30 Magic Trick Hooks You Can Steal for Yourself

Magicians can copy these lines

30 Magic Trick Hooks You Can Steal for Yourself

Look, I get it – my granddad taught me magic, too. But we can't always be talking about our granddads every time we perform magic.

I've worked on a lot of TV magic shows, and I always recommend that magicians focus on beats rather than dialogue.

The truth is that acting is actually really, really hard.

Derren Brown is probably one of the best actors in the world at making every night on stage feel totally unique and unscripted.

Famous magicians often work with professional acting coaches, and even still, a lot of them choose to rely on beats over scripting.

The next time you see David Blaine perform magic, notice that each time he performs the same trick, the scripting changes, but he always hits the important beats. He takes a moment at the same point in each performance to remind the spectators that they had a free choice or that he hasn't gone anywhere near the cards – but the wording of his script changes each time.

Equally, there are some great rare examples of magicians who script their tricks to an extreme, like Barry & Stuart. When you watched them perform, you knew and actually appreciated how delicately they'd considered every word.

Scripting makes a lot of sense for double acts, both in terms of practicality and also in the minds of the audience – of course, there's a script; there are two of them!

Most magicians reading this will always perform more comfortably if you focus on the beats instead of the scripting. And, honestly, even if you want to write a script, you should start with the bullet-pointed beats.

Write each beat out for the whole routine, and then below it, in italics, write the reason for each beat – if you can't think of a good reason for that beat, then you need to delete it. And don't just include the beats the audience sees, add actions like a pause, or a timestamp like a specific gesture to lock in the time at which the magic happens for your friends.

I've written a lot about time stamping magic before and still think it's an underused magic technique. A simple coin vanish is 10x better if you use time stamping to make the spectator believe the coin is vanishing at a specific moment.

Starting with beats also helps you "show – don't tell" in your routine. We've all seen a magician haplessly describe every step of their routine out loud: "This is a perfectly ordinary deck of cards, and we're going to take your card and place it in the middle of the deck, and then it will jump to the top of the deck, and we'll do that again now."

Magicians who describe their every action out loud always come across as if they don't even know or care that an audience with eyes and brains is there.

Beats to one side – how you start is really important.

You want a strong launch pad and a comfortable way into your routine—a line of dialogue that triggers your muscle memory but also pulls in your audience. A slow start is just hard to watch.

When you watch great magicians, their scripting might change throughout the performance, but eventually, they almost always start a trick with the same line of dialogue. We call this first sentence a hook, and I'm about to give you 30 of them to steal for yourselves as and when you wish to use them.

Try one of them, and I guarantee after the fifth performance, you'll find the routine ten times easier to get into. Because it's good to improvise and make the bulk of your magic feel alive and in the moment, but why not decide the best way to begin?

On a subjective note, I believe that if you're presenting what you do as a magic trick, then you need to tell the spectator you're a magician before you perform. I find it super weird when someone's like, "Do you want to see something?" and then pulls out a deck of cards. You've just conned them into watching magic.

A lot of people like magic – let them know it's what you do first, and then go into your trick with a good hook.

If you're presenting magic as a skill, genuine power, or mentalism effect, then you can worry less about informing your audience that you're a magician. In this case, using a hook like, "I can tell when you're lying to me, and I'll show you how..." before going into a lie detector routine is perfectly suitable.

Pete McCabe wrote a good article for One Ahead recently about bringing up your magic. Hooks are not a good way to bring up your magic, so bring it up first.

Every magician is different, and some people won't want or need a pre-determined hook for their magic trick. The examples below are quite broad, but perhaps they might inspire something for any specific tricks you have in mind:

  1. Oh yeah, there's one more thing before I forget to tell you...
  2. I might be going crazy, but have you ever noticed...
  3. I actually have no idea how this works...
  4. I stayed up till 4 AM last night learning how to do this...
  5. I learned this trick from an eight-year-old on TikTok...
  6. When I first saw this trick, I thought it was a camera trick...
  7. I paid $1,000 to learn this trick...
  8. The biggest mistake I ever made playing poker was...
  9. Look, if I show you this trick, you need to promise not to tell anyone...
  10. I can't be the only person on the planet who didn't know...
  11. I can only do this trick once a day because it takes a lot of focus...
  12. I haven't shown you this yet because I wasn't sure how you'll react...
  13. I stole this deck of cards from a casino...
  14. I've started to notice something quite strange...
  15. I've only been able to find six people online who can do this...
  16. Be honest, do you...
  17. Has anyone ever told you...
  18. There's something I've been meaning to show you...
  19. I think I've figured out how to tell if you're lying to me...
  20. This trick can get quite intense, so if you need me to stop, just say...
  21. I have a feeling this trick is only going to work with you...
  22. Can I show you something that I care about deeply?
  23. If you hate magic, then I think you're going to like this...
  24. Scammers use this trick to cheat people on the streets...
  25. This is by far the hardest trick I know how to do...
  26. I've been learning to read minds, and I think you'd be perfect for this...
  27. I think I know you well enough by now to predict exactly what you'll do...
  28. This trick is going to be a bit weird, but just stick with it...
  29. Hear me out; I think I might be the only person who can...
  30. I've been waiting for the right time to show you this trick...