Is Magic real?

Discuss the art of Children's Entertainment with your fellow performers.

Postby Guest » 09/12/07 09:16 AM

One of the most common questions I am asked by children following my show is: "Is magic real?" How do others respond to this? It may surprise you that my answer is always "Yes". In the same way, if I am asked by a child "Is Santa real?" I always say "yes". JR
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 09/12/07 10:39 AM

That's a toughie.

Here is my perspective and humble opinion:

Obviously anything that permits one to act upon the world is technology and not magic. Similarly anything that we feel about the world is not magic but sentiment/emotion and that's psychology.

So Clarke's compact reminder aside (that when you don't have a clue how it works, you wonder) it's not so easy to directly reply to a question about magic in our culture.

Magic is like "happy", an experience about something. The clown leaves me feeling happy and the magician leaves me feeling wonder.

The magic itself though does not exist on the same conceptual level as events or objects but instead in the place where we notice the connection between things AND how our sentimental side reacts to that connection.

Of course you can't just explain that to children or even most adults.

So what to say? I've done okay with "It's something that's real in stories and when we pretend. I hope you enjoyed the entertainment."

What do you think?
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 09/12/07 01:53 PM

If a child asks me if the magic was real, I usual respond with my own question of "Do you think it was real ?"

If they insist on hearing an answer from me, then I usually tell them that "the magic is as real as they want it to be". This usually suffices, as most of my audiences are not much older than six, and usually more preschool age (3-5)

If the child is asking about the magic being real because they want to learn magic, then I tell them where to look in the library for the books that will help them. I even carry a stack of Dewey Decimal reference sheets that show them where to look on the shelves. And not just for magic books, but books on the other things discussed in my shows, like butterflies, cooking, origami, etc.

I have never and will never claim to have supernatural powers when talking to my young audiences. I will, however, take the time to encourage reading and independent thinking.

And I REFUSE to bust up Santa!

(Did you hear me Santa ? Does this mean you WILL bring me that stack of Kaufman & Company books I have been drooling over ?????)

Mark Pettey
Naples, FL
Guest
 

Postby Brandon Hall » 09/12/07 03:03 PM

A belief in magic requires faith...Magic is as real as religion
"Hope I Die Before I Get Old"
P. Townshend
Brandon Hall
 
Posts: 366
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: North Hollywood, CA

Postby Guest » 09/12/07 03:51 PM

Am I the only one who thinks it's fine to say "yes" when a child asks if magic is real.
I mean, they're kids. They are allowed to believe in this stuff. They have the rest of their lives for reality to crush their spirits.

Gord
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 09/12/07 04:58 PM

Question? When asked by the lay audience or at a children's show - Is Magic real?

My answer - Yes - Magic is "real entertainment".
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 09/12/07 05:35 PM

It happened to me (a hobbyist) when I first performed for the 7-year-old son of my girlfriend. We all lived together as a family (he's now my stepson) so I felt an obligation to be on the right footing with him for the future.

I had performed a simple card trick with an elaborate backstory about a prediction that Houdini had left for someone in the future, contained in a locked box, etc.

It was all too convincing for someone that young who had never seen a magic trick before.

Jesse asked afterward if it was for real (he meant the anecdote and the magic).

I told him that watching magic was like reading a storybook or watching a movie, because those were things he knew and enjoyed. Magic is a story, I told him, hoping he wouldn't feel cheated that it wasn't literally a true story.

He seemed to accept the explanation, but for a couple of years he was still unsure (and didn't seem to mind the uncertainty) about whether he was seeing real magic.

Now, six years later, he still displays on his bookshelf a "note from Houdini" that went with one of my presentations. He knows I just do tricks, but I think he likes to remember a time in his life when magic seemed possible.
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 09/12/07 06:11 PM

Nice post, Eric!

Lets start with the premise that magic is only magic when each child in his or her development understands certain basic laws of nature. After all, if a child isnt yet aware that things shouldnt just vanish with a wave of the wand or a magic word, then the vanishing act wont seem all that special or unique.

As I raise my son, I wont feel comfortable claiming to have special powers, as in real magic. When he asks if I do real magic, Ill ask him what he means by real magic and will answer him based on how he articulates the nature of his question. In his very early forays into the is it real magic question, I suspect that the dialog itself will suffice as an answer (in other words, hell get no direct there is no Santa type of answer and he wont be aware that his question wasnt really answered).

That approach wont work for long, and when he finally catches up to my dodges, I think Ill couch my answer with a little history of science, of how when things were newly discovered and few people knew about such and such a newly-discovered scientific principle, it seemed like magic to those who didnt know. And Ill tell him that magic is like a secret scientific principle and only seems like magic to those who dont understand its workings.

To the best of my ability, I dont want my son ever believing that I have the same powers as a Harry Potter. Except for knowing at all times what he's ever done and will do .... ;)

Clay
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 09/12/07 08:23 PM

"Am I the only one who thinks it's fine to say "yes" when a child asks if magic is real.
I mean, they're kids. They are allowed to believe in this stuff. They have the rest of their lives for reality to crush their spirits."

No Gord.......you are not the only one. This is exactly what I say, as you will see from my original post. As a young child, everything is magic and magical. I think some people on this thread are over analizing all of this, and thinking like adults. It is hardly going to harm the child for the rest of their life by telling them "magic" is real. If they think it is all pretend, or just like a storybook, I think that takes something away from the moment. They will grow up all too fast and learn about reality. Let them enjoy the magic of being a little child! JR
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 09/13/07 09:30 AM

Here's an interesting possibility:

Is magic real?
It is now.
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 09/13/07 11:11 AM

If I were a professional performing for children and a kid asked if it was real, I'd probably say it was magic -- without defining magic -- and leave it at that.

But with family members, there are considerations of long-term trust.

Of course, you might ask what we did about Santa. Frankly, I don't remember. Santa is a cultural phenomenon that can't be avoided. I don't think we told our son that Santa brings gifts. He would pick up that idea from others, but we probably didn't actively disabuse him.

Lying about the nature of a magic performance is a bit different because the performance is a personal interaction that the adult has chosen to initiate.

If my child wants to know if my magic is real, I'm not sure it's OK to lie because I'd be telling a lie about myself. I'd be saying I have magical powers. When he realizes it's a lie, he might wonder what other lies I've told.

Plus, I don't think a story is a lesser thing. Kids love stories. I don't know the extent to which a kid 7 or 8 years old realizes that the Harry Potter movies are fiction, but I think they have some sense of that.

Knowing that something is fiction doesn't diminish the emotional pull or imaginative pull of the story. Look at all the adults who cry at movies.
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 09/13/07 02:01 PM

I usually reply: "Is magic real? Are we real? Is there anything any more magical than the fact that we are here right now? Isn't that a miracle?"

On the other hand, if you remember Criswell, the psychic from the 1950's, when Ed Wood asked him how he did his predictions, he said, "It's total [censored]."
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 09/14/07 07:21 AM

Is Magic Real?

Now that I have a moment to think in this I would like to add a few thoughts and opinion to the conversation about performing magic - for families and kids.

These are not rules only some thoughts and opinions that have come to mind.

Entertaining families and kids is my favorite part of the magic business and at times I am asked is magic real?

Magic was the word that people used to use to describe unexplained science. Magic in my opinion is a real science because we use scientifically built props built for illusion, (not trickery) we use technique and sleight of hand, and psychology with the agenda for entertainment.

In my opinion only when it is used to "con" someone is that the science can become a lie.

As a science in my opinion magic is real.

Now here are a few more opinionated observations. Most people that book and watch a magician at these family - kid shows look at magic like it is story book magic.

So if you tell kids and adults with the kids magic is real and their opinion of what you just did on the stage was trickery, story book magic and they come up to say they liked the show. And the kid asked - is magic real? In front of their parents that don't want you to tell them magic is real - because to them it is make believe.

Well - that can get a negative problem. Parents may not like it if the magician tells them magic is real and they tell the kid magic is not real. Add to this if a parent is overly religious and there can be more problems.

I do not like to get into a conversation with overly religious people about magic - when I do a close up show or a stage show. But sometimes they seek you out - and try to convert you.

I did a hypnosis show for a week at a fair a few years ago and people left bibles on the stage after we finished the show - left for the night - we found them on the stage the next mourning.

I would also like to add that when the audience looks at what the magician does and their opinion magic is not real - if it were real - why would this guy be up there doing card tricks or that trick with a die and a box? Well???

So my take on it and my answer is that magic is real entertainment and fun.

Just an opinion.
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 09/14/07 08:14 AM

"So my take on it and my answer is that magic is real entertainment and fun."

Interesting observations, Glenn. However, in this topic I am addressing the young child. I do not think a 4 or 5 year old would even understand the word "entertainment." Once again, I think you are being over analitical about this, and thinking too much like an adult. If you are concerned about the grown ups reaction, one possibility when asked the question is to take the child aside, and whisper "yes" in their ear "But don't tell Mom or Dad!" JR
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 09/14/07 08:53 AM

I suppose that the criterion is "Would I tell them that Santa Claus and/or The Tooth Fairy don't exist?" If they're of such an age that they believe in such myths, then it's ok for them to believe in magic.

And I do take Eric Fry's very valid point about what one tells one's own children. It's many years ago, but I think that I explained to my son that it was "just a trick" when he was quite young.

Dave
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 09/14/07 10:17 AM

Originally posted by Jolly Roger:
"So my take on it and my answer is that magic is real entertainment and fun."

Interesting observations, Glenn. However, in this topic I am addressing the young child. I do not think a 4 or 5 year old would even understand the word "entertainment." Once again, I think you are being over analitical about this, and thinking too much like an adult. If you are concerned about the grown ups reaction, one possibility when asked the question is to take the child aside, and whisper "yes" in their ear "But don't tell Mom or Dad!" JR
You asked a question and I gave my opinion. I am not telling any magician how they "should" or "should not" answer this question or do "their" business.

I only give an opinion and what works for "my business". And I have reasons for doing my business my way based on my own experience.

I use magic to pay my bills and to put food on the table. I do not treat it lightly. This is my bread and butter and in my opinion it is often the "little" things that are the most important.

Others do things "their" way.

But being a Dad of three kids I have this opinion that kids know what entertainment is at a very "early" age. By the way my answer is more for the parent than the child with the question and then I leave it to the parent to answer the question the way they want to.

At every kid family show I have ever done there are the Mom's and the Dad's and I look at them as if they are customers of the future and my show is about pleasing them as well as the young audience I may be there to do the show for.

In my opinion the show "starts" when I get in the car and start to drive to it. It is not just the time I do on the stage - being "user" friendly before and after the show is also important in my opinion.

The way I see it - my job is to entertain the audience to the best of my ability. Not to prove, or make any statement that magic is real.

That is just another opinion.
Guest
 


Return to Children's Entertainment