Since the beginning of this site, I've talked about shifting the focus of the effect off yourself as the performer. I want to talk about some of the benefits of that when dealing with different types of spectators.
Let's use a simple example with a floating bill trick:
Magician takes credit: "I can float this bill with my magic powers."
Magician deflects credit: "I have an invisible leprechaun on my coffee table who loves picking up dollar bills."
I'm purposely not using a good presentation here, because the point still holds true even with a shitty one.
Here's how a presentation that deflects credit plays with different types of spectators:
People who want to give you credit for the trick will still do so.
People who want to indulge themselves in the fantasy get to play along with an idea that's something other than, "Let's all pretend I have supernatural powers."
People who want to deny you credit, or who want to undermine your presentation are in an awkward position, because you're already not taking credit for it. So it's like playing handball against the drapes for them. There's no resistance. What are they going to do? Argue that there isn't an invisible leprechaun? That just makes them look like an idiot that they're denying something that is obviously fiction.
But what if your presentation isn't obviously fiction— what if it's a more ambiguous sort of thing? Well, here's what I do when I have a presentation that blurs the lines and I have someone trying to undermine it. This is something that happens very rarely for me, but I have a very standard technique for dealing with it: I turn their critique into a compliment.
So if they say, for example, "She didn't really separate those cards into red and black based on some subliminal message. You did something."
"I did something?" I'll say. "How do you mean? Like I can somehow control where she deals cards with my mind power or something? That's kind of you to say. I wish I had that power. Thank you. That means a lot that you think I'd be capable of something like that." I don't say it facetiously, I say it as genuinely as I can, as if that's truly the way I interpreted their remark. If someone is trying to bash you, the last thing they want is for you to take that as compliment, so this shuts them down very quickly. "Seriously though," I say to them under my breath, "that's very flattering." This drives them crazy.
One of my favorite characters in magic is Harry Lorayne. That's not to say he's one of my favorite magicians. I like some of his material, but much of it is a standard sort of card magic that isn't really my style (although his magazine, Apocalypse, is a great read).
What I like about him is that he's 93 years old and he spends his time on the Magic Cafe telling everyone what a bunch of shit-heads they are for deigning to learn card magic from someone other than him or perform a version of a trick that he's worked on that is not his version.
You can go on the Cafe and search his name to see his posts, but you have to be quick because what often happens is he'll get into a back and forth with someone there and soon he's calling them a homosexual and then things get even nastier and the thread gets shut-down by the Cafe. (The Cafe staff then goes in and edits out all his comments and re-posts the threads without them.)
This happened just a few days ago with a thread on Sixten Beme's card linking effect. Harry came in and openly questioned the taste and heterosexuality of anyone who would do that version rather than his linking card routine. Not long after, half the posts in that thread are gone, including all of the ones by Harry.
I want Mr. Lorayne to know that if he wants to get his message out unedited, I will be happy to post it here (where it will get many more views than buried in a Cafe thread.) I don't care. I think it's funny. He can call out all you "homos" who don't appreciate him enough.
Fortunately, one of Harry's greatest blow-ups is saved for history on the Internet Archive. It started when magician Euan Bingham wrote this review of a classic Harry Lorayne book.
Harry was... displeased.
Which lead to this delightful exchange. (Scroll down to the post: Harry Lorayne? Blog entry by E. Bingham on 2004-10-17) Harry didn't agree with Euan's assessment of the book, and, unsurprisingly, he figured Euan must have been a total mincing queer to even have an issue with the book in the first place. (To be fair, he only calls him a "cocksucker" six times.)
It's totally fucking bonkers and builds to one of the most classic lines in the history of magic where Harry declares:
"YOUR MIDDLE FINGER IS BETWEEN YOUR FIRST AND THIRD FINGERS, AND YOU CAN STICK IT UP YOUR ASS. I’M SURE YOU’LL ENJOY THAT, YOU FUCKING FAGGOT."
All this over a review of a 50 year old magic book.
My hope is that Harry—now in his 90s—is a happy person. If he's not, I have a book recommendation for him.
It's called Harry Lorayne's Secrets Of Mind Power.
According to the inside flap, some of the subjects covered in the book are, "How to handle your emotions," "How to think without emotional bias about people you hate," "How to speak to people so they invariably like you," and "How to overcome the suspicion that people are out to get you." It's never too late to brush up on these skills, Harry.
How awesome was MAGIC Live? So great.
The new ad for next year's convention really captures the electricity of this kind of event. I'm already signed up.