As performers we tend to hear the same questions, reactions and responses to what we do. Sometimes even the positive sounding responses, can help us find out what exactly is missing from our magic.
In this post I’ll cover 3 phrases that audience members say when they’re fooled in a close up setting, and what they actually means (hint: one can be fooled, and still not experience a magical feeling). I think that it’s our jobs as performers to fully understand their responses because that’s one of the only peeks into the minds of spectators that we actually have: the words they say.
Too often magicians blast through what the audience says to move on to the next trick, or even to respond to their question. They respond without thinking about what the audience is trying to tell them, or more specifically reflecting. Don’t get me wrong I encourage having predetermined responses for specific audience responses. But, make sure you have spent time time at home thinking about what the audience is trying to say, or if what they said is trying to tell you something. That is much more important than knowing how to handle the question in the moment, trying not to get certain questions in the first place.
I believe audiences need to be fooled in their hearts, and in their minds – emotionally and mentally – and often their response will tell you that one of the categories fell short
Do that again!
If you find that your audience members are asking you to repeat what you just did, take a look at the progression of the effect. Sometimes people think this is a good response, because it means that you weren’t caught, but I think it’s a bad response because intellectually they feel they missed something.
When someone asks you to do something again, they are often referencing that something happened without warning and they didn’t get a chance to see it so they feel they were robbed of the magic. Obviously they got to see what we allowed them to, but they feel they didn’t because it was unexpected. They don’t feel that they followed linear steps beginning to end leading to a magic moment. Instead they feel that at some point of the process they missed a step due to not being attentive enough, or due to the cunning trickery of the magician.
The audience should not feel that if they were simply focusing more they could have caught you!
Next time an audience member asks you to do something again ask yourself if that’s a response you want (I think it is NOT) and see if you can tweak the design of the effect or remove it completely to not have the property where the premise is about one thing, but the climax and results about another. For me, that seemed to help bring audiences to a more encompassing journey.
Even if my analysis is off, do you really want magic whose response is to “do it again” and then you have to follow that by saying some dopey saying like “magicians never do tricks twice”. They are honestly asking for you to do it again so it is worth exploring why they would want that, nobody asks someone to tell a joke a second time immediately after they just told it.
Wow, you’re fast
This ill admit depends on your style, if you’re trying to telegraph speed, or precision. Maybe with a gambling theme, cardistry or something of that sort this might benefit you . For me at least if I finish performing something that I think is a well structured miracle and an audience member says something about how quickly my hands must have moved, I have failed.
I failed since in the effect itself I didn’t stress the slowness in which I can move and still accomplish feats. Juan Tamariz explains in The Magic Way that if I suspect that something like speed is a possible solution to the trick for an audience member, I need to make sure to bust that before the climax of the trick especially because it’s almost never the solution.
I have also failed them because they are not fooled emotionally and intellectually. Some part of them is seeking solace in the solution of speed. I cannot allow my audience to think that their solutions are even possible. I need to blast the possibility that I am causing the impossible with anything other than the premise I am presenting. Or at least blast the idea that had I moved slower they could have caught me.
I recommend slowing down, and next time you do the trick emphasize your slowness. Either with body language or speech or both.
While this isn’t 100% negative, I think it is often telling, and worth thinking about. I have found that the implication when someone asks you how you did something immediately after and effect ended it is that they were not emotionally moved or even touched by the magic you performed.
If you present magic with no presentation, just the trick itself (card goes in the middle, snap, back to the top, in the middle again…), or worse an unfitting presentation (this rope represents your lifetime on earth) squeezed to fit an effect, the audience is going to focus on the specific movements or actions, not the premise or the story..
How did you do that?
Again while “how did you do that?” is positive because it means they were fooled, to me it’s imperfect. What it certainly means is that they were not moved enough to ponder anything other than the method, and the most impact you made on them is you outsmarting them with your method.
They could believe that the only thing separating them doing the trick and you doing the trick is them knowing the method, thus they are trying to bridge the gap in their knowledge.
You are not elevating your magic if your audience thinks that they could do what you did with the same methods. Often that assumptions would be correct, especially if you aren’t adding relevant presentation to our effect, relation to our lives, or a reason to care. I feel that we want to give someone an emotional experience to enjoy, not an unsolvable paradox to brew on. They will treat it like a riddle, or puzzle unless we give them another lens to enjoy the impossible through.
If you find people asking you how you did an effect immediately after it finishes, try enhancing or adding a presentation, painting a picture of the situation outside of trick itself. That way instead of the spectator asking how you did something, they can be focused on the fiction that you are painting for them. That’s the fun of magic anyways, creating fictions.
Note: I understand that every audience member responds differently, but I still think understanding why audiences reactions are different then you had anticipated is a great practice in your magic. Of course every time someone asks how you did something, or asks you to do it again, it does not necessarily reflect negatively on your magic. I just think it’s worth it to look very critically when you get which responses especially if they come from specific tricks.