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Alan Wheeler
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I wish people could enjoy an effect without asking "How do you do that?" There may be manners of presentation that encourage pure enjoyment and ease the burning desire to know how the effect was accomplished--and these I would love to know.

None-the-less, I suppose people will always ask "How did you do that?" What is your favorite way to respond?

The people I perform something for are usually Chinese friends or students. I don't want to seem unfriendly or cold or even secretive, really, so I usually say, "If I tell everybody the secrets I learned from the magicians, then the magicians will go hungry." There is also a phrase I learned in Chinese that means "When the student learns everything, the master goes hungry." These responses usually get a good-natured laugh, so--here anyway--it is my favorite response.

And you?

--alan
The views and comments expressed on this post may be mere speculation and are not necessarily the opinions, values, or beliefs of Alan Wheeler.
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Jimmy Lee
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Some possible replies...

a) How did I do that? Well, I did it very well thank you!

b) Can you keep a secret, yes, so can I!

Any other interesting replies? Smile
Magically Yours,

Jimmy...
a guy from a tropical island in South East Asia
..oops...where did he disappeared to????
P T Flea
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Do you know what? Thinking about it, I don't think I get asked how did you do that very much at all. I am more usually asked to do it again.
If someone does ask how did I do that I must just say "sorry, magicians' code..."
or "with a lot of practice"
But I have not been asked recently enough for me to remember that's for sure.

cheers

PT
Smile
Good judgement comes from bad experience, and a lot of that comes from
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Magique Hands
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Hey Alan... Great Question!!

Performing magic for any venue (close-up, stage, or just with a few friends), people will always have that "How Did He Do That" thought in the back of their minds. After all, it's our human nature. And after all, they just got fooled (and entertained as well).

Magic is themed around effects that 'Defy Explanation'. When I first started out, performing in front of spectators, I was asked that question many times. I think it's because, here I am this kid who just fooled them, and people are intrigued when something fools them.

Performing casual magic, opens the spectators to ask this question more often, it's just the nature of that casual setting. When I perform in the restaurant (contracted), people don't ask me that inevitable question. Why? Because the atmosphere is not as casual as mentioned earlier.

There are budding magicians that start their casual display of dexterity, by "Wanna See a Cool Trick?". I think using this opening, opens the door for that 'question'.

I truly believe, that when doing any venue of magic (close-up especially), we as the magicians, should develop our routines in such a way, that they INVITE the audience members to 'Take A Magical Journey With You'. In reality, you are able to bring your world of illusion, INTO their world of reality. Doing so, makes their 'trip' much more entertaining.

I really like PT Flea's response above,
"With A lot Of Practice."

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- - Troy
"If you go around sprinkling Woofle Dust on everything... people will think 'My... What an odd character." www.magicmafia.com
Alan Wheeler
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Thank you, Troy. I would rather defuse the need for the question by setting a more formal or more "fantastic" tone than have to answer it.

Any other suggestions for how to reply or defuse the question altogether?

alleycat Smile
The views and comments expressed on this post may be mere speculation and are not necessarily the opinions, values, or beliefs of Alan Wheeler.
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Magique Hands
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Here's a few more responses (although I still say that you should structure your presentation, which invites them to experience something magical)

1) "Well, it's kind of a James Bond thing... for my eyes only. And speaking of eyes (immediately go into Mac King's "FORK IN THE EYE bit)."

2) "Rules were made to be broken... secrets were not." I've never used this statement, but I did hear it once.

3) "Well, it all started when I was this little kid, and my parents got me this magic set see, and well... the rest is history."

4) "You'll be able to read about it, when my autobiography is finished. If you give me the money now, I'll make sure to reserve a copy for you."

Just In Fun,
- - Troy

Smile
"If you go around sprinkling Woofle Dust on everything... people will think 'My... What an odd character." www.magicmafia.com
mikeB
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How about.

I wish I knew! - It just happens, must be magic.
Cheers

Mike
Your Reality Is A Figment Of My Imagination
Gawin
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Great - or.....

How - I don´t know!

So how I did it.
Pokie-Poke
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many years, and no social life and you to can do this.
If that dosen't work I tell them how to find the local magic shop, or kids library. (I know one person who knows the duey decimal number for kids magic in the library Smile and tells them that)
or if all else fails I tell them to show me one first, as I can tell another magician, so show me a trick... at that they quit.
also I agree, avoid "can I 'SHOW' you a cool trick" as when you are done they will want you to keep showing them. just do it and get on with it
www.pokie-poke.com
The Adventure cont...
Philemon Vanderbeck
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"Decades of practice and self-denial."
Professor Philemon Vanderbeck
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r4bid
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"The real question is how do you do (insert random skill or ability that the spectator has)"

"Well I would tell you but I think the real question is how do I do the next one" start the next trick.

"Do what?" Vanish the deck or coin and stare at them like you are puzzled. This one is great for small crowds.

"The same way everyone else does..." If I am doing a levitation or an arm twist or other impossible physical feat. This gets people really frustrated but will often get a laugh.

I have a whole bunch of responses and I often just improv, try lots of different phrases and see what works for you.
Jimmy Lee
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I like all the suggestions so far!
Magically Yours,

Jimmy...
a guy from a tropical island in South East Asia
..oops...where did he disappeared to????
Telemus
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Alley Cat
I take it as a rhetorical question and answer with a question....

They say "How did you do that?"
I say you "Did you like that?" "Would you like to see more"? Then get on with it.

But if they are genuinely interested in magic I give them a card and invite them to the ring meeting.
Enjoy,
Telemus
davisjr
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I like to look at them with a twinkle in the eye and say, "It's magic!"

Another, depending on their participation in the effect (eg: to vanish a coin, I will sometimes have the spectator blow on the hand), is, "ME? How did YOU do that?" to which I often get (from kids) "I don't KNOW!" and I say, "You must be MAGIC!"

Smile
mrbungle
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I always whisper to them in their ear! I will tell you later. sometimes they forget or I don't see them anymore. If they come back at the end of the night, I will keep saying I will tell you later. After a couple of times/hours they will give up! haha!
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Alan Wheeler
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I like all of these ideas, but this last one seems especially friendly. It seems as though a few people become almost filled with anxiety at not knowing while others could see their own watch visibly disappear from their wrist and just respond, "That's cute."
I might say "Ask me a little later" instead, though, because I hesitate to bald-faced lie to folks.

Thanks! alleycat Smile
The views and comments expressed on this post may be mere speculation and are not necessarily the opinions, values, or beliefs of Alan Wheeler.
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DoctorAmazo
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There's always the Penn Jillette's in-your-face response:

Look around conspiratorily and lean toward their ear, as if to whisper the secret.

Shout "It's a freakin' TRICK!"
THOR
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I've used this one a bunch of times. I think it is mentioned in Corrinda's 13 Steps to Mentalism. This is probably best used after doing a mentalism type of effect.

You look around, side to side, as if you really are going to tell this person an amazing secret and you don't want anyone else to hear and you say, "It's simple. All it is is pre-inferential cognosis....but don't go telling everybody, ok?".
Dolini
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I enjoyed reading all of the responses and some of them were great. I try to respond in a mannor that is not harsh or offensive to the person that is asking. I often use "I'm not really sure how this trick works." Similar to what MikeB said. People do not want to be made fun of. I always put the joke on me.

Dolini
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KingStardog
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I agree. We should avoid being abusive to
paying customers as well as our friends and
aquaintences. Dolini is right in putting it
back on yourself. I mostly perform for
developmentaly disabled children and adults,
so extra care in handling, and avoiding hurt
feelings is in order for my work. Smile
...think not that all wisdom is in your school. You may have studied other paths,but, it is important to remember that no matter who you are or where you come from, there is always more to learn.
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