Have you ever done a trick for a spectator and received absolutely no reactions? It happens to me from time to time to time. My first thought used to be, “Well this trick is garbage.” Or I’d think that they must have missed the magic—or perhaps I flashed on a move. When I get no reactions, I feel like there’s a problem with the trick. (Well, it’s obviously not ME!) What do I do with this effect? I keep performing it! There’s probably no problem at all.
In my experience performing magic, I’ve learned that spectators react differently. Some people react openly. They scream and/or have physical reactions with their whole bodies. Other people keep it in. They don’t want to show that you’re fooling them. At a recent show, I was doing walk around at a corporate event. I was doing a three-effect set at each table. The routine was: Ladanye’s Ambitious Card, Three-Card Monty, followed by Forging Ahead. (This is an original effect of mine. The performer transfers a spectator’s initials from the face of one card to the face of another. It’s one of the strongest effects I do.)
At one table, each phase of Ladanye’s Ambitious Card played like a miracle. They were amazed. They leaned in closer each time the card came back to the top. The reactions kept getting bigger with each stronger phase of the effect. Then Three-Card Monty was a hilarious routine where the spectators all helped each other try to find the Queen—which, of course, they never could. And finally, Forging Ahead left them stunned and applauding drawing the attention of the entire room. These are the reactions I expect when I perform.
The following table I performed at I got nothing. They watched in silence as a selected card jumps to the top. At the end of each phase, they’d just look at each other and shrug their shoulders. I cut the effect short. I thanked them for their time and moved to another table. I assumed that they were just not into the magic for whatever reason. There’s no point to perform if they’re not enjoying it.
A few minutes later, a woman from that table came up to me and said, “We noticed you did only one trick for us and you were at that other table for 15 minutes. Is it okay to come back to our table? We really enjoyed your trick.” So I went back and finished my three-card set at their table. Again, they were very quiet during the effects. When I finished, they all thanked me. One person at the table told me that that was some of the most amazing magic he’s ever seen.
My point is again that people just react differently to magic. If you’re getting no reactions during an effect, just keep going. Finish the effect and then ask if they’d like to see another one. You’ll be surprised when they’re showing no reactions, they may ask to see more! Some people just can’t process the miracles you’re doing. Other people are trying to save face. Some people may think reacting loudly may interrupt your show—who knows what they’re thinking!?
Now, if you perform an effect over and over and over and it consistently gets no reactions, now it’s definitely time to take a closer look. Is your presentation clear? Did you flash? Is the effect confusing? Is your character/persona affecting the magic? Rework the trick until you start getting those powerful reactions again. Or, remove the effect from your repertoire completely (and replace it with some material from Confident Deceptions!)