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Wilktone
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There is a lot of advice online and elsewhere by professional magicians helping aspiring professional magicians, but very little that specifically addresses amateur magicians who perform socially and have little to no desire to be paid to perform. In fact, it could be (and has been) argued that a lot of the advice by professional magicians may actually work against the social magician.

As a starting point, let's consider the audience social magicians perform for. It's often said that family and friends are the hardest audience for a magician, but if you're a hobbyist that is your target audience. There's a different dynamic between audience and performer for the professional (arguably even when a professional is performing casually for friends). Audience management is a completely different animal for a social magician.

Furthermore, because the hobbyist's audience is more limited and regular, the amateur really needs to be proficient at a larger number of tricks so as to not expose magic by performing it more than once for the same audience (or be patient enough to wait for a long time before performing it again). Professionals might be able to be successful by performing fewer tricks extremely well, but that approach just isn't going to serve the needs of the social magician.

There may be a bit of a correlation between professional walk around and restaurant magic with social magic, but I think social magic differs in some important ways. For example, a social magician is more likely to perform before or after dinner while seated at the table with family, rather than walking up to a table and perform standing. A restaurant magician is going to do a quick, high energy set and hit another table. A social magician performing for friends after dinner might be able to take her time. The cues for the restaurant worker that it's time to stop are obvious - the food arrives. The social magician needs to be empathic enough to know when his friends have had enough and put the cards away.

If you're a social magician, what lessons have you learned that you wish you had learned when you were starting? What sort of issues do you run into performing for friends and family that you're still struggling with?

If you're a professional magician, do you perform socially? If so, what are your thoughts about the differences between your professional and social performances?

Dave
friend2cptsolo
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Even in the social setting it is possible to get new audiences and therefore be able to do your "act" over and over. I am only doing magic in these social settings, I have limited my audience size to just the 2 or 3 people they may be off in a corner or at a table. This way I get to do the same thing over and over. It makes a huge difference in the presentation. This is how you work out timing and general pacing, finding moments for verbal misdirection(if you need it), a point in which a joke or comment is made and you are looking for a certain response. All of this to me takes repeating the same presentation over and over, and yes for that you do need a different audience every time.
Wilktone
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Quote:
On Jan 19, 2017, friend2cptsolo wrote:
Even in the social setting it is possible to get new audiences and therefore be able to do your "act" over and over. I am only doing magic in these social settings, I have limited my audience size to just the 2 or 3 people they may be off in a corner or at a table. This way I get to do the same thing over and over. It makes a huge difference in the presentation. This is how you work out timing and general pacing, finding moments for verbal misdirection(if you need it), a point in which a joke or comment is made and you are looking for a certain response. All of this to me takes repeating the same presentation over and over, and yes for that you do need a different audience every time.


True. I also get the opportunity to perform the same routine for different audiences, but not typically at the same event by going to table to table. But this makes me think of the diversity in performance situations the social magician might encounter over a professional who specializes in, say, restaurant magic. The professional goes to her job knowing that she will be going from table to table performing many of the same routines over and over again. A social magician might get to do something similar at a party or at the school Caféteria, but many social magicians never find themselves in those performing situations where they can go around and perform the same routine multiple times in one go.

I've started to keep a database of tricks that I know and want to perform socially and when I do perform something for friends, I keep a record of when and who I performed it for. I also have a spot for notes to remind myself about things that worked particularly well or things I want to remember to improve on later (e.g., "Remember to pick up discarded pile while all attention is on the selected card - Anne got grabby"). It keeps those things in mind for me for next time.

The only resource I've discovered that is specifically devoted to the social magician is The Amateur at the Kitchen Table (http://www.thejerx.com/blog/2016/9/10/wrapped-up-in-books?rq=kitchen%20table), which I recommend for anyone interested in performing socially. It addresses many of the issues I brought up in my initial post and more, along with some ideas for how amateurs can make their magic stronger while performing socially.

Dave
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For a long time I overlooked a huge opportunity that the social wonder worker has when entertaining family and friends - the utilization of elaborate setups that usually are not practical for most in a more formal or professional setting. Having access to walk about the room or venue relatively freely opens up myriad possibilities for pre-work. This can be of a simple or intricate nature, but either can be used in an effect appearing impromptu, and at the right moment if presented correctly can deliver quite an impact. Loads of fun as well. I suppose in my youth I saw this as "cheating". In later years I came to my senses and realized I was doing that all the while....

Carter
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Eons ago (!) A young aspiring magician had just seen Eugene Laurant's matinee Lyceum performance He waited at the stage door to meet Laurant, and, invited him out for coffee (hoping to get acquainted).

Laurant politely refused. He said to the young man, "Thanks for your invitation! Magic is my business! It's not a hobby. I've already planned to go fishing.

As much as I love what I've done all my life, I seldom do a trick in a social situation. I've always followed Nate Leipzig's "advice".

In a social situation, if asked to "do a trick", Nate always waited until he had been asked several times. --He just didn't want to monopolize the situation.

Somerset Maugham told a story of a cocktail party in which a young lady, says to her friend, "See that fellow in the tuxedo, over there? He asked if I liked card tricks. I said, 'No'. He did six!!

I'm retired after fifty years of performing "on the road". I have many friends who are amateur magicians. When we meet, we usually have a 'session'. but, that's entirely different from a party, a dinner or similar social event with non-magicians!
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Wilktone
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Thanks for your thoughts, Carter and Dick. It's interesting to hear about your experiences.

Quote:
For a long time I overlooked a huge opportunity that the social wonder worker has when entertaining family and friends - the utilization of elaborate setups that usually are not practical for most in a more formal or professional setting.


I'm reminded of a room I had in college with a ceiling fan. Especially if you weren't looking for it, a card taped to a rotating ceiling fan is hard to see. There's also an effect in one of Paul Harris's "Art of Astonishment" where you glue a dime to a piece of furniture or some other place that you couldn't do if you're working a restaurant.

Quote:
Eons ago (!) A young aspiring magician had just seen Eugene Laurant's matinee Lyceum performance He waited at the stage door to meet Laurant, and, invited him out for coffee (hoping to get acquainted).

Laurant politely refused. He said to the young man, "Thanks for your invitation! Magic is my business! It's not a hobby. I've already planned to go fishing.


Hmm, I'm not so sure that this is an example of "social" magic, but how professional magicians interact with each other. I'm more thinking along the lines of presenting magic in casual situations for friends and family.

Quote:
Somerset Maugham told a story of a cocktail party in which a young lady, says to her friend, "See that fellow in the tuxedo, over there? He asked if I liked card tricks. I said, 'No'. He did six!!


There's the biggest pitfall of social magic, you have to be empathic and aware enough to take unspoken (and definitely, spoken) cues when enough is enough. Frequently that's not at all, and you need to respect that.

Quote:
As much as I love what I've done all my life, I seldom do a trick in a social situation. I've always followed Nate Leipzig's "advice".


Interesting. Would you say that this is typical of other professional magicians or are you in the minority?

Quote:
I have many friends who are amateur magicians. When we meet, we usually have a 'session'. but, that's entirely different from a party, a dinner or similar social event with non-magicians!


My circle of friends and family are mostly creative types, lots of musicians, artists, dancers, writers, etc. Many of us work in those arts professionally too. We frequently share our arts and talents with each other in social situations, but the dynamic is very different for that than when I'm gigging professionally.

You mentioned having sessions with other magicians. I frequently will go to or host jam sessions for musician friends. Sometimes non-musicians show up and it isn't just musicians. The social dynamics are shifting as different people play together, non-musicians drift in and out of the room to dance, etc. It becomes less about performing great music (although that can happen) but more about the social interaction we're all having with each other. To me, social magic is similar. Sometimes it can be as planned out as the jam session, but other times it's as spontaneous as singing along with the song that just came on the radio.

I don't approach playing music socially the same way I do playing a paid gig, and would offer different advice for someone asking questions about one or the other. Do you feel that advice magicians offer each other needs to take into account the different circumstances that the performer may be using it for?

Dave
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Wilktone - Thank you for the ceiling fan idea. Tis one that will definitely be used.

Carter
HenryleTregetour
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Nice thread.

Thanks.

HLT
Dick Oslund
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Hello David!

I don't visit this "table" in the Café very often. --(I wasn't ignoring your questions!)

You asked two questions. I don't know how to "cull" out one sentence from a "whole page", so, Ill just try to answer your questions one at a time!

Question #1...Most of my professional friends feel about the same way I do, about performing in social situations.

#2...Generally, yes.
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harris
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I rarely perform magic in social situations.

I also don't pull out my harmonica or ukulele
or Vent Figure.

Actually it was at a friends party - when I picked up a puppet and did some improvisation.

My background is improv, theatre, mime & dance before
Magic.
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
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Woodini
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I do a fair amount of free shows. However, I usually check first to see if the group would be hiring a magician if I were not there. I do not want to take income from a magician trying to earn a buck. I offer entertainment where there would otherwise be none.
Terrible Wizard
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It one is a casual magician, it becomes even more necessary to have a huge social circle. If you're a loner living in the sticks it's gonna be tough.
Wilktone
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One thing that strikes me while reading through many of the responses above is that there seems to be a confabulation between what an "amateur magician," "casual magician," and "social magician" means. An amateur is someone who does something purely for the love of the activity, not as a profession. We might break that category down into someone who is a "serious amateur" and one who is more "casual." Neither of these terms, however, really addresses when and who those magicians perform for.

By definition a "social magician" is someone who performs magic in social situations. This person could be an amateur who is more or less serious about magic, or it could even be a professional who enjoys sharing magic with friends and family (although if the attitudes expressed by the professionals in this thread are typical, is less likely). An amateur or casual magician might not share magic socially and instead look for opportunities to perform in front of an audience that has come specifically for a magic show (e.g., a magic club performance). I would argue that performing a "show" is not social magic.

As a social magician I don't actually find myself performing frequently and when I do it tends to be for a relatively short amount of time, so as to not monopolize the hangout. Because I tend to perform for my circle of friends and family I find that I need to have a larger number of tricks to cycle through so that I don't repeat the same trick to the same people and tip the method. The guidelines I've read for routining tricks into a show for a formal performance don't lend themselves to my social performing.

The only resource I've personally come across that addresses my definition of a social magician is "The Amateur at the Kitchen Table."

http://www.thejerx.com/blog/2016/9/10/wrapped-up-in-books

Anyone know of another?

Dave
Terrible Wizard
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No, I don't. But The Jerx is an indication that such a resource is needed. I asked for the possibility of an amatuer sub-forum here, as I think there's enough of a gulf between pro and amatuer working environments to justify one, but it met with little enthusiasm. The definition of social magic is perhaps more apt.
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Hi Guys. Can someone please help. What is the trick called where the magician uses an arrow and the kids direct him.
He then turns the card that the arrow is printed on.
He goes in completely the wrong direction. Saw this and cant remember the name...

Thanx
Morne
Terrible Wizard
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Ask in the little darlings sub forum Smile
Doc Willie
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Sometimes performing for a friend, it will develop that they think the whole project is a puzzle, and spend their time trying to figure out the tricks. I handle this differently than I would in a public situation. If that is the entertainment for them, so be it. I will then pull out my best stuff to try to fool them. It is now a competitive thing, but now a friendly one, like a game of trivia.

In public, the one person who wants to do this, and is vocal about it, is a PITA, and many pages have been spent on it here and elsewhere.

So, what is your approach to the de-puzzling challenge?
Terrible Wizard
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I think it's very difficult.

First of all, I think that most people want to know how magic tricks that fool them are done. Regardless of how entertaining a trick is, the moment something fools someone one of their usual first responses is, 'how?' Now for professionals, or those doing a show, that isn't an instant issue - people will understand the context and won't directly ask the magi, or straight away get on their phones to check google, or ask the magi to repeat the trick, or take the props to examine them etc. And in a show the next trick comes along and pushes their thought process on and away from what just happened.

But for a a social magician, especially one performing for people they know and doing individual tricks rather than a show, this is an issue. You'll be asked 'how' directly, they'll ask to examine your props, ask you to repeat a trick, and might get their phones out right away. If you say 'no' then it becomes socially, and magically, awkward - why can't I shuffle? Why can't I handle your props? Why won't you do it again? Why won't you tell me?

I'm currently trying to find ways to diffuse these situations and issues so that performing becomes less awkward for me. My first thing would be to try, as much as possible, to avoid using anything that can't be examined. And to try and find ways to move people on from insisting I repeat or tell - usually by quickly moving into a trick where I am prepare to show them (some minor kid thing or betcha or gag trick).

Other than that, I'm open to suggestions Smile
Wilktone
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The afore mentioned Jerx blog has some ideas about that. I've given it some thought and come up with some thoughts that I posted on my magic blog here:

https://drdavesmagic.wordpress.com/2017/......l-magic/

Here's the important parts of it for discussion here, but go to my blog post for the relevant links to The Jerx, since I'm too tired and lazy now to fix them here.
----
About the only resource I've discovered that specifically addresses the social magician is from The Jerx blog and the anonymous author's booklet, The Amateur at the Kitchen Table. I really love his ideas of treating performing magic socially in a completely different performance style than we're used to seeing performed in a formal/professional situation.

"Andy Jerx" has four blog posts that cover his ideas here. In part one he discusses the usual way we present magic and why that tends to fall flat socially. The problem, he argues, is that magic is presented as a puzzle to fool the audience. While we of course want our magic to be deceptive, we don't really want our spectators to get wrapped up in the puzzle of it.

For my own example, let's use the One In the Hand, Two In the Pocket (AKA Gaddabout Coins) trick.

youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5irBF8wRJg

This is a three-phase trick. In the first phase you put two coins in your hand and a third coin goes in your pocket. The next phase is a repeat of the first. The final phase sets up like you're repeating the first two, but all the coins disappear.

The video presentation above is a very bare bones version of it, but it's a good demonstration how you might set up this trick as a challenge to your spectators. If that's the way you want to go, that's fine, and sometimes I enjoy performing this trick in this way. But there are some things I think you can consider that will help make this trick play better. Consider three different ways of asking the same question:

How many coins did you watch go into my hand?
How many coins did you see go into my hand?
How many coins do you think are in my hand?

The first question is my preferred way for the first two phases. If I ask, "How many coins did you *see* go into my hand?" I feel that I'm suggesting they didn't see everything going on and they begin to puzzle it out. On the other hand, "How many coins did you *watch* go into my hand?" seems less of a puzzle. For the final phase, where all the coins disappear, I think you can go with the challenging question, "How many coins do you think are in my hand?" That question invites your spectators to second guess you and at this stage in the routine you're ready for them to do so.

All that said, this sort of presentation is still creating a puzzle for your audience and if you're performing magic socially you might not want to go with this style - particularly if it's a trick where your props can't be examined or if your audience is the sort who will whip out their phones and start Googling methods on you.

The Jerx author suggests three different presentational styles that are useful for avoiding this situation. The easiest is what he calls the "peek backstage." It's easy because you don't really need to change anything in your patter or presentation. You're simply asking your audience if they can help you with something you've been working on. Before you even start performing the spectators are on your side because they are helping you instead of being engaged in a competition against you. You can change the presentation to make this fit your situation, but you don't have to.

Take the Gaddabout Coins trick as an example. You might ask your friend to take a look at something you've just learned and go into this routine. "Hang on, let me try to remember how this goes. I put these two coins in my hand and the third one goes into my pocket. No, that's not right." (show three coins in the hand). "I put these two coins in the hand and this coin goes in the pocket. No, that's still not right." (show three coins in the hand). "Oh, I remember now. These two coins go in this hand and this coin goes into my pocket. I give up, I can't remember how this goes after all." (all the coins have disappeared)

That presentation takes the puzzle aspect out of the trick and eliminates all of the spectators guessing how many coins you have in your hand. In some ways it also blends elements from the Jerx second presentation, the distracted artist.

It takes more effort to present a trick using distracted artist presentation style and it might even go completely unnoticed, depending on how you set it up. Using the Gaddabout Coins trick you might be at a restaurant with friends and realize you need to feed the parking meeter. You pull out three quarters and say to yourself, I think 50 cents should do it, put one quarter in your pocket and then dump out three quarters. "Huh, that's strange. I though I only had 50 cents." After phase two, "Sheesh, I guess I've been practicing so much coin magic that this sort of thing just happens now." Phase three happens, "I guess I'd better just pay my check and leave, I really don't have any change to feed the meter anyway."

I'm not particularly happy with that presentation, but in terms of brainstorming an the idea of the distracted artist it at least provides an example. The point is that you're not presenting the trick as a puzzle that you challenge your spectators to figure out, it's something that's happening to you.

The third suggestion recommended on the Jerx is the romantic adventure approach. This performance style generally would take the most time and effort to plan and perform because you will need to come up with both an immersive plot and do all the preparation in order to sell it. Something to keep in mind:

Quote:
Let me be clear about the Romantic Adventure style of immersive effects. These aren't meant to be practical jokes. You're not trying to convince anybody of anything. But you should still play it straight to allow your spectators to emotionally connect to the situation. To get wrapped up in the story. You don't have to think something is real to be affected by it. (This is pretty well understood in every other art form in existence.)


It's difficult for me to come up with a completely fleshed out plot that fits the romantic adventure presentation for Gaddabout Coins, but the germ of an idea involves pretending you ordered some "rare" coins on eBay and mail them to yourself. You open the package with your audience around and remark how long it's taken you to find "left handed coins" or whatever plot device you come up with. You point out to them that you only wanted one, but for some reason they are only ever found in sets of three. Putting one in your pocket for luck you go to put the other two away only to find that the one has jumped back. At any rate, you get the idea.

So give The Jerx blog a read and see what you think. It's not everyone's cup of tea, but it at least gives us social magicians other ideas that can help us (and our audiences) enjoy the magic more.
Doc Willie
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Merchant of Magic has made a fee eBook available on this topic: https://na282.infusionsoft.com/app/linkC......b495a48b

There are also a number of blog entries on that site that are pertinent to this topic.
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