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Brad Burt
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Yo, Café's been a while. I have been posting, but I've let things drift here a bit. Just got this ready in reply to a question from a client online. It addresses a common problem particularly for the beginner. -Brad

What Do You Do When It Goes Bad?
By Brad Burt
Copyright 2008


I had a great question come in the other day. Here it is:


Can you give a Mini Lesson covering what you should do if someone see through your trick or you are busted? What do you do it this happens? Thank you,

Pascal Bosman

It's a really good question and I have 'kind of' covered it in other places, but I don't remember if I have done so specifically.

Let's look at in this manner: Essentially we have several differing possibilities.

Number One: Someone "THINKS" they know how the trick is done, but they in fact do not. But, they are pretty much convinced that they do.

Number Two: The person for whatever reason REALLY DOES know how the trick is done. They know it and you know they know it from things they say, etc.

Number Three: They figure out how the trick is done either because they just "figgered" it out, or we blew the trick in some way so that they "saw" how it was done.

There may in fact be some other possibilities, but I can't for the life of me think of what they might be. The above covers pretty much everything that I can think of you will encounter in this regard.

Look at them carefully and you will see that really they are the same problem cropping up in a different manner. In all three cases the only thing that matters is what the person who "knows" says at the time of the performance.

Look at it this way: If someone figures out what you are doing or they already know how it works or you blow the trick in some manner so they find out….if they don't say anything then there is no problem…..right? The problem always arises from the person who knows or thinks they know SAYING something that extends that knowledge to the rest of those who are watching. If they say nothing then you are fine.

Again, this is probably obvious, but it needs to be stated so that we can cut right to the core of the problem. That is: If the person says something indicating that they are going to say more…then what do you do?

Again, let's look at the possible scenarios…..

Number One: The person 'thinks' they know, but really do not and are spouting off with what they 'think' is the method to your trick.

Number Two: The person does in fact KNOW how you did it, because they are a magician themselves or they read a magic book when they were a kid or any other way in which they could know. And, for whatever reason they feel it is their duty to tell others how your magic works thus spoiling it for everyone, but himself.

Number Three: You blew the trick and thus exposed it, but only one guy really caught on and he is the one guy who just HAS to tell everyone what he has discovered.

O.k., Wadda we do, eh? The above scenarios are the perfect types of things to think about in advance so that we don't get stumbled up when they happen. Frankly, and this is just the way it is, it happens much more on a casual level than it does on a professional. The reasons are varied and not really relevant to the solution.

Here goes:

Number One solution is related to all three above, but mostly to Number Three. What's the main reason that most magicians screw up that does not involve having the mechanics of the trick down? In other words, assuming you really CAN do the darn thing what would cause most guys or gals to mess up a perfectly good trick? Answer: Being worried that you WILL screw up the trick! Nerves caused by an over determined concept of the importance of magic secrets themselves. I have written this elsewhere, but here goes….I LOVE magic, but it's just not that important. IF….IF….IF, you mess up a trick I absolutely guarantee you that no one will die because of it. No one will starve. No one will forget that they just discovered the cure for childhood diseases of varied and mortal kind. Nothing really bad will happen. Say, "Oops, screwed that one up!" Laugh at it and more on.

My argument isn't for sloppy magic. I'm pretty much in the perfectionist category myself so that's not what I am saying. What I am saying is that once you have done your job of study, practice and rehearsal….do your best and get over it. Stuff will happen. Make a mistake just pretend in the performance that you did not and many times you won't even be found out!

The down and dirty: LEARN FROM IT! Don't let it beat you or embarrass you. Learn from it and move on.

Number Two: You ARE going to meet folks that are in the KNOW for one reason or another. Shoot, maybe they're psychic and just know what you know because they can read your mind! It doesn't matter. If it looks like it might be a problem just look at them and say something like, "Hey, let's keep it between us magic types…ok?" Be cool. DO NOT take yourself too seriously! If the guy is going to Rat you out then there isn't really a whole lot you can do about it, so the best thing is to try and make the best of it. What you don't want to do is show that you are angry or disturbed. Why? Because, a lot of the time that's what these folks are looking for: A reaction from YOU. Don't give them one and you are more likely to get through it in better shape.

The other thing to consider is that you may have to just stop doing any magic at that point. Say, "Thank you! And, I'll be back after a short break." If you are doing some set program of close-up or parlor or if you are just doing some stuff for friends, etc., then you may just want to stop.

The thing to remember is that you can NOT really beat these guys. If they want to mess with you they will. Just relax and give way. (Or, you could beat them up, but I'm not REALLY suggesting that you do that. Not really, no.)

Number Three is related to Number One above: Some folks will really, REALLY think that they know what you did. In some cases this is used as a ploy to get you to tell them what you 'actually' did. In most cases the spectator REALLY does think they have solved your magic puzzle and you will NOT convince them otherwise without showing them what you did. This is a kind of Lose/Lose situation for you. You can't ethically tell them what you did just because they want to know or you want to prove how much more clever you are than they. And, second, they go away convinced that they know what reality is when in fact they may actually be psychotic. Not really, but sometimes I think that this type of spectator IS in fact so divorced from reality that they should be in safe, secure environment.

Again, try the, "Hey, help me keep the secret, ok?" approach. Remember, if they really don't know how you 'did it' then you really have nothing to lose by just walking away either metaphorically or in reality. I mean, they probably won't try to torture the actual secret out of you….if they do just tell them.

On some occasions I'll look really guilty like they really did in fact bust me and tell them that yep, they figured it out. This is a very soft, miss-directive approach, but sometimes it helps to deflect the situation enough for you to 'get away'.

Well, that's about it. Mostly you who may encounter this problem will find that you work out strategies that work well for you, but I hope that the above will be of help.

My very best for GREAT Magic!
Brad Burt
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