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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » New to magic? » » Magic, can it be a con game? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Keith Mitchell
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Magic is supposed to be entertaining, but when I do close-up magic people people respond in strange ways. Sometimes they are amazed, sometimes they are bored, some people will try to snatch things from your hands, and many people take the opportunity to try and reveal the secret right in front of the performer.

Sometimes spectators act as if they are part of the performance by tying to reveal the secret. It's almost like they have to justify the revelation because maybe they feel they had been conned. It's almost as if they don't respect the entertainment value, maybe they feel it is a con game, or maybe it is because I am not good at what I do?

What do you think?
Hearttau
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This has been covered before. Part of the problem is that in this age of free information, many feel that there should never be secrets. I agree with you that the grabbers and exposers don't see it as entertainment. They seem to think they have a right to know everyone's secrets and then share them with others. I guess they think they need to feel equal or superior to the magi by knowing or exposing the secrets.

These folks are just immature. What they do is no different than if someone interrupted a Spielberg film to explain how the special effects were done. No one watching the film wants to know the filmmaking details, they just want to enjoy the cinematic experience.

When it comes to doing close-up, your most important skill is sometimes crowd control. If you’re not sure how someone will treat your props, try not to let them get too close. Of course, if you have an experience like this with someone, don’t perform for them again. If someone blatantly exposes a trick, I feel it’s ok to say “That was wrong, and you shouldn’t spoil the magic for others." In the other case you mentioned, yes, some people just don’t like magic – go figure. Smile

Hope this helped.

Dave
Lentidigitator: “A magic artist who performs slow motion magic”... Rene Lavand

"Peace and all good"... St. Francis

"Hold on to your joy!"... Me Smile

http://mysite.verizon.net/hearttau/
Jaz
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[quote]Magic is supposed to be entertaining, but when I do close-up magic people people respond in strange ways. Sometimes they are amazed, sometimes they are bored, some people will try to snatch things from your hands, and many people take the opportunity to try and reveal the secret right in front of the performer.[quote]
The bottom line is that people are all different.

Yes, magic should be entertaining. However, there will still be those who are non-responsive, those who are analytical, those who feel like you're belittling them and those who want to be the focus of attention.
Another problem I see, and I know others will disagree, is that when making serious claims that you are doing 'real' magic. Some people tend to want to disprove such claims and make things tough on you.

The only thing I suggest is to ask yourself why and what you can do about it, if anything. Darwins "Strong Magic" is a good read and cover a lot of what you're talking about.
Bob Sanders
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Pick your audiences! Performing is your choice.

Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander
Bob Sanders

Magic By Sander / The Amazed Wiz

AmazedWiz@Yahoo.com http://www.magicbysander.com/
state
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Horror movies are meant for entertainment. My brother in law (He's a real p@#s*y) can't stand them. I did "Saw" for him once and he almost threw up. So naturally I went right for "Needle Through the Arm". HA! Some people just don't like the good stuff no matter who they are or what "The Good Stuff" is.

The best advise I can give is:
When someone makes you feel or look like an *** - You can't take it personal.
state
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Quote:
On 2008-02-23 22:10, state wrote:
Horror movies are meant for entertainment. My brother in law (He's a real p@#s*y) can't stand them. I did "Saw" for him once and he almost threw up. So naturally I went right for "Needle Through the Arm". HA! Some people just don't like the good stuff no matter who they are or what "The Good Stuff" is.

The best advise I can give is:
When someone makes you feel or look like an *** - You can't take it personal.


Ahh man, I was sensored! I was trying to say A*SHole
Andy the cardician
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It might be your audience, but perhaps also the way you present your magic . . .

remember - it takes two hands to clap.
Cards never lie
Yola Sol
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To this day, I've been lucky enough not to encounter people like that. For most part, that would be because I don't really perform, unless you count those moments when you just find yourself entertaining others.

But I think that for a small part, it's because of my performance. I don't like to be the centre of attention (and still doing magic, go figure), so I tend to perform like I have absolutely NO idea what just happened or even make it look like the spectator did the magic. That leads me to believe their 'problem' is indeed in feeling like being fooled or thinking the magician is trying to make him/herself look superior to them or something...
On the road of life, don't forget to stop and eat the roses
Brad Burt
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Every magician has encountered these scenarios. Every...one. Part of the answer is that with experience YOU will figure out HOW to work these folks. That may appear cold, but it's not meant to. Crowd control and management and the manner in which you perform for folks of varying type will change with time. The more you do it the better you will get. Hopefully.

You HAVE to listen to what folks are telling you about YOUR magic. YOU have to attempt to figure out WHY you get more negative feedback than you want. It may very well be subtle signals that you are giving that cause folks to react in an adverse way to what you are doing. That's ok, if you figure out how to fix it.

One thing that is almost never talked about when discussing these things and it is probably THE secret to becoming not just a good, but a great performer is that YOU MUST LEARN TO PUT ...... YOURSELF ..... IN THE PLACE OF THOSE WHO WILL BE WATCHING YOU WORK! You HAVE to work at being empathetic. You HAVE to KNOW what YOUR magic looks like when you do it. If it takes video taping then do that. But, eventually you will have to be able to SEE your magic through the eyes of the viewing audience.

WHY some folks react in a negative manner is many times to be found in the way in which you present. Sometimes it's just that you have a putz in the audience. But, over 35+ years I have found a remarkably small number of problem spectators. In most cases where I had trouble it came down to problems in my presentation and my own reactions to what the audience was telling me about what I was doing.

Constantly place yourself in the place of your audience. Try to 'feel' what they feel and see what they see. This can be a blindingly horrible experience by the way! I mean a down and dirty ego deflating blood bath. Who wants to realize that they 'may' have a short coming that needs changing? But, all performers are stuck with the same dilemma.

There is a great line in the movie 'Harvey' where the main character is telling another character the 'why' of how he lives his life. It goes something like:
You can be "Oh so smart, or oh so pleasant. Well, for years I was smart; I recommend pleasant. And you may quote me".

The trick is be smart and pleasant both, thus enfranchising folks to not only like you and your magic, but also 'Magic' in the wider sense. Best regards,
Brad Burt
Sk8erBoi9305
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Think about it... have you ever heard of the three shell game??? that pretty much is a con and is performed by magicians. most magicians now-a-days don't use it to take money or anything, but that's how it started out.

so why wouldn't people think you're just some guy trying to steal his watch, or take his money??

I agree with above statements, you just gotta pick your audiences right.
Solitaire
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In a lot of big cities you'll find guys doing the 3 shell game to cheat ppl by placing bets on the shell with the pea or even to rob their money by pick pocketing while ppl watch the "play" so it may explain why some ppl are suspicious but you may also encounter a jerk in the audience who tries to spoil/ruin your performance because he's 1) got a bad hair day, 2) is jealous, 3) wants to be the center of attention, etc.

Maybe some training on how to handle such persons might be helpful?
Dave McFarland
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I like the advice I've read in many magic books and read in many posts on these forums: be likeable. It's a lot more difficult for someone to try to make a fool out of you when you come across as pleasant, friendly and interested in entertaining people. That's why I think it's good to stay away from the word "trick" since that automatically sets up an adversarial relationship--"do you want to see a trick" is like saying "do you want to be tricked" and some people don't like magic because they think you're out to trick them, and therefore make them look foolish. But if you're out to entertain people, that's a lot harder to turn down. Using words like "amazing," "interesting," "strange" or other non-challenging words to describe and introduce your magic can set you off on a better footing.

There are probably many other books and DVDs to help with this, but I've been watching the Tommy Wonder videos and he was such a pro at audience management. You can see in these videos times when the spectators (granted the L&L audience isn't too tough on the performers) are about to derail his trick by trying to grab a prop or interrupt his script and he handles it in such a way that you don't even know he's handling them!

Brad's comments are very good--try to see what your audience sees and make sure you like what you see!
Tom Bartlett
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For me, I don't have many people just reach for my props. It could be because I'm six one and weigh 240. Or it could be because of what I say, when some one reaches for my sponge balls.Smile
Our friends don't have to agree with me about everything and some that I hold very dear don't have to agree about anything, except where we are going to meet them for dinner.
pradell
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When I first started in magic long ago the tricks and the instructions were designed to "fool" the audience and to make the magi look smart and cool and the audience members the "suckers" who were made to feel bad, stupid, or laugh when something went wrong in the hands of another audience member who unfortunately volunteered to "help" with the show. No wonder the first set of shows felt like a challenge, magician against audience, ego against egos. And failure frequently followed.

That is, until I was to perform before a group of mentally handicapped adults. How could I make the breakaway wand break in their hands, or the wilting flower wilt when they went near it? What was I to do?

So I changed my performance style. The umbrella broke in my hands. The clatter box crashed on my clutter. And it worked. I had the whole group laughing. Also, for the first time, I asked the audience for help. When they came up and worked with me, the magic happened. Wow! A wholely different experience. An entirely different angle. To this day I still use lessons used from that performance in my act.

Performing magic is a two way street. One needs to somehow relax the audience's inherent fear of being fooled, to get them back to the sense of wonder they enjoyed as a child. Once they are in that space, true mystery happens and the interaction between entertainer and audience creates the magical experience.

There is no right way to do this. You need to figure it out for yourself, through experience. And by experience, I don't mean just practicing before the mirror, which gets you hopefully to know your stuff so well that you don't have to use all your resources trying to remember the mechanics of your tricks while you are also trying to interact with your audience. I mean real world, out there, in their faces, show after show after show. At some point, the audience will tell you, by their responses, that the magic is working. Your job is to figure out what you did to find that secret space, and keep doing it. The more of these magic moments you add to your act, the more fun you will have with, not against, your audience.


:magicrabbit:
Hearttau
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Pardell said it. Giving people a sense of wonder again, making them a part of the magic. That's the best any magi can do for his or her audience. For a perfect example, if you can, watch a Doug Henning performance. Doug always seemed amazed at his own magic. He didn’t own the magic. He gave it to his audience. He shared in the spectator’s surprise, almost looking to his audience for an explanation. It was almost as if he were saying, “I didn’t do that. Did you?”
Lentidigitator: “A magic artist who performs slow motion magic”... Rene Lavand

"Peace and all good"... St. Francis

"Hold on to your joy!"... Me Smile

http://mysite.verizon.net/hearttau/
John Bowlin
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It really does seem to be more about how you make your audience feel than how you make yourself look. Make others laugh or feel a sense of wonder without challenging their intellect and how can they not like you? When they like you the very least they will do is tollerate you.
rxwookie
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I was told, many years ago when I was young and first starting in magic, that you must be confident in what you are doing. As others have mentioned, crowd control is a learned art. Remember that there is a dual nature for people, one side loves to be fooled, the other wants to know how they were fooled.

For really "touchy" audience member who is trying to mess me up during card performances, I simply pull the cards back into my chest and turn 90 degrees to another spectator and continue on. Ignoring them. Of course, you can always hand them a deck of cards and ask them to entertain everyone while you take a step back and if needed, turn and walk away.

It boils down to crowd control being different for everyone. But maintain your confidence, it seems to quell the occurences, at least for me.

Wook
If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a sucess unexpected in common hours.
~Henry David Thoreau
fxdude
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When I first started I found it really hard to perform magic in front of people because I hate deceitful people and felt like I was fooling people and in a sense lying to them. I am a very truthful person and didn't like the whole "I know something you don't". I loved the art of magic but had a hard time performing it and not wanting to show the person. The thing I had to realize is that you have to use magic for entertainment purposes. You are not lying to them, you are entertaining them (as long as you are not placing bets and using magic to win). If they know how it's done it's not entertaining anymore. Just my thoughts.
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