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Topic: Controlling audience attention?
Message: Posted by: Sean (Feb 4, 2002 11:14AM)
I'm new to magic. I did it as a kid then picked it up again after Thanksgiving. Yesterday I was doing a card trick for a friend and I noticed that he stared only at the cards whether or not I was talking to him or looking him in the face. Needless to say, this made preparing for a double lift a bit more difficult and nervewracking. Fortunately, my wife came by, I asked her a question and that diverted his attention to her for the moment I needed to get the lift.
So my question: any good advice on misdirecting spectator's attentions when they seem determined to look at your hands?

The double lift and the effect worked well, btw. First time I did it for someone who wasn't my spouse. :bg:
Message: Posted by: martinkaplan (Feb 4, 2002 12:04PM)
Audiences will pay closer attention when you imply through body language and words that this is an important phase of the routine. Sleights, such as preparing for the double, need to be done on the offbeat with your body relaxed. Sometimes verbal misdirection will supply the offbeat, sometimes physical misdirection will supply the offbeat and sometimes you just need to wait. There will always be spectators who are determined to burn your hands and you need to take advantage of whatever opportunity presents itself. It seems that you did just that.

Message: Posted by: hobbymagic (Feb 4, 2002 01:37PM)
Sometimes your patter can include asking a question. It is difficult to answer a question without looking at the person.
Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Feb 4, 2002 02:01PM)
Marty may be on to something in his post, Sean.
It's possible to inadvertently signal, by body language, that something is going on; you, yourself, may not even notice it or be able to realize it.
And part of your problem may be lack of performing experience in front of new audiences.
That is something that comes with time and may, eventually, translate into a more confident method of presentation and, thus, make misdirection that much easier for you.
Unfortunately, as I said, it takes time.
Hey, if this were easy, everybody would be doing it! :lol:
Peter Marucci
Message: Posted by: Jeb Sherrill (Feb 4, 2002 06:29PM)
This is probably true. Usually, if they are really burning your hands, it's because you aren't relaxed and they sense you wanting to do something. If all else fails, say their name in the form of a question (like hobbymagic said). People will always look up if you say their name. Well, usually.

Welcome to the Cafe.

:dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance:
Message: Posted by: spfranz (Feb 4, 2002 08:29PM)
I performed for some people at work the other day and being the computer geeks that they are (no offense anyone, I'm one too) it was a complete "challenge magic" situation. They had to look at the cards, touch them, shuffle them, burn my hands the whole time. Not impressed by any tricks where I didn't touch the deck (must just be a math thing) but were killed by Twisting the Aces.

Anyway, if asking a question doesn't work (which it sometimes doesn't with people like this). Just stop. Just freeze right in place holding the deck. Don't move and don't say a word. I guarantee they'll look up to ask what's wrong. At that point, you do the move and say "wow, you're really watching, aren't you?". They'll also swear later that they never took their eyes off the deck. After all, you just verified that :)

Message: Posted by: Scott F. Guinn (Feb 5, 2002 02:56AM)
Actually, Sean, you unintentionally found what I believe to be one of the best solutions (and Tommy Wonder, in "The Books of Wonder," agrees with me!) don't address the person who's burning your hands--address someone else, as you did -- your wife. Almost without exception, if you get one of these "burners," who doesn't look up when you address him, he will look up when you address someone else.

Max Malini had a great line: "Wait a week!" People cannot keep up that concerted effort to concentrate for very long, especially if it gets boring. So, "remember" a joke, and tell it. Usually, only a few seconds will pass before he forgets to look at your hands, because it seems like you aren't going to do the trick right now. And people relax when they laugh.

Another option: learn a double lift that doesn't require a get-ready!
Message: Posted by: Sean (Feb 5, 2002 09:48AM)
Thanks all for the advice. After lurking in alt.magic for awhile, this place is a breath of fresh air.

Fortunately, I'm performing for sympathetic audiences right now, but someday, I may be attempting that double lift in front of less friendly people.

I'm working my way through Card College now, so I'll definitely pick up some more (and better) double lift moves at some point. Right now I'm using the one from Mark Wilson's Encyclopedia of Magic.
Message: Posted by: Fredrick (Apr 12, 2002 02:52PM)

I feel that we create our audiences during our performances. How you (or I) feel towards an audience has a lot to do with how they will interact with us. If you feel that they will be supportive, you will feel more comfortable. If you feel that they will be less friendly, they will be....

I have come to believe that misdirection is an incorrect description of what we want. We don't want to have an audience not look at something, but rather look where we want them to.

Congratulations on working through Card College. It's a wonderful series.

All the best in your journey
Message: Posted by: Jason Fleming (Apr 13, 2002 09:01AM)
Fredrick makes wise comments...well said!

Having taught magic classes during the past few summers, when introducing misdirection as a concept it occurred to me that "misdirection" is a misnomer...a misdirection in itself! It could easily be called simply "direction", the point being that you should be directing the audiences attention "somewhere", rather than simply "somewhere else". That affords you jedi-like control of your spectators.
Message: Posted by: N14 (Apr 16, 2002 10:32AM)
On 2002-02-05 03:56, Scott F. Guinn wrote:

Max Malini had a great line: "Wait a week!" People cannot keep up that concerted effort to concentrate for very long, especially if it gets boring. So, "remember" a joke, and tell it. Usually, only a few seconds will pass before he forgets to look at your hands, because it seems like you aren't going to do the trick right now. And people relax when they laugh.


I totally agree with this.
When the spactator normally keeps on looking at my cards, I pause a little and laugh a little to myself, like if I remember a funny experience, or if it seems like I forgot to do something important to complete the trick.
He/she/they will wonder what it is I'm laughing about and will look up to my face.
I tell them something and continue the trick, but they missed that critical little second. :winker:
Message: Posted by: preston91 (Apr 16, 2002 01:50PM)

Don't think that doing magic for "friends and family" is a sympathetic audience.
I've found that not to be the case. Seems that they try extra hard to burn you. Friends are much more likely to want to see the cards, look in your pocket, grab at props, etc.
Strangers don't know you from David Copperfield, so as long as you do the effect well, they will except you as a "magician" and be amazed.

My $.02

Message: Posted by: Jason Fleming (Apr 16, 2002 04:11PM)

I agree with you 100%.

The exception I have found is that when my friends and I have been drinking a bit they are easier to misdirect. But usually so am I at that point...

Message: Posted by: Earl (Apr 18, 2002 06:13AM)

I agree with you but I think successfully performing in front of friends or relatives makes you more confident when being in front of strangers...

Message: Posted by: Thoughtreader (Apr 18, 2002 06:35PM)
Change your focus and your audiences focus. Don't make the magic about the cards but about the magic experience. Inexperience as a magician (unsure about your moves and technique) is something that the audience WILL pick up and they will burn your hands to see what you are doing. If however, they are just having a good time watching you work, there is less emphasis on the "trick" in itself and more on the overall experience which will in turn change the perception of all, not to mention relax you.

The more sure you are of your material, when the moves happen by themselves without you thinking about them so that they are automatic, then you can merely focus on your audience and on entertaining them. When you are working new material, you have to think about what you are going to do next, what move is coming up, you might even have some nervousness about it and so you do not have time to focus on entertaining your audience. Most new people make that mistake and perform the effects before they are truly ready to and that is one of the downfalls they discover.

PSIncerely Yours,
Paul Alberstat
Message: Posted by: Baz94 (Apr 18, 2002 08:13PM)
One thing I use to distract their attention is to act a bit like I'm gonna read their mind.
After their card goes back etc, I say "Now just think of your card" and stare at them. they always look into my eyes, by this I can do almost anything with the cards.

If there are 3 or more, After the card is returned, I start to say something but then look to another member of the audience that is furthest away and make a comment like "Blimey, He's all the way over there and look at the mistrust in his face!", Everyone turns to the person you are indicating.

Thankfully, I can talk complete rubbish and my misdirection is better than my magic ;) which helps when surrounded by hawk-eyed specs :)
Message: Posted by: Alan Wheeler (Apr 18, 2002 10:04PM)
Until my sleight-of-improves, I too have to rely on directing attention away from my hands at any one special moment.
In the past I have usually looked directly at the person and asked a question directly related to the effect such as, "Is it a red card?" This may be sophomoric; I don't know. I see now perhaps the best way is to have a spectator do something, and I may start putting out a toy prop for this reason. This may be ridiculous; I don't know.
If I have to do something really hard I could set off some fire-crackers...
Message: Posted by: Jason Fleming (Apr 20, 2002 02:39PM)

Even when you feel your sleight-of-hand technique has improved to the point of an "undetectable" move, you will find that some people burning your hands might suspect that "something" happened, and for them, that's enough. They caught the magician, hooray for themselves. Misdirection, or simply directing their attention, is the key to sustaining amazing magical moments for your audience.

The use of carefully placed lines or even introducing props or having the spectator perform a task are used by the "royalty" of magic regularly and with success.

As you perform more and pay careful attention to your audience, you will identify weaker moments in your routines and those are the times to add some audience-attention-direction.

Keep smiling!
Message: Posted by: Steve Friedberg (Apr 20, 2002 06:07PM)
There's a really neat little Bro. John trick that played into that perfectly...where he would plant a move that spectators would think they'd caught him in misdirection...and they had. but it was only in there to set up the real move, which they never saw.

There's a lesson there, perhaps...
Message: Posted by: Mack Magic (Apr 23, 2002 08:02PM)
Everyone gave really good advice.
If you do magic in front of an audience also besides your family and friends, make sure you have a good presentation of the trick if you really want to keep their attention.

If you just say "Now I'm going to put the silk in my empty left hand and say a magic word. Poof, it has disappeared." they will probably lose interest real fast.

It is good to always have a good presentation for your magic if your doing it in front of an audience. :)

Also, make sure to listen to the advice everyone else said because I wouldn't be able to say it any better myself! :bg:
Message: Posted by: Thoughtreader (Apr 24, 2002 10:29AM)
On 2002-04-18 23:04, alleycat wrote:
Until my sleight-of-improves, I too have to rely on directing attention away from my hands at any one special moment...If I have to do something really hard I could set off some fire-crackers...


I do not mean to single you out particularly BUT something you said kind of snapped inside of me. You said that until your sleight of hand improved you must misdirect your audience. Perhaps then that should be an indicator that the particular sleight you are working on is not ready for public viewing yet. All too often I see magicians performing new material that is far too
"green" to be shown in public and THAT is the biggest exposure problem in magic today.

Far too often you hear magicians stating that "I am an entertainer first." or "I don't try to fool my audiences, I entertain them." These are cop outs for poor magic skills. A magician FOOLS people, and one that does a poor job of it is NOT a magician.

Too many magic enthusiasts learn something and immediately set off to show it too people and do a terrible job of it or worse, they show it to their local magic club and they all sit there and politely applaude without saying anything constructive which in turn leads the poor enthusiast to believe he did a good job. Why on earth would someone who has such a deep love of something want to do a less than perfect job on it? Why would they not want to learn as much about that art (as opposed to saying that they don't enjoy manipulation, or coin magic, or....).

Enough of my rant for now, just needed to vent.

PSIncerely Yours,
Paul Alberstat
Message: Posted by: Alan Wheeler (Apr 28, 2002 12:28AM)
Dear Paul,
I believe you are entirely right. I really do NOT want to try to do things in public that are beyond me; it's embarassing to myself and harmful to magic in general.
Your point is well taken, and I thank you for the reminder.

However, in my case the only slieghts I now use are a double lift, moving a card to the bottom or top of the deck, or a couple of other easy things. I have done these two things for years but had forgotten the names of them. Though no one has ever caught me doing them I do not feel they are
"undetectable" and I also sometimes lack confidence--and hence my joke about setting off fire-crackers.

Anyway, feel free to single me out for your burning wrath at any time, because I really do want to continue learning to do things in the best possible way.

Dear Doc Fleming,
I also want to thank you for the reinforcement and confidence-building advice to keep developing the skills of directing the audience's attention. Believe me, I treasure everything I learn here at the Magic Cafe!
Message: Posted by: Magique Hands (Apr 28, 2002 09:34AM)
I know this may read as redundant, but Sean, ask yourself this: "Does the way I handle the deck, lead the spectators into 'burning' my hands and the deck?"

When you learn to display a deck of cards, in a very casual and non-challant (sp?) manner, this will sub-consciously direct your spectators, that there's really nothing special about this deck. Then, do the move when the spectators are in the 'non-defensive' mode. You'll see it in their body language and upper body posture.

Timing and direction is everything, when getting ready for, and when executing a secret sleight. Structure your routines, so that the audience is in a 'relaxed' mode, when you need to perform a move. Use time mis-direction if needed. For me, learning a top-palm, was challenging, until I learned 'how not to do the move while being 'burned'. This may sound like a cop-out, but mis-direction is the basis of our craft.

In many ways..."You must un-learn what you have learned." - - Yoda

"Look over there!! It's an elephant!!" Bamm!!! DO THE MOVE!! :winker:

- - Troy
Message: Posted by: Magique Hands (Apr 28, 2002 09:50AM)
Here's something I forgot to mention above:

I learned this from Michael Close...

Call your spectator's name, look them straight in the eye, and ask them something specific (pertaining to the trick you are doing), or ask them to do something specific. Now, the focus is off of you, and puts it on them. Very Clever, very clever indeed.

- - Troy
Message: Posted by: Alan Wheeler (Apr 29, 2002 01:26AM)
Dear Paul,
I just want you to know that I am not defensive at all about the accusation that I use material that I am too "green" for. I actually have several purchased effects as well as effects and moves that I have learned that I will not perform publicly because I lack the confidence.
The moves that I have done for years have the feeling that Troy talks about just above--a casual, free, relaxed feeling.
All the suggestions in this thread have been helpful.

--alan :kitty:

P.S. I don't think the trouble is with me at all. Why is it always me that's the one that's not defensive? How come none of you guys are never the ones that aren't being defensive?
Message: Posted by: Magique Hands (Apr 29, 2002 02:21AM)
Hey Doc Flemming;

Excellent way to put it!

- - Troy