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The other night, I went out to the Waterfires in Providence (Rhode Island). My brother was visiting from CA, and I was meeting some friends. Anyway, as we were standing around, this guy came up and asked us if we wanted to see a magic trick, it was “kind of like practice” was the claim.


Of course, I say “sure” and he asks if I’d like to help. What reason would I have to deny the magician a volunteer. So he did a basic card switch (swapped the card in my hand with the card in his). Someone mentioned I was a magician, and he asked if I would do a trick so I did Daley’s Last trick, but flubbed the beginning. It turned out OK, i just hate when I do that. From there, the “pro” did another trick which was actually very interesting (gaffed cards and he repeated the “effect” a couple more times than he should have, but it still was a nifty idea).


So whenever someone shows me a trick, I do tend to look at how they present it, how they do or hide their moves, sometimes even what they say (although I tend to watch more than listen, as it’s not important what a magician says). And I always tend to see if they’re performance is better or worse than mine. Now, admittedly, I’m good. When I practice, anyway. But it’s not just because I do the moves well or something, it’s because I try to understand how a move looks. If it looks too “magicky” (that’s not a real word, FYI), then I try to “dumb it down”. Unfortunately, most other magicians don’t. They look at a move as a move.


So after someone has done a trick in front of me, I do sometimes get the question “was he good, can you do better”, etc. In most cases, it’s yes. But to a normal spectator’s view, the trick may look very much the same (assuming they didn’t see both me and the other person perform the exact same trick). But, I’d like to think, that had someone watched me without prior knowledge of another magician doing the same trick, my performance seems a bit more impossible, but that feeling would be un-explainable as to why it exists.


For me, it’s not just practicing a trick, but understanding how it fits together, understanding what people see, and understanding what they’re expected to see. Without those 3 elements, then you’re just learning a trick.


EDIT: I remember he also did another “classic” called the Ambitious Card where the card continually jumps from the middle of the deck to the top. Interestingly, he did the 1st version of this routine I was taught. I’ve tried to manipulate and tweak the version I use, but I don’t always use it because I do find it gets repetitive. One good purpose of the routine is to give away the signed card to the spectator, who will then always remember you from that card (and, yes, the magician gave his business card to one of the guys there who had kids, because he does shows professionally for money).

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