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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » New to magic? » » One-on-one magic when others are watching (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

ViciousCycle
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Some magic tricks are ideally suited for a one-on-one situation. You create a highly interactive, engrossing magical experience for one other person. How do you handle this type of one-on-one magic when there are others watching?

I'm at my best when I am doing an interactive trick for one other person. But when other onlookers are present, I sometimes get pretentious and thus my tricks may lose the very interactivity that make them work effectively. (I become the Annoyingly Clever Magician, to use a phrase from another New to Magic topic. Or perhaps I become Uncle Geek, to use Eugene Burger’s phrase.)

Awhile back, a semi-professional that I respect saw me doing magic pretentiously, and he called my style non-interactive and tried to steer me away from the close-up magic that I love and towards things like parlor magic that I have no interest in doing. The fact that a thoughtful, intelligent magician made such a comment made me realize that pretentiousness can completely undermine the effect that you are trying to create. And I now consider myself at the following crossroads: Dump the pretentiousness or dump the magic. I’m assuming that many others on this forum have already come to these crossroads. How did you get through these crossroads?
mrunge
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Dump the pretentiousness and just be yourself. You'll come across as more sincere and your spectators will like you better and have more fun.

Mark.
Bob Sanders
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I admire your objectivity.

Appropriate behavior is not a snap for most of us. Pick your battles! Start by trying wait until the situation is appropriate. (You'll have enough there to challenge you.) Being all things to all people is a recipe for failure. If it's not your audience, don't perform! It's not your show.

Good magic is often a crime of opportunity!

Hang in there! You sound like a winner to me.

Bob Sanders
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Jaz
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If you think about it, one-on-one tricks are very, very common in magic and is performed often with assistants from an audience.

When you are doing one-on-one effects the onlookers should also be entertained and experiencing the magic through your patter and the assistants reactions.

I'm not sure why you feel you're being pretentious or annoying.
scaevola
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It is always good to remember that you are doing tricks to give the audience a feeling of wonder, not to show that you are one step ahead of them. I practice my tricks and try to act out that sense of wonder and surprise myself and that has helped me loose some of my pretentiousness.
Aus
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Is the reason for your pretentiousness because of the fact other people are watching or that the tricks that you perform in these one on one situations are vulnerable in some regard if others are watching?

Magically

Aus
ViciousCycle
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Quote:
On 2007-10-14 20:13, Aus wrote:
Is the reason for your pretentiousness because of the fact other people are watching or that the tricks that you perform in these one on one situations are vulnerable in some regard if others are watching?


A very astute question. I find that if I'm creating a magical experience for one person, they often get caught up in the magical moment. However, I find that if someone is making a special effort to disrupt a trick, they're nearly always an onlooker rather than the person whom I directly interact with during a trick. It's only been a handful of bad experiences that I've had, but I've developed bad habits from those few experiences. If performing truly one on one, I do the magic mindfully, but if others are watching, my mindfulness is lessened -- I'm more likely to deviate from how I've rehearsed,I'm more likely to show bravado instead of warmth, I'm less likely to do my best. And like my user name, it's a vicious cycle....
evolve629
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If I may suggest if you can start practicing mindful magic interaction to include one more to make it two and determine from there if you like it. If you enjoy performing mindful magic for two, I'm guessing you may end up liking a small group. In that case, you break the negative feedback loop you first started. I hope this helps.
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
nairbles
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Couldn't you just get everyone involved... i.e. 'you pick a card, and you shuffle the rest, now everyone say the magic words'? I've been practicing 'out of sight, out of mind' by Vernon, taught by Ammar (etmcm5) and only one spectator has to think of a card. no one else knows it, but the patter I use (something about mental energy leaving an imprint on a card merely thought of) makes me have to tell the rest of the audience to try not to concentrate too hard or I may get mixed signals... wouldn't just acknowledging that everyone is there watching help. explain the situation to everyone but use only one person as the example?
Brad Burt
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Pretension may or may not be a defense mechanism that you fall into to protect yourself if you get busted. It can be a way to 'psychologically' look out for and be aware of the danger inherent in having 'others' watch what you are doing.

The problem WOULD be if you work one way for a single person and another way for that person if others are watching which is really just working for a larger group. This seems to be what you are saying.

I have actually had problem similar early in my career. It's an uncomfortable feeling to acclimated to working literally for ONE person at a time and then find yourself in the position of having 'others' suddenly in a space YOU have reserved in your mind for just that one person.

I solved the problem in the following manner: I discovered that my feeling uncomfortable was caused by the UNINTENDED INCLUSION of the other spectators. I found that if I CONSCIOUSLY took a moment to INCLUDE the others present that the problem simply disappeared! I work it this way: Looking up and around at the others that have come over to see what's going on I say something like, "Hey! Great, some more eyes! Come a little closer. Can everyone see?" I do this in the most sincere and solicitous manner possible. I keep it light. I want to make the magic for ONE to simply extend out and just be magic for a LARGER .... ONE!

The problem for most performers in this circumstance is context and expectation. Simply expand the context to include MORE .... 'ones'. The action on your part is really pretty much the same for one pair of eyes or six pairs. If angles are a problem and they seldom are ... really, then just adjust your performance posture to take it into account. Move if you have to using the excuse that you want EVERYONE to benefit by being able to see as good as possible!!! YOU are in control. No one can 'make' you do your trick and if they are really interested taking a brief moment to adjust will not be seen as a problem by those waiting to see what you have to show them.

On a tangent that has a lot to do with this subject: Don't take your magic too seriously and don't worry about being busted. On a psychological level, the 'worry' ABOUT being busted is much more likely to lead to BEING busted or making a mistake than a more mellow attitude. The amount of muscle tension that comes from being in the STATE of "Being worried about screwing up" is much the worst enemy of actually DOING your magic well!!! Relax.

Consider the following truth that I have tried to drum into the heads of countless students: If you mess up a magic trick and possibly expose the method, absolutely NOTHING of any consequence will happen. NOTHING! Starvation won't get worse. Extra wars won't suddenly pop up. The Ice Age that the same scientist warned us about 20 years ago that suddenly they realize is a warming trend will not suddenly morph into some other calamity. Nothing will happen, so just relax. IF you relax you are less likely to mess up whether you have one person in front of you or you have ten!

That's really the issue. I KNOW where you are coming from. When I first started I HATED working for more than one person at a time. Then I foolishly started working at a magic shop. That will get you over the one person at a time thing REALLY fast! Anyway...hope the above helps. Sincerest regards,
Brad Burt
ViciousCycle
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Brad Burt,
You have a sound understanding of the psychology of a beginner in magic, and I'm giving a lot of consideration to what you've said. One of my formative early experiences in magic was when an individual seemed to be enjoying himself when I performed tricks for him one-on-one who suddenly become mean-spirited when he watched me perform tricks for someone else. I make a point of avoiding mean-spiritedness in the way that I perform magic, but I suspect that the mental barriers that I put up to try to avoid mean-spiritedness in spectators are often counterproductive...
Brad Burt
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What you describe is one of the ways that phobias are formed. A bad experience is associated with a person, place or thing. Discomfort of various degrees is then RE-experienced when the same situation is encountered and can become worse if not dealt with. The 'thing' may be a performing situation as it was for you. But, you can attack the discomfort associated with that situation and thus defuse it into the future.

Upon reflection I still think you would get over the discomfort if you attacked it as I talk about above. Re-frame the situation that a group of more than one person is looked at as if it is still just 'one'. One person, one group. No difference. Treating the 'group' as if all there are more than welcome to participate will help engage THEIR desire for you to succeed. It helps a lot.

It is fortunate that there seems to be very few folks that don't like magic. All you can do is shrug and feel sorry for them and whatever terrible thing happened to cause this antipathy to conjuring. From personal experience I can pretty much guarantee you will not 'turn them around'. Good luck! Best,
Brad Burt
mrsmiles
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What a brilliant answer from Brad. One of the best I've read in a long time.
Bottom line? I agree the solution is strategies to include the bystanders. Some good ideas on this in all the posts. I tend to fire out gags and quick ad libs to the bystanders. I watch for their reactions and react to those. I ask them to move 'to get a better view' (to eliminate angles). Once their presence has been acknowledged by you in these ways, you have a direct line to them, and will feel less pressured by their presence and able to respond to them in better ways than you feel you have been up to now.
Best,
mrsmiles
(UK)
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