TRICKS OF THE TRADE 2 – NAMES, FACES, AND MACK TRUCKS ON FIRE
Photo borrowed from: Google Images
TRICKS OF THE TRADE
A column from professional magician Jamie D. Grant.
Hey Gang! Welcome back! I hope everyone had an awesome holiday and partied like it was 2012! I also hope you managed, after last month’s column, to break some new ground and meet some new people.
So here’s the question:
What were their names?
Can you remember the names of everyone you were introduced to or met? No? Well, don’t feel bad, because you’re in the same boat as almost the entire population! For whatever reason, memory has never been a focus in our learning and I personally think that’s crazy! As a professional entertainer, there is no better magic trick than seeing someone at a gig or party a year after I was first introduced to them and be able to rock off their name which, I should mention, is always music to their ears. So how do I do it?
There are numerous memory techniques for learning objects, lists, numbers, etc. One of the most popular methods for memorization is called the loci system. In a nutshell, you create a mental path that you walk along and remember objects that you place at specific locations along the way. When you want to remember the list, you just take your mental walk and recall all the items at those specific spots.
Another popular memory technique is the link method. The link method has you link together a list in as a bizarre an imagery as you can muster. Try, for example, to remember these five things. Read the list once, go do something for ten minutes, come back and see if you can recall it…
A Pair of size 10 Air Jordans
Okay, off you go! See you in ten. Try and name those things in the list, aloud, before looking at this screen again.
Alright! How’d you do? You probably got a couple, but how easy was it? Well, we’re going to make it mucho easier, right now.
If we return to the list, we’re going to link everything together with some crazy images in our mind. The wilder the better! For me, I would start with picturing myself trying to play golf with a light bulb. I picture myself holding the light bulb (upside down) and making a swing for the ball. I’m missing it terribly because the light bulb is way too short to make it to the tee. So I’ve already got 2 objects memorized: light bulb and golf club. Now I imagine that at the end of my swing, the light bulb flies out of my hands and hits a pair of Air Jordans that are flying through the air. They’re almost like birds, just flying over the golf course. When my light bulb hits them, they fall to the ground and land in the hole (which is absolutely huge) on the 10th green. It’s so miraculous that the owner of the club (Robert De Niro) runs over and gives me a toaster as a prize. For some reason, it’s dripping with maple syrup all over it. On the side of the toaster is a small front door, like from a mansion. Every time I open and close it, there are brand new hundred dollar bills inside!
Okay, take a break and come back in ten…
Let’s try it now:
What are you holding in your hands at the first tee?
What are you using it as?
What do you hit in the sky?
What size were they?
What did you win?
What’s on the side of it?
Way easier, right? If you want to remember lists and objects, the loci and link will serve you well! Look up some books from Dominic O’Brien, Sal Piacente, or Harry Lorayne. You can’t go wrong and these guys are my favorite authors on the subjects.
When it comes to names, however, I find it a bit more challenging. After all, you’re not in the comfort of your own home reading a list and trying to memorize it. You’re in the heat of battle, at a party with the pressure on. You might want to impress someone or be nervous for some reason. This is memory under fire. So the first thing I do is slow it down, right off the bat.
HOST: “Jamie, this is Emily. Emily, Jamie.”
EMILY: “Hi, Jamie.”
ME: “Stop right there. Let me look at you.” More often than not, people will begin to laugh nervously. “No seriously, I’ve just read an article on memorizing names and I really want to remember yours.” Once you say this, I promise you, you’re golden. Not only is it interesting but people really want to learn it too! You come off as an intriguing person with something to offer the group. It makes for great conversation and gets everyone talking. Exactly what you’re looking for. Also, you’ve taken the pressure off yourself to try and secretly remember everyone’s names since you’re going to do it out in the open.
“Here’s what I’m supposed to do, it was Emily, right? I’m supposed to think of someone famous or someone from my past who is also named Emily. In your case, I’m going to use Emily from Grade 9. Ah, she was gorgeous. She was my first love and an amazing person. Now I’m going to picture you both doing something absolutely crazy. Can I ask what your last name is? McIntyre? Okay, I’m going to picture you and my Grade 9 crush driving a Mack truck, you know, like one of those huge semis you see in Ice Road Truckers. You’re driving about 200kph and you’re going to try and jump the Mack truck through a flaming tire, like at a circus. Mack in tire. Yeah, that should do it. Okay, your turn…”
I’ve done this for years and it works like, well, magic. The key is to not be afraid to stop and explain what you’re doing. Associate their first name with someone else you know with that same name. Now, use their last name to make a mental image of what the two of them are going to be doing. The crazier the better!
There you have it! I know that might seem too easy to be true but that’s really all there is to it. That, and practice, practice, practice. Do this with everyone you meet and you’ll get the hang of it, I promise! Happy New Year, everyone! I hope this helps you throughout your life!
Hey, remember that time when Jamie Foxx and I flew out of a genie bottle you were holding and we were Granting people wishes left, right, and center? The first thing we said was “Daaaaaaamn! It’s good to be out! Who wants what?”
Jamie D. Grant
When not remembering your name, Jamie is putting sealed decks of cards inside unaltered milk bottles: www.SendWonder.com