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 rear end kicked by a 10 year old during, thankfully, a very informal performance.
I was performing in a restaurant several years ago and, 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, and that people enjoyed this style more. Well, I was wrong and I was about to be shown how wrong I was. After performing a few tricks for a group of five in the waiting area of the restaurant, I came to my finale. One thing I had noticed was that everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves except for one man who didn’t seem amazed or even slightly entertained by anything I did (and also, had not said a word. Mr. Personality). I thought, for sure, this finale would impress him. Not in the least. Well, about midway through this trick, up walks a boy, around 10 years old, holding his own deck of cards. When I finished my routine and everyone but Mr. Personality seemed to enjoy it, this 10 year old kid said, “I can do that trick.” He proceeded to do a very dumbed down version of what I just did that took all of about 12 seconds, and this man, who had not changed the expression on his face for the last 5 minutes, busted out laughing and walked away from the group in pure amazement.
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 done by the 10 year old and me, the tricks were exactly the same to the audience. The only difference was that one of us entertained 80% of the group, and the other entertained 100%. Despite wanting to throw that kid out the front door to the restaurant, I have to give credit where credit is due. Even though he may never see this or our paths cross again, he taught me a very valuable lesson.
I can sum the lesson up this way. Often times, when people see entertainment, they don’t want to have to think too much. 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, who said, “Confusion isn’t magic.” If you want a good magic trick, keep it simple!