Thoughts on magic.

Warning : I tend to talk in stream of consciousness.

I don’t know why I rather see something as simple as a coin vanish performed well. If you ever seen Alex Gieser do any of his coin magic you will know what I am talking about. No patter, No misdirection, just pure magic. I guess I have to define what I mean as magic. Many consider that presentation and patter is above the sleight of hand. The old saying of “The magician is an actor playing the part of the magician.” has always rubbed me in the wrong way. What is a magician? How does the actor know what he is suppose to represent. Its like telling an actor to act like an alien from outerspace. Does this mean that the actor is trying to act out what he “thinks” a alien is suppose to be? I somehow think that’s why they want to put more thought in presentation and patter since that’s what they know. But what if you are presenting to a person from another country? What if you can’t use the power of language? I can’t stand when magicians say that magic is a sub-set of theater. If anything magic is its own art. Magic can use theater to help create a better illusion (sometimes), but magic isn’t some bitch to theater.

I feel a reason that many people need to use patter or presentation is that magic at its core is illogical. Logic tells us that in order to get from A to C, you have to go through B. But magic creates something that can make it “seem” like A can get to C without B. this is the sense of magic for me. You create a situation that can’t be possible logically unless you know the method. With the method it does not defy logic at all. Think about it. Magic is the only thing on this damn planet that creates this. It is such an amazing thing. Now back to why people want to use presentation… Magic creates a blank spot in your mind. Paul Harris describes this as feeling like a baby. Your mind doesn’t know how to categorize what just happened. It doesn’t last for long though, the mind HAS to do something about it, thus it will creates one of the two emotions, amazement or frustration. That’s is why you get people who are just amazed or hate you. I had women cry before by just doing some card tricks. Its a card trick for fuck sake, but yet it hits them hard.

Now to my point. Many times presentation and patter is to “soften” the blow of magic. How many times do you see magicians make jokes after the magical moment. They don’t like that tension that it creates. A main reason that I stopped perusing magic as a job was that I felt both of the emotions, amazement and frustration, were equally valid. You can’t leave your customers frustrated as they leave the restaurant if you were doing magic there. That isn’t your JOB. You are suppose to entertain them. But magic at it’s core is not to entertain. You can USE magic to entertain, but at it’s core its something different. I remember reading on the magic cafe about someone asking how many phases for an ACR. Someone said “as long as they are entertained”. That’s fucking bullshit. Just because they are entertained doesn’t mean its good magic. Its like saying a comedian that plays the guitar is a good guitarist. That’s stupid.

But the problem is that you can’t get paid for just doing magic as it is. People want drama, people want stories. Its how we are built. That is why I do magic on my own terms. When your life and well-being isn’t dependent on magic as a job it will open magic as an art to a bigger arena. For me it is to simplify my magic. My dream card trick is to show a joker to the audience and say that it can change to any card they name. They do and I wave the joker and it changes to the card, and then back. That’s it.

Alright, enough ranting. Here is a color change I have been working on for quite sometime. It is called the “Be Kind Change”. Anyone who can actually read through this whole thing should deserve a little treat. ;)

Password : The Boldest change or switch that is executed with a card in one hand for the card on top. Its the “_ _ _ change”

Be Kind Change from Tony Chang on Vimeo.

Posted: September 16th, 2009
Comments: 13 Comments.
Comments
Comment from Exo - September 17, 2009

hey tony.
you realy hit the spot on this one.
ive seen enough magicians in my life who overdo their patters and jokes so much that it hurts and never stops being cheesy.
of course they have to do that to appeal to a larger audience but doing that in a casual setting just shows that they have this “performance character” thing going on which i cant stand at all.
oh and concerning that moment of astonishment theory:
silence is one of the best reactions you can get. its when they are in that exact state. guess that would kill any magic show though^^

about the colorchange:
looks realy smooth. good job. vernon would tap you on the back and offer you a cigar^^

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Comment from Mathias - September 17, 2009

Loved the change and vanish (vanish kinda reminded me of a Daniel Madison vanish…if it’s really his). I love how the steal had hardly any tells, makes the whole experience more magical & complete.

The message of your rant wasn’t too clear for me. To my understanding; you are not putting down “presentation” itself, but the way a lot of magicians apply it in which often detracts/softens/trivializes/cheesens (lol) the true nature and power of magic.

Presentation should enhance and clarify the magic, right?

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Comment from Stein - September 18, 2009

Sweet post, with a lot of good points.

I’ve tried 6 different versions of writing the password, but it won’t work.

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Comment from Stein - September 18, 2009

Never mind, figured it out. Doh. Haha.

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Comment from Richard - September 29, 2009

I dont quite agree with what you’re saying. I think magic should be about entertaining and audience and not just simply showing off your skills. And its rather hard to to that without any patter or presentation.

I do agree with you on some points that most magicians dont know how to properly create a presentation for a magic trick. Like you said, some will blurt a joke during the magic moment, which does ruin the impact of the magic. But i dont think that getting rid of patter completely is a good thing to do.

About what you said about the “performance character”, i think it’s not the bullshit you think it is. Every professional magician out there wants people to remember their magic, but they also want them to remember the magician. Therefore they will have very extreme and unique stage personas so that they will remember them afterwards. So when they describe it to their friends later they’ll say “This fat magician guy with a beard made this big ball of sponge appear in my hand!” (al goshman)

I think that the problem with magic today is that everyone has been sucked in by that “visual magic is the only good magic” non sense. Every is working on the most visual color change or the most visual sandwich effect. Yeah, they may look cool, but are people really gonna remember that afterwards? As opposed to traditonal magic, such as a 100 dollar bill change. That’s no where near as visual but it has the emotional impact that magic needs. They’ll remember that way better then they will remember a color change.

Ok i’m getting off topic here but my main point is that magic should be entertaining so that it will create a unique experience for the audience. I dont think any famous magician would be as successful as they are now without using any patter or presentation.

Perhaps you should read Strong Magic by Darwin Ortiz. A lot of my thoughts come from that book. I tells you how to create a GOOD presentation, one that will not hinder the magic.

I’m not trying to criticize you Tony, i have seen you in action and i know you’re a great magician. I just dont agree with this rant and wanted to give you some of my thoughts. So i hope this doesnt create any tension, cuz we already have enough of that in the magic world.

Ok, cya.

P.S. That change was pretty awesome, but the vanish blew me away. Nice job.

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Comment from Paul - October 2, 2009

I think Richard’s point is true And I agree with him. Magic is not what you do but what spectators see. And you change spec’s perception by your presentation.
Even if presentation is not above the technique, it’s still important. I’m thinking that the ratio is 40/60 in close-up.
@Richard : Can you come on my blog
http://cardstudy.blogspot.com/
Tell me your point of view on it.

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Comment from jaded - November 4, 2009

im really having a hard time figuring the password out.
a little help plz.

tnx
-jaded

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Comment from Tony Chang - November 4, 2009

3 letters and starts with T. thinking too hard.

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Comment from jaded - November 9, 2009

got it…

tnx
-jaded

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Comment from Goldfarb - April 26, 2010

fooled me until you exposed it to me in person, had no idea how you were stealin that card

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Comment from Yves Tourigny - July 26, 2010

That’s a very nice application of an Ernest Earick steal. Congratulation!

I do not agree with your rant at least in part. Presentation is not the end all of magic though as some seems to think but it is an integral part of the mysteries. Don’t have time to say more maybe later.

Yves

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Comment from Yves Tourigny - July 26, 2010

That’s a very nice application of an Ernest Earick steal. Never saw someone do it as smoothly as you though. Congratulation!!

I do not agree with your rant at least in part. Presentation is not the end all of magic though as some seems to think but it is an integral part of the mysteries. Don’t have time to say more maybe later.

Yves

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Comment from Brad Tobin - July 28, 2011

I think alot of magicians feel this way about magic but i think NO laypeople feel this way about magic.One of the strongest effects is the stop trick, but if you do it by having a card picked, then deal down until they say stop and show the card, its amazing that happened but it has no meaning, but if you begin the effect by talking about woman having some special type of intuition bla bla bla, then do the effect, its personal, and at the end they want the effect to be successful, and it makes the woman feel special that it worked with her. Presentation is so important because it conditions the spectators to see the effect the way you want them to see it, if you do an acr, whats the effect? Does the card slowly penetate every card until it reaches the top? or does it Jump(teleport) to the top the instant you snap your fingers(michael ammar hahah)? or does the top card change into the card, the macanics may be the same but the presentation is essential to making the effect clear, and if they know the effect thats what they will SEE. Presentation is also important to making the effect matter, A card may disappear from the pack and end up folded in a small box, but why the hell would you ever need to get a card folded in a small box in the first place, with patter you can solve these kinds of problems, (see michael vincents Pandoras Paradox).A lot of people say magic has meaning in and of itself, which i think is bullshit, magic only has meaning in so much as it is useful, the audiance should feel that if only they could do what you just did they could….

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