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Topic: Creativity in Children's Entertainment
Message: Posted by: Smarty Pants (Mar 5, 2007 12:09AM)
As I look through so many posts here in The Little darlings, it seems that people are obsessed with dealers props. While there are many wonderful props put out by dealers, I would have to say that almost my entire show consists of original props and routines that I have created. Some people seem to think that they can buy a show from a dealer, read the instructions and patter provided with the tricks, and then go out and perform to a group of kids. Are there others out there like me who create their show from the ground upwards, or do most people buy somebody else's creation? Just curious!
Message: Posted by: MagicSanta (Mar 5, 2007 12:52AM)
Mostly from the ground up but I felt I had to get some big color items in there because the parents expected it.
Message: Posted by: NJJ (Mar 5, 2007 01:13AM)
I buy large props but I see them as just that, props. An actor with a nice sword is not errol flynn. A painter with expensive brushes is not picasso.

I find many of the show in a box, routine in a bag, act in a small cup, like paint by numbers. The minimum of work to get an acceptable result. It looks ok, it's easy and no one gets offended.

But you will never achieve greatness if your not prepared to take the props, routines, and ideas you are given and pull them a part and make something better.
Message: Posted by: Payne (Mar 5, 2007 01:28AM)
Since I specialize in themed performances I construct or convert most my own props and develop my own routines.
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (Mar 5, 2007 01:43AM)
Building my own props (or rather, having them built for me), is something I hope to do in the near future. However, there are many advantages to using well-manufactured props: they look good, they're robust, and hopefully, they're entertaining. We can of course once again remind ourselves that it's the original parts of our acts that will gain us the most recognition. That said, there are many routines that you can "make your own", which is an acceptable half-way solution for me.
Building props is a whole other ball game, and if I were to decide to make my own, I'd want to learn all kinds of woodworking, metalworking, and plasticworking techniques, which would take an impossible amount of time. I have other things I'd rather devote such time to, so most likely someone else will always be making my props for me.
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Mar 5, 2007 04:52AM)
I like to build my own, but I also buy the props/tricks, but then adapt them to fit my style. Sometimes this is just using my own routine, sometimes this means adding or taking stuff away from the prop. As nick said the prop is just a prop, to me it doesn't become a winning trick or routine until I put some of myself into it.

The worse thing in my book is to buy a trick and use it word for word, move for move as per the instructions. It shows a total lack of imagination.

It's something you see often at your local magic society, someone will stand up and do 2-3 tricks, but with every trick their personality changes depending on who they got the trick from. In the worse cases they actually say the patter with a, for example, yank accent because it was a yank magician video they got it from.
Message: Posted by: Red Shadow (Mar 5, 2007 05:33AM)
My show consitis of 75% original tricks.
The only stamdard props I really use are the paint book & c20 shorts (with my own routine), and the arm chopper.
A couple of fillers like silk through mirror, but all of these are done to my own style and performance.

I don't even read the instructions anymore, I buy the prop and work out a routine with it.

Steve
Message: Posted by: TrickyRicky (Mar 5, 2007 06:19AM)
[quote]
On 2007-03-05 05:52, Emazdad wrote:
I like to build my own, but I also buy the props/tricks, but then adapt them to fit my style. Sometimes this is just using my own routine, sometimes this means adding or taking stuff away from the prop. As nick said the prop is just a prop, to me it doesn't become a winning trick or routine until I put some of myself into it.

First, welcome back to the Café Emazdad.
I made that same statement in another post some time ago.
As time goes on you will pick up little bits of funny lines to go with the trick. Most times it's the adults and children who will make funny comments that you will eventually use in the routine.
Richard.
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Mar 5, 2007 09:11AM)
I'm very proud of my act and it's originality. In fact, one of my selling points on my website reads:
"Magic George performs his own original material meaning his show is a unique experience which cannot be experienced anywhere else in the galaxy!"

But that doesn't mean I'm completely original as that would mean ignoring the wisdom and experience of those that have gone before.

Most of my props are not 'come complete' children's effects. I usually use classic magic props plus items from everything from kitchen stores to toy shops. If I do buy a kid's magic effect, I will read the instructions, sometimes I will perform the routine as suggested, but in my own words, for one or two performances. This helps me find the strong points of the effect and why it works as children's entertainment before coming up with my own routine. It's funny because I would have thought by now I could pick up on what works for the kids before trying it out but the little imps still keep on surprising me when it comes to what makes them laugh and what inspires them.

Inspiration for new routines comes from many different sources. Sometimes I'll have an idea what I want to do then go look for suitable props. Sometimes a great prop will inspire a routine. Sometimes a single sentence in a book will inspire a completely different routine to the one in the book.

George
Message: Posted by: Scott O. (Mar 5, 2007 10:37AM)
I take the McGyver approach. I go out on the stage with nothing but my birthday suite (my wife gave me a nice navy blue one for my birthday) then I fashion a show out of bits and pieces I find laying about. Every show is unique and entirely original. This is totally true. If I were lying, I would tell you.









That's a lie.
Message: Posted by: Rupert Bair (Mar 5, 2007 10:42AM)
I remember somebody showing me a great trick with a fantastic routine. I was laughing and I was amazed the whole way through. After the trick I asked him did he write the routine? He said no.

It was the routine in the instructions.

Don't over look all the instructions! Sometimes they are there for a reason! Even if some of the routines they outline could be written on a grain of rice!


Matt
Message: Posted by: harris (Mar 5, 2007 11:29AM)
My program (like many) is a combination of magic props and props purchased in other locations.(Home Depot, Thrift Shops, Garage Sales, Hobby Lobby type places, Music Stores....)

It also has lots of puppets and at times juggling items.

As I have written many times, my experience in theatre and improvisation is very valuable in the creation of programs. Also valuable is my work and training in counseling and education. Currently my "main job" is working with middle and high school students. Prior to that I worked at a Maximum Security Correctional Facility. (Now that was a captive audience) It was interesting seeing an inmate create magical effects such as using a toothpaste cap as a thimble.

Harris
Message: Posted by: Connor Scot (Mar 5, 2007 03:06PM)
I usually try the routine that comes with the prop to start with and let my own ideas take off from there. It's worth learning and understanding the creator's routine before you start to make your own 'improvements'

Connor
Message: Posted by: Jonny K Promotions (Mar 6, 2007 01:41PM)
Hi, my name is Jonny. I've been doing shows for kids on and off for over 30 years in the UK, taking breaks due to personal reasons, and working in many locations. My shows are Disco orientated with lots of prizes, slapstick comedy (custard pies, eggs on adults heads etc.) I hope you'll welcome me to your exclusive club.

I find that props are merely tools of the performer and I don't follow stock routines.

I simply use a trick as a means of linking together the appearance of a gorilla, or a lifesize Frankenstein monster. I spend half my time in the audience chasing people around which causes lots of laughter, screams etc. I'll expand on my performances more as I hopefully start to blend into the forum.

Hugs - Jonny.
Message: Posted by: Kent Wong (Mar 6, 2007 01:52PM)
Nope. I buy everything and I'm too darn lazy to put any original thought into how I present it. If it doesn't say "No Skill Required", and if it doesn't come with the exact patter I need to perform the trick, I WON'T TOUCH IT! :)

I know some of you don't think this is "professional" but it is. It must be. I have business cards and everything! :)

Anyways, I'm just doing kids shows so I can earn a few extra bucks. I'm trying to save up for an Invisible Deck. After all, what could be easier than performing for kids? I mean, they're just kids right?!! How hard can it be? :)

Kent
Message: Posted by: Tony James (Mar 6, 2007 02:55PM)
I've not seen anything catalogued as No Skill Required for such a long time. Dissapeared here yonks years ago with a law called the Trade Descriptions Act.

It was a quick way of sorting the possible from the impossible finger flinging stuff. No bad thing to look for the the most simple and direct effects. These are often the ones which work best.

When I was young there were no special kids effects in the UK. Children's entertainers did a revamp of their adult show with classics such as Cups & Balls, Linking Rings as wedding rings, Coins (or cards) Across using children in a Train or Bus travel theme, the ever boring Miser's Dream and using a dove pan for a Baking a Cake routine. I can see Uncle Percy now at school:

This white hankie is a Princess and this blue hankie is the prince and the black hankie is a Robber!!!!How we groaned. . A few other bits and that was it.

The first specific children's prop I became aware of was Harry Leats Run Rabbit Run and within a few years everyone had one. Remember, every last thing you can think of was rationed in the UK at this time. That is from 1939 to 1954.

Importation was illegal even if anything was available. People like Jack Hughes could sell anything they could build if they could get the permission to have the raw materials to build the thing.

When controls slackened in 1953/4 it became easier but it was another 8 years before periodic shortages vanished. It was when Edwin Hooper opened Supreme Magic that the flow of props really started and the demand began to be met.

He provided every last bit and piece you may or may not have needed in order to do an effect. And his detailed, routines did it all for you. Caused a lot of trouble amongst the old brigade who realised that No Skill Required was begining to mean just that. Anyone who could read could now do it.

It allowed magicians who were not particularly creative performers and certainly not that much at ease with presenting, to make a reasonable job of a show. They wouldn't compare with the more natural and skilled performer who also took advantage of the flood of props and ideas and then adapted them to his needs and style.

And that, as Smarty Pants has detected, is the same today, amongst magicians here. The more adventurous and creative will find their own ways and means and the less so can purchase something which, if followed exactly, should provide a workmanlike though not inspiring performance.

I don't see anything wrong with that, do you?
Message: Posted by: Smarty Pants (Mar 6, 2007 06:11PM)
I am pleased to see that many of you do create your shows, or part thereof, from the ground up. So, I would be interested to know how you all start on this creative adventure? I start with a vision. I see the finished product in my mind's eye, and then figure out the journey to get to that destination. On the way, things frequently change, and new ideas emerge. I am always open to new ideas, and my final vision is normally huge and exciting. Not huge in the sense of large props......but huge in the effect on the kids and all the bits of business.
Message: Posted by: Tony James (Mar 6, 2007 06:25PM)
I certainly follow that pattern. My problem is that I never seem to recognise the strength of the effect at the outset. So I prop it with various bits of support, some of them created with quite a bit of effort.

Then comes the tryouts. After a while some of these support ideas are abandoned. Funny and clever as they may sometimes be, supporting and reinforcing the action and emphasising aspects, they get in the way or slow things down or I find another simpler way to achieve the same end.

A year on and some of the bits lie in the cupboard and the slimmed down version is working well. Strange to tell, perhaps quite a while later I will re-use the odd idea and bit of prop for something quite unexpected and it finds its eventual home.

I find there's always aspects that need help and others which I expect to need help but don't.
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Mar 6, 2007 06:46PM)
I cary my show in a brief case, I have twice as many tricks as I need, and I am surprised that those who disagree with us are silent.
Al Angello
Message: Posted by: Smarty Pants (Mar 6, 2007 07:15PM)
I heard the late Billy McComb lecture once. He said that when he worked on the cruises, he would take lots of big boxes with him to the ship, as that is what the bookers expected. However, the boxes were empty. When he did his act, he worked out of a suitcase!
Message: Posted by: chris mcbrien (Mar 6, 2007 07:23PM)
Me too, Al.
It's like one of those "B" horror films...the strange pre-cursing silence.
(I can't wait until I can do my new Halloween show this Fall!)
I find myself making more and more of my own props as the years progress. I get these brainstorms and it's "off to Home Depot!". I still use a few very, very basic dealer props, but they're the truly utilitarian ones that you can use for many things. I just made a new contraption that the kids in my shows this week and last went absolutely nuts for.
I also carry extra tricks, "just in case" (that was just a plain bad pun). Sometimes I like to simply change things out last minute for a crowd I think a routine may be better suited to than the one originally planned...
Message: Posted by: Connor Scot (Mar 6, 2007 07:26PM)
Some great posts here.
Smarty Pants - I think we can all learn a lot from you. I would really like to see you're show one day.

Al angello - I wish I could carry my show in a briefcase. I certainly don't disagree with you - I am envious of anyone who can entertain with the minimum of bulky props. It takes far more talent!

Connor
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Mar 6, 2007 07:57PM)
Hey Connor
I just noticed you, welcome to the magic Café. The place where I learned how to hone my craft.
Al Angello
Message: Posted by: Smarty Pants (Mar 6, 2007 10:44PM)
Thank you, Connor. That has made my day. I have spent the last 24 hours on The Good News Forum, which turned out to be Bad News. LOL!
Message: Posted by: magickid1 (Mar 6, 2007 10:50PM)
Likely because you took a non-christian message over to a christian forum.
Not very prudent was it?

Hey Connor, where are you from?
Hey Smarty Pants, where are you from?

You two always seem to post within a short time of each other, just wondering if your in the same time zone or something?

Anyway, have a Jolly day.
Message: Posted by: Mike Brezler (Mar 6, 2007 11:16PM)
When I started performing for kids around four years ago I bought everything. I was new, nervous, and thought that was the way you do it. The last couple of years I have invented some of my own routines and expanded on some store bought tricks. Even more importantly is that I have created my own style of magic and persona. If the kids love you and you're entertaining and fun... the magic can become secondary.
Message: Posted by: Connor Scot (Mar 7, 2007 02:05AM)
Hello Al, Smarty and MagicKid. I am from Chesterfield in England - the little town with the crooked spire.

Mr Mike, I was just like you and for a couple of years I just bought all the biggest, most expensive props in the hope that they would do all the work for me. It was a bit of a revelation to me when a rope routine that I had been doing since I was 10 years old became the most talked about part of my show. This is probably because I relaxed more while doing it and I wasn't hiding behind a big prop.
I am trying to cut down the amount of stuff I carry now and sell my personality instead.
Message: Posted by: jakeg (Mar 7, 2007 04:45AM)
When I want to put something in my act I usually learn the routine that drew me to it in the first place. After doing it for awhile, it seems to naturally customize itself with additional bits of business and patter and eventually becomes my own ... maybe.
I know there there are a number of improv companies out there, but I have yet to see a successful Broadway show where the actors wrote their own scripts. Unthinkable.
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Mar 7, 2007 07:00AM)
Magickid1
You are new too, welcome to the magic Café. No matter what people tell you, I am not Roger.

Connor
Every year my equipment gets smaller, some day I will do it with what's in my pockets. HA HA HA
Al Angello
Message: Posted by: Smarty Pants (Mar 7, 2007 08:40AM)
It seems from this thread that the people who have been in magic longer are the ones who buy less props from the dealers, and create their own routines. It would be interesting to hear from some dealers as to whether they mainly sell their standard mass produced props to beginners or those who have been performing a number of years.
Message: Posted by: rossmacrae (Mar 7, 2007 11:18AM)
I can think of a few "cobbled together myself" items I couldn't do without:

Large-size STURDY Breakaway Fan (1-foot lengths of flat wooden molding, a bolt, striped cotton cloth, construction staples)

A "Bengal Net"-type story routine involving cartoons of 3 of birthday kid's friends cut out of vinyl upholstery fabric velcroed to a back cloth, that change to colorful (sewn-on) cutouts with a colorful smiling birthday kid in the middle. I'm fondest of the fact that it uses my favorite magic principle: if you had any idea what was gonna happen you'd see the 'secret' in plain view, but since you don't know what to watch you never catch the secret.

20th-Century Underpants.

20th-Century Cub Scout Neckerchief.

STURDY (and large enough) Mismade Flag.
Message: Posted by: Danny Hustle (Mar 7, 2007 11:36AM)
This is such a great thread! I have a good mix of store bought and made it myself props. I almost always throw in gags and bits as part of my routines as these are the things that makes my show unique to me. I rarely buy a prop and do it as described and I avoid "cookie cutter" routines that come with all the fixings like the plague. I do agree with Tony that these cookie cutter routines allow a beginning performer to at least make a go of it but I also see a lot of them buying the same prop (and routine) that their buddy got and they do them word for word. I think that hurts us all in a way because it makes the customer think we are often all the same.

I was talking about this with some friends not to long ago and I think it is unique to magic. If somebody hires a stand up comic, singer, band, accordion player, whatever, and they are awful, the customer says, "Boy that person was awful!" With magicians for some reason when they see a bad one they say, "I'll never hire a magician again! They are all awful!" I have actually had customers come up to me after a show to book me for their event and say, "Well, we had a magician for two years running and we swore we would never hire a magician again because they are all so awful. But, you were really good." And it is truly shocking to them that they saw a magician that they found entertaining. I really don't know what to make of it. Have any of you experienced this? It is so strange.

Best,

Dan-
Message: Posted by: Smarty Pants (Mar 7, 2007 12:43PM)
-With magicians for some reason when they see a bad one they say, "I'll never hire a magician again! They are all awful!" -

I get comments like this all the time, Danny. I am sure I will get slapped for saying this, because the truth often does hurt, but I think there are so many awful magicians out there. I get nearly all my shows through referrals. If someone is calling around and does not know me, and my fee is too high for them, I suggest they call other entertainers and ask them for references before they book. This helps elevate the standard, and one knows that the clients will be happy.
Message: Posted by: kimmo (Mar 8, 2007 04:24AM)
Why should you get slapped for saying that Smarty? You are not accusing anyone on here of being one of those bad magicians and I'm pretty sure we are all aware they exist. I get a lot of calls from people who want a ventriloquist 'because kids don't like magicians and clowns'. I can usually guess which ones in my area they've seen if they make a comment like that!
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Mar 8, 2007 08:05AM)
I agree, a bad children's entertainer will muddy the water for everyone else. The people that see him, or book him won't hire another entertainer for their future parties.

Until of course they go to a party and see a good one.
Message: Posted by: chris mcbrien (Mar 8, 2007 08:15AM)
I hear that comment all the time! There are bad ones around here who have been bad for years!!! I moved to where I am only a few years ago, and since then I've heard numerous horror stories about performers and they always are amazed to have found a "good magician"! Even though I still market well, many of my shows are simply referrals within social groups.
Very strange phenomena, but very true.
Chris
Message: Posted by: Smarty Pants (Mar 8, 2007 09:26AM)
I am glad we are all in agreement. So, does anyone have any ideas what we can do about the bad magicians and children's entertainers who are performing sub-standard shows in our area?
Message: Posted by: Danny Hustle (Mar 8, 2007 10:02AM)
I know in my area I am getting the work and they are not. I think that is the only thing you can really do. A lot of these guys (most of them as a matter of fact) have no idea how bad they are.

Some of them are marketing monsters though and that is where you run into the real problems. People can't book you if they don't know who you are.

Also because many of these guys market the heck out of themselves and are working when you try to pull them aside and help them out they get very defensive and arrogant.

Some of them will eventually get good for no other reason than repetition so that helps.

The funny thing is at least in my area (Boston) there is a big enough pie that the work has the potential to be there for a lot of performers as long as the bad ones do not poison the well.

Everybody has a bad day or a bad show but I have seen some of these guys die a thousand deaths and think they did a great job. In stand up comedy they call it laughing ears where a comic goes out and dies and comes off stage thinking they, "killed 'em". I see the same thing in magic. I really don't know if there is a way to convince somebody that they need improvement when they think they are, "killing 'em".

How can you contend with that attitude?

I just go out and try to do good work. I figure the cream should rise to the top. Outside of that I do not know if there is an answer.

Best,

Dan-
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Mar 8, 2007 10:34AM)
Dan
There are so many guys that think of it as easy money, so they buy some self working props, a how to be a magician course, how to market yourself as a magician course, and there you have it, a cookie cutter guy who doesn't even know he stinks.
Al Angello
Message: Posted by: Lewis Carroll (Mar 8, 2007 11:25AM)
Hi Everyone,

Of course, somewhere in the loft I still have my 1977 "Pan Book of Magic" that I studied every moment of my spare time on Summer Season as a Pianist in 1978 in North Wales for a certain Fred Pontin Holiday Camp. I then spent an arm and a leg with Edwin Hooper at Supreme Magic, Devon, England. Half of the stuff I bought I ended up never using. I had also been working with several magicians, and it was, rather naughtily on my part, unknown to them I was secretly very interested in the business. So not all of us have entered the art of children's entertainment totally untainted.

But I very, very quickly realised the responsibilities of the business. How people trust you, both with their children and in their homes; and how easily people paid out good money to you. I suddenly, within a matter of weeks, had moved from being a musician waiting for the next contract, or band or club job from an agent; - to a totally self supporting self-employed person with a rock solid business.

I think that lack of responsibility and reliability is an even greater sin than a beginner 'feeling their way' a bit, and not being 100% proficient in the art. Tony James will back me up on this, - we've had some absolute 'horrors' in the South Manchester/Cheshire areas of the UK over the decades. Some wonder there is anything left at all.

Yes, I too agree that one bad (or probably more to the point, UNSUITABLE) Magician taints everyone else for miles around

'cat'

http://www.soundclick.com/pianist
Message: Posted by: Smarty Pants (Mar 8, 2007 03:11PM)
-Of course, somewhere in the loft I still have my 1977 "Pan Book of Magic" that I studied every moment of my spare time on Summer Season as a Pianist in 1978 in North Wales for a certain Fred Pontin Holiday Camp-

Did Jan Kennedy book you at Pontins? Does Pontins and Butlins still exist? I believe they used to be prisoner of war camps for the captured Germans in the second world war!
Message: Posted by: TheAstonishingLarry (Mar 8, 2007 03:55PM)
Dan -

GREAT new avatar. I would have never guessed that your stage persona is what it is.

Regards,
Larry
Message: Posted by: Tony James (Mar 8, 2007 05:40PM)
You're going back Mr Pants.Jan and Jimmy Kennedy. Pontins and Butlins.

I think Jimmy still has connections with Camelot at Charnock Richard. Pontins was bought and sold and resold so often I lost touch. It's now all in the same ownership (Trevor Hemmings) as Blackpool Tower/Winter Gardens and the three piers - and Camelot.

Jan went her own way long ago and ended up running London Management. Billy Marsh then retired.

Now you must know London Management. Biggest company in Europe handling top acts - the conduit for the American stars coming over here. It just goes to show you the state of Light Entertainment in the UK today. London Management has folded. Not enough work about. And a high proportion of the star names here are unemployed. except Doddy of course. His show is on the road 50 weeks at a time.

Butlins exists as a brand but is a part of Haven Holidays and they were originally a modest family holiday concern. Ended up owning Butlins.

Strange to relate the Squires Gate Holiday Camp between Blackpool and St Annes was built on spec by a developer in 1936 so it was right at the start of the movement for all-in family holidays. Somewhere I've a prospectuous for it.

It was sold and finished for a Japenese company who ran it as a holiday camp until it was taken over for military use at the outbreak of war in 1939. Soon as we decalired war on Japan - ie the very instant Japan attacked America - the camp was naturally seized - that very morning is what I'm saying - as alien property and newer returned. How Fred got it afterwards I'm not sure.

After the war there was rusting barbed wire all along the main wall and up the side wall and it stayed for thirty years. They claimed it was to keep people OUT but we knew - it was to keep the holidaymakers IN!!!!
Message: Posted by: Lewis Carroll (Mar 8, 2007 05:46PM)
[quote]
On 2007-03-08 16:11, Smarty Pants wrote:
Did Jan Kennedy book you at Pontins? Does Pontins and Butlins still exist? I believe they used to be prisoner of war camps for the captured Germans in the second world war!
[/quote]

Good question. No it was Jim Kennedy then. I was in touch with Jan Kennedy by e-mail last year - still in the agency business somewhere in London. Did 4 seasons for them as a Pianist - 77 to 80. Three at Prestatyn (not bad) 1 at Southport (awful). I think the old Morecambe camp may have been an Italian POW camp, - not too sure.

Thought it was Bourne Leisure that bought out Butlins Tony. They were a tiny Company in the mid 80s we used to do Magic Shows for.

'cat'

http://www.soundclick.com/pianist
Message: Posted by: Smarty Pants (Mar 11, 2007 05:02PM)
So many of the summers shows used to be booked by Jon Conway. Is Barrie Stacey still putting on Pantos? Does JME still exist? Does anyone know what I am talking about? What happened to The Bailey Organisation? Does Reg Webb still book kids entertainers onto cruise ships? Has Ken Dodd paid his taxes yet?
Message: Posted by: Tony James (Mar 11, 2007 06:18PM)
Mr Dodd has always paid his taxes. Not his fault if the tax people got it wrong. However I notice he isn't doing quite so much these days. In general, I think, he only works Wednesday through to Sunday except those weeks when he also works Monday and Tuesday. And still he packs them into the theatres.

The Bailey org has gone I think unless they still exist under some other name. certainly all their clubs have closed. there aren't any big clubs any more. There aren't many working mens clubs any longer.


I will send you a link for pantomime - here you will find almost all the pantomimes of any note in the UK.

http://www.its-behind-you.com/

You should find Jon Conway here running QDOS,

I think Reg Webb may have retired.

Bourne leisure - you're right Cat but I also think they and Haven are now one. I may be wrong. Too many buy outs to keep track of.
Message: Posted by: Smarty Pants (Mar 12, 2007 11:00AM)
Getting back to topic, it would be interesting to learn if those who do use dealers props re-do the props to make them unique to themselves. In other words, if you get a wooden or metal prop that everyone else uses, do you repaint it? If you get a fabric prop, do you alter it by adding to it(say by sewing on moons and stars if appropriate)? If you have a dealer's puppet, do you dress it up to look different?

It is my opinion that instructions and patter provided by dealers is frequently very poor. There are exceptions to this, although I have to say I have never seen a dealer's instructions compare with those of Ken Brooke.
Message: Posted by: Tony James (Mar 12, 2007 12:22PM)
Ken Brooke of course wasn't a children's entertainer nor supplier of children's material. Edwin Hooper was and in that sense I would say Edwin was the KB of the children's material. Read Edwin's instructions and you can visualise the effect unfolding before you.

I wouldn't say I often used his scripts, odd lines from them maybe, but I would find my own words - and sequences too - because I combine effects using the props as a vehicle. I imagine many pros do that. The props then become an incidental.

Metal and wood and plastic will redecorate. Adding elements personalises too and can even mask the original. Puppets too I have remade for magical use.

Of course cardboard items - especially picture effects - are very hard to change or personalise as they are often an entity in themselves.

The secret is not to purchase an item that is already over popular and if you already have, don't use it. Put it to the back of the cupboard and when everyone else has worn it out and it's no longer flavour of the year, then bring it out.

Unused cardboard props from Supreme now fetch quite a lot of money. Those who saw what was on the cards invested in duplicates and more of favourite effects before the company went under. I drove down to Supreme with a wad of cash and sorted out my needs. Thank goodness I did.

If you are an experienced children's entertainer you will know that some effects can be successfully presented by anyone whilst others prove difficult to get anything out of. That's sometimes due to the effect being poor and it will never do anything with anyone but that's quite unusual.

More likely the effect is one for the skilled entertainer and the less skilled will drop it. In the UK these difficult effects end up unwanted in sales and magic auctions and that's where you will sometimes strike lucky.

I've bought a number of strange, oddball, surreal effects which require a surreal understanding to be able to get anything out of it. I find children have a very strong sense of the ridiculous and respond well to surreal material.

That's how I overcome the 'seen it' syndrome and why so many say my work is 'refreshingly different.'
Message: Posted by: Smarty Pants (Mar 14, 2007 12:59AM)
You are correct as (almost) always, Tony. Ken's props were almost entirely for adult audiences. Edwin did have some excellent routines for his children's props, even though I personally found some of the patter suggestions to be a trifle corny!

Back to my original topic. The thread on PB&J was an interesting example of what this creativity thread I started is all about. It amazes me that just because it says in the instructions to give out a sandwich to a child, that if you do not do so, you somehow have to abandon the trick! The possibilities with this routine are endless, as has been demonstrated by certain professionals who have learnt over the years to think out of the box!
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (Mar 14, 2007 03:16AM)
Surely there is a natural progression towards unique presentations as a performer becomes more experienced. For instance, "At the Zoo" is a great kids' effect, so is "Farmyard Frolicks", "Pet STore Pranks" and "Lovey Duck". They are all basically the same, and it would be tough to come up with significantly original patter for any of these routines, as there is a logic to the effect which fits the storyline. A novice performer would be well advised to include one of these effects in his younger kids' show. Using the routines would build confidence and ability, as well as bringing in the laughs and reactions. But after some time, none of these routines beat (say) the Magic Drawing Board, or a good puppet routine. So one would imagine that a seasoned performer would eventually stop using these "beginners" effects, and replace them with more involved routines. Even so, new and original routines can be developed for many ,if not most, effects, and someone with enough experience is going to have worked out original presentations.
My preference as I've state before is to give the kids a bit of everything, and that includes at least one or two BIG props in my shows. Favourite has to be Wolf's Magic products, which are real eye-candy. The Wacky Weasel, for instance, gives you the puppetry of Rocky Raccoon, the "look don't see" element like "Farmyard Frolicks", the comedy routine as Jack Hughes' Snake Basket, as well as other bits such as the thrashing bag. For me to produce something like this myself, is not going to happen. I'm not a prop maker, and am sure I never will be. If a magic item is sold in limited quantities, I'm not going to worry that other performers are using the same, or a similar routine. It's all about knowing what's the BEST for your own show.....but I will concede, from experience, I find the best routines for me are usually the ones I've written myself - those get the biggest laughs, and of course, are the most original.
Message: Posted by: Smarty Pants (Mar 14, 2007 10:44AM)
-but I will concede, from experience, I find the best routines for me are usually the ones I've written myself - those get the biggest laughs, and of course, are the most original-

An excellent post, Potty. The last sentence is very significant, though. I believe this is true for most professionals. The best routines are the ones you have written yourself, because you know yourself better than anyone else does. The routines come from the heart and soul of Potty! They are not written by someone who thinks they know what Potty is all about. They may never have met Potty. We are all unique. So let us strive as we progress in this profession, to be more creative and original.
Message: Posted by: Tony James (Mar 14, 2007 07:48PM)
I can never make my mind up whether the dealers have been a benefit to children's entertainment or not. It's not the props I'm referring to. We've bought props from magic dealers for a very very long time.

But until the last let's say 50 years, props came with a scrap of paper explaining the mechanics and warning of handling methods to avoid damage. And that was about it.

Made you think and be creative. I hope I still am and others too. But what has killed creativity has been the provision of step-by-step routines. No one has to think to produce a reasonable, middle of the road acceptable performance.

I understand the arguments and you're right - they have helped improve standards and they'vre opened some peoples minds. But only some.

I do get the impression reading posts that a lot of people appear to be struggling to do more than open the box and copycat. I suspect that's why some people appear to be struggling with the basics.

I also believe that's lead in the UK to something of a rejection od tradfitional magical entertainmnet at children's parties. In some areas anyway.
Message: Posted by: chris mcbrien (Mar 14, 2007 08:22PM)
Scripting is one of my favorite things to do...to create original material that's customized to my character. Performing, to the letter, pre-done routines...in my mind.... cheats the performer. And perhaps the client? If someone else comes in to that venue and does the same exact routine, word for word...what does that say to the client? What questions come to mind?
"Gee, I guess anyone can just go out and buy some routines".
I still like to get ideas from the routines, but ultimately I know that my show is like...say...a painting. You know an artists work by their choice of color, the types of brushstrokes they use, the materials and the subject matter. Why would a person want to buy a "paint by numbers" when they can get an original, one of a kind piece of art?
Just a thought.
Chris
Message: Posted by: jakeg (Mar 14, 2007 09:09PM)
If you look at the posts in any number of forums, you'll find that almost nobody admits to performing a routine as written, so obviously nobody does. <g> If you have the talent to be original and funny, more power to you, but I've seen some pretty poor entertainers with no scripts at all, whose audience would be much better off if they at least learned the script as written instead of sounding like a cooking show. 'Now I put this in here, then I close the top, then I shake it up ....'
Message: Posted by: Connor Scot (Mar 15, 2007 09:22AM)
[quote]
On 2007-03-14 22:09, jakeg wrote:
If you look at the posts in any number of forums, you'll find that almost nobody admits to performing a routine as written, so obviously nobody does. <g> If you have the talent to be original and funny, more power to you, but I've seen some pretty poor entertainers with no scripts at all, whose audience would be much better off if they at least learned the script as written instead of sounding like a cooking show. 'Now I put this in here, then I close the top, then I shake it up ....'
[/quote]

You are absolutely right. My fave was on local television here in England. There was the worst clown you have ever seen performing tricks in exactly that manner in front of a school. Rather than sounding like a script it was mor like a catalog description. The best line was at the end of a trick with a big die where he said to absolutely no applause or audience reaction:

'now as you can see - the dice is cylindrical and all the spots are elongated.'
Message: Posted by: harris (Mar 15, 2007 11:31AM)
Someone said...you have to bomb to get good.

This nearly normal guy did not come out of the entertainment gates winning the Kentucky Derby.

HL. Deutsch...still green in magic so I can grow....
Message: Posted by: jakeg (Mar 15, 2007 12:49PM)
[quote]
On 2007-03-15 12:31, Harris wrote:
Someone said...you have to bomb to get good.
This nearly normal guy did not come out of the entertainment gates winning the Kentucky Derby.

When a diner gets a lousy meal in one restaurant he might not go there again, but he still goes out to eat. Many clients who get a lousy show say 'we had a magician last year and the kids didn't enjoy him. Let's not get another one.' As in any other business endeavor, we should be adequately skilled before charging for our services. With the Internet at our disposal and so many resources available, there is no lack of help or good advise.
Message: Posted by: harris (Mar 15, 2007 01:20PM)
I agree Jake G....30 years ago, I started too soon.
We didn't have the Café or other on line resources back then.

Along the way theatre, dance, radio, improv and other non magic sources helped this nearly normal guy.

hl deutsch
Message: Posted by: Smarty Pants (Mar 16, 2007 10:11AM)
-But until the last let's say 50 years, props came with a scrap of paper explaining the mechanics and warning of handling methods to avoid damage. And that was about it.-

Good point, Tony. I wonder if the dealers would be doing us a greater favor if they gave us just the mechanics of the trick with no routine or patter. This would allow our creative juices to flow from the moment the prop arrives on the doorstep. And what about DVD's? Not only do we get the whole routine and patter, but we also see another magician's complete presentation, all ready for us to copy. It is all too easy, in my opinion. I say, if you must buy from a dealer, open the package, but do not look at the DVD or instructions for six months. Build it from the ground upwards. Be your own person. In six months, by all means check the DVD and instructions, and if you pick up any little tips, add them then.
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Mar 16, 2007 10:21AM)
Maybe it's just me, but if I had to use someone else's words it would no longer be fun for me, and eventually I would seek other employment.
Al Angello
Message: Posted by: harris (Mar 16, 2007 10:45AM)
As a nearly normal actor (in Theatre) I can still have fun with other peoples words. As a Laughologist sharing my own show, I do a mix of both.(with the emphasis on my own sharing.)

On my reading table last year..Zen and the Art of the Monologue. (Jay S.)

h.l. deutsch
Message: Posted by: chris mcbrien (Mar 16, 2007 10:49AM)
If I had to use someone elses script I'd feel sick. I did'nt go to college, bust my bu** in writing, comedy, drama and "everything else you need" classes, go out and get my chops in live theater and all the other stuff to do someone elses lines. I'm not going to judge those who do lines from the directions, that's not my business. I just can't do it myself. I have to agree with Al, if I could'nt write and do my own lines, I'd quit. I'm not going to say I"m not INSPRIRED by other's lines, I am. All artists are influenced by someone at sometime. that's why I won't judge those who use other scripts. I used Bill Shakespeares' scripts for years...borrowed every line in there!
Best,
Chris
Message: Posted by: Tony James (Mar 16, 2007 04:33PM)
We may not use other people's scripts Chris but plenty of others do. That's why dealers provide the full works.

You can buy today and do it tomorrow. That's what sells magic in volume. For me it's easy. Full blown scripts/presentations didn't exist over here when I came up and in any case, I came up through the theatre. I was surrounded by people who were pros.

But a lot of people do buy the trick and the video and copycat. That's about their limit and it sells magic for the dealer.

Other young people who haven't been exposed to the business from childhood and haven't mixed with pros from all entertainment disciplines, for them it's been a Godsend. They can go out there knowing nothing of the business and make an average fist of it. Better that than making a mess of it.

It still bothers me though. When I look at some of the questions people ask here I wonder what they have between their ears. Creative thought processes seem to be non-existent. they constantly ask other people to tell them what to do.

Look, is a cooker and plater of fast food a creative chef? No, of course not. But surely, better that than letting them loose with a greasy spoon as we call them. It's the same thing.

Chefs are creative, basing their work on classical dishes. Fast food outlets finish pre-prepared food to a formula. It's all food. Well, the fast food outlets appear to think their's is food. I'm not so sure.

The sad thing is when the market finds difficulty knowing the one from the other.
Message: Posted by: Smarty Pants (Mar 16, 2007 05:50PM)
Bingo Tony James!
Message: Posted by: drkptrs1975 (Mar 17, 2007 07:56AM)
Both.
Message: Posted by: Smarty Pants (Mar 17, 2007 10:58AM)
I am sorry. What do you mean by "both" drkptrs1975?
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (Mar 17, 2007 02:15PM)
I think everyone has to accept times are changing. Children's Magicians are a fairly modern invention. The first generations have now grown old and left the field to newcomers. But all the ideas, gags, routines, etc, are still remembered. Inevitably some of those routines will still be performed for many years to come. There is a local magician who does a lovely cigarette routine, I think it's called "One Last Cigarette", and I'm sure someone can tell us who originally did the routine. The point is, he's learned this old routine which another magician invented. It's a funny routine with no patter, just music. No doubt he's changed bits and pieces, but in essence he is giving his audiences great entertainment using someone else's material
I think that's fine, it's what he wants to do. Entertainment is about just that - entertaining. So long as you keep your audiences happy, you are doing your job. Creativity comes a long way down the list of important qualities for entertainers, I suppose sadly so.
I would prefer to always use my own material, but I do in fact sometimes use routines I've bought. But I hope that my own personality and style is more important than any of the actual routines anyway. And inevitably, each routine will change to fit your own style over time.
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (Mar 17, 2007 02:59PM)
Thinking further about the question - remember that in many fields of performing the artistes pretty much always perform someone else's material. Actors, opera and musical singers, TV dramas, etc. Of course, a variety entertainer is almost obliged to create his own show, and the logical assumption would be that the best show would be one the performer has created, with all original material. But also a collection of material gathered from other sources works. This has always been done, many of us buy the same props, routines have always been copied, altered, and refined. I find it sensible not to judge, but simply to try to see where we're heading. No doubt, it's the quality of our own show which should concern us the most, not that of others.
Even so, as it's possible to buy ready-to-go routines these days, and killer ones at that, many people with theatrical training can now learn such routines. With so many actors out of work, it's always surprised me that more don't try, but of course, being a kids' entertainer probably sounds naff if you've been to RADA. My belief is that many actors would easily find themselves very capable if they adopted this approach.
The real issue, creativity, is clearly the heart of the matter. But there is as much work in a creative presentation to an audience as there is in preparation.
Audiences will appreciate the end result, how it was achieved is no matter to them really. As performers we naturally would likely respect someone more if they created their own material. Perhaps. Then again, thinking about Mark Lewis, maybe I'm wrong there too....
Message: Posted by: Smarty Pants (Mar 17, 2007 07:22PM)
-Audiences will appreciate the end result, how it was achieved is no matter to them really. As performers we naturally would likely respect someone more if they created their own material. Perhaps. Then again, thinking about Mark Lewis, maybe I'm wrong there too.... -

I would certainly agree that The Bongo Hat is a masterpiece, and his routine is the best I have read. However, even variations on it would be advisable if you want to make it totally unique. The mutiplying wands he suggests are an excellent idea, but why not come up with your own funny wands?

Do some of you actually call your racoon Rocky?

Do you use magic words that you have copied from others?

If you buy a prop from a dealer at a convention, and the dealer says "This is what you must do"...do you believe him?

There are a wealth of wonderful props out there. Many of them can be purchased from the best magic shops. Toys are us, Ross, TJ Max, The Home Depot, to name a few. Most of them won't break the bank, either! Even the Bongo Hat is easily remade to fit your own art work.
Message: Posted by: Tony James (Mar 20, 2007 06:15PM)
I have found that dealers in the UK with a good prop tend to put a routine which often is a bog standard series of events which go wrong before the finale when the result comes right.

Nothing wrong with that but if you're not careful you'll find you've bought a run of effects with a similar line. If I'm that attracted by the prop I'll go and think and if I can see another route I'll buy. In the past I've bought on appeal and ened up not finding a way through which works for me. I get more careful as I get older. Still make mistakes though!
Message: Posted by: Smarty Pants (Mar 22, 2007 12:00PM)
There has been a lot of discussion on the Café about those entertainers who work out of a suitcase, and those who lug trunks full of dealers standard colorful wooden and metal props into a show. There is no right or wrong to this, but do you think children actually notice if you have large colorful props, and fancy painted tables? I don't believe they do. The magic is in YOU, the performer, not in the props. The props are merely a vehicle to project the wonderful, larger than life personality of you the performer. You will be the one to amaze the little ones, to make them laugh, and to make them happy. You will be the one they want to invite back year after year to entertain at their birthday party. It has little to do with your props. They will not be inviting your props back....they will be inviting you back. Get Creative!
Message: Posted by: Tony James (Mar 22, 2007 01:47PM)
Yes - you're right. But.........

There's more to it than that. Your table and its contents is your shop window. It can achieve two things.

1. Interest and curiosity and even suspense with the children. That's why it's so important not to put out on display something you will not or may not use.

Keep props like that hidden. Display only what you will definitely use or you will cause great disappointment.

2. Credibility and confidence with the booker and any potential bookers. They are not going to be bothered what you do but the fact that a smart table and sufficient interesting looking props are on show boosts your credibility. It looks good, makes you look good and gives the booker confidence. So they relax.

Should anyone disagrees with that then we had better start discussing whether it matters if your cloths are smart? I saw a video recently of a magician working in scruffy shorts, T shirt and trainers for goodness sake. He hadn't even bothered to shave his legs! Disgusting!!

Do you need a bag full of big flashy props - NO. Certainly not. Counterproductive. Overkill and the laws of diminishing returns apply.

People who go in for overkill clearly do not understand the principles of performance structure.

One major piece is all you need in a one hour performance (or 45 minutes if you're not up to doing the full hour).
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (Mar 22, 2007 02:21PM)
I agree that your appearance, and the appearance of your props and set, are very important. Think of going to the theatre, the set creates the scene, and that's what a magician or entertainer can do also. Personally, I think there's no wrong or right to this question. I just want to put on a show that appeals in many different ways, and having a couple of big zany props is designed to give my show extra visual interest, and to arouse curiosity among the audience.
For instance, my flag machine is worked by three different kids from the audience, which brings the whole group in, and gets everyone involved with the action. By contrast, when I play my guitar and sing, all eyes are on me, and attention is focussed in a different way.
I believe getting the audience to watch the performer intently, then allowing them to take in the whole scenario, with several kids getting involved, creates a healthy contrast in presentation. It softens the performers personality, and diffuses the intensity of the performance.
Message: Posted by: Tony James (Mar 22, 2007 07:44PM)
Exactly.
Message: Posted by: Smarty Pants (Mar 26, 2007 01:36AM)
There have been some excellent posts on this thread. However, I would love folks here to go deeper into the thought process of putting together a show for children. I am amazed to see from some people on here that the first questions are what tricks are they going to buy, from what dealers, and how much are they going to spend? In my eyes, this is all so unimportant. I truly see it like an artist with a blank canvas and a paint brush. When I create my show, which is always evolving, I go far beyond a series of tricks. It is more like a play, a production. It builds, it grows. I shall expand on this priceless information in greater detail when I have heard from others who have either been in the business many years, or ar just starting out on the adventure.
Message: Posted by: mystic shriner (Mar 26, 2007 09:32AM)
Perhaps those who are the "others who have either been in the business many years" don't want to share with those who are getting started. What do you think when beginners get on here and basically ask for an entire routine for a prop they "just had to get"....perhaps even because someone they want to copy or consider a "competitor" has...and now they're at a loss on what to do with it.
Message: Posted by: Connor Scot (Mar 26, 2007 06:06PM)
I'm relatively new to this forum but its clear to me that there are a few guys on here who are really generous with their advice and others who only show up to ask what routines they should buy to make them great kid's entertainers. I've been working very hard recently on some original material for my act and I will gladly share it with anyone on here who is interested. This has been a great thread!
Message: Posted by: Smarty Pants (Mar 27, 2007 12:55AM)
Mystic Shriner..... that is a terrific, and dare I say creative Avatar. I notice you appear to have the same taylor as Dennis Michael! I have always been interested in the use of the bow tie in connection with children's entertainment. When I first started entertaining children, I wore a traditional black bow tie. Then I got adventurous, and invested in a red one. Then I had a bow tie that lit up. Then I had one that twirled. Then I had one that squirted water at the kids. Then I had a pop-up tie. It would be interesting to know how many children's entertainers still wear bow ties. I have discarded mine, and replaced it with a cravatte. Old fashioned....yes. However, the kids appear to find it enchanting!

Connor..........Yes, this is indeed turning into a great thread. What do you wear when you perform for kids?
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Mar 27, 2007 08:28AM)
I must agree, that's a weirdly brilliant avatar. Somewhere between insanity and genius. Connor does all the right tricks but not necessarily in the right order....

SP wrote:
"There has been a lot of discussion on the Café about those entertainers who work out of a suitcase, and those who lug trunks full of dealers standard colorful wooden and metal props into a show. There is no right or wrong to this, but do you think children actually notice if you have large colorful props, and fancy painted tables? I don't believe they do."

I agree with Tony's take on this.
A good entertainer should be able to do an act out of a suitcase but it doesn't mean they have to. We all know (or should know) that you're not going to get a great act by merely throwing money at it and buying fancy props. But colourful and intriguing props do have their uses for even the most experienced and professional entertainer.

On top of the reasons Tony mentioned, they can be a simple focus and talking point for your show. Billy Connolly once did an encore where he joked about the fact that everyone would go home telling there friends how funny he was but when they where asked what he actually said they wouldn't be able to tell them. I think this goes even more so for children. You may have a really funny rope routine that has the kids in hysterics but when they tell their parents about it I bet all they'll really be able to say is "It was great, he had this piece of rope and he was really funny".

My act finishes with the my raccoon escaping in a car. I get a couple of good laughs from it and about 30 seconds of entertainment whereas with most of my simpler props I get lots of big laughs and an extended routine but [b]it is the most mentioned part of my show when people book me[/b]. I believe this is because it's something that sticks in the childrens' mind and they can easily explain. They say to their parents "he has a weasel that drives a car" and the parents think "That, I'd like to see!"
I'd assume the same goes for "He drew a picture and it came alive"
Or "he caught my card with a dead chicken"

George
Message: Posted by: chris mcbrien (Mar 27, 2007 08:35AM)
Mystic Shriner's avatar seems to have dissappeared....would have liked to have seen it again.
I think being unique/orginal with the skills to entertain really hones it down to it's bare basics. If you have to rely solely on big boxes and props to keep their interest without having an entertaining personality, you're not an entertainer...your'e like Vanna White on Wheel of Fortune turning letters and smiling...except you don't look as good as her.
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Mar 27, 2007 08:45AM)
I think Smarty Pants was actually talking about Connor's Avatar not Mystic Shriners.
Message: Posted by: mystic shriner (Mar 27, 2007 08:53AM)
I think he was, too! Besides, I look like death warmed over with a vulture on my head. What's so special about that?
Hacks: here's a bit of advice. When you get a new prop: THROW THE INSTRUCTIONS AWAY OR HIDE THE INSTRUCTIONS. It's nice to get help on a place like this, but you have to put yourself into your act...not someone else. Besides, who writes most of the instructions? Sometimes they're good, and written by an entertainer...and sometimes they're written by some magic manufacturer who obviously has no contact with the public in the way of performing magic.
Message: Posted by: Connor Scot (Mar 27, 2007 09:34AM)
[quote]
On 2007-03-27 09:28, magicgeorge wrote:
Connor does all the right tricks but not necessarily in the right order....

[/quote]

Thanks sunshine. Your Raccoon in a car bit sounds fantastic! Very creative and memorable.
Message: Posted by: Smarty Pants (Mar 27, 2007 10:41AM)
I was most definitely talking about Mystic Shriner's avatar, George. Yesterday he had the same taylor as Connor Scott, and today he appears to be wearing a can of ravioli on his head, covered in ape fur. However, I notice Connor has also entered the shriner taylor establishment, and looks just as dapper as Mr. Shriner looked yesterday. As this thread is all about creativity, I am delighted to see that the topic remains on topic. How do people feel about a red jacket with a black bow tie, and red spectacles? Could be a winner!
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Mar 29, 2007 08:14AM)
Oops, sorry Mr Doddy Pants, you are quite correct, I hadn't noticed the game of tag-team avatar gag going on.
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Mar 29, 2007 07:17PM)
It amazes me that six months ago the jumbo prop magicians ruled, and now the jumbo talent magicians rule. Last year you either loved Silly Billy, or hated him. There have been times when if you didn't buy the latest DVD's, with the newest routines, or marketing strategy you were doomed, and during each of these era's anyone that disagreed with the loudest voices were stupid. I think it is time for the amatures to be quiet, and learn from the serious professionals, instead of arguing with them.
MY OPINION
Al Angello
Message: Posted by: Payne (Mar 29, 2007 07:33PM)
[quote]
On 2007-03-29 20:17, Al Angello wrote:

I think it is time for the amatures to be quiet, and learn from the serious professionals, instead of arguing with them.
MY OPINION
Al Angello

[/quote]

Yes it's long past time to start seeking advice from those workers down in the trenches so to speak.

In fact April's edition of MAGIC has a brilliant and super creative routine described in David Kayes column (on page 92) that everyone can learn a valuable lesson from.

I couldn't have come up with a better routine had I written it myself :)
Message: Posted by: chris mcbrien (Mar 30, 2007 08:37AM)
Hear, hear, Al!
I still get pm's from amateurs who want to know this or that about routining. My question to them: did'nt you actually go to school to learn how to write this material? If you did'nt go to school, have'nt you gone out to get the experience yourself?...or read books on the material you need to produce?
"Magicians helping magicians": Helping sometimes means a kick in the rear end of hacks and amateurs and telling them to stop asking so much, listen, and work like we did to develop your OWN material that's uniquely YOU...not us.
I disagree with those who say "the audience does'nt care or know".
I, my friends, am CHANGING THIS AS WE SPEAK. I now am educating my clients and audiences so they know the difference in ways that...well, if your'e a trained professional...you'll know will be sufficient to sound the death nell of those hacks out there that would try and take MY income from MY family.
What's great is that I get more for my shows and more shows than any of my area competitors...but I NEVER CALL ANYONE. They call me!
If you're good, they CALL YOU. Some pros call, I don't...my choice.
So if you're starting out, and TRULY want to live and respect this art form...which is what it is and what you'll think of it as if you are truly respectful and belong in it...you'll listen to people like Al, Danny Hustle, Kimmo (an upcoming star who should have written a book by now and is courageious enought to post his act on youtube...only a worthless hack would copy it)...Jolly Roger (and I'll say his name on this forum until Kingdom Come...the man is a legend in children's entertainment and needs to be respected...you can ban him, but respect him!), Silly Billy (Kaye),David Ginn, Bobo, Trixie Bond, Tim Hannig, Ken Scott, Tony James, Regan, George (The KING of children's entertainment in Ireland...in an area where making a living at our art form is...I can only guess from my experience...is NOT easy...he should be commended!), Payne, Lyndell, Potty and so many others on here who obviously have worked hard to be the very best they can be....
stop asking what to do with a prop you just bought because "everyone else is getting one" and listen to those who can walk into a room and entertain with whatever they lay their hands on...
Now I'll get off my soap box.....
And if you want to flame me....how "small" of you.
BTW: I'm not badmouthing any of the magic prop sponsors here...and I'm grateful to them for being here. I just want to see a drive towards unique creativity that can turn those here who genuinely want to learn to be better, myself included, into even better performers.
And now this professional, full-time, chops-from-hell entertainer is going off to work for 500 kids....HAVE FUN AND GOD BLESS!
Message: Posted by: James Munton (Mar 30, 2007 10:30AM)
“The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.”
Albert Einstein.

I think the biggest problem with kids performers is that they spend too much time thinking about tricks and not enough time thinking about their character.

I loved Smarty Pants question about Rocky the Racoon. I would go further and ask "why do you even have a racoon in your show?"

You can have the best tricks in the world, but unless you make your character memorable, you'll always be just another magician.

Best,
James
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Mar 30, 2007 12:11PM)
Spoken like a true Englishmen.

Hey James
I won't be going to the DC convention, I've had several offers that I could not refuse.
Al Angello
Message: Posted by: Tony Webs (Mar 30, 2007 05:12PM)
Hello
Iv'e just read this thread and firstly I would like to say a big thankyou. Maybe I've past the odd word here and there on this forum that you've seen, I recognise some of your pictures, my name is Tony Webs and I have spent some time developing different types of short acts , some I've used for children but this being from a small stage and only doing a few minutes. Ive worked on my acts , all of them from the ground up and it has taken me along time with a lot of effort. Im glad that you all feel the way you do about creativity, I was starting to think that the magic industry was going to be full of 'buy the next trick junkies' until its novelty wears off and then onto the next.
I like the mention about the cruise work and carrying large empty boxes, for you see in the past my number and size of props grew.During the last several years I managed to redesign and create new material so I just have a case or two. I deliberatly designed my props with this in mind. From my understaning of the matter I think that if we are inpursuit of being real magicians and if one truely were they would carry no props and create the experiences that the audience would want by using anything at hand, by making our own props and using little well I believe this to be a happy ground in becoming real magicians. ( oops you could argue this as a good case for us becoming sole hypnotists, but then Ive never met one who can hypnotise hallusinations on a mass scale. Or at least iv'e never recognised the difference.)
From
Tony Webs
Message: Posted by: Tom Riddle (Sep 10, 2007 05:14PM)
I have just come across this old thread, and it really is extremely good. However, it does seem that a few months on there are still many here on the Café who are far more interested in the latest dealers props and DVD's that are out there, than they are in creating their own material and routines. I think that is rather a shame.
Message: Posted by: AshleyW (Sep 10, 2007 05:43PM)
Here we go again...
worried about what others are doing.

****************
And BTW if you believe that why did you post this:
http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/search_post.php?topic=222279&forum=17&post=5205819

Seems rather contradictory. Must have been said for a different reason then.
Message: Posted by: Tom Riddle (Sep 10, 2007 06:28PM)
Very simple, Ashley. Ridiculous Ravioli is not a standard, mass produced dealers prop. It lends itself to great creativity on the part of the performer. The inventor is a performer first, and a dealer second. You are not supplied with all the props(such as tins), as this is left to the imagination of the performer. With the instructions that come with the effect there is much talked about the performer using his creative juices to make the best routine that is unique to him.
Message: Posted by: AshleyW (Sep 11, 2007 07:51AM)
But you can do that with ANY item. Your argument makes no sense.
Buy ANY product, throw away the instructions and use your own creativity.
Or better yet, if you are actually creative, you won't buy anyone's junk at all.

You say that it's a shame that people get the latest props, and yet you try to sell others the latest item in passe/passe effect (which is old as magic itself), by touting the R.R. product. Again, that is contradictory.

Either you are creative or not, you cannot say that that one can only be creative by buying product X.
Doesn't work.
Message: Posted by: chris mcbrien (Sep 11, 2007 09:12AM)
I think Tom was simply complimenting a particular effect, which is not exactly getting "lost in the latest". He's simply laying down a compliment. BTW: Ridiculous Ravioli is NOT a new product. It was put out by Mr. Blakiston (or Blake) over a year ago? It's been a while. Now if you want to talk about "advertising", Blake defintely knows how to do that...and Tom is by far ONLY laying down a compliment in comparrison.
I also don't think he states anywhere that you can only be creative by buying product X.
Complimenting is not "selling" BTW.
R.R. really is not a standard dealer item, as it's not mass-marketed to magic shops and must be ordered only through the manufacturer, as are many other magic props out there.
It could appear that Tom is contradictory or it could not, depending on your knowledge of what a "newest and latest" and "common dealers item" is.
While I have nothing personal against either of you, I find it frustrating that we can't just move along here.
Can we? Please?
Message: Posted by: Tom Riddle (Sep 11, 2007 09:41AM)
Well said Chris! Now I must pour myself a Tio Pepe, and take the underground to Selfridges to get ideas for a new act I am doing with water-pistols.
Message: Posted by: todd75 (Sep 11, 2007 09:57AM)
Wow! This is a great post!

One thing that I have seen through the years is that a lot of entertainers use the same props that everyone else uses. What else is worse than showing up for a show and having the kids say, "I've seen this one before." Most of the time they are right, they have seen it a million times and know what is going to happen. The coloring book, peanut butter and jelly, professors nightmare, etc. are all great routines but they have been OVER EXPOSED!

I for one like to build a lot of my props and design them to do what I want them to do. Don't get me wrong, there are many many many great props and many great dealers out there to buy from. However, anyone can buy these, read the instructions, print a business card and call themselves an entertainer.

Creativity is not something anyone can buy...period! It is something that YOU come up with and make work for YOU and no-one else. I do have some things that I have bought and used in my shows with great results. However, I like to take them apart, repaint them so they at least look different and make something new out of them that works for me and my character.

A few months ago I decided I was tired of hauling around a suitcase table and decided to downsoze my show without taking any quality away. I now have my entire show in one suitcase and a small carrying bag. I have forced myself to be creative and find things that work for me. The result has been great! I now take only 2 minutes to setup, 30 seconds to pack and my show has gotten better.
Message: Posted by: AshleyW (Sep 11, 2007 11:36AM)
Chris, no one said in was a NEW product. (as you put it)
It's alright, we already know where you stand, you have made that clear.
http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/search_post.php?topic=187013&forum=17&post=4809036

My point remains, "Mr. Riddle" cannot seem to post without eluding to his opinion of someone's inferiority or highlighting a certain (un-named) person's products. And I think it damages this board.

Thanks.
Message: Posted by: chris mcbrien (Sep 11, 2007 12:20PM)
Ashley,
Grow up. This is a board where people should be able to express themselves without someone constantly being on their backs.

Todd,
Can you share with us more on the psychology that encouraged you to pack smaller?

Let's keep this positve so we can learn.
Message: Posted by: MrFye (Sep 11, 2007 01:23PM)
I use a lot of things which I have purchased from dealers with great results. I feel that my creativity comes through with the words that I use while performing. I admire these people who are so creative that they invent all there own magic. Are you people constantly inventing? What about repeat shows? If the things you invent are truly original maybe you should think about marketing your best stuff. I am also an inventor being the only person in the world to receive a U.S. patent for a magic wand. People love my wand and I love their inventions. We share. They benefit, I benefit and our audiences benefit. I love our community.
Message: Posted by: AshleyW (Sep 11, 2007 02:55PM)
[quote]
On 2007-09-11 13:20, chris mcbrien wrote:
Ashley,
Grow up. This is a board where people should be able to express themselves without someone constantly being on their backs.
[/quote]

Funny, the person you should be preaching that to is the ever-accusing "Mr. Riddle" who finds fault in all that is not of his own liking. But then, there is a special relationship there between you two, isn't that true?
:)
Message: Posted by: Tom Riddle (Sep 11, 2007 03:52PM)
"Funny, the person you should be preaching that to is the ever-accusing "Mr. Riddle" who finds fault in all that is not of his own liking"

Please, Ashley, I would love to know where on this board I have ever accused anyone of anything. Ofcourse, I have opinions about many things. Life would be awfully dull if I never expressed those opinions.
Message: Posted by: todd75 (Sep 12, 2007 10:13AM)
My whole thing of packing smaller and still playing big came from the number of shows that I do each year. I am very busy at the beat of about 600 per year. There are days I do 5 shows and need to get in and out in a hurry. One thing I wanted to make sure of was that I did not take any entertainment value away from the show or the client. Packing smaller made me become more creative in terms of how I was going to get "all this stuff" in a small briefcase. I believe that bigger props don't make your show any better. There are plenty of props on the market (if you want to buy them) that are pack flat and play huge. As I mentioned earler, I design most of my stuff and change some stuff up as well when I do buy something.

These days I simply walk in with a briefcase and a small bag with a strap that I throw over my shoulder. I open my briefcase, open the bag and in about 2 minutes I am ready to go. When I am done, I close the briefcase and bag and I am out the door and on the road. This does not mean that everyone should do this, it just works for me. Packing this was forced me to be more creative in temrs of getting an entire show into something so small.

FYI- for anyone that atteneded Kidabra last month....did you notice the number of performers who are also playing their show out of a briefcase or something similar?

Creativity os something that we all have but seldon ever use. Anyone can buy anything for sale. It is really what you do with it that makes it creative. For example, I used PB & J for a few years in my show and did something totally different from what most others do. In the end it was no longer PB&J but something much much better and stronger (at least in my opinion and others as well).
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Sep 12, 2007 10:30AM)
Todd75
I believe you, but 600 shows a year is approaching two a day. When do you eat? You are busier than Willie Nelson.

I also pack small, my show is a brief case, a juggling bag, and a jump stool. "magic does not come from the wand, it comes from the magician"
Message: Posted by: todd75 (Sep 12, 2007 10:39AM)
Hi Al!

There are days that I do none, some days one show, some two and some five....just depends on the time of year. Willie Nelson performs some and ...well he smokes dope!

I would not go back to a big suitcase table, side tables, etc. for anything. I believe my show has gotten better since I've gone this direction. According to a client that had me on Sunday, "you were even better this year."
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Sep 12, 2007 11:01AM)
Todd75
My show is mostly rope, and silk magic. I have always performed rope magic, but for the past few years I've been buying silk magic which is perfect for kids, because they like the visual stuff, and yes I believe I get better every year too. I won't say any more about Willie.
Message: Posted by: todd75 (Sep 12, 2007 03:58PM)
Ropes, sponge balls, mouth coils, silks, etc. all work well and get great results! Again, walking in with a simple setup is the way to go (at least for me and Al) it is anyway.

I lost track of the number of times I walked into a school and was told that my program was moved to the gym. Great- except that someone forgot to inform the PE teacher and she has a class of kids running around the gym. The last thing in the world she wants is to have to take her class outside while you get setup. Since going to this new system (briefcase and bag), I have had more people compliment me on the show itself than before. No more big bulky props, 2 side tables, 30 minutes of setup time and 30 minutes of breaking down. It works very well for me and not a single person has ever complained. If anything they are thankful that I am out of the way so quicly.

At Kidabra we all played something call THE GAME where you were required to roll a dice, land on a color, flip a card with the same color and talk about what the card said. As the team leader of my group, prop management came up and everyone agreed that taking so much stuff to a show was really getting old. Many of the people in my group were surprised when I showed them what I take to a show.

None of this is to brag whatsoever. It just goes back to creative thinking on my part. I encourage anyone and everyone to take a look at what they are doing and see if and how they can make themselves better performers and think for themselves. There is nothing wrong at all with buying someone else's prop, it is really what you do with it that counts.
Message: Posted by: Tom Riddle (Sep 12, 2007 09:20PM)
"My show is mostly rope, and silk magic."

I agree with you, Al and Todd. Rope and silks are perfect for children, and open themselves up to great creativity. This is why I love Tyler's Silken Saga, which I believe is one of the greatest ever children's effects. As far as I know, it is not a dealer's item, and I made my own based on the original manuscript. I also adapt many of the wonderful rope routines of the late George Sands.
Message: Posted by: Andre Hagen (Sep 13, 2007 09:08AM)
It's good business to have two birthday shows; one that packs very small and one that doesn't and charge accordingly. That way instead of a yes or no to hiring you, they are given a choice between the shows and not so likely to give you a flat "No".

Andy
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Sep 13, 2007 10:03AM)
Todd75
This thread is all about magicians using their own imagination to make better magic. Does Kidabra do anything along those lines? I know that they endorce lots of courses, and products, but what do they do to help you create your own signiture routines?
Message: Posted by: Scott O. (Sep 13, 2007 11:51AM)
Al, I went to Kidabra a couple years back. At that time Barry Mitchell lectured on creativity (Building a Better Mouse Trap). I've since purchased both his "creative" books and find them filled with idea joggers.

That's really what I got out of Kidabra. I got to meet several magicians who are good performers and like-minded individuals. So, as with any convention, the casual times are very useful. However, I filled my mind with great ideas. Yes, there were plenty of props and ready-made routines to purchase. But the atmosphere allows for one's creativity to go wild.

For instance, while there, I saw a dog puppet being sold by Practical Magic. The routine they presented wasn't my style, but a few of the bits of business were. It got my wheels turning. That puppet needed a voice. So I purchased it and started working on vent skills. After writing my own routine, he is now the most mentioned part of many of my shows. That's just one example. There are many great ideas that sprang from that one week, and that I use in my shows today. The secret is that I went with an open mind, expecting to come away with lots of great ideas.
Message: Posted by: todd75 (Sep 14, 2007 08:21AM)
Kidabra promotes creativity and I feel that one can always learn something by going. When you see what others have done using their creativity it rubs off on you and makes you want to do the same.
Message: Posted by: harris (Sep 14, 2007 09:04AM)
I love puppets and their possibilities.

Just finished tweaking a puppet routine to match the needs of an elementary school for the opening of their Bullying Assembly.

Just got a Preying Mantis Puppet for next years Catch the Reading Bug. $1.99 on Ebay...Working on a way to have it be part of a reappearance. Don't know if it will be a torn corner card, dollar, or vanished scarf.

Bully's prey on others. I may call it Abraham and use it in Gospel applications as well.."Praying Mantis".

Oh what fun it is to create in a one horse open play......jingle bells, my trash smells, ...

Harris
Message: Posted by: Regan (Sep 14, 2007 10:39AM)
[quote]
On 2007-09-14 10:04, Harris wrote:
I love puppets and their possibilities.

Just finished tweaking a puppet routine to match the needs of an elementary school for the opening of their Bullying Assembly.

Just got a Preying Mantis Puppet for next years Catch the Reading Bug. $1.99 on Ebay...Working on a way to have it be part of a reappearance. Don't know if it will be a torn corner card, dollar, or vanished scarf.

Bully's prey on others. I may call it Abraham and use it in Gospel applications as well.."Praying Mantis".

Oh what fun it is to create in a one horse open play......jingle bells, my trash smells, ...

Harris
[/quote]

It actually is a "Praying Mantis" and got it's name from it's prayer-like stance.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Praying_mantis
Message: Posted by: revlovejoy (Sep 14, 2007 10:56AM)
Now that this thread is resurrected, I'd like to make an obtuse comment.

I don't know of a single guitar-playing singer-songwriter who is considered less of an artist because s/he is not also a luthier. Buy the prop, make the art with it.

Of course, to be consistent in the metaphor, there is of course, higher respect both artistically and commercially for those who do their own music, as opposed to "cover" material. In the early days of recording arts, that wasn't always true, but it is now. Even when a well-known act does someone else's material, it is appreciated as tribute, and you have to get to a certain level before it becomes that. Of course, even there, the metaphor breaks down further as many top acts have songwriters behind them. However, they often have an exclusive relationship with the songwriter.

So, Jim Steinmeyer creates for Copperfield, just as a songwriter does for a singer, and most of that is not known by the public. But we're talking about the karaoke level of borrowing creations. I still see a difference in that a karaoke audience knows the song because it is popular, whereas a magic audience often has not seen the effect before. Begging the question, is this just an internal conversation?
Message: Posted by: harris (Sep 14, 2007 12:12PM)
I love to play with words that sound alike and have different meaning/spelling.

Thanks for clarification and the link.

harri9s (the 9 is silent)
Message: Posted by: Regan (Sep 14, 2007 12:33PM)
Both ways will make a clever presentation!
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Sep 14, 2007 01:55PM)
Hi Rev
If you look at the bottom of this post you will see that I am a jumbo singer song writer fan. That being said in magic we have a far different set of circumstances. Most of the tricks that I do are completely original in the eyes of the lay man, because of my own presentation of old tricks that another magician would instantly recognize. David Blaine does several tricks that I do, but his street hustler style makes it look completely different from anything that I have ever done. Which is what this thread is all about. I have had great applause from an all magician audience when I did my silly "pull the hat out of the rabbit" trick.
Message: Posted by: Tom Riddle (Sep 14, 2007 08:14PM)
"David Blaine does several tricks that I do, but his street hustler style makes it look completely differant from anything they I have ever done."

I can also bet you, Al, that you are more charismatic(sp?) than Mr. Blaine! The stunt he performed a few years ago in London where he was shut in a glass box for a month was ridiculed by many of the Brits. However, at least he was being a little creative in a macabre sort of way. By the way, Al, as grammar host you may want to check on the spelling of "different" and "that". Maybe you are just being creative!!
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Sep 14, 2007 08:58PM)
Tom
Thanks a lot, only two mistakes well that is a tremendous improvement from how many mistakes I made before I became a grammar host. Tom believe it or not I use a dictionary all the time. Please feel free to help me when ever you can, believe me I need it.
Message: Posted by: Scott O. (Sep 14, 2007 10:45PM)
Al, Too words for you. Spell Cheque. :) Eye use it all ways.
Message: Posted by: Tom Riddle (Sep 15, 2007 08:49PM)
"Cheque" may be a word which shortly becomes obsolete in England. It will be replaced by "cash." In case our American friends do not know what I am talking about, CHECK this out:

http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5jig6jQrEjEdJjJzhxzgex2KaUXzw
Message: Posted by: vincentmagic (Apr 10, 2011 01:19PM)
[quote]
On 2007-03-22 13:00, Smarty Pants wrote:
There has been a lot of discussion on the Café about those entertainers who work out of a suitcase, and those who lug trunks full of dealers standard colorful wooden and metal props into a show. There is no right or wrong to this, but do you think children actually notice if you have large colorful props, and fancy painted tables? I don't believe they do. The magic is in YOU, the performer, not in the props. The props are merely a vehicle to project the wonderful, larger than life personality of you the performer. You will be the one to amaze the little ones, to make them laugh, and to make them happy. You will be the one they want to invite back year after year to entertain at their birthday party. It has little to do with your props. They will not be inviting your props back....they will be inviting you back. Get Creative!
[/quote] This is one of the best posts I've seen. I agree totally. I have several shows. Most are pack small, play big routines. If you are a good entertainer, you can make a small piece of Magic big! It is you the entertainer that makes the show great!
Message: Posted by: vincentmagic (Apr 10, 2011 01:20PM)
[quote]
On 2007-03-22 13:00, Smarty Pants wrote:
There has been a lot of discussion on the Café about those entertainers who work out of a suitcase, and those who lug trunks full of dealers standard colorful wooden and metal props into a show. There is no right or wrong to this, but do you think children actually notice if you have large colorful props, and fancy painted tables? I don't believe they do. The magic is in YOU, the performer, not in the props. The props are merely a vehicle to project the wonderful, larger than life personality of you the performer. You will be the one to amaze the little ones, to make them laugh, and to make them happy. You will be the one they want to invite back year after year to entertain at their birthday party. It has little to do with your props. They will not be inviting your props back....they will be inviting you back. Get Creative!
[/quote] This is one of the best posts I've seen. I agree totally. I have several shows. Most are pack small, play big routines. If you are a good entertainer, you can make a small piece of Magic big! It is you the entertainer that makes the show great!
Message: Posted by: vincentmagic (Apr 10, 2011 01:23PM)
[quote]
On 2007-03-22 13:00, Smarty Pants wrote:
There has been a lot of discussion on the Café about those entertainers who work out of a suitcase, and those who lug trunks full of dealers standard colorful wooden and metal props into a show. There is no right or wrong to this, but do you think children actually notice if you have large colorful props, and fancy painted tables? I don't believe they do. The magic is in YOU, the performer, not in the props. The props are merely a vehicle to project the wonderful, larger than life personality of you the performer. You will be the one to amaze the little ones, to make them laugh, and to make them happy. You will be the one they want to invite back year after year to entertain at their birthday party. It has little to do with your props. They will not be inviting your props back....they will be inviting you back. Get Creative!
[/quote] This is one of the best posts I've seen. I agree totally. I have several shows. Most are pack small, play big routines. If you are a good entertainer, you can make a small piece of Magic big! It is you the entertainer that makes the show great!
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (Apr 10, 2011 02:06PM)
Well, you don't need to say it three times! Though of course, the "rule of three" is one of our standard devices. I still feel that great props enhance a show, and even if you're the best magician in the World, kids will still love you more if you have some crazy, funky props and puppets for them. There is no doubt that if you learn to engage kids with your humour and personality, you'll win most of them over, but adding in the big, bright colourful boxes and Wacky props will engage them in other ways.
My attitude has always been to provide a galaxy of wonder and fun. That might mean some clever finger-flinging, but much more often, it's about hilarious patter, careful routining, logical show building, plenty of "stuff" to look at, and variety......LOTS of variety. And possibly the most important thing of all - connecting with your audience at whatever level you find them.
I'm pleased to see that some folks are starting to search the archives here at the MC. Virtually every question has already been answered, and it makes a lot more sense to dig up an old thread and revive it, than to ask the same old question again and again.....