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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » Is telling a spec "Excellent Choice" after a selection really relevant? (2 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

FlightRisk
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I am questioning the use of telling a spectator "Excellent Choice" or "Queen of Hearts...my favorite card!" when we give them force or free choice of something. I get the psychology here, but is it really of any value? Or does it come from working restaurants where the waiters are trained to say that no matter what you order and we overheard it: "I'll have the frog's legs please..." Smile I am wondering if this is just another holdover from by-gone days of magic or society. Especially in this age of TV and internet magic, you see it so much (as do the spectators) so it seem overused and disingenuous. Or is it? What are your thoughts and experiences?
danaruns
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I compliment my volunteers every chance I get. It make them feel good when they are super uncomfortable being on stage, and it gets the audience on my side because they identify with the volunteer and feel vicariously complimented. I do it even with card selections. Although I don't usually say "good choice," I might say, "good job," or "perfect," or something like that. Complimenting volunteers is something I learned early on that makes everyone enjoy the show more, especially said volunteer. Just watch any performance video by Darryl, and watch the audience reactions to his compliments. He complimented people all the time, and it made him accessible and liked, and made the magic a conspiratorial endeavor rather than an adversarial one.

If "excellent choice" is said rather sarcastically, which is how I'm reading it in your example, I think it's a negative and not helpful at all.
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
Ray Pierce
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I agree with Dana and try to compliment and encourage volunteers every chance I get. On the other hand, complimenting them on a random choice does seem disingenuous at best. If a card is forced face down I can't see how you can compliment them on their choice as they didn't have one. Even if there wasn't a force, they still didn't make a selection based on anything that could be complimented. If they are asked to name a card at random, the "good choice" comment still doesn't make much sense unless it is foreshadowing something that is about to be revealed. I would usually say "Interesting" or something along those lines. The only thing I could think of is if you specifically ask them not to think of an obvious card like the Ace of Spades or the Queen of Hearts but to try and think of a card people don't normally pick. You could then compliment them by saying "Good choice, I can't remember anyone ever selecting that one!"
Ray Pierce
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funsway
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Dana an Ray have said most of what is important.
One additional thought comes from my early mentor Arnold Furst with regard to using a 'volunteer' for the audience.
He was a master at getting 4-6 people on stage with subvocal cues and have each do exactly as he instructed. This I remember ...

He noted that every person in audience is caught in a balance of several factors and attitudes. Two of these are "light-light" and "fear."
This fear may be simple stage fright or desire not to be recognized - out with a mistress or on the lam. Many have a fear of appearing foolish.
On your side is a desire to be in the lime-light - to be the center of attention, a hero or special person just once. They will do most anything on stage
as long as there is someone to blame for the silliness. A magician, hypnotist or group frenzy can provide that.

You must train your voice, eyes, gestures and timing to involve the potential volunteer into the joy of the experience.
You must establish trust above all else. With that any fear will melt away and the lime-light yours to share and control.
Above all, each person on stage with you is a witness for others far in the back. Make the volunteer an ally but never a friend.

...

So, it is not just the works and phrases you use, it is "how you say them" and "why you say them."
You are correct, Flight, in doubting words for a canned script or phrases that worked for another performer.

You are an actor, yes - a pretender at magic, yes. But you can also be an authentic person in the process.

From my personal experience I would add that selected words and interpersonal engagement can test the volunteer as to suitability for a particular planned effect.
You can be prepared to shift to a different effect or add a special mastered effect squirreled aside until the right moment and volunteer.
One cannot learn such skills and "presence" on YouTube or videos, however. "To know life you must live life," or something ...
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



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FlightRisk
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What great input! I do agree you build people up at every opportunity. I also feel that "good choice" for choosing the 7 of hearts is not the best compliment, but "perfect!" Or "You cut the cards like a pro!" Are really good. I agree about how Daryl handles volunteers, also Tommy Wonder.
tommy
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I do not think any patter is relevant because that which is or not relevant depends on what the issue is and there is no issue with patter. The audience simply go along with patter for their amusement as opposed to rationally questioning it. I think the assertion “excellent choice” is meant to be amusing but whether it is or not is a matter of opinion.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

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Dannydoyle
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I do everything possible to make people feel comfortable on stage. Even in close up often people get a bit flustered if others are looking only at them.

I never understood the lines like "It's my fault, I picked you" that some are so fond of using. I don't make people uncomfortable. I try to make them feel at ease. They have consented to help me earn my living. I am genuinely thankful for them doing so and I treat them according to this appreciation.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
magicianbrady
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Quote:
On Feb 27, 2019, Dannydoyle wrote:
I do everything possible to make people feel comfortable on stage. Even in close up often people get a bit flustered if others are looking only at them.

I never understood the lines like "It's my fault, I picked you" that some are so fond of using. I don't make people uncomfortable. I try to make them feel at ease. They have consented to help me earn my living. I am genuinely thankful for them doing so and I treat them according to this appreciation.


I agree. A lot of comedy magicians use that line and I hate watching it coz I know it's rehearsed and not the spectator's fault. But the spectator ends up thinking he was incompetent and why will he want to come to your show again!?
Jed Maxwell
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It's fake and makes you look fake. Ergo weak. Audiences pick it up intuitively. It's akin to nervousness, like grasping your own hands together to comfort yourself whilst on stage.

I never criticize but I never pander either. If they choose a card, they have chosen a card. What is so excellent about the choice? Are you playing blackjack or doing a card trick?
"You're a mentalist!"
Dannydoyle
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Being complimentary and making a person who is not used to being in the spotlight feel at ease does not make you look weak. Actually it accomplishes quite the opposite.

If it comes across as fake it is not weak, it is just a bad performance. How does weak even enter into the situation? I admit bad performance is not what is wanted, but again it is not weak.

Most are simply not used to being in the spotlight. Helping them through the process and being reassuring is simply going to make for a better all around performance.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Jed Maxwell
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Quote:
On Jun 7, 2019, Dannydoyle wrote:
Being complimentary and making a person who is not used to being in the spotlight feel at ease does not make you look weak. Actually it accomplishes quite the opposite.

If it comes across as fake it is not weak, it is just a bad performance. How does weak even enter into the situation? I admit bad performance is not what is wanted, but again it is not weak.

Most are simply not used to being in the spotlight. Helping them through the process and being reassuring is simply going to make for a better all around performance.


But what are you complimenting? Telling someone "Excellent Choice" or "Queen of Hearts...my favorite card!" isn't complimentary. It is bizarre and like OP mentioned, disingenuous. It may be a cultural quirk. I am not from the US like the OP. My travels in the US has led me to believe that compliments and well wishes are too freely banded around, to the point where they have become meaningless. "Excellent Choice" to a card selection is meaningless. Unless I am at a casino table.

As to being in the spotlight: People expect volunteers to a magic trick to act like volunteers to a magic trick. No amount of complimenting will transform them into Sir Laurence Olivier.

I am answering the question that was asked: "Is telling a spec "Excellent Choice" after a selection really relevant?"
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Dannydoyle
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Most of us who answered are from the US. Your experience may not be quite the same, but for our culture we are indeed correct.

While I would not follow it with "my favorite card" or something like that, still being reassuring is not a bad thing. Waiters do it in restaurants constantly. Again it may be a cultural difference you do not get, which is alright. But it doesn't make it wrong.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
ringmaster
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No. There is a discussion of this in "Maximum Entertainment".
Less than 2% of reported UFO's turn out to be actual interplanetary vehicles.
tommy
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If it derives its humor from its absurdity it is not a bad thing, even if it is superlative and silly.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Dannydoyle
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Certainly there are no absolutes in performance. If it does not suit you, and if you come across as being disingenuous then certainly omit it.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
George Ledo
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I think it all has to do with your persona and your "script," plus of course how you say it and your facial expression.

For instance, you could say it so it comes across, to the volunteer, the rest of the audience, or both, as:

a) A simple compliment.

b) A forced compliment (you would have said it regardless of the card).

c) "Oops, that's not the card I wanted you to take." (Is the magician in trouble now?)

d) "That's the card I wanted you to take." (Obviously a force.)

And so on and on.
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
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