You at a concert absorbed in a beautiful song when suddenly one of the spectators jumps on stage and says to the guitarist, “Can I show you a riff I learned yesterday?”
The spectators are absorbed in a beautiful melody when suddenly an audience member shouts aloud to the guitarist, “I know how you played that song! You placed your fingers on the third fret on strings G, B and E.”
Someone attends an Art Exhibition and says to the artist, “Oh, I know how you created that portrait! You took a canvas, a few brushes, some paint and …”
The above scenarios do not happen unless it is during a close-up magic performance. People attend magic shows, concerts, theatres, and galleries to enjoy the artistry of the artists and indulge in something they want to enjoy. At least one would think! Magicians, it seems, contend with a different set of dynamics. In the Genii Magazine (Nov 1992); Milt Schorr highlighted a few of these experiences faced by magicians. These occurrences are universal albeit unique within certain environments. Here follows a few of Milt’s and a few of my own. Fortunately they don’t happen often, but hilarious when they do and are my experiences over the last 11 years performing close-up magic at casinos around Johannesburg..
Funnyman-1: He will often make the time honored comment such as, “Can you make my wife disappear?”
My comment: “Sure, it depends on how much you offer me because your wife has offered me a substantial amount to make you disappear!”
Funnyman-2: He will often comment to the group, “Hold onto your wallets here’s the magician!”
My response: I reluctantly hand back his wallet.
The Journalist: You will easily recognize him as he is the one who immediately starts asking you questions about David Copperfield, Dynamo, or David Blaine. Your magic is of little interest to him. He is more interested in amateur journalism.
My counter measure: I respond with, “I never heard of these magicians!”
The Announcer: He will stroll past with comments such as, “Here’s The Magician whoop whoop!”
My comment: There goes a layman whoop whoop!
The Non-believer: S/he watches your show half-heartedly, but a few minutes into the show and they are in a state of suspended disbelief. At the end of your performance they kneel before you requesting your business card.
My response: I often kneel with them to thank them for their undivided attention.
The Commentator (usually between the age group of 6 – 15): You remove a few coins for your next effect and he will comment, “I know that trick!”
My action plan: During my performance I unobtrusively observe his reactions. I often find that he is more engaged, shocked than the rest of the audience. His initial assumption and his final experience oppose each other vehemently. Priceless!
Lemmesee (usually between the age group of 6 – 15): He keeps up a barrage of comments each which begins with, “Lemmesee”. Usually happens during crucial moments of my performance.
My counter measure: I will often fake deafness, or have a look of disdain.
The Egotist: He will walk past with the comment, “No thanks, we have seen magic before!”
My thoughts: “Yes, but you haven’t seen MY magic Mr. Egotist!”
The Caller: Wants to share his pleasures with others. He will blink in disbelief at your miracles and say. “Stay right there. Don’t move” He will then call to his friend, colleague, wife, kids to “come here quick, you got to see this”. When they gather around he will say, “Watch this guy,” He will not watch you this time because he will be too busy looking from spectator to spectator to observe their reactions. He wants to be certain that they are as impressed as he was so he will say, “See, I told you his good!”
I wish we had more of them!
The Prowler: He is the one who edges slowly to the side or the back of you to try and observe if he can see anything from behind the scenes.
My thoughts: He is the one who stands behind the television while it is switched on to observe if he can see how it works.
The Reminiscer: He will observe your best effects with absolutely no reaction, positive or negative. Instead, his eyes will take on a distant look and he will weave a long tale about a magician he once saw on a boat cruise, or the recent Dynamo show on DSTV. There will be no comment on your expertise. All you have done is jog his memory.
My reaction: I fake staying awake!
The Repeater: This guy is truly impressed, but wants to see it again. Refuse him and he becomes indignant. He will say, “Come on just one more time” He won’t give up.
My response: “You will have to pay for a repeat performance!”
The Recruit: He will ask, “Where can I learn to do that?”
My response: “Hogwarts School of Magic and Wizadry!”
The Amateur: During your performance he interrupts you with, “Can I show you a trick?”
My response: “NO!!!”
The Grabber: The shifty eyes, restlessness, and possibly a nervous twitch should be a cause for concern. Be warned: He is the one who will grab your hand when you least expect.
My thoughts: He is the type who would probably grab your girlfriend when you not looking.
The Straight Man: He is the one who says, “How did you do that?”
My response: “Smoke, mirrors, sleeves and a magic chant!”
The Passerby: He is the one who is too good for magic. He will instantly respond with, “No thanks!” Sometimes they have no idea what you do. They probably think you a Salesperson from Verimark
My response: I run after him, “Please Sir, I haven’t eaten in days.” “Spare me some small change!”
The Worshipper: He is ready to rank you with Moses and his Torn and Restored Tablets. He makes no bones about his admiration for your skills. The “Oh Wows:” and the OMG” pour forth endlessly. “And I was standing right on top of him!” he blabbers on.
My response: I am tempted to become the next “John Edward Psychic!”
The Nodder: S/he agrees with everything you do.
My thoughts: I want to sell them an oil field in South East Asia
The Interpreter: Every 20-30 seconds this fellow will whisper to his friend and explain in a rather audible tone exactly how you accomplished the miracles.
My response: Steal his wallet when his not looking.
The Over-indulger: Can you show us another one?
The Passerby: S/he will stop to watch then leave just before the climax of your effect.
My response: “You can’t leave now you haven’t PAID!”
I just LOVE magic!