The Magic "Magic Bucket List" List

In regards to this post, I had an email that asked if I had a use for the DFB app that didn't use the phrase "fist fuck" quite so often. I'm not sure why you would need such a thing. Perhaps if you were performing for a religious leader who was, like, super orthodox or something? Well, whatever, my absolute favorite use for the app is in the spring issue of X-Comm (available to supporters at all levels here). There it's used as a component of an effect that is as strong as anything you can do close-up.

But that presentation is a little involved, so it's not something I get a chance to do as much as i want. 

Here's something I do all the time. All it requires is your phone. No other gimmicks or props. Not even a pen and paper.

Let's say I'm getting coffee with someone named Katherine. Maybe we're old friends, maybe we just met. Regardless, the subject of magic as one of my interests comes up and she asks what sort of things I'm working on now. And I say...

"Actually, I've created something of a magic bucket list recently. I have about 100 tricks that I want to do before I die. I'm just working through the list randomly. Yesterday I figured out a way to change one dollar bills into 100s. I'm going to start on another trick soon. Hey, name a number between 1 and 100. That will be the next one I work on."

She says 65. I give her my phone and ask her to open the Notes app and look at my Magic Bucket List note. She opens that up and scrolls past things like, Vanish an Elephant, and Walk on Water, down to 65 where it says, Accurately predict the freely chosen number from 1-100 that Katherine names.

"Well, that wasn't that hard at all, actually," I say.

There it is. It's quick, it's easy, the self-referential nature of the whole thing is kind of funny. 

It's always ready to go in my phone. (The generic prediction there says: "Accurately predict the freely chosen number from 1-100 that someone names." So I can perform it completely impromptu. But if I know I'll perform it for a specific person, I'll change "someone" to their actual name.)

As a trick, I like this a lot. But what I truly love about it is the way it seamlessly sets you up for other performances.

Let's rewind...

"Actually, I've created something of a magic bucket list recently. I have about 100 tricks that I want to do before I die. I'm just working through the list randomly. Yesterday I figured out a way to change one dollar bills into 100s. I'm going to start on another trick soon. Hey, name a number between 1 and 100. That will be the next one I work on."

Here, of course, instead of talking about changing 1s to 100s, you can mention any other trick you may have on you. "I just learned how to make rubber bands penetrate each other." "I just learned how to penetrate a cigarette through a quarter." 

So now you've just done this really quick prediction effect. If the other person is really into it, then you have a perfect, natural transition to another trick. "Oh, let me show you that other thing I was working on... [blah, blah, blah]." And if they're not that into what you just showed them, you can drop the subject.

My "Magic Bucket List" doesn't actually have things on it like "vanish an elephant" or "walk on water." It's a list of 99 other tricks I can actually do. Not tricks I could do that very moment, but trick I conceivably could do with some prep time. 

So now think how this plays out... I meet with someone, we're talking, the subject of magic comes up. I show them the quick prediction trick with DFB. If they really like it, I show them the other trick I have ready to go that I hinted at when introducing The List. Let's say that one goes over really well too. Now I say, "I'm glad you like this stuff. Here... look through the list and pick the next one for me to work on for the next time we see each other." Maybe she picks levitate an object. I act a little concerned, "Eh... okay... that's going to be a hard one. But I'll try. It's not going to be like a car or a dog or something. It will be like a dollar or a raisin."

You see what I'm doing here, yes? I get to build up some low-level anticipation for this trick days or maybe weeks in advance. It's no longer just an arbitrary effect that last a few seconds and then I move on. It's a trick they asked for. Perhaps I give them updates along the way. I may send them a text: "Tried levitating a raisin. Not working. May try with a finger ring. More surface area." (As if that makes some sense.) Maybe I even have a meet-up where it doesn't quite work. Maybe the ring wobbles on the table, but it doesn't float. The next time we meet, it does work. So they get to see the trick done successfully, but they're also a party to the evolution of it. This type of thing is what I've written about before as the Smear Technique; giving your effects a greater context and blurring the lines of when your presentation begins or ends. 

The idea is you have this cohesive experience for someone that builds organically (and only progresses based on their enthusiasm for this sort of thing) rather than just disconnected moments. The app makes this very natural and easy to get into, but it's not absolutely necessary. You could do something similar with a written list or a little blank book you're filling out. You could explain that you've set yourself a challenge of mastering the "100 Classic Effects in Magic" or maybe you need to perfect them before getting entry into some secret society (see The White Wand Society post for a similar idea). Either way, having a magic  "bucket list" or "to-do list" or "challenge list," or however you want to frame it, is a nice over-arching narrative for the amateur magician and a way to contextualize everything you do so it's all connected