What do we expect our spectators to believe?

Josh Burch

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Aug 11, 2011
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We perform for intelligent people. People who are at least as smart as you are. Do we expect them to believe we are performing real magic? If we are, wouldn't it be immoral to claim something that is false like that?
 

RickEverhart

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Sep 14, 2008
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I do not look at my performances as "real" magic at all nor do I expect my audiences to think it is "real" magic. I am okay with knowing that my audiences are probably smart enough to figure out a few things and I am okay with that. I guess my view is that I am there to "entertain" them and allow them to suspend their belief even if it is just for those few minutes of miracles we seemingly produce. I'm basically showing them a good time. They are laughing, smiling, cheering, getting to know other people around them at the event, etc. Sure they can go home and wonder and rack their brain about the how our effects are accomplished but my bigger role is to show them a great time because they may never see "good" close up magic again in their life. They are getting to know Rick Everhart as a person and entertainer, not just a gentleman who does "tricks".
 
Aug 31, 2007
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We perform for intelligent people. People who are at least as smart as you are.
First rule of magic, always be the smartest guy in the room.
-Jay Daniel Atlas (Now You See Me)
Do we expect them to believe we are performing real magic? If we are, wouldn't it be immoral to claim something that is false like that?
Yes, of course you want them to believe what you are doing is real.
If you see it as immoral, I think you're in the wrong profession.
 
Apr 17, 2013
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First rule of magic, always be the smartest guy in the room.
-Jay Daniel Atlas (Now You See Me)

When did that become a rule in magic? That means you think you are above everyone else in the room.
 
Jan 1, 2009
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Back in Time
First rule of magic, always be the smartest guy in the room.
-Jay Daniel Atlas (Now You See Me)

Yes, of course you want them to believe what you are doing is real.
If you see it as immoral, I think you're in the wrong profession.

Really? You're going to quote a badly directed, badly acted and badly written film? Also, good luck getting people to enjoy your magic when you walk around with that attitude. You're just setting yourself for failure.

Personally, I think we should let people believe what they want about it. If they want to see it has entertainment. Then great, I'm glad they enjoyed themselves. It means I did my job correctly. The main goal is less about them believing in your magic 100% and more about building a strong rapport with them and having them remember YOU and telling their friends how much a good time they had when they saw you at said party/restaurant/event.
 

Pav

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Apr 7, 2012
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I don't expect them to believe anything. I expect them to suspend their disbelief.

When people watch a movie, they don't genuinely believe that their watching Jack Sparrow or The Joker in action. In the back of their minds they know that they're watching Johnny Depp or Heath Ledger.

There is a temporary silent agreement between the audience and the performer. People are fully aware they are about to be lied to, yet they're absolutely content with that fact.

The magician can only ask that the audience willingly overlook the limitations that exist in a present medium.
 

Jay Adra

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Jul 11, 2011
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Morality doesn't come into it for me as I think we shouldn't be afraid to say we do tricks. The fact that this is a trick is what is amazing.

We are doing something completely impossible, but the audience knows that it is achieved by possible means and I think that's a beautiful thing. It makes it human, more relatable and more amazing.

If we could really do magic, then it wouldn't be as special or impressive, because it's something we can do - and the audience knows that. But if the audience knows I can't really fly, and I do... now that's magic!
 
Nov 24, 2013
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Just to keep it short, I don't tell them the magic is real or if the magic is fake, I just let them believe what they want to believe.
 

Josh Burch

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Aug 11, 2011
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Penn Jillette says that magic is the one art where you don't have to suspend your disbelief. You ask your audience to bring everything they got and you still are able to ruin logic.

I feel like the second that they have to imagine you have done what you said you were going to do it cheapens the effect. We can go to a theater and watch a show like the Muppets and enjoy it because we agree to pretend for those 2 hours that frogs can talk. With magic it's different, there isn't a suspension of disbelief, you don't have to pretend at all.

So when people go to a magic show just by buying the ticket they give the magician permission to mess with their mind for a couple hours. If the magician puts across what they do as real magic then what they do extends beyond the theater. They, in essence, break that agreement. When this happens they cross the line, from entertainer to charlatan. Right?
 
Apr 17, 2013
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So when people go to a magic show just by buying the ticket they give the magician permission to mess with their mind for a couple hours. If the magician puts across what they do as real magic then what they do extends beyond the theater. They, in essence, break that agreement. When this happens they cross the line, from entertainer to charlatan. Right?

No. Some people want that feeling of being a small child again and seeing something wonderful and amazing. They want to feel that joy. Some people go because they enjoy watching a skilled practitioner work his craft. This is why people will stand around and watch a guy with a chainsaw make ice and tree stump art. There are many reasons someone goes to a magic show. There are many theories on how to present said show. Go back and see what others have said. Watch how Copperfield or Henning worked Watch Slydini. See the different styles.

It seems like you have just found these Penn Jillette videos. What you have to remember is Penn and Teller are not a traditional magic act. You also have to understand what they put out for the public at large is for the public at large and not really for magicians. When they first came to New York they never said they were a magic act. It wasn't in the press releases. it wasn't in their bios or press kits. They wouldn't say magic act when they gave radio interviews. They have this persona of being debunkers and bad boys of magic. The outsiders. It's what they do. Remember this when you listen to their talks they give.
 

Josh Burch

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No. Some people want that feeling of being a small child again and seeing something wonderful and amazing. They want to feel that joy. Some people go because they enjoy watching a skilled practitioner work his craft. This is why people will stand around and watch a guy with a chainsaw make ice and tree stump art. There are many reasons someone goes to a magic show. There are many theories on how to present said show. Go back and see what others have said. Watch how Copperfield or Henning worked Watch Slydini. See the different styles.

The reason of why you are going isn't the point. Everybody goes for different reasons. When they watch the show though there is an understanding that what they are seeing isn't real. If we as magicians claim otherwise it is wrong.

It seems like you have just found these Penn Jillette videos. What you have to remember is Penn and Teller are not a traditional magic act. You also have to understand what they put out for the public at large is for the public at large and not really for magicians. When they first came to New York they never said they were a magic act. It wasn't in the press releases. it wasn't in their bios or press kits. They wouldn't say magic act when they gave radio interviews. They have this persona of being debunkers and bad boys of magic. The outsiders. It's what they do. Remember this when you listen to their talks they give.

I believe that Penn and Teller are two of the greatest magical thinkers in magic today. I have always been a fan since I first heard about them about 15 years ago. They aren't typical magicians but that's exactly what makes their perspective different and fresh. Their choice to not be called magicians isn't anything new, it's a branding technique that has been used by many before and after Penn and Teller got big. They are extremely transparent when it comes down to the public's perception of them, at least when compared to others. Besides, the main thought behind this thread is from an article from Magic Mind.

I chose Penn and Teller because they were an easy example. I could have easily chosen somebody else like Derren Brown, David Berglas, Francis Menotti or Marco Tempest but Penn and Teller have been the most vocal about their philosophy. Unfortunately the list isn't very long when it comes to magicians who act like their audience is as intelligent as they are. These guys do not stoop down to show their audience how clever they are instead they rise to the intellect of their audience.
 

Josh Burch

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Aug 11, 2011
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First rule of magic, always be the smartest guy in the room.
-Jay Daniel Atlas (Now You See Me)

Haha I did like the movie. I doubt that was possible when Lennart Green, Apollo Robbin's, and Helder Guimeres performed at TED. For me I don't know if I'v ever been the smartest guy in the room.

Yes, of course you want them to believe what you are doing is real.
If you see it as immoral, I think you're in the wrong profession.


We're not all Uri Geller, haha. They still need to understand that it's fake though, even if their senses tell them otherwise..
 
Jan 1, 2009
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The answer is going to vary widely from person to person. This type of question is a rather silly thing to ask on a magic board and is better off left in the wind. Because it doesn't really improve anything when it comes to performing, it just makes the person look like they are trying to make themselves look smarter than they are. But actually ends up looking incredibly pretentious.


How come some mountains look like presidents? How do our suitcases always know where to meet us at? Whats with Island getting less sand, Who is Alaska? What is Brazil. How did god even think of dirt!?
 
Apr 17, 2013
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The reason of why you are going isn't the point. Everybody goes for different reasons. When they watch the show though there is an understanding that what they are seeing isn't real. If we as magicians claim otherwise it is wrong.

You asked about people going to the show. I answered that question. Magicians play a role. Our role is someone who lives in a world where magic is real. We are putting on a show. What people want to think is what they are going to think. There are people in West Virginia who claim I am demon spawn because i can make a key roll over in someones hand. i can make that same key roll over in my hand that they are holding still, then that key stand up right and floats off of my hand. I never say I have powers. I simply play my part. What they take away from it is up to them. But for that time they are watching me I'm a magician and magicians let people see the magic in their minds. Magic only exists when we have someone other than ourselves to see it to see it. We need their mind and eyes to make the magic happen.

So yes we do have powers We have the power to bring a smile or wonder or a small amount of joy to a person. We have the power to bring back a childhood memory of a beloved grandfather who passed. We can make a crying child forget what was making them sad. We have all kinds of powers.

Also It was Their agent who said no mention of magic and the minds behind Penn and Teller is Teller and Johnny Thompson.
 
Aug 17, 2010
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We perform for intelligent people. People who are at least as smart as you are. Do we expect them to believe we are performing real magic? If we are, wouldn't it be immoral to claim something that is false like that?

I expect them to be on the horns of a dilemma; On one hand, there's no such thing as magic. On the other hand, there's no cause within nature to explain the impossibilities they have just witnessed.
 
Apr 17, 2013
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Also if you want to get into some real nitty gritty performance theory then get Five points of Magic and anything Eugene Burger has written.
 
Dec 18, 2007
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Traditional Magic. . . I want the audience to do one thing, let go and enjoy the ride. Don't waste your time trying to figure things out; just enjoy the fantasy.

Mentalism on the other hand requires an investment of belief which the performer creates by using valid argument as part of his/her presentation and of course, the backstory around their character.

Urban~Shamanism blends the belief concept found in Mentalism with aspects of simple, conventional magic similar to how Bizarre Magick has done but the material is presented in a more organic and "earthy" mode -- we ARE Shaman and our goal is to restore magic as a whole, to its nearly forgotten roots; when magic was in fact MAGICK to the commoner's mind. This has been a goal of many performers but it's only been in the past decade that we've had the formal ideas and techniques available to us that make it viable; the psychological applications that allow us to know how to layer our presentations in order to reach that point, even when we execute "common place" effects like the Gypsy Thread or Cups & Balls.

All of it, all aspects of magic, should be focused on one specific goal -- Enchantment. A comedy act can still intrigue and mesmerize, just watch the Great Tomsoni & Co. if you doubt me. A children's performer likewise has the opportunity to enchant in that they have access to some of the most unobstructed imaginations on the planet -- kids! The trick is, we must lure them in and invoke that imagination so as to create wonder, not silliness. Treat them as intelligent beings, not "children" if you want to win (in so doing you may help change the public's perception of the craft as well).
 

Josh Burch

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Aug 11, 2011
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You asked about people going to the show. I answered that question. Magicians play a role.

There was no question. The audience should come in expecting the magician to play that role.

Our role is someone who lives in a world where magic is real. We are putting on a show. What people want to think is what they are going to think. There are people in West Virginia who claim I am demon spawn because i can make a key roll over in someones hand. i can make that same key roll over in my hand that they are holding still, then that key stand up right and floats off of my hand. I never say I have powers. I simply play my part. What they take away from it is up to them. But for that time they are watching me I'm a magician and magicians let people see the magic in their minds. Magic only exists when we have someone other than ourselves to see it to see it. We need their mind and eyes to make the magic happen.

Any, type of theater can say "I'm taking the role of a magician, pretend with me". Look at the musical wicked, the way she flys is completley transparent by design but they can get awaywith it becaus ehte audience is imagicning with the actors. Suspension of disbelief.

Only with magic though can we say "I'm going to do something impossible, you know that what you're seeing can't be true, but I'm going to do it anyways. It'll be fun". In no other art form can Harry Anderson get away with his needle through arm. You can't sing a song that says "I'm going to stab a needle through my arm, it's not really going to happen, but you are going to swear I am mutilating myself." The surprise that comes when we see that his arm is fine doesn't come in any other art form.

Also It was Their agent who said no mention of magic

I know, and it was Daniel Madison's decision to not be called a magician and it was some reporter who called Derren Brown a psychological illusionist. Does it make it any different?

and the minds behind Penn and Teller is Teller and Johnny Thompson.

Exactly! Johnny Thompson and and Teller are heavy hitters. So, when I talk about Teller's essay in Magic mind and interviews where Penn and Teller are both speaking there is some clout. With this comment are you insinuating that Penn, half of one of the most successful duos in magic, doesn't have any input in magic worth paying attention to?

Also if you want to get into some real nitty gritty performance theory then get Five points of Magic and anything Eugene Burger has written.

Those are great sources but there's no reason we can't talk about it here too.
 

Josh Burch

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Aug 11, 2011
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The answer is going to vary widely from person to person.

Of course.

This type of question is a rather silly thing to ask on a magic board and is better off left in the wind.
What our audience is going to think should be at the for front. What we want to convey as performers helps us chose material, scripting and venue. It is one of the most important things we can ask. Unless you'd like this forum to not go any deeper than "Who's your favorite magician?", "What's the best deck of cards?" and "Why isn't this magic gimmick working why how it was advertized?"

Because it doesn't really improve anything when it comes to performing, it just makes the person look like they are trying to make themselves look smarter than they are. But actually ends up looking incredibly pretentious.

If we are trying to say something with our magic then we have to ask ourselves "What do we expect our spectators to believe?".

How does valuing your spectators intelligence make you look pretentious? Does Francis Menotti look pretentious when he says "Celui ci n'est pas un telephone?" no he expects his audience to be smart. Is it pretentious for David Copperfield to say that he understands he has to compete with special effects and movies when he performs? I don't think so, this is valuing the spectators intelligence.
 
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