Why using a magicians wife test isn’t always the best way to try out a new magic trick
‘I bought a book explaining a card effect from you, I read the plot and set it up. As there was no sleight of hand, it was easy to do and practice. A lovely effect. Now my first victim on any magic is my wife (part of wifely duties is to put up with being the guinea pig on magic effects – aside from the other wifely duties). And obviously by now she knows all the sleights and tricks. After it was done she told me how the trick was accomplished; it didn’t fool her.‘
Many thanks for sharing this with us. One of the problems with using a friend or a family member as a guinea pig is that they begin to learn methods, and that’s what they begin to see when a performance is going on. Like us, they stop seeing and enjoying the ‘magic’, and they follow all the wrong things.
I never show my wife a trick first now as it can put me off performing it to a lay audience. My wife can see all the things I know a lay person will not see. My wife isn’t taken in by patter and generally doesn’t find me interesting if I start to talk about some psychological study, she knows what I know! If I begin talking to her about a subject that she knows to be just patter it won’t engage her, it just doesn’t have any effect. Other people who you don’t know, even friends you don’t see much of will be hooked in by your patter and then you can entertain them with the trick.
It can be good to test a routine with a ‘magicians wife test’ but the more wife tests you do, the wiser she will become and the harder it will be to get a great reaction. Look at a room full of magicians and how they can give great magic very little applause or reaction as they have an idea of what is going on. Methods are what are running through their minds when you perform, which means you never connect in the same way as you do to a completely lay audience.
Sometimes though an effect can also fall flat on one audience and go through the roof with others. The real secret is to work an effect with different audiences to see if it is ‘for you’ or not.
I hope this helps
P.s You may also find this free ebook useful: