Do It Your Ways: Finding Multiple ways To Do Magical Actions


Picking. Signing. Shuffling.

There are many standard actions in magic. In fact, they’re so standard that we do them without thinking. But the standard way of doing them is only one way. So how many different ways are there?

It’s easy to feel like there’s a limited number. But this post was inspired by a strangely captivating video that cropped up on my feed, by Jan Hakon Erichsen. Essentially, it’s him popping balloons in different ways. Sounds unpromising, I know. After all, how many ways can you pop a balloon? But just watch it:

And he doesn’t stop there. He’s turned these surreal acts into a whole sub-genre.

Here’s another example – this time, destroying dry spaghetti:

Applying It To Magic

Now I’m not suggesting that you duplicate his style. But I can see two ways that you can use this as a springboard to more distinctive routines:

  1. Making standard actions less standard
    Take one of the standard actions you commonly do in magic, like saying “pick a card”, signing a card, shuffling the deck, or making a magical gesture. Now spend just 20 minutes – about one Friends episode – brainstorming different ways you could do that action. Don’t censor yourself, just have fun, generate lots of ideas, then filter them afterwards. If you come up with one or two that you like, congratulations – you’ve just made many of your tricks more you.
  2. Doing one action in many ways
    Think about any routines with repetitive phases – coins across, coins through table, ambitious card, multiple selections – and explore how many different ways you can perform the main action. If you find an interesting one, use it to replace the standard movements. If you find a few, you can include them all by doing a different one for each phase. Either way, it’ll make your routines feel less repetitive, which is always good.

Oh, and if you’re in any doubt of how effective this can be, just think of Juan Tamariz and his “Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle” catchphrase. So have a play – your own signature action awaits!

Next Friday:

A new way to think about your gig bag.