Christian is worried about people asking to examine his gimmicked deck of playing cards. He writes:
'I use a Pop Eyed Popper deck. The spectator maybe ask for a closer look at the deck of playing cards. That's not possible.'
That's a really good question, and one that is asked quite often, when magicians are worried about using gaffed or gimmicked decks of playing cards. Here are 5 tips for what to do when you find yourself in the situation when a spectator asks to examine your deck of playing cards.
1) Why they are asking?
If a magic trick has been routined correctly and the magic builds to a suitable climax at the end, your spectators should be reacting to the magic that they have just witnessed. It's an issue of 'engagement and reaction'. The magic trick should entertain them, and draw them into the experience, so the magic isn't perceived as a 'puzzle'. If you find that spectators just ask testing questions, at the end of a trick, look at your presentation and think about ways to make the magic have more impact or for their reactions to be increased. Are you unintentionally presenting the magic trick as a puzzle? Are you signalling that the magic trick is just a 'question' that prompts the spectator to think of 'answers'. Changing a few lines of presentation and see if that fixes the issue.
2) Look for gimmicked decks of playing cards that can be switched in and out of play.
Many gaffed decks only need to be introduced into play for a short period of time. Once they are used, they can be put away or switched out for a regular deck. Think about ways of switching your decks, or ditching out the gaffs when they are no longer needed. There are many devices on the market that will switch a deck easily if you prefer to avoid sleight of hand methods.
3) Build in convincers.
Many of the better gimmicked or gaffed decks of playing cards have built in systems to convince spectators that the decks are normal. The Pop Eyed Popper Deck is designed to be spread both face up and face down, so all the cards are shown to be normal. Try to avoid making a big deal about the fairness of the playing cards you use. It should be assumed that they are normal, so over proving the point can work against you and raise suspicion. The routining of the magic trick should be developed, so the playing cards are shown as much as possible in a natural way throughout the trick.
4) It doesn't happen often.
Much of the worry about spectators asking to examine your cards happens before many beginners start performing. They think that spectators will automatically be looking to try to catch them out. Part of this feeling comes from being a magician. As you have been focusing on the method for the trick, it's easy for you to forget that the method is not central to the attention of your audience. They only see the presentation and magical effect that is produced. This feeling can be reinforced for beginners as they tend to perform for their friends in informal situations. Your friends probably enjoy nothing more than trying to tease and catch you out, because that's what friends like to do generally. It's just as much fun for them to challenge you because they are not in a situation where you are there to perform for them. The normal rules of play are very different between a group of friends having fun, and a group of spectators watching a magic performance. In normal performing situations, it's actually VERY rare that people will stop the show to examine props.
5) Relax about the situation.
The most important thing to remember is to relax about it. There isn't anything wrong with simply putting the deck in your pocket if you start to get challenged and giving the spectator a big smile. In just the same way as a stage illusionist wouldn't let everyone rush up onto the stage and examine their illusion equipment. If you find yourself in the situation where a spectator asks to play with the deck, simple pop it into your pocket as they ask the question. Laugh and move on to the next thing that you want to show them.
Got some advice about how you handle people asking to examine your playing cards? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below: