Get the Ultimate Magick Power

Get the Ultimate Magick Power

Get Instant Access

any magicians seem to perform only for their own In . They probably wouldn't notice if their audicnce stood up

"°°Tn'half-way through the trick. Many other magicians have to jnd 1 | a0 much with the mechanics of the effect that they can't StrUgEr ny attention for the audience. In both cases, the performer is ^""b^orlbed with what he is doing to notice audience reaction. ,tC" fore the first step to developing commercial sense is to rehearse Tmaster both the mechanics and the presentation of your effects bo t liy that you can largely ignore them during performance and W centrate instead on how your audience is reacting to what you're doing.

There arc also a number of things you can do to help Bensitize vcurself to audience feedback. I strongly recommend that you study books on non-verbal communication, commonly known as body language. This will help you pick up subtle, unconscious cues from your audiences. (Most magicians would be particularly well-advised to memorize the non-verhal signals for boredom.) 1 also recommend you get into the habit of paying particular attention to people's eyes. There is no greater clue to what people are thinking. A glance in a certain direction at a particular moment can reveal volumes about what is going through a person's mind if you are sensitive to it. (Of course, your own eyes can reveal a great deal to others about what you're thinking, which ia why the performer's eyes play such an important role in misdirection.) Wafching people's eyes can be particularly useful in helping you determine whether people are really fooled and what unvoiced suspicions they may be harboring.


1 recommend that every time you perform for laypeople you follow up with a debriefing session. Quite simply, this ™

performance in your first opportunity you have to be alone after to P

replay the entire performance. See the «hOb^KJ'V eye. Note every bit of audience feedback you reoeivet reaction

Pay particular attention toto aote them on a piece surprised or puzzled you. ™ ™ that ffw the best learning of paper. It is these unexpectedwayyou expected, opportunities. When an audience react, ex ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ it's gratifying and ireafiS"TaBncE to learn. Psychologists call such expected that you have experiences "expectation failure." Every time you experien tation failure during a performance you should BeiZe ^ e*Pec~ opportunity to increase your insights into audience psychol0gy These "surprising" audience reactions may consist simply of V playing more strongly than expected, or less strongly than Ife** or a laugh coming at point where you didn't expect a laugh, or f* audience's reaction of amazement coming at a different point i w effect than you expected, or of a spectator making a comment dL" 1 or after a trick that wasn't at all the kind of comment you exp^f 1 perhaps a comment that didn't even make any sense to you. Having noted how the audience reacted, you must now strive understand why they reacted that way. Understanding why is vital to developing a commercial sense. Just noting how people reacted to the tricks you performed is of some value. It will help you know what to expect the next time you perform those same tricks. But your goai should be much greater. You not only want to know how people react to the tricks you perform, you want to be able to predict with a high degree of accuracy how they would react to a given effect that you've never performed if you were to do it. It's that predictive ability that is the essence of commercial sense. And that comes from understanding why you get the reactions you get.

In reviewing any unexpected reactions, try to put yourself in the audience's place. What were they thinking that might have provoked such a reaction? Like a good psychiatrist, you should always be asking yourself, "Hmm, what did he really mean by that?" Your starting premise in this psychological detective work should be that the audience always has a good reason for anything they say or do, although that reason may not be immediately clear to you. If someone offers an explanation for one of your tricks that obviously couldn't be correct, you have to recognize that it's not obvious to him. You may want to think about altering the presentation to underscore more forcefully that the trick couldn't be done in the way suggested. Having said all that, I must admit that once in a great while you'll encounter a strange comment from a spectator who is simply exceptionally stupid or pigheaded. You can't drive yourself crazy over such things. My own rule of thumb is that if I get a truly unfathomable comment from a spectator I mentally file it away without worrying about it. However, if at any time in the future I receive the same comment about the same trick from someone else, I know I have to deal with the problem. If two people make a particular observation about your magic, you ran be sure others in the audience are thinking the same thing although they may not come up to you and say it.

Performing Experience

M can't engage in audience-testing without an audience. This poses problem for most amateur magicians. The average non-professional ¡"imply doesn't have an outlet for his performing needs. Consequently ue drives his poor wife crazy making her watch each new trick and performs for his fellow amateurs at the magic club, neither of which £¡U make him a better entertainer. (Indeed, spending too much time performing for other magicians can be very harmful. They'll give you plenty of feedback but it will be very different from what you would receive from laypeople. As such it will only hamper your efforts to develop a strong commercial sense.)

This leads me to the most important advice I can give you in this book. If you're serious about your magic, find a place where you can perform regularly for laypeople. Do volunteer work, entertaining at hospitals. Or find a local tavern, become a regular, and get known for your magic. Before long, every time you enter the bar someone will ask you to do a trick.

Many amateur magicians have been successful in finding a restaurant where the management will pay them a modest fee to do table-to-table magic one or two nights a week. Offer to do it for free if you have to. (Some professional restaurant magicians will hate me for saying that, but you won't be a threat to any really capable professionals. Besides, how do you think they became professional restaurant magicians in the first place?)

A number of years ago, my friend Bob Elliott realized he needed more experience performing for laypeople. He offered to work behind the counter at Tannen's Magic Shop one day a week for free just for the experience. Between pitches, he would do some of his own tricks for customers. (No matter what anyone tells you, most magic shop customers are laypeople.) Within months, the improvement in his performing abilities was dramatic. It may not be easy but, if you're serious about your magic, you will succeed in finding a forum where you can regularly perform for laypeople.

Because of the problem of limited performing opportunities, I think the debriefing exorcise I described earlier, with its analysis of expectation failures, is of particular value to the amateur. A professional gets so many chances to perform that he is bound to get bettor almost in spite of himself. After a few hundred performances, it has to become obvious to even the densest performer that one approach is Playing better than another, that this trick is strong and ha one is dying, that people react well whenever he does this or says that.

Let's start with a definition:: Timing is the time rclationshi two different things. Sounds simple, doesn't it? Yet thjl V definition is the key to understanding the entire subject oJjN» grasp that timing is always a matter of the time relationship u? two things, every timing problem in magic is easily analy^®"1 becomes simply a matter of identifying the two elements involve!. Il experimenting with every possible time relationship between performing A and B at the same time, performing A bef0^ d performing B before A, and varying the length of time that elap^ between A and B.

Timing is so central to magic that it touches almost every aspect 0f performance: sleights, misdirection, and patter. Let's take Mm! examples from each category to see how our definition applies.

Timing In Sleight Of Hand

There are many sleights which depend to a greater or lesser degree on timing to achieve the proper illusion. In sleight of hand, timing almost always means the time relationship between an action performed by the left hand and another action performed by the right hand. A few examples should clarify this.

Consider the "toss vanish" of a coin popularized by A1 Goshman. The right hand pretends to toss its coin into the left hand. Actually, nothing really happens. The coin is retained in the right hand; the hands only mime the action of tossing and catching.

From a strictly technical standpoint, nothing could be easier. Yet, the move does take practice to master. The reason is provided by

Goshman on his videotape Magic by Gosh, where he teaches the move, describing it as "a timing thing." Although he doesn't elaborate, he is almost certainly referring to the time relationship between the tossing motion of the right hand and the catching motion of the left hand.

In this case there is no question of which action should come first; the toss must precede the catch. Yet the beginner, fearful of being caught, is hkely to rush through the move, performing both actions simultaneously. Unless people are willing to believe that the coin can travel at the speed of light, this approach will lack conviction. Conversely, if too much time elapses between the throwing action and the catching action it will be apparent to the audience that nothing traveled from hand to hand.

The goal here is to allow a time lapse between the throw and the catch that exactly matches the length of time it would really take a

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Fundamentals of Magick

Fundamentals of Magick

Magick is the art and practice of moving natural energies to effect needed or wanted change. Magick is natural, there is absolutely nothing supernatural about it. What is taught here are various techniques of magick for beginners. Magick is natural and simple and the techniques to develop abilities should be simple and natural as well. What is taught on this site is not only the basics of magick, but the basics of many things.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment