Spectators And Their Infinite Knowledge

Sep 1, 2013
South Africa
Hey guys so this thread is thrown more towards the more experienced performers and the cognitive thinkers out here.

So basically what I'm inquiring about is: how do you deal with spectators that have caught you out?

Before you answer, let me explain what I mean by my question. I am not referring to spectators who have just seen a bad flash or a terribly practiced effect but I am referring to the spectator with a little more knowledge of magic than your average laymen. I have never performed a trick that I have not perfected or an effect that is not sure-fire but yet I've still had questions about my effects that generally would not come from a typical laymen, I will provide an example with a Kevin James philosophical stand point, if a spectator can reconstruct the most complicated methods from the tiniest bit of evidence then they deserve to know, for which I share the same view.

Now back to my question, I would usually answer the spectator depending on the situation, i.e. the type of spectator. If the spectator calls me out on a card control for example, I'll usually just brush it off and avoid it but then again, if the spectator is genuine and if they some how thought that I controlled the card even among the most complicated false shuffles in existence, then I have no problem confirming their theories as I feel they deserve to know.

Again I pose my question thusly: How do you tackle a situation whereby a spectator has reconstructed a complicated method to an effect you've performed even though you performed it flawlessly?

What are your thoughts and theories on this subject? Hope to hear from you soon! :D
Sep 1, 2014
In one of these situations, which once happened to me, there are three options. The first one being, lying. You basically tell them that it's not how the trick works, and instead bust out some Mumbo-Jumbo about energy and what-not, this probably won't work well, except if they are pretty gullible, which probably will not be the case if they are a "more advanced" layman.

Now, the best thing you can do is probably confuse them, act like you didn't pay much attention to what they were saying and say something completely different, or go into another trick like an ambitious card routine.

If none of those work and they persist, I usually think they could become a magician themselves, so I end up revealing that one card trick to them completely, because, like you said, they do have the right to know, I also start having a conversation with them, about magic and secrets, so that, indirectly, they are less inclined to share the secret with others.

Well, at least that's what I do, and frankly I didn't need to use it that much, because people don't understand the most simple thing in magic, oh and last advice, if you want to make your routine layman theory proof, use more useless and funny speech, misdirects them (in thought not vision) from how the effect is actually done.
Good luck on all your magic ;-)
Apr 26, 2013
I guess it really depends on the situation. The first thing to focus on is probably when the person who caught you reveals what they saw. If this happens during the performance, probably I would start swearing during my interior monologue and smile outside. No, I mean, if a spectator caught something fishy during the performance and felt like exposing it, it would mean that the way I built and routined the effect was poor: the core of interaction, to their eyes would be the trick and not the magic experience. In this stance I'd try to buy his complicity, bypassing what he said and showing them respect (after all they caught me, so they deserve the respect). I would then have to evaluate what kind of knowledge drew them to such conclusion (e.i. are they amateur magicians? Or maybe they simply watched a couple of tutorials on Youtube). Then I would go for a plan B (maybe a trick I have in my arsenal which would be good enough to baffle someone with some technical knowledge).
In any other case, If I saw that the person's interest was true, that there were no bad intentions in his claims, I would ask them - rigorously after the performance - to have a chat. Then, I would inquire about what they saw and what they knew about magic (for this could help me understand how to refine and polish my routine, how to avoid mistakes on my side in the future, and it would create a future case scenario to quickly understand what's crossing the mind of someone who "saw the magic dust falling on the floor") probably I wouldn't tell him how I did the trick, and I wouldn't confirm his theories, but I would give him my business card and ask him to contact me to further discuss if he were really interested.
One of my closest friends I actually met this way. He's now a magician.
Jan 28, 2015
I would handle it almost like I would with a heckler, because if they're calling you out during your performance then essentially at that point that is what they are.

I've had a spectator approach me after the fact and privately say they had an idea how it was done and even asked to see my cards and proceeded to show me how they thought it was done and in fact they were correct and I had no issues with confirming it. That I can live with because that shows some class and the person has a general curiosity, not someone trying to embarrass you or put you in an awkward situation in front of others.

Aug 4, 2014
If they catch me controlling a card, I just top palm it and tell them to shuffle the deck(in a condescending manner, of course)
Sep 1, 2013
South Africa
Thanks for the responses, I will try and respond to all of you with this post.

I wanted to clarify the situation being that they figured the trick out even though you did NOT flash, in which case I'd be glad to confirm their theories and in most cases they ask where magic can be learned, I generally tend to point them in the direction of books and communicating with other magicians as a form of learning, I do not mention websites or YouTube at all.

I generally tend to answer any question they throw at me with limitations to the secrets I give out.


Elite Member
Sep 13, 2008
To put it simply: I don't have this problem because I tell people how I'm doing what I do - and that explanation is plausible enough that they don't look for any more. I also make a point of emphasizing that the things I do, anyone could do, if they only practiced the skills and learned to trust their intuition like I have. And also I make sure that any success is a shared one - I can't do it without the audience and therefore they are achieving this result as well.

So, basically, all of my performance is designed and constructed to prevent them even thinking that there may be something more under the surface. There's nothing for them to catch out because as far as they are concerned, there's no trick going on.
Jan 1, 2009
Back in Time
Just smile and say "Yup, that's exactly how I did it." Either one of two things will happen. They will say "I knew it!" or they will completely forget about it because there is no way that you easily give away the actual method/answer.
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