Archive for the 'Panic' Category

Card Magic in Hong Kong – Mementos from the Asian Magic Association Convention

Several months ago Lee Asher introduced me to Albert Tam. Albert has made a great life in magic. He’s a performer, producer, magic store owner and booking agent. Among his many projects this year, he managed to find time to put on the Asian Magic Association’s yearly convention.

Thankfully, this year Albert and his friends decided to book me to lecture and perform close-up magic at the convention.  I met at least a hundred magicians, saw hours of new magic and had the kind of adventures you only experience when you perform magic on the other side of the globe.

Today I finally had a chance to look at the photos……I hope you enjoy them!


The view from the top…




The AMA Gala – a reserved evening of magic


(Fantasma Magic CEO Roger Dryer, the multi-talented Harry Wong, myself and tormented card star Simon Lovell).

These guys made the convention. Roger Dryer gave me enough Chinese slang to vamp my way through the show. The very solid Harry Wong asked me to shoot a short spot for his TV show and any visit with Simon is like a visit home. When I was 19, I camped out on Simon’s couch for a week while he improved my card magic. Simon is  one of the last real card men – his show earlier that day was a site to behold!


Danny Cole: now that’s a magician.


It’s always a pleasure to see Danny Cole – his original, inventive material and charming approach make him one of the only manipulation acts I really enjoy watching. As per our standard magic convention custom, we were both working all weekend – this was the only time we actually saw each other.


The Magic Convention debut of PANIC!


I got an email recently asking if I still get nervous us before I perform. YES! I woke the morning of the show and realized I had never performed Panic, my new  trick out from Theory 11, in a formal lecture situation.  In this photo, I’m attempting to entertain the audience while trying to teach Panic coherently in under five minutes.  A healthy language barrier always adds a new dimension to the learning process!

If you look front row center, you’ll see International FISM President Eric Eswin….is he smiling?


If you like performing Panic, learn this clean-up.

As I’ve recently posted, I’m hard at work every night this week in the Close-Up Room at the Magic Castle in Hollywood.  I’ve used Panic in many different situations and the thought of performing it in my formal close-up set has sparked a whole host of new ideas. I’m sorting through the solutions now to decide how best to proceed. I’ll keep you posted.


The Panic Put Down

If you’d like an easy, completely deceptive way to clean-up after performing Panic, this is it.

This idea really comes, as most good card ideas do,  from the source: The Expert at the Card Table, by S.W. Erdnase. The idea is simple. Rather then get rid of the gaffs immediately after the effect, you’ll simply wait for a better time.

I snapped a few quick photos to help you get the idea.


1. As you produce the deck from your right pocket allow the ‘panic cards’ in your left hand to square as in the photo.





2. Essentially, you’ll in-jog the packet as you place the deck upon it. There are a couple ways to do this, but I like to simply scoot the packet back in the hand by pushing inward with the left first finger. Do this as you move to place the deck on top of the left hand cards



3. This shows the position of the packet once the deck rests on top. If you’re concerned about the size of the in-jog, bevel the deck backwards as I’ve done in the photo – this will give you extra cover.



As always, if you hold the cards parallel to the floor, you could experience angle problems with spectators on your right. If you hold the deck slantingly to the right, no one will notice a thing.  For more on the importance of this position, check out my book.


Wait Just One Minute…

Now proceed with another effect! It’s that simple. Just make sure not to disturb the in-jog as you spread the pack for a selection.

Say, “Show your card to everyone. I won’t look.”

Now turn your back while your spectators take note of the selection.  While they do their thing, you’ll do yours. With your back turned simply take all the cards above the in-jog with your right hand from above. At the same time place your left hand, with the gaffs, in your left pants pocket.

I normally just stand there and wait. Soon, someone throws me a cue that everyone has seen the card. I now remove my hand from my pocket as I turn around and continue the trick as usual.

Work Smart – Not Hard.

Technically, the left hand packet lies in almost a cop position. Please don’t think of this as any kind of palm or sleight. With the structure you’ve been given, you don’t need any moves. Just let the people remember their card. Relax. And as relaxed people do, put your hand in your pocket.



Want to break in a new piece? Choose the right position!

As I wrote in my last post, New Material Nightmare: Time to break in Panic…again!, I have to choose by tomorrow where to position my new effect Panic in my upcoming close-up shows at the Magic Castle. In this case timing and structure are everything. I know the trick works well, as I’ve performed it many times in a wide variety of situations. But as far as making the trick fit effectively in my overall set, I have three choices. They each have their benefits, challenges and considerations.

The Opener

If you place a new trick in this vital position, you’d better have a good reason for it. The opener is your first ‘magical’ impression on the audience. It has to work properly, or you’ll find yourself playing catch-up just two minutes into the show. Even if you suspect your new effect will work beautifully as an opener, you’ll probably want to break it in elsewhere first.

The Closer

Traditional wisdom dictates that the only part of your show that has to be even stronger than your opener is your closer. For that reason, new tricks shouldn’t really be in the closing position. You can make exceptions to this rule, but not very often.

The Middle

As Doc Eason pointed out in a comment on my last post, the middle of the show will almost always be the best time to work a new trick. Once you’ve got the audience on your side, you can easily withstand the natural lull in the show that comes with a new piece. Most likely, the audience won’t even know.

And as Doc rightly pointed out, if you’re positive audience will know your next trick is new, and you’ve already got them on your side, it’s quite safe to let them in on it.

I’d much rather tell people to ‘get ready for something brand new’, then try and pretend my way through the show . One thing audiences don’t like is being lied to. If you have some good reason for being uncomfortable, you’re much better off copping to it then pretending it’s not happening. Make a joke. Move on. All will be well.

Your Turn

If you’ve seen the effect Panic on the Theory 11 site, you’ve got what you need to join the discussion.

Assume you’ve already broken in Panic: You know how to do it, and you’ve done it enough times to be reasonably comfortable with it in any position.

Would you open with it, put it in the middle or at the end of the show? More importantly, why? Leave me a comment and tell me what you think.

By this time tomorrow, I’ll have made my final decision. At least for next week…


Aaron Fisher

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Theory11, my new trick Panic and why you should care.

Panic Box

As many of you may already know, my new trick ‘PANIC!’ was unveiled last Friday night at I’m exceedingly proud of the trick, so before you read further, go and watch the video so you have a frame of reference. Then come back for a discussion about the trick, and my thoughts as to why Theory11 may represent an important shift in the quality of magic education.


Panic easily stands as my most significant release since The Paper Engine was published in 2002. The DVD is beautifully produced, both in terms of the packaging and the contents. More importantly, Panic may be the most commercial effect I’ve ever put out. In this case, commercial doesn’t mean merely ‘effective as a magic product’, though that’s certainly true as well. Rather, the piece demonstrates clearly how real world performing experience can lead to simpler, more efficient magic. It’s the most powerful effect I’ve ever shared with the community – I wanted the teaching on the DVD to be as effective as the trick itself.

For that reason, I’ve been forced to ask the same question as everyone else. What exactly is Theory And the truth is – I’m not entirely sure. We can all see the site involves a bunch of talented guys with real passion and serious ideas about magic. But for me personally, T11 represents a mysterious, exciting experiment.

How things will evolve I can’t truly say, because what’s being attempted here hasn’t been really tried before. Sure, several companies in the last few years have had great success selling magic tricks. Some of these companies have even sold quality material. But now, serious magicians are trying to discover whether this internet technology, so effective for business, can also be used to actually improve magic and the quality of its practitioners. For that reason, I find this whole process thrilling. Several of the players are my heroes – members of the real A team. And finally, they’re not just sitting around complaining about the state of things. They’ve stepped inside in the ring, reputations on the line, attempting to affect real change in the field we all care so deeply about.


One Piece at a Time – Details make the Magic

Panic Freak Out


As any experienced magic student will tell you, it takes an awful lot of work to find good material, to separate the wheat from the chaff. Companies sell tricks, ideas, methods and variations by the pound. If the student assumes he’s receiving a giant tomb of brand new, quality material, he will likely find himself disappointed. Many magic creators have great ideas, but find themselves under pressure, often self imposed, to release a greater percentage of their output than perhaps they ought to. I don’t exclude myself from this criticism. As many great comedians have noted, to write three good jokes, a good writer might reasonably pump out 97 others that never see the light of day. Perhaps we in magic should more often work toward this exacting standard.



Like other recent, successful companies in our industry, the gang at T11 has discovered that the current crop of young magicians responds well to ‘single item’ releases. Many magic students today would rather learn one astounding effect in a focused way – rather then spend valuable time sifting through some guy’s dairy from the month before. We all get exposed to so many ideas every day, perhaps we’re trying to make careful choices about what we invest our time in. The alternative might be to crumble under the weight of the knowledge work incumbent in the information age.


Some will complain that it’s a mistake to hold back the countless variations we love so much. These passionate students might argue that the sheer volume of ideas presented by one such as Ed Marlo (even excluding disputed ones) allows sleight of hand students to better appreciate the depth of the possibilities presented to us when we work with cards.

Panic Logo

Frankly, I sympathize with this romantic point of view. But then I think about the resonance we find in the work of Vernon. Much of his magic was described somewhat poorly by Lewis Ganson, yet his work remains iconic. It seems his decision to present only one or two solutions to a given problem actually worked. People got the message – do all the research, and then release the very best solution you can. At least partly for this reason, his small books on card magic stand out as some of the century’s finest volumes, regardless of their diminutive size.


Almost all of us can agree that magicians have access to plenty of material already. We further likely agree that the key to improving our work lies in developing fully the material we already have access to – not in the acquisition of more tricks.

Girls watching


In this regard, the ‘single item’ release model can conceivably help us all. To communicate magic lessons effectively requires patience, a slow hand and a long time. Too often, magic creators present their ideas quickly and use a ‘bare bones’ approach. That only makes sense – they’re presenting so many ideas that anyone would have trouble packing them all in. The student often comes away having witnessed twenty ideas, but finds himself later confused when he can’t make even the simplest version play as well as he hoped.


Ideally, when you release one piece at a time, you force yourself to choose your best item. Now you’ve got a piece worth teaching, your task comes into focus – to communicate every nuance of the effect, presentation and handling. Now, the student can gain enough confidence from your instruction to take the effect out of the basement and into the world. Of course, from this first step, the student gains only more questions. Hopefully, if you’ve done the job correctly, his dawning concerns have been anticipated. He can go back to the source, and find all the information he needs.

As of this writing, I am happy to report that Theory 11 supports these values. They not only wanted to release my trick, but they were more than supportive in allowing me to teach my magic the best way I know how. If they didn’t, I wouldn’t have chosen to work with them.


All over the world, passionate, thoughtful people care about improving the quality of magic performance. For anyone who shares these values, the emergence of T11 holds wonderful promise. Finally, we might be a getting closer to a viable model for teaching magic in the 21st century – modern technology, combined with detailed lessons, taught by people who actually know.


I’m sure many of you will have ideas related to these issues. First, make sure to go and watch the demo of Panic and check out Theory11. Even though the site just launched, you’ll find plenty of ideas to explore. Then drop a comment here, or on T11’s new forum or both. It’s useful to write down your ideas. Not only will it help you clarify your own thoughts and beliefs – it will help people like me deliver content you can use. If we can really understand each others ideas, then everyone creates better magic.


Aaron Fisher