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Buffalo McKinley

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Reply with quote  #1 
There are so many amazing card tricks.

Why even have B material?

If I'm taking the time to learn a card trick, it needs to wow me.

Thanks,

Buffalo
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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #2 
Couldn't agree more Buffalo. 

Another question is "what constitutes A and B material?" I generally think of the grading system as referring to the strength of the material. But for many it's probably more about audience reaction and fun. 

Given possible audience reaction descriptions, which one do TMF members seek:

1. That guy was really fun.
2. That guy was really funny.
3. I really like that guy.
4. That guy totally blew my mind. 

M
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Intensely Magic

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Powers
Couldn't agree more Buffalo. 

Another question is "what constitutes A and B material?" I generally think of the grading system as referring to the strength of the material. But for many it's probably more about audience reaction and fun. 

Given possible audience reaction descriptions, which one do TMF members seek:

1. That guy was really fun.
2. That guy was really funny.
3. I really like that guy.
4. That guy totally blew my mind. 

M


I don't think you can have 1,2 or 4 unless you have 3. Having said that, I go with mind blowing.

@Buffalo Absolutely! I've argued that for years.

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chris w

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When you put it that way, it seems stupidly obvious.

But I think of A material and B material, to the extent I think of them at all (it's not the most useful terminology for me), as stages of development rather than ultimate rankings of worth. My "A material" is likely to be that which I've worked on most and feel best about performing, whereas a lower grade hasn't quite made it to that level yet. The only way to get it to a higher level is to keep working on it and figure out what's lacking. Some of that work necessarily happens in performance. There are aspects that can only be refined in front of people.

Would you ask a painter "Why don't you skip the other stuff and only paint the masterpieces?"

It's a process. Every step is necessary. If you're growing, everything is on its way to becoming something else.
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TheAmazingStanley

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Reply with quote  #5 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Powers
Couldn't agree more Buffalo. 

Another question is "what constitutes A and B material?" I generally think of the grading system as referring to the strength of the material. But for many it's probably more about audience reaction and fun. 

Given possible audience reaction descriptions, which one do TMF members seek:

1. That guy was really fun.
2. That guy was really funny.
3. I really like that guy.
4. That guy totally blew my mind. 

M


I have a sense of humor and an ability to put people at ease, but I’m not a “funny guy” or a life of the party type. I agree that without 3 none of the others can follow, but I consider it a success when people don’t know what to think. That puzzled look of a brain chasing its own tail. So I take 4.

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arthur stead

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Reply with quote  #6 

Something similar was discussed a couple of months ago at the link below, and I stand by what I posted then:

“Personally, if I'm performing an act, I don't see the point of having anything other than A material.”

https://www.themagiciansforum.com/post/how-much-of-your-card-magic-is-c-material-10523822?highlight=b+material

 

 

 


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RayJ

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As Arthur stated, this was discussed in the thread a while back.  Arthur kindly included the link.  I, also stand by what I said.  I think some of the apparent disagreement centers around semantics.

Of course we all hope that our tricks are "A" class.  And we should always take the time to rehearse, polish and perfect to get the most out of every trick.  But I stand by my contention that there is a hierarchy of sorts in any performance.  Take music as an example.  Many concerts open up with a well-known, popular song before shifting into some lesser-known, even "buried" cuts perhaps before ending with some of the best, most popular and well-known songs for an encore.

I'm generalizing of course, and not all concerts follow a formula like that, but I've attended dozens that were exactly that way.

The other thing that happens is that what was once your "A" material, becomes your "B" material as you progress in the craft.  A beginner's "A" material wouldn't typically even make the cut in a paid performer's repertoire.  But even then, there are exceptions.  For example, some begin their foray into the art by purchasing an Adams Ball Vase.  And Mike Skinner and R. Paul Wilson killed with the lowly prop.  But they took the "dime store" trick and elevated it well beyond what the beginner was able to do.

Whatever tricks you do, out of respect for magic and your audience you should always perform them well and be entertaining.  That's what matters in the end.
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TheAmazingStanley

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Quote:
Originally Posted by RayJ
As Arthur stated, this was discussed in the thread a while back.  Arthur kindly included the link.  I, also stand by what I said.  I think some of the apparent disagreement centers around semantics.

Of course we all hope that our tricks are "A" class.  And we should always take the time to rehearse, polish and perfect to get the most out of every trick.  But I stand by my contention that there is a hierarchy of sorts in any performance.  Take music as an example.  Many concerts open up with a well-known, popular song before shifting into some lesser-known, even "buried" cuts perhaps before ending with some of the best, most popular and well-known songs for an encore.

I'm generalizing of course, and not all concerts follow a formula like that, but I've attended dozens that were exactly that way.

The other thing that happens is that what was once your "A" material, becomes your "B" material as you progress in the craft.  A beginner's "A" material wouldn't typically even make the cut in a paid performer's repertoire.  But even then, there are exceptions.  For example, some begin their foray into the art by purchasing an Adams Ball Vase.  And Mike Skinner and R. Paul Wilson killed with the lowly prop.  But they took the "dime store" trick and elevated it well beyond what the beginner was able to do.

Whatever tricks you do, out of respect for magic and your audience you should always perform them well and be entertaining.  That's what matters in the end.


I think there can be a place for even downright stupid tricks in a routine. Like the little hand that reaches out from under yours and grabs the coin and disappears back under. Stupid, gimmicky, requires no skill...and hilarious. That’s the one part of that Ammar appearance on Letterman everyone regardless of magical sophistication remembers. Every trick cannot be a miracle or by definition the miracles will start losing their miracleness.

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EVILDAN

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Reply with quote  #9 
I think you can have A and B material. 
It might not start that way. You might have all A material. 
Then over time you find a new effect that is similar to something you already do but you like the new method/effect better. 

Ex: Let's say you learned Out of This World - the original method. 
Then you get the book "Best of All Worlds." 
And you learn a different presentation that you like a lot better and feel is stronger. 
So you abandon the original and use the new one. 
They are both good - both A material - but now the new one is your A material trick and the old method is the B material trick. 
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EVILDAN

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Reply with quote  #10 
If that works for you, that's cool. 
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #11 
I don't think we'll ever get past the semantics.  There is no way that everybody performs only so-called "A" material.  Besides, in the end it is all subjective.  Your "A" might be another's "B" or even "C".

How about we all agree that whatever level the trick is supposed to be that we do it to the best of our ability and add as great a presentation as possible and call it a day?
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Buffalo McKinley

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Reply with quote  #12 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayJ
I don't think we'll ever get past the semantics.  There is no way that everybody performs only so-called "A" material.  Besides, in the end it is all subjective.  Your "A" might be another's "B" or even "C".

How about we all agree that whatever level the trick is supposed to be that we do it to the best of our ability and add as great a presentation as possible and call it a day?



Right.  It is subjective.  I wasn't suggesting that there is a definitive list of A and B material.

I was essentially asking why anyone would have in their act tricks that they consider B material?

To me, once you feel something is a B trick you should replace it with something you love performing or, as someone in this thread already suggested, improve the trick to make it A material.

I can't imagine performing a trick where I'm thinking, yeah, this an o.k. trick.  After I do this one, I'll knock 'em out with this other AWESOME trick.

It doesn't make sense to me when there are so many awesome tricks.

Thanks for all the great feedback everyone!

-Buffalo
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Dustin White

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Reply with quote  #13 
For me, A and B material has always come down to how highly I prioritize performing it based on the audience.

For context, I’m a hobbyist and tend to perform for the same 4 or 5 people.

My focus is always, like others, on learning and refining what I consider to be the best of the best, and that A material is what I perform the first time I have a chance to perform it to someone who hasn’t seen it.

B material is the stuff that is entertaining, but more usually easier material I can produce when someone asks to see something while I’m in between new (to them) A list material.

TL;DR - I focus on A material, but use B material to entertain repeat spectators.
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GregB

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Reply with quote  #14 
Yeah I am with you there Dustin, I do a lot of the same.

I have some people I perform to regularly, so I really appreciate that because it forces me to keep learning, not all of it is going to knock them over with amazement, sometimes its just really funny or entertaining, and sometimes it is hitting it out of the park. It gives me a good bit of feedback on what I should develop more into making it an A level trick.

I have a small list of tricks that I have honed over the years that I know is going to be great for people I am performing for for the first time, anytime I am in this situation it is A level only and I won't perform other things that I know isn't going to be my strongest stuff in the moment. It's like performing a gig, if I'm getting paid, its all A list, if I'm hanging out with friends that have seen a lot of my stuff, I'll throw in new stuff I'm working on and stuff that I enjoy that might not be super commercial. Overall, I think there is a place for both.
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Medifro

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Reply with quote  #15 
I started the other thread, and thought I replied there later but didn't. Lol. 

I believe that as long as you know your A material from B and C, then you can do whatever you want and you'll be okay. We've all got different goals and perspectives, but shouldn't lose sight of what make a trick great or not, just like noting how good a movie script is. In theory you can compensate a below-average script with other things (casting. cinmogrophy .. etc), and the same applies with a below-average trick. Just as long as you know that it is. And I'm increasingly suprised on the amount of card guys who blind themselves to that. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Buffalo McKinley
 

If I'm taking the time to learn a card trick, it needs to wow me.

 

Bro, it's can be just fun to learn variations of the 21 card trick or play with the Sunken key principle 😃 

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arthur stead

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Reply with quote  #16 

It seems some people are equating A material with their top tricks.  For me, that’s not necessarily true.  

For example, the earlier mention of Michael Ammar’s Little Hand trick.  In terms of astonishment or technical ability, that’s definitely not A material.  But if well-placed in a performance set, considering that it brings a huge laugh from the audience, I think it does fit into its own A material category.

My point is that A material can include anything which intrigues or mystifies or amuses or emotionally touches the audience.  It doesn’t have to be your most compelling or complex trick.  

 


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Medifro

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Reply with quote  #17 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Karim
I feel like most of you have never read Magic and Showmanship.  There are specific theatrical reasons why not everything can be what some people are referring to "A" material.  Ray gave some specific examples in this very thread.

I also feel like most of you have never read Strong Magic.  Darwin Ortiz gives specific ideas around how you address things like emotional and intellectual conviction and develop things like prestige.  Again, you can't just roll into a set with your most amazing stuff (well, you can, but a vast majority SHOULDN'T).

Finally, I feel like many of you would be well-served to look into something like this, from Michael Close, around developing magic sets: https://www.michaelclose.com/collections/products-by-michael-close/products/how-to-design-a-three-trick-set  Sneak preview: it's not about putting together your 3 most amazing tricks.

I've said it before but it really seems like magicians are steadfast in refusing to incorporate any learnings from acting, theater, or music in terms of designing an act or even just a little set.  But don't listen to me, I provided some sources up there, I recommend reading through them.


Judging a trick as A material is one thing, but performing it in a set is totally another. Plus, different effects elicit different emtotions. Different tricks also have  different dramatic curves, and so forth. "A" vs "B" or "C" is really a simplification. [wink] 


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arthur stead

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Reply with quote  #18 

I agree, Medifro.  Besides blocking, timing and music (if applicable), a successful set would include techniques which maintain momentum, stimulate audience interaction or applause, slow down or pick up the pace, moments to inject humor, interludes for continuity between tricks, etc.  And in my opinion, although these types of events are minor moments, they should also be considered to be as important as one’s A material “show-stoppers.”


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Dustin White

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Reply with quote  #19 
Arthur, I agree entirely with you about A material being more about reaction and impact than complexity.

A lot of my feeling behind B material being easier to perform comes from the amount of interactivity or circumstances. Something like Gemini Twins is a simple trick to execute, but gets most of its impact from the engagement and hands on experience. For me, its an A list trick. Something like coins across in my hands would be B material because of my brick-like personality with coins. I’m sure there are others who would adjust those rankings.

Much like you and Medifro just discussed, there are circumstances that could prove my choices of A, B, etc. material wrong; a progression that can only work to full effect if I incorporate coins across, or a card sequence that won’t earn the right comedic angle if the audience has seen a coincidence card plot.
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Daniel Young

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Reply with quote  #20 
Back when I used to do these things... I didnt think of it so much as A or B material, but as A and B set. My A-set could in theory contain "b material" as a middle piece. When doing walkaround and depending on the size of the event, I would either alternate between A and B set, so that the group next to the group I've just performed for gets a different set, because they might've peeked over whilst I was performing for the first group. ANd likewise I dont want the first group trying to spot how I was doing something they saw me perform to them. Or if it was a smaller event, and I was hired for a long time, I would do just my A set, and then take a short break, and then go out and do my B set.

These days I just enjoy all different kinds of magic, whether its practical or not, a full deck set up that gets destroyed at the end? Bring it on! 😉 (The joy of not performing professionally at the moment)

All the best,
Dan
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EVILDAN

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Reply with quote  #21 
For those that perform a sponge ball routine - do you classify that as "A" or "B" material? 
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Socrates

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Reply with quote  #22 
From where does this classification system originate?
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EVILDAN

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Reply with quote  #23 
I'm guessing it's self-defined. 
Because you KNOW everyone is not going to agree on what defines "A" vs "B" or anything else. 
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #24 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan Smithee


Of course everyone performs "A" material. And you've said as much in your second sentence.

And I fully agree about agreeing to agree. If we do what we do to the best of our ability, it's "A" grade.

As I noted earlier:

I don't have any B-material. I do what I do as best I can. It may well be hopeless, but it is what it is. The best I've got.


Again, it is apparently an issue of semantics.  Words mean things, but the same words mean different things to different people.

The point I'm trying to make is that most performers have a range of strength among their tricks.  They generally finish with their "best", and it is frequently called a "closer".
To do otherwise would seem sort of weak.  Save the best for last is a common phrase, yes?

So again, my point is, a magician typically will begin with a quick, interest-grabbing effect and then go into some longer, more involved tricks to build rapport and finally finish with the boffo effect as a finale'.  The tricks in-between the opener and closer is where you can frequently make good use of the "B" material.  It doesn't mean they aren't good, but they wouldn't be considered as "closer" level.  

Otherwise, what I hear some seemingly saying is that they could interchange any and all of the effects they do and any of them could be the closer.  I just don't think that's true.

Honestly, I think some are looking at this whole issue in a different manner and agreement is hopeless. 
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GregB

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Reply with quote  #25 
EvilDan, for me spongeballs are definitely A for the reaction I get from the spectator, and how much fun I have performing it
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #26 
I have no idea why anyone would feel the need to remove posts in this thread.  Opinions vary, but all have been respectful.  Or did I miss something?
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Harry Lorayne

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Reply with quote  #27 
I've written many (too many) books on magic. If I didn't think that an item was A material it would not have been included in my book. But - what it really all boils down to is the performer/performance.  Over the decades I've seen people perform something of mine...some getting great response with it, others getting little response with the same trick.

    I've written about this many times --- over the decades many have ripped off my memory act - I mean imitated it demonstration for demonstration, just about word for word. I'd often see someone in my audience writing on a legal pad, writing my words.  Of course they could do the memory stuff - I teach that in my books on memory training.  But the point...they would put their audiences to sleep!!  Why?  Because they couldn't/didn't entertain.

     What could be more boring than someone on stage remembering things for 45 to 69 minutes??!!

      That's the point...I got standing ovations, they put people to sleep.  They could do the memory demos, but couldn't entertain.  Same principle applies to doing card magic - in my opinion.
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Reply with quote  #28 
"Study to be entertaining first, and make your trick incidental" - Theodore Annemann
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #29 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry Lorayne
I've written many (too many) books on magic. If I didn't think that an item was A material it would not have been included in my book. But - what it really all boils down to is the performer/performance.  Over the decades I've seen people perform something of mine...some getting great response with it, others getting little response with the same trick.

    I've written about this many times --- over the decades many have ripped off my memory act - I mean imitated it demonstration for demonstration, just about word for word. I'd often see someone in my audience writing on a legal pad, writing my words.  Of course they could do the memory stuff - I teach that in my books on memory training.  But the point...they would put their audiences to sleep!!  Why?  Because they couldn't/didn't entertain.

     What could be more boring than someone on stage remembering things for 45 to 69 minutes??!!

      That's the point...I got standing ovations, they put people to sleep.  They could do the memory demos, but couldn't entertain.  Same principle applies to doing card magic - in my opinion.


Many magicians, perhaps most notably Richard Kaufman, have said if they had to choose one magician to entertain a group of people for hours on end it would be Harry Lorayne.
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Socrates

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Reply with quote  #30 
Harry Lorayne could sell anything!
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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #31 
If I'm going to perform a short set of three items, I'll likely choose items that I think will have maximum magical impact i.e. "blow them into the weeds" - all A material on the magical impact scale.

However, if I'm doing a 30 minute close-up show, I would not attempt to have every item be at the "blow them into the weeds" level. I would want the show to have "texture." I'd want it to be a ride along which there were many peaks i.e. killer effects, but also items that give the specs a chance to catch their breath like the "Little Hand" trick that Arthur mentioned above. But in the end I want them to walk away thinking "I've never seen anything like that before. That guy has totally blown my mind." In that regard, the conclusion of the show might go like "I have one final thing to show you...." I'd want that item to be from my A+ super strong killer material. 

M
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Harry Lorayne

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Reply with quote  #32 
     Don't know if I could do "hours on end" at my age, Ray...oh, okay, maybe two or  three!!
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #33 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry Lorayne
     Don't know if I could do "hours on end" at my age, Ray...oh, okay, maybe two or  three!!


When Richard wrote that, you were quite a bit younger.  In my opinion, you could still entertain folks for quite a while even without cards, but that's me.

I enjoy just hearing you vividly recount your experiences.
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Socrates

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Reply with quote  #34 
"If you have already been into magic for a year or more, you already know too many tricks" - Eugene Burger
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #35 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Socrates
"If you have already been into magic for a year or more, you already know too many tricks" - Eugene Burger


Truth!  But that doesn't stop us, does it? [biggrin]
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Paco Nagata

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Reply with quote  #36 
Well, let's not forget that it's not the same to know a trick than to know how to perform it to get the most magical impact of it.
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #37 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paco Nagata
Well, let's not forget that it's not the same to know a trick than to know how to perform it to get the most magical impact of it.


Agreed, and I think that's the crux of it. Like the old saying, "jack of all trades, master of none."
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arthur stead

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Reply with quote  #38 

The following words were written by magician Robert Hill in 1988:

"Amateur magicians are notorious for buying a trick in the morning and using it in the evening.  Serious magicians do not consider those people worth listening to.  (The same is usually true of their audience)."

 


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