Why are we such bad audience members?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Morgan B, Sep 25, 2009.

  1. Magicians are known to be the worst audience members; so poor in fact, that I saw on a performance video of EXTRA CREDIT by Josh Jay, the older audience didn’t seem to enjoy his humour, and someone commented under the vid:


    Hate those spectators.. He is too young for them... he must get better reactions with younger people


    Pretty sure it's a group of magicians. The WORST audience you can imagine.

    I agree...magicians are horrible as an audience

    I have witnessed, both second hand and personally, a magician dismissing a very strong and fooling effect, roll their eyes at presentation that kills audiences, and just give the magician a hard time in general. What is it about us that we don’t want to enjoy being fooled/entertained by magic? What makes us hate participating in the experience in the same craft we do? Most gourmet Chefs enjoy their own and other Chefs’ cooking, actors enjoy other actors, and musicians other musicians music!?

    Sure, I have experienced magicians applaud, out of more than kindness, for what I would consider a common and straight forward routine, although usually done well. I wonder if it is because the performer is a “known” magician, so I figure those watching want it to be good...because they did pay (and/or travel a distance) to see “named” magician, so they would applaud if the magician performed the hot rod...actually, I have seen Tyler Wilson get away with this, but that is another story.

    One thing I noticed, Magicians want to be performed for, rather than having an interactive magic experience...and sadly, good close up magic is not a spectator sport, it is better and more organic when the audience is engaged...not a passive watchers that happen to know a few of the secrets behind the scenes.

    I find the best magicians can see and enjoy the magic the way the audience see it. Often I will get excited over something, and another magician will say, “Did that fool you”? Truthfully, I will answer, usually no, but can you imagine the impact that will have on someone not in the know? Then my friend shrugs. It is seldom I am fooled by effects after 10 years, and personally, I welcome the experience – however, I always watch magic like I watch a movie, I willingly stop thinking about the “behind the scenes”. I don’t care about the methods, I want to see it the way my audience will experience it. If I do this, I can allow myself to experience magic they way I will want my audiences to experience my magic.

    For a second, imagine watching a movie, and focusing on the camera angles, sound quality, and editing...when you should be enjoying the plot and the experience. I find magicians do this while watching our craft...and it really sells their own learning experience short.

    So who cares?

    Well, it is not something that needs to change or magic will suck...however, I think as magicians, we should make a stronger effort to put ourselves in our audience’s shoes. This will allow us to give stronger feedback to our fellow magicians, and possibly enjoy magic outside of performing it. Lastly, it will allow us to see an effect from the outside, and critique, as best we can, what we do, and see, in an unbiased manner.

    I will end on this, if you are the type that just sees method...then how can you be angry at your audiences when you perform, and that is all they want to see?

    Thanks for reading – keep thinking.
  2. You are effing back! woot woot!

    Im sleepy and I have to go to bed, If this isnt on top of the other threads by tomorrow Im going to be very mad.

    Glad to see you back man, I'll try to contribute something tomorrow :)
  3. There is a lot of talk about advancing the art on these forums, but rarely have I seen someone make a suggestion, that actually makes sense, and can be accomplished by all of us. Great post, and insight.
  4. Now that you all know that i agree with morgician, let me play devils advocate.

    I have a degree in television and video production. When I watch movies and tv shows I constantly look for camera angels/movements, listen for sound quality and question certain edits, and ask my self why did they do that, how does it add to the overall production. In fact the first thing I was told to do in college was to watch television for what is called the production value. Film making is much like magic. In Films you start with a vision, you create that image in your own way, and your end product is art. In magic you start with an idea for an effect, you develop a method, and your end product is an illusion, that many of us call art. So whats the difference? Any professional in the televison and film business will tell you to watch TV for production value.
  5. Hey Luka,

    I thought about that when I was writing, as I have met a few other Film students (My brother-in-law, for example) that dissect movies in a scholarly way...and perhaps I should have commented on this concept.

    I don't want people to think I am saying - don't look at an effect in the way you look at TV and video production...and please don't think I don't look at my magic that way - I do, however, not on the first go around.

    The first time I hear a song, watch a movie, see an effect, etc...I want to experience it the way the artist showing it is trying to convey it - all the emotion, timing, movement...not the method though, as that is not to be seen or known, so at first...I remove it from the equation.

    Then, I do exactly what you do - but hold on to the image of what it is supposed to be, rather than what it is - so I can make it into what it will be in my hands. Better.

    So Luka, imagine with TV if you didn't watch it the first time around for production value, but the experience...then, watch it again with production in mind. This is often why I will ask my friends to show me something twice - once for what he wants to convey as an artist, then another time as a critical eye as a magician...but with the former knowledge I am able to learn and give stronger feedback.

    Hope that helps clear up the next step - but good point, thanks.
  6. Wow. This is the first post I've read from you, and I like it a lot. I'm going to try to watch other people's magic from a spectator's perspective now (even though I'm not experienced to the point like you where I know everything pretty much already.)

    I can offer the experiences I've had with my family. When I started getting an interest in magic my brother and my dad started getting into it as well, and there's always this tension when one of us performs for the other. Its almost like a jealousy or a pride thing, that by knowing how the trick is done you're somehow... better for it.

    I've noticed that in certain spectators too. Not necessarily hecklers, since they're not vocal. But the type who feel as though, if they show they're surprised by something, it makes them weaker in a way, or it means you've got something on them...

    So far I'm beginning to assume there's people who can appreciate a trick and those who just can't. But I think that is where I begin to digress.

    Is it a pride thing? I think in anything, not just magic, some people knock others down so they can be taller than them. What they don't seem to grasp is that, after knocking someone down they are technically higher, but they haven't grown any...
  7. #7 RDChopper, Sep 25, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2009
    Aaww I can't sleep. Oh well, I'll try to contribute something here.

    In my humble opinion, it's about perspective.

    First of all, in order to enjoy a magic performance we have to be humble, most magicians now a days (and I include myself) just see magic as a macho test, like "oh I can do a faster pass than that guy" or "That trick in my hands sure looks better". We magicians are egocentrical creatures, and we love to compare ourselves with other magicians, so, when a performer isn't at our "standards" we usually don't appreciate the good performances that he has.

    That's one of some barriers that we have to break in order to appreciate a performance.

    Second, is that, we are magicians, we already know that there is a trick or something "secret" behind the magic. Of course, egocentrical as we are, we don't like getting fooled by a trick, so that's why instead of enjoying a performance we are just trying to reverse engineer the whole effect looking for the little details, and we do all that while ignoring the whole picture, wich in this case is the performance.

    Third, again, touching the "perspective" point, here is somethign I wanna talk about. (using your example with music and acting)

    A person that doesnt know much about music is going to enjoy a musician doing his thang, just because he finds it complicated and beatifull at the time. A person that doesnt know about magic is going to find it mystical and "magical"...

    Now if a studied musician hears another musican play, (in my opinion) he is going to enjoy the piece based on three factors:

    *The beauty of the piece

    *The way in wich the musician interprets the piece

    *The complexity of said piece.

    We magicians fail to enjoy the first two factors and instead enjoy watching a very complex routine rather than looking the general picture, we are so focused on that point that we dont allow ourselves to understand the beauty of the other two factors (wich in a lot of cases are most important than the complexity of the sleights).

    So, I haven't seen that effect that Josh did, but maybe the "magicians" were just looking the technical aspect while ignoring the whole picture.

    Im sleepy now. Im going to sleep. I hope we can discuss this furhter :).
  8. Hey wb. That's some great food for thought. It probably had a great deal to do with the individual's pride. A magician who learns and is teachable is a humble. If you want to grow, you must as you say, let yourself enjoy this craft we love so much.
    hmm huge topic, lots of ways this discussion can go.:)
  9. Nice to see you Morgs.

    And yes, I totally agree. I dislike spending time with most magicians for a similar reason.

    One magician I know reasonably well is the first to admit that he is a big heckler. And I can't help but wonder, why? I just don't understand, it's the ultimate in banal hypocrisy. Is there really so little respect? The amount of arrogance is shocking. And it's one thing that prevents a magician from improving beyond a guy who does tricks. I've performed effects to magicians, who have, mid effect, walked off to pick up a pizza, to return five minutes later with greasy fingers. Again, the lack of respect is shocking.

    Too many magicians only look at the sleight of hand skill. I saw a similarly misguided post here not too long ago - "If you want to judge the skill of a card magician, look at his pass."


    "If you want to judge how little of a life a card magician has, look at his pass" is the correct statement.

    Skill does not equal sleight of hand chops.

    There's more to a performance, more to magic, than sleight of hand.

    And whenever I say this, everyone nods their head in silent agreement. But 95% aren't listening, and are plain hypocrites.

    No wonder magicians are so bad at communicating with people.

    I want to get the attention of a layperson. So what do 99% of so called magicians suggest? Flourishing! Anaconda! How absurd.

    Talk to the freaking spectator, you douchebags, and stop being chronic introverts.

    And yes, I know this post rapidly descended into a rant. I hope it didn't go too far away from Morg's point, which, to reiterate, is a very good one, and one which I agree with.
  10. Hm...
    Although I dont exactly agree with the post, I see what you mean.
    I think it varies a lot...
    I have met a bunch of dicks who stay 100% silent when you perform for them and when you finish they just nod and say "yes... ok". which suck ass...
    There are those who describe every move you do. "M hm... so a double... then a top change, then the ramsley subtlety, then a double backer with a hint of crimping."
    Then there are those who just heckle because they are afraid they wont figure it out later on. The type who you ask them to hold a card face down and they have to check it. The type who checks every card just to make sure you dont use a gimmick.

    These are the usual that I find irritating. and most of these guys dont enjoy talking about theory what so ever. A conversation would usually be like
    "Hey sup. hows magic going."
    "Great great.. so have you seen the knew Flourish by *insert name*? its like awesome. I already got it down"
    "Yea. its *talks 5 minutes about it giving opinions. But have you seen that new book by Eric Mead *or someone fun to read about*? It gave me great insight on performing for my audience!"
    "Read? book? um... yea.... its.. great. So have you seen this new gimmick called the *insert stupid gimmick*? I bought it yesterday."
    "that? Doesnt seem like the thing audience would find amazing... doesnt seem practical..."
    "what are you talking about? it works awesomely. it can now replace my classic pass which by the way is flawless. but still. all you need are two Double A Batteries and its great."
    "Have you tried it with live audience?"

    But i have also met a bunch load who look at you with so much interest and it just feels like gold when someone who knows as much as you seems to love talking to you. Imagine a Jam with Lennart Green, David Williamson, and Joshua Jay. That would be freaking awesome...

    I try to observe magic as laymenny as possible. If it is a video, the first time i watch it I try not to think about the method unless it is something quite in your face such as a erdnase which everyone picks up automatically. But I want to enjoy watching magic. I like knowing methods, but I dont want to be constantly learning, it strains my mind too much. If a magician wants to show me a move or something. I always tell him to put it into context. Perform a trick with it in it, with the full patter and what ever. I hate it when a kid comes to you and goes like
    "Hey Ive got a new routine wanna see it?"
    "yea sure. "
    "So yea... you force a card and everything, then you control it back to the top *shows the top card* then you perform this move I created. this how you do it... then its here so you can just do this"
    and I end up feeling like .what did I just see? this wasnt a trick... It might be good, but if this kid wont perform it properly, who will?...

    I dont think its really anything you can change.
    some magicians just have too much pride and arrogance to want to feel like a laymen again...
  11. I am a good magician with a lot of experience..but still is very easy to fool me because I usually watch magic without trying to analize it and have a good time...well except when I see lame tricks or a bad performer.

    When I see a magician that is angry or stress out because somebody fooled him I feel sorry for him, I think there´s nothing wrong about being fooled by a fellow magician, because we were spectators before becaming magicians.

    I am a good audience member and everyone should be too, because if you were the one performing you would hate that a magician mess with your magic while you are performing-
  12. Most magicians become jaded over the years. So it's usually hard to impress them due to the "Been there, done that" attitude.
  13. This is a great thread to discuss people.
  14. I dont think that a person who does that can call themselves a magician. I was doing a trick for a group of people in a local magic shop, and a magician that most of you probably heard of, but will remain anonymous was present. He knew the trick I was showing, but for my sake and for the sake of the other spectators, he didnt act like an idiot like Ive seen some people act. What Ive noticed, is that if a laymen is trying to bust you, and cant figure out the secret, he will usually say something like "wow, Im not impressed" or some stupid sarcastic remark. Any magician who will act like that, I call a laymen, because Im willing to bet that every magician was in a sticky situation at one point or another. So, if they try to make that happen for someone else, that is not a (real) magician. I dont understand why a person will act like that unless he is obnoxious, or if the magician is not there to entertain him, but to fool him. I think that one of the biggest problems in magic today is that some magicians couldnt care less how entertaining a trick is as long as it fools an audience. If magicians focused more on entertaining an audience, this would not be as big a problem.
    Now, if a magician does that, it might be the case that he thinks that if he doesnt show that he knows the trick, the other people present will think less of him as a magician. I dont think that is necesarily true. In fact it is not the case 99% of the time. It also has to do to some extent with self esteem. Magicians who feel low about their own tricks, will sometimes try to push another magicians tricks down to make themselves feel better. Just some of my own opinions.
  15. Could not have said it better myself. How good a magician you are is not based on how good your slights are, or how awesome your flourish looks. its based on entertainment, is it entertaining to laymen. As magicians we do not look for the entertainment while watching magic performed. That is our flaw. There is always someone out there with a better pass, and a more natural double lift, but are the spectators entertained. Did the experience what magic really is. That is what makes a magician a magician. We should not be so tied up in the skill as we should be tied up in the act. This is how we can proceed. So in battles don't always vote for the person who has the best ego change, vote for the person who can perform, and entertain. Yes we are magicians, but the audience wants to see entertainers.
  16. Morgician,

    I agree with your post, but I have some interesting anecdotal evidence about one of your parallels.
    You wrote:
    Most gourmet Chefs enjoy their own and other Chefs’ cooking, actors enjoy other actors, and musicians other musicians music!

    I think this is true of PROS. The guys and gals who have paid dues and been banged around awhile and are truly grounded in their craft. However, the next tier down in each of these disciplines... well they are often unbelievably cut throat and badly behaved. Apprentice chefs talk trash about each other AND the pros. Hungry new actors bad mouth each other to anyone who will listen and go out of their way to try and shake another performer's confidence. And musicians... Geez. The worst single instance of bad behavior I've ever personally witnessed came from a prima donna vocalist from an up and coming band at ANOTHER band's performance. (You can't get worse than LITERALLY p*ssing all over someone's set.) (But secretly, how awesome would it be if someone got drunk at the national IBM and urinated all over Shoot Ogawa or John Carney and it started a brawl?)

    Meanwhile I've seen lots of really interesting situations with pros who go out of their way to try and be civil with people they REALLY don't like or are in direct competition with. They tend to really love magic, and think that ANY public performance of magic is deserving of some respect.
  17. Good point Chase - but I hope we all realize, I don't think that I will ever stop other magicians from bad mouthing and displaying insecurities. I just want them to SEE the magic, before they SEE the method. If we are so busy acting unimpressed, or trying to figure it out, we will never had the eyes of a lay audience, and that is only the loss of the magician who is acting a fool.

    I would add one thing to this Chase:

    ANY public performance of magic is deserving of some respect....

    IF the magician is respecting the performance of magic himself.


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