Sunday, April 18, 2010

Truly Impromptu

I was invited to attend a very "high-end" fundraiser the other night. The mansion was filled with affluent, well-dressed guests. While I was not actually hired to perform magic, I was asked by my fellow guest to come prepared in case the opportunity presented itself to show a trick or two. The idea was that magic might break the ice, spark conversation, and ultimately open the door for support of the non-profit organization I work for during the day. I knew that for this to be pulled off naturally, the magic would have to come across as impromptu.

I'm not talking the type of impromptu that doesn't require preparation or rehearsal on my part; I'm talking coming across as impromptu through the eyes of the audience. There is a distinct different between simply pulling a poker chip from your pocket (just plain weird if you want to come across as natural and impromptu) and making the chip appear out of thin air as a relevant topic arises.

It was a great evening. I showed a lot of magic to a lot of people and made a lot of meaningful connections...all without overtly introducing anything that would be considered a magic prop. I began every set with empty hands. I waited for a topic relating to my opening effect to naturally come up (Vegas, traveling, money, etc.) or for my colleague to spark this along, then went into a a naturally evolving set:

  1. With bare hands, I produced a Vegas poker chip from the Mirage casino. Just like a mirage, the chip disappeared, reappeared and multiplied.
  2. The chip changed into a deck of cards, which led naturally into some card magic. The opening effect (Truth In Advertising) is based on my day job in marketing/advertising.
  3. Depending on the topic of conversation, I performed any of the following card effects: Palm Reader, Lost & Found, Triumph, Homage to Homing.
  4. After the final effect, I made the deck vanish.
  5. I finished by passing out my business card. I had mine encircled with a few rubberbands, which provided a natural segue to perform one more but with the rubberbands....and move into talking business.

So, when reading magic books about so-called impromptu magic, look beyond just the lack of preparation required from your end; look at it through the eyes of your audience to ensure it comes across as being natural, off the cuff and meaningful to them.

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