To me, magic is a universal sign language of sorts. You don't have to know what a performer is saying with his words, as long as you can see his movements and actions. Unless of course he is a mentalist-type magician who is asking you questions that you need to understand and be able to answer.
But for the most part, it is a language and way to communicate without the need for words. I can spread a deck of cards and hold them out towards you, chances are you know to "pick a card". I can also just point at an object and then perform with it, you only need to watch to understand what is happening. This in itself is magical, the ability to communicate through actions. We as a human race have advanced and "developed" over thousands of years from merely grunting and pointing, yet with the organic and pure art of magic, we can digress (so to speak) and let the actions and movements speak for themselves.
I was performing in a club in Boston about 5 years ago and approached a group of three Japanese girls who were enjoying martinis while seated on a rounded, curved couch that wrapped around one corner of a table. After noticing a rather large pile of napkins strewn across the table (and assuming they must be drunk or very messy drinkers), I made eye contact with the girls and said hello. The three girls looked at each other and started giggling and appeared very shy. I always thought I was pretty smooth with the ladies so I decided to come out with the big guns and explained to them that, yes, I am a magician! I assumed I had their attention now and they were probably already impressed, wrong. Once again, giggles and laughter.
Undeterred I once again introduced myself and promised to them I would not do any cheesy magic if that's what they were thinking and I then asked if they wouldn't mind me performing just one quick thing for them. The giggles and laughter turn to more laughter which was followed by blank stares and head shaking (not the up and down type of head shaking but the side to side which probably means no, type of head shaking). Then, finally one of them spoke up and in very broken english said, "no speak...what?" I then realized I was either not so smooth and they were playing the "I don't know what you're saying" card so I would leave them alone and go away...or perhaps they really didn't speak English. So now I was faced with a dilemma. Was I to walk away and have them wonder if I was just some creep trying to hit on them, or was I to find a way to get us all over this hurdle?
I decided to attempt something I had never tried before. I smiled, and pointed to the table of napkins, then picked up one and showed it to the girls. I pointed to my eyes and then to the napkin a few times in a row and began tearing it into pieces. I motioned for one of the girls (who at this stage looked even more confused than before) to hold her hand out and demostrated what I wanted her to do. She once again, looked at her friends and giggled, but she did it!
I put the napkin in her hand and closed her fist. I then motioned for her friends to put their hands on top of hers, which they did. Then I waved my hands over theirs and then had them all open their hands. When the girl holding the napkin opened her fist, I took the napkin out of her hand and slowly unfolded it, showing it was now a whole napkin again and no longer ripped up into pieces. Once again, all three girls looked at each other laughing, but this time they all clapped too! One actually stood up and shook my hand, which the other two girls then did also. As I walked away, one of the girls was just holding the napkin and turning it over and over, looking for some type of solution.
While I was performing later that night I felt a tap on the back and turned to see those same three girls, one of them showing me the creased napkin we had used earlier that night. She then folded it, put it in her purse and gave me a thumbs up and said "bye". All the while, the three girls were smiling and laughing, it was awesome.
It was then that I realized, A smile is worth a thousand words.