Working On A New Magic Trick

Waking Up With A New Idea

I woke up last Wednesday with the perfect premise for a piece of magic in mind and spent the morning brainstorming where I could go with it but sat there at my desk with all my props around me, I kept picking my deck of cards up. Don't get me wrong, I love card tricks but I want this to be something more.
At least I had the bare bones of an idea, the beginning and the end, so for now I decided to go with my initial inspiration of a story structure involving a casino to road test the routine. I practiced the new bit all morning, opting to use a trick I’ve been doing since I was 13 in the middle, just as a filler for now, so I could concentrate on working in the fresh stuff I wasn’t as comfortable with. 

Collecting Inspirations and Road Testing Magical Ideas

Luckily, Wednesday was a day of networking for me, I had a lunch meeting and an evening one I haven’t attended before called Square Peg which was brilliant, then personally I was nipping to meet some friends at an open mic night. This all gave me chance to perform my new magic idea about 7/8 times in different environments and although it’s nowhere near polished, I learnt one hell of a lot. I’m proud to say the reactions were awesome and I soon found out what worked well, what didn’t work quite so well and a couple of bits I hadn’t even thought about before.
Working On A New Magic Trick Matthew J Magic

A poor quality screengrab but there's my friend Kieran (who's bar it is) checking out what I'm doing so I can get his feedback later.

Welcome Surprises

There was an additional effect happening during the course of the trick for a select few people that hadn’t even crossed my mind but my god am I going to capitalise on making sure I get that to work wherever I can as it’s an absolute miracle. In addition to finding out this new area to enhance, I’m fortunate enough to have a great non-magician friend who was also at the open mic night with me and I asked to watch me perform the routine a number of times then grilled him for his honest feedback. I love doing this with Kieran as I get to see what somebody who doesn’t have a magician’s mindset actually thinks is going on and trust me, if he thinks it’s crap, he’ll tell me it’s crap but will keep anything he finds out between us.
Taking these things on board, as well as one complete and absolute failure one to one performance with another friend of mine, I’ve been slogging my guts out over the course of the last week to make things better and work on how the presentation can enhance the whole experience for my Audience.
Last Thursday I made the journey South after another successful (& filling) networking breakfast. I had a gig to do down there in the evening but I wanted to get down early and visit a magic shop out by Heathrow airport in the afternoon. I’ve been intending to visit PropDog for a while as their outlook on what a magic shop should be is quite different to others but I’ll do another write up on that a different day.

Objective Views From Other Magicians

I knew there would be fellow magicians there that would have their own opinions on what I was working on as well as a magic shop full of ideas I could try and tap into. The boys didn’t disappoint, gave me some honest opinions and didn’t try and flog me anything I didn’t need. I did however buy a couple of bits and pieces as I can’t help it, I’m like a kid in a candy shop around magic, especially if it’s something I haven’t really worked with before and just want to give it a go.
I left enlightened and buzzing with ideas but choosing NOT to work the new routine that evening as it wasn’t ready yet. That’s so important to me, I need to make sure I’m 100% happy with what I’m doing before I put it in front of a paying client’s guests, hence trialling things at networking meetings and open mic nights, etc.
Working On A New Magic Trick Matthew J Magic

Propdog's Bobo investigating my boots.

Davenport's Magic Shop In London

I stayed down South overnight at my Brother & Sister-in-Law’s house. After going to watch my 6 month old nephew learning to swim the next morning I headed into central London on Friday for a little more magic engulfment in the form of Davenport’s magic shop (again I could write a whole other article on this place so I will at some point). In short, it’s everything you would expect a 121 year old magic shop to be and I bloody love it. I spent a good hour in there chatting about different ways I could present the routine as I still had one major bit I wasn’t fully clear that I liked about it; the whole “casino” thing.
My problem is that the whole structure fits so well with the narrative of entering a casino and walking around the gaming floor but I’m just not sure if a magician doing a routine about Las Vegas and casinos is a bit of a cliche, I mean, this is more of a mentalism routine than magic but still . . . 
Working On A New Magic Trick Matthew J Magic
There’s just so much crossover between magic & casinos; cards, dice, poker chips, etc. I just don’t know if it’s been overdone where some magicians, perhaps being a little lazy, have just crowbarred in some casino patter as they can make it fit with the trick and I really don’t want to be ‘that guy’. Anyway, we talked about some other options and something on the lines of travel (my other passion) came into the mix so I set about exploring that idea too.

Honest Opinions From Friends In The Magic Industry

Fast forward over the weekend, a few more trial runs, a bit more feedback from friends and family then on Tuesday I went for lunch with Tom & Darren, my best friends in magic, after sending out the standard text to our group chat; “Either of you want to play magic tricks?” Yeah, we’re all in our 30s believe it or not. After discussing it with the boys, my mind settled on the fact that to go down the casino route is actually the right thing to do as on this occasion, to go with anything else such as travel, I would be crowbarring in that alternative presentation instead.

Still A Long Way To Go

Since then I’ve been working hard on the middle section and am finally 100% ready to take the trick to a proper audience so it will make it’s first outing tomorrow night for my gig in Manchester. It wont be perfect by any means, I can’t practice to get it to that level at my desk, any number of networking meetings or for my friends and family. Like with any trick, I need to get it to a point where it is 100% deceptive and entertaining, then put it in front of as many ‘real’ audiences as I can to iron out the creases and have it evolve into a piece of magic I’m really proud of.
All being well, it should be a solid and fully polished piece in a year or so but will always continue to evolve.
Working On A New Magic Trick Matthew J Magic
Thanks for having a read of this, I know I’ve gone on a bit (as always) but I thought you’d like to get a little more of an insight into what it’s like to go from an idea, to putting something into performance. If you have any questions I’d love to hear them as well as comments on what you think of using the casino storyline as a basis, is it too old hat and cliche or do you think it’s best to use it here in the right context? I will be able to gauge it more tomorrow night too I guess.
Thanks again,
Posted in Blog, Close Up Magic, News.

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