Every magician, amateur or pro, has to figure out what to do when someone says, “Oh show me a trick!” I’m at the point where if they are a stranger or I am busy I just politely decline, and my friends have seen enough of my magic to know when is and isn’t a good moment to ask, but for friends of friends or at times where I want to share something but didn’t bring anything serious I am always looking for quick little things that are fun, point towards some deeper or bigger magical world, and don’t lead to the inevitable “oh can I see it again”/”show me another one”/”wait now show my friend!” What I have found are a couple of “Non-Effects” that I use or add onto normal magic, depending on what mood I’m in, what I have around me, and who they are for. I figured I’d share one with you all in the hopes that you find it entertaining and maybe useful.
So the situation is a casual social gathering and assumes I have access to a deck of cards. They ask to see something, I say sure, casually set my phone down in a visible but isolated spot, and then gather as many people around as want to see a quick card trick. Before I start the trick my phone buzzes but I and everyone else ignore it. I then do any short single card effect I feel like. Can be an ambitious, card to pocket, etc, as long as they freely picked a card. As the effect is ending (after I give them a moment for their reactions) I say “Oh shoot let me so who texted me real quick and then maybe I’ll show you something else,” and pick up my phone, keeping it in view. The sender name is a string of mysterious arcane symbols and the text (which arrived before they selected their card) reads something like ‘Warning! Our Pre-Cognitive Detection Team received word that on [date] at [a minute or so before they picked the card] you would perform a card trick. DO NOT let them pick [whatever card they picked]. Lives are at stake; we trust you will do what is necessary.” I read the message, suddenly go white, hand the phone to one of them and then book it out of the room at a dead run (and out of the building if I can). Minutes later I’ll come back and try and pretend like nothing happened, getting nervous if anybody tries to ask about it. It’s a fun way to add an impossible prediction element to any card trick, and it hints at something bigger and weirder. I make the message more or less silly and over the top depending on who I am going to be hanging out with, and it always succeeds in re-framing even the simple card trick into something bigger. It never fails to get a laugh and sometimes spurs an interesting conversation about the Magic Police and their different divisions. Method-wise there are easy ways with a confederate and slightly more technical ways to do it solo. If you are interested in mine or find your own neat methods and want to share feel free to email us or reach out on twitter.
Anyway, hopefully this sparks some ideas for silly ways to spice up your magic and play with expanding the magical world you live in!