“Bert Allerton’s Rules for the Close-Up Magician. “ Part Five

Please note that each element of “Bert Allerton’s Rules for the Close-Up Magician“ has been reprinted with the express written consent of Magic Inc. (no part may be re-printed in other media without consent of Magic Inc.)

To get a copy of, “Bert Allerton: The Close-Up Magician. “ Visit: http://www.magicinc.net/closeupmagician.aspx

We continue with our next point in the series…
“To be a really successful close-up magician you must:”


Tradeshow circa 2006

5. Have a sense of timing, which can only be fully developed by experience. This is one of the most important factors in successful presentation of close-up magic. Learn how to build up suspense, create surprises, and produce laughs.

Experience can keep one from making a lot of mistakes. And how does one get experience? By making a lot of mistakes….

A wise performer will also study, study, study, observe, test and reflect. We read other performers thoughts and opinions. We talk to one another telling stories and hearing about other’s failures and successes. We look into other disciplines such as acting and comedy.
We make our own mistakes and cultivate our own learning opportunities.

I have been extremely fortunate to have known scores of great performers. While I lived in New Orleans I would regularly attend two different meeting for people who were “on the inside.” One of them was a weekly get together for street performers who were world travelers – magicians, puppeteers, jugglers, and musicians – folks who were skilled enough to make a living in the streets and cool enough to be invited to the get together.

These people would tell stories more engaging and amazing than any TV show or movie out there…and a sharp observer could learn as much from the way they told the stories as what happened in the story. We would eat together, tell stories and invariably show each other the special stuff. Sometimes it was our best stuff, sometimes our projects in their infancy sometimes just all out silliness…but everything had some ‘thing’ some potential that could be grasped by an inquisitive mind.

The average non-performer would be bored to tears to hear a 90 minute conversation between workers discussing the timing of a move or the effect that changing the rhythm of a storyline might have. But all these things work together to build a ‘lab’ that lets us test things before the public ever sees it.

Often we’ll have a good idea of what will work…but in the end it’s got to be worked out in performance. Trial, analysis, and more trial…It’s no wonder why seasoned professionals prefer to work with people who value their time and experience. It’s a very tough and very satisfying process.