Ditch the 'snap'.

Ditch the 'snap'.
"Watch close, if I just snap my fingers. It's done." says every magician, ever. 

It's New Years Day and like many of you I was out celebrating last night with friends and making new ones. 

Magic has a unique ability to attract, seduce and cement new friendships with strangers - wherever you go. But like my last blog entry mentioned, I was committed to taking it 60% slower. 

The usual toilet-inspired philosophy had occurred early that day. "Why do we snap our fingers?" I thought. It's a signal of the magical moment I've questioned before... But this question keeps coming back to me.

I'm sure many magicians have thought about how weird it is, but how many of us action it?

I gave myself a challenge and I extend the same one to you, starting TODAY

Could you go an entire year performing magic without ever snapping your fingers? 

A snap or a click signifies the moment the magic occurs, but if our goal is to slow down our magic, to make it hit harder, why is this snapping 'moment' so instant? 

I performed a 3-phase ambitious card routine to a quiet, skeptical stranger at the bar. We were all sitting around a table. He was a friend of a friend. 

As soon as the deck was out of my pocket, he asked if he could hold the deck to select a card and I obliged. He didn't trust me holding it.

I knew instantly he'd be eagle-eyed and unwilling to accept being 'fooled'. However everyone knows if you fool a skeptic, you fool everyone else watching by default. 

But why choose the skeptic first? 

Billy Connelly has a famous line "There's no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing."

In magic, I think there's no such thing as a bad spectator, just the wrong presentation. So I switched up my style to compensate for his needs. 

Step #1 - Marlo Tilt move, signed selection goes in "half-way down" aka second from top. 

By poking the centre of the deck with the signed selection, you can force some cards to out-jog, this isn't a new idea but it's necessary to sell the illusion. I see a lot of magicians skipping this nuance to try not to get caught with a break as deep as the laurentian abyss at the back of the deck. 

SLOW DOWN. The more you rush, the more guilty you look. 

The signed card was pushed in flush (second from top) and I flashed the bottom card and said "It's not on bottom" as I placed the deck in the centre of the table, peeling the bottom card off and placing it in the middle. (This *burning* of the bottom card isn't part of the trick, it's simply creating motivation for the next part.)

"But the challenge is to get your signed card to the top of the deck without touching it."

<<tension builds>> "Look, it's not on top already" as the top card is peeled off delicately, displayed and burnt into the middle of the deck. 

Skeptics patter continues "All magic is based on misdirection, creating a moment that seems brief or non-existed, but gives me enough time to get your signed card from it's current position, at 32nd down, to the very top of the deck"

I scoot my chair forward to lean in. Everyone else mimics and leans in too. 
(For more insight on neo-movement, please check out Ben Earl's work.)  

I continue "Albert Einstein explains that time is relative ... When you sit with a nice girl for two hours you think it's only a minute, but when you sit on a hot stove for a minute you think it's two hours. That's relativity." 

"The same thing applies in magic."

"and as I told you that story, despite never appearing to come anywhere near the deck. It's done. Turn over the top card." (That line is constructed to give them an anchor in their memory, they'll be the ones to tell everyone I never came anywhere near the deck) 

The signed card was revealed to the entire table. Needless to say, they went crazy.

Giving a 'geeky' guy (who does networking for a living) a plausible lie to how the magic is achieved, reframes it. Now, this person who likes to understand how things work won't feel negative towards you for trying to 'fool' them - if they can even admit that you did. 

Instead they explode with a reaction... despite a 'snap', 'crackle' or 'pop' of the fingers never being used. 

After 13 years of performing magic, It wasn't my best reaction ever, but it was big enough for me to internally rate it as powerful. My girlfriend who's seen that effect 10,000x leaned over and whispered in my ear "never seen you do it that way before".

As bored as all of our partners are with seeing magic, we all know that's as close to a "wow" as we're likely to get. 

I won't tell you about the 2 other phases in this article, there isn't time and the first one is enough food for thought for you right now. 

Put your 'slowing down' along with 'no more snapping of the fingers' and you're dramatically affecting the impact of even your simplest of tricks. 

Let me give you 3 more ways to signify the magical moment: 
  • Casting a shadow and mimicking the gesture of moving a card/coin/etc 
  • The passing of time. 
  • A very slow wave - of their hand. Make it about them. 
If you have your own ways, I'd love to hear them. Email in or contact me on social media... but from today, until January 1st 2021, the snap is dead. 

Happy New Year

Geraint Clarke of Ellusionist.com

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Sir Xcott

Sir Xcott

I have sweaty fingers, so I never have snapped. I just talk a bit then say “but check this out…” and show reveal. I hadn’t given it any thought in 50yrs. Thanks for the article. I’m reading it 5/2023.




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