When I made the decision to turn professional I decided that I needed repertoire of commercial tricks that I could perform for my close-up act; but I realised that I couldn’t just do a pile of card tricks, or do tricks that I liked doing.
I shortlisted tricks, practiced those, and worked on the patter; knowing that as they got performed to real live paying customers they would evolve. As the tricks developed I could add new ones and remove those that weren’t so strong.
Then I looked at what I already performed, what I liked performing, my character and the way my magic had already naturally evolved since I started learning.
I mainly thought of myself as a mentalist, and started to pursue that direction and learnt mentalism tricks and routines (probably due to Derren Brown sparking my latent interest in the art). However, I had come to realise that it lacked commercial appeal for the type of events I was promoting myself for.
But then I didn’t want to go too far the other way. I didn’t want to be a “comedy magician”, or have a whacky/zany character.
Let’s look at an example. I’ve have sponge balls, I learnt a sponge ball routine and performed it, people actually LIKED my sponge ball routine’ but it just didn’t feel comfortable for me.
Creating Your Commercial Repertoire
So how do you do this, well, pick about six tricks that YOU feel comfortable doing and that others will like and practice them. Also come up with patter and script the trick. Each time you practice you perform like you are performing for an audience so you practice the lines, not just the moves. I personally chose tricks covering many styles of magic, so my style and short-listed tricks could be refined using the Darwinian principle of Survival of the Fittest.
I came up with a set of rules and criteria to help me shortlist my tricks:
- Have variety – not just card tricks
- Can be stored in a jacket pocket for close-up
- No re-set (or at least very quick)
- Something that doesn’t need lots of explaining
- Visual enough to be seen by everyone round a large table
- Multi-stage (ideally)
- Involve spectators
As time went on I found my style and dropped the material that didn’t fit the direction I was wanting to go in (such as sponge balls and rope tricks) but it gave me a solid foundation to build on with a repertoire that meant from the moment I turned professional I had good tricks that worked and got positive reactions.
I still perform many of the effects that went into this original set, and have added more that fits this criteria. Not all the trick in my repertoire fit the criteria, and are perhaps more artistic and aimed to illicit a more emotional connection.
Having a routine that is new, fresh, touches emotions, takes risks but may occasionally fall flat is not a good opener for a corporate audience. A solid routine that will even entertain those that have been at the free bar. These latter routines are normally the ‘workers’, tried and tested a million times by every working magician.
My aim is to have tricks and effects that fall into both criteria. This way I have some solid material to open with and engage everyone, but can have material that is more ‘artistic’ once a connection has been established.
Note, this article is based on the “Art Vs Entertainment” lesson in the Magic Theory and Presentation section of the course, as well as in some of the abridged courses.
The How To Be A Professional Magician Courses cover everything you need to know to set up a business as a professional magician. The Full Course contains all the information (as well as 30 minute Skype consultation to help you get your business launched), and the abridged courses also cover business set-up.