The Fear of a New Magician

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by ExarKun, Jan 3, 2015.

  1. Hello there!

    Firstly I'd like to introduce myself, Exar, to you all...this is my first post (of many, I hope) and I'm in need of aid!

    I'm early 20's, always been interested in magic...and finally have the time/money to really invest in the art...and the past month I have been doing just that. Studying the history, development, the culture, the psychology behind this most illusive of subjects.

    But I'm suffering with the fear of being found out. It's the same apprehension when you want to tell a joke, but you can't quite muster up the gusto to do so...because "what if I mess up the punch line".

    And I feel I'm putting the time in on the I guess the real question I'm asking here is;

    When do you, as magicians, feel it is the right time to try the trick on someone for the first time?

    All the best,
  2. The process for any particular effect should go like this: 1) learn the moves; 2) go through the moves in the order of the effect; 3) practice the effect until you get it down; 4) rehearse the effect with your patter and presentation, not looking at your hands but looking at a pretend audience; 5) film yourself rehearsing and see how it looks - revising and rehearsing as needed.

    When you are a beginning magician, have some easy or self-working effects in your arsenal. For cards, good sources are Roberto Giobbi's Card College Light or Scarne on Card Tricks. For other areas look at Michael Ammar's Easy to Master video series. This makes it easier to get used to performing without stressing about screwing up. This also reinforces a key point - magic isn't entertaining, magicians are. Make magic a conversation with your audience -- not just a demonstration of skill.
  3. Just do it. The disease is called.. "Approach Anxiety". Just don't give yourself any time to think.. Ask a cute girl.. "You wanna see some magic." Don't give yourself a chance to chicken out. Once you get done with the first person, it gets easier. And you should be performing a few times your first day "in the field" But that "approach anxiety" will never go away. Learn to use it. It's just adrenaline.

    Also focusing on the end mission and the purpose of why you learned this skill helps out a lot too.

    Option 2: Practice in public (maybe a coffee shop), someone who has INTEREST will ask you.. "Oh you do magic? Can you show me something?"
    Then your next mission is to just not say no. Then do a quick thing. Focus on what you know.. And you will be victorious!
  4. I took up magic to overcome my "social-awkwardness" and questioned myself asking why I started doing magic if I'm too scared to perform to anyone, what I did was put myself up for my school's talent show and the very second I stepped out in front of my audience all my nervousness drained away and I gained a new performing persona. So as many of the other magicians will tell you, just do it. There simply is no other way.
  5. We fear the anticipation of what may go wrong.. not the act itself. Good job on overcoming the "fear" FormlessMars22.
  6. #6 WyattSB, Jan 3, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 3, 2015
    Everyone has a different way of doing this, not everyone works the same way. So what I'm going to offer is create your own path. Sure study some well known material, but create your own, do it how you want to do it which allows you to take what enjoyment you can, rather than forcing yourself to do it someone else's way. It's so easy to become a magic cliche, do things your own way.

    With that being said, about anxiety, it is very similar to telling jokes, and if you can do that then you'll be fine. Most people find it preferable to start with fairly easy, non technical stuff, do something with the key card principal, this allows you to focus almost purely on your presentation and get used to performing and the focus of attention. Once you've done a bit of work learn card to mouth, or something that just has that touch of a really bold method, use a top change, cop a card to your pocket, don't do this stuff straight up, but do it while you're still new, it's a great next step. You will make mistakes in front of people, I can guarantee it, but you learn to deal with it. Sometimes you just have to accept, perhaps make a joke about it, acknowledge it and move on, the more you do it however you get better at it and people won't even notice you made a mistake.
    Eventually, something will happen that wasnt meant to, something will go wrong, without even thinking about it, without skipping a beat you'll just continue on, integrate the issue into your performance, and it will turn out better than it would have had everything gone correctly. In the right circumstance you can turn the mistake into a new effect and it will become absolutely more impossible.

    I hope you and magic have a great relationship!
  7. Can't tell you how many times this has actually happened in a performance where something that wasn't meant to really be part of the routine happens and rather than completely ruining the trick, I improvised and the trick ends up being 10x better because of the extra stuff. I think it's those moments where we actually stop the magic technique and genuinely interact with our audience that really makes the magic.
  8. Which is why you should start with that as the goal in the first place.
  9. While I am ALL about someone being unique when it comes to performing, I think it should be known that not everyone who does magic is a good performer. Some have the 'gift of gab' while others well, need help in a lot of ways.

    If you consider yourself more introverted, you might want to consider looking for free improv classes around where you live. Generally these free classes are taught at local colleges. Improv is a GREAT way to help break down any social anxiety walls you may have, be it WITH or WITHOUT magic props. Not only will it help you come out of your shell, it will also give you the tools to be able to adapt to almost any given situation.

    Hope all the advice that has been shared from everyone will help you out!
  10. I'm also new to performing--and I work with a lot of prop and card magic.

    Honestly, the first time I try a trick out is with the missus. I take them to her first, not because she's family and the first person who will actually watch my antics, but because she can't enjoy a magic trick.
    Mentally, she can't.
    She's too busy, in her head, 'taking the trick apart' and trying to figure out the mechanics and possible outcomes of how something can be done.

    What I'm getting at here is that, even though she's the first person I perform for, there's still much work to go 'behind the scenes' even before a first performance: patter, mannerisms, actual practice with the trick, misdirection if you need it (probably).

    From what I've experienced; practicing by yourself is going to give you 80% of what you're looking for. Performing will give your the other 20%.
    What's helped me is scripting and figuring possible outcomes of how a trick could be 'botched' and thinking of possible outcomes of how to get out of a bad situation (this helps calm my anxious thoughts of 'OH GOD! What is THIS happens?!').

    But how to know when you're ready before you test it on others? First off, I'd only use a 'test trick' on friends and family first.
    And at that point, I think once you have the practice to where you can do a trick effortlessly and you have scripted the patter and feel confident in it. Then I'd go ahead.

    I hope this helped out in some capacity and didn't turn into a big ramble-fest.
  11. My advice would be to practice until you feel completely confident that you have mastered your routine. Try performing in front of a mirror or recorder to see if there are any angle issues that may exist. Finally, you may want to perform in front of a family member or friend that you feel totally comfortable with.
  12. All really helpful points, thanks guys. It's strange the nerves I feel for this, my day job is an actor...some say that's like standing in a room naked saying "look at me!".

    Can I ask you all what you do when a trick has gone wrong? Someone sees your gimmick, they figure out your prop...They see you do the sleight etc.

    I'd just like to hear some horror stories to prepare me for the inevitable!
  13. More or less - ignore it and move on.

    I've bombed tricks. Hard. Forgot how to do one in the middle of a show (Not enough practice) - Covered it with patter, remembered what I was supposed to do, moved on.

    Had to improvise a 30 minute card set when an audience turned out not to be what I was expecting, forgot how to do one trick - said, "Well, that didn't work. Let's try this."

    Hypnosis failed - switch gears, do pseudo-hypnotic effects, pretend it was real, move on.

    God, so many things - The basic moral of the story is "Move on".
  14. I'll usually try and make a joke out of it and just press on with the next effect. It all really depends on your personality in how you go about this, really. I'm a natural goof, anyway, so I tend to get away probably with more than I should. (which isn't always a good thing, but that's a topic for another day) Three things you definitely should NOT do, though.

    1. Don't point it out yourself. I will admit I've been guilty of this before and at least one spectator will give me this blank look and I know I just ruined it for them. (meaning they didn't see what I was doing) So whatever you do, don't draw attention to it yourself. However, that leads me to point two.

    2. If someone points out your mistake, DON'T ignore them. On these occasions just acknowledge them, admit it, (make a joke out of it), and move on...especially if you've got a routine. Chances are really good that even if you admit what happened there they're not gonna remember it if the rest of your set is good.

    3. Perform a different effect. This isn't as important as the other two, but it is a rule I personally like to follow, because as I mentioned above if I can wow them with something else chances are good they're not gonna remember the previous flub later on.
  15. I have to say as a new performer my self that practising in public is great! I went to a party the other day and i got bored, so i played with cards! People became aware of this and asked me to do something, so i did. I started simple, control and colour change. When i did a different trick the saw something... I carried on, they tried to point it out but what i did during this was change the trick into a sandwich effect. This caught them out!
    Just be prepared to have to switch the trick up a bit to trick them in the end, not make them trick you. And when in doubt, perform hand to mouth, it gets 'em every time! Also if you are starting out, perform at family or friends. They will understand if you mess up while the public may not be as nice.
  16. Everyone messes up. I've seen some pretty well known magicians miss with an audience. It happens. You can't let that get to you.

    For me, if the routine is solid enough that I can perform it without thinking bout what I'm doing then I know it's safe to perform for the first time. Granted nothing I perform regularly stays the same. The more you do something the more you find all the little ways you can tweak it to make it better, so you'll evolve. But I'd say if you can do it in your sleep without messing up then you're pretty safe to take it infront of a live spectator.

    If you're really feeling ballsy go try it out on a group of five year olds. You want brutal honesty? Kid's are some of the best judges of that stuff, but doing new material for kids isn't for the faint of heart.
  17. as I understand it, you will fail, no matter what. even if you practice for years have done something successfully a million times, you'll mess up when you show people. you'll expose methods, make an as of yourself, and some of the people will hate you, it happens.

    I also understand that if you continue through failure, throwing logic and reason to the wind, someone, somewhere, at some point will like your performances. or at least that is what the rest of these yahoos seem to say...

    roll the dice, you may be one of the lucky ones that has everything fall into your lap, otherwise, enjoy being a starving artist because its a long hard road to starving to death.
  18. #19 Brett Hurley, Jan 14, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 14, 2015
    And what's wrong with someone liking one's performance even if mistakes are made? Magicians and cardists are in the business of entertainment. Not every spectator is an Olympic judge critiquing every misstep and mistake done.

    The road in magic and cardistry is only a bleak road if you make it one. In which case, you might need a break.
  19. If you're talking close up magic, and I think you are, I think the best way to begin is performing for friends, in a very casual and down-to-earth setting. Nobody knows you as a magician yet, so they have no expectations or standards for what's going to happen. If you're really good, they will be impressed and gather others...."Hey, come check this guy out. 'Do it again for so and so...'." And you will continue until you are performing for total strangers. I wouldn't recommend going alone directly to total strangers until you are comfortable doing that, as the more relaxed and comfortable you are the better the whole experience will be.
    Also, it is quite a different thing to be comfortable going through a trick by yourself and being comfortable at going through a trick with others watching. So try to spend a lot of time doing magic around others; I would say that (at least) half the trick is the performance, the other half is the sleights/mechanics/methods. Ideally, you want your performance ability to match your skill/dexterity/technical ability.

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