What Makes a Good Magic Trick?

Okay, so this may be one for magicians but if you do a trick or two for your friends and family, this is a very simple rule to follow…and I mean ‘simple’. The rule is, when doing a magic trick, keep it…simple! I learned this after I had my pride punctured by a 10 year old during a performance. Thankfully, it was somewhat an informal performance.

good magic trick

I was performing in a restaurant several years ago. For the few years leading up to this particular moment, I had been making my tricks and routines more and more elaborate, thinking I was adding entertainment value. Well, I was wrong and I was about to be shown how wrong I was.

I was performing a trick for group in the waiting area. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. All except for one man who didn’t seem amazed or even slightly entertained by anything I did. I thought, for sure, the finale would impress him. Not in the least. Well, about halfway through the trick, up walks a 10 year old boy holding his own deck of cards. When I finished my routine and everyone but the unimpressed man seemed to enjoy it. The 10 year old then said, “Can I show you my trick?” He proceeded to do a version of…THE TRICK I JUST DID! One difference was, his version took all of about 12 seconds. BUT!!! The second difference was this man, who had not changed the expression of boredom on his face for the last 5 minutes, was completely stunned, busted out laughing, and walked away from the group similar to a David Blaine reaction.

That night, I sat down and mapped out the situation in its entirety. I ended up coming to a very interesting conclusion about the trick. Despite the two entirely different methods, the tricks were exactly the same from the perspective of the audience. The difference was, my version was visually much more complex and probably much more difficult to follow. Therefore, I entertained almost everybody in the group…this 10 year old kid entertained everybody. Despite wanting to throw him through the front door without even opening it, he taught me one of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever learned.

I can sum the lesson up this way. Often times, when people see entertainment, they don’t want experiencing it to feel like work. They want to be entertained. With magic, there’s already a natural thought process going on of “How did he do that?” Because of this, the audience should never have to use any extra brain power to understand a routine. I have to quote the late, great Professor, Dai Vernon. “Confusion isn’t magic.” If you want a good magic trick, keep it simple!

If you want to see some a few tricks, check out the Videos page!