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BerkleyJL
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Hi everyone,

I'm pretty new to performing, and my son occasionally shows up at the house with friends who ask me to show them some magic. As I am proud of my new skills, and eager to get some performance experience, I usually agree.

However, today he brought a boy who opened his hand (holding sponge balls) before I asked, then consequently was not misdirected at the right time and saw something he shouldn't have--which he blurted out. I stopped the performance immediately.

How can I identify spectators that might be problems to avoid this situation? In a crowd, I would have chosen a different volunteer...but here was a request performance with no other choice, and it went bad.

Any advice?
I need a stage name.

Joe Berkley
thumbslinger
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That's rough! Though I'm new to performing magic, I've been in front of people for various reasons. That experience coupled with watching many performers at the Magic Castle, I would say one of the strongest 'tools' you can put in your belt is that of improve- thinking of jokes/basic humor to diffuse a situation.

There are books available such as Sleight of Mouth by Harry Anderson that provide one liners which, with a little thought behind the humor of any given line, can be turned to provide some good cover for situations of such.

I think very often, most just cop-out and say “practice more” or “you haven’t learned the routine well enough yet,” but that’s a lot of hogwash sometimes. Nobody can actually totally control what one other human being might actually do at a moments notice. They can guide, they can even ‘force’ some actions, but people always have the ability to bust the best social engineer out there.

So, think faster. He opened his hand...instantly you say “WHAM! my ball jumps to your hand..” or whatever fits. Try not to let any routine become a law or restraint. It should be a guide for the mystery you’re performing but if it’s so ingrained in your hands and head as a ‘rule’ that a small bump in the road will derail you, then you’re probably thinking too hard about “this move, now this patter, now palm this..” etc.

I’ve just started reading Tommy Wonders book from the Wonder Book series (vol1 of 2) and already I’m finally seeing some of this “thinking behind the magic” and where it actually makes sense rather than sounding like some theoretical jargon to just make oneself sound ‘serious’ and knowledgeable.

So, next time should a moment occur that interjects something beyond your control, make a joke or act excited that whatever happened did. It relaxes tension in yourself and will ‘disarm’ the audience for a moment, enough perhaps for you to get back on track.

Just my immediate view on the situation...
Chet Atkins, Jerry Reed and Tommy Emmanuel are all you need to study to learn to play guitar.
Mike Walton
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The easy solution is to move to a self-working card trick that you know is bulletproof when you know in advance that there's a difficult spectator.

The more difficult solution is to work on your misdirection and handling. For example, to deal with the problem of someone opening their hand too early, not only put the s-balls in their hand, but also close their hand, turn it over, and set it down on the table. Generally, there is a vanish after you load so if they still look dodgey, then just put one of your fingers on the back of their hands. I also do the same thing when someone is holding a card, say sandwiched between their hands, and they start to look like they want to take a look at it.

Even earlier than that, create belief by the way you put the sponge balls in their hand. Steve Dacri notes in Master Routines how to put the "one ball" in their hand so it looks like one ball. That illusion removes just enough suspicion and not only do they not turn the hand over, but the surprise is greater and magic stronger.
pglewis
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Perhaps you're looking at it from the wrong direction? I have a friend that really loves to burn the hand trying to doing the work. He lives for that. And he's great 'cause I know I've done a decent job when I can get stuff past him.

Get a dummy that lives to bust you and you'll easily get past most people and still be able to handle the situation you described.
Rob Johnston
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This will happen...and many times you cannot predict it. In this situation you deal with your error (or his uncooperation,and move on. Make them think it is part of the trick.

Part of performing requires you to deal with unpredictable situations and errors.
"Genius is another word for magic, and the whole point of magic is that it is inexplicable." - Margot Fonteyn
abc
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It cannot be predicted only controlled.
You will get so used to it that getting passed it will be a breeze.
Good luck and have fun Mate.
pglewis
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PS... as a newbie, I was wondering what the common term is for "that guy"? The guy who wants to lock his radar onto the the other hand even with decent misdirection going on at the time. Or try to take a peek in his own hand if you fail to make it very difficult to do so.

Not necessarily someone who'll do anything to derail a performance, I already have a suitable term for that type Smile.
Rob Johnston
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Quote:
On 2004-06-09 15:35, abc wrote:
It cannot be predicted only controlled.
You will get so used to it that getting passed it will be a breeze.
Good luck adn have fun Mate


Well said.

When I first, started out, I had similar problems....but as time passed and experience came....I now find this a minor problem.
"Genius is another word for magic, and the whole point of magic is that it is inexplicable." - Margot Fonteyn
amshake
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I would reiteriate the method of putting "one ball" into the spectator's hand, and then turning it over and placing it on the table. Since I started doing that, I have NEVER had the spectator open their hand.

But, I think theres an underlying problem here, and that's the tone with which you perform the effect. Often when you are requested to do a trick out of nowhere, the effect is going to have the tone of a challenge, and when faced with a challenge, the spectator no longer has the mindset of being entertained, he/she now things his/her only job is to figure out how you did it. It does take some time and experiance, but you have to get used to the idea of NOT performing when requested, if you get the feeling that you are being challenged. I know its hard, but don't be afraid to say no. Perform when people want to be entertained, they will trulely make a great audience.
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magicgetsgirls
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Based off of personal experience, boldness and conviciton work wonders. I'm only 17, so when I perform in a restaraunt I get ALOT of hecklers who are very skeptic of my work. However, once you are completely confident in your work, and deceive people without even looking/feeling the slightest bit guilty, you'll move ahead immensely.

Also, look over some of your tricks and try to find the weakest parts. Look over these parts, and prepare for loopholes that can get you out.

The rewards will be more than worth it.

God Bless
Someone who can use his hands is a laborer. Someone who can use his hands, and his mind is a craftsmen. Someone who can use his hands, his mind, and his heart is an artist.
magicmanx
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I would second that.. In every routine either stage or close-up there is a vunerable moment. When practising spot these moments and think how is the best way of making sure this problem dosen't arise again.. IE as the spongeball suggestion putting the persons hand on table should stop premature opening.

But when it comes down to it.. "most" people watch magic to enjoy being entertained not to bust the magician.. but a BIG part of performing magic is getting the spectator on your side... Not giving the impression ..that I can do something you can't..once they are on your side and having a good time you will be amazed at what you get away with.

And most of all DO NOT let this put you off.. keep practising, keep entertaining..and above all HAVE FUN !!!!!!
Reis O'Brien
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This is just the nature of the beast. Much great advice is being given here. In time, tighter control and more convincing misdirection will develop. Right now, you're going to stumble here and there. So the advice I'd like to add is this; don't sweat it! Sure, take note of it, strive to fix the problem, but be careful not to beat yourself up over it. I've done that, especially in the beginning, and it doesn't help. You can't fix these things until you can approach them with a calm and clear mind.
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Rob Johnston
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And don't stop the performance just because something goes wrong...That is bad form.
"Genius is another word for magic, and the whole point of magic is that it is inexplicable." - Margot Fonteyn
BerkleyJL
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Quote:
On 2004-06-10 14:54, Astinus wrote:
And don't stop the performance just because something goes wrong...That is bad form.



I didn't stop the performance because something went wrong. I stopped performing for a single individual who wasn't there to be entertained. I thought it was the right thing to do. The only thing I could do by fooling him was make him feel bad--and conversely make myself feel bad if I didn't fool him. I'm in this for everyone (myself included) to have fun.
I need a stage name.

Joe Berkley
pglewis
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I thought that stopping the performance was the wrong thing to do too, but I'm just going by your description. You said yourself that you didn't misdirect him at the critical moment, so I didn't immediately assume the kid was going out of his way to bust you at all costs.

I've been thinking a bit about types of spectators, and I'm currenly breaking it down into 4 basic types at the moment. The Mark is happy to be fooled, even by a poor performance. The Average Joe does what you expect. "That Guy" (again, what's the term for this type?) is gonna resist misdirection and try to bust you. And the Derailer just want to wreck things however they can.

IMO, you should only end the routine prematurely if you've got a Derailer on your hands (so to speak Smile). It sounds like the kid may have just been "That Guy", so stronger misdirection and other measures might be needed above the average Joe type. If you know in advance that he's the "That Guy" type, maybe put a rubber band around his fingers after loading his hand "to make sure nothing can sneak in".

To the original question, how to peg who you're dealing with? Maybe start out with a fairly bullet-proof sleight or three and pay close attention to their reactions. If they're not buying the misdirection as easily you might have to take more drastic measures than usual.

Not to second guess you too much. You were there and I wasn't. But if the kid is only the "That Guy" type, you might have a great litmus test for your sleights in the future. It's easy to put 'em past the sucker, but do you really get a good gauge on how well you're performing when they're more than happy to see the illlusion no matter what?

Just a few thoughts.
Rob Johnston
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Think of this situation as a learning experience and come up with a remedy where you can correct this situation in the future.
"Genius is another word for magic, and the whole point of magic is that it is inexplicable." - Margot Fonteyn
BerkleyJL
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Pglewis,

I call "That Guy" a "Flamer" but not to his/her face. It's my funny way of acknowledging the fact that they're burning me. The kid I stopped performing for was definitely a Derailer. In truth, I shouldn't have even started a performance. The little voice in the back of my head told me things would go bad. He's been here before for other things, and manages to derail pretty much anything he gets involved in.

I feel bad for thinking that way about one of my son's friends...but at least I know I'm not cut out to do kids' shows, so I'll look for other venues.

As for finding a good litmus test: my wife works perfectly there. She pulls no punches, and it's a great feeling to get the right reaction from her when she truly is surprised.
I need a stage name.

Joe Berkley
Richard Lucas
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Try giving very specific instructions while looking them straight in the eye.

"Close your hand tightly and DO NOT OPEN IT UNTIL I SAY SO. We (including him as an assistant) do not want them to think that you are doing anything to help me."

Or some other line that you feel comfortable with. By doing this every time without fail will make it automatic adding confidence to your demeanor. B--- Busters will respect the person who exudes confidence.
"The only difference between a Card Cheat and a Magician is that the Magician shows off.".......... Jay Ose 1965



Dicklucas
magicduro
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Some great advice here. I would say check out Gary Kurtz booklet called Leading With your Head. It talks about psychological and directional keys. Although I don't have it Juan Tamariz covers similar areas in his books.

Having some funny lines can help. Try "I said I'm ___ not Merlin!"

Lastly, look at your instructions. Were they clear? Do you put the proper emphasis on things. Remember to make eye contact, use body language and control the situation from the very beginning.
Clifford the Red
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People that interfere with your performance are mostly doing it for attention. There are techniques for giving them that attention while providing audience pressure for them to do as instructed.

This is heavily a matter of spectator control. I would try to find some material from Max Maven or others on that specific topic. It will give you tools that you can use to control spectator behavior in your favor.

When it goes well everyone wins, when it goes poorly everyone loses.
"The universe is full of magical things, waiting for our wits to grow sharper." Eden Philpotts
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