Magic Fails

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by MohanaMisra, Jun 24, 2020.

  1. Since every magician has failed at least once, and since the first time we fail, we feel pretty bad, I thought it'd be a good idea for all of us to talk about that one time things didn't work out for us.

    It can be something as simple as a terrible cull, where you're pretty sure that though they didn't call you out, the spectator/volunteer knew EXACTLY where their card was at that moment, or your palmed coin being called out or something as bad as when the cards from your double lift literally fell off, apart.

    Whatever it is, it has to be something you messed up, (as in it shouldn't be about the time the audience forgot the card they had to remember) so you might have to look a bit far back in your memory.

    But regardless, if anybody here has that sort of story, do say that here!

  2. I fail all the time. Part of the beauty of being a magician is being able to make it look like the mistake was all part of the performance. You have no idea how many times I messed up and the spectator was like “you are not fooling me I know this is all part of the ACT.” In my head I’m like crap what was their card....... lol

    I don’t think a trick has ever completely fallen apart for an audience but like I said recovering from it makes it in some cases even stronger!
    MohanaMisra likes this.
  3. I remember seeing Helder Guimaraes live at the castle testing a new effect at the time (his sympathy cards routine.) for those not familiar it is an effect where a packet of cards is handed to a spectator and shuffled. The magician shuffles another packet. They are placed in whine glasses and all 13 cards in each glass are in the same exact order.

    Well Helder is doing his thing and reveals the cards at the end which didn’t match up at all. He continues on like nothing happened. Stood in front of the table for his applause moment looks at the audience and says “Yeah I F***ed up.” Then just goes right into his next act like nothing happened lol
  4. The one time I've really performed (apart from the occasional trick for friends and family) was at an event of my school library. The librarian (whom I know well) was looking for a motto for this event, I was looking for an opportunity to do some magic at school, so we settled on the motto "Magic", with two 3-minute performances of a magic trick.
    Leading up to it, everything went really well. When practicing beforehand everything went great -- but then genius me decided to throw in a false overhand shuffle on the fly. Would've worked great, except that I forgot to keep the bottom card. Well, would you look at that, turns out it's not the Queen of Hearts that changed colour. I didn't think quick enough to recover from that, so I excused myself, explained that I'd messed up and hoped that the next trick would go better.

    Thankfully the second effect worked out great, and the kids forgave my blunder in the first round. Who says that children are the worst spectators?
  5. There's only "two" times I can remember just totally borking a routine. I put two in quotes because it's about half the time with one routine, and then I had another routine where I botched the set up because I wasn't paying attention.

    The routine that has failed on me about half the time is Michael Murray's The Solution, which is a "spectator solves the cube" routine. Note, though, I blame myself for this, not Murray's method which is excellent. There's just something about my scripting or blocking that's not conveying the instructions properly, so the volunteer genuinely mixes the cube at a time when that destroys the method. I put a line into the script when I think this is happening along the lines of, "Remember, if this fails, it's my fault - not theirs." Because I never want a volunteer to feel like they messed up a show.

    The other time was with a routine called Mr. Golden Balls. Which, I hate that name, but the routine is good. In this routine the performer locates the "golden ball" amongst some colored balls chosen at random by volunteers on stage. By either messing up the setup, or putting things in the wrong place, I ended up with 2 golden balls "in play" as it were. Which I realized approximately 3 seconds after the point where I would have had a chance to fix it. Without any options I paused, gave a thoughtful look for a moment, then looked at the audience (ren faire crowd) and said, "Folks. I'm going to be honest with you. I think I've already made a mistake here. I performed this earlier and I think I forgot to reset things - so there's going to be a bit of improv I think." When the extra golden ball was revealed I did quick turn, pulled a face, and mouthed, "sh!*" and at least got a laugh from it.

    In both scenarios I've always been able to recover by simply moving on an amazing them with the next routine - which is why I never end on a routine that isn't thoroughly fleshed out and perfected. I've since changed up how I perform both of these routines - changed the scripting/blocking on The Solution and changed the method entirely for the Golden Ball to remove the gimmick - but I the faire I usually use to test ideas was cancelled this year so I haven't had time to work them on stage yet.
    MohanaMisra likes this.
  6. Mine isn't so dramatic as other stories, but it still brings me endless embarrassment. On my very first walkaround, on my very first table, a spectator who I later found out was a magician himself kept calling out every move I made. Despite my best efforts, I couldn't shake him of my tail. Then once I got to my scotch and soda trick, I dropped the damn thing underneath the table. The room was already somewhat dim, so combined with the darkness of the being under the table, I was crawling on the floor for what seemed like an eternity searching for my gimmick. Needless to say, I did not impress anyone there. But on the bright side, I got my act together for the rest of the night.
  7. When I was very young, I performed some card tricks to parents after a school event. One of the parents was not a magician, but had evidently at one point gone online to look up some of the secrets (he strikes me as the person who would do that just to feel superior). Anyway, ten-year old me performs the classic Svengali Deck. Some people are genuinely really impressed (in my opinion it is one of the best tricks for a beginner) and I get a good response. One woman asks her husband 'How did he do that?' Her husband was the guy I just mentioned, who proceeded to say very loudly in front of the crowd, 'Half the deck is the same cards which are shorter than the rest so you can't see them when you riffle through.'
    Needless to say, ten year-old me was pretty disappointed. I no longer perform the Svengali Deck because I am worried that it is too commonly known, and since my sleight of hand is now much better I can perform more impressive ungimmicked effects.
    MohanaMisra likes this.
  8. Just yesterday I actually messed up the BrainWave Deck trick. I didn't think it was possible to screw that one up! They said 8C and I miscounted pulled the 7C. I stood there in shock for a millisecond or two...
    I tried to recover though. I said, "I'm close but alas this is not your card, hold on maybe I can de-materialize a card from one of my other decks at home and make it appear here in time to save this trick. I closed the deck and opened it to reveal the chosen 8C, of course in a different color than the rest of the deck.
    EndersGame and MohanaMisra like this.
  9. Wow. That takes guts!


    I like how you admitted however. I on the other hand, seem unable to stop getting those hot, red years and stuttering mouth when I mess up.

    While you recovered amazingly from it, I wonder, if you think you have messed something up, do you continue with it till it ends? I mean, here, you could've stopped right when you realised and admitted that the effect isn't going to really end up as planned?

    You deserve kudos. If that happened to me, it'd mean an entire week of me questioning my existence in the magic community.

    However, oh man, magicians HAVE to learn to be better audiences. It's annoying.

    Once again, I'd safely blame this on that other man however. What is this with some older people being insecure of younger kids performing magic? Regardless, the Svengali Deck is amazing and I don't think you need to stop performing it. If you do feel a bit nervous however, you can dress up the effect so that the actual method becomes a very insignificant part of the actual effect (unless you have already done that. In that case, keep on happily blaming that man and performing the same effect :D ).
  10. Wow. You didn't just recover. You recovered WITH extra credit to slam onto your reputation. I bet everybody thought that pulling out the 7 of clubs was just part of the effect!
    Dustrod likes this.
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  12. As always, it depends on the situation. I have definitely bailed on a trick or routine before, basically saying, "Nope. That won't work." and moving on.

    In that scenario it was a 20 minute slot, and bailing would have lost me a third of the material I was doing for that slot. But more importantly, that routine has 3 "peaks" - first and second are proving two people do NOT have the gold ball. The third is the climax where I locate the golden one. Between those peaks there's a lot of bantering between me, the volunteers, and the audience. One miss in all that, which I knew I could turn into a funny moment anyway, was not going to kill the whole routine.
    MohanaMisra likes this.
  13. When I was at a park in New York City with @WitchDocIsIn and two other magicians, I was performing an Omni deck routine for two women who were sitting on an adjacent park bench. The women were a bit skeptical and a bit playful. I borrowed one of the other magician's deck and had them shuffle the deck. Then, I had one of them fan the deck for the other to pick a card. I managed to do the switch undetected, but after the second phase of the ambitious card routine I do with the deck, one of the woman ask's "what's that in your hand?" I had forgotten to pay attention to my angles and from where they were sitting they saw the underside of the deck because I was standing in front of them. I pretended that I was as shocked as they were that my deck had turned into a hunk of plastic. I put it back into the box and handed it to my friend who had loaned me the deck and said... "sorry about that, I'm not sure what happened." Luckily, another magician who was with us, jumped in with his deck to perform another effect.

    At a show, I mishandled a Fielder's Flyer gimmick and it got inserted upside down. Upon realizing this, I had to start over. I think I said something like "we have to re do that, I wasn't supposed to see the card you selected." At the same show, I was supposed to vanish a bill in a handkerchief and have a bunch of confetti come out - twice. It worked perfectly the first time. The second time, no confetti came out (I'm guessing I was had turned the handkerchief around left to right). A spectator said, "I was expecting some confetti." I turned to her and said "me too!"

    At a kids show, I missed a classic force and didn't realize it (note to self, use a force deck). So the jumbo card that eventually came out of the paper bag wasn't the selected card. I played it off "you're sure?" and then just said "Oh well, at least it is a bigger card!"

    I'm sure that I've also had a lot of fatal errors when performing for friends and family -- but I just stop the effect saying "I don't think this is going to work, let me try something else." And, I'm not even going to count the number of times my wife has told me that I flashed...

  14. I’m pretty amateur, and I’ve never had a total bomb, but I have to say I’ve already gotten this general compliment numerous times: “what I think makes your act so great is how all the little mistakes and sloppiness makes it look like you’re going to fail, but then the reveal is just inexplicable/amazing”.

    Obviously there will be some styles this is no good for, but it drives home the point that the spectator is so often overthinking everything, which can be a huge relief!
    MohanaMisra and obrienmagic like this.
  15. I remember performing Twisted Sisters by John Bannon for some friends but forgot how I had the packets set up. So when I revealed the wrong cards had transposed I was pretty embarrassed. I panicked and tried to undo what I had done but I ended up tipping the method to them. It was a rough first year in magic lol Flubbing is one thing, but tipping the method in the process is a whole other matter. You really learn to take a step back at that point and evaluate how you perform your planned effects. It was a great learning opportunity, and I smile back on it now (with a side of cringe).
    MohanaMisra likes this.
  16. An unrealised but missed classic force?
    Oh my god.
    (Also, I'm going to steal your ''me too'' 'gag' :) )

    My only problem is that cardistry naturally peeks into my performances. So when I fail in THAT, well, it's a bit hard to pretend as if the deck was meant to fall sloppily on the floor!

    The number of times I have accidentally tipped the method to the audience is uncountable. :oops:

    Well, what can I say? Magic isn't real, that coin didn't actually vanish, and my audience just has to DEAL with it! :cool: (The world isn't a wish-granting factory.)
  17. So, back in my fire performer days there was a saying that basically said you can tell how experienced a fire performer is by how they react to catching on fire. Newbies over react, drop their props, and frantically pat themselves out. Professionals or more experienced performers just pat it out without breaking the flow.
    MohanaMisra likes this.
  18. I mess up quite a lot. Usually when I do, I just laugh it off, like a "oh s**t I messed up, let's try something else, heh." It usually causes a bit of tiny laughter. The best thing about messing up is that you are able to create comedy out of it, and even though the spectators know you've messed up, they usually don't know what you've messed up in.

    Just taken from my personal experience, might be different from you all.

    Usually when I perform for my friends, there is always one in the bunch that will try to mess up my trick. But I experience that all the time, so I can expect something like that to happen.
  19. And just by that single post, you've scared me of attempting stunts for the rest of my life.

    The sad part is when everybody's on your side but you still messes up. If the fates are against you, I guess no number of humans can balance the scales.

    But yes, I guess not taking yourself seriously is the best way to handle the situation.
  20. I've been performing magic for a very, very long time. Therefore, I have a lot of experience with messing up, LOL, and what to say or do when it inevitably happens. Just last week, I did a birthday party show, mixed kids and adults, and the Pen Through Dollar trick I have been doing forever finally went wrong - very wrong. Let's just say that something visibly and audibly fell to the floor that shouldn't have . As I picked it up and put it where it needed to be, I said, "Looks like we'll be doing the trick a little differently this time." That got a good laugh. But the little 5-year old girl, whose birthday party it was, got an even bigger one when, at the completion of the trick and the restoration of the borrowed dollar, she said, "I think I know how you did that one."

    @MohanaMisra mentioned cards dropping to the floor. When a card or cards falls to the floor, as I bend over, I usually say, "It's time for the floor show," and then follow-up by saying, "Looks like things are picking up." Another good line for such an occasion is, "Woah! A sudden gust of gravity!" (which also happens to be the name of a book).

    I know a lot of card tricks and many ways to find, discover, reveal, change cards, etc. But nothing can give you that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach when the time comes for the big reveal, and they tell you, Nope, that's not the card. At first you hope they're kidding, but then you realize they're not. As they are looking at me, clearly underwhelmed, I smile and ask, "Well, what was the card?" When they say the name of the card (for example, the Queen of Hearts), I act confused looking through the deck, saying "Hold on, that card isn't even here." I cull or cut the Queen to the top and as I look at them asking if they are absolutely sure, I palm it off and say, "Wait a second, I know what happened." I reach into my pocket with the card palmed, and then I come back out the pocket, card in hand, saying, "The Queen of Hearts -- that's the one I always keep in my pocket." It amazes me that this has gotten as good or better reactions as when the trick came off without a hitch!

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