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Topic: Believability and it's effect on sideshow
Message: Posted by: Stephon (Jun 11, 2005 01:12PM)
The thread on Stevie Starr made me think back to a discussion on sideshow that I was part of with several performers around the dinner table after a show one night (now THAT was a run on sentence): It's not unusual in certain acts for the performer to make claims that really strain credulity. Statements that would make any thinking person say, "what a load of crap".

I won't be specific here, but, for example, all of us are familiar with the standard presentation for the threading razors bit.

One of the main selling points of sideshow is, "this stuff is real." That being said, there are acts that mix in the occassional sleight or gaff. But doesn't making extravagant claims invite the audience to think we're just doing magic tricks?

I'd be interested to know other people's thought on this.

Thanks.
Message: Posted by: Doug Higley (Jun 11, 2005 05:59PM)
Agreed. And what is the point for doing so? They already paid their admission.

Maybe for a ding in the pitch.
Message: Posted by: Kondini (Jun 12, 2005 01:51PM)
I use any deviouse underhand unscruopulus disgusting cheating coniving meens available to mankind,in order to extract every last penny from them.

Its called Show Biz !
Message: Posted by: Stephon (Jun 12, 2005 02:33PM)
Sure, of course. But I was really talking more about during the act, rather than the pitch or a ding.
Message: Posted by: Kondini (Jun 12, 2005 04:54PM)
That`s what I was talking about,,,,during the act!!!
Message: Posted by: Stephon (Jun 12, 2005 09:00PM)
Oh, ok. Well, have you ever had someone say that what you're claiming is physically impossible?
Message: Posted by: Harley Newman (Jun 12, 2005 09:10PM)
If they say so, so what? It just means that they're wearing blinders. If you do it right, the "impossible" claims become nothing.

Showmanship, eh?
Message: Posted by: Stephon (Jun 12, 2005 11:50PM)
Sure, I get that, but as I said, one of the big selling points of sideshow is it's authenticity. So, when someone says they're going to swallow a dry substance and put it in one part of their stomach (the dry part, I guess), and then swallow a wet substance and put it in another part of their stomach, and then bring them both back up unmixed, and still dry and wet, well that's such obvious humbugery that it goes beyond wearing blinders.

I guess, for me, there are actually two issues here:
The first is, as I said, do extravagant claims distract from the (potentially) amazing effect of what the performer is doing?

The second is more of a personal bias for me--I'm only comfortable questioning my audiences intelligence to a certain point; I'm ok with telling them that I use my tongue and teeth to tie thread through razor blades, but I'm not ok with telling them I'm swallowing the stuff and threading it using my abdominal muscles. It's just too ridiculous.

Maybe that's because I don't come from a carnival sideshow background where squeezing the last cent out of the marks is so important. I've always felt the carnival was like that warm fuzzy feeling you get from the charming smile of the guy who just picked your pocket. Which is fine, but since I don't work that venue, I not comfortable working that style.

But if the answer to my orinigal question is, "no", then ok. And thanks for the input.
Message: Posted by: Kondini (Jun 13, 2005 04:07AM)
I think your delving too deep. The Carny is a fun thing,everyone should be there to enjoy themselves,,,do people really think Copperfield can fly? or walk through walls, what the heck this is all entertainment,,the bamboozle the humbug,,enjoy.

My Banners>>>> The Impossible Possible.
Preserving the past for the future.
The Strange Thing.
Britains Only Human Toolbox.
Extreme Stunts.
Stranger than Fiction.
Do people really believe annalise all this, hell no, they come to be amused,I make them smile, that`s not such a bad thing is it.I also get paid for it, which makes it even better!

The BIGGEST selling point on the sideshow is YOU.
Message: Posted by: Stephon (Jun 13, 2005 08:27PM)
Yes, I suppose I am beating this into the ground. I'll make this my last post on the matter.

The Copperfield thing is my point exactly. Everyone knows it's a trick, so it doesn't matter what he says, they know he's essentially lying.

Sideshow performers make bank on the audiences' belief that the performer is not lying. That's where it seems like too outrageous a claim could pose an problem.

Thanks for the thoughts and input on the topic.
Message: Posted by: Doug Higley (Jun 13, 2005 08:33PM)
"The Copperfield thing is my point exactly. Everyone knows it's a trick, so it doesn't matter what he says, they know he's essentially lying."


"PAY NO ATTENTION TO THAT MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN!"
Message: Posted by: Harley Newman (Jun 13, 2005 09:41PM)
May I cross-reference this thread to the one where we were discussing acts that have been called "sideshow". This idea that only certain stunts are "sideshow" is pretty new. And I know of more than a few of us, who crow about how what we're doing is "real", who use many elements of what others call "magic".

So what? If you're putting on a show, there are three goals. The least of them, in many ways, is the show itself. As long as we're entertaining, the audience doesn't really care what we do.

The other goals are the paycheck, and the invitation to return for another paycheck, hopefully at an increased rate. It's business, right?
Message: Posted by: Cadabra (Jun 13, 2005 10:57PM)
[quote]
The other goals are the paycheck, and the invitation to return for another paycheck, hopefully at an increased rate. It's business, right?
[/quote]
That's for *** sure...Can I say *** in here?
Message: Posted by: Kondini (Jun 14, 2005 02:12AM)
Yes that`s right it`s a biz thing.
In the UK we had the Lord George Howard Show,Barry Walls,Dr Death etc etc,they had to get them in and used any meens to do just this.
Barry was proberly the UK`s best known Fakir and he too used many methods both fake and true but to the speckies he was what he set out to be an entertainer with "Incredible"! Powers.
Due to his presentation and years of doing the same thing he was one of the very few who to my knowledge never got accused of useing trickery in performance.

Oh to be able to attain such a high level of perfecting the lie.
Message: Posted by: Harley Newman (Jun 14, 2005 08:31AM)
Yes. There are certainly many variations on the lie. I use a bit of "magic" in my show, but I always tell the audience, that particular thing is a trick. (Well, almost always).
Message: Posted by: Slim Price (Jun 14, 2005 01:33PM)
I think that sideshow acts should always have an "edge" Back when I was still around, <G> I mixed magic and sideshow acts with no problem. Even though audiences are different today, with a few exceptions, if we respect the intelligence of an audience, they can sort out the differences.
Slim
Message: Posted by: tim_mantis (Jun 15, 2005 07:51AM)
[quote]
On 2005-06-13 00:50, Stephon wrote:
...well that's such obvious humbugery that it goes beyond wearing blinders.
[/quote]

But is it? In that case from the point of view of the audience surely pounding a nail into your face or walking barefoot on genuine broken glass would be equally regarded as fakery. Just because we know which acts are genuine, which are gaffed, and which are a bit of both, doesn't mean the audience have any clue! Let's not forget that we're performing feats that seem impossible to most laymen. I think it depends on how gullible...erm...open minded an audience member is as to whether or not they believe what you're doing is real. I wish I had a pound for every time someone's asked me what the secret chemical formula is that allows me to eat fire!

Tim
Message: Posted by: Kondini (Jun 15, 2005 10:10AM)
Re the nail I too would like a for each time a speckie asked how much the magic nails are.
To stop this I have a bunch of 5inch nails on sale at the stall @ 50 each so far I have had four or five takers and of course they have returned (No Im not that rotten, I did refund the money).

Re the Fire Eating what`s the special something you put in your mouth before the show.
I also counteract this by saying I take a mouthfull of (Use your imagination!!!)This should put anyone off trying,,,and you should see the look on their friends faces as they pass the info on.
Message: Posted by: thegreatnippulini (Jun 16, 2005 04:32PM)
Just throwing this in for a bit:

I once made a passing comment to Ward Hall about how one of my many goals is to lift 100 pounds. He explained to me (through the use of a long anecdote) that it doesn't matter if I lift 5 pounds or 100, I will still get paid the same.

THAT said, my goal is not for the money or the audience, it is a personal goal. Further to the point! I will outrightly and vehimenently protest and refuse to EVER allow my nipples to EVER lift a 5 pound object and thus attempt to show it off as a 100 pound object! This is a charlatan approach to reality and in fact DOES DEFINITLEY affect the stunt in a negative fashion. In my experience on stage and in the audience, when a gaffed stunt is applied the performer EXPLAINS the fact that it is indeed not real. This helps ease the truth in the real stunts that the same performer would do within the same show.

If a magician wants to use a gaff sideshow stunt in his/her act, fine. Go at it and I wish you the best. Your audience WILL know it's fake.

Yours very truly,
The Great Nippulini
Message: Posted by: Lord of Illusion (Jun 18, 2005 12:09PM)
[quote]
On 2005-06-12 14:51, Kondini wrote:
I use any deviouse underhand unscruopulus disgusting cheating coniving meens available to mankind,in order to extract every last penny from them.

Its called Show Biz !
[/quote]

Now there's a mission statement! I think I'm going to engrave that on a plaque.

Azrael