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Topic: Performing for engineers
Message: Posted by: incanes (Mar 14, 2019 08:02AM)
Hello all,

as a Software Engineer, that really enjoys magic I show card tricks to mainly the people around me (family, friends etc). The problem is that most of those people have higher IQ and their little brains try to figure out how the trick is done and even try to screw it up sometimes.

The routines I have learned only consist of sleights with which I am 100% comfortable and are invisible. Also when I do the moves I try to misdirect them somehow... for example I start explaining what the trick will be while trying to make a polite eye contact but all they do is stare at my hands in order to figure out what I do. (it is quite annoying to be honest :D ) I have tried same tricks on random people and I can fool them 99% of the times.

I have figured out it is much easier to fool them with tricks that utilize stacks and false cuts / shuffles. But one can't always carry a stacked deck.

So the question here is how do you handle such kind of public? How can I misdirect someone who is determined to find out how the trick is done and can easily figure out things like double undercut?
Message: Posted by: WitchDocChris (Mar 14, 2019 08:51AM)
If someone absolutely refuses to engage in the performance, I have one rock solid trick that fixes it every time: Don't perform for them.

Here's the thing: IQ has nothing to do with it. It's about engagement and reward.

If the audience, no matter who it is, is just trying to bust you constantly, then they are not engaged at all and they get the biggest reward from busting you.

That means you've placed value the fact that you know a secret they don't know, and you're not giving them anything else to care about. Therefore, by figuring out the secret, they make themselves equivalent or better than you - because not only do they now know the secret as well, they figured it out on their own.

So the only way to get around that is to either create better/more engaging presentations, or not perform for those people.

Relevant story - Back when I first got into magic I performed for guy getting his PHD in Psychopharmacology. The first trick I did was Crazy Man's Handcuffs. He watched me do it, and then spent 15 minutes trying to puzzle out the method. Then I performed a simple card-force-mind-read, and his reaction went from "this is a puzzle I can solve" to stunned silence.

My 'presentation' for CMH was very standard. Soft spot in the rubber bands, that kind of thing - it wasn't developed or personalized at all. My presentation for the mind reading bit had been developed and personalized, and felt very engaging and interesting.
Message: Posted by: davidpaul$ (Mar 14, 2019 10:15AM)
I second WitchDocChris. Sometimes I just do something simple like Hot Rod and politely exit without showing any hint of frustration.

In one of my restauarants the Dept. Head of Physics at Carnegie Mellon would come in almost every Sunday with his family and admittedly tell me he wanted to figure out the effects. His personality, though was very friendly and he just enjoyed the interaction. He even had me perform for the Physics Dept. Christmas party several times. I was humbled to be asked... on another note:

There are techniques that can be learned to conquer burning of the hands. I believe in Tommy Wonder's "The Books of Wonder" he discusses this scenario in detail. One is a ricochet technique.
When someone is burning your hands you engage someone else in the group and ask them a question. Human nature, in most cases, causes people to look at the person talking, even if it's only for a second. They can't help it and don't remember either.

Another is tension and relaxation techniques. If for example a card is replaced in the deck and you have to controll it, pause and relax. This sometimes takes the focus (tension) off of the deck.

In-transit-action is another. Natural movements like moving something on a table that is in your way
enables you to do the dirty work that will not arouse suspicion. Be alert watch the eyes, be knowledgeable of many different sleights. The one handed top palm , thanks to Glenn Morphew, has served me quite well when THAT CERTAIN SPECTATOR wants to shuffle the deck.

Get educated on natural human movements. For example, the next time you go out to eat, watch people at other tables. Whenever people are ready to put food in their mouths, watch their eyes. Their eye gaze moves upward and they look around. They don't think about doing it, it's just natural and not remembered. Same with performing sleights in all areas of the magical arts. I still get fooled by those guys who perform dove magic. Where do they come from?

Experience and learning in the trenches, getting caught, implementing the above techniques as well as others will certainly help you. It takes time but doesn't everything that you want to excell in?

Have fun... Sorry if I was long winded.
Message: Posted by: WitchDocChris (Mar 14, 2019 10:27AM)
Books of Wonder are an excellent resource for directing attention. I've just finished the Magic of Ascanio as well - another excellent source I highly recommend studying.
Message: Posted by: Ravenspur (Mar 14, 2019 12:46PM)
Doing tricks for people you know is difficult. They are more skeptical and looking for mistakes. I'm hoping to do some tricks for my students tomorrow, but I'm worried about their desire to make or at least help me look stupid.

My wife did this to me on a false cut. I was doing a trick for her and my daughter and she told me I hadn't actually cut the cards. She was trying to help, but that wasn't helpful.
Message: Posted by: Mr. Woolery (Mar 14, 2019 11:49PM)
Engineers. Yeah. I'm back to school to reinvent myself as a civil engineer. They make somewhat lousy audiences in general because engineering emphasizes the whole concept of knowing how things work. It makes it sort of hard to do the willing suspension of disbelief.

That said, there are a couple of things that I've found work for me.

First, participation beyond just picking the card. What is the participant's role in things? Engineers are just as susceptible to a f*rce or a p**k as anyone else, if done well. But there has to feel like a reason for the person to be involved in things.

Second, the premise. Are you just showing a trick or creating an experience? A shortcut here is to tell a story where magic is the illustration. Look for Christian Cagigal on YouTube for some really good examples of stories where the magic is the illustration to the tale.

Third, the preamble. It is amazing how far a simple statement can change things up a bit. "Normally, I don't like showing these tricks to engineers because they always just try to mess me up or figure out the workings instead of enjoying the surprise. But I don't think you are the sort to throw sand in the gears like that, can you please shuffle these cards?"

And if that fails, too, then accept that you are dealing with people who just don't like magic very much. None of these is surefire. Some people really don't want to be entertained, they want to feel smart. And anyone who claims "it's fun to be fooled" doesn't know the people I know. It is fun to be astonished, surprised, or mystified. Fooled, not so much. Are you structuring your performance to fool or to entertain?

I'll point you to www.thejerx.com for some really good (and sometimes rather crude) thoughts about performing as an amateur magician.

Message: Posted by: incanes (Mar 15, 2019 04:06AM)
Thanks for the help guys I guess I'll have to checks Books of Wonder ;)

Meanwhile I'll have to continue trying my tricks on them, who knows might make me better
Message: Posted by: baronborrelli (Mar 15, 2019 03:37PM)
As an Engineer (Ceramic) and working in the Software Industry, I have had my share of know-it-alls. They will convince themselves they know the trick even if they are wrong. So, I build a reputation at happy hour with normal looking objects. Time machine (the watch) is a great start, but may be too pricey for some (I got it as a gift).

If done right, without too much fudging, borrowing someones ring and floating it. I either use a small ITR in my sleeve or Loops. This is a stunner.

For card tricks, there are several...

If you are in a crowded loud space, the ice cream aces (b,r,r,b and then two DL) is great...

for quieter area Quadruple coincidence (Scarne) had minimal sleights, but is amazing.

If you can do a decent false shuffle, go with "Liars Poker". This is where each player takes five cards and memorizes one. They return all five, mage shuffles and then deals into piles....etc. It is a stunner, especially in the right environment. IT IS NOT for fun parties... but engineers at dinner or as work wraps up (or even after a long meeting) it cannot be beat
Message: Posted by: LightningRod (Apr 1, 2019 09:45PM)
I've been around the types who want to singe your hands with their X-ray vision while doing magic. I'd just make sure I chose magic effects that ensured they'd see nothing, no matter how hard they stared... I'd never do a slight while they're watching, and I'd rely on the patter to distract them, typically using some sort of item that happens to be around (candle on the table or whatnot).
Predictability is one element that can be frustrating to your attempt to astound the spectator. For example, in a dinner table scenario, I'd never do so much magic that anyone would COUNT on it... so when I do, it catches the spectators entirely off-guard (and usually engages someone else nearby as a distraction, too, because at a restaurant, someone is ALWAYS within earshot or watching, mostly because people are nosy).
Message: Posted by: Sleight Of Mind (Apr 2, 2019 10:08AM)
They are smart but they still want to be entertained. give them that and they wont bug you for the method..
Message: Posted by: The Gold Coin (Apr 20, 2019 01:52AM)
Hi incanes,

I'm also a software engineer, and I've run into the same thing where other engineers just want to know how it works. There's this one guy (you know the one I mean, *that* guy/gal) who literally tries to call out how a trick is being done while I'm performing the trick. But so far it's really just him. I've met plenty of other engineers who may want to know how it's done, but still enjoy the magic.

To be honest, I don't think it's really about whether people are engineers or not. There are folks who, straight up, do not like magic. Even if the best slight of hand artists in the world performed for them, they still wouldn't like it. And there are other people who think magic is the best thing since sliced bread. When I have a new trick to try out, I try to avoid folks in the former group, because it's really not something they want to see.

If you're curious to learn more, Joshua Jay wrote a really interesting paper on audience perceptions about magic (http://www.magicconvention.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Survey.pdf).
Message: Posted by: st3v13 (Apr 22, 2019 12:27AM)
I'm a software engineer as well. I've found being entertaining is the only thing that works. most ppl just THINK they know how it's done. (found out they're usually wrong) some don't want to be entertained (didn't seem to matter if they're engineers).
Message: Posted by: st3v13 (Apr 22, 2019 12:41AM)
I think as engineers we're usually trained to try to critically evaluate any problem we're faced with. Which makes us one of the least fun group to perform for. (Personally.... Friends who are pastors are 100x worse, but that probably says more about my friends that pastors hehehe)

With my coworkers, the best kind of tricks that work for me are any "kicker" style tricks where the expectation switches. Engineers are pattern based creatures (at least code junkies I work with.) I got an eyebrow raise from one of the worst cubicle neighbors with a Spider vanish. (Go for that long con. I even give them a fake flash like I messed up)

Personally, I find that an entertaining performance is way more fun than being fooled. So I go for that most of the time. I do it for fun and when people are having fun. I WIN EVEN IF THEY THINK THEY'RE RIGHT. Regardless, it's a fun time to go from "Engineer Steve" to "STEVE THE WIZARD"
Message: Posted by: magicianbrady (Apr 27, 2019 11:18AM)
Do app magic like DFB and Inject on them. Those usually have no reasonale explanations how they're done ;)
Message: Posted by: iaind (May 11, 2019 11:34AM)
Sucker and switch up tricks definitely. I'm a software architect too, so I know the guys you mean. And the thing is, those type of folks are really really bad at asking themselves "what if I'm wrong"? So if you can lead them down the garden trail with a fake exposure and then switch it up, they will be 100% convinced they've got it while they're being misled.

Also +1 to books of wonder. Just got mine and the first chapter of Vol 1 is worth the price already for his thoughts on misdirection SO GOOD!
Message: Posted by: Melephin (Jun 28, 2019 07:16AM)
I had the experience, that engineers or other highly educated people are very easily entertained. I had a the beginning of my magic "career" a performance for doctors of physics and chemists. It was a great performance (one of my favorites ever, was a lot of fun for all of us). Important - don't try to fool them - entertain them! Involve them emotionally, don't give them puzzles to figure out!