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 Post subject: "Blaming Your Spectators"
PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2008 8:00 pm 
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This is something that I have noticed people talking about doing on Penguin, and have personally witnessed at school. Blaming your spectators for your mistake. Telling them they did their part wrong, or they picked the wrong card. When the truth is, it was your fault, you screwed up, and you should take the blame.

I have a friend at school that I have known since we are like four. Recently, he started showing a real interest in magic, so I gave him a deck and a Card Guard, and got him started doing stuff. I taught him the basics, like the DL, and he advanced really quickly, so I decided, for one last thing before I pointed him to The Royal Road to Card Magic, I would teach him the Biddle Trick.

Everything went well, until the next day. As I'm sure we all know, any magician performing an effect the day after he learns it is a big no no. Now add in the fact that he just started three weeks ago, and it makes it that much worse.

We were sitting at lunch, and I was very shocked to see him pull out his cards and start performing the Biddle Trick for the girl across from him. I wasn't about to heckle him and tell him to stop, so I sat back and watched it play out.

He screwed up the effect... flashed, and the girl he was performing for immediately called him out on it. Colton denied it, and kept plowing through. He ended the trick with the reveal of the upside down card in the deck, and the girl didn't react... at all.

She told him that he didn't do very well, and she saw what he did. This put him in some kind of bad mood, and he instantly shifted the blame from him, where it belonged, to the girl... his spectator. They were arguing back and forth for about 2 minutes, Colton telling her she didn't hold the deck right, bla bla bla, and she was telling him that he just screwed up.

This went on until I finally intervened, told Colton that it was indeed his fault, and to stop blaming her. Then, later, I found out he did the same thing to another girl. I told him that he shouldn't perform an effect the day after he learns it... that he needs to put more work and practice into them, but he just responded saying that he practiced a whole lot already.

That story is not meant as an opportunity for you guys to bash me for not "teaching" him properly, as I don't really think it was my fault. It is meant solely as an example for what I'm talking about.

I have noticed this on Penguin, as well, in a discussion on what to do if you drop the cards. One guy, obviously not experienced, said to blame it on the spectators. No, no, and no!

This is not going to be lengthy, as the majority of it has been my example. But the main goal of this is NEVER BLAME YOUR SPECTATORS FOR YOUR MISTAKES! It will only ruin your reputation as a magician, and as a person.

Even when, from time to time, when it appears to everybody as if it is your spectator's fault, it is yours! For example, let's say you hand a stacked deck to your spectator, and ask them to cut the deck and look at a card. However, they shuffle up the deck first, ruining your effect. To everyone, including you, it will appear as if they ruined the effect for you, but this is not true.

It is your fault because you either 1) don't have any audience control, leading the spectator's to believe they are in control, and they can do whatever they want... including messing with your cards, 2) you simply picked a bad spectator to perform for, or 3) you didn't explain what you wanted them to do clearly enough.

The point I am stressing here is not to put yourself down when things go wrong, but to accept the blame, and move on. You can imagine how frustrating it would be to do everything correct, then when it goes wrong, have the blame automatically shifted to you.

So please, do not ever blame your spectators for your mistakes. It's another one of those things that contribute to our art not being held very high in the eyes of the public.

Thanks for reading.
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-Take it as you want, and once you have taken it, run with it my friend, run with it.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2008 9:01 pm 
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born to perform.

Joined: 15 Dec 2005
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Location: Shoreline, WA
i blamed a chick once for my tricks, but thats cuz we were just flirting. ^_^ Awww i love messing up and pullin a move for the cover.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2008 10:25 pm 
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I think for a comedy routine, it's fine. But actually blaming something on your spectators... wrong, wrong, and wrong.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 8:18 am 
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born to perform.

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Location: God's Country
But it is a good way of justifying near misses in the mind field that is mentalism. You're half way through a series of predictions and readings and what not and you realise that you've messed up - nobody knows that but you. So you make it look like you're having a hard time getting what it is you should be reading in the spectator's mind. After a little while you settle for an educated guess, get it wrong/almost right and decide that the spectator was hard to read. Not blaming them for doing something wrong perse, but certainly not saying you got it wrong either.

I've used it before in said setting and it's not harmed my reputation so far; as far as I'm aware it's almost made it a little more believable.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 4:54 pm 
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Yes, but that's not exactly blaming them for something going wrong. If they're "hard to read", it's not their fault. So yeah, I could see it working for mentalism. But, for the most part here, I'm talking about magic only. But I definitely see your point, and thanks for bringing it up!


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 Post subject: Re: "Blaming Your Spectators"
PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 5:31 pm 
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Location: Ituna, Saskatchewan, Canada
adjones wrote:
That story is not meant as an opportunity for you guys to bash me for not "teaching" him properly, as I don't really think it was my fault. It is meant solely as an example for what I'm talking about.


Hrm...funny how that works. You don't think it was your fault. He doesn't think it was the his fault.

I understand that you want this to be about not blaming the spectator, and it is definitely a lesson that should be taken to heart. But you are the one who taught Biddled Across to someone who had only been doing magic for three weeks. You taught a piece of professional magic to someone who wasn't even ready to perform the simplest of card magic in public. Yes, what your friend did was stupid; what you did was irresponsible. And the funny thing is that by providing the "disclaimer" I quoted above, you're pretty much handling it the same way he did.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 5:54 pm 
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Yes, I noticed that little piece of irony as I wrote it. Yes, it was irresponsible of me to teach it to him, and I am completely prepared to take all the blame for it. Him showing the effect to people is what I said is not my fault. I told him very clearly that he needed to practice a LONG time before showing anybody... he didn't listen. Yes, it is a lot my fault, but he shares equal blame, in my opinion.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 6:01 pm 
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povallsky wrote:
So you make it look like you're having a hard time getting what it is you should be reading in the spectator's mind. After a little while you settle for an educated guess, get it wrong/almost right and decide that the spectator was hard to read.


That's not "blaming the spectator"... at least, not if you do it properly. If you say things like, "I am having difficulty reading you..." or "I can't quite make out your thoughts...", you are not blaming the spectator since you have framed the situation such that you are the one having the difficulty. It's one thing to say something like, "You are just not concentrating hard enough," which does "blame" the spectator and can actually make him/her angry or frustrated if they happen to actually be concentrating very hard; it's another thing to say something like, "I've never had the experience of reading a mind quite as complex as yours..." which places no blame at all yet still provides you with some wiggle room.

Failure can make a mentalism performance stronger because fallibility is part of what makes mentalism believable; by contrast, failure and fallibility severly undercut the performance of magic unless the trick is specifically designed to leverage the failure in some way (e.g., the "magician in trouble" ploy).


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