The Golden Rule

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“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” One of the foundational principals of many societies, a 2000 year old teaching of Jesus, The Golden Rule kinda sums up everything we are taught in school for a great society.

When it comes time to perform magic, my first question for you today is as simple as the Golden Rule:

Do you treat your audience with the same respect you want them to give you?

Now we may jest about proving the “evil spectator” wrong, and getting the better of the “spiteful heckler” …those people do exist and honestly, it probably feels good to trick that person. You might say, “She had it coming.” But when you go out to perform, are you trying to fool people because you wish for power over them? Or are you trying to entertain them so that you may gift them something wonderful?

I mean c’mon, let’s be honest. It is fun to play a prank. It can be fun to lead someone the wrong direction to create an emotional reaction. There is a mischievous side to magic and that is all fun and well. There is no shame in enjoying the “crafty” side of the magic craft. But again, what is your real motivation? Is it just to fool? Or is there something more?

Did you see Derek DelGaudio’s short film, “Invisible Dialogs”? He stated that we don’t keep secrets “from” our audience, we keep them “for” our audience. The keeping of the secret allows us to give them a new perspective, give them a moment of wonder, give them something they can’t find other places. I think that is actually a form of respect and honor.


My grandfather, Howard Grounds, passed away this last week. He was 94. He lived an amazing life. The life of ten men!

I could write 100 blogs with stories about his adventures through the Great Depression, WWII, driving steam locomotives, and moving forward into the modern age. He lived a full life and loved and impacted many people. It was a pleasure to know him and have him in my life. 

I learned many things from him. The main thing that is replaying in my mind is that he didn’t just love people… You can teach yourself to love people …or at least show them respect. 

Beyond just loving people, my grandfather actually enjoyed people.

I hope that you love your audience and show them respect. We all should treat spectators the way we want to be treated. 

But beyond that, I hope you enjoy your audience. Enjoy these people who watch you perform. 

It can and should go both ways. As performers we get wrapped up hoping people will enjoy our presentation and our skill and our personality. But it’s easy to forget that it’s not all about us. If you want people to enjoy your magic, don’t forget to take the time and enjoy them, too.

Treat them better than the way you want to be treated. Enjoy them way more than they could ever enjoy you. Then, we might experience real magic.


Do you ever have trouble respecting your audience? Do you enjoy the people part of magic performance? Share below.

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  • John Granrose

    There were many things about this post that moved me. One was the lovely video of Derek DelGaudio and his closing statement: “Magic is a synonym for hope.”

  • Colin Phillips

    Hi Jeff. I feel your pain having lost my Grandfather many years ago. It was my Grandfather that started off my interest in Magic when he pulled a coin from my ear when I was just 5 years old. That was 52 years ago. I feel sure that I am not alone in my experience, and we all have much to thank our Grandfathers for. May your Grandfather be the driving force in all that you do Jeff, in the never ending pursuit of sharing your love of Magic with others. May time be your healer, and the memories will never fade. Take good care. Colin

  • RaYaR

    .Bad news…sorry for your lost. When i read what you write about him, i see that you transmit through your state of mind and your work the same energy that he himself transmitted to you.
    .For me, we start by looking for something that differentiates us, after we perceive through what we can bring to others, in this case a few moments of daydreams and the space of a moment to find his childhood look for the adults. It’s a great positive power!
    .Surely it’s rewarding too, but especially with girls ;-P
    .Personally my challenge is to get viewers to this state of mind, with the “evil spectators” I try to be patient and find the right way around their rationalist barriers…not easy because i can have warm blood too =D
    Magie is a wonderful communication tool!!
    (ok sometimes i like doing some little pranks by example when i pay something with pieces, I change it into something else like an other piece or sponge ball…)

  • Eric Summers

    Awesome post. My condolences for your grandfather. I think you really hit the nail on the head here. People will care about what you have to say/do when they feel that you care about them. It is so easy to fall into an adversarial frame of mind and come across at that “smart-aleck show-off”. That will turn people off – and it’s no fun for the performer!

  • Philip Hanlon

    Hi Jeff, sorry to hear about your grandfather, my condolence to you and your family. It’s always hard to lose someone we loved. Great post and keep up the great work.

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