What The Beep?!


Hope peeps had a good Easter. Since Stranger Things has helped usher in a resurgence in all things ’80s over the past few years, here’s an ’80s-inspired presentation for a multiple selection routine. The inspiration I saw a post online (I can’t find it now, sadly) with someone reminiscing about being at school in the ’80s and having to do the dreaded Beep test (wiki...

Talking Creativity With Craig Petty


Craig Petty recently interviewed me for his Magic TV YouTube channel, and it’s just been released. I’ve known of Craig ever since he was kind enough to give my book Plot Twists a nice review on the Wizard Product Review – he even constructed his own version of the Changing Expressions trick with his passport photos – so it was great to finally ‘meet’ him for a...

Captcha Their Imagination


Following on from last week’s Zoom-inspired post, here’s another idea for a way to use the online world as magic hook. The inspiration Unless you’re still using a Commodore 64, you’ll have seen the ReCAPTCHA photo grids that sometimes pop up when you’re trying to access a website, so you can prove you’re not a robot. They’re usually a street scene with a...

Symboji: reframing a mentalism classic


My kids are currently obsessed with clicking the reaction emojis during video calls. So naturally, my thoughts turned to magic, and how to integrate them into a trick. Here’s a way to adapt a classic mentalism routine to Zoom shows: The Idea Adapt the method of Symbologic, the ESP symbol-matching trick by Hen Fetsch, to the reaction emojis on Zoom/Skype. If you know Symbologic, you’ll...

I’m Not A Cat, I’m a Magician


Here’s a quick idea to add to your Zoom magic show, inspired by two recent things: The hilarious video doing the rounds online of the lawyer on a Zoom call who couldn’t turn off a cat filter on his face. If you haven’t seen it, take 39 seconds to watch it now – the cat’s expressions, the understated judge, it’s all just perfect.My ‘Pull Back and...

The Kinks: A Powerful Technique For Less Predictable Tricks


“I’ve seen this one!” We’ve all heard this frustrating phrase when we pull out a deck of cards. And in part, it’s because many tricks are quite predictable. When they pick a card, you’ll usually find it. When one coin magically travels across, the rest will usually follow. Traditionally, magicians have responded to this challenge in two ways: 1. Ignore the...

Never Been Seen: a Tool For Curiosity And Creativity


About a decade ago, on my previous blog, I wrote a post called ‘Wikreativity’. The gist: using Wikipedia’s ‘random article’ option to give your brain a random topic to stimulate your creativity (based on Random Word Stimulation). The other day, researcher/performer/all-round-good-egg Naomi Paxton posted a link to a wondrous web-page that digs into the Science...

Fingerlings For Finger-Flingers


Gaffing ordinary objects to work in tricks is part and parcel of being a magician. But occasionally, a kind coincidence crops up and you find an object which happens to be ideally suited for magic, with no alteration needed. Here’s one example I discovered recently (or rather, my kids discovered the toy, and I thought ‘Maybe I could use it in a trick’ – like I do with...

OOTW: Out Of This Willpower


Following on from my recent post about using everyday conversations as hooks for tricks, here’s another: The Inspiration New Year’s Resolutions. It’s something that’s on many people’s minds around now. Many make them, few keep them. Which feels like a good, relatable emotional hook for a trick. The Trick Out Of This World is a great trick, yet as is often the case in...

Will The Cracker Jokes Match?


A quick Christmas idea this week that I may have shared before, but is worth mentioning again at this time of year. As the title suggests it’s simply this: Twist Larry Becker’s classic Will The Cards Match? trick to use Christmas cracker jokes (spelling ‘Will The Jokes Match’ instead). Just hold five cracker joke slips as a packet, carefully tear them in half to separate...

The Wrong Trousers, The Right Trick


Since the big shift to working from home, sales of casual clothing have apparently jumped, while sales of formal shoes have dropped. Which makes sense, since people can often only see your upper half on video calls. This got me thinking about the Anchorman image of Will Ferrell wearing a suit jacket but no pants (US ‘pants’, as in UK ‘trousers’; not UK ‘pants’...

Have Yourself A Very ‘Die Hard’ Christmas


You know when you’re chatting with friends and the subject of ESP naturally comes up? Nope, me neither. I’ve always been amused by the idea of trying to casually steer an everyday conversation round to the esoteric subject of a magic trick. I think one way we can make magic feel more current and relevant is to use more current, relevant conversations as starting points for tricks. So...

Coin To Impossibler Location


‘Object to impossible location’ routines are fab. So here’s a way to make the ‘impossible location’ even more impossible by shifting the reappearance location much further away. It’s the kind of trick you’d normally need an assistant for, but you can use this pleasingly ridiculous method instead. The Inspiration As is often the case, combining two...

Why Being A Rounded Magician Is Overrated


As regular readers know, I love getting inspiration from outside magic. So this week I want to share one of my favourite books. It has great ideas, great writing…just a terrible title. It’s called Rules For Aging by Roger Rosenblatt and it’s a “wry and witty guide to life”. It’s full of unconventional nuggets of wisdom, in the form of numbered rules. I’ll...

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...

The DCMCU: Creating A Blockbuster Superhero Crossover Trick


New superhero blockbusters aren’t coming out any time soon, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give your audience their superhero fix though magical means. The Inspiration At its simplest, creativity is sometimes described as combining two existing ideas to create a new one. So in this case, we’re combining a trick from the magic world with a hook from the movie world. The...

Adding Bite To Book Tests With ‘The Raw Shark Texts’


While book tests can be great (I do one myself), they’re often a bit dry. So let’s dive in to discover a way to make them more interesting. There’s an old saying in creative advertising (my other job, when I’m not magic-ing) that if you’re really stuck for an idea for an ad, just stick a dog in it. So, twisting that to magic, here’s my version – when it...

Three Little Words: How Netflix Can Help Pinpoint Your Performing Persona

Bowl of popcorn

Like many people, I’ve succumbed to a Netflix subscription during lockdown. But even when I’m taking a break from thinking about magic, I often end up thinking about magic! Recently, I’ve been working on finding a pithy way to describe my onstage persona. One evening, I went onto Netflix and… The Inspiration I noticed that almost every show is accompanied by a few...

Pull Back And Reveal

Street from above

There’s a classic comedy technique known as the ‘pull back and reveal’ (a.k.a. ‘pull back reveal’ or, in TV, the ‘reveal shot’). TV Tropes has a good summary of it here. Basically, as the name suggests, you start close in on a scene, then pull back and reveal more information, often with humorous results. And since every Zoom show is a TV show, of sorts...

Hold Up

Tree being held up

Displaying playing cards in wine glasses is so classy, it makes Ron Burgundy jealous. But what if you want to show more cards, or display more of the faces with fewer distracting reflections? I was wondering this recently, while playing with A New World by Dean Dill and Michael Weber. I wanted to perform it at chest height, as I generally prefer that for Zoom shows. It got me thinking about other...

The Impossibility Scale

Scale by Markus Spiske

What’s more impossible?  As soon as we start deciding on the order of phases in a trick, or tricks in a show, this question raises its meddlesome head (like a Scooby Doo baddie, but without the “It was you all along” unmasking).  If only there was a way to skip the guesswork and get some concrete answers. Well, thankfully there is. Please give it up...

Reservoir Jacks: The Movie

Blood with play button

The constantly creative Nikola Arkane took my Reservoir Jacks idea (described here) and ran with it.

This is the result – it made me smile from ear to unsevered ear:

Oh, and if you don’t already read her blog, you should:

The quantity and quality of magic she’s developing as part of her ‘Isolation Creation Station’ is really inspiring.

2 Simple Words For Crystal Clear Plots

Block lettering

“Confusion is not magic” said Ed Marlo (Kidding! Vernon, obvs). But when it comes to trick plots, how do you avoid ending up with a muddled multi-climax monstrosity? Here’s a elegantly simple way from Matt Stone and Trey Parker, of South Park fame (or intentional infamy). Watch the video (it’s under 3 minutes) then we’ll look at how to apply it to magic. Okay, so...