How do you recover from messing up a trick?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Syd The Magician, May 14, 2017.

  1. None of us are perfect with slight of hand. There are time when we mess up a trick and we have to recover from our mistakes. When I perform, I try to have many outs just in case something goes wrong, like controlling the card to the wrong position or not getting the chosen card I can quickly recover. But sometimes I don't have any outs.

    Is there any advice you can give me to help with this issue?
  2. "If you have ever tried to do a card trick and failed, you know what it is to be embarrassed. You may try to cover up by doing a more difficult trick and fail again. The way out of this dilemma,however, is not immediate , but it is reliable: a surer mastery of technique. This means the proper instruction book, and practice." Buy Expert Card Technique by Hugard and Braue.
    WolfSage and FirstFlourish like this.
  3. Always have another trick you can go straight into. And flow through it without missing a beat, that's the most professional way to do it.

    The other day I was doing Paul Harris' Wishbone and I broke the gimmick, I just took out my cards and said, "back to the drawing board on that one, I want to show you something different with a deck of cards" and went into an impromptu handling of Anniversary Waltz. Sometimes it's thinking on your feet, the rest is having a line to show your not too embarrassed and moving into something different "back to the drawing board" is a Eugene Burger one I think and moving into something else that will give them a memory.
  4. If i mess up I will say something like "wait... that wasn't it? What was it?" They tell you the card then you go through the deck like it isn't in there. Then say "Oh because it is in my pocket." Basic palming skills can fix most of your screws haha

    Or you could go into a magician in trouble kind of plot and recover it during the routine.
  5. In this sort of situation, a double backer is your best friend. I always leave mine in the card box, or place it in my wallet. In a cinch, this allows you to get out of most mess-ups, using a fun method I thought of:

    Simply ask them what their card was as if you didn't know, and spread through the cards pretending not to see it (actually cull/cut it to the top :p ) From there, however you want to present it, go and get the double-backer from the box (or wherever you put it), place it on top of the deck, and execute a double turnover. Because it's a double backer, you can cleanly push off the top card (their card), and be clean without making it apparent that you messed up at all.

    That is my go-to method for whenever I mess up, and I'll often even perform it as a standalone effect because it's great as a regular trick as well as a copout.

    p. s. If you're worried about the leftover double backer, just cut it to the bottom and cop it off, not difficult while they're reacting to the trick :)
  6. If there is absolutely nothing you can do, accept it. You will generally be given an out in the misdirection. Just admit you messed up. If, for example, it was a find a card routine, you could look through the deck after asking them what their card was, cull it to the top, and do a shape shifter. If you really mess up, just laugh about it.
  7. I do a similar thing with a card to wallet effect but with a Blue/Red backer. I never thought of it as a method of recovering from a mistake, thank you.
  8. Thank you all for your advice, it really means a lot.
  9. Hi Syd,

    In my humble opinion, messing up a trick comes in two forms: messing up for yourself, and messing up for the spectator. Let me explain the difference based on my experience.

    Messing up for yourself basically, means you realize mid-performance that you have placed the card in a different position, culled the wrong card, or any other technical anomalies. And you come to the realization that you are about to conclude the effect, and know that it will go wrong for you.

    Messing up for the spectator means that when the climax occurs, or somewhere during the middle of the performance, your spectators realizes that you're not in control and you either dropped a card, or revealed a wrong selection, and feels your disappointment or panic.

    There is a world of difference when messing up a trick for you and for the spectator. The advantage of Messing up for you is that your spectators don't know what will happen next, and according to Eric Jones, you have to use that to your advantage. If you missed the selection, improvise. If the spectator selected the card you did not force, improvise on the next step. Joshua Jay has a brilliant idea in his lecture on an "out" if the spectator picked a different card from the intended forced card. Many magicians don't realize that messing up midway is only in the magician's mind, the spectators' minds are a blank canvas up until you telegraph that you have messed up. So if you mess up midway, quickly regain your composure and improvise.

    Moving on to the other form. Messing up for the spectator is a different situation altogether. This is where you have lost your composure and showed to your audience that you have failed the trick. My advice from this one comes from Darwin Ortiz. He gives an excellent suggestion that even in this situation, you may feel that you are not in control, but in fact, you still are. Darwin says that whatever you treat as important, the audience will treat as important. If you mess up a trick badly up to the point that it was no longer salvageable, treat it as unimportant, apologize, and move on to your next piece. This does tons for your show in general. By treating that incident as unimportant, the spectators will treat it likewise, and soon enough as you continue your show, they will forget the incident.
    They will be saying "How in the world did he restore my signed card?", rather than, "Did you remember him drop the card earlier?"

    Hope this helps.


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