Patter for magicians: 1945

A few excerpts from Harry Stanley's 1945 book The Gag Bag, which features suggested patter for would-be magicians:

Of course, I never dare let my people know I was a magician. It would shock them. They think I'm still in prison.

I used to be a wallflower, until I took up magic. Now everybody asks me out. The other night at a show, I had only done one trick, and I was asked out.

There are only two kinds of conjurer you can't trust – the ones with moustaches and the clean-shaven ones.

He is a magician. His brother doesn't work either.

[Spoonerist patter] – 'my next disaster piece' (masterpiece) 'my next misery' (mystery) 'I will now utter the tragic words' (magic words.)

Public house catches fire... 50 magicians homeless.

Will someone call out any number between 16 and 60? Thank you I only wanted to find out if anyone was still awake.

Magician's 'Patter' (Thanks, Nigel!)


  1. “Please hold out your hand, son. No, the clean one.” [Pause for laffs] “Oh, that was the clean one!” [Big laffs]

    Sadly, many magicians still use those kinds of crappy lines to this day.

    I note many of the one-liners above have now been lifted wholesale and applied to rock guitarists, jazz musicians, poets, mimes or other members of maligned entertainment categories.

    1. I’ve actually gotten a fair bit of laughs with the “no, the clean one” line… and the momentary confusion it always causes in the target is great for throwing off someone who is carefully watching for misdirections.

      Of course, I wouldn’t want to use it as anything more than a throwaway sidetrack to the actual patter, with a small close-up group… or as part of an imitation ’40s-style heckling-magician-comedy routine.

          1. Maybe many years ago. His appearance at the Essential Magic Conference in 2011 did suggest that he’s become a cantankerous old fart.

  2. Ok, now I’m dreaming of a Magician’s Woodstock where they all get up on stage and do different tricks with the exact same patter.

    I think I’d pay money to see that.

  3. Heya,

    In case anyone is interested, the full book is available for free download from the National Library of Australia at the following links*

    book information

    direct pdf download (~6mb)

    I had many a chuckle from the full text.

    * Please note that I downloaded fine from within Australia, unaware if there is a geo-lock on the site or anything like that… 

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