What do you say at the end of a magic trick?
I am tempted to say “I am amazed at how many magicians do not seem to have thought through to the final words they will use in a routine,” but I actually am not amazed. It took me years to become personally aware of this same issue.
When I was younger, and less experienced in magic, my focus was on doing a trick properly and making sure the audience was fooled. I believed the important thing was being sure no one could figure out how I did what I did.
In time I came to realize that even if I did fool the audience, it was still possible for a magical effect to not be entertaining nor fun to see. I discovered, unless presented well, a magic trick might even be boring. In response to this revelation, I added a new focus to my performance which was that of a concentrated effort to combine great tricks with great presentation. I finally understood that it wasn’t enough for my tricks to work. It was necessary for them to be interesting and enjoyable for audiences to see.
As I went to work on improving my presentation skills, I started at the beginning. I worked on clever ways to start a trick and on interesting things to say and do as a trick progressed. It took me quite a while to think about the end of a trick.
I remember attending the show of another magician who seemed to be at the same general level of skill and showmanship as I was. During the course of his show he did a trick with a ball. When the trick was finished, it seemed to occur to him that he did not know what to say. It was evident that, even though he did not know what to say, he felt the need to say something. He exclaimed, “Let’s give the ball a round of applause.” The audience politely did so. However, the remark did cause some to look around with eyebrows raised. People were confused by the silly request. Why clap and cheer for a ball?
I realized it was ridiculous to ask for applause to be given to a ball. As well, I thought, I have nearly done the same thing in my own shows, for I have often reached the conclusion of a trick without a prepared ending statement. The truth was, in my own shows, I typically ended tricks with lame or silly comments.
As I furthered analyzed the show of this magician, I gained more insight. Throughout his show, he had ended every routine by directly asking for applause. Since most of his tricks involved volunteers from the audience, it was easy for him to say, “Let’s give this boy (or girl) a hand for being such a great helper.” When he did not have a helper, he awkwardly tried to avoid the egotistical request of applause for himself by saying, “Let’s hear it for the silk!” Or “A big round of applause for the rope that is now back together again.”
At the end of a trick or routine, he did not seem to have anything else to say apart from a variation on “let’s give applause.”
I walked away from his show with new understanding. I was doing the same thing as that magician. I did not know what to say when my own tricks ended. I determined this would change.
I was surprised by how difficult it was to come up with entertaining things to say at the end of routines. It is easy to say the same basic thing every time a trick ends. It is not easy to have an appropriate and professional ending remark for each and every trick.
In time, I accomplished my goal. At the present, I have a nice collection of statements to use as a “punch” at the climax, or immediately following the climax, of a trick.
Here are examples of statements I use. You are welcome to use these same statements or modify them to fit your personality and style.
- At the end of the linking ropes routine I simply say, “And that is the illusion of the linking ropes.”
- At the end of the palmo routine I say, “I realized audiences might be just as baffled, bothered, and bewildered as I was the first time I ever saw this trick. I hope you don’t mind I shared it with you!” (I pose at this point and the audience realizes it is a good time to applaud.)
- At the end of a prediction such as B’wave, where an audience volunteer has assisted, I say, “Let’s hear it for the amazing mind-reading Janet!” (Or whatever her name is. It is a direct request for applause, but I add an complimentary adjective about the person who assisted.
- At the end of a production from something such as a Square Circle, I say, “Obviously what just happened could not possibly actually have happened, but if it did happen it would look like what we just saw and we likely would go crazy with applause!” (A complicated statement, but it sounds funny to say and it works to signal applause.)
- When a child assists I directly ask for applause for the child. Such as “Let’s give Billy a big round of applause.” However, I do not alway say it the same way. I might say, “By way of applause, let’s let Billy know what a great job he did.” Or, “Billy, when you return to your seat you will not believe how loud the audience claps to show their excitement over the great job you did here on stage!” Or, “Billy, do you know what I heard? I heard that when this trick ends the applause for the young man who helped is so loud it is hard to believe!” Then I smile at the audience to let them know they can express appreciation for Billy.
- At the end of a my Linking Rings routine (using an adult volunteer) I say, “Of all the people who have ever helped me with this trick, you are the most recent! Listen to how much this audience appreciates the job you did!” (I nod to the audience indicating they should applaud for the volunteer.)
- At the end of a sucker type trick where I supposedly show the audience how something is done (such as silk to egg) when I really do not show them how it is done, I say, “And that is the secret to egg trick. It might make sense to you, it might not. Either way, that is all I am going to say about that!”
- At the end of our stage sized version of the ABC blocks I hold up the block that magically transported from one place to another and say, “And that is unbelievable!” (It is unbelievable…people applaud loudly.)
- At the end of the Hippity Hop Rabbits I say, “That is the story of the two famous rabbits who live right here at Treasure Lake resort!”
- At the end of the Pompom stick routine I say, “Folks, I don’t understand this thing either, but it works and it is fun…and that is what matters!”
- At the end of my sponge ball routine I say, “Who knows, maybe the hand really is quicker than the eye!”
I hope the examples are helpful. The point is simple: Do not say the same thing at the end of every trick and try to have something special to say to signal the conclusion of each trick/routine you do.