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Topic: Was that fair? Did that seem fair?
Message: Posted by: Review King (Feb 7, 2008 11:07AM)
I hate when I hear that. Who first came up with saying that? Is it designed to get the person to agree that nothing tricky could have been done, so that they are [b]shocked[/b] when the magic happens?

I know that some professionals use it and I just don't think it has the impact they think it does.
Message: Posted by: Big Daddy Cool (Feb 7, 2008 12:00PM)
It is a stupid thing to say...
Message: Posted by: Steve_Mollett (Feb 7, 2008 04:53PM)
Never heard it.
Message: Posted by: erlandish (Feb 7, 2008 06:03PM)
It's a fairly blunt way of getting agreement...
Message: Posted by: Jerrine (Feb 7, 2008 09:58PM)
My father taught me the Fair Enough bit long ago.
Used in sales quite frequently.
Definitely used to get a nod.
Tommy Wonder did it.
I've done it both in sales and Magic.
What am I talking about. Magic is sales.
Message: Posted by: marty.sasaki (Feb 9, 2008 09:17PM)
I don't know about what the general public thinks, but whenever I hear a magician say, "is that fair", or "I couldn't be fairer" I have to suppress a chuckle. No one says that unless they have just done something sneaky, or about to do something sneaky. I try to avoid even bringing up the fairness of anything that I do with the thinking that if I have to point out that something is fair, then I've already done something wrong.
Message: Posted by: oddsmaker (Feb 14, 2008 02:58AM)
I hear fair enough quite regularly but I can say that it bothers me to hear it.
Message: Posted by: Ronin (Feb 16, 2008 05:59PM)
I agree that usually it just sounds foolish.

However, I have very deliberately used the phrase, "was that fair?" or one of its variants in two particular instances:

1. When performing close-up for people who have been drinking, or for young children--i.e., for people with shortened attention spans who may later accuse me of not having shuffled the deck or shown the envelope empty when, in fact, I did. Said with a slight emphasis, "Does that seem fair?" can act as a cue to a spectator, "Hey! Pay attention!" without being too pushy.

2. In my presentation of Alexander DeCova's "Purse Swindle" I ask the spectators, "Did that seem fair?" when, in fact, everything did look fair. I use the question ironically, immediately answering it myself by saying, "Of course it wasn't fair!" and leading in to the second phase. I must confess, though, I have been considering dropping that line from this routine.

So, as with any question of scripting, I think a phrase can be used well or badly (even a bad, inelegant, grammatically improper phrase can be used well, if used deliberately for comic effect).

Does this seem fair?

(Or does it sound to you folks like I'm kidding myself and just sound stupid? Go ahead--let me know. I can take it.)
Message: Posted by: erlandish (Feb 17, 2008 05:41AM)
Here's a question on the topic...

Assuming that you think it is important to elicit agreement or achieve some sort of supposed concensus with the spectator about the state of affairs, before proceeding to the next stage of the trick, what would be a more entertaining way to do it besides asking "Was that fair?"
Message: Posted by: Patrick Differ (Feb 29, 2008 11:43AM)
"Did that seem fair?" I use this all the time. But only when I am doing something blatantly unfair. I use it as a rhetorical question, a question that could only possibly have one answer, that being, "Hell no! That was totally unfair!"

"Was that fair?"
"@#$%^ no!"
"Ahh, c'mon! Whaddya mean, no? That was perfectly fair!"

The reason I script like this is because it suits my style of performance. I am a fast-talking, shuck-jiving, in-your-face BS'er.

I know your beef. And I agree. Unless the goal is parody, it's far too easy to mistake this line as entertainment.

Asking if something is fair is a challenge.

Fair enough?
Message: Posted by: Vick (Feb 29, 2008 04:01PM)
Like I tell my 6 year young son ......

....... The only thing fair in life is a baseball hit into play
Message: Posted by: Lawrence O (Dec 20, 2008 06:21AM)
Don't like it either: it only shows insecurity. "Don't run when nobody's chasing you"
Message: Posted by: JRob (Dec 20, 2008 07:40AM)
Dad burn it! Lawrence beat me to it. Let's face it, once you ask that question, the spectator will ask (at least mentally if not audibly) "why wouldn't it be fair, unless, of course...?"
Message: Posted by: JackScratch (Dec 20, 2008 12:15PM)
I always avoid challenging my audience. It should be a trip taken together. Create an adversarial relationship with your audience and you will find it difficult to draw them in to your world.
Message: Posted by: Lawrence O (Dec 31, 2008 08:17AM)
Like every principle not asking "is it fair" has it's limit. Without taking back what I expressed, I'd like to advocate for subtlety in our art.

Daryl properly uses the expression "is it fair?" in the following way. He would do very deliberately and overtly something perfectly genuine asking "Is it fair ?" and when the spectator would confirm, Daryl would further reconfirm with emphasis "Yes... I know...!". The whole point here is that Daryl doesn't use the term "Is it fair? for satisfying a form of insecurity he would have after performing a magical move, but for entertaining purposes and to bring the audience guard down. He is using the "don't run when nobody is chasing you" at the third level. Like John Ramsay used to do, he creates a suspicion with the question, but only when there is nothing to suspect or when the dispelling of the suspicion creates sufficient a misdirection to do something THEN.

The danger in using this approach too lightly and verbatim is that less experienced magicians may tend to rationalize what they are already doing. Using Daryl's words simply as a quote rather than as a subtle example could result from a need for justification instead of a ground for a reconsideration of what we do and add depth to our magic and its entertainment value.
Message: Posted by: edh (Jan 19, 2009 04:54PM)
Michael Ammar uses this phrase quite a bit.

Here is another question along the lines of "is it fair" question. How about when at the end the effect some magicians go over what has just taken place. In other words something like this "...you have cut the deck. You have shuffled the cards and...". Isn't this a subtle form of the "is this fair" question?
Message: Posted by: MikeyM71 (Jan 19, 2009 11:58PM)
I don't care for this phrase either. To me, it would just raise suspicion.
Message: Posted by: Lawrence O (Jan 21, 2009 09:38AM)
But raising suspicion can, within limits, be a very strong misdirection and be quite entertaining. Did you ever do a Spider Grip Vanish with a coin?
Message: Posted by: Close.Up.Dave (Jan 21, 2009 10:39PM)
I think it's only useful when using a trick that deliberately wants an audience to try to catch you. Or, it can be used when everyone knows the result before it happens and you want to make it more challenging. I have a hard enough time making my audiences believe I do magic, they won't stop asking me how it's done!
Message: Posted by: obsidian52 (Mar 5, 2011 08:54PM)
Hate that phrase "Is thid/it fair" It is entirely like saying I have in my hand an "ordinary deck" to imply there is such a thing as an unordinary deck...SHEESH
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Mar 5, 2011 10:24PM)
On 2009-01-21 10:38, Lawrence O wrote:
But raising suspicion can, within limits, be a very strong misdirection and be quite entertaining. Did you ever do a Spider Grip Vanish with a coin?

Not usually a sound strategy - and rather misses the underlying issue - the "why" of any sense of suspicion.

Do they trust your actions? If not - is that what you want?

And yes I use variations on the Spider vanish often though not using a design that could teach the audience to look at the wrong hand.
Message: Posted by: harris (Mar 7, 2011 12:19PM)
Seems like Slydini (and others) would feint a suspicious move....and then go into a HPC.

For some spectators everything we say and do is suspicious. I used to concentrate on pleasing that 1(or 2) out of the group. It is a bit different these days.

still 2 old to know everything
Message: Posted by: P.Synenberg (Apr 26, 2011 08:34PM)
I always just say "seems simple enough, don't you agree?"
Message: Posted by: HerbLarry (May 4, 2011 12:25PM)
"So far so good?"
Message: Posted by: ancientmagic (Jun 1, 2011 06:16PM)
I agree using the "is that fair" brings a question into play that may not have even been on the spectator's mind. One can use a direct statement to eliminate suspicion if need be or to "set" a point in time in the observer's mind. For example, if I take a selected card and place it into the center of the deck...push it into the deck and say, "Now isn't that fair." I have put a question into play. The human mind will respond, "is it really," even if it is not verbalized.

However, if I say something like, "Ok, let's see what we had done so far. You have selected a card, signed it, we placed your card in the middle of the deck...now we can" This is true and it involves the observer in creating the event without using a question. Questions often beget other question when used to validate circumstances.


Message: Posted by: MagicJuggler (Jun 24, 2011 05:20AM)
I agree that "is it fair?" is more often used in a way that has the possibility of raising questions you may not want the spectator to think, or cause suspicion when it's undesired. But I think it's important to have moments of reinforcement with the audience, where you create agreement with the conditions that you are establishing, and elicit a positive response from one or more audience members which helps condition the rest of the audience to accept the conditions as valid. More often than not, "Is it fair?" is a clumsy attempt to do so. (Or all to often an attempt to force agreement when the performer is unsure whether the audience bought the move or conditions set)

I also agree that the raising of suspicion (or more broadly, tension) can be a strong tool in misdirection. By raising tension (suspicion is a form of tension) then releasing it, you create a moment of inattention where a move can be performed without undue scrutiny.
Message: Posted by: spcarlson (Nov 8, 2011 10:06AM)
On 2008-02-07 22:58, Jerrine wrote:
My father taught me the Fair Enough bit long ago.
Used in sales quite frequently.
Definitely used to get a nod.
Tommy Wonder did it.
I've done it both in sales and Magic.
What am I talking about. Magic is sales.

This is exactly it; it's a subtle, subconscious way of getting your audience or customer to agree with you and when done properly it can be very effective. You’re putting a suggestion in their minds. Magicians are doing this type of thing all the time this shouldn’t be any different.

Here’s the important point, if you’re using a phrase like this make sure what you are a doing does look totally fair. That’s why it worked for Tommy Wonder.
Message: Posted by: charliewerner (Nov 9, 2011 07:40PM)
I feel there nothing wrong with it. At anytime during the trick, if audience it not fair, then it is useless for them to see the magic happen.

An audience see you p*lm a card..how would an audience be surprise if the card suddenly land in your pocket..

"Til now everything is fair" "if I go any fairer than that, you be cheating me"
Some of the lines are good way that seems to give opportunity for audience to stop the magician routine that suit to their knowledge."

Imagine a heckler say "that is a fake egg" , the magician say "to be fair I have you to come out to examine the egg". Then the magician give the heckler a glass to hold and break the real egg into his hand. "Sorry, it not the egg that are fake, is the cup that I give you that are fake."

Another example, ACR, a card is selected and sign (To be fair that you are not use duplicate), next card insert in the deck slowly (To be fair to their eye and let them see everything clearly), card jump to top (surprise)

Next they trying to figure out which part of the routine are unfair. show them their sign card, let them hold it and insert anyway in the deck (Now it got to be fair right now), ask them turn over the top card themselves (to be fair).. card jump to top.

Hence, how much audience fool by a magic trick is determine by how fair he thought the magician have done. In coin across routine, if you can show a coin before it disappear in the fairest manner and reappear in the other hand slowly. That is a great magic (COIN ONE BY HOMER LIWAG)

Warning: If you ask your spectator that is what you did just now, is fair or not, be prepare for them to shuffle your deck of card, check the location of the card...You need to do lot of impromptu stuff and impromptu patter line which most magician are no skillful enough to do...

Gregory Wilson, David Williamson, and perhaps Luchen from Taiwan and definitely Dai Vernon and Charlie Miller who always practice how to end a trick under different circumstance.

"Judge a magician skill not with point of view of a magician, but point of view of a layperson or amateur magician."

"Most layman have some kind of magic knowledge, asking him to show you under what condition he feel fair, and perform it in that condition. He will be fool badly, and that is one reason magician move from stage to the street."

Layperson know magician use smoke and mirror on stage, so magician in order to be fair move to the street, that is FAIR ENOUGH TO FOOL ME.

Being fair is not easy, mean you need to do extra work. But that what going to make you a legend. Malini,on one seating with Dai vernon and other magician in a fair sitting, always able to produce a Big cube of Ice under his head.
Message: Posted by: charliewerner (Nov 9, 2011 07:46PM)
People always want to be special. Imagine a spectator fooled by you and tell her friends and family that, a magician torn corner of the card which magician usually don't, but to be fair and specially done for her alone. The card jump into bottle she just hold. She feel special.
Message: Posted by: Paul Budd (Dec 25, 2011 11:00PM)
Patter and verbal misdirection has become a very fascincating part of the art to me. I've seen/heard some great guys say this phrase......I dunno.......like another commenter had mentioned, in sales, you're trying to get the customer saying, "Yes" during your pitch.
Sometimes, the greatest magicians understand that words have an intrinsically hypnotic effect if/when used properly.
I'm kinda on the fence on this one. (I'll probably use this phrase next week!) :)
Message: Posted by: cablerock (Dec 30, 2011 11:42AM)
I saw the "Expert at the Card Table" play with Guy Hollingworth, and he made the use of this phrase very hilarious, because it was incredibly obvious to the spectators that he was not actually being fair. I think it has its place, but can be easily misused, like anything else.
Message: Posted by: MaxfieldsMagic (Feb 7, 2012 09:21AM)
I use this phrase sometimes, but only when I'm doing something that is, in fact, completely fair, such as the shuffle sequences in Out of This Universe. Wouldn't use it for anything with a discrepancy or that couldn't stand up to the strictest scrutiny. Particularly for effects with several procedures, where you are intending to do a summary of the sequences before the reveal (such as OOTU), I don't see where it hurts to lay down "checkpoints" as you go along, and gain agreement from the spectator that each sequence appears to be fair on its own, as the effect progresses.
Message: Posted by: WillStagner (Apr 15, 2012 02:04AM)
Richard Osterlind seems to use this phrase constantly, and it works well for him. I don't see why it's so bad.
Message: Posted by: Brainbu$ter (May 1, 2012 01:21AM)
I was just about to bring up Osterlind. I think this phrase does not help him.
Maybe it suggests that the performer always has skeptics accusing him of chicanery...that's the justification for the line.
On the other side of the covers, one of the things I like about Marc Spelmann is that he seems to explain a "weakness" in an effect by making it seem like a way to make everything more challenging. For example, in his drawing duplication on the 1st volume of Chapters, he's one behind so he can't show the audience the first drawing. He tells the participant on stage to be sure she doesn't let anyone in the audience see, because some people think he gets a signal from someone in the audience. That subterfuge isn't original with Spelmann, but that's the way to convince the audience that all is fair.
Message: Posted by: Philip Busk (Sep 1, 2012 09:04AM)
Great topic. I found at one time watching video of my performance I was using several "cue" words that I wouldn't use if I was really doing magic. Someone performing miricles wouldn't say is it fair.

but, there are time I think it works. Depends on the performer and the situation. Moderation.

If I feel I need to make a point of the current situation at hand I tend to lean toward a quick re-cap of what has happend. "you shuffled the deck," "you thought of a card and then you held the deck", etc.
Message: Posted by: arizona (Nov 30, 2012 05:42PM)
It doesn't hurt CA's pockets one bit.
Message: Posted by: KarstenMeyerhoff (Mar 27, 2017 03:27PM)
I use phrases such as: "Does that seem to be fair? I hope it seems to be fair. It's not, but I hope it *seems* to be ..." That fits my stage persona.