The crazy thing about memory is that, in the end, there is no single “way that something happened”; there is only the “way that you remember what happened!”
Memory is so subjective that two people, standing side by side, witnessing the same thing, can have completely different memories of what they just witnessed. For those of you who have been married for some time, you probably experience this phenomena on a daily basis. (“I didn’t say I didn’t want to go! I simply asked If I had to go!”) Your memory can be affected by your mood, the environment, the time of day, or your level of interest. To be honest, Memory Foam is more reliable than the human brain.
And when it comes time to recall a memory and re-tell it to others, a plethora of things can affect the content of story. The teller’s vocabulary, the makeup of the audience, or even how much the teller likes to improve or embellish the story. In private circles, I am known as the great embellisher. I am constantly re-writing history to make “true” stories more entertaining.
Magicians have learned to use this quirky quality of how people remember things to their advantage. For instance, in this close-up card routine that I perform, while the spectator is shuffling the cards just before the big reveal, I recount the actions that have already taken place. The thing is, I LIE!!! The lies are subtle, but most definitely not true. But, it always works. Everybody remembers the trick exactly the way I described it. Not only have I manipulated the memory of my audience, but I have also planted a more homogenous memory of the trick in the minds of all who were watching.
And though your audience’s memory of your show is likely to be influenced by a variety of factors, it is also affected by time. I have had people come up to me at a walk-around gig and regale me with the story of an amazing trick I did for them two years ago, at another function. They tell of a trick that is not only utterly impossible to do under walk-around conditions, but a trick I have never done anywhere – at all. I was confused by this at first, but I now believe that they are recalling not what I did, but how I made them feel. Subjective memory aside, they will always remember how you make them feel.