone book and call them asking if they would like to meet. In this way I met some wonderful people who are friends to this very day. I could write a book on this… And of course once you have one good mentor, he will introduce you to others. It obviously helps if you are polite, sincere and talented. But if you were not, you would not even ask this question!
You could also answer your question by looking at other disciplines. For instance ask: How would you progress in music if you played an instrument? No question, you would take lessons with a music teacher, at least that’s the way it is taught here in Switzerland. You buy the instrument and the scores, you take a lesson, you practice, you take another lesson, you keep practicing, and so on. Same thing when you learn how to drive a car, boat, plane etc. In some disciplines you have to go through a specific curriculum that ends with an exam to be allowed to practice that particular occupation: medicine, engineering etc. Now, magic is as much a profession as any other, but there is no official, formal education. In spite of this, the craft (and art) itself is based on instruments and the basic mastery of it. I’m reminded of Dr. Jacob Daley who took lessons from Dai Vernon.
Big subject, food for thought.
How Professionals Practice
As for your second question, I will give you a number of things you can do when practicing magic, and refer you to sources for information, but I believe there is one thing that towers over all others, and it is enjoyment. There might be several important things when studying magic, but joy and passion will always be first. If you enjoy practicing, it will not be work, but will add to the quality of your life and become one of those things that make you grow as a person and an artist. A joyful practice adds a new dimension to what you are doing and to who you are, and the total will be more than the sum of its parts. The ensuing enthusiasm that will emanate from your performance gives it that extra quality, which cannot be put into words, but is seen and felt by any intelligent audience. So, the very practical down-to-earth pieces of advice I’m about to give you now, should be understood in this larger context.
You ask how “professionals” practice. I never thought about this, I simply live magic the whole day, and I practice similarly as I did when magic was a hobby. But then I might not be your typical “professional”. But one thing is clear: a professional focuses above all on performance material, maybe organized into an act, depending from the venues he performs, and then he will practice just that. Once he has the techniques, the construction and the text down, he will start to rehearse, i.e. to “practice holistically”, as if he was performing for a real audience. René Lavand was a master of this. I’ve always found this difficult and have compensated by going through my performances mentally (sitting and listening to music, when traveling, in bed etc.).
You can do it the way described if you are not a professional, but you still want to perform. However, I insist, that you should only do it in this “efficient” way if you enjoy it: as an amateur you have the privilege that you do not need to make a living from magic! Do you really need to be “efficient”?
The Ten Secrets of Practice
However, I believe that a far more relevant implication of your question is that as an amateur, who wants to perform, you have very little time, as you have a job, maybe a family, and several other obligations. When a professional can devote the complete day to his activity, you may only have an hour per day, and that’s a lot. Therefore, if you insist in being “efficient”, here are my “Ten Suggestions for Effective Practice & Rehearsal”:
Understand before you practice, and once you’ve understood practice. Only correct practice makes perfect.
Don’t practice in one long session, but in shorter sets: 3 sets of 20 minutes are better than 1 hour. This is true for practicing techniques, as it is true for rehearsing an “act”. If you are a very busy person, you might want to get up 20 minutes earlier, do one practice session, and then start into your day (what a great way to start a day). When you come home, do a “relaxation practice session” (what a great way to end a working day). If it doesn’t work for you, do it differently.
Practice a specific set 5 days a week, and pause for 2 days. Practice for 3 weeks, and pause for 1 week. Your subconscious will assimilate and help “install” the skill.
Organize tricks in sets of three. Not only will you remember more tricks better, you’ll also make their performance more substantial and meaningful. As an example of how this can be done on a higher level see my DVD project Favorites.
If practicing a trick that requires a set-up, rather than keep resetting the same deck, have 3-5 decks ready already set up, and then use one after the other.
If you want to practice e.g. a Double Lift, a Coin Vanish and a Rope Flourish Knot, rather than practicing each 10 times, us the “First Time Practice” strategy: pick up the deck, do the Double Lift once, and then set the deck back on the table. Pick up the coin, do the vanish once, and then set the coin down. Do the same with the rope, just once. Then start over again. This prepares you for the use of the technique in the real situation, where you have to “hit” the technique on the very first attempt.
Once you’ve practiced enough and think you got it down correctly, go back to the original description (read or watch it again). If it is a good description from a Master, I guarantee you will find details you left out or you changed to the worse (I just went back to Ganson’s description of “Twisting the Aces” in More Inner Secrets of Card Magic and found two details I had ignored for 30 years and that made me understand the trick better). This reminds me of Al Baker, who said, “Nothing ruins a trick more than so-called improvements.” You can only improve on a Master when you have become a Master yourself. Don’t underestimate yourself, but don’t overestimate yourself either.
Each time you practice or rehearse something, try to do it a little better than before. Beware, though, of over-improvement (see Secret #8).
Use mental practice regularly. Relax, close your eyes, and then run through the flawless execution of a sleight, or of a trick, or of a complete act.
Remember St. Exupéry who said, “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” Or simply trust whoever said, “Less is more.” Reread this once a day if you are on a convention organizing committee.
You’ll find a lot of information regarding the practice and study of magic in both of my Agendas, Secret Agenda and Hidden Agenda(e.g. entry for 1st SEPT “Practice”). Secret Agenda is also available as a PDF-Ebook, which is fantastic, as you can search for “practice” or any other term you need; it is available BY CLICKING HERE.
See Secret Twitter, a PDF-Ebook with lots of information about the subject.
in Ask Roberto, available as a printed book and as a PDF-Ebook, I devote several lengthy essays to the subject (p. 16 “How to Study”, p. 20 “Fear of Starting to Perform”, p. 101 “Why Do Magic?”, p. 115 “Practice”, and several more)
And possibly the most important of all these: read my essay titled “The Study of Card Conjuring”, Chapter 27 “Theory” of Card College Volume 2, p. 476-485.
Besides this month’s topic, here are a few bits of information you might also be interested in:
Card College Facebook Group
Reader Patrick Humeniuk from Canada wrote in to let me know that he and a group of friends have created what they’ve called “The Sunday Card College” on Facebook. Here is the link, if you want to se what this is about, and if you want to join: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2290954474354088/ It’s obviously an excellent idea, as similarly minded people can meet and motivate each other in the serious and dedicated study of card magic. See my deliberations above!
Want a book signed to you personally?
When you order a book or DVD from me, you can ask it to be signed to your name, but you must mention this in the “comment” field of the order form, please. I do not automatically sign, as I never know who eventually gets the book/DVD.
Table of Content for Card College 1&2 – Personal Instruction
I’m glad to see that the 4-DVD-Set Card College 1&2 – Personal Instruction, which is now available as a download at a fraction of the original price, seems to be very popular and helps many to get on track when it comes to card magic. The 23 lessons are self-contained and reflect Card College volumes 1&2, but they are also a great complement to the books: the book gives far more details that can be put on a video, but the video shows you that what’s in the book is feasible, and that’s the motivational kick many need. A friend from Australia, aka EndersGame, kindly sent in a table of contents, which many of you will find useful. The first 2 pages are a pure table of contents, followed by a detailed commented table of content. This is an incredible piece of work, and I cannot thank EndersGame enough. To download the PDF CLICK HERE.
If you are interested to receive personal advice on anything related to your magic, or if you merely want to ask me questions or chat with me, you can take personal coaching lessons at my studio in Muttenz, Switzerland, or via Skype. For details contact me HERE.
Many keep asking when The Art of Switching Decks – A Guide for the Beginner and the Expert, my monograph on the subject of deck switches, is back. Well, my publisher, Penguin Magic, promises this will happen this year… I’ll let you know through the Secret Newsletter.
The Missing Link
Under this heading I propose one unusual web-link, which you’ll hopefully find inspiring, and if nothing else simply amusing. This one is about “illusions” in a very original, modern sense. Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHJh-GV-RUY&feature=youtu.be
For suggestions of how to use such information in a magic performance, see the entry “Film Clip Prologue” for February 20 in my Hidden Agenda– to a professional who uses this idea, this alone is worth many times the price of the book.
Let your friends know, please
If you believe that this newsletter (and those before) could be of interest to your friends, please forward this Secret Newsletter to them. To get it directly, they simply have to want to sign up for it HERE.
If you’ve ever wondered why a theory is as practical as a sleight, and maybe even more so, and how it can help improve our magic, you’ll find the answer in this easy-to-read essay. CLICK HERE to download the free PDF.
Here is to the best of my knowledge the bibliography of all my published contributions to magic (and a few outside of magic…): books, articles, essays, videos, downloads and a larger etcetera.
I was frankly quite surprised myself when I saw the amount of it. Today, in looking back, it didn’t seem like work. Possibly Confucius was right, when he said: “Choose a profession you like and you will never have to work in your life.“
To read or download the PDF of the bibliography CLICK HERE.
In answer to my suggestion to ask me questions, Mal Simpson wrote in and asked:
“As far as suggestions for future topics, I’d be interested in knowing what you consider to be common mistakes which you see amateur magicians make. Thanks for all your products.”
I shall make the answer to this most interesting question the topic of today’s Secret Newsletter. However, before we get “into the middle of things”, let’s agree on something: I’m fully aware that most of you who are reading this are amateurs (in the best sense of its Latin origin ”amare” – “to love”).
By no means do I want you to think that I, as a professional of many years, am talking down to or patronizing you. I’ve been a hobbyist (since 1973), an amateur, a part-time professional and finally a professional (since 1988), and I remember, know and understand exactly all the struggles I went through. Therefore, please take the following simply as my personal opinion and experience I’m passing on to you. If you agree, you are welcome to use my advice, if you disagree find your own answer to the question I’ve touched on. In either case you should be able to profit. Here we go:
Common Mistakes Amateurs Make
Due to my books, which are now in eight languages, I have many people come up to me at magic conventions and say “thank you”, moments that are sometimes very touching. Or I join a group at a convention. And as the Vice President of my magic club in Basel, Switzerland, I’m quite active, too. In all of these cases I get to see a lot of magic, in 95% of the cases by amateurs.
Thinking about what I’ve seen in the past years, here is an attempt to classify the “mistakes” I witnessed in nine points:
Nervousness. The first thing I notice is that most people get very nervous before and during the performance. Fear not, as this is something professionals suffer from, too. The difference, however, is that professionals know how to control the “beast”, but most amateurs don’t. I will mention three things. First, “stage fright” is a natural stress mechanism that helps us to be at our best in the extraordinary situation of a performance. Understanding this will turn the enemy into a friend. Second, we take ourselves too seriously. The higher we put ourselves, the longer the fall. Compared to the tragedies of life, failing in a card trick is, well, a minor incident. Therefore, relax. Third, find a ritual that involves mental and/or physical exercise before performing. Here is a simple one: Breathe in through your nose, and then breath out through your mouth twice as long. Do this for as long as it feels comfortable. The subject is obviously much more complex. This why I wrote an essay on the topic, “Who is Afraid of the Stage?”, and you can download it as a free PDF from my web shop by clicking HERE. If there is sufficient interest I shall make this the topic of my next Secret Newsletter – let me know.
Understand & Practice. Most amateurs don’t understand the trick they are performing, and then they do not practice enough. Listen to an anonymous Zen Master, who said: “Before you practice understand, but once you’ve understood, practice.”
Presentational construction – Prologue & Epilogue. Most people I ask to do a trick for me demonstrate rather than perform. I have a full-day Masterclass on the subject of how to find a presentation for a trick, so this is a complex subject. A relatively easy way to get the process started is to think of a prologue and an epilogue. Paul Arden, the advertising guru, used to say, «No first sentence without the last sentence.» How can you implement this? Start right now: take a card trick you do, and which you usually introduce by saying, «Take a card…», or, «I have here the four aces.» Well, that’s not such a good start, is it? But that’s how many indeed do start a trick. Now try to come up with something more interesting, amusing, informative or simply more captivating to say. For instance, «In my next experiment I’m going to make all of us younger.» Or, «Who believes that women are more intuitive than men?» Or, «What you are about to see, is the result of serendipity.» Of course you have to express judgment in all cases, or as Vernon kept reminding us, «Use your head.» Once you have that first sentence, it is very probable that it will lead you to the presentational plot of the trick, and this in turn will make it easy to find a «last word», which we call an epilogue. For more on the subject see the entries for DEC 30 and DEC 31 in Secret Agenda (now available as an E-book). Make a resolution right NOW: do not ever again perform a trick that has not a well thought out presentation with a prologue and an epilogue.
The Method is Not the Effect. Dai Vernon used to say that the difference between an amateur and a professional is that the latter knows what an effect is. This can go so far, that the method is mistaken for the effect. Amateurs have a tendency to judge the quality of a trick by its novelty and intriguing method. They derive their joy of practicing magic from the methods, not from the effect it has on a spectator. This is a huge topic. It requires an understanding of what the effect is and how to pull it off. It has to do with the order of actions (do I show the card has vanished from the deck and then reproduce it, or do I reproduce it, and then show it’s gone?), the timing (where are the pauses?), the text (what do I say, when do I shut up?), how to structure the climax and several other things. Most amateurs I see perform are not aware that these questions even exist, let alone find a good solution to them.
My Reality is Not Your Reality. A child puts his hands over his eyes and says, «You can’t see me!» He thinks that his reality is the same as the other person’s reality. Unfortunately this is not only the source of great aggravation in the world, but also in magic. It goes hand in hand with what I call the «Effect-Method-Split» (inspired by Karl Jaspers’s «Subject-Object-Split»). Some performers happily talk and perform, without ever wondering what the others are thinking and feeling at the same time. But since magic culminates in astonishment, and astonishment is the result of a mental process that eliminates all causes in order to access Wonderland, it is important to understand what happens in the spectator’s mind and how he (mis-)constructs his reality. This is the Constructivist’s approach to magic, and it is the approach of all good magic since its inception, but only in the 20th century was it formalized by the Spanish School of Magic. (Read Ascanio & Tamariz, but also the theory chapters in Card College 2– it’s all there…).
Bad Choice of Tricks. This is closely related to the previous two points. Amateurs get so fascinated by the novelty of a trick and its clever method, which at second look most of the time is not at all so clever, or by a novel gimmick, that they neglect to ask the all-important question, «What is the effect?» This, however, is one of the most difficult questions, not only for amateurs, I should add. Take «Chicago Opener» from Garcia’s Million Dollar Card Secrets, in spite of its controversy an excellent source for professional material. Most of us have done this trick, or are still doing it, rightly so, as it is a very good trick. But what is the effect? Is it a color change? Is it a prediction? Is it a manipulation of the spectator’s will? By understanding the phenomenon at the basis of the trick, the latter can be given the proper presentation, otherwise you risk to confuse the issue, if the given plot (presentation) runs against the inherent plot (contained within the trick). It is similar to when verbal and body language contradict each other, when someone says, «I do magic because I want to give people something», but at the same time they are making a «taking» gesture with both hands. A good trick can be told in one sentence, is memorable, its method impenetrable, and it has a clear subtext (symbolism).
Always New Tricks. You’ve heard it before: «Amateurs perform always new tricks for the same audience, professionals perform always the same tricks for new audiences.» That’s the amateur’s dilemma (one of them…). I answer the question in Ask Roberto in detail (Question 23 – «Practice», and Question 28 “Program Construction of an Act»), but here is a summary: try to keep three very good tricks in your «long-term-repertoire», and keep practicing them on a regular basis. Use 25% of your «magic time» for that. Use the remaining 75% for anything that «amuses» you, because, after all, as an amateur magic is a hobby for you, and you should simply enjoy it without any thought to utility. In those 25% of the time, you will do what you do better, and built criteria, which you will apply to the rest of your «novel» magic, and because of this, with the years, your magic will improve, and you will grow humanly and artistically with it.
Communication, Timing & Pacing. To look, when to look, where to look and how to look is one of the fundamental tools of communication and deception. Many do this intuitively, some do it well, most do not do it so well. There is a grammar of how to look, it is a language of its own (oh my, another lecture!). Very often, when I watch someone in an informal situation do several tricks in a row, they neglect what Ascanio called «the pause of assimilation». When an effect has occurred, you should wait for the effect to register; this means that the spectator has to go through a mental process, albeit a quick one, where he realizes that this is his card, that it is impossible that you could find it, that this is incredible, even impossible, that you are a genius (what else?), and that he should tell and thank you. The amateur more often than not is more interested in showing off what he can do and knows, than to create the experience of wonder, to let the audience enjoy it, and to celebrate this moment of communion. Instead, he runs to perform the next trick, being afraid that otherwise he will miss the opportunity to do it. This also has to do with the lack of self-confidence that characterizes the inexperienced amateur, because he thinks that what he just did was not so good after all. BUT if one thinks this, why perform it in the first place? The solution is simple: only perform tricks that you feel comfortable with, because you think they are good tricks, and because you know you have mastered. If you don’t, practice more, and think.
Don’t Know When to Stop. This refers to the length of an individual trick as well as to the duration of a performance. Due to his fascination with methods, the amateur often neglects to keep a trick short. Take the «Ambitious Card», a wonderful trick, and in my opinion one of the ten best card tricks (download for free my short essay on the subject HERE). In reference to how long one should perform at all, the legendary Nate Leipzig used to say, «Leave them wanting more.» As simple as this reads, as difficult it is to live by. However, the effort it takes us to develop the necessary experience, the judgment and the sure instinct, well, all of this will make us a better and more interesting person, and this is the person (not persona!) that makes our magic unique and fascinating. A subject for life… But here is a piece of advice I read many years ago in an old magic book: arrange three tricks to form a little act, ideally around ten minutes. That’s a good length for an impromptu performance for friends, after dinner, or when having a drink. Usually that’s enough, ten minutes. If you feel that the majority of those present want more, and they explicitly ask you, then, and only then, follow up with another set of ten minutes, or just one more «closer». In order to do this, however, you need the necessary repertoire, a question we will have to leave for another time, if somebody explicitly asks…
Read chapters 1 and 2 of my Stand-up Card Magic, as many of the problems mentioned are addressed in detail, with solutions of how to solve them.
Take one trick from your repertoire and implement only ONE new insight from the reading. Then take another trick, and implement ANOTHER insight. Do this with one trick per week, three in one month. Rest on the fourth week of the month. Do this for one year. At the end of the year notice your growth as a magician and human being, without effort and lots of pleasure – send me your thanks and a bottle of wine. If you are wealthy, send money to firstname.lastname@example.org at Paypal.
Since we spent so much time with the “mistakes” of others, let’s end with an exercise in humility and remember what Confucius once said: “If you see a worthy man, imitate him. If you see an unworthy man, examine yourself.” Amen.
Personal Coaching Live or via Skype
If you are interested to receive personal advice on anything related to your magic, you can take personal coaching lessons at my studio in Muttenz, Switzerland, or via Skype. For details contact me from https://www.robertogiobbi.com/site/infos-contacts/
“Without a doubt, Ask Robertohas been the greatest purchase of my magical career!” (John Holt)
If you liked the answer to the above question, you will love Ask Roberto, available as a printed book, but also as an E-book. You’ll find 52 interesting questions and my detailed answers. Similar to Secret Agenda, Ask Robertois ideal to be read as an E-book on your Tablet or Smartphone.
For the next 72 hours you can get Ask Roberto (the E-book) at 20% off HERE.
Card Magic Masterclass
„Your Masterclass DVDs are getting feedback better than anything we’ve EVER produced. People LOVE it.“ (Andi Gladwin & Joshua Jay, Vanishing Inc.)
If you’re still hesitating to get Card Magic Masterclass read Shiv Duggal’s rave review from Genii magazine HERE. You can get Card Magic Masterclass as a download from Vanishing Inc. HERE, or a physical set from me HERE (ask me to autograph it to you).
A piece of advice, if I may: when studying the videos, use a notebook (paper or app) to write down the items that interest you and the insights you’ve gained. If you do not do that, most will go in and out, and you’ve simply wasted you time. How to study, make notes, and practice is another subject for discussion, if you are interested.
“You are a truly outstanding author: with each sentence you share with us a thought or trail to improve our Art. Thank you for this wonderful work!” Carlos Vaquera
Confidences, one of my favorite books, is going to be out of print soon, and likely not reprinted. Get a signed copy as long as it lasts HERE.
Card College 1&2 – Personal Instruction as Download
“This is a masterpiece of reference work!” (Andrew Peel)
The 4-DVD-Set Card College 1&2 – Personal Instructionis now definitely gone and will never again be reproduced physically. BUT you can now download the complete course as MP4 files at a third of its original price (€ 49.95), and you can even have each one of the 23 Lessons individually at € 4.95. So if you are for instance struggling with the Palm or the Top Change, two of the more difficult sleights, get the two lessons for the price of a Starbucks Coffee. I kept the price as low as my dignity allows it and hope it discourages pirated versions.
The Missing Link
Under this heading I propose one unusual web-link, which you’ll hopefully find inspiring, and if nothing else simply amusing. This one is about “trick shots”, however not from the pool table, but from real life. If you show this on your Smartphone or Tablet, you can use it to prologue a performance piece with it. Also see the entry “Film Clip Prologue” for February 20 in my Hidden Agenda– to a professional who uses this idea, this alone is worth many times the price of the book (I had to say that, since nobody else does :-). Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRJmcxCrAOA
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