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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Time after time » » Putting Yourself Down (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Pinto2
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I find this happens with all magicians, and especially beginners. When some one asks to see a trick, and your nervous so you say somthing like "well this trick sucks but...". So I was wondering what's your opinion on this and how you guys stop it from happening. Aswell as the impact that you think it has on the trick.
TCM
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As I'm not so experienced, I always think that I don't know enough moves or enough tricks. I also put myself down nearly all the time - even if one of my mates asks me to do something. Sometimes I even go as far as saying 'Oh f*ck, I've done the trick wrong. Carry on..." or "Sh*t, I did it wrong. I'll try, but I can bet it won't work", but I don't think that saying that takes from the effect too much. In fact, whenever I have said this the trick turns out great and reactions I get are fine. I think the only way you can stop it happening is experience and practise - You will see the reactions from a trick and wont say "Oh yeah, this trick sucks, but anyway...", it will be more of a "I know this trick gets massive reactions, so..."
JeffWampler
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Hmmmmmm...when I teach beginning magicians, I see that this is often the case. My advice is to just not do it...don't put yourself down. However, that like much advice, is easier said than done.

One very important thing to remember is that your spectator does not know what to expect, so they rarely know that you mess up even when you do. There are exceptions, but the majority of the time they are clueless...this is a major reason why you shouldn't tell people what you are going to do before you do it.

I get a really big thrill out of messing up a trick and being able to get myself out of it. To be honest, this rarely happens anymore, but occasionally I lose a break and have to think on my feet.

Another, more philosophical reason you shouldn't put yourself down is self-fulfilling prophecy.

In effect, if you tell yourself and your audience that you're gonna suck, you probably will. You've already programmed your subconscious into acting on sucking. Nor should you tell everyone they're gonna see the greatest trick they've ever witnessed in their life (although this isn't entirely always bad), your goal should be to do your best and to show your audience a good time in the process.

Some people will tell you to practice more, and that could be a problem too. A thing that most beginning magicians have trouble with is distinguishing method and effect (in fact, some experienced magicians have this trouble too).

If you separate method from effect a big part of the battle is won. Use your presentations to communicate the effect and misdirect the method. Most "magic" effects are pretty impossible and pretty cool...if you can communicate this impossiblity you've done your job.

Another random thought on the subject (I know I'm rambling at this point) si that whenyou say "This is gonna suck" or "I'll probably mess this up" it automatically sets your effect up as a mere puzzle...it takes any "magic" away from the effect even if it did work out properly...
knightrd
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A couple of times lately I've found myself doing this, it is very counterproductive. However, I've come to realize that the problem was that I was slacking off too much. To compensate I've been working on perfecting what I've learned as well as pushing myself to learn more and come up with better, well thought out routines that match my style.

If you practice and perform enough, things should improve. Always strive to be better.
cajmagic
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2 thooughts: One tell them its a simple trick then use it to blow them away. I don't do this anymore but I had a great 4 ace production - lose then find again whic I said they probably knew as a kid and could bo already but...


Over-all though it did not make them expect less then blow them away - it just made them think I was doing old tricks
Caj Brejtfus
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T. Joseph O'Malley
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If you went to see your favourite band play, would you like them to start the show by saying, "hey we're really sorry but this isn't going to be a very good song". What kind of mood and tone would that set for you, as a spectator? I have seen artists, magicians or not, who prefaced every single thing they did by downplaying it in this negative fashion, and it is NOT entertaining to watch.

People sometimes say things like "would you like to see something" etc. For the sake of presentation, it's better if you have an interesting routine worked out, and instead of saying "hey let me show you something interesting", you can say something like "did you know that every single deck of cards ever manufactured has secret markings on the back" or "i have discovered a way to transmute base metal in to gold" or "my grandfather was a one armed gambler who never lost, and he showed me a couple of things", etc.

I just think it's best to give people something to hook them and get them interested, whether it's a little story, one liner, etc. Certainly not by saying you suck, unless if that's somehow brilliantly worked into an effect.
tjo'
Steven Steele
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This isn't restricted to magicians. I see public speakers all the time get up and the first thing out of their mouth is an apology for something. You need to just not do it. Think of it this way. Your audience (regardless of who they are) are there to be mystified and entertained. They couldn't care less about your problems and they're smart enough to walk out if you suck. So forget it; on with the show!

By the way, that's what cured me. I needed them to like ME and I couldn't think of any reason why I would say something to fight that point of view. Once I got that in my head, I never did it again.
TCM
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I see what you're saying Joseph, its all great advice. Im going to start being a little more positive now..
Ben Train
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Hes handsome, funny, AND he can play an accordian!!!

And.... hes right.

Workers often discuss a "hook" which is what you use to get your audiance interested before the tricks begins.

If someone came up to me and asked if I wanted to read a book, but it wasnt very good, I would say no, because I'm to busy.

The same applies for magic. Why would someone want to watch a trick that you say sucks, and you like magic! If your a magic fan and you think the trick sucks, then it must be bad.

There is a diffrencebetween self deprecating comments directed towards yourself and towards your magic.

I never put down my magic. Ever. Its obvius when I perform that I love the tricks like their my own, because they are.

I DO make fun of myself though. Depending on the situation. Just remember, self deprecation is ok in moderation, and also remember: deprecatio is hard to spell. Am I close?
If you're reading this you're my favorite magician.
leefoley3
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I, too, had, and sometimes still do have this problem. I once asked my mentor for help. He asked me a very simple, yet, effective question. What are you afraid of?
Ask yourself. The answer: You'll get busted. Big deal. The only thing you have to lose is information. That's all anyone could get from the experience.
You may have a handful of people that know how you accomplished an effect. It's not the end of the world. Of course practice and experience helps. Let me know of an art or craft that doesn't' benefit from either of these two. Keep your head up and keep on keeping on.
Don't ever give up. Smile
Your Burnt-out brother,
Lee.
In December of '06 I was diagnosed with a very rare cancer, Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans. One in a million people worldwide are diagnosed with this type of cancer annually. Sarcomas account for 1% of all cancers. Knowledge is power!
Paul Chosse
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Bravo, Lee!

You are absolutely correct, the only thing you stand to lose, really, is a little info. More importantly, people are afraid they'll get "busted", as you put it. And underneath that fear is the real key: ego... No one wants to look the fool, no one wants thier ego damaged. So, we start out by disclaiming any responsibility for the outcome - "This trick sucks!" - that way, if it does, it isn't our fault, we bear no responsibility, therefore our fragile ego's emerge unscathed. Well, not really. But that's what we think, subconsciously.

Since the real root of this problem is fear, the solution is to vanquish the fear. Either learn the necessary slieghts so well that you WON'T fail, or do something else. After forty years of doing card tricks, I still run into that fear factor occasionally. It is usually around really good magicians. I want them to like me, to be impressed. And the way to do that is to fool them. Here's what I do, and it works as well for novices as it does for me, as well for laymen as it does for magicians: I do a trick that CAN'T fail!

Learn several tricks that require no slieghts, that are based on subtle principles that can't be discerned. One of my favorites is a Vernon trick called "Emotional Reaction", from the "Inner Secrets of..." series. Another that works well is from "Close Up Card Magic" by Lorayne: "The Lazy Man's Card Trick". There are others, many others. The point is that they are self-working, and brilliantly constructed to obtain maximum magical effect. They leave you free to concentrate on your presentation, on your audience.

Try this approach. After you've worked on a set that requires no difficult moves, but still fools the hell out of your audience, you can start to put the other stuff in your act. You'll find it easy, because your confidence has improved. Your ability to connect with your audience should have improved too, since that's all you have to focus on if you take the tough tricks out, as I've suggested. By the way, the audience rapport you'll be focussing on IS the tough part, it's just that lots of us don't know when we start out...

Best, PSC
"You can't steal a gift..." Dizzy Gillespie
greydonthemagician
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Hey,
I use put my self down all the time before I really looked into what I was saying to the audience. I started to tape myself and write out my patter. So I think in order to prevent this from happening, you should get a friend to listen to your patter, write out exactly what you want to say, video tape yourself. Most importantly though is to gain experience, only through experience will you gain confidence in your performance, and when you gain confidence you will stop saying how bad your effect is or that you are going to mess up.
greydon
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Magicmaven
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Really interesting question.
I am no pro, so take what I say with a bowl of salt.
You must have confidence. Not just in this situation, but in ANY, when you walk on stage from behind the curtain, to walking into the interview, you must have confidence. Now of course, don't be cocky, and say " this is the best card/(...) trick in the world" because then they will be disappointed if it isn't or if you screw up, and since you are just beggining-- that's a possibility. My advice is just practice on people. Sometimes what I say is "this is something I am working on." If I mess up, they tell me I have to work on it, if I do well, they say that it was really cool. Just a thought.

Definately practice on people. Maybe since the problem seems to be you introducing the effect or beggining, you should introduce it with it's name. That might yeild the tendency to "describe" it's quality.
AVirgaA
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When someone says "this trick sucks", it does lessen the expectancy of how great the trick can be. But it can be very effective if the trick gives a lot of impact! Like if someone came up to me and was very cocky about the trick, I'd play the heckler and want to beat him at his own game. But when you put yourself down from the get go, it sort of puts you one step ahead of the laymen and heightens the impact of the trick. It's similar to a roller coaster. Some don't want to be at the top from the beginning and nail the climax, sometimes it's better to start from the ticket booth and finish the dive flawlessly.

Andrew Virga
card123
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I have the same problem.This is what I do.

I say "i am going to show you a really crap trick"..then I go on to show them a really crap trick...then afterwards I say "I told you so"
evolve629
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There is a certain charm in self-effacing in light of a more or less great effect...
One hundred percent of the shots you don't take don't go in - Wayne Gretzky
My favorite part is putting the gaffs in the spectators hands...it gives you that warm fuzzy feeling inside! - Bob Kohler
Nick B
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I am an experienced and confident public speaker but I have to confess that, when I used to get my cards out, I would often go to pieces. Thankfully, it happens much less these days. When I first started doing magic for my friends, I would always start by saying "This probably won't work..." Shock result: I was right - it didn't! My confidence would always be at a real low when performing magic and it always showed. My GF had a word with me: "Don't put yoursefl down so much - I've seen you do these tricks a million times and I still can't figure it out. Have some self confidence and just make it fun for everyone, and not such a downer - which is what it is if you say it's not going to work."

She's right of course. Self deprecation is one thing and can be attractive in the right dose. Self flagellation is another thing and rarely wins an audience over.

Best wishes.

Nick
Nick
Glenn Godsey
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Quote:
On 2005-06-13 10:28, evolve629 wrote:
There is a certain charm in self-effacing in light of a more or less great effect...


I agree with you, Evolve. My performance attitude is to attribute the greatness to the trick or to the teacher I learned it from, not to myself.

Best regards,
Glenn Godsey
bouche
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I have just picked up a digital voice recorder. I use it to rehearse, make notes about effects I do, brainstorm new ideas, and even record bits of nonsense I hear.
It makes a world of difference. Of course one has to be able to do the effect in your sleep before giving presentation the attention it deserves. However once you have a few pet tricks try recording them.
I have tried rehearsing out loud in the past but find that I lapse into silence fairly quickly. By recording you are really on like you would be in front of a spectator. Anything less than spectacular is painful but very educational.
If I record digitally I can access my presentation immediately by scanning through the files(while I am in the car, walking the dog etc.) and mentally rehearse the effect in question.
By doing this, in a short period of time, my presentations are finally getting the finishing touches they desperately need.
delgadil
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I never put myself down, or a trick down. Why would a spectator want to watch a magician who claims he sucks, or a trick that supposedly sucks?

kevin
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