When I decided to write this column, I realized that I’d be writing it for multiple sources. This column is being written for the SAM #71 and online magic forums, so that many people can get use out of these thoughts. In many cases this column will be on many different points of view that I have about magic. This particular column will focus on one important thing, Trick versus Effect.
Trick versus effect. Not too many magicians think about this when performing. Well, at least not us younger guys. I am obsessed with the difference between the two. The difference is that a trick is just that, a trick. It’s a psychological puzzle set up by the magician that the spectator is “going” to figure out. It’s a challenge. “Pick a card. Oh look, I found it,” or “Watch the coin. Ha, it’s gone” is a trick. Effects, on the other hand, are legitimate pieces of magic and amazement. That’s what we all, as magicians, strive to do. The goal of any great magician is to touch the spectator. Now, actually touching a spectator could get you 10 to 20 years, but touching them emotionally will get you a reputation that you couldn’t get any other way. You will leave a part of yourself with that person for the rest of their lives. They will tell the story to grandkids, they will tell the story to friends and relatives, and they will also tell the story to your potential clients. Anyone that’s ever gotten a repeat booking has touched someone emotionally.
I’ve had this experience recently and, though I’d thought I’d touched people before, this time was different. I performed walk around at a couple’s 50th wedding anniversary. Towards the end of my time, I called the group together to perform one last effect. Note the word effect there. The trick would have been to have two people sign cards that become fused. Sleight of hand and trickery, right? Well, the effect is known as Anniversary Waltz and for the 5 minutes the effect is being performed, people are feeling forgotten emotions and dreams of loved ones, memories that have been gathered throughout fifty years of spending your life with someone else. At the end of the effect, I finally looked up, away from the couple, to see their five daughters, all grown with families of their own, crying. The wife was crying and stood up to give me a kiss on the cheek. The husband stood up, shook my hand, and thanked me for coming before he walked out of the room, all very solemnly. I was thanked time and again, before I made my way to the door. It took an extra ten minutes to get to the door because everyone wanted to thank me.
That’s the difference between a trick and an effect. It’s titled an “effect” because it affects people. People remember effects, but forget the tricks as soon as they’ve figured it out. Those that have been in magic for years, have worked in magic shops, or have mentored young magicians have undoubtedly seen the difference. I’ve had kids come into the Magic Juggler and show me a trick, then I have shown them the same trick in a different way and they’re amazed. When I show them how I did it and that it’s exactly the same thing they just did, they’re even more amazed.
Another example happened to our own Damon Reinbold. Damon is a master of separating tricks from effects. I’ve never seen him do a “trick.” I’ve seen full groups of six or seven people run out of his shows because he is, and I quote, “inside my head.” That’s an effect people will remember. That’s how you make magic real. How do you learn to create an effect? You practice. When the movements to the trick are effortless and you can do them without thinking, you have time to talk. Speaking is a key element to most magic. Very few performers can get to people without speaking. If you know me, it’s hard to shut me up. That’s the reason. Eventually, I’m going to say something and it’s going to click with the person. This is also a problem with younger magicians. My advice to everyone is to take a public speaking class as soon as possible. You lose the nervousness of being in front of a group and become comfortable talking. Then your magic will begin to take shape and become something more than any DVD or book can teach you. It’ll teach you how to appeal to the audience and leave a lasting moment in their lives.
Jeff “Exodus” Corn
Last edited by exodus on Thu Dec 20, 2007 6:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.