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  1. #1
    Shawn Mullins's Avatar :: Team Ellusionist
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    Break the barrier

    Hey guys!

    I thought for post 600 I would leave something meaningful on the table and something I find really helpful to enhancing my spectator’s view of magic. This is all based on personal experience by the way so if it doesn’t apply, that very well could be the reason.

    Now when I first enter a group I’ve noticed a barrier. At first spectators want to catch you, it’s just something they want to do. Most of them enjoy magic that is well performed but you can always hear “how did you do that?” or “I didn’t see how he did it!” This says to me that even if they do it our analytical brains are always working it out and trying to make a logical conclusion of what happened. I mean our brains KNOW there is no way we can levitate and we are obviously going to be skeptical about it. But how do you get past that? That’s something I would like to ask everyone. How do you take the skepticism out of your spectator? Is there a way to take it out… right away from the start?

    I’ve noticed from reading a lot of posts people use Here then There, a quick card transpo, to get that initial BANG and get thing thinking “maybe this is real.” From the beginning of that effect however they are still looking for DL’s, odd movements etc. Also if you are doing this in a walk around setting with strangers it’s even more because we are raised to distrust people we do not know.

    For myself I have found a simple way to get past this and start the magic. Start with a joke. It’s as simple as that. Laughter, in my time performing, has disarmed almost everyone I go up too. Now, however you bring the humor in is up to you and can really be anything. It can be a joke magic trick (I believe there was an example on CC2 by creating suspension and breaking it), an observation or something similar. Personally I use a joke magic trick and you know what… the ones from when we were kids are ok to perform here! My favorite joke trick to do… The “OMG I pulled my thumb off” effect... Simple and fun, people know it and both kids and parents actually find it pretty funny. All you have to do is build it up as nothing less than amazing.

    Once laughter happens people do something different; they will relax, accept you easier, AND will accept your magic easier. Instead of burning your hands, they are now: talking to you, enjoying the moment and not thinking the hows and whys. This is because when we laugh our brain actually releases endorphins that reward you with a relaxing feeling. Also it can lower blood pressure, send stress reducing hormones out, oxygenate the body, and produce a general sense of well-being. So essentially we are letting our guard down because a stranger gave us a good feeling.

    So if you don’t currently do this, put away the real magic until the guard is down. Just give it a try and see what happens. For myself when I experimented with this a while ago I got better reactions, more compliments on my magic and word spread easier.

    How do you pass that barrier?
    Pancakes10385
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  2. #2
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    I was about to say trip walking into the room before I finished the post. This really makes sense to me in a lot of ways. There is usually some sort of barrier that is more psychological than what's behind it. When I practiced kungfu there was one thing that was not in my nature: hitting someone. That was a barrier and I overcame it. Now I'm not afraid to hit someone, but the path to hit is filled with many experiences before it. And most likely, metaphorically, you wouldn't hit unless you have a very good reason.

  3. #3
    Shawn Mullins's Avatar :: Team Ellusionist
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sir FansAlot View Post
    I was about to say trip walking into the room before I finished the post. This really makes sense to me in a lot of ways. There is usually some sort of barrier that is more psychological than what's behind it. When I practiced kungfu there was one thing that was not in my nature: hitting someone. That was a barrier and I overcame it. Now I'm not afraid to hit someone, but the path to hit is filled with many experiences before it. And most likely, metaphorically, you wouldn't hit unless you have a very good reason.
    Right. There is always that Barrier in the begining of something you need to push through but it's ow quickly can you get it to become a non-issue.

    I've noticed a lot of people from either youtube or quick video's on forums having spectators with this odd "ok why am I picking a card..." and a cringe to them as they participate in videos. It really looks uncomfortable so how do you break that and enhance what is going on. This suspicious cringe like moment can destroy good magic by having the spectator be skeptical about why you're there.

    My way just happens to be a joke... To provoke conversation... What other ways do you have of breaking that barrier?

    Another that I found was the art of opening a group from Anthony Jacquin's new DVD (AWESOME btw) and he talks about how you "start with compliment, introduction, question" in that order without skipping anything. This helps create comfortableness and familiarity between the performer and spectator. See it's different than stage magic becuase you have someone introduce you and everyone knows why you are there... to perform magic and entertain the audience. However resturaunt work and street magic is a much more personal section of the art and requires that you open your own sets and disarm their natural "stranger danger" responce. We also don't usually wear a uniform, which a uniform could be considered part of an introduction. Remember you can not, not communicate... it's impossible. Sorry for the double negative but it's really the best way to say it haha.

    Now if you add that with a joke tossed in.. you have a great opening and disarming moment that will not only enhance your connection between yourself and the spectator but also it will enhance your magic

    It is my beliefe (this is TOTALLY just a theory I have) that if you can get your spectators to truly like you and enjoy your company they will unconciously want you to suceed. Which means more believable magic, better reactions and more fun/ openness within the group.
    Pancakes10385
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pancakes10385 View Post
    It is my beliefe (this is TOTALLY just a theory I have) that if you can get your spectators to truly like you and enjoy your company they will unconciously want you to suceed. Which means more believable magic, better reactions and more fun/ openness within the group.

    Good theory, I agree completely!

  5. #5
    Shawn Mullins's Avatar :: Team Ellusionist
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    Thank you! I mean if your spectators aren't having fun or finding you interesting... they probably won't respond to your magic

    No one else has any comments on this? I feel like this is a pretty important topic on making magic happen for your spectators.
    Pancakes10385
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  6. #6
    RealityOne's Avatar :: Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pancakes10385 View Post
    Thank you! I mean if your spectators aren't having fun or finding you interesting... they probably won't respond to your magic

    No one else has any comments on this? I feel like this is a pretty important topic on making magic happen for your spectators.
    The "I'm going to show you a trick" introduction obviously doesn't get the spectators having fun or relaxing. It makes them look for the trick.

    I think the best way to get the spectators engaged is to get them to responding to you early in the encounter. That can be laughing or answering a question. You need to get over the don't talk to strange people mentality real quick and then let them know that they are going to be entertained.


    You post has got me thinking about the introduction. How's this for approaching someone in a public park:
    Hi. I'm not going to ask you for money or ask you to sign anything. I'm a magician... well actually I'm a tax lawyer but I sneak out at lunch and do magic. Seriously, the magic is a lot more interesting. By the way, my name is David and you are...? Can you guys help me with some magic that I've been working on? Its either that or I'll ask you to help me with filling out some tax returns.
    I haven't tried it yet, but it would be for a routine that starts out with a quick double find-your-card trick where the second selected card ends up in the first spectator's hand. I do something short to establish credibility quickly. I would then move on to other tricks which involve them signing a card ("I know that I told you I wouldn't ask you to sign anything) and me borrowing a quarter ("Yeah, I did say I wouldn't ask you for money").
    ~ David
    Perception of reality is a selection of reality which results in a distortion of reality.

  7. #7
    Shawn Mullins's Avatar :: Team Ellusionist
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    Quote Originally Posted by RealityOne View Post
    Hi. I'm not going to ask you for money or ask you to sign anything. I'm a magician... well actually I'm a tax lawyer but I sneak out at lunch and do magic. Seriously, the magic is a lot more interesting. By the way, my name is David and you are...? Can you guys help me with some magic that I've been working on? Its either that or I'll ask you to help me with filling out some tax returns.

    I don't like the first sentance I think that could turn someone off real fast becuase every time a telemarketer calls it starts off the same way... THEN they ask you for money anyways haha...

    Instead if you follow Anthony Jaquins way of intoduction it would go like this:

    "You guys seem like you are an interesting group! Hi my names David and I'm a magician who performs for fun (if you really don't want money)... Actually I'm a tax lawer too but I was wondering if you would like to see some magic?"

    It follows that compliment- intro- question format that makes opening someone up a little easier. He actually said he got it from a pick up artist and NLP pro (weird how so many things can relate to magic).

    I have found ONCE you ask someone for something without an introduction they become less responsive. It's actually NLP... Becuase even though you are saying "I'm not going to ask you for money" they are hearing the words "your money" which becomes scarey to them! It's like this... "Don't think about a pink flamingo" and even though the command DON'T is there you are still forced to think about a pink flamingo... So a stranger talking about money will put up that barrier instead of break it down a bit.

    Remember everyones favorite subject is themselves. Who doesn't like getting a compliment! There are people who have a hard time responding to a compliment but they dont hate getting them.

    So if you modify it a bit the opener should look like:

    Opener = Compliment + Intro + Question + Humor

    Then after that you can talk about anything you like really because you have crossed over to a state of familiarity.
    Pancakes10385
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  8. #8
    RealityOne's Avatar :: Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pancakes10385 View Post
    Opener = Compliment + Intro + Question + Humor
    Makes sense. I don't think the opening needs to literally be a complement, but merely noticing something about the person or group. Like, "hey, you seem to be kicking back and relaxing" or "you guys seem to be having a good time." I also think the compliment needs to be low key and not "I saw the three of you from across the park and thought, wow are they gorgeous." Also, putting the introduction before the question makes sense.

    I have to pick up some books on NLP. I've had several people reccomend looking into it.

    I still like the first sentence of my introduction (to use as humor later in the routine), but I think it makes sense to stick it in after the introduction when it is obvious that I'm not asking them for money or to sign a petition.
    ~ David
    Perception of reality is a selection of reality which results in a distortion of reality.

  9. #9
    Shawn Mullins's Avatar :: Team Ellusionist
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    Right and right.

    I think the compliment can really be just a "nice observation." Honeslty the three I use the are: "Hey you guys look like a fun group!" or "You guys look like you are having fun!" or "You guys look interesting!" it's that simple... You are right it's not "wow you're a babe!"

    NLP itself is a very confusing subject all together. I tried sitting down and REALLY learning it but to be honest it would take YEARS to even become decent. Just picking up little things and tips here and there are what I have found valuable.

    If you like that why not say "Wow you guys look like fun! My names Dave and I'm a magician... you can put that nickle down though I don't work for money just for fun! Would you like to see some magic?"

    The humor is just in the intro but still gets that message across and instead of a general "money" statement you are only talking about a nickle so it's less intense. It's just makes it more specific and you still have the set up for the joke later.
    Pancakes10385
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  10. #10
    Joe Hadsall's Avatar :: Content developer
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    Great post, Panc... um, Shawn.

    That CC2 example is, I believe, Nate Staniforth's performance. The only thing I can add to this is I think the joke needs to fit with your performance character. They would work great with mine, but some of the guys going for darker, spooky presentations may want to avoid the laughs.

    Other than that, very thought-provoking. Heck, I'm putting this post on our Facebook and MySpace pages.
    “What’s the point of that, I wonder? I mean, I get how they did it. I just ain’t seeing the why.”
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  11. #11
    RealityOne's Avatar :: Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pancakes10385 View Post
    Right and right.

    I think the compliment can really be just a "nice observation." Honeslty the three I use the are: "Hey you guys look like a fun group!" or "You guys look like you are having fun!" or "You guys look interesting!" it's that simple... You are right it's not "wow you're a babe!"

    NLP itself is a very confusing subject all together. I tried sitting down and REALLY learning it but to be honest it would take YEARS to even become decent. Just picking up little things and tips here and there are what I have found valuable.

    If you like that why not say "Wow you guys look like fun! My names Dave and I'm a magician... you can put that nickle down though I don't work for money just for fun! Would you like to see some magic?"

    The humor is just in the intro but still gets that message across and instead of a general "money" statement you are only talking about a nickle so it's less intense. It's just makes it more specific and you still have the set up for the joke later.
    I see where you are coming from. The "I'm not asking for money" and "I'm not going to ask you to sign anything" come from the other day when I was taking a break from work and getting some ice cream with some coworkers. We were in a park for around 15 minutes and had two gentlemen come up and ask if we had any spare change and an attractive female approach us and want us to sign some petition to save the world. The money comment isn't about busking but about panhandling. Looking at the way I phrased it, I left the meaning open to interpretation.

    Maybe I'll try something like, "Hey, you guys seem to be having fun. My name is David and I'm a magician. Actually, I'm a lawyer but I escape from my office every once in a while to do magic for people. And your names are? [wait for response]. Great. Now I'm not going to ask you to borrow a quarter to buy a cup of coffee and I'm not going to ask you to sign any sort of petition, I just want you to help me out with some magic that I've been working on. Here, take a card..."

    As for NLP, someone recomended "NLP for Dummies" to me and I'm seriously thinking about getting that.

    OK, anyone else... how do you break the barrier? Does it work?
    ~ David
    Perception of reality is a selection of reality which results in a distortion of reality.

  12. #12
    Shawn Mullins's Avatar :: Team Ellusionist
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    The Big Book Of NLP Techniques and also NLP: The New Technology of Achievement both by Vaknin are probably two of the best on the subject for someone looking into it... I own both and can say they are awesome and really clear
    Pancakes10385
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    hey Pancakes10385,

    first of congrats on the 600 posts. i wish i could reach that status. maybe some day.

    anyone, my favorite barrier breaker is when the spectator does the work. people i know ask "hey show me a trick." but that's people i know.

    my favorite way to break the barrier one people i don't know is something like "hey can you come here real quick" and pull a coin out of their ear. one of favorites. or "can you help me out with something" "can i show you something" etc. at least this is how i break the barrier. this doesn't always work. when it doesn't i go towards humor as you said. also some acting helps too.

    and leading more towards the skepticism part. well i don't know. hmmmm....
    Last edited by magicsiebz; 08-21-2009 at 04:16 PM.
    -Siebz

  14. #14
    Bijlogg's Avatar Elite Member
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    Very nice thread Shawn with some genuinely thought-provoking ideas. I like the Compliment-Introduction-Question structure as an opening, I will certainly have to try it and start using it. As for humour, I completely agree that it's an effective way of breaking that barrier. Too often when you approach people they are in that mindset that magic is some kind of intelligence test, and you are trying to make them look like idiots by fooling them, not true (I hope!). A joke quickly changes the atmosphere from one of confrontation to one of entertainment. And that it really what you are there to do, entertain.

    Anyway, that's pretty much what you've already said, thanks for sharing the thoughts.

    Tom

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    If they say that something like this: (ex: levitation effect) "It just is using a IT" you could prove them wrong (like with the tarantula) put a glass over it and have it face them, or move your finger around it ect. Just prove them wrong with their acuasations (im not sure if i spelled that right) anyway, or you can just say maybe, and when you show it again to them, prove them wrong...just a thought
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