If you ever ask a magician “What should I do if my magic trick goes wrong?”, they’ll be able to spout out hundreds of answers.
Most likely they’ll talk to you all about ‘multiple outs’ and ‘backup effects’ and ‘improvisation’.
All of which are most definitely GOOD suggestions.
But in this article, I want to suggest a perhaps counter-intuitive solution that requires absolutely zero work, and will still keep the respect of your audience.
But first, let me just say:
I get it.
When things go wrong, it sucks.
The thing is, things can go wrong in an effect you’re performing WITHOUT you realizing. Maybe you accidentally actually mix the cards when you were only trying to false shuffle. Maybe you get sloppy and miss the classic force without noticing.
All kinds of stuff can go down mid-performance without your knowledge.
And when you finally find out, it’s a pretty rude awakening.
“Alright, turn over your card to show everyone, as predicted, the nine of….whu—??”
As I mentioned we could talk about multiple-outs and ‘magician in trouble’ plots all day, but I want to suggest something a little simpler:
Own the mistake and move on.
Let me let you in on one of the biggest secrets in magic:
Your audience treats something as important only if YOU treat it as important. They follow your lead.
Think about how an audience would react to a magician that got visibly flustered and stressed over an apparent ‘mistake’ in the routine.
The audience would perceive that the mistake was a ‘big deal’ and so treat it the same way themselves. They’d feel awkward, embarrassed for the magician…and overcome with a sudden desire to get as far away from this whole mess as possible.
On the other hand, if the magician laughed and brushed it off like it’s nothing, the audience would sense that it’s of little importance to the success of the overall show (heck, some of them might even think it was some kind of ‘planned’ gag).
The bottom line is:
Be gracious, don’t make the spectator feel like it was their fault (even if it 100% was!) and don’t take yourself too seriously.
Sure, it’s not quite so high-tech or fancy as having 100 envelopes hidden on your person, each with 4 separate predictions, covering you for nearly any eventuality…
…but would you REALLY want to carry that around to every performance anyway?
For me, it just comes down to how ‘free’ you feel as a magician.
If you HAVE to rely on multiple outs in order to have the confidence to perform an effect, how free are you? Doesn’t that feel like a constraint, a limitation?
Wouldn’t you rather practice having the grace and class to move on when something goes wrong – so that you’re free to perform whatever you want, without needing to first set up your 100 multiple outs?
To me, that sounds pretty good.
Maybe I’m crazy.
Let me know what you think.
Do you agree?
Is there a better way to recover when an effect goes wrong?
Let me know in the comment section below and I’ll be sure to add your input to this article.