The magician is the same. The audiences are different.

I happened upon a small band of teenage hipsters showing each other videos on their oversized smartphones. Upon asking about what they were watching and they eagerly included me in the viewing. I chatted casually with the alpha while the others carried on in their social media binge.

After a minute of small talk, I casually handed him a blank index card and a pen.

“Write down the name of a person that many of these guys would know. Not just any person. Make it someone you’ve texted with in the last few hours.” I instructed.

He looked quizzically at me for a second, as if to say, “But how do you turn on the paper?” He wrote, and I told him to put the card into his pocket. He crammed the single sheet into his skinny jeans, while keeping an eye on me.

“Tell your friends what just happened. Don’t tell them the name you wrote, but tell them everything else.” I told him.

He nudged his friends, who reluctantly deactivated their handheld monitors. Upon filling them in on the details, the others looked at me with those questioning, yet eager eyes of a person who hasn’t experienced anything in real life lately. No cameras, no tweets, no texts … not yet at least.

I looked my writer square in the eyes and told him, “Picture calling you friend in your mind...“Blond hair with a streak of red. No, She wear’s red often...” after a few moments of making magic, I pulled out another index card and scribbled on it. “You still have your card in your pocket?”


“Take it out and show them what your wrote.”

All eyes refocused on my card. I glanced at it, and turned it to show them that I had also written the name “Bethany.”

The eruption of laughs, questions and inspecting the elements that ensued spewed over onto their Instagram feeds. I thanked them for their time and quietly walked away as I was being tagged in tweets.

Magician’s TakeAway ::

Know your audience. Gather focus. How can an ancient bit of fortune telling possibly compete with modern technological entertainment? Make it important. Make the magic so important to them that they forget they even have a phone.

Standing in line for something was much different when I was a kid. In the 80’s we didn’t have pocket-sized access to the sum total of mankind’s knowledge. Today, for $80 a month, anyone can surf anything anywhere they care.

Here’s the thing: Magic isn’t available on a smartphone (TV or computer either). Magic is an interactive, performance art. It’s fleeting. You get one shot at it. Once it’s done, it’s done. You can’t experience it in that same way again. This type experience is becoming exceedingly rare in this era.

They won’t put down their gadgets for just any old thing. It needs to be personal, emotional and relevant. This is true for all audiences in all situations.