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
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
Here’s what “Cause
& Effects: Volume 3” includes:
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
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
Zombie or The
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!”
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.
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
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.
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 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
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!
(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
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
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
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
- 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