Last week we did a short performance of our card artistry for a nice group of people. They were so nice that we decided to add a new trick to our routine that has been developed over the years that have passed from when we were just 13-years-old.
It is the same routine. Nothing has changed. We used the same routine when we successfully auditioned for The Magic Castle to become a Magician Member (one of the highlights of our magic life). We will add a new joke every once in a while and then it gets folded into the the ever stable dough of our routine. The dough does not rise or fall. It is the same dough we have been kneading since we had a corduroy three-piece suit and a fez.
The costume was our regular wear back in those days. We were a huge Tommy Cooper fan — hence the fez — and we were very poor — hence the corduroy suit. It was a bright brown with lapels wide enough to hide a deck of cards on one side and a thumb tip on the other. The pockets were cut to allow access from the inside and outside. The breast pocket was without a bottom so we could have things travel from it to our lower outside pocket. It was an ugly suit on the outside but an incredibly functional suit on the inside.
The fez was perfect for the Sucker Sliding Die Box, that’s all. Plus, none of our party audiences back then had ever heard of Tommy Cooper and there was no YouTube to which we could use as evidence that a magician could wear a fez.
But we got a new suit when we became a lawyer and we abandoned the fez (it no longer fit our now ego-inflated skull). Our act was now stripped to the same five card tricks, neatly folded into a souffle of card magic.
Back to our point. We sometimes wander far from the topic. We don’t know why. The path we take doesn’t usually end up at a bountiful country scene; replete with joyful animals and calm lakes. We usually end up lost in a dark corner of a big city of conversation or discussion to which we have never been. Those listening or reading feel helpless and not comforted. Perhaps they worry that our train of thought has no tracks but is actually like a cartoon train that has jumped its track and is now running down cartoon animals and about to become submerged in the placid but deep lake.
Anyway, as we were saying.
We do the same five card effects each time. We don’t change their order because each effect sets up the next part. We don’t change our methods because they’ve worked well over the years, decades.
But last week we changed our routine and that led to our self-assessed downfall and failure.
The audience claimed to be delighted and that was nice, but we knew the truth. The transition was unacceptable. It seemed unpracticed compared to the first four effects and because we wanted it to fit the over all routine, it seemed forced.
Our routine is essentially second dealing and false shuffles and lucky forces. To this routine we tried to include Lennart Green’s Stolen Cards. We love the effect and love the simplicity. By itself, it is a wonderful 12 minute routine. We tried to make it a four minute routine and that is not possible. In the midst of performing the four minute version of the routine, we knew it wouldn’t fit. We had practiced it by itself many times and performed the 12 minute routine many times. But now we were making it a component of a 15 minute routine. It required a different deck and when it was done, it required a further deck change.
We wondered the whole weekend following the show, why we would try to change our act on the fly. Was it pride? Was it an homage to the great Lennart Green? Was it a chance to make our life-long routine to something new?
All of those reasons do not justify what we tried to do.
Pride goeth before the fall. Lennart Green doesn’t need our homage. Changing our routine could not be for the benefit of the assembled audience — they had never seen our routine.
Our father, a great magician and fine teacher of great magic, had some great advice for us as we were starting in this wonderful art: 1) when you are not being chased, don’t run; 2) when there is nothing to do, do nothing; 3) stick with what works.
We broke all three rules.
The audience didn’t notice — we think — but we did. We learned an important lesson.