Eric Robitaille is a Malden-based magician. You can see him perform in the city's "Street Performer's" program every Friday and Saturday night downtown.
The title of this posting is not only true in the world of magic and illusion, but in life itself. If you take the mystery and wonder out of the magic then it would merely be a demonstration of something one can do, such as juggling or cup stacking or building a house of cards.
Understandably, juggling for instance may not be an easy feat for some of the people who are watching, but they know exactly what you’re doing and to a point, how you’re doing it - they just may not be able to do it themselves. This brings us to the infamous question that every magician (who performs properly) hears time and time again…”how did you do that?”
Having performed magic for numerous years, I have tried to be more creative with my answers to this inevitable question. For many years, I used the just as often repeated answer of, “it’s magic.” I feel that answer sums up exactly what I’m trying to convey with my performance, but at the same time it leaves much unanswered. Which, in a sense, is what magic is all about. It’s the not knowing part that keeps an audience’s attention. If everyone watching a performance knew what I was doing and how I do it, then why would they watch when they could be doing the same thing themselves?
Now, if I answer the question of “how did you do that?” with a demonstration that shows the person I am performing for exactly what I do and that perhaps the coin didn’t actually disappear, then the next time I perform, who would want to watch? If everyone knew how the art of magic and illusion is performed, I would be out of a job.
Of course, there is always “that guy” who sometimes is actually “that child”. The one who feels the need to loudly exclaim, “I know how you did that”, when, nine times out of ten, they actually have no idea but really just want some of the attention that the performer is receiving. Children tend to do it in order for their friends to think they are “cool” or perhaps smarter than them and have actually figured out the trick. It’s the whole one upping mentality some people have. Then there are the over the top people who will scream, yell, call me the devil while jumping up and down or even run away from me to another part of the room. Good times!
I have to admit though, I do prefer the question of, “how did you do that?” as opposed to the people who purposely try to look unimpressed or give a low “hmm”, then walk away without a word. These people tend to be the ones who understand that it’s not real magic and perhaps just sleight of hand but feel like I am trying to trick them or make them feel foolish. Which I assure you, I am not.
When I perform I am only trying to share the art and wonderment of magic with all who want to partake. And Yes, I have received all of the reactions mentioned above while performing. But it was just recently that I was suddenly able to state what I have never quite known how to say.
Two weeks ago I performed for a couple at a restaurant while they were waiting for their table. When I finished, they both looked equally amazed and then the man asked me, “How did you do that?” And without thinking I responded, “Mysteries work in mysterious ways.” He laughed and said “I guess they do.” He seemed content with my answer…and so was I.