By R.A. Dyer
Direct from Los Angeles, premier close-up magician Jon Armstrong amazed and elucidated during his five-star lecture in January.
The Magic Castle veteran spoke at length to SAM 206 members about card magic and close-up in general. He discussed broad challenges faced by close-up performers and provided great routine ideas.
The magician’s star power drew a big crowd for the Austin lecture. Armstrong has frequently appeared on TV, and his credits include Fox’s Masters of Illusion and CW’s Penn & Teller Fool Us. Armstrong also has been featured in Harpers Magazine and the New York Times.
Here’s three common stumbling blocks for card magicians, according to Armstrong:
- falling into the “pick a card” trap, wherein the trick lacks any surprise element;
- presenting boring “procedural” card tricks, wherein the magician engages in laborious pile making and counting; and
- failing to create an emotional hook.
Armstrong explained several routines, including an amusing rubber band bit wherein he pulled it visibly through his neck. He also provided step-by-step instruction on several card routines.
However, his most popular routine was the tiny plunger effect, in which he uses a very small replica of a toilet plunger to pick up specific numbers of cards and to identify selected cards. The routine, much of which is fairly easy to perform, lasted approximately 10 minutes.
“That was great — I loved it,” said one attendee afterwards.
As a parting message, Armstrong urged SAM 206 members to perform with conviction and to show reverence for how their effects appear to the audience.
“Show conviction, intent and reverence and you can improve what you’re doing,” he said. “And when it comes to card magic try to add surprise.”