Magic for Seniors

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by OttoZhen, Feb 13, 2010.

  1. Hey guys,

    I've been volunteering at a retirement center for the past few months(calling bingo, playing checker/chess, etc), and was recently noticed for playing with cards during a break. I showed the activities director a few things and she said I could perform for some of the people before the next bingo game.

    So i practice a little while everyone comes in for the bingo game, and realized that it would be pretty hard to perform cards to a audience of seniors when everyone is seated down at a large table.(like a rectangle) I decided that I would do Spin and quickly found a pen on a table.

    Ok, so now I get everybody situated and tell them I'm going to show them something interesting before we start. I take out the pen and proceed to perform the trick. I put the pen on tob of a nail polish remover bottle(i also found it on the table) and give them some backstory, ask them if they've ever seen magic, and what not.

    Now I begin to spin the pen, I move it slowly in a circle until it falls off, and then I look up at their faces... Nothing.

    No smiling, frowning, or any facial expressions of the sort.

    I quickly just ask them some stuff like, "You guys seem like this is normal, you see a pen spin by itself everyday". They just reply no, and I awkwardly transition into the bingo game.

    So heres some questions I have for you guys:

    Why didn't they respond?(Wrong trick, wrong presentation, because they're seniors?"

    Should I perform for them or are they too old they can't process it(my assumption)?

    If yes to above question, what tricks should I use and how should I present myself(magician, mentalist, a guy who just so happen to know some interesting stuff)?

    Thanks guys
    DerickHill likes this.
  2. I had sorta the same problem today
    I performed walk around at a senior lunch at a church and I got some reactions but not many (I think they were trying to be polite mostly) and I think that people of that age usually just arent amused at this kind of stuff
    and some I think just dont know how to show it
    plus at that age youve pretty much seen everything and everything thats gonna excite you already has
  3. hey most of my shows center around senior retirement homes. and when i first started, i ran into the same problem you have. what you need to do is focus only on visual tricks. do not ever try to get them to participate in a trick, because they simply dont care enough. do stuff with flash paper, thumb tip and a silk, coin vanishes, if you got some stage tricks - do them. goodluck! oh and card tricks usually dont work very well, since their attention span is somewhat short.
  4. Are you trying to say Spin isn't visual...?
  5. I think he means flashy :)
  6. Phoenixci is correct in what he is describing. Senior Citizens lack the focus for card effects and generally do not remember cards, processes, etc. The enjoy the old classics with ropes, vanishes, color changes. Things that young children enjoy as well.

    A lot of the spectators that age don't know how to accept magic. Do I clap? Is that impolite? Why isn't this guy in a tuxedo with a rabbit if he is doing magic?

    I had a similar situation with the growing head illusion with the white and black spiral circle. The reaction was zilch..nadda..nothing. Their eyes could not focus long enough on the spinning wheel to get the illusion. Boy did I look silly up there when I was expecting the roaring laughter (like normal) with that effect and you could hear crickets....ha ha.
  7. Man, is there anything that isn't "classic"(reference to it's age) that could eb dnoe to mimic this effect?
  8. I did two shows for some old people last week, it ain't easy is it? The first one I did my card routines were probably too long for their concentration spans, it wasn't hard to pick up on this like you all know. For the second one I did some short snappy effects, these went down better but like what was said before I don't think cards are the way to go for the old grippers.
    It was good experience though and as that was the reason for me doing it, it was worth doing .
  9. I can relate.... What were the reactions?
  10. Simple. Approach senior magic the way you would approach children's magic. Meaning almost no card tricks. Maybe a snap change here or there. Think sponge balls, perhaps flash paper, levitations (of objects), and simple material.

    For example, there is a trick by Nathan Kranzo wherein you take a coin and change it cleanly into a cracker, which is then edible. You could follow that with a simple patter of making enough money to get food, and then hand out the cracker.

    Hope this helped.

  11. There was the occasional good reaction from the rare one that had all their marbles but generally confusion was the word of the day. For example, after doing a 2 card transposition, it didn't register with them. T he spectator in question was like "no! that one should be there and that one there! did you mess it up?" mmmm interesting! Also I don't think I got through one 2 card monte routine without them turning their card over even before I had finished the TC. I know its not my presentation as the card is never turned over early normally, it's something i'm kinda proud of.
  12. I recently found a place to perform at an assisted living center, volunteering my time for the practice and exposure, and did a few tricks. Linking rubber bands were a great effect for everyone, the ones who seemed able to help I would let rub the bands together and back apart. Great for the hard of hearing because it's effective silent and visually stunning.

    Some old people don't have the energy to waste on reactions like younger people. I learned a good lesson in scripting, rather how to do a card effect without one. I was doing invisible reverse (forcing a court card so they wouldn't mistake the 5 for their card) and it went over well. If they seemed to grasp it firmly I would do a quick ace cutting sequence (push the aces into the middle and cut to them, do it again and 'magically' bring them to the top)

    The only other effect I did was C/S transpo and a variation that is totally in my hands. It went over pretty well, and killed when I did it for the staff. I also did a few other card tricks for the staff since they were more competent and able to follow longer-ish routines.

    I plan on doing some thumb tip stuff, different coin material, and maybe a ring and string routine next time I go.

    Gauging responses was hard, I could easily tell when people liked it, but if it wasn't obvious it was hard to tell. You're performing for people who are now set in their routine, most of which could care less if you're there. I will agree, anything kids might enjoy would probably go over really well. The marketing director (who also heads up activities) said she could hear some of them talking over 2 hours after I had left about the magician, so I'm welcome to come back anytime.

    I'll try and keep updates on how well things go with different approaches, I'll probably set-up Gypsy thread next week and see how it goes.
  13. I am in no way trying to insult the senior population but when it comes to elderly people (especially retired and in a home) they tend to be rather sullen and generally awkward to perform to. You do every now and then find elderly people who respond better to effects as they like seeing the younger generation doing well :) many old people just don't enjoy being 'fooled' but this is something that happens when performing :)
  14. I have zero experience as a performing magician to fall back on here. Let's clear this up first. :D

    What I may have is age. If I haven't hit proper middle age yet then I'm pretty close to it. Reverheart touched on this, too.

    Magic shows when I was a kid were classic magic. Zig zag girls. Chinese linking rings. Silks. Big elaborate props. Magicians and their assistants changing places on the count of three. When someone levitated, it involved pulling chairs or pillars of some sort out from beneath a horizontal person.

    A card trick or two was not uncommon when seeing a performing magician. For the most part, however, card tricks were the realm of weird drunken uncles on Poker Night. Close up magic was for theme parks and family gatherings.

    I can't help but feel that there is very likely a generational divide as well as everything else mentioned. While, again, I have no practical advice to offer, I wonder if their expectations could be addressed before performing.

    I wonder if there isn't a way to "sell" them on seeing close-up magic, when they may be expecting yet more giant hoops to get stuck together.
  15. To be honest, I was doing the shows for purely selfish reasons. That doesn't sound too good does it? But the way I see it if I can keep doing these free gigs and can eventually get and keep the interest of people who are generally uninterested then surely when it comes to people who show a little interest it should be a breeze.
  16. Diamond makes a valid point here. There is a generational divide and their expectations are not quite what we know magic as now.

    Can that be changed for them? Maybe...maybe not. But I think the newer close up magic could be sold to them and eventually it will catch on.

    Maybe if the close up was performed in more of an intimate setting where it was just the magician and two senior citizens instead of an entire roomful.
  17. I know this is an old thread, but I just searched it and thought I would contribute. When I first started in magic, I focused on children’s shows. My first paid gig was a birthday party for a nine year old. A week later, I received a call to perform for another birthday party – the nine year old’s “grandfather” was celebrating his 80th birthday. The grandfather saw me perform for his grandson and asked for me to perform at his party, too. When I asked what type effects the grandfather was expecting, they said the same things that I had done for his grandson. Rope, silks, appearing balls in tube, cups and balls (Styrofoam cups with sponge balls), change bag routine, water monte (s….h powder vanish), square circle. I will never forget how surprised I was that the grandfather liked the same effects!

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