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 isn't going to 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 of the rooms, for the formal close up show with over hundred pairs of eyes watching, I failed miserably with a set I'd been performing for a while.

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

In general terms, I constructed the set 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, rather 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 has been 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 conscientiously forgive yourself, so you can immediately move forward.
  • Live - As long as you're not performing a dangerous stunt which 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 the next time our paths cross, my set will be drastically different.

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

Lee Asher

ps. For those who have interest in how I ended my set ... After realizing the deck was out of order, I gave the audience a large smile, immediately transitioned into a several quick impromptu routines, finished up with the other set up deck in my pocket, then gracefully exited off the stage.

Breathe... remember to breathe.