Magicians Suck

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Josh Burch, Jul 18, 2015.

  1. I love performing magic, but one of the most frustrating issues I have is when I have a spectator who insists on making my job as hard as possible. They challenge you and try to mess you up and when you do manage to fool you they try to tell their friends how they think what you did was done, even when they are wrong.

    Unfortunatley, magicians can be the worst at this. Bad manners run rampant with magician spectators online as well as in live performance. You'd think that magicians would know better. In this video I touch on some of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to performing for fellow magicians.

  2. Magicians are some of the least supportive people towards other Magicians. especially the "Outsiders". there are so many cliques and exclusive circles.

    There seems to be this Stigma that if a Magician doesn't "Fool" another Magician than they are inferior... Magicians hardly watch other Magicians for the performance, but to say they know the Method
  3. I feel you. In my school when I perform, I have another magician who doesn't seem impressed by any of the things I do, even Regeneration by Blake Vogt. He just tells everyone a super complicated way to perform my tricks, which is totally wrong in every way. I hate spectators and magicians who are like that!
  4. Maybe he's just jealous that you have all the cool tricks.
  5. This is something I've noticed a lot. There was actually a post recently elsewhere on the interwebs where a "magician" was essentially bragging about how a young magician had approached him to show him a trick, then at the end he hijacked the kids performance and decided to do something which was basically a case of saying to the kid "anything you can do I can do better." I swear, if there wasn't a computer, cables and possibly 1000's of miles of copper wire between us then I would have punched the guy in the face when I read his post.

    I don't get it. Well, I do, it's jealousy, inferiority complexes, ego, etc, but still, I don't get it.
  6. Magicians want to be the best. They can't compete with the pros like Pen and Teller, Copperfield, Dan White. However when it comes to a local magician they probably feel like they should be able to do better. This happens for the reasons you listed above,which is understandable as we're humans.
  7. There are Many magicians of the world who can compete and some probably better than those you mentioned that will never get the recognition. or they don't worry about the recognition because they are focused on Performing and the "Magic" which many performers forget.. we are doing "Magic"
    RealityOne likes this.
  8. Josh,
    While I agree largely with the things you said specifically about magician conduct toward other magicians, I feel that there is a widely accepted misconception which the video only perpetuates. As Tamariz said, " Impossibility is a conclusion reached though a process of elimination." This means if in their journey down the, "road to astonishment" they discover what they believe to be the true method they challenge it. They want to substantiate your claims. They shouldn't have to willingly suspend their disbelief. You should cause them to believe what you say is true. 9/10 "challenges" which occur are the result of poor technique - scripting, sleights, or structure.

    I once attended a very prestigious magicians' meeting where people were performing. One performer went through a very belabored effect where a card was selected and "really lost back into the middle of the deck" to which I replied, "then may I shuffle?" The man gaped at me. The all-magician audience started screaming "let him do his trick...stop heckling him" I was appalled honestly. I asked a simple question, the likes of which ANY layman would/could in the course of a performance and the man was destroyed. He managed to mumble and fiddle through the trick and bring it to a (so he thought) "successful" termination.

    The main point I would like to make by sharing this is that people aren't bad spectators when they challenge you. You're a poor magician when you practically invite them to and then respond by being butt-hurt because they don't want to just , "sit back and enjoy" the magic. Make sure your magic is convincing enough to perform in all aspects (as mentioned above) and a spectator challenging you will quickly become your new favorite thing.

    All of this being said, any magician who walks into another's performance and "steals the spotlight" even for a second, is a douche-bag in my book. I had it happen at the Magic Castle COUNTLESS times while I was performing for lay-audiences. Best to have a "layman mode" which you slip into during other magician's performances as you said in the Mac King example.

    Would love to hear other's thoughts on the matter,
  9. If you were at the theatre and a character was pronounced dead would you ask to check the pulse?
  10. L,
    If later he was going to miraculously come back to life I would.
    leighelkins likes this.
  11. I'm going to disagree with you a little, I don't mean any harm I just think you bring up a good point with an interesting scenario. So, we can still be friends :)

    I feel like it would have been much more respectful to take the magician aside afterwards and offer advice and criticism privately. At that point you could say "You need to work on your control." or "Have you ever had anyone offer to shuffle at that point?" This would have avoided the performers public embarrassment and the other magicians wouldn't have thought you were a jerk.

    In your specific scenario and based on my experience I could see a few problems with your statement, and I ask these things somewhat rhetorically. What would have happened if he gave you the deck to shuffle? Did he expect to fool you his magician crowd? Did he ask for feed back? Did you know that he had controlled the card in the first place? Was it possible that the others in the room thought the card was lost? I have a go to magic effect that I have performed thousands of times, I "slip the aces into the deck" and ask the spectator if they believe the cards are lost. The answer is and always has been yes, never once have I had anyone ask to shuffle. So, I have some issue with the assumption that ANY spectator would want to shuffle, because I have had a different experience.

    I agree with you here, to a point. If you are not a poor magician at the very least you could have a poor script or audience management. On the flip side of this, I love challenging my audience. I love handing the deck out for shuffling and asking them to look for specific things. This can be a great way to increase the mystery. I also prefer to perform magic that can fool magicians and lay people alike, my reasons are a discussion for another day.

    In the case of the magician in you story, I agree that he shouldn't have asked the question if he wasn't prepared for the answer. I just would have approached this problem differently.


    Justin.Morris likes this.
  12. Josh,
    I always welcome responses to my posts and I never take the things I speak about with other magicians personally (unless you say, "Edward you suck")
    I just wanted to say that in the situation it was veeeeery obvious to everyone involved that the card had not only been controlled, it was also forced. He opened with "I could use anyone's shuffled deck for this trick" to which I replied, " then use mine." I caught a bad look and he moved forward already flashing his ENORMOUS pinky break.
    The main point being, as you said, "Don't say it if you aren't prepared to back it up."

    In regards to your ace effect I will leave you this: if after you say "Ill slip the aces into the deck" no one asks to shuffle I would likely attribute that to politeness rather than lack of will to verify procedure. I would bet you money that if you asked them if they wanted to shuffle there they would be surprised, then acquiesce. Remember the "must believe" rule. What must the audience believe for this to constitute real magic. There is no better way than to have them enforce the condition themselves.

    I don't think that what I did/regularly do for other magicians is bad or wrong. I act as any spectator would or could. My goal isn't to make things difficult for them, its to experience magic as laymen do - a process of elimination. One final clarification: I think that anyone who presents a effect without good scripting or management is a poor magician.

  13. Edward,

    I appreciate the counter argument to my points in the video. A breadth of opinions makes things interesting for sure. I think I have to disagree with most of your points above, which is fine. I do think that the way you handled these situations is wrong, or at least that there is a more tactful productive way to handle the same. That said, without experiencing the moment the same way that you did I could never be sure I wouldn't act the same way. I can't say that I'd want to perform for you though.

    I do like the line you used there, "There is no better way than to have them enforce the condition themselves."

    I'll ask them to shuffle the deck next time :)

  14. See I thoroughly enjoy having "magicians" spectate me, as the guy who I used so often in my practice has learned so much, and made my life hell in fooling him, but has forces me to be better at my slight of hand, and not use methods that "most people just shouldn't notice".

    But I do hate when someone seems hell bent on trying to ruin/debunk your trick. But I've learned enough from performing in front of the aforementioned partner in crime that I know how to toy with those type of people, and throw them so far off that they end up looking the fool. Which tends to shut them up in the future.

    I deal with em the same way I deal with trolls online, I out troll them ;p which isn't the beat nor should anyone else try, but I love the challenge and welcome anyone who can show me where I am doing too big of a tell.

    /disclaimer - I am on large amounts of pain meds for the largest migraine I have ever had, I apologize if this is mildly jumbled, my heads not on straight.
  15. I never experienced this from other magicians but this happened a lot from the general public when I was hardcore into close-up magic in the mid 90's. During the mid 90's I was a waiter and used my close up magic to earn extra tips. People made my efforts to do magic next to impossible for a lot of the points you covered.

    Outside some other issues I had with my practice this topic was the number one reason that killed my passion for magic.

    Twenty years later I discovered Cardistry and it is the first time in a long time that I have experience that same level of passion that could only be as close as to what I once had with magic.

    While Cardistry is my number one priority at the moment. I'm slowly started to rekindle my love for magic. Specifically card magic. Seeing performances by Dan & Dave, Rickey Jay, Shin Lim, and Jason England have made my love of cards grow that much deeper.

    However, it's this topic and how far a spectator will go to ruin a trick is my number one obstacle that's holding me back from diving back into something I once loved so long ago. If I could just learn to overcome this once obstacle maybe just maybe I'll dive right back in.

    Thanks for posting this!
  16. In large part, I think that the focus of "fooling" the audience is part of the problem. It is what Darwin Ortiz talks about as challenge magic (although I disagree with Ortiz's comments about Slydini, I generally agree with his thoughts on this topic). Much of what I see performed as magic inadvertantly becomes challenge magic because the performers focus on what Eugene Burger calls "the aventures of the props in the performer hands." It becomes worse when magicians attempt to establish "impossibility" by verbalizing conditions and weakly attempting to influence spectator's perception of what is happening. For example, I saw a young magician use equivoque to have a spectator "think" of a card and then they recapped by saying "you freely though of any card" and the spectator balked saying something like "well you sort of guided me there" (which leads to my conclusion that most people use "recaps" the wrong way and in most cases they are not necessary -- "I put the scantily clad woman in the box, cut her down the middle, pulled the boxes apart and now I'm putting her back together..."). Tamariz's theory from The Magic Way should not be applied openly with the magician "telling" that every possible solution should not apply, but the magician should be "showing" that those solutions don't apply without drawing attention to them. Part of the problem here is that magic is marketed to magicians who think in terms of "fooling" and is presented as such in the performance of those effects.

    I do think that audiences need to suspend their disbelief to enjoy magic. I think that part of the performer's job is to set the mood that allows such suspension. Pointing out all of the conditions doesn't allow for the suspension of disbelief, but instead makes the magic performance read like an SAT problem that needs to be solved ("A magician shuffling a deck of cards has a spectator pick any card and then reinsert that card in the deck. The deck is subsequently shuffled, twice, cut three times, subject to five perfect farros and placed back in the box. The location of the selecte card is: A) the top of the deck; B) the bottom of the deck; C) lost in the middle or D) in the underwear of the spectator sitting next to the magician").

    Agree. I see so many sleights performed that the audiences notices and thinks "he just did something, I don't know what, but he just did something." Those sleights are usually performed when the spectators are paying attention, rather than on a true offbeat or under the guise of a natural movement. I think the most important of the three is scripting -- you have to say more than narrating what you are doing.

    I get what you are saying (see bolded sections) , but I would have handled it differently. The guy made the mistake of "telling" rather than "showing" that the card was lost. People have a tendency to challenge what they are "told" but tend to believe what they are "shown." A person's own conclusion (which a good magician will lead them to) is tremendously more powerful than anything a magician can say.
    Josh Burch and Liderc like this.
  17. Josh:

    Why do you ask the spectator that question? If they believe the cards are lost, having them say it doesn't make them believe it any more. However, it does, by negative implication, suggest a method -- "what if the cards aren't lost in the deck?" If they don't believe the cards are lost because you've done some of that hocus pocus, prestigiditation, "hands are quicker than your eyes" thing they will either lie (being polite while thinking the cards aren't lost) or challenge you.

    If I was doing something like that, I would ask them "do you have any idea where the cards are in the deck?" The answer is going to be "no." My response would be "neither do I... that is what makes this interesting."

    My script for one effect is as follows:

    Me: Do you play cards?
    Spectator: Occasionally.
    Me: Do you always win?
    Spectator: Not always.
    Me: Do you cheat?
    Spectator: No.
    Me: That explains why you don't always win [this gets a laugh from the spectator and the audience].
    Me: I want you to shuffle this deck till your heart's content.
    Spectator [shuffles the deck]
    Me: Are you done?
    Spectator: Yes.
    Me: [in a sincere voice] Is your heart content?
    Spectator: [pauses, smiles and then says] Yes..
    Me: Perfect. Perfect. I would like you to select one card, it doesn't matter which one you take.
    Spectator: [selects one card]
    Me: Can you tell everyone what you picked and show the audience your card.
    Spectator: Ten of Diamond [as they show the card]
    Me: Please put it back in the deck.
    Spectator [puts it back in the deck]
    Me: Can you hold the deck, I don't want to even touch the cards. Actually, put the deck pack in the box and hold on to it

    The audience remembers that the spectator shuffled the deck, picked a card, put it back in and then put the deck in the box. They are thinking the trick is about to begin... but everything is already done. I don't ask "do you want to change your card" or "is this fair" and I don't make any statements "you could have picked any card you wanted but you freely selected one card" or "the deck is really shuffled so there is no way I could anyway influence your selection?" It just isn't necessary.
  18. David,
    It was not my intention to give the impression that I believed that magicians should verbally illustrate all of these stipulations, simply that they need to be addressed, else the spectators will have an easy time dismissing what they have seen. Nor was it my intention to lead you to believe I was endorsing "challenge magic" I simply stated that when presented with a challenge there is likely a reason and when issuing a statement of certainty a magician should be prepared to deal with any challenges which may arise (whether that was his intention or not.)

    Should I sit, anesthetized, in faux wonder while any fool with a set of eyes can see what he's doing? As I said, there is a harsh difference between heckling and what I am doing. I don't think anyone there honestly believed the card was a free selection or lost for that matter. Why should I allow him to escape a horrible situation unscathed when any lay audience wouldn't have? If now you're thinking "We're all magicians and we have to watch out for our brothers..." I have to tell you NOT telling someone they suck when they're bad is doing more harm than telling someone who doesn't suck that they do. If everyone in the audience could see what I was doing I would HOPE that someone had the courtesy and common sense to alert me to that fact so that I wouldn't go on my entire life believing that I had done well. Mentioning it in front of the group does several good things:
    1. It alerts everyone there to the fact that we don't have to just, "play along" anymore.
    2. It encourages higher standards across the boards since now everyone knows that if they suck they'll get called out for it.
    3. It shows people that I am willing and able to act as a spectator would/should

    Feel free to disagree on both points. I'm willing to be a spectator for any magician but for god's sake don't patronize me.
  19. I didn't infer that you intended either impression. Rather, I was taking your critiques of another magician and elaborating on what I thought was wrong with that magican's performance and what is wrong with the performance of many magicians.

    Simply put, many magicians inadvertantly do many things that create a challenge including: 1) talking too much about methods they aren't using; 2) trying to hard to establish that things are fair; 3) narrating what they are doing with the props; and 4) making magic all about fooling the spectator. Worse yet, a substantial portion of magic is taught relying on those principles.

    If you the magician in question took what I said and applied it, there would be no need to say any of the things like "the card is lost in the deck" or "I could use any deck." Good magic builds impossiblity by showing, not by telling.
  20. Well said David!

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