Sep 14, 2017
I've lately been thinking about busking because i would like to start performing for people more as i only perform to some friends and family but this is rare. I have been focused on practicing a lot and getting confident on my tricks to the point where i just want to perform now but I don't really know how to create a busking routine, i mainly perform card tricks but i have expanded with double cross and nest of wallets which i like as they aren't card tricks. I also don't know if i should busk because my college is next to where i was going to busk and no one at my college knows about my magic. If anyone has any tips or experiences in busking and building routines that will last for a couple of minutes i will appreciate your help, thanks.


Elite Member
Sep 13, 2008
There's a DVD set by Kozmo called Tales from the Street. I recommend that for any starting busker (Or see his lecture if you can). There's also a book called Krowd Kontrol by Jimmy Talksalot that has very good reviews, but I haven't read it yet. He also has a blog about busking as well.

Here's my highlights on busking:
Learn a good way to gather a crowd. You only need to stop a few people at first, to get them curious/interested in what you're up to. Study other buskers to see what they do and come up with your own idea (a crowd gatherer can be a very personal and protected thing among buskers).

Remember this - keeping the crowd entertained is your #1 priority. No matter how clever you think a trick is, or how genius the method is, a crowd has no obligation to wait through a 5 minute procedure to see the ending. They will walk away if they are bored for more than a moment.

Work hat lines in from about the middle of the show. I aim for 3. One in the middle of the show, one before the finale, and one after the finale. Unless you don't want to make any money, that's up to you.

Remember to make the show interesting even if someone comes in halfway through. If you've got a card trick that relies on the crowd knowing the selected card, anyone who walks up halfway through that trick will go, "What's this? Oh. A card trick. Hey, Starbucks, I want coffee ..." - This means you should keep the card tricks to a minimum.

As much as you can, make the tricks bigger and involving more people. People in a crowd will walk away if they're bored, but someone who's currently doing a task will probably not walk away and that means the rest of their group will stay, too.

You pretty much have to be funny. It doesn't have to be a comedy show, per se, but people don't tend to stop and watch a philosophical show when they're out having a good time, and they don't tip well on those shows either (trust me, I've tried repeatedly). It doesn't have to be the cheesy one liners - Look at guys like David Darwin with his deadpan delivery. Paolo Garbanzo with his puns and corny jokes (honed over decades of ren fair performances). Look at Gazzo and Kozmo.

Make the finale seem as big as possible. It doesn't actually have to BE big, but make it FEEL big. You want everyone to walk away on a high note.

Short and great is better than longer and OK. I repeat - audiences WILL walk away as soon as they get bored. Use only your strongest material. I generally agree with Kozmo that 8 amazing minutes is better than 15 OK minutes. You can get a decent hat with a short but amazing act, but if you drag at all, you won't get any tips. For years Chris Capeheart did nothing but the TT silk vanish, over and over. 5 minutes, one magic trick, that's the show - the rest was banter with the crowd.

Good luck!
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