Tips for Patter

Blog Post_ Tips for Patter

  1. Remember that short is better than long (and often harder to do).  The best patter is brief and to the point.  Long and boring tend to go together.  A  show is better with ten tricks that are presented in an uncluttered and upbeat style than it is with 5 tricks that are extended to fill time.  It is easy to be wordy.  It is more difficult to take time to find just the right word and the best way to say something.  Preparing a script is work.  It is also necessary to being an effective performer.
  1. Put things in the third person.  Rather than saying, “This is what I do…” talk about “What he did…,” or “what I saw someone do…”  If you talk about what you are doing, as you do do a rope trick, it may seen silly.  Yet, if you do the same trick, and talk about what you saw another person do, it becomes interesting. Example: “Did you hear about the man who did a trick with three ropes?” That has much more entertainment potential than saying, “I have here three ropes.”
  1. It is often good to start with a question.  To get into an effect such as The Professor’s Nightmare, consider asking, “Which of these three ropes is the longest?”  Follow that up with, “It may seem obvious that one rope is longer than the others, but such may not be the case.”  From there you are instantly into the routine. Other examples: “When is a knot not a knot?”  (For use with a trick such as Knots Off Silk or a vanishing knot trick.)  “Would you like to know how a trick is done?” (To begin Sucker Silk To Egg.) “Is the hand quicker than the eye?” (To being a sleight of hand demonstration.)
  1. Create a story by referencing childhood.  Saying, “When I was a little boy…” (or little girl) is an easy way to get into a trick.  For example: To start a routine with the Liquid Suspension trick you might say, “When I was a child, I remember seeing a magician do the strangest thing.  He showed the audience a tube…”
  1. Talk about things magicians do.  When doing the Cut and Restored Rope effect I typically comment, “Here is something a magician is supposed to know how to do..” From there I do the trick. Essentially this is another way of making things “third person.” The concept is, instead of saying, “I am a magician,” you say, “Here is something you might see a magician do.”
  1. Remember the “rule of three” when using jokes. Professional comedians often comment that the third joke is where you get the biggest laugh.  They also say that going beyond three jokes on the same subject is almost always a mistake. Example: If you want to use some jokes about “You know you are getting old when” while doing a routine, pick out your three best ones. That is likely to be much more effective than trying to use five or six of that type of joke.
  1. Introduce something as “impossible.”  An example would be the ABC block trick.  You might start it by saying, “It is time to see something that is not possible.  It involves…”   Then you go on to emphasize that there is no way the B block might travel from the tall box to a hat.  Finally, after showing it has happened, you would say, “Ladies and gentlemen, it is not possible. However, if it ever did happen, it would look exactly like what we just saw. There are many tricks that you can begin this way. Simply comment that a certain thing is not possible, then demonstrate it.  Conclude with another reminder that it “is not possible,” then say something along the line of, “However, we got to see it right here, right now!”
  1. Introduce something as a legend. This allows you to make up a simple story while doing what needs to be done. For example: For a production from a Square Circle, you might say, “There is a legend about a man who had a fancy box and a circle of metal. He called it a tube.  According to the legend, even though it was just a box, and just a tube, strange and wonderful things would happen…”  From there you continue the trick and reveal strange and wonderful things.
  1. Start with a joke.  Use a short joke that relates to what is about to happen.  For example:  Ask, “Did you hear about the man who drank eight bottles of Coca-Cola? He burped seven up! (7-Up).”  Then say, “That wasn’t much of a joke, but it does bring up a question about making 32 ounces of Coca-Cola disappear.”  For a Die Box routine you might ask a “Why did the chicken cross the road?” joke and then follow it with a statement such as, “The real question is can I make this great big die fly mysteriously across this stage!”
  1. Develop a variety of applause cues. It is easy to slip into saying the same thing at the end of every trick. “Thank you” or “and the audience went wild!”  It is good to come up with different ways of signaling the end of a routine.  If telling a story you might say, “And according to the story I heard, when it happened, the audience clapped and cheered.”   Another time you might say, “And then I was amazed, and so were all the other people in the room!”  Yet another time you might say, “That is what it looks like when the trick really works.”   There are many possibilities.  The key is to plan ahead to make a good statement, rather than hoping to think up something clever and different at the spur of the moment.
  1. Give yourself a time limit. Decide how long your patter should be and force yourself to make it that length or shorter.  Example: A rope trick needs patter that is three minutes or less.  When you practice, it is four minutes. Do not settle for that. Start over, find ways to use less words, until you hit the three minute limit. You will become a better performer by doing this.
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