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Topic: When you mess up...
Message: Posted by: gfcal (Jan 3, 2018 11:29AM)
When you make a mistake during a trick, what technique do you use to recover?
Message: Posted by: WitchDocChris (Jan 3, 2018 11:37AM)
Depends on the trick, the audience, and how badly I messed up.
Message: Posted by: Luke Jonas (Jan 3, 2018 12:07PM)
I try to ensure that I have more than one out. your audience doesn't need to know you have messed up.
Message: Posted by: danaruns (Jan 3, 2018 09:29PM)
Yeah. Depends on the trick. But as an out of last resort for card tricks, I wear a Queen of Hearts necklace, and tend to force that card during card magic, so that if I lose it I can point to my necklace and say, "I this your card?" if everything else fails. But multiple outs, for sure.
Message: Posted by: Yellowcustard (Jan 4, 2018 01:07AM)
As above multiple out is very useful and totally something you need to work on. Also the more confidant in you slight,martial, patter and whole routine the smother everything goes. And I find this is the key for me in my performances. Here are a few examples of hoe begin confidant in my martial has helped me get out of a sticky situation.

1- Coins across- After a few phases of a coins across routine a coin I was holding out collapsed into the wrong place. Nothing was exposed and I had a choice either to fit and recover or what I choice was to finish up with and that the coins across went in applause cue and dumped coins and went right in to next routine.

2- Chink a chink with dice and the spot ID the dice so 1,2,3,4. I did something wrong and the 4 came out rather then the 3. I dint adjust I just keep gong and ploughed on with confidence. Yeah a few people really spoted it, others realized something was up but on the whole it got applause.

A few examples hope this helps.
Message: Posted by: davidpaul$ (Jan 4, 2018 11:04AM)
Regarding cards;
If I lose a signed selected card for a routine, I excuse myself, tell my spectators I need to use the restroom, find their card, and then go back to the group ready to go. Problem solved.
Message: Posted by: danaruns (Jan 4, 2018 06:20PM)
[quote]On Jan 4, 2018, davidpaul$ wrote:
Regarding cards;
If I lose a signed selected card for a routine, I excuse myself, tell my spectators I need to use the restroom, find their card, and then go back to the group ready to go. Problem solved. [/quote]

Heh. :D Haven't heard that one before. :D
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Jan 4, 2018 08:17PM)
I have done the basically, the same material for YEARS. The last time that I put a "new" trick or routine in the show was when the bureau found it necessary to have me repeat a territory, in two years. Usually, they would have me repeat a territory every four years. I had been "playing with the mutilated parasol for some months, and, needed the flash, so I used it. It played great the first time, and has never missed. I brought back several tricks that had been left out for a few years, but I had used them enough in years past, so they weren't really new.

The point is, that if you are going to do this for a living, you cannot afford to "mess up". I've never done the "latest & greatest". In 1959, I visited Gene Gordon, in his magic shop. He showed me a "latest". (The Professor's Nightmare) The EFFECT was good. I didn't like the necessary moves to achieve the effect, but, I hoped to find a "better way" by playing with it. This was in the spring of '59. It DIDN'T GO INTO THE SHOW, UNTIL 1971!!! My old friend, Karrell Fox had realized that the principle, and, handling of a Gen Grant, cut & restored rope trick would serve as the set up for the Nightmare. Karrell showed me. I tried it. It WORKED! I've done it since then.

When you are learning to ride a bicycle, you may fall off several times, but, once you've learned how to ride, your body wont allow you to fall. NEVER do a trick that you haven't mastered so well, that you "CAN'T FALL OFF".
Message: Posted by: danaruns (Jan 5, 2018 09:56AM)
Here are some of the best cyclists in the world crashing: https://youtu.be/cSwlVtCa3ss

I've never seen the professional magician who has not "messed up." In fact, it's kind of comforting to know that even the best of the best do it. I've seen Johnny Thompson crash and burn so badly his entire set was ruined. I saw Jonathan Pendragon reveal to 2,000 people how Metamorphosis is done. [i]Everyone[/i] has mistakes and catastrophes. If you're not making mistakes, you're not working. It comes with the territory. In the best of mistakes, you're the only one who knows you've made one. That's what multiple outs are for.

Still, there is value in performing from the middle of your skill set, not the edge of it, so that you minimize the opportunities for spectacular failure. Those cyclists in the video above were at the edge, which is what world class competition is about. Absent active competition, you should practice at the edge of your skill set, but perform from the middle of it.
Message: Posted by: WitchDocChris (Jan 5, 2018 10:18AM)
Excellently put, Danaruns.

One should absolutely do material they are rock solid confident in, stuff they have honed and practiced as much as possible to that point. But no amount of practice in the world can stop thread randomly breaking, or an unexpected slippery spot on the floor, or any other number of random, unavoidable things that can happen. Heck, maybe you have a muscle spasm and drop a palmed object or whatever. Sometimes, it just doesn't work out.

Even Copperfield dedicates a portion of his rehearsal time to the things that can go wrong, so no one will ever notice if they do.
Message: Posted by: davidpaul$ (Jan 5, 2018 11:11AM)
I saw Lance Burton in Vegas when he had his show. His "Vanishing Cane" had a mishap in front of 1000 people. How many times do you think he performed this signature routine? It happens to the best of us. He just moved on as if nothing happened.
The show was still great.
Message: Posted by: DaveGripenwaldt (Jan 5, 2018 05:05PM)
My answer for cards magic is "Outs Precautions And Challenges (For Ambitious Card Workers)" by Charles H. Hopkins.

It is not a book of tricks, but rather talks about an approach to card magic that, with a little forethought and a change of mindset, prepares you for the times a spectator screws you up ("Hey, let me shuffle those!") or when you make a mistake...like losing the break...and still stick the landing without the spectator ever knowing you were it trouble.

You always finish the trick, even if it is not the one you started.

Hopkins addresses common issues like when you ask the spectator to name his card and he refuses...what to do when you lose control of a card and have no idea what/where it is, as well as when there is a complete train wreck, such as coming to the end of an routine where you reveal the selection and it is dead wrong.

It was written 75 years ago so it looks and reads a bit dated, but it is filled with timeless ideas for common moves and gaffs that make you “spectator proof". I've always thought it should be required reading for anyone starting out in card magic.

It's available on Ebay, Amazon and I think Penguin sells a reprint...best $6 you’ll spend.
Message: Posted by: Mr. Woolery (Jan 7, 2018 03:01AM)
A few bits of advice from the Café over the years have stuck with me:

Carry an ID for card outs. Miss the classic f*rce? No problem. “ You have a totally random card, right? Would you believe I knew what card you were going to pick? See this other deck? Well...”

Mess up beyond repair? Admit it! “Okay, I messed up and the trick isn’t going to work. You have a choice. Either I can start over and do it right or we can just do something else.”

There are all manner of corny lines for those moments, of course.

And if a spectator is being difficult, admit your limitations! “Nope, if I let you shuffle, the trick won’t work. Do you want to see me do the trick or do you want to see me screw it up?”

The ideal is to get it right. But we all suck sometimes. There’s a video of Misty Lee on YT that I really like. At one point, she is on a sidewalk and simply asks “did you see how I did that? Okay, please tell my camera guy what you saw so I can fix it.” I was impressed with that.

Message: Posted by: danaruns (Jan 7, 2018 09:04AM)
[quote]On Jan 7, 2018, Mr. Woolery wrote:
And if a spectator is being difficult, admit your limitations! “Nope, if I let you shuffle, the trick won’t work. Do you want to see me do the trick or do you want to see me screw it up?”

Some problems can be avoided, and this is one of them. Problem spectators can be shut down without any admissions. I used to be very shy about those challenging spectators, but Pop Haydn taught me that sometimes problem spectators are the best provers and that it can actually be fun to engage them.

The guy who is never satisfied with the card he picks, for instance, can actually make the trick better. I let those guys pick and return cards as many times as they want, though eventually I'll say something like, "Hey, no worries, I can stand here all day, I get paid by the hour," to discourage them so the trick can finally move along. But the fact that the dude has picked a card five times instead of once makes the effect seem even more impossible. You can't possibly have forced a card on him five times, right? (Wrong!) Surely it was a free choice? (Nope.)

For the guy who wants to shuffle the cards, I have at least two choices:

(1) I can let him do it and then adjust, or even morph into a different trick (which the audience will never realize). This happened to me not long ago, and I was able to steal and palm the chosen card before handing the deck to the spectator. Just fortunate it worked out that way. If it hadn't, I wouldn't have let him shuffle.

(2) Mostly, I just tell him to pound sand. I might say something short and declarative, like, "Nope, I never let people touch my props," and then keep moving without pause. Others say things like, "Hey, I don't come to your job and start flipping your burgers, do I?" That's a little strong for me. I love to use another phrase I borrowed from Pop Haydn, which is to lean in conspiratorially and say (loud enough for everyone to hear), "If you play along, we can get outta here." Always gets a laugh, it's a bald faced appeal to the jerk to play along, and it has gained their cooperation every time I've done it.

I'm sure others here can list a dozen better ways to deal with such spectators.

As a last resort if they won't cooperate, I just dump them and move on to another volunteer. At a stage event I worked in December, where the drunk spectator was just such a pain (even though her father was a magician!), I took her by the hand and walked her back to her seat and got another volunteer to help me finish the trick. The audience applauded. They want to see magic, not some jerk or drunk who is trying to spoil the fun.

Another thing Jeff McBride taught me to do with such folks is to never let them hold the props. With cards, for instance, rather than having them pick a card, you can tell them to simply hold up one finger (and thank them when they don't hold up the middle one -- good for a cheap laugh), then spread the cards in front of them and have them just touch one card. You remain in complete control of the props at all times.

Hecklers and jerky spectators can actually be fun to mess with. Don't be afraid of them, but do control them. More often than you'd think, their shenanigans actually improve the effect, and engaging them can be very entertaining, not to mention it can heighten your credibility. But never, ever say something like, "if I let you shuffle, the trick won’t work." There are dozens of ways you can deal with them without confessing that they are screwing you up.
Message: Posted by: Newsround (Jan 7, 2018 01:51PM)
Without wanting to derail the original point, Danaruns has an excellent point. An awkward spectator can be dealt with in a number of ways, definitely without admitting in front of everyone that if they touch the cards you won’t be able to do your “trick”. I’m not even close to being able to perform to people, but I also enjoy watching comedy. Anyone wanting any tips on how to deal with hecklers only need look how comedians do it. If you can do it without going overboard and get a little laugh too, then you’ll have everyone onside. Quite likely, the overwhelming majority are wanting to enjoy what you’re about to do, so dealing with the annoying, awkward one with a bit of fun will hopefully have them eating out of the palm of your hand
Message: Posted by: thomasR (Jan 8, 2018 12:39PM)
When a mistake happens... learn from it! Some of Mac Kings signature comedy moments are the results of mistakes that he now causes to happen because they improved his show, not took away from it.
Message: Posted by: Pop Haydn (Jan 8, 2018 02:41PM)

To become a great performer, you must be prepared to deal with the spectator assistant who fights with you, contesting every procedure. One must design a routine to be ready for the combative spectator.

Actually, conflict increases the stakes emotionally, and makes an effect play much stronger by making the story more interesting.
Protagonist tries to show a card trick, Antagonist wants to contest every procedure: conflict! Protagonist finds card anyway: Resolution!

Every magic trick is a little play. We should look for the places where an intelligent, well informed person might want to object to a procedure and make sure you can handle what they throw at you–make sure you have strategies and outs so that no matter what they do you are okay.

When you are prepared, you can relax and enjoy the exchange, and intensify the emotional conflict. Let them see you sweat. Let them see you tread water. Let them see you a little ticked off. Let them watch how you handle conflict. Let them share in your victory, without making your assistant look bad.

A good actor does this by going through the play of the routine one step at a time, playing the part and honestly reacting to what is happening.

Such conflict is your friend and can greatly enlarge your audience reactions. It is not about having the skill to think and respond on the spot; it is about planning and preparing for everything in advance. What gives magicians the seeming ability to go with the flow and respond with unflappable aplomb to anything that happens really comes more from experience and pre-planning.

The Chicago Surprise is a powerful sleight of hand card routine that can even play on stage because of its thoroughly engineered design.
Message: Posted by: danaruns (Jan 9, 2018 08:55AM)
^^^Yeah, what he said. :D
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Jan 9, 2018 10:00AM)
I am returning to this thread to "revise & extend"!!!

I note that most of the problems being written about, seem to be "difficult spectators" while doing a CARD trick!!!

I don't DO card tricks!!!!!

I'm now RETIRED! My "regular work" was in School Assemblies (all grade levels) I did a stand up 45-60 minute program. When I was booked for hospitality suites, and, similar situations, I did "eye candy" material like Professor's Nightmare, rope knots, ring and rope, and rope juggling, golf balls, Elusive silk vanish, egg bag, even, the so called Slydini KNOTS, etc. (nothing requiring a "working surface"). Because of the presentation style, there was no reason for spectators to become "difficult"! One of my most popular bits was the G.W. Hunter "IMPOSSIBLE KNOT". You should see a half dozen company executives trying to tie a knot!

I was, and, still am, a believer in Nate Leipzig's philosophy. "If they like YOU, they will like what you do!")

Pop Haydn and I have never met, but I read ALL of his comments, and, we pretty much agree on presentation! I have the original hand written instructions for his FOUR LINKING RINGS ROUTINE, given to me by our mutual friend, the late Hersy Basham.

See Pop's FIRST PARAGRAPH IN HIS COMMENT JUST ABOVE! Unless you are willing to do just what Pop tells you, you're gonna wish that you had.
Message: Posted by: DaveGripenwaldt (Jan 9, 2018 10:27AM)
Pop Hayden's line reminded me of one of Eugene Burger's lines when a spectator started to say out loud they knew how his trick was done. He'd say, "Well don't just tell everyone....sell them the information after the show!"

He said the line worked for him because it isn't particularly combative because you are acknowledging the spectator does know how the trick done, which is amazingly mollifying to someone looking for attention...and gets a small laugh at the same time.
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Jan 9, 2018 10:47AM)

Gene never got "shook" when he was working! He had a marvelous ability to "read" his audience!

Remember my "definition" of "magic"! --Magic is 5% sleight of hand skills, 5% perceptual illusions, 5% esoteric principles of science. AND 85% PSYCHOLOGY! If you've ever seen Gene perform the Gypsy Thread.......
Message: Posted by: Mr. Woolery (Jan 9, 2018 09:07PM)
I don’t think I have ever seen a video of Pop Haydn that I did not find both amazingly entertaining and very instructional.

My suggestions were really meant for a beginner. I have found that as long as I remember I can screw up, I relax and accept failure when it happens.

That said, I think that rendition of Chicago Surprise is my new gold standard as a future performance goal. Thank you so much for sharing!

Message: Posted by: Dougini (Jan 13, 2018 07:39AM)
Hi y'all! Here is an example of a bad mistake I cannot see from HOW one could gracefully recover. Stage effect to music. The Zombie.

300+ people in the audience. It went great, until the ball was to sit on top of the cloth. Something went wrong and The Zombie "exposed itself". You could hear the audience react. The disappointed "Ohh". Nothing I could do, except act silly!

I did a little Jim Carrey dance, swinging the ball around by the...-, and danced offstage. The crowd ROARED! Then APPLAUDED! Not sure WHY...but...still, I was humiliated, and to top it off, the Maine Magician's Society ended my membership that night, saying I acted disgraceful!

Yeah. Maybe. But who has an OUT for that? I was NOT expecting the Zombie to hang up. I had done the routine HUNDREDS of times! But...this time COST me. Looking back...I sure wish it had never happened!

Message: Posted by: SacredChao (Jan 13, 2018 10:53AM)
Depending on the effect, but it usually boils down to: "Interesting..." *provides a reading based on the cards or coins* "Shall we try another experiment?"

Or for grabby folks, something to the effect of "If you're going to do that, you'll need to sign a waiver." Or... "Well, you're certainly braver than I was when I started. Do you even know what this does?"
Message: Posted by: thomasR (Jan 16, 2018 01:24PM)
Did the Maine magicians society also remove Penn & Teller from there list? If they are going to act like that good riddance.
If you were able to recover to the point the audience laughed and applauded that's a huge win for you and shows you were able to think on your feet.
Message: Posted by: Dougini (Jan 18, 2018 12:34PM)
They were an older bunch of guys, and I was in my 20's. Looking back...yeah. I must have looked pretty stupid to them. I mean, WHAT would they have me DO? Hang my head and walk off? Bad things happen to performers. Once, I was MC at the Ice Capades in Florida. I had white pants, Hawaiian shirt, and sandals. Just before going on, I tripped and fell outside, cut my leg, bled all over one leg of my white pants..."Doug, you're ON!" came the call. I grabbed a clipboard, told the director to hold the spotlight from the waist UP...and I did it. It worked. I held the clipboard just right. A thousand people were none the wiser.

Funny thing. Back in 1978, I was hired by the Dixfield Ladies' Club to perform for a luncheon. I did the Rabbit From The Hat. Great trick. It would have been better if he hadn't been PEEING all over the place! All over the table...big fail. Then, the guy after me (a member of the MMS) opened his Dove Pan to find the dove in the throes of a broken neck!! That's two in a row! It happens kids! And we hang our heads ruefully...

Message: Posted by: ValeCavaliero (Jan 8, 2019 08:15AM)
Simply Smile with youur audience :) you are the magic, not your effects
Message: Posted by: Dougini (Jan 9, 2019 05:04PM)
This happened at my sister's friend's house in Boston. "Doug, ya got a little magic with ya?" All went well until my TT with two silks to disappear went flying! Landed on the floor under the table. I excused myself, grabbed the TT and continued. No one even looked for it! That was a lucky break.