The Contesting Spectator


Pop Haydn performs his routine the Chicago Surprise on stage for a reluctant volunteer.

For the Magic Student:

To become a great performer, you must be prepared to deal with the spectator assistant who fights with you, contesting every procedure. One must design a routine to be ready for the combative spectator.

Actually, conflict increases the stakes emotionally, and makes an effect play much stronger by making the story more interesting.
Protagonist tries to show a card trick, Antagonist wants to contest every procedure: conflict! Protagonist finds card anyway: Resolution!

Every magic trick is a little play. We should look for the places where an intelligent, well informed person might want to object to a procedure and make sure you can handle what they throw at you–make sure you have strategies and outs so that no matter what they do you are okay.

When you are prepared, you can relax and enjoy the exchange, and intensify the emotional conflict. Let them see you sweat. Let them see you tread water. Let them see you a little ticked off.

Let them watch how you handle conflict. Let them share in your victory, without making your assistant look bad.

A good actor does this by going through the play of the routine one step at a time, playing the part and honestly reacting to what is happening.

Such conflict is your friend and can greatly enlarge your audience reactions. It is not about having the skill to think and respond on the spot; it is about planning and preparing for everything in advance.

What gives magicians the seeming ability to go with the flow and respond with unflappable aplomb to anything that happens really comes more from experience and pre-planning.

The Chicago Surprise is a powerful sleight of hand card routine that can even play on stage because of its thoroughly engineered design.

Pop Haydn’s Chicago Surprise is available at:

Pop’s Magic

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About Pop Haydn

I am not originally from the 21st Century myself, but have been stuck here by accident--not entirely my fault--with a bunch of other maroons from another very different time and place... Nevertheless, my companions and I love it here and just like everyone else we are just trying to get by in this exciting and progressive era. With a variety show of steampunk-oriented magic, comedy and music, Pop's company entertains and sells a few bottles of Amazing Miracle Oil, Wonder Elixer, or Magnetized Water.

Posted on January 21, 2016, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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