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Topic: Defining a "Good" Magician....
Message: Posted by: Ednigma (Jan 20, 2006 01:17PM)
Hello My Fellow Conjurers!!!

In my short (but [b]very "fruitful"[/b]) length of time in the magical arts, I have been pondering a question which answer [b]to us magicians[/b] is as important as "where do babies come from?" is to a child's mind.....that questions is, "What [b]is[/b] a [b]good[/b] Magician (or shall I ask what [b]makes[/b] a magician good)?

Now, I pose this question to you all, ignoring the [b]obvious[/b], such as good technique, mastery of sleights,etc.

Many argue that David Blaine is a bad one....[b]why?[/b] I mean to say, what are those key elements that define excellence in our art from mediocrity?

Why do you think XXX is a superb magician, as opposed to YYY?

I personally don't believe that, as magicians, we cannot become the best that we can be at this without defining these lines.
Message: Posted by: Kaylan (Jan 20, 2006 02:35PM)
A good magician can connect with people, is entertaining, and can make the impossible seem possible without insulting anyone.

Kaylan
Message: Posted by: DanielSteep (Jan 20, 2006 03:12PM)
A good Magician is someone that knows how to do what they are doing.. well and they are good with new people and are charming and respectful
Message: Posted by: Face (Jan 20, 2006 04:40PM)
Good magician is the one who takes the audience with him, so they can step out for theyr everyday life at least during the time of the show...[b]good magician will be remembered[/b]. :P
Message: Posted by: Jeremy L. (Jan 20, 2006 05:51PM)
[quote]
On 2006-01-20 15:35, Kaylan wrote:
A good magician can connect with people, is entertaining, and can make the impossible seem possible without insulting anyone.

Kaylan
[/quote]
I agree with you. Also, they make the difficult look easy and the easy look beautiful.
Message: Posted by: johnwolfe (Jan 20, 2006 09:28PM)
A good magician is a performer who keeps in mind that his primary object is to entertain an audience. A good magician is one who could keep an audience amused and entertained even if they knew the secret to every one of the tricks performed because the magician presented them in a way that entertained.

Doug Henning was a great magician because of his presentation. Many of the tricks which he used were old "classics" which had been collecting dust for years in the dealer catalogues. He pulled them out, dusted them off, and built routines around them that made them seem brand new.

A great magician remembers that his goal is not to fool the audience, but to make them feel the magic.
Message: Posted by: Cory Gallupe (Jan 21, 2006 05:43AM)
A good magician makes people laugh, entertains them, and amazes them. David Blaine [b]only[/b] amazes them. There is no entertainment, and not much laughter. Although, he does connect with his audience quite a bit. Sometimes he will perform a trick, then run off, but sometimes the audience believes what they see and they think he has supernatural powers. David Blaine, is not a good example of a magician you would want to be. But in retrospect, he isn't all that bad. I think he could just "up" the entertainment value with his effects.
Message: Posted by: snarfer (Jan 21, 2006 08:00AM)
One that can make magic happen!!
Message: Posted by: Paolo Venturini (Jan 21, 2006 08:24AM)
[quote]
On 2006-01-20 22:28, johnwolfe wrote:
A good magician is a performer who keeps in mind that his primary object is to entertain an audience.

A great magician remembers that his goal is not to fool the audience, but to make them feel the magic.
[/quote]

I agree with John.

Ednigma, this is a good question, but only if you ask it to a magi, not if you're ask it to a regular person: people have a bent to see a magician perform and say that he's the best, because they can't have a comparation as we can do. Often people tell me that they've never seen somebody as good as me, not even in "The Magic Castle"... So I ask them: " Wow, thank you. When do you was there, when it was closed for restoration?".

Paolo Venturini
Message: Posted by: rhinomax (Jan 21, 2006 09:43AM)
This is a question with many answers. To a Close up magician often it is technical skill that makes a good magi. To card men control , and a good pass.the Kid Show performer a sense of childish wonder. To the dove worker timing is key.

But the one thing thay all must posess first and foremost is an actors ability to engadge an audience.

The most inportant skill for any magician is to make the audience believe you are a magician, not magic but a magician.
Message: Posted by: JackScratch (Jan 21, 2006 10:02AM)
A magician's job is to entertain his audience useing conjouring. A good magician is one who does his job well.

Many say DB isn't one because (correct or not) they believe that he is failing the second requirement (ergo he is using special effects, rather than conjuring).
Message: Posted by: Ednigma (Jan 21, 2006 11:28AM)
These are all VERY insightful answers. What I DO find in all of your answers is ONE re-occuring theme: That it is the MAGICIAN (i.e., his/her ability to be ENTERTAINING and relate to the audience) that "marks" a good magician...Am I correct in my interpretation of these answers?

Derren Brown, in his book "Pure Effect", stated that we should ALWAYS look at our magic through the eyes of our spectators...In other words, How an effect will cause reaction in the spectator should far supercede how technical it would be to perform the effect.
Message: Posted by: Brad Burt (Jan 21, 2006 12:41PM)
Consider the following: The magicians job is to 'entertain' the audience. That's not exactly true..or, rather it [b]is[/b] true for the [b]magician[/b] as [b]entertainer[/b] definition of what a magician is supposed to be. But, consider that to a certain point that is an arbitrary definition. What if your definition is that a magician is, "A person that displays extraordinary powers and does amazing things?" Then you could say that a person like that if they could produce amazement is entertaining to [b]'you'[/b] or he's not. But, if he produced amazement he'd succeed within the definition. I know hundreds of lay people that think David Blaine is the most entertaining magician they have ever seen. Why? Because he [b]amazed[/b] them! Notice that the character that he plays on his specials, the quiet, almost diffident man with something extraordinary to show folks [b]is[/b] brilliant in that it focuses the attention upon the magic itself and not the performer. The amazement that ensues is then reflected back upon Blaine in such a manner that he gains positively thereby.

Part of the problem is that magic when it is done well even by the dullest of performers is inherently entertaining, [b]because[/b] it is amazing. Thus even a boring performer can be 'tricked' if you will into thinking that he or she is entertaining in and of themselves when in fact it is the medium that supplies what the performer lacks. All best,
Message: Posted by: JackScratch (Jan 21, 2006 01:14PM)
Sorry Brad, I completely disagree. DB appeals to a certain market in the community using his personality (real or created). His persona is almost as responsable for his popularity as his magic is. I personaly find that a sad statement about our society, but it is good magic. The problem a lot of magicians have is not with his persona, rather with his use of special effects and editing. To many, good magic requires conjuring, not editing. If editing could make good magic, the Speilberg would be the greatest magician ever, which may be arguably true, but you wouldn't be on real solid ground. Magic pureists require you be able to perform your magic, consistently, in front of a live audience, and achieve the same reaction as the ones you may depict on the small screen. If not, then you and Speilber are in the same catagory. If we don't keep editing separate from magic, then where does one stop and the other begin?
Message: Posted by: Fazie (Jan 21, 2006 01:33PM)
I think good magician is the man how can entertain audience, no matter what he do...
Its not important what trick you show, the most important thing is who you are?
I mean you must have charisma and this "thing"... look for the best magicians sometimes they do very simple tricks, and this is more exciting then next car dissapearing...

David Blaine do very simple tricks, but he do this so well so exciting...

Look at Lance Burton the man have big charisma... I looked his shows and sometimes I see tricks that I was watching many times but when he do this I'm looking and I'm shocked... yes I now the secret I now the routine I excaly now what guy is doing BUT he do this so well so great...
that's what I think about good magicians...

ps. sorry for my poor english :)
Message: Posted by: Chrystal (Jan 21, 2006 03:44PM)
Hi,

My definition of a "good" magician would also be one that can entertain the audience regardless of their persona or the type of magic they do. Whether they do classic magic or comedy, they entertain by making me laugh or gasp in astonishment. If they are a card magician, their technique and skill impresses me but what keeps me entertained at the same time is the patter they choose and how they engage the audience. The patter, if engaging draws me in and reflects the mood they are trying to achieve and it can be comedic or very mysterious.

Overall, I think the majority of us here have agreed that just doing the effects isn't what makes a good magician memorable but that they entertain their audiences as well.

Chrystal
Message: Posted by: Lee Darrow (Jan 21, 2006 05:19PM)
A [b]good[/b] magician amazes. A good magician creates interest in magic whereever he or she goes. A good magician is always good to his or her audiences.

In this, Blaine is a [b]good[/b] magician for one big reason - he has stirred up more interest IN magic as a performing art than anyone since Doug Henning. And maybe even before him.

Some folks may not like him in the business. Some folks may not like his personality - in the business. Some folks may not like his chops - in the business.

But the [b]public[/b] is [b]still[/b] talking about his [b]first[/b] TV special.

How many of US can say that? How many fof US can say that we've even [b]had[/b] a major-market TV special? How many of [b]us[/b] can say that we have had the impact on [b]magic[/b] in the [b]eyes of the public[/b] that DB has had?

Answer: - none of us.

Quod Erat Demonstratum.

You may not like him. You, as a magician, may not appreciate him. But each and every one of us has gained from his notoriety.

And that's a Good Magician - because what he's done is Good [b]for[/b] Magic. He's elevated magic above the "it's only for kids" or "it's c*#@ entertainment for carneys and schlock sideshow stuff" and into the "this stuff is [b]cool[/b]" category in the minds of the public.

If that's not what being a Good Magician is all about, then something is very seriously wrong with the industry - or the attitudes of the people [b]in[/b] it.

Lee Darrow, C.H.
Message: Posted by: JackScratch (Jan 21, 2006 05:43PM)
I guess that settles it then. I vote we elect Speilberg as president of both IBM and SAM as he is clearly the greatest magician in all of history. That would be using your definition, of course. By the way Lee, I would have to say that the Masked Guy hod a bigger impact on public opinion of magic than DB, was he a great magician? Your perspective on this is realy simplistic. I don't feel like it does any justice to our industry. Not to mention the Machiavelian nature of it. Do the ends realy justify the means? Not to me they don't. If one of the rest of you elevates yourself to the status of Godhood, but magic is reduced to one effect for years, that doesn't help me any at all.
Message: Posted by: DomKabala (Jan 22, 2006 05:56AM)
A good magician understands that his art depends upon skill, presentation & showmanship. He understands that his success will depend upon his ability to make the auduience like him because if they do, they will like his magic. A good magician understands that there is no substitute for skill and the greater it is, the greater will be the impression he makes upon his audience. He also will resort to any method that will enable him to do his magic better, efficient and entertaining.
:bikes: :bluebikes: :bikes:
<<<KRaZy4kardz>>>
Message: Posted by: JackScratch (Jan 22, 2006 10:46AM)
Sorry KRZ4kardz That's actualy my definition of a terrible magician. There has to be a purity to magic. The rules we perform by are the reason people are astounded. No holds barred would cause people to lose interest in magic. It is impossible to keep all of magics secrets, we should try but it can't be done. This means, if you use special effects, people will find out. If they find out, they will feel betrayed. What do you supposed a betrayed fan of magic does when he finds out your editor did the magic and not you? He rats you out. He tells everyone. The ends DO NOT justify the means. We must hold ourselves to a code.
Message: Posted by: Lee Darrow (Jan 22, 2006 04:28PM)
[quote]
On 2006-01-21 18:43, JackScratch wrote:
I guess that settles it then. I vote we elect Speilberg as president of both IBM and SAM as he is clearly the greatest magician in all of history. That would be using your definition, of course.[/quote]

No, it would not be using my definition at all. Speilberg uses special effects in movies, not in live performances, which is not the same thing at all. He may be a great "movie magician" but not a good magician" in terms of a [b]performance[/b] magician before a live audience in real time, which is part and parcel of my definition. Sorry, Mr. Scratch, but the definition has to fall into the category of performing before live audiences in real time, not on film.

[quote] By the way Lee, I would have to say that the Masked Guy hod a bigger impact on public opinion of magic than DB, was he a great magician? Your perspective on this is realy simplistic. I don't feel like it does any justice to our industry. Not to mention the Machiavelian nature of it. Do the ends realy justify the means? Not to me they don't. If one of the rest of you elevates yourself to the status of Godhood, but magic is reduced to one effect for years, that doesn't help me any at all.
[/quote]
Again, you fail to note the words "for the [b]good of magic[/b]" in my definition. The Masked Moron did nothing for the Good of Magic, whatsoever and, frankly, if you asked the average person on the street about him these days, you would get a bewildered stare for a moment while they searched their memories about who he was and what he did - [b]if[/b] they even saw him at all.

While Blaine's later shows did, indeed reduce themselves to single effects that were [b]not[/b] magic, his [b]first[/b] special was more than "one effect" as you seem to indicate, and it was [b]that[/b] special that caused all of the interest.

This is not a simplistic stance on my part at all. Blaine did something that no other magician since, arguably Houdini, did - aroused intense interest in the minds of the public in magic as a performance art, especially close up magic.

Not Sigfried and Roy, not Penn & Teller, not Doug Henning, not Lance Burton, nor any one else since him can say that. I am not particluarly a fan of Mr. Blaine's, I admit, but I cannot fail but to give him the applause he deserves for bringing magic to such a wide level of interest and awareness in the minds of the public.

And the uniform response that I have heard from the people who wtched his magic specials (not the stunt ones) has been "That's SO cool!"

If that's not good for magic, then what is?

You note that my view is "Machiavelian", yet your last comment: "If one of the rest of you elevates yourself to the status of Godhood, but magic is reduced to one effect for years, that doesn't help me any at all," seems far more so to me.

I hate to say it, but you can't have it both ways. Your view, as shown in your last statement, is far more "Machiavelian" than mine was by quite a bit - or should I say, relevatory of the self-serving focus of your point of view on the topic?

No flame intended, as you obviously feel passionately about this issue, but you DO state a very personal agenda with that last sentence.

Respectfully,

Lee Darrow, C.H.
Message: Posted by: JackScratch (Jan 22, 2006 08:48PM)
Machiaveli wrote "the ends justify the means". KRZ4kardz wrote "He also will resort to any method that will enable him to do his magic better, efficient and entertaining." That would be the Machiavellian attitude to which I refer.

Quote Lee Darrow
"No, it would not be using my definition at all. Speilberg uses special effects in movies, not in live performances, which is not the same thing at all. He may be a great "movie magician" but not a good magician" in terms of a PERFORMANCE magician before a live audience in real time, which is part and parcel of my definition. Sorry, Mr. Scratch, but the definition has to fall into the category of performing before live audiences in real time, not on film."End Quote

So you are saying that this giant mass of people who dearly love DB have all seen him live? Or are you trying to tell me that you've actualy seen his Balducci performed in his television show exactly as you would have seen it, had you been there at the time? If you are saying either of those then you are very very nieve'. If you are not saying that, then your arguement doesn't hold water. Be very careful, you are trying to mix my arguement with your belief. Had DB done his show and not used editing to create effects that he did not actualy perform, then by all means I would agree that he delivered a great blow for magic. That not being the case, I say he delivered a great blow TO magic. That goes for anyone else out there trying to pass off special effects as magic. Not to mention that after his first special, the only thing I heard about was DB's levitation, the one they didn't actualy see him do. That's the kind of crap I'm having a real problem with. The Balducci was not the only effect in his first show that took full advantage of editing, but it was, in my opinion, the most blatant.
Message: Posted by: stormchaser (Jan 22, 2006 09:17PM)
A good magician is a memorable one. Sure, you can see incredible magicians, but if you've seen their effects before, you don't remember them. It's COMPLETELY in the presentation. When I was about six or seven, I saw about three magicians at a children's festival. One I don't remember at all. Another I remember for his spitting cards ending. The one I remember COMPLETELY? Bill Abbot. He levitated and animated a piece of cloth. He did acting "the wise fool" and folded a tiny piece of paper into a whole hat. He showed a wet piece of paper, then made it turn into streamers that shot right into the audience. You can buy that at magic shops for twenty bucks, bu the way he presented it was memorable.

Also, at the Magic and Illusion tour, the ones I remember are the unique ones. My second favourite(next to Murray Hatfield was Chipper Lowell. He didn't even do magic, he just did completely unique comedy. If you can dramatize Nickels to Dimes, you're a better magician than if you can completely emotionlessly make the sun burn out.
Message: Posted by: jack_is_dead (Jan 24, 2006 10:46PM)
There are always speculations over david blaine and his magic..he has done a great job and he has stirred hundreds of people to be interested in magic..probably he is the next best thing after Copperfield..i disagree of the verdict that he could be the best thing since houdini..just by attracting people into magic will not earn high credits for me..i care for the art and if it is true what people say about blaine that he never rose more than 3 inches in his real levitation footage and had it edited and done some funky stuff inside a studio, that doent impress me..if it is true that blaine sometimes use actors as audience and slide in into his specials to create impossibility illusion...hmmmmm...thats not so good..but again only if it is true..if none of them were true than I will be happy..anyway I still respect him and I think that there are many magicians hate him because they are jealous..well to admit the truth I am jealous of him..but camera editting for magic should be stopped..when everyone finds out and they always find out, it will be bad for the art..these are just my opinions and I really tried hard not to hurt anyones feeling..all put together I hate blaine..
Message: Posted by: kdb424 (Jan 25, 2006 04:46PM)
I personally think a good magician is tring there hardest, even if they mess up. That's my kind of magician! (me to sometimes)
Message: Posted by: Genghis (Jan 25, 2006 07:45PM)
I like David Blaine but can't forgive him for making such a big deal over his levitation. Now everyone knows the Balducci levitation is and I can't scare people with it any more!

:)
Message: Posted by: JackScratch (Jan 26, 2006 12:31AM)
Don't blame Blaine for that Genghis, they haven't ever seen him do it.
Message: Posted by: Eirik (Jan 26, 2006 07:50AM)
Defenition of a good magician: David Williamson!
He's got it all: the skills, humour, persona, charm etc....

-e-
Message: Posted by: Lee Darrow (Jan 30, 2006 12:09AM)
[quote]
On 2006-01-22 21:48, JackScratch wrote:
Machiaveli wrote "the ends justify the means". KRZ4kardz wrote "He also will resort to any method that will enable him to do his magic better, efficient and entertaining." That would be the Machiavellian attitude to which I refer.

Quote Lee Darrow
"No, it would not be using my definition at all. Speilberg uses special effects in movies, not in live performances, which is not the same thing at all. He may be a great "movie magician" but not a good magician" in terms of a PERFORMANCE magician before a live audience in real time, which is part and parcel of my definition. Sorry, Mr. Scratch, but the definition has to fall into the category of performing before live audiences in real time, not on film."End Quote

So you are saying that this giant mass of people who dearly love DB have all seen him live? Or are you trying to tell me that you've actualy seen his Balducci performed in his television show exactly as you would have seen it, had you been there at the time? If you are saying either of those then you are very very nieve'. If you are not saying that, then your arguement doesn't hold water. Be very careful, you are trying to mix my arguement with your belief. Had DB done his show and not used editing to create effects that he did not actualy perform, then by all means I would agree that he delivered a great blow for magic. That not being the case, I say he delivered a great blow TO magic. That goes for anyone else out there trying to pass off special effects as magic. Not to mention that after his first special, the only thing I heard about was DB's levitation, the one they didn't actualy see him do. That's the kind of crap I'm having a real problem with. The Balducci was not the only effect in his first show that took full advantage of editing, but it was, in my opinion, the most blatant.
[/quote]

The fact that Blaine performs the majority OF his effects LIVE for REAL people on TV makes him a performing magician. Would you make the same argument regarding Copperfield's levitation outside the theater after his "Flying" special, because the same logic holds there? I doubt it.

One effect is not the acid test, but the bulk of the work done, which was live, in the hands close up magic of a very workable sort.

Splitting hairs is only for those who do hair tricks, my friend. ;)

The fact remains that Blaine, like him or not, has raised public interest in PERFORMANCE magic, especially close up magic, more than anyone, arguably, in modern history. For that, he deserves respect, at least.

The bottom line is what he did FOR magic in the eyes of the PUBLIC, which was to incite GREAT INTEREST and to elevate it from being viewed as simply something to entertain children to something that can seriously blow a person's mind, right on the street.

Prior to Blaine, magical street entertainers were viewed as something less than nice in many quarters. after Blaine, magical street entertainers are far better respected by audiences and it's one heck of a lot easier to book close up magic into corporate venues than it was, I assure you.

I'm living proof of that! And I was doing fairly well prior to his coming on the scene!

Lee Darrow, C.H.
Message: Posted by: JackScratch (Jan 30, 2006 01:13AM)
All that is very nice, though I thought I made it perfectly clear that his Balducci was far from his only editing offence. As for Copperfield, hell, if he's guilty, lets string him up as well, though in your example I would site a few differences, not the least of which is, was the audience lead to believe that what they were seeing was a live performance at that moment? DB has used editing to create mentalism effects that are flat out impossible in the real world, by editing out the dirty work. That is wrong. That does not represent magic at all, it represent special effects. It represents movie makeing. If he could acomplish all the things you say, without using editing to do it, I would be right there with you, defending him, but he can't and he hasn't.
Message: Posted by: bobbyk (Jan 30, 2006 01:24PM)
A good magician to me is one that captures his or her audience and has them in the palm of their hand. One that leaves them talking, repeating the effects to neighbors and friends the next day. (the replay in their minds is usually better than the actual effect). A good/great magician can do the simplist of effects and get a wonderufl response because they have worked as hard on the presentation as they have on the effect.

I've seen many magicians who have mastered sleights beyond anything I could ever hope to do... but it's mechanical in performance and they often do not captivate their audience. On the other hand I've seen magicians who can take selfworking card tricks and make them look like miracles to their audience. The audience believes that performer to be a good magician. Who am I to argue with them?

Bobby