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Profile of zhuanan
Hi Guys:

I have recently had a magical performance in front of my good friend, and here is the story:

The effects that I have performed included the following (in sequence):

a) Linking paper clips (using a bill)
b) Crazy Man's Handcuff
c) Stealth pen
d) Design for laughter (card trick)
e) Ambitious card (ended with 2 dip pass)

After performing the "Linking Paper Clips", he started analysing and told me how the clips can be linked as a result of the positioning of the clips onto the bill.

Next, after perfoming CMH, he commented that this must be illusion and cannot be real. He challenged me to perform CHM without the index finger touching the thumb. Otherwise, he indicated that he would not believe what was shown to him

When the performance of stealth pen is finished, he said the position of the writing end of the pen is odd and questioned why the pen cap was not separated during performance but separated after performance. He queried why my hands went into the pocket although I told him it is my habit to do so. He then challenged me to reveal the contents of my pocket. He also commented that he should have grab the bill from me when I was showing him that the bill was pierced by the pen.

Subsequently, after I have finished showing him "Design for Laughter", he came out with a theory on how the effect can be achieved and explained to me that it must have been done in that way.

During the performance of ACR, he often said he could not see clearly what happened because my hand was blocking and asked me to repeat. For the finale, I did the dip pass. He was not impressed although it was invisibly done and he came out with his own method as to how the effect can be achieved. I did the dip pass again to show him that the effect was not achived via the method that he thought, taking care of all the angles based on the position of this eye level, but at the execution stage he lowered his head quickly and dramatically and he caught a glimpse of my pinky. He then said I flashed.

Oh my gosh.....I did not feel satisfied performing for him and hence I stopped there.

He then said I have given him too many "riddles" (because he could not understand exactly how the effects were done) which confused him.

He asked me to tell him the answer to which I didn' the end, no secret was revealed.

Somehow I did not feel happy after all these performances.

Did I perform wrongly?
How should I manage him - bearing in mind that he is my good friend?

I was thinking of the similar occurence in the future when I perform for my friends and relatives...

Please help me...
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Inner circle
Surrey, UK
1379 Posts

Profile of sjdavison
It is very difficult performing for friends and family, as they are often the most cynical, know you are not 'real', and will openly tell you what they think. I do, however, think it is worth practising on them, as they will point out any flaws in the performance.
Magical presentation is vital, as is a flawless technique. Think about how you did on each of these - if you are presenting it as a puzzle, then he has a right to 'challenge' you. However, if you have an entertaining, logical and magical presentation, then he will relax and ENJOY the proceedings - and not challenge you, and ask for repeats, different angles, etc.
Also, look at what effects you are performing - admittedly I have never performed linking paper clips, but it strikes me that with wrong presentation, it could look like the sort of 'bar bet' effect that warrants challenge. If this is how you open your magical routine, then expect challenge the whole way through. If you open with a powerful, magical experiance, then the rest is plain sailing.
Hope this helps, pm me for any more advice.
Simon, 32, UK
Jim Short
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Profile of Jim Short
Two thoughts...

1. You need to structure your routines so the focus is not on the method. If all your patter is "first I do this, then I do this" it becomes a series of puzzles.

2. Some people just don't appreciate magic - they think if they can't figure it out you have made them feel stupid, even if that wasn't your intent. If your friend is one of these people, performing for him is fighting a losing battle.

If your true intent is to entertain you will not run across this often, so don't worry about it much. Experience as a performer will help guide you. If I'm in a situation where I don't have to perform (i.e. I'm not getting paid) and I run across one of these "never satisfied" types, I 'close up shop' and quit right there. I've tried to get them on my side in the past and never succeeded. Some people don't like broccoli, some people don't like Britney Spears, and some people don't like to be fooled. Why fight it?
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Burlington, ON, Canada
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Profile of Alniner
After CMH, I would have walked away. Pack up and move on.

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Profile of El_Lamo
Ask yourself:
Why am I performing magic?
What is my purpose?
What reaction do I want to obtain when I perform?
To whom am I performing.
Why am I performing for that person?
What can I do so that I obtain the reaction / response that I seek?

We all know that it is more difficult to perform for family and friends. There are many threads here on the café that talk about it.

On the weekend, I was entertaining my twelve year old nephew. Everything was perfect. He was surprised and pleased with the magic. Then he sat down with his mom and she turned to him and said, “You are very gullible today.”

My sister-in-law doesn’t appreciate the magic because she feels challenged if she can’t explain something. She sees herself as being intellectually superior. Though she did not now the workings of the effect, she knows that I don’t have real magical powers therefore whatever I perform is still just a trick. She does not permit herself to be entertained because it doesn’t fit her belief system or religious views.

Alas, though I wasn’t performing for her, she succeeded in taking the magic away from her child.

Looking at my checklist above, I can see that there are decisions that I need to make when performing if my sister-in-law is present.

Other tips that may help…

Start patter with something similar to…

One of the things that interests me about magic is discovering what makes it entertaining for you. I like to make ensure that the magic is fun, personal, interesting and thought provoking. Sometimes, it is easy when we are watching magic, to get caught up in trying to understand it. When that happens we turn the dimmer switch on our own enjoyment. We forget to dream. We diminish our own sense of wonder. I find that one way to exercise your sense of wonder is to watch the magic through other’s eyes. Sometimes children will shout out, “I know that one”. Sometimes they mean that they have seen it before and that they would like to see it again. Sometimes they mean they know or think they know how to perform the magic. It is great that we can share that knowledge, but we shouldn’t share at our audience’s expense. So, if your life experience has brought you in touch with some of the magic that I show you today, please help me to keep it magical for everyone else.

Cheers – El Lamo
Life is a system of circumstance presented coincidently in an illusory way.
Frank Tougas
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Inner circle
Minneapolis, MN
1712 Posts

Profile of Frank Tougas
Magic is a form of entertainment not a puzzle to be analyzed. Your friend cannot help that he enjoys analyzing you can help regarding performing. Once you understood that there was no entertainment value for your friend other than the challenge of figuring things out, you should have ended your performance.

Frank Tougas
Frank Tougas The Twin Cities Most "Kid Experienced" Children's Performer :"Creating Positive Memories...One Smile at a Time"
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New York
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Profile of DanielTyler
The fact is some people are just not interested in magic, and these people are not worth performing for. There is no reason to put the time and energy into a performance where nothing can please him, while there are literally thousands of other potential spectators who love magic lined up behind.

Nonetheless, you can learn a few things from this - and every - performance. First, I recommend taking the linking paperclips trick out of your routine unless you want to do it as a demonstration or a stunt. It's not as magical as it is puzzling and there's almost nothing you can do about it.

With Crazy Man's Handcuffs, there will be natural skepticism. So loop the rubber band around each of his thumbs and tell him to hold his hands eye level and a foot apart. Then do the same move to penetrate the band again.

With the Stealth Pen, if in the future anyone asks you to empty your pockets, do so... Put your hands in your pockets, take the pen-tip in clip or finger palm, and pull your pockets out. I've done this on many occassions; it works.

I'm not familiar with Design for Laughter, but know that anytime a spectator makes outlandish claims about how an effect was done, I tease them. It knocks the game right out from under their heckling, keeps you looking confident, and maintains a light, fun mood.

Finally, with Ambitious Card, have a move on hand that you can use should this ever happen in the future. I don't want to push one of my own products on you, but I do recommend Slippery Ambition as a super-clean and easy ACR move.

Hope that advice helps! Don't see this experience as a failure; see it as a learning. The more you deal with these problems, the more you'll see them just go away. Good luck!
- Daniel Tyler
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Inner circle
Kalamazoo, Mi.
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Profile of Jaxon
On 2005-05-24 12:30, Frank Tougas wrote:
Magic is a form of entertainment not a puzzle to be analyzed. Your friend cannot help that he enjoys analyzing you can help regarding performing. Once you understood that there was no entertainment value for your friend other than the challenge of figuring things out, you should have ended your performance.

Frank Tougas

That's very true. I think the key thing here is it was a friend. Not a paying customer or a stranger that you need to establish yourself with. So I'd take all the advice others have already shared. If you can "fool" this friend that you can be sure you got something down pretty good.

On the other hand. Some would say that these kinds of people are smarter then the average person. I don't agree with that. The kinds of people who are always analyzing and just can't get themselves to see it as entertainment are not always smarter people. They think differently but not necessarily smarter. We can argue that it's always the performers fault if they can't get them to be entertained and look past the thought of being challenged. While that can be true. There are some people who don't have the ability to not take things personally. There are some people who feel that if anyone can do something that can't then they are attaching them in some way.

When you meet these people either avoid them or another option is to do the simplest and most full proof tricks you know. The analyzers look for anything unusual. Even if it has nothing to do with the trick they'll see something out of place and announce that it has something to do with the trick. One trick I do when I decide to perform for these people is the ashes through the hand. It's a simple trick but they have a hard time figuring this one out when it's done right. The reason is that the method is done before the effect starts. So they have nothing to find and don't know when to look. If you want to try to "pull one over" on this friend try that trick. Again, it must be done properly though.

Ron Jaxon

After regaining my ability to hear after 20 years of deafness. I learned that there is magic all around you. The simplest sounds that amazed me you probably ignore. Look and listen around you right now. You'll find something you didn't notice before.
Hideo Kato
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Profile of Hideo Kato
From your explanation of his reaction for every trick, I think he was honestly pointing the points you must improve. He is a good teacher for you in a sense as usual spectators would think as him but don't reveal their thoughts.

In the particular case you explained, you started with Paper Clip trick. I think it is not a good starter of magic performance as Daniel pointed. It is a puzzling effect but not an impossible effect, so specator tends to think to guess how it's done. The first trick must be an amazing and interest provoking one.

Hideo Kato
Jeremy L.
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Profile of Jeremy L.
If you feel you cannot handle a situation, WALK AWAY.

Before you perform ask yourself...

-How would a nonmagician think this was done so I can change my performance to prove them wrong?
-Will they try to pick up or grab my props? If so how will I handle it?
-How will a heckler try to ruin this effect?
Jeremy L.
Do you buy ethically?
Magic Fakes
Jailhouse Jonny
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Profile of Jailhouse Jonny
Tell the idiot that " You caught me. You found out that I don't actually have supernatural powers. Perhaps we should go down to the mall at Christmastime and tell the kids in line about Santa Claus"
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Vancouver, BC
533 Posts

Profile of travisb
I like Hideo Kato's advice. I would also add that since he's your friend he might be thinking that he's doing you a favour by trying to figure out how things are done. He might think that that's what you want. In a way, he kind of is doing you a favour. I think it's good to have someone who'll let you know when you're doing something unconvincing. You might consider performing for him in the future in order to test out your effects--just don't expect to get the same reaction you do from other people, and make sure that he understands he's not to share anything with other people if he busts you.

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Profile of calexa
I have a friend who is exactly like this one. He is not interested in magic but in the method. At first, it was very hard for me to perform for him, because I thought I did everything wrong. But then I discovered that he is very helpful, because he sees all the problems with the moves. So now I "use" him to make my moves better.

Optimists have more fun.....
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Hobart, Indiana
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Profile of MagicalArtist
After performing the "Linking Paper Clips", he started analysing and told me how the clips can be linked as a result of the positioning of the clips onto the bill.

Have you tried Harry Lorrayne's presentation of the linking paper clips from "The Magic Book?" It's called "Sgt Elastic and the Clip Artists" and has a great story line about a detective who's trying to catch two bank robbers. This is a trick that I normally would never do but has now become one of my favorites because of this wonderful story line. It just goes to show how a simple but good story can "make" a whole trick. The story draws attention away from the simple nature of the trick.

But I think those who are saying that it must be the tricks that are causing your problem are misguided. People like your friend will always be that way, no matter how baffling the tricks are that you do. I don't know if it's low self-esteem or what, but some people can't stand being fooled, or admitting that they have been fooled. Besides, all tricks have a "weak spot" which can be figured out.

Daryl Fitzkee said “The secrets aren't so *** important. There is nothing that the magician does that can't be figured out by a reasonably intelligent person. " We all know that children are hard to fool because they jump at the simple explanation that the adults would pass off as being "too easy". So all an adult has to do is "think like a child," so to speak, and they can figure out many or most tricks too.

Think about many of the tricks that magicians are so fond of. The haunted key? What could have a simpler working than that? The paddle move is also laughably simple. The six card or six bill repeat? It doesn't take a genius to figure out that you have more cards in your hands than you're claiming.

The fact is, without the goodwill of the spectators, it's extremely hard to do magic. That's why we want the spectators to suspend their disbelief, at least for a moment. But some spectators will always try to guess. I remember watching a Copperfield special with my dad and him throwing out "explanations" for every trick Copperfield did. When I protested, he said "but trying to figure it out is part of the fun".

Well challenging a live magician is even less polite than doing it to the TV set, but some people will always be like this. Those magicians who say they never encounter spectators like this are either lying or don't perform much.

When you get specs like this, it doesn't necessarily mean that you're doing something wrong, it just means that you're a magician.
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Profile of Ednigma
I agree. We often forget that our spectators are PEOPLE who have BRAINS and can THINK.
I remember when Copperfield's "Statue of Liberty" trick first aired on TV.
I can recall there was atleast a hundred THEORIES as to how it was done.

My thinking is this :
your job isn't to keep them from having's to conceal the METHODS (i.e., the actual workings).

If they're INTELLEGENT people( which there are more of than you MAY think),they'll always a workable solution to your tricks.
Hideo Kato
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Profile of Hideo Kato
On 2005-05-29 17:29, Ednigma wrote:
Your job isn't to keep them from having's to conceal the METHODS.

Having agreed with this fully, I would like to say "It is to make it seems to have no method".

Hideo Kato
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Profile of spycrapper
I like it hideo! I always tell my "good" friend like that if they started to make theories. I say "if you think it can be done like you say, just do it! maybe I will learn something"
Magic is life

Ario A.
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Profile of blpprt
Hi Everyone,
I jumped into this conversation kinda late but I found this topic when I put in the search words "analytical spectator".
I work at a University and we have a lot of students from India. They are a tough bunch to show magic to. Many have been raised and schooled to be very analytical. I show them any trick, and no matter how entertaining, the immediate response is an analysis how the trick was done. I rarely see any sense of wonder as a response. Once, I did a trick for one of the students where a penny in my hand was supposed to trade places with a half-dollar in their hand. I had loaded a jumbo penny in their hand and when I insisted they look in their hand to see the penny, they just stared at it and said, "Does that count as a penny?" They totally missed the surprise element. For anyone else, it would have been a strong surprise finish good for laughs.
BUT, despite my frustration with these analytical types, they provide a wonderful service to me. I've given up trying to astound them and I use them as routine evaluators. Now I always begin with, "I'm trying out a new routine, please tell me what you think." I don't even care that much if it entertains them because I only am concerned that they evaluate the method. I show them the trick and get their response to help me make it even more "bullet proof". Last week I was doing a 3 Card Monte routine for one student and he figured me out. Was I disappointed? Yes. What did I do? I changed parts of the routine to strengthen it...thanks to that analytical person.
So, I have found that its great to have a couple truly analytical friends to try new tricks on. I will even try variations of the trick on them and ask, which is more convincing to them.
Since I only perform for fun, when I encounter such a person outside my select group of analytical friends, I just don't go any further. Its not fun for me or him/her. I guess that's an advantage of doing magic without pay. I can stop doing it anytime its "going nowhere". I figure its a gift I'm offering the other person and if they don't like the gift...I stop giving.
By the way, my favorite audience is upper-level elementary school kids and middle school kids. They LOVE magic. Once they reach high school, many become "too cool" for that kind of stuff. I think at that age, they still enjoy it but are more guarded in their reaction.
Best wishes to all.
The Dragon
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Profile of The Dragon
You should have stopped probably at the first one. It is always hard for a non-believer and cynical guy to believe what you are doing. But often, inside them, they are amazed, but tries to contain it by shooting questions at you. Often I have spectators who would snatch the card from me when I'm doing a card trick, etc etc, and this all can't be helped. Even though you might an excellent magician, the spectator who doesn't wish to open up, won't be amazed by your tricks. So why waste time on them. My advice: Move on, leave him alone. Entertain the ones who seeks entertainment. Not the cynical ppl.

Don't think too much.

Just hit it.
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Profile of MattWayne
Hmmm- take him to go see Copperfield. Ha- if he critiques him; then that's just the way he is personally and mentally. He will just always have an answer for everything; like little kids do. If he's baffled and can't explain anything- then the problem is that he's your friend, and the friendship bond is the cause for his 'harsh' critique. It's either that- or you are making the sleight, or 'secret moves' so obvious to him. Naturalness, and smoothness is what tricks the eye. Not the move itself. It should never even jump into his mind that the middle finger contacts the index finger- while performing 'Crazy Man's Handcuff's.' Think about it. Hopefully this helps Smile

Matt Tomasko
Matt Wayne
The Celebrity Magician™ / / /

Creator of, 'Got a Light?' and others.
Spokesperson behind, TouchTricks
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