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Tri-State Area
87 Posts

Profile of PhantomStranger
As I've gotten more familiar with magic over the last few years I've found I can often watch a trick and assess how it's done correctly. Is it a common wall to run into as you progress as magician where you start thinking everyone will be able to figure out how you did it? It's stopped me from me investing in a new trick a few times already. How do you assess the level of the trick to be able to fool the spectator, as you yourself get better with magic over time? Things that used to fool me no longer do, so I'm struggling with that aspect of it as it relates to audience etc.
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Special user
So.California / Centl.Florida
908 Posts

Profile of Russo
Just because it doesn't fool you any longer - doesn't mean it wont fool others - also it depends if YOU are "Entertaining", with it. Don't just do a trick like, "ha ha I FOOLED you" - 70 years in Magic, I have a couple thousand $$ in Magic I don't use - it will/can happen. Check out the forums for ideas and ask - Telling an interesting Story with the effect- not JUST a Trick, helps a lot. Best to you in 2021. RR
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Inner circle
old things in new ways - new things in old ways
9088 Posts

Profile of funsway
It is good that you recognize this to be a problem, and with the caring will come an eventual balance of "creative" vs "entertain."

But, there are other traps in store for you. One is focusing on method rather than understanding a why an effect is performed the way it is -
especially older "test of time" effects. Knowing "what" and knowing" how" are different issues, and there is "why?"

It is easy to look for ways to make an effect more powerful - even impossible for a fellow magician to figure out.
Then you learn than most observers don't care or can't appreciate the subtleties.
There is now that a possibility that observers reject strong magic if they can't immediately figure it out. Never happened for them.
Toss in the fact that some are now chemically addicted to entertainment and will care nothing about "better" - only "more."

In any situation, look for the "best magic possible" rather than "best possible magic."

My best advice is to learn balloon tying as a backup skill.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst

eBooks at questions at
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Loyal user
Toronto, Canada
259 Posts

Profile of MGordonB
Penn and Teller’s Fool Us show is a bit of a doubled sword. On the plus side it has become a great way to increase interest in magic and generate exposure for magicians around the world. On the minus side, the “fool us” mentality isn’t really doing the magic world any favours. That said, if you really listen to what Penn says after each act, it is clear that with a few notable exceptions the acts that they really, really like are often not the ones that fooled them but rather the ones that entertained them the most.
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The Beautiful State Of Maine
6956 Posts

Profile of Dougini
As a Magician, you must think differently. I highly recommend this book:

This will change you. Forever.

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Tri-State Area
87 Posts

Profile of PhantomStranger
On Jan 1, 2021, Dougini wrote:
As a Magician, you must think differently. I highly recommend this book:

This will change you. Forever.


Thanks for the reccomendation will definitely order this. Thanks all for your insight as well, makes a lot of sense. I actually have been watching a bunch of “fool us” lately so that point is well taken too.
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Profile of SamuraiStag
Tagging onto this post a bit late but I guess it depends whether you are performing for magicians or the average Joe.
If you are performing for magicians, then I suspect you would want to tailor your performance to highlight your technical abilities. They may pick how you do it but can appreciate the technical ability involved and may then give you advice on improving.
If you are performing for normal spectators however, then they will only be suspicious of anything that you are giving unnatural attention to. Why run if you're not being chased?
I have recently adjusted my patter from "I have a normal deck of cards" to "I have a deck of cards". Why? Because most people don't know there are non-normal decks of cards so why raise this prospect.
- Darren.
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Inner circle
3642 Posts

Profile of jimhlou
Entertaining someone is much more important. Nobody really wants to get fooled or feel stupid, but everyone liked to have fun. Don’t worry about someone figuring out the secret. And speaking of complacency, most illusionist just do what they do. They can’t believe that anybody is fooled by their illusions
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Dublin Ireland
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Profile of Aintnothingbutachickenwing
I am new to magic myself and started feeling like this after my first year but as the guys said when the act is entertaining as well as magical it can be very hard to spot things, the story telling goes hand in hand with the magic
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Inner circle
New York City
1026 Posts

Profile of Ado
On Dec 31, 2020, PhantomStranger wrote:
I've found I can often watch a trick and assess how it's done correctly.

Usually, it's because it's *not* done correctly.
To be frank, not every performing magician is good, far from that. Once you know of some basic concepts, the glaring obviousness of poorly executed technique is hard not to see. And I reckon many a lay person can see that too.

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Profile of Koolmagic114
I think def as magicians we tend to over think a lot of things. I know when I am looking at a few effects I want to re-pick up and learn do to their being simply.. As I like to throw in a few sleight of hand effects.. but then I like something simple.. (even self working) to throw them off and let them try to look even harder to see nothing.. Not that they do or I want to create suspicion.. but I always get those few who want to watch like a hawk once in awhile.. But getting back on track... even though you can figure it out or might think your spectator will.. try it out on some family and friends. You will probably surprise yourself. I know I have on a few.


Co-Creator of "TAGZ" / "Iced Over" / " TelePad" / "Penigma"
Andrew Aspen
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New user
22 Posts

Profile of Andrew Aspen
Yes. I started performing magic in public 3 months after learning, and although I was terrible, I had more confidence in my ability to "fool" than I do now, because half the tricks fooled me. What I have found that helps is to really think about your character and the atmosphere you want to create. A lot of great magicians do this with patter and stories. But, having said all that I can relate to your experience, and to Koolmagic114's point, we all probably over think these things.
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Regular user
169 Posts

Profile of KungFuMagic
Ability to "see through their eyes" is seems to me a wholly different skillset than the overwhelming majority of magicians truly, organically have. To have actual empathy and awareness of what the other experiences when they see a trick/routine done. Those who have it strongly are likely the giants of innovation and creation ... the ones who create new and powerful magic (not innovating variants on existing magic).

What PhantomStranger is dealing with would seem all to common as our view of magic changed the minute we claimed "magician". No longer innocent eyes. Lay people are just different, and (my outlook on the world of people) being different, if they are willing, and we are engaging, and they are connected to us and the "story we weave" with our acts .... they will willingly fool THEMSELVES, regardless of whatever hand waving and prop-doodling we do. That's where the best/powerful magic happens. If I can get them invested in the experience? Then "fooling" never reallyenters into the conversation.
Nick Sasso
part-time Samurai conjurer
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Elite user
416 Posts

Profile of Nikodemus
On Jun 25, 2021, KungFuMagic wrote:
Lay people are just different.

Many people know a few magic tricks - are they magicians or not?
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