And So It Goes… Tricks


The shiny, glimmering metallic shackles dangling while the reflections of light blinds my eyes.  A voice calls out “you call it a trick one more time and I’m going to cuff you with these for one hour to that pole, or until you can figure out how to get out of them.”  Hence, my first visit to a magic shop and the last time I referred to truly magical effects as “tricks.”

Considering magic as mere “tricks” is a slander to the art form.  It provides such degrading qualities as insinuating that these displays of wonder are simple and require little to no skill.  Magic is unique in several different ways, one of which is slanderous terms to describe various aspects of our art.  Terms such as “trick” dress some of our performances as nothing more than a challenge to the spectator.  I don’t recall ever meeting someone who WANTS to be the one TRICKED.  I give full credit for this type of ingrained behavior to the ego.

It’s simple really; no one wants to appear less knowledgeable than someone else.  Referring to magic as a “trick” immediately sets up the terms and conditions of the upcoming interaction as you against them.  That’s why many performers will have spectators (especially males all vying to be the alpha) try to pull one over on the performer.

Now it’s time for a simple equation:  If you try to trick me, but I in turn trick you, that equals I’m way too clever for you to fool.  And nobody wants to be a fool.

Can we blame the spectator for engaging in this natural response?  You’re DARN RIGHT WE CAN!!!  And we do.  But is it wise to do so?  If you ask your career it would more than likely beg you to not be an idiot.

So how do we combat this without destroying what little rapport we have with the spectator?  I suggest that if we want our performances respected, than we too must respect our art.  It is up to us to set the stage, tone and pacing.  A fairly simple way to do this is to use “CONDITIONING” in conjunction with ANCHORING (an NLP technique) to help set in triggers to pull out the desired response.  Okay, maybe not so simple without study on the subject.  So let me give you some things you can set in motion immediately.

It is wise to choose the willing participant and not the person who is going to try to sabotage the effect.  Most of us amateurs feel like we have something to prove and therefore run head on like two rams knocking noodles to prove dominance.  This type of behavior can only lead to a headache!  But what to do with the difficult spectator (this will typically be men due to our innate nature to be the alpha)?

There are several ways in which to set the alpha male at ease.  For instance, I sometimes gently nudge a spectator to give the impression as if the two of us are “in on it” together.  Dai Vernon would go as far as telling the spectator to not worry about figuring out the effect, because he was going to let them in on the workings later (to which he did no such thing).  One could also use witty one-liners that turn the spectators against the troublemaker.  For example, we all have had the individual who will lie about the identity of the card that they have previously chosen.  A simple solution is to look around to the other spectators and state “who are you going to believe?  I’m only THE magician” (this is based off of a series of ideas Tom Mullica posted in his lecture notes in the mid-1990’s).

It all really boils down to what your character is, but that’s shuffling down a different sidewalk.

And so it goes…….

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