Magic Gone Wrong

Approx. 6 min. Read | Written by Lee Asher
Things can go wrong in magic.

Thank You Failure!

"Some failure in life is inevitable. It's impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you FAIL by default." - J.K. Rowling

The Situation

Have you ever performed magic for a group of people, only to realize the routine will not end as expected? Do you remember the feeling you got when it happened? Terrible! Most magicians can relate because if you've ever presented magic before, you've probably been in that kind of situation. Maybe even more than once?

As a beginner, for me, it happened a lot. Nonetheless, those initial experiences shaped me into the performer I am today. With time and practice, though, I learned to limit my amount of failure.

Currently, as a professional, it rarely happens. Though, when stuff goes awry these days, it makes a meaningful, albeit painful, impact on me.

Magic Gone Wrong

Recently, I was asked to perform at the Atlanta Harvest Magic Convention. It's a wonderful get-together filled with warm & compassionate folk. In one room, for the formal close-up show with over a hundred pairs of eyes watching, I failed miserably with a set I'd been performing for a while.

How? My pre-arranged card stack was out of order to make a long story short. It's entirely my fault, and I take all of the blame for the magic gone wrong!

I constructed the set in general terms, so each routine utilized my stack in specific ways. As you can imagine, a single card being out of place starts a domino effect which can lead to utter failure...and that's exactly what happened.

Failure Hurts

The point of this story isn't about what I could have done to save the set or what I should have done in this situation. Instead, it's about dealing with that moment of failure. Most people move past it or rarely discuss it because it's not enjoyable, but it's something that everyone needs to learn about.

While the technical occurrence is swift & brief, the effects of failure last for years. Uncomfortable is putting it lightly!

At the moment of my failure that day, I became drenched in (flop) sweat, my heart pounded & raced, and I felt nauseated. Meanwhile, my brain shot into overdrive and started searching for realistic solutions to end this feeling of misery. It's similar to the feeling you receive when riding a frightening roller coaster. (Can you tell I HATE roller coasters?)

When my ride came to an end, I was off-kilter for the rest of the day. Part of me wanted to go upstairs and hide in my room. But my training has taught me not to let my emotions, especially fear, stop me from living the CardStar Lifestyle. Again, thankfully, the Atlanta Harvest was filled with loving & compassionate people.

3 Points To Remember
  • Breathe - It's hard to take a breath when the wind gets knocked out of you! But with each breath comes the strength & courage to pick yourself up and get back on your feet.
  • Forgive - The pain of failing is bad enough, so there's no need to make it any worse. It always helps to forgive yourself conscientiously. That way, you can immediately move forward.
  • Live - As long as you're not performing a dangerous stunt that goes wrong, you will live to see another day. Tomorrow always offers another chance to be better.

The Silver Lining

Ultimately, I've been given the opportunity to improve something that needs more work. How often does a realization like that come along? While most might ignore the chance, I accept the challenge. I assure you that my set will be drastically different the next time our paths cross.

Thanks for all the encouragement, failure. I couldn't have done it without you!

Lee Asher

ps. Want to know how I handled my set? After realizing the deck was out of order, I gave the audience a large smile, immediately transitioned into several quick impromptu routines, finished up with the other stacked deck in my pocket, then gracefully exited off the stage.

Breathe... remember to breathe.