Just Ask

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Part 3 of 4 on Make Big Reactions!

Do you know the best way to get a follower on your social media account?

Just ask.

As simple as it sounds, posing the question is much more likely to gain the response of a subscribe than not asking.  

People don’t read minds… well, some of us are good at pretending. But if you want someone to take an action, it’s important that you ask them to do so…Or at minimum, heavily hint what you want them to do.

Do you want to get big reactions to your magic? Ask for them.

There are several ways to do this. Some more direct than others. For example, I once saw a magician at a county fair generate a standing ovation by asking for it as an earned reward. He reasoned with his crowd, that if he achieved the impossible with his last effect, the audience should stand and clap. Arriving towards the end of his act, he started saying things like, “In the past, if I got all three predictions correct, the audience was compelled to leap to their feet in thunderous applause!” 

As he got to the final effect, his language was a little less suggestive and a little more directive. And sure enough, at the end of the show, everyone stood and applauded. It felt contrived to me because the performance wasn't great, merely average. Nevertheless, he generated a big reaction…because he asked.

A much better example belongs to Scott Hollingsworth, long-time popular close-up magician here in Houston. For many years, I enjoyed watching Scott work the crowd for reactions at a club called the Magic Island. At the end of every trick he would say his famous line, “Some people applaud, some people throw money, and others just say, ‘Wow!’” By the end of the second or third trick all three things were happening. Without fail! 

Scott was and still is a very good entertainer! His three suggestions are a way of asking for a positive response. Note that they aren’t outlandish nor contrived, because they are reactions that very well should happen when you experience great entertainment!  Scott is not only a performer, but a teacher of magic. He even teaches his audience how to receive his magic and they honestly enjoy responding as he suggests.

Which brings me to another point: people may not know how to react to magic. In addition to asking for a reaction, you may need to teach them how to to react! Common folk don’t witness live magic everyday. And unless they are in a Jibrizy video, they definitely don’t practice their responses like we practice our tricks.

Comedian Pete Holmes accurately described reacting to magic when he joked, "there is no built in biological response" to experiencing magic. (Watch Pete Holmes’ 5 minute set.)

Humans don’t really have a customary reaction to experiencing “The Impossible.” Well, other than a jaw drop. A total fooling moment usually results in silence. In a walk around performance environment, it’s not good to leave your audience stunned. It can be devastating, really. Particularly if you are trying to work from table to table and build energy in the room. No one wants the magician to come join their conversation and “ice it.” A loud reaction heard across the room is the best way to get invited to the next table!

Good magic, great magic even can create a big ole response of nothing. Because pure wonder is often expressed without a sound. Don't be afraid of receiving that reaction! But if you want bigger, louder reactions, coach your viewers at the right time and in an appropriate way. Interact with the emotions of the moment. Tell them what to do. Help them respond, process, and enjoy the show.

It may be as simple as using a stock line such as, “That’s usually where people applaud!” This is not the most creative thing to say, but it’s a passive way of asking people to react when they are otherwise stunned. I’ve been known to fire up a sleepy crowd by simply shouting out, “C’mon!” As to say, “come on people, you know that was good!” They then relax and enjoy giving a response.

Asking or even telling your audience how to respond breaks the tension and opens people up to share real emotions in a real life moment.

On a side note, I believe many magicians turn to comedy to assist their magic because laughing is a safe reaction for people to share. Telling a joke is a good way of coaching a response out of the spectators. But I do believe we magicians have the power do much more than make someone laugh. There is a time for silence and its beauty, but that’s not our focus for the Make Big Reactions discussion. We'll discuss that in another post someday.

In conclusion, if you want big reactions, don’t be afraid to generate them by asking! It’s not cheap. It’s not ethically or morally wrong. When done right, it’s coaching. It’s teaching. It’s helping people do the very thing they want to do! It’s giving them a gift of being able to express themselves and enjoy your magic.

Be intentional. Try asking for a response with the material you already perform and see if you don't generate bigger reactions!

Your thoughts go below. And by the way! Would you follow me on Social Media? I post a couple of great videos each month of coin magic from around the world. Seriously, check it out!


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1 comment

  • Dennis

    “…I do believe we magicians have the power do much more than make someone laugh.”

    Took courage to say that. 👍
    I’m a ‘believer’.
    ,…maybe ‘hoper’ is a better word(!).
    But, your word encourage!

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