What makes a good routine?

Apr 27, 2008
I haven't seen this thread yet when I was using search bar so here it is.

What makes a great (not good) routine to you and the spectators? Is it the flow or your patter or maybe just the effects themselves? What do you wish you could add to your routine, ex. effects, presentation, crowd, etc?

For me the flow of effects is what makes a good routine into a great routine. You could go from cards, to money, to cards, to mind reading or w/e. I personally start off with some mentalism stuff and go into money. I do some cool stuff then do Psychic Serial and it is perfect for going into money since they know you won't run off with it.

The one thing I wish I could add to my routine is one of two things, the crowds is the main wish, I live in south alabama and the people here are more concerned with nascar or hunting than getting bothered with magic. Secondly it would be some one on one time with either Luke Jermay or Derren Brown and see what can really make an effect into an experience.
Sep 1, 2007
I always try to think of a good routine the way I think of a good piece of music. Like a symphony, I feel that a routine should build upon itself--every movement or trick should have a logical structure within the overall set.

Getting into specifics, I don't think that a routine can survive if it is all coins or all cards. I think it's necessary to mix it up.

There's also the issue of plot vs. narrative. Basically, a routine should have plot, which is not the same thing as narrative. Narrative in magic, in my opinion, is stupid and usually out of place. Plot refers to this idea of building an effect up and ending on a logical climax. It's something that every performer really has to figure out for him- or herself and it constantly shifts.

Personally, I'll usually open with a flashy card trick to grab attention and to show that I am the magician. For instance, card across coupled with card to mouth works really well. A lot more now, I'll open with either Redline or a rubber band effect or a pen routine based on Homer Liwag's. All are very visual and establish instant credibility.

Then I'll move onto something slightly more involved like an ambitious card or an inversion routine with lots of small pieces so I can end it where I want, depending on how the audience feels to me.

I find that something with money goes great here, like a bill switch, or alternatively, a torn and restored card. My pet TNR is R.I.P. from Stephen Tucker's torn and restored book, or Paul Harris' TNR from AoA (the name escapes me).

If that's not my closer (and usually it is--I try to stickf to 3 tricks or so) I'll do Cold from Dee Christopher or Even Four More Four on the Floor from Full Metal Jacket or a Triumph routine with a full deck change or I'll do Infliction from Daniel Madison (I love this one).

Hope that gives you some ideas.
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