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Magic Words

Feb 8, 2019
66
26
Aiken, SC
There is often a stereotype that magicians use magic words. Many classic magicians did this and a few still do to day. Even books like PRISM suggest you utter an incantation. So my question is: would saying magic words still be appropriate today and if so what is an example of a magic word that would work today without coming across as silly.
 

RealityOne

Elite Member
Nov 1, 2009
3,638
3,955
New Jersey
Aaron Fisher has a line in his Search and Destroy where he asks the spectator "Do you have a magic word you use in an instance like this?" I'll admit to stealing that line to use in kids shows. That's pretty much the only time I've seen a magic word used well.

I've heard of kids performers using their name -- "Say Magic Chase" -- to make the magic work. Ehhhh... not my style.
 
Nov 3, 2018
543
424
If you don't use a magic word, what do you do to "make the magic happen"? Do you use a wand (or impromptu wand-ersatz)? Do you tap the top card or snap your fingers (sorry, Liderc)? Or do you simply show the result of the magic, without any "excuse" for it to have happened?
 
Feb 8, 2019
66
26
Aiken, SC
If you don't use a magic word, what do you do to "make the magic happen"? Do you use a wand (or impromptu wand-ersatz)? Do you tap the top card or snap your fingers (sorry, Liderc)? Or do you simply show the result of the magic, without any "excuse" for it to have happened?
I generally wave my hand or make other motions
 
Mar 14, 2019
37
17
The only time I snap is when I'm trying to direct attention away from my other hand. During ambitious card I have the spectator wave their hand over the deck or I will just give the deck a small twitch in my hand like I'm making something happen. But never a magic word unless I'm flat out trying to be funny.
 

RealityOne

Elite Member
Nov 1, 2009
3,638
3,955
New Jersey
If you don't use a magic word, what do you do to "make the magic happen"? Do you use a wand (or impromptu wand-ersatz)? Do you tap the top card or snap your fingers (sorry, Liderc)? Or do you simply show the result of the magic, without any "excuse" for it to have happened?

That really requires answering a more general question... how (or why) does your magic happen?

Magic words, snapping, the shadow of your hand, etc. all are expressions of how magic happens. BUT, they have just become so meaningless they are done automatically without any significance.

So back to the question... if you actually had magical powers how would they work?

For me, magic is a journey into my imagination. If I can imagine it in the context of an effect, it happens. If a character in my story puts an egg into a bag and then wishes the egg to disappear, the egg disappears. If two sponge bunnies (male and female) are put together in a magic hat... you can guess what happens.
 
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Nov 3, 2018
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That really requires answering a more general question... how (or why) does your magic happen?
This is exactly the question I'd been aiming for. Why does your magic happen? Does the magic illustrate a story you're telling? Does the magic "just happen -- dunno why"?
 

WitchDocIsIn

Elite Member
Sep 13, 2008
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As Derren Brown demonstrates - the key is to let the audience feel like they're seeing the process of the mystery happening.
 
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Jul 26, 2016
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I have been thinking about this question for a few days now. IMO it comes down to an individual's character, theme, style and/or persona. Like the magic wand, people see magic words as a classic icon or emblem of the magician. Magic words are of course used all the time by Harry Potter and friends (e.g. "Wingardiam Leviosa" or "Expecto Patronum"). But that fits the theme, and those are specific spells to bring about specific results by those playing the part of being able to do real magic.

Now it would look pretty silly for say, David Blane, or a sophisticated exponent of gambling routines, and perhaps various other stylists, to say magic words. I did it when I used to dress up and perform as Merlin and it went over very well. People loved the Merlin persona, and expected a wand and magic words.

It can also be great when performing for kids, especially really young ones, because kids live in their imaginations and are more apt to indulge in the fantasy side of the magic.

Finally, it can be done as tongue in cheek comedy, if that suits your style. e.g., "Now we say the magic words: I hope this works," "We just say the Catholic magic word - BINGO," or even David Williamson's gag: "Now we say the magic words -- The magic words."

Robert Houdin wrote centuries ago: "A magician is an actor playing the part of a magician." So, in some ways, it comes down to what kind of actor one wants to be. And that's a huge part of the fun of it all...
 
Sep 20, 2009
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Robert Houdin wrote centuries ago: "A magician is an actor playing the part of a magician." So, in some ways, it comes down to what kind of actor one wants to be. And that's a huge part of the fun of it all...


which reminds me that quote is usually misquoted and doesn't communicate the entire message of the full quote

A conjurer is not a juggler; he is an actor playing the part of a magician; an artist whose fingers have more need to move with deftness than with speed. I may even add that where sleight-of-hand is involved, the quieter the movement of the performer, the more readily will the spectators be deceived. -- Robert Houdin
 
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