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Maximum Entertainment

by Ken Weber

Book Summary & Notes

· For Magicians,Book Summary

I have often found a lot of value in well-written book summaries, such as the ones from Litter Books. They are concise, easy references that help with active recall. Unfortunately, few summaries are ever written for magic-related publications.

1. These notes / summaries do not replace the book. If you look through the note and enjoy the ideas, please go read the whole book. It gives more context and meaning.

2. As these would be available in a public domain, the focus would mostly be on Magic Theory instead of Magic Methods / Secrets.

The main intent of these would be for performers and entertainers to gain short and inspiring insights to these wonderful publications.



Maximum Entertainment by Ken Weber

Director's Notes for Magicians and Mentalists


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1 Minute Summary:

  1. Raise your level - Move up in your ranking amongst your peers.
  2. Every moment counts - Control every Moment.
  3. People only care about their own entertainment experience.
  4. Video yourself to review performances.
  5. Use personality and presentation to move up the Hierarchy of Mystery Entertainment
    ( Puzzle < Trick < Extrodinary Moment)
  6. Target words with precision towards valued reactions
    ( Astonishment - Rap Attention - Laughter)
  7. Build your act with 6 pillars of entertainment success
    - Master your craft
    - Communicate your humanity
    - Capture the excitement (Emphasize why something is special)
    - Control Every Moment
    - Eliminate Weak Spots
    - Build to a Climax

Bullet Point Notes & Summary

1. Defining Entertainment: Anything that purposefully transport your mind to another world; “Being Entertained” can be defined as “Paying Attention”

2. No matter how clever and experienced you are, your jaded eyes do not see what the audience sees.

3. Dangers of Success - The more success you achieve, the more shows you do, the more isolated from critical thinking you become. While you may be as good as they say you are, your attitude should always remain, “I’m not as good as I can be”.

4. Hierarchy of Mystery Entertainment

  • Puzzle - The spectator can’t figure it out but assumes that if he knew the secrets, he can do it too.
  • Trick - A demonstration of perceived skill.
  • Extraordinary Moment - Leaves no room for explanation. Viewer grasps for air rather than for a method.

5. The best performed magic and mentalism will be

  • direct
  • immediately understandable
  • compelling enough to be recalled days later

6. All magic, at it’s core, is a Puzzle. Presentation is the only lever that elevates a Puzzle to a Trick or a Trick to an Extraordinary Moment.

7. The reactions we most value are: Rapt Attention, Laughter & Astonishment

8. Six Pillars of Entertainment Success

- Master your Craft - 80 - 90% of all problems magicians encounter relate directly to their lack of intense and proper preparation.

- Communicate your Humanity - Work to establish rapport with your audience immediately. A likable performer will always have an audience on your side wanting to see you succeed.

  • Give them a smile
  • Tell them a story
  • Acknowledge your surroundings
  • React and Respond
  • Maintain Eye Contact
  • Capture the excitement

Look at Kreskin, Copperfield and Blaine. Everything they do is special. Anything you treat as trivial will receive a trivial response. Your reaction to the moment steers the audience reactions. Spectators have no way of knowing if any particular moment is special unless you tell them.

- Control Every Moment

Every moment counts. Don’t permit the mind of audiences to wonder. Change up your pace. Avoid hesitations. Never apologize for your difficult circumstances , the audience doesn’t care. Radiate control from the moment you walk on stage. Be aware of nervous movements.

- Eliminate Weak Spots

Be prepared to edit your act ruthlessly. Chop out unnecessary words, demolish routines if they fail to get the desired responses. A blur of great magic is still a blur. Don’t rush.

- Build to a Climax

Simply announcing that it’s your last trick may serve the purpose perfectly to make certain to the audience that you are doing something special.

Vary the texture - Chefs find the right mix of textures, colors and taste. Force yourself to make each piece fit the whole and understand that your audience fully expects your final piece to be your best.

- Heighten the impossibility

If your show ends on an up beat, you win. Mistakes are forgotten. That’s why you need to invest extra time, effort and creativity to produce the strongest climax.

9. Scripting and Rehearsing

  • Writing a script forces you to think through details slowly. These details can make the difference between good and great.
  • Script as you would speak on stage
  • Consider what to say in each transition between tricks. Make transitions as entertaining as tricks themselves.
  • Your script is your safe house. Once you’re on stage, your script pulls you back to safety and coherence.

10. Choosing Material and Developing the Act

  • Never perform a trick if your primary motivation is the coolness of the method.
  • Keep only killer routines and the funniest bit of the business.
  • Recognizable objects will always connect more effectively with an audience.
  • You goose emotions by using: Music, Stories, Slight or Sound from personal nature.
  • Audience Participation: Few tactics pleases audiences than getting them involved.

11. On Appearance - Be the best-dressed in the room, but don’t overdress.

12. An entertainer's voice needs color. Vary your

  • Pitch
  • Tone
  • Volume
  • Pacing

Listen to professionals for inspiration

13. On Humor

  • In humor, almost always, less is more.
  • Never become hostile or use humor against an audience.

14. Close Up Magic

  • You must be aware of performance fatigue and fight that tendency when performing short sets.
  • The best close up performers blend into the ambience and rhythms of the room. Listen to what they say to you and react to it.
  • Never intimidate. Avoid words, facial expressions and gestures that in any way suggest displeasure. These lead to tension that subverts entertainment. Always remain polite and friendly.

15. Dealing with Spectators

  • Treat volunteers as guests, never as props to be manhandled.
  • Audiences judge you by the way you treat their peers.

16. On giving Instructions

  • People’s minds wander, and get nervous or distracted on stage. Give clear instructions and look right at them. Be clear, precise, direct and to the point. Repeat in a slightly different way if it’s important.
  • Look for or ask for nods of comprehension.
  • As a reasonable first step, avoid routines that involve complex verbal instructions.

18. Avoid dead time. There’s nothing weaker than dead time.

17. Disasters, major and minor befall on all performers eventually. Cut your losses the sooner the better. Within moments of realizing that something has gone wrong, preface the transition and advance immediately to your next routine. If it’s your final routine, return to your script and close the show.

19. Smile as often as practical throughout your time in front of an audience.

20. Always acknowledge that the fault lies not in our stars but in ourselves.


It should take under 5 minutes to go through the points above, and helps to re-read these notes occassionally.

I may have put Ken in a difficult position by posting this up, but he has very graciously gave me permission to have it online. Please take the time to thank him if you got any value out of these notes.

Again, when you look these notes and like the ideas, please go read / purchase the whole book and support the author.

You can purchase Maximum Entertainment by Ken Weber @