Another Point of View
I love performing for people. Love it. Like many magicians I actually struggle in social situations, and so magic is my crutch, my machete to help me hack my way through loud, scary crowds. With a deck of cards, a couple of coins, or even a couple of rubber bands I’m suddenly able to not feel nervous surrounded by people, but instead I become cool, calm and sophisticated. A wit, raconteur, and bon vivant whom men want to be and women want to be with. A veritable god!
Okay, that’s mostly in my head. But magic really is my way of both surviving in many social situations, and also to be able to enjoy the company of other. However, when magicians talk about their audiences – and we do now and then – there are a few little bugbears that they mention. So I thought I’d give you a little bit of inside knowledge into the things that tick magicians off.
Just for Kids
It is an oddly British idea that magic is somehow very much for children. Yes, there are magicians who specialise in children’s entertainment. A good children’s magician is a sight to behold and I always have a couple I can recommend if that is what a potential client is looking for. However, that’s not every – or indeed most – magicians. The rest of us practice magic that can and should be enjoyed by everyone. So please, give us a chance and above all, don’t see us as a kind of child minder with decks of cards.
Just as magic is able to bring the best out in me socially, it can also bring the best out in others. For a few moments the wallflower can suddenly be a star, or without even knowing how, you might make a miracle happen in your very own hands. But sadly, it can bring out the worst in a few, and usually a very specific type. Occasionally you’ll find someone in the group who wants to tell everyone how every trick is done (whather they know or not). They’ll scoff, butt in, and generally try to keep the attention on themselves rather than the magician or any other volunteer who might be assisting.
Just Plain Rude
Not much else to say here. Some people are just rude. It’s annoying.
This is a lot less of an issue with close up magic than say cabaret or stage, as the format requires a high level of interaction. Having said that, if you’re talking more than the magician, or feeling the need to make a comment after every move or sentence, the chances are that you’ve stopped making this an interactive piece of close up theatre, and instead are really distracting the person trying to perform.
Now, I don’t really mind any of the above situations. With experience I’ve learned to deal with these things and usually turn them to my advantage. But there is one thing that does really get my goat.
Don’t Try and Catch The Magician Out
When you are watching a magician do magic the two of you are entering into a kind of contract. They are going to lie and cheat to fool you, you are going to try and catch them out but only whilst playing by their rules. Let me give you an example.
Magician: I will now riffle the deck, tell me when to stop…
Magician: Wonderful. Put your card in here.
Spectator: *Shoves the card somewhere else in the deck, and then looks smug.*
If you try and trip us up in this way all you are going to do is either force us to improvise, in which case you’ll get an effect that might be okay but certainly won’t be the one we’ve spent hour upon hour crafting, practicing and perfecting during live performances, or an exasperated magician struggling and unable to finish a trick. This might be hard to hear, but we don’t have magicial powers. We are using sleight of hand. Feel free to watch us as closely as you can, but if you don’t do what we ask and instead change the rules then yes, congratulations, you’ve made it so that we cannot find your card. Or, to put it another way, you’ve ruined the trick for everyone else.
Now I’ve reached the end of this blog, I’m struggling to think of a reason for it. I’m hardly going to tell you what you can and can’t do, what it takes to be a ‘good’ audience member. And to be honest the vast, VAST majority of people I perform for are absolutely lovely. I think, perhaps, I just wanted to give you a little insight into life on the other side of the deck. Because as much as I know people will say ‘they were great fun!’ or ‘they we’re really awful’, when we’re off stage, or have left a table, we’re just as likely to say the same!