Anticipating a Mind-Freaking Illusion

I’m a short person and when people stand up in front of me, I usually can’t see very much. So, ten minutes before the end of the show when the entertainer on the stage told everyone to stand, I didn’t.


Juggler via Pixabay

To be honest, I stayed seated not only because I am short; I was also a little bit pissed off. That feeling began right at the beginning of the show when the magician told the audience that the success of the show, and indeed the quality of his performance, depended on our response, our energy.  I know I tend to overthink things, but at the time I thought “Wait a minute. It’s not up to us to make you do a good job.”  So, he and I kind of got off on the wrong foot.

Don’t misunderstand me. It was a good show. On the whole, I was glad I went and I was certainly entertained. It was invigorating to be in a large Las Vegas theatre, packed with enthusiastic audience members, watching a very carefully choreographed show filled with lights, sounds, music, magic, and engaging patter.

In fact, when I was leaving Vegas to go to the airport, I chatted with the taxi driver about the show and told him how clever the magician was and how impressive his tricks and illusions were. Then I did a bad thing.  I said, “But…” The driver tried to help me out.  He said, “I’ve heard from other people that the show is a bit cheesy.”  I thought about that for a minute and I didn’t think cheesy was the right word.


Magician via Pixabay

I explained it in terms of literature.  Probably not the most appropriate analogy, but that’s what came to mind at the time. I talked about how, when you read a novel you anticipate a climax and denouement, and that there is something delightful about that anticipation and satisfaction. This show, however, was all climax, no anticipation. It started with a loud bang, and then every act in the show was a series of bangs, sometimes with lights, sometimes with fire, sometimes with birds, sometimes with lasers.  It was all climax, all the time, and that is just exhausting. A little more foreplay would have been nice. Yes, I know. That sounds like a very wifely grumble, but it’s appropriate nonetheless.

The biggest problem for me came at the end of the show. The final illusion had been built up to be the best we would ever see, and that no-one knew how it was done. In order to get everyone energized for it, apparently the whole audience needed to be standing and cheering him on.


Magician via Pixabay

I decided I really didn’t feel like being obliged to participate in a standing ovation that wasn’t spontaneous, so I didn’t.  I remained seated.  In part, this was because, as I said, I am short. I had an aisle seat and it was easier for me to see around people than over or between them. This was particularly unfortunate because the performer decided to do a little bit of audience participation at that time, and he ended up on the stairs right beside me.

He was shaking hands with people all around me and giving people fist bumps, and for a second he made eye contact with me—the only person in the theatre not standing. I think I sensed a smidgeon of dismay in his eyes, as though this had never happened to him before. It only lasted a moment, though, and he ran up on stage to perform the final, brilliant, illusion.

I’d tell you all about it, but first of all, you all have to stand up and cheer me on. Go ahead. I’ll wait. The more adulation I get, the better the story will be.



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