Cause & Effects Volume 3:
Unique Presentations for Classic
Props, Plots & Effects!

Think about the last time you saw a magician perform a classic of magic.

Was the presentation original… or a cookie-cutter photo-copy of the same presentation you saw the last guy do… and he took it from the last TV special featuring a magician?

Why do so many performers perform the same effects with the same routines the same way?

I’m not sure, but I DO know that the hard part is NOT learning the “trick.” The “trick” is the easier part. I’m not saying that performing the trick is easy (because it’s not) only that performing a “trick” is easier than crafting a commercial, entertaining presentation that ‘hooks’ an audience.

I also know that as a full-time professional magician with over 3000 paid performances under my belt, developing and fine-tuning original presentations for magic effects has been one of the keystones of my success.

I’ll also share with you a secret: creating a new, original script and presentation for an effect is tough. What looks good on paper may take on a different life once you perform those same words in front of a paying audience.

I believe most magicians use the same themes, the same laugh lines, heck even the same music selection in their routines because it’s a lot easier than coming up with your own stuff.

I understand – it’s tough writing an original script! Heck, if a professional performer offers an effective, commercial presentation for an effect of magic, I’ll certainly consider adding it to my own set lists. In recent years, I’ve purchased routines from Bob Kohler, Paul Romhany, Scott Alexander and many others.

Still, the majority of the time, a routine that ‘fits me’ for a given effect simply does not exist and after years of trial by fire in front of hundreds of audiences, I’ve fine-tuned several professional presentations for many “classic” props and effects in magic.

Some of these routines appeared in the previous volumes of this series, “Cause & Effects” Volumes 1 & 2.

This NEW volume breaks from the format of the previous two books in that in addition to the commercial, practical routines, I’m also including some essays on performance, trouble-shooting and more!

Here’s what “Cause & Effects: Volume 3” includes:

Sean Bogunia Sketch Pad or Axtel Board

I bought Sean Bogunia’s wonderful Manual Sketch Pad and completely fell in love with it! It didn’t take me long to come up with a routine for this incredible prop.

In case you’re not familiar with the effect, here’s what the audience sees: A crude sketch is made of a person’s face. As the audience watches, the eyes move, the mouth moves, and after the routines is over, the paper with the drawing can be torn off and given to a spectator as a souvenir! No switches! The only “problem” with the routine is that a prospective buyer looks at the prop and immediately dismisses it, believing they need to use “vent” with it. Not true.

After 500-600 performances, I’ve fine-tuned my presentation into a rock-solid 5 minutes of laughter and amazement…without ANY vent work at all. I don’t do vent and probably never will… yet I’ve used this prop to close shows with over 400 people in the audience or small birthday parties with 10 kids. This ROCKS. Oh, and if you own an Axtel Drawing Board, this routine will work wonderfully for that prop, too!

Zombie or The Thing

I’ve been performing a “zombie” type of effect in my show for close to 20 years. A few years ago, I “downsized” to Bill Abbott’s wonderful “thing” routine simply because of the smaller size and portability.

In years past, I had watched other performers perform the Zombie (or similar effects) in exactly the same way, concentrating on the movements of the ‘mysterious silver ball,’ and I really groaned when lady magician Melina actually CALLED her routine the “Mystery of the Silver Ball.”   Ugh. To me, it was right up there with the guy I once saw who performed a Hat Coil routine (that looked really good) and after it was over, he proudly announced, “The Hat Coil, Ladies and Gentleman!”  Ugh again.

With my routine, the ball is personified and designed to elicit squeals of delights from children. The routine builds up to the first movements of the ball as a big, thrilling moment and from there, the laughs build and build. I’d been performing this routine for years and when I saw Bill Abbott’s Thing, I saw an opportunity to “downsize” without dramatically affecting my show in the negative sense. Bill’s routine for the Thing is very powerful, but if I had to offer one critique, the routine is very short, only a minute or two. My routine would perfectly compliment Bill’s in that I include more jokes, more build-up and more laughs. Zombie or Thing – the choice is yours and this routine, in one form or another, has been in my show for over 15 years.

Spelling Bee

I love the classic Spelling Bee effect! If you’re a kid’s performer, you’re probably familiar with this effect: a board is shown with seven letters horizontally arranged in a jumbled order. The performer assures the audience that the letters actually do spell something. The board is flipped around and the cards are removed. Without looking at the mixed cards, audience members tell the performer where each card goes, trying in essence to spell a word simply by guessing where each letter goes. Incredibly, when all the letters are arranged according to the audience’s decisions, the board is turned around, revealing that the audience selected EVERY letter correctly!

I use this effect all the time in my work, from spelling out the birthday child’s name to a certain key word pertaining to the topic I’m presenting about in one of my school assembly shows, such as “RESPECT.” The only downside to the routine is the fact this selection process by the audience can really drag. Really, “Okay, where do you want to put this letter? Good, where do you want to put this letter? What about this one?” is NOT the most compelling presentation!

Most performers I’ve seen using this prop try to rush through that selection process. I decided to follow the sage advice of Eugene Burger and others who write about the necessity of making the journey interesting – it’s not the ‘ah-ha’ moment of revelation that makes the effect worth it but rather the entire journey from beginning to end. With that in mind, I’ve changed the entire structure of the routine by just using one volunteer onstage with me and added some very funny lines during the selection process. The lines are “kid friendly” and completely age-appropriate.

Snowstorm in China

The performer shows some tissue paper, tears it into a few pieces and puts them in a glass of water. Once again removing them from the water, the performer squeezes the tissue paper – the audience can see water dripping away. Using a large, ornamental fan, the performer begins fanning under the hand holding the wet tissue…and soon from his hand erupts a shower or more accurately, a “storm” of confetti, looking very much like a “snowstorm.” Beautiful effect – it’s another one I’ve been doing for over 12 years. It can close any show, for large or small audiences, kids, adults, all ages.

The one big problem? Nearly every performer I’ve ever seen performs the show with the same routine. “I was 5 years old and I had never seen snow before…” Great routine when David Copperfield did it on TV in the late 80’s, but since then, I’ve never seen any other presentation for Snowstorm in China… well, other than The Amazing Johnathon’s bizarre and hilarious (but oh-so-NOT family friendly) performance.

I’ve crafted a presentation that perfectly sets up the snowstorm effect, is trendy in that it ties into the super hero craze, and most importantly, even includes a brief message of self-esteem in it. Even if you are not a school assembly performer using messages in your show, your audience will appreciate this quick bit of a positive message as a way to set up the audience-pleasing Snowstorm effect. Oh, and if you’re using a Kevin James Snow Animator or anything like it, the presentation will work perfectly too, without changing a word.

Any Levitating a Child Trick

If you use a Chair Suspension, Magic Carpet or any other method of floating an audience member, then you already know just how powerful it is! It’s a killer selling point and a guaranteed show stopper.

Many performers (though thankfully not all) use a presentation sounding like something right out of Disney or Peter Pan – a lot of stuff about believing in yourself and wishes and all of that. Some of the presentations are very good, and unlike Snowstorm, they are not all the same.

The problem for me is when I float a child in the air, it’s at or near the end of the program and the kids are getting restless and are not always in the most receptive state to hearing a sweet, sentimental story about youth, wishes and other warm, fuzzy feelings. In my case, I wanted to provide a justification as to why I was going to float someone in the air and I wanted it to be funny… and I wanted it to be appealing to all ages. I wound up drawing inspiration from Paul Romhany, The Vanishing Bandanna and some ideas of my own. The result? A funny, original way to float someone in the air!

As the old saying goes, “That’s Not All!”

In this special volume of routines, I also include my own take on the Headline Prediction!

Confab-Headline Prediction
(originally published in Paul Romhany’s book, “Headline Prediction”)

I’ve loved the headline prediction, but have always found a couple of troublesome things wrong with it. First, predicting catastrophes! So, taking advice from other experts, I’d restrict myself to predicting ‘non-traumatic’ headlines, such as sporting events or political battles. That was okay, but it played a little dry.

Eventually, I wound up coming up with a “Dream Letter” style prediction using the “confab” concept popularized by Alan Shaxon that didn’t deal with the news or world events at all. (This handling was detailed in a prior volume of “Cause & Effects.) With some shows, however, clients specifically WANTED me to predict a news event, a headline prediction. For some clients, it just felt more “impossible,” so that’s what they wanted. However, those situations occasionally turned sour when a client would forget to bring the envelope I’d mailed out in advance!

Obviously without the envelope mailed in advance, the routine fell on its face….until I developed a headline prediction routine in which the audience members would select WHICH specific headlines, phrases, sports scores, etc were to be predicted! It added another dimension to my prediction routine, and even in those rare occasions when a client forgot to bring the envelope I had mailed to them weeks prior, just the fact that I was able, during the show, to show that I predicted which things the spectators selected helped save the routine by me using a “backup” envelope I’d brought with me. Admittedly, having the client remember was much stronger, but the added element of predicting the audience’s choices allowed me to ‘save’ the routine in a worse-case scenario and add an incredible dimension when things went according to plan.

I tip the entire workings, envelope construction, routine, and much more. If you have the previous volume of “Cause & Effects,” you know the workings of the gimmicks, but this routine is a nice twist on the classic Headline Prediction.

This volume also includes a contribution I made to Paul Romhany’s new book, “The Real Deal,” a 9-page essay on survival techniques for handling emergency situations. Paul’s book is a master class of surviving as performing magician, so hopefully my little essay will pique your interest!

I cover emotional state in an emergency (this is a biggie!) and, among other things, I even list some set lists of effects you can put together the night before a show if you fly to a gig and lose EVERYTHING, even your carry-on! This was a really fun topic to write about. I cover both mentalism and visual magic…and admittedly, putting together a stage mentalism show by visiting Wal-Mart is a heck of a lot easier than putting together a magic show!

But that’s STILL not all…in this volume I also include some shorter essays, ideas, tips, techniques, real-world advice and thoughts on:

    • A hilarious family-friendly Mouthcoil routine
    • A KILLER marketing tip for The Manual Sketchpad
    • A funny story (with an important tip!) on Silk to Egg
    • A performance tip to make performing Sword Thru Neck easier…much easier!
    • A funny script line you can use for “Hundy 500” and other ‘money’ tricks
    • A great presentational idea for a Banknite type of presentation – most people will scoff at this, but when the right gig comes along, this will kill!

This third volume in the “Cause & Effects” series is the biggest yet!

Your Investment: $24.95

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