The "How did you do that?" line.

May 19, 2010
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How do you respond if someone says "How do you do that?". Sometime I say it was magic, and other times I just ignore them. Is this the correct way to approach it? I just wanted to hear other people's thoughts.
 
Oct 10, 2010
1
0
I oftenly say "magic" and i put a little smile on my face :D But somethimes people say "it's not magic and i'm not 13 years old" then i say "well then it's slight of hand but how do you explane this" (and i do really short trick ... like controlling card from middle to top) " and that's when theyr qustions about how i do it just stop :D (sorry for bad english hope you understand me :D )
 
Jun 6, 2010
796
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Nashville, TN
I sometimes say magic, but then people say "NO IT'S NOT!" because nobody is stupid enough to really believe you have magical powers. So most of the time when people ask " how did you do that?" I would just shrug my shoulders and say "I don't know, seriously" That would usually make them stop their post-trick interview. But if someone says "where did you learn that?" definitely take credit, unless you're performing for a magician, people don't need to know where you learn your magic and it takes away some of the effect when they realize that someone else taught you how to do it.
 
Sep 19, 2010
8
0
DC
My personal favorite line to say would be. "Can you keep a secret?" "Of course!" "So can I." It's a little mean, but gets a laugh quite often and a priceless reaction every time.
 
Nov 8, 2007
1,248
3
I say, "very well." They then learn the ambiguity of the question in which they have asked.
"what you just saw is a product of my flawless Elite prestidigitation"

If I choose I just tell them that I did it with my superior hands.
My personal favorite line to say would be. "Can you keep a secret?" "Of course!" "So can I." It's a little mean, but gets a laugh quite often and a priceless reaction every time.
...at which moment your audiences think you're jerks for having understood their genuine question of curiosity in what you do and chosen to blow them off by giving them a smartass answer instead of a genuine reply.

The canned hack lines don't work--they're just cheap lowbrow outs. When you're performing you should be building a relationship. All hack lines like these do is create distance.

How do you respond if someone says "How do you do that?". Sometime I say it was magic, and other times I just ignore them. Is this the correct way to approach it? I just wanted to hear other people's thoughts.
Adam,

I do not suggest you answer that it was magic. This is a pandering response, especially for adults. First consider why your audience is asking in the first place, which more than not is because it is a response of bewilderment, not that they actually expect you to explain what you did to them. They're just thinking out loud. Most of the time they don't expect you to actually answer the question (although they do expect you to address their question), so saying something like, "That's crazy, isn't it?" will often satisfy their their "how did you do that?" response. You have to say it in a way that matches their tone and energy though. If they're stunned quiet, you don't want to say a line like that with an arrogant wink and flashing smile then turn away to carry on with another trick. Take the moment to let the magic sink in. You can be genuine and still make it known that you're holding something back.

They're just trying to relate to you when they ask how you did something. All they usually want is some sort of acknowledgement to their question--it doesn't have to be a direct answer. So if the person asking is not the person you just did an effect for, just directing your attention toward them and saying, "Would you like to try something?" will usually satisfy them. They're asking because they're interested in what you're doing, so doing an effect them (something interactive) is more-or-less what they're looking for.

Sometimes someone will come along that will actually not stop asking how did something. This should be a very rare case, but if it does happen Mike Skutt has a reply I have always loved, which is to take them aside or lower your voice so the conversation drops to just between you and the curious spectator and say, "I'll point you in the right direction--the question isn't so much how I did as it is why." Let the line hang for just a moment then politely leave them to ponder it. And say it like you mean it, not like you're pandering to them--like you are truly doing them a favor by giving them a real clue to sink their teeth into--and it will give them what they wanted: a new lead to follow in their curiosity, and a deeper mystery to try and unravel.

Happy Magic
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Aug 4, 2010
168
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...at which moment your audiences think you're jerks for having understood their genuine question of curiosity in what you do and chosen to blow them off by giving them a smartass answer instead of a genuine reply.

They asked the question and they got the answer...You also failed to realize that some people do in fact want to know "how you did that"..You want us to spill the beans instead genious?...Sometimes the smartass answer is the way to go....nuff said..

fyi- letting them know that the effect was accomplished trough my elite prestidigitation is as legit/genuine/honest as it gets.
 
Sep 5, 2007
270
0
Decatur, GA
I'm a big fan of "I don't know". It puts you on their level. You are no longer tricking them but sharing their astonishment. You're also not putting a lable on what you just did. The less you say the more focus stays on the effect.
 
Nov 8, 2007
1,248
3
They asked the question and they got the answer...You also failed to realize that some people do in fact want to know "how you did that"..You want us to spill the beans instead genious?...Sometimes the smartass answer is the way to go....nuff said..

fyi- letting them know that the effect was accomplished trough my elite prestidigitation is as legit/genuine/honest as it gets.
Whenever you want to drop your novelty act and have a real conversation I'll be here.
 
Dec 13, 2007
807
0
North Hollywood
smack them in the face and say NO! thats PRIVATE! lol on a serious note the rest of the posters gave some Great replys. I personally just say "magic" with a big smile. or I say it to them before they got the chance to say it to me. that really catches them off guard. Just be sure to let them react to your magic, do not cut the moment short.
 
Nov 27, 2009
456
3
I'm a big fan of acting like nothing happened, something along the lines of,
Them- How'd you do that?
me- what? I did something cool? tell me what I did so I can do it again.

I also like the "can you keep a secret?" line. I always smile and deliver it in an entertaining way that I hope says that I'm just joking around.

There's always answering a different question than the one asked, like why instead of how.

Just a few quick ideas.
 
My responses depend on my mood, but usually it's "With practice" "Very carefully", "it's magic", or something along those lines. I try to deflect the question and quickly get onto another topic of conversation by asking them if they enjoyed the show. That way they don't continue to pressure me about the secrets.
 
Oct 12, 2009
286
0
Navarre, Florida
A nice idea for a gambit could be saying something like "If you are really curious, we can talk about it at the end of the routine".

I think something along those lines is good because it both addresses their question and gives them and anyone else curious incentive to stick around for the whole set.

At that point you can end the routine however you usually do, seeming like you honestly forgot you said anything about discussing it afterward, this means the person that originally asked would then have to further press you about the issue which they probably won't even do.

If they do press the issue then you can answer however you see fit. I like to say something about how as a magician my goal is to create a unique experience that you can't just put a label on. That if they knew how I did it, the experience would then become just another piece of data in their brain like what the phone number to their local pizza hut is and how to start a car.
 
Jan 1, 2009
2,249
3
Back in Time
Years of training, Did you like it? etc etc.

Generally you kind of want to leave it vague enough to where they don't go thinking that they could do it, but you also want to answer them with some geniunious in your attitude. Most people don't expect you to stand there and explain to them exactly how you did it, and most people really don't want to know.
 
Aug 4, 2010
168
0
Whenever you want to drop your novelty act and have a real conversation I'll be here.

Translation-

"You are right Elite Prestidigitation, I cant argue with your flawless logic..."

I'm a big fan of "I don't know". It puts you on their level. You are no longer tricking them but sharing their astonishment. You're also not putting a lable on what you just did. The less you say the more focus stays on the effect.

That will only make you look ignorant and clueless.....You are also implying that they asked the question because they are "astonished" and not because they want to know the secret.

I rather take credit than the deck.
 
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