"Oh, you’re a magician. Can you show me a trick?"
I would ask you if you’ve ever got that question, but let’s be honest: you have. The moment you meet someone and they learn what you do, you’re likely to get it.
It’s awkward, isn’t it?
You don’t want to be seen as a trick monkey, producing little thrills on command.
You also don’t want to be seen as a show-off.
And you want them to really, really want it; there isn’t as much of a payoff when you give in right away.
I’ve blundered through some muddy fields of awkwardness, and I’ve learned how to steer away from them. So the next time you get “the question,” here’s a socially prudent process for handling it:
1) What to say
Whatever you do, don't say no.
I know some magicians who never perform unless they’re being paid, so they flat-out tell people, “No” when they’re asked to. But in that situation, it’s hard not to look like a jerk.
I like to put off performing until later, if it’s a party-type setting. It adds to the mystery. “We’ll try something later, when the time is right.”
2) When to perform
Well, when exactly is the time right?
I usually like to perform at the end of the night, catch the party as the energy is waning. Then right as things are wrapping up, it’s go time. That way, everyone will leave talking about the magic; they’ll be excited to see you again.
And you can do the same thing next time.
Magic is fun; I understand why people want to see it when they get the chance. But from the magician’s perspective, handling the awkwardness of that desire isn’t easy.
I’ve said no many times and left feeling like I refused to share my gift with people.
Other times, I turned into a trick monkey. Or I’d do too much, performing from the beginning to the end of the night.
It’s much better to do less at the right time. Because, like girl scout cookies or grandma’s kisses, too much of a good thing can be a really bad thing.
Think of a time when you were in this situation. What have you done? What do you say? When do you perform your magic? Let us know in the comments.