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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » Spectators changing their mind (22 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Rhewin
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I posted this on another forum and it lead to a good discussion, so figured I'd post something similar here. Lately I've been thinking about what happens when we ask spectators if they'd like to change their minds once they've selected a card, word, whatever. Asking if they'd like to change helps lock the feeling of it being a free choice. As a lot of books and downloads will tell you, people are very unlikely to change once they've made a decision.

But not always.

What got me thinking was this video of a very young Max Maven performing on The Magic Castle. The first effect involves getting the spectator to stop on a particular card. I'm not sure if it's the phrase he uses, but the spectator actually did change the card. He then had to get her to change back, which he ultimately did. You can see the video below.

https://youtu.be/2miA4z9Qu3w?t=91

As I've talked to people about this concept, a question has come up. When is it really necessary to offer spectators the choice to change? In the effect Max is doing here, I think it's appropriate, but others could argue he didn't need to be so direct or even to ask at all. It was a free choice, after all. Putting so much emphasis on how free it was may make it seem more suspicious.

Personally (and I admit I can't hold a candle to a career like Max's) I like to keep it simple with something like "and you're happy that you stopped where you wanted to, right?". I almost always have outs for if it goes sideways. I am going to watch myself, though. If there are things in my routine that appear genuinely fair, there's no need for me to point it out.

What about you? Do you offer to let people change their mind? Are you prepared in case they actually do?
David Thiel
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Great question. I've thought about this as well.

Whatever you say onstage should have a REASON to be said. What is meant when the performer asks a volunteer if they want to change their mind? Maybe the performer means "Gee...it doesn't matter what you decide...I've gotcha!" Or maybe the performer is suggesting that the audience member didn't get the choice right in the first place...or maybe he knows what they picked and they picked the wrong thing. The majority of time I think this is a holdover from magician days when we say "pick a card...any card...are you sure you want that one? You can pick another one..."

Drawing attention to the idea that they have a 'completely free choice' sometimes works against the impression that there IS a free choice being offered. Why draw attention to the free choice that has just been made if it was already a free choice?

Most of the time, unless it's a question designed to increase the effectiveness of the routine or to increase the tension, I've found it to be a jarring question. We work hard to build audience interest in the effects we present and anything that makes them go "huh?" generally isn't good. We need to do everything possible NOT to introduce an element that takes the spectators out of intently watching the effect and makes them wonder what you're doing or why you offered a certain option.

So...no I never say that to a volunteer, although I agree that there are circumstances where that would be an option.

I hope this is helpful.

David
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funsway
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From my experience the ability/willingness of people in general to be incisive about anything is declining.
Many wish room to dither as opposed to planning 'aforethought', and now some social media sites allow them to erase a post and pretend they never thought it.

So, it may be wise to tell a volunteer in advance that they are about to make decision to allow for time to prepare rather than attempt to recover later.

"In a moment I am going to have you make an important choice, but I sense you are distracted - thinking about dinner perhaps.
A simple choice of where to stop moving your finger, but ESP depends on a clear mind and focused intent."

or, some other approach aligned with your general demeanor.

This "pre-warning" would align with the Aristotle Triptych and the Interrogative Method .

Another pre-approach is allegory. "Choosing one card out of several dozen is an awesome task. One woman told me she trusted her intuition over a choice under pressure.
So, whichever card you point to is a decision to be trusted."
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst

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will lane
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"When is it really necessary to offer spectators the choice to change?"

I'll often offer the chance to change a choice during an earlier section of a trick or routine, so that I can enhance the fairness of a later "choice". For example, when I perform a standard 3 Cards Across, I'll pull off cards using a Hindu Shuffle and ask the spectator to stop me anytime. When they do, I ask "any more or any less?", then I'll do what they say, and then I hand them the cards to count. Later I'll Hindu Shuffle again, ask them to say stop, ask "any more or any less?", then I'll do what they say, and they'll pick the 3 of hearts.

To enhance the feeling of a free choice, we probably shouldn't say something so direct as "do you want to change your choice?", but rather we give the spectator a variable that they directly control. So we aren't letting the spectator actually change their choice, but they can change how they receive their choice.

If we felt like we should give the spectator a chance to change their choice, and they did, we could play off the end of the trick with a bit of humor and say "good thing you changed your mind, otherwise I would have been right!"; although this would need to be at the reveal.
CurtWaltermire
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Yes, depending upon which show I'm performing I ask a spectator this at least once during most performances, but with good reason; however, I believe there's a tendency for many performers to beat this type of thing to death. I try to put myself in the seats of the audience and resist the urge to do that.

Whenever opportunity presents itself (e.g. stumbling upon info or something that genuinely arose at random but that you can take credit for and look A-MAZING!), many of us seize the opportunity, only to ruin it somewhat by repeated "Now you didn't tell me that did you?" There's NO WAY I could have known that, right?" "And we've NEVER met before, right?" Etc.

I'm not saying that it is wrong to do this by any means; I'm simply talking about the tendency to continue banging the proverbial nail on the head when it's already flush with the wood. Now there are nothing but hammer-head marks that have damaged whatever it is you're trying to build.

In one particular routine, I always do the silly old gag where I ask a spectator to choose between one of two colors, and then pull out a handkerchief that is boldly colored to be one of those colors and wipe my face with it. Corny? Yes. Outdated? Perhaps. But the way I play it verbally and non-verbally and in the routine it is in it never fails to at least get a good bit of laughter, as well as adds to the somewhat ridiculousness of the routine which when presented in a silly fashion has an even stronger ending IMO than if it is played seriously.

Often the person will laugh and choose the color on the handkerchief, to which I always have a funny reaction. But when they do make this choice, I break the "silly" character for a moment and state "Of course I'm just playing around, so if you'd like to choose the other color you can, or you can stick with the color _____ if you want to; it's up to you." Most times they don't change.

The truth is, it really does not matter which one they choose as I can still control the outcome no matter what but the illusion of free choice of course makes the effect strong.

If they resist the obvious and choose the OTHER color, I have a reaction for that as well.

But I NEVER beat it to death. So many beat it TO DEATH. While I understand the concept of "closing all the doors" and that there is a time for that, I believe there's no need to combine that with the repeated pounding of "did that feel like a free choice? Are you happy with your selection? Would you like to change your mind? "Are you sure?" etc.

I am constantly challenging myself to do what many of my stand-up comedian friends do--economy of speech and word usage. If there's a simpler, direct, straightforward and more effective way to say it, do it, show it, etc, then that is usually best. Not necessarily in every case, but in the vast majority of them.
David Thiel
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Curt's right. Overdoing this steals your own thunder. Why go there?

My show is structured differently than others in that I bring eight people out of the audience at the beginning of the show and they become the volunteers for most of the effects I do. Before starting the show I will look at then and say: "Just so we are clear: I don't know any of you personally. We've never spoken before now. I haven't told any of you to say or do specific things. In short none of you has any idea what's going to happen tonight. Correct?"

They agree...and it's done.

I move on with the show and don't need to reference the matter again.

David
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Rhewin
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Quote:
On Sep 15, 2021, David Thiel wrote:
My show is structured differently than others in that I bring eight people out of the audience at the beginning of the show and they become the volunteers for most of the effects I do. Before starting the show I will look at then and say: "Just so we are clear: I don't know any of you personally. We've never spoken before now. I haven't told any of you to say or do specific things. In short none of you has any idea what's going to happen tonight. Correct?"

They agree...and it's done.

I move on with the show and don't need to reference the matter again.

David


If a may ask from limited experience, what is to keep the other volunteers from assuming one amongst them is a plant? Or the audience for that matter?
funsway
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On Sep 15, 2021, Rhewin wrote:

David


If a may ask from limited experience, what is to keep the other volunteers from assuming one amongst them is a plant? Or the audience for that matter? [/quote]


Being an old fart' my immediate reaction is, "Why should they?" But then I look at the changes in our culture in recent decades.
Most people today live a life of lies -- multiple persona, posturing, dissimulation and worse. Folks proudly post their latest lie to fool their boss or spouse.
Politicians? There is an old quip "How do you know if a politician is lying? Are their lips moving?

Psychologist posts that "projection" is a growing heuristic fallacy -- If people constantly lie themselves they will assume everyone else does also.

So, to the extend that any of that is valid how does a performer today deal with what an audience or volunteer might think is true and not some lie to gain advantage?
A conjuror truthfully admits to using trickery, guile and subterfuge and every silly story is accompanied with a wink.
If a mentalist wants to present everything as if it is real, then how is trust established when everyone in the audience is a practiced/frequent liar?

Why should anyone have to prove what they say is true? Alternately, why bother with any concern over truth when the audience will assume you are lying?

In my mental based presentations I just "do it." In my written mentalism effects I stress the use of the Aristotle Triptych to influence/control what the observer is thinking,
and frequent Reprise and Summarization to guide what they will remember.

There is no need to lie. I propose to give them "a real experience of telepathy" and do exactly that.
Audience distrust come in when you claim to offer "an experience of real telepathy." You know that is at partially untrue - so they will too.

For me, trust is an important part of audience engagement. Tough to regain if lost. Impossible if one starts off trapped by an assumption of everyone lying as default.

Thanks for planting this seed. I will be rewriting some of my effect descriptions to address the audience expectation of the performer lying.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst

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Fromentum
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I think it really depends.

Never offer it every single time for every trick. Use it rarely at the right moment.

A simple rule would be:

If you have no out and the effect would go wrong if the spectator would change his mind emphasize the freedom of choice but don't offer the optionto change their mind.

If it really doesn't matter offer it and maybe emphasize that you now give them the option (maybe make it suspicious and say that this now could mean that you faild and want them to change.. )


I personally would never offer the option if the trick depends on it and must go right.

On the other hand It is sometimes ok to fail and you could have the out of that you wanted them to not change and you did not see that they would change. In my opinion it is stronger mentalism if you fail sometimes. And this would be a fail but a "off by 1" kind of so not that bad at all.
Nikodemus
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I watched the Max Maven video. Throughout ALL the effects, he constantly emphasises the spectators' freedom of choice. I don't think it undermines the presentation at all; I think it enhances it.
If he just accepted their first choice at every stage, there would be much less drama. These effects all hinge on the spectators having absolute freedom of choice.

ALSO I think it's important to remember that spectators will dream up all sorts of [wrong] explanations. So the performer needs to eliminate these. The standard explanation in this case would be that (somehow) he psychologically influenced their choices. So it is important to keep refuting that explanation.

Quote:
The first effect involves getting the spectator to stop on a particular card. I'm not sure if it's the phrase he uses, but the spectator actually did change the card. He then had to get her to change back, which he ultimately did. You can see the video below.


I am not 100% sure of Max's method, but I would be willing to bet it is NOT that he influenced the spec to stop at a particular point. And I would definitely bet that for them to actually change their mind was NEVER going to be a problem for him.

Quote:
What about you? Do you offer to let people change their mind? Are you prepared in case they actually do?

The idea that you would EVER ask if they want to change their mind with the assumption they won't is crazy. Of course you must be prepared.
Rhewin
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On Oct 20, 2021, Nikodemus wrote:
Quote:
The first effect involves getting the spectator to stop on a particular card. I'm not sure if it's the phrase he uses, but the spectator actually did change the card. He then had to get her to change back, which he ultimately did. You can see the video below.


I am not 100% sure of Max's method, but I would be willing to bet it is NOT that he influenced the spec to stop at a particular point. And I would definitely bet that for them to actually change their mind was NEVER going to be a problem for him.


I'm not sure; it looks like a certain f...e to me. But no, it wasn't going to be a problem for Max at all. I doubt it would be a problem for anyone who has read/studied from people like Max or have performed enough to learn from mistakes. For someone else who hasn't been in this situation before and has heard that spectators don't change their mind? It very well could be. My hope is this maybe helps those people along.

Quote:
Quote:
What about you? Do you offer to let people change their mind? Are you prepared in case they actually do?

The idea that you would EVER ask if they want to change their mind with the assumption they won't is crazy. Of course you must be prepared.


I agree, but when I started several years ago, so many downloads would say things like "ask if they want to change their mind. Don't worry, they won't." It sounds 100%, and I've had to go home licking enough wounds to know better now. It seems obvious in hindsight, but I was naïve.
ddyment
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As readers of my books will know, I -- along with one of my teachers, the late Gene Nielsen -- am very much in the camp of those who consider the casual "Would you like to change your mind?" to be odious. It's simultaneously insulting (What's wrong with the choice I made?) and confusing (Did I do something wrong? What does he want me to do now?) to the often nervous and insecure participants that you have placed at centre stage.

I would never say completely banish it from your repertoire, but if you do use it, justify it, and make it a huge, central element of the plot, not a casual, ill-considered non sequitur. "Now when you are home tonight, Mary, and trying to sleep, I can promise that you'll be asking yourself 'Why didn't I choose the other envelope?' So I'm going to give you that opportunity now ... just this one chance: Do you want to change your mind?"
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Mr. Woolery
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I think part of it is personality, too. As Doug notes, there’s a slight hint of insult in asking, but Max Maven’s performance character is just a bit smugly superior, so the minor insult works really well. And since his is a slightly over the top persona anyway, the smugness doesn’t actually feel like a real insult, just part of the character.

I feel like for me the best place to emphasize freedom of choice is before the choice is made. I’d rather say “you honestly do get to choose the one you want, so be certain” than “okay, you chose one, do you want to change your mind?”

In all cases, I argue that it is best to script your presentation to match what you want people to perceive about you. Don’t make the mistake of assuming a nonreaction is stunned silence if you’re not absolutely sure it isn’t annoyance or boredom.

Patrick
David Thiel
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Quote:
On Sep 15, 2021, Rhewin wrote:
Quote:
On Sep 15, 2021, David Thiel wrote:
My show is structured differently than others in that I bring eight people out of the audience at the beginning of the show and they become the volunteers for most of the effects I do. Before starting the show I will look at then and say: "Just so we are clear: I don't know any of you personally. We've never spoken before now. I haven't told any of you to say or do specific things. In short none of you has any idea what's going to happen tonight. Correct?"

They agree...and it's done.

I move on with the show and don't need to reference the matter again.

David


If a may ask from limited experience, what is to keep the other volunteers from assuming one amongst them is a plant? Or the audience for that matter?



I am sorry it's taken so long to respond to your question.

There's no way to completely remove any suspicion of a stooge. More appropriately: "If there is, I haven't ever figured it out."

People will find, with the slightest bit of research that sometimes audience members 'play along' with the performer. I also know that it's not unthinkable that the performer could make arrangements with a member of the company to have them play along as well.

When the audience finds out a stooge has been used, it seriously sucks. I still remember a mentalism convention where a well known performer made a statement that utterly blew the room away. There was NO WAY he could have gotten the information. He specifically said he had NOT used a stooge, had done no pre-show and had no prior knowledge -- which were the only possible explanations we could come up with. He promised that he would disclose his method the next day. Debate and speculation raged all that night.

When he came back the next morning the room was packed with expectant mentalists -- all of us thinking that we were about to learn a great new method because we could NOT figure out how he'd done what he'd done.

The guy smiles and tells us he lied. That he had used a stooge. Then he grinned even bigger like everyone in the room was supposed to start chuckling because they got the joke. That didn't happen. There was absolute boiling silence -- not the good kind.

I think all you can do is to cover the bases as clearly as possible and then move on.

David
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Nikodemus
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I'm interested in the effect Max Maven performs in the video (the one where the spectator tells him when to stop dealing the cards to the table). I've got a few ideas of my own about possible methods, but would like to find out more. Is this be published somewhere?
Phil J.
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Just to change the direction a little - what do you do when the spectator asks "can I change my mind?" - Do you allow them to? What if it isn't possible?
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Rhewin
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On Dec 7, 2021, Phil J. wrote:
Just to change the direction a little - what do you do when the spectator asks "can I change my mind?" - Do you allow them to? What if it isn't possible?


Now that’s an interesting question. While I have had people ask “what if I chose the other card,” I’ve only had one actually ask to change once they had it. It worked out for me since their selection had me on a back up effect after a failed psyche fo**e. I just gave them a “free choice” and ended up back on my main effect.

Most of my stuff uses legitimate free choice, but if I really couldn’t have them change for any number of reasons, I can think of a few reasons why not. If they’ve already looked at the card, I could say having an images of two cards in their mind would guarantee failure. If they hadn’t, I might stress the importance of going with their intuition. Otherwise I’d probably take back the first card and redo the entire selection like above
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