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Topic: What Was He Thinking???
Message: Posted by: Chrystal (Jan 16, 2008 08:14PM)
To set up the scenerio: I was very enthusiastic to find out that the parents group had hired a magician to entertain the children at our school assembly.(I'm a special ed teacher). I perform aprox 200 shows yearly myself, so understand the biz. It was someone I was unfamiliar with in my area, which was unusual as I belong to a large ring and have attended many lectures, conventions over the years..but I'm digressing..back to the story.

The magician was supposed to start at 1 pm, we recieved notice that he now wouldn't start until 1:30 pm. School is dismissed at 2:30. Meant parents would be waiting for the kids for a few mins at the end of the day. Not a big deal to some but some parents may have work schedules of their own. I'm not sure why he was 1/2 late.

Seated at the very back with the seventh graders, I was a tad understanding when his first effect was exposed. "Hmm ,I could see it all the way from the back...okay..maybe he's a bit nervous," I think.

Although he had a microphone I could barely make out what he was saying the majority of the time but was familiar with his props. On No! The audience didn't catch on when he said "Ta Da!" and nothing happened, but I knew what was supposed to have happened with that routine. I felt sympathy.

But. (it gets worse)..grrrrr at one point I could have walked to the front of the assembly and thumped him! He performed a tear and restore routine and then proceeded to explain step by step how magicians do it! I was floored...OMG! Was this his idea of "educating kids?" by exposing an effect to an entire assembly of K's to 7? What was he thinking????

I was so upset by what I had just seen that when the principal asked my opinion of him...I tried not to badmouth the performer. I consider myself ethical in that way but I blurted out..what he just did amounts to plagerism to educators. The principal understood that meaning.

I wanted so badly to approach the magician after the children left the school..(10 mins later than usual) as planners had to be written, chairs stacked, backpacks and jackets gathered..ect.

I refrained from doing so as I felt I would blast him. What would you guys have done in my situation?

Chrystal
Message: Posted by: jimhlou (Jan 16, 2008 08:19PM)
Wow, Chrystal,

How old was he? Was he just a young kid just getting started, or a "working" magician?

There's no way I could NOT visit with him after the show, and ask him nicely if he was a little "off" today. Then as the conversation progressed I would have blasted him big time!

Jim
Message: Posted by: Chrystal (Jan 16, 2008 08:27PM)
Hi Jimhlou,

In our school district to be hired it works this way. The entertainers must present their portfolios to the school district who will either accept or reject them. Those accepted are then placed in a book with promo pic and a bio of their act and the prices.

The books are then sent to the individual schools in the district. Mine is very large..over 110 elementary schools alone.

This entertainer was not a kid and from his props (a few large pricy illusions) it appeared he had been doing it for some time. However, I couldn't help but think..you have all the toys but sheesh!(covers mouth and refrains from saying the rest) He exposed almost every effect (not on purpose) with the exception of the Tear and Restore which he explained in great detail.

I'm now regretting I didn't say something, but thought perhaps he would think it's sour grapes since I work at that school. Although, it's usually my policy never to perform at the same school I work at and besides I was working there in another capacity.

Anyhow thanks for that feedback Jim.

Chrystal
Message: Posted by: KC Cameron (Jan 16, 2008 08:30PM)
Hid my head and never admitted I did magic . . .

People need to learn, and there is room for developing acts, but one needs to have an idea of their ability. Maybe this was his wake-up call. Very few people take criticism well, and he would probably have blown you off and put his head back in the sand. Then again, you never know . . .

Unfortunately, many people see this and think all local entertainers are of this caliber . . .

A lot of kids see magic as a puzzle, and by exposing it, they THINK they look smart . . . . just look on YouTube.
Message: Posted by: Chrystal (Jan 16, 2008 08:34PM)
OOps I had a spelling error in my post..ha ha! Just goes to show you we all have "off" days.

Thanks too for the feeback, Captain!

I'm now wondering if I should send him a note giving constructive criticism?
Message: Posted by: KC Cameron (Jan 16, 2008 08:50PM)
Why ruin your day when he tells you to _____-off? Perhaps some feedback from the principle would be better - especially if it gets into "the book". Isn't there any feedback so other schools be warned?

My policy is not to comment to a performer on a live performance unless asked. (Hard to believe, isn't it?)What are the chances it will do anything but create animosity?
Message: Posted by: Donald Dunphy (Jan 16, 2008 09:06PM)
Hi Chrystal -

I know what it's like to want to help someone in need (even if they don't see themself as "in need" :) ).

If it was me who did the show (and I know it wasn't... thank goodness!... by hints you gave in your post), then you would have my permission to approach me.

If it were me on the receiving end, I'd prefer to be approached in a phone conversation (as opposed to a note or letter), but maybe not the same day as the show. Sometimes a performer is on a "high" after a show, and can't take commentary fairly. The reason I personally would want a phone conversation, would be so I can ask for clarification on certain statements.

Also, I would wish to be asked for permission, before having opinion unleashed on me. Something like, "I saw your show, and as a fellow performer I have some constructive pointers for you. Are you interested in having some help with your show?" Listen to their answer before continuing.

- Donald
Message: Posted by: rossmacrae (Jan 16, 2008 09:44PM)
[quote]
On 2008-01-16 21:14, Chrystal wrote:
I was so upset by what I had just seen that when the principal asked my opinion of him...I tried not to badmouth the performer.
[/quote]
Uh ... Why? Some situations beg for a bit of honesty, and it has to start somewhere.
Message: Posted by: nucinud (Jan 16, 2008 09:52PM)
Bad magicians give us a bad reputation. Which means people think twice about hiring magicians for their events. Tactful criticism is called for sometimes.
Message: Posted by: TomBoleware (Jan 16, 2008 09:58PM)
Like the others have said, I don’t know that it would do any good unless he asked first. Surely you can find one thing he did well, I would approach him with that and try to talk out permission to go into detail with the other.

Tom
Message: Posted by: Wanlu (Jan 16, 2008 10:24PM)
Gave him a piece of paper that says...

http://www.themagiccafe.com "Magicians helping Magicians"

Wanlu

Posted: Jan 16, 2008 11:27pm
Or

http://www.dontquityourdayjob.com

or

http://www.dontyouevershowyourselftochrystalagain.com
Message: Posted by: Payne (Jan 16, 2008 11:48PM)
I really wouldn't waste my time telling this guy anything. It has been my experience that performers of this ilk only want validation not constructive criticism. They are living their fantasy life of being a full time pro and anything you say will come off in their tiny little minds as jealousy of their perceived success.
All you can do is give him negative reviews in his book which hopefully will go far in seeing him removed from the roster so he can no longer inflict his rather unpleasant brand of magic on the unsuspecting.
Message: Posted by: MagicSanta (Jan 17, 2008 12:01AM)
Chrystal, I'll do something for you and the region known as Canada. I have made people cry because they didn't do a good job...I've driven them to violence. PM me this guys name, I'll call him....I will destroy him and save the art of magic.
Message: Posted by: Father Photius (Jan 17, 2008 12:24AM)
Sounds like a guy who learned his magic on You Tube. Wonder how legitimate his material he submitted was? I did school shows for several years and knew a good number of other school show magicians, lots of styles, but never saw anyone like that. I admire you tongue biting ability Chrystal.
Message: Posted by: Chrystal (Jan 17, 2008 12:53AM)
Thanks for all the feedback everyone!

Donald, if it had been you (which would never happen by the way) as I've heard nothing but good things about your show. I'd appreciate I'd have your permission!

Payne, I've seen your show a few times and in the famous words usually quoted by Shawn Farquhar, "You Rock!".

Captain Kidd...Arg (my version of pirate talk) if he had told me to "bleep bleep" I probably would have called Magic Santa to watch my back.

MagicSanta...Your cousin Guido still available for work? We'll send him over with the famous slogan of it's not personal..it's business. :O)

Thanks for the feedback and comments from the other posters.

If we are all being honest, we've all had off days and if the situation was reversed, I had to wonder how I would feel if someone approached me. Would I thank them? Would I listen to the comments? Would I be upset?

I think I still can handle constructive criticism if the person giving me the advice is knowlegable in that field. Sure, I'd listen to them! Depending on how the critique is done of course! I may not like it, but if they had good intentions and it would make me better I'd view it as they are trying to help.

The intentional exposure, is what irked me the most..which goes back to my post..what was he thinking? Part of me thinks.. if no one ever points it out to him ..how will he ever know the error of his ways? It would be different if this was a magic class and students had been prepped about not giving effects away but an entire school during a show? (Can you tell I'm still irked?)

At the end of the day, he may continue on with his shows but I can't help but feel for the next magician that performs a Tear and Restore for any of those kids and cries of "I know how you do that" is heard.

Chrystal
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Jan 17, 2008 06:25AM)
[quote]
On 2008-01-17 00:48, Payne wrote:
It has been my experience that performers of this ilk only want validation not constructive criticism. They are living their fantasy life of being a full time pro and anything you say will come off in their tiny little minds as jealousy of their perceived success.[/quote]

That's so true. Later on they will tell you the correct way to do things because they have been doing it that way for 20 years. It never occurs to them that they could have been doing it the wrong way for 20 years

Could the explained exposure possible have been the T&R sucker effect (where you explain it then the one that is torn is also restored). Maybe that was what he was mumbling into the mike.

George
Message: Posted by: kihei kid (Jan 17, 2008 10:03AM)
Chrystal, I see you have obviously posted to seek advice on what you should have done, which obviously means your unsure if you did the right thing.

I myself am unsure if there is a correct one size fits all answer. I can see merit in some of the replies here.

Here’s my take… doing nothing yields nothing, which in his case, MAY have been the order of the day! You can talk to some people until you are blue in the face and it goes in one ear and out the other.

I myself would have told him what I’m telling you here!

I would have explained to him that you are a performer yourself that does 200 shows a year and that what you are about to TELL him (not interested in whether or not he wants to hear it) you hope doesn’t go in one ear and out the other and it is coming from an audience perspective.

I would have told him being late and forcing some parents who are on a time frame is no good. I then would have told him he flashed his opener (which, OBTW, I told Mac King he flashed in one of his shows and he asked me exactly where and then thanked me for letting him know), he needed a better sound system and last but not least it was “NOT cool” and to PLEASE stop openly exposing the T&R newspaper as myself and others in OUR area perform it.

And on a performers note, by exposing it, that makes the effect anti-climatic and turns it into an explained puzzle instead of a mysterious illusion.

As always and as you are aware of, it’s not just what you say but how you say it.

Hard to do here in the written form.
Message: Posted by: mghia (Jan 17, 2008 11:13AM)
I think you need to be honest. As one said, he could be upset with you and will think you are out of line. Might even Bleep Bleep you.
Maybe those type are the ones that NEED to hear it. They are just not used to finding out they need some work. They longer in the biz for some they think they do not need to evaluate their show every so often.

I would not ask his PERMISSION to let him know what you think. That is silly. He probably would say NO.
Even if you do ask, and he GRANTS it, the truth will hurt his ego and his first instict is to dismiss your comments. He might even say "no one as complained before." Maybe that is because most do not take the time.
I see it even on the Café how some react when their advice is not accepted as the be all and end all. They get upset and look for a fight. Sad really but the "reaction" is natural.


So despite some of the recommendations to call the person, I say it is gentler to send the letter and as Tom said, stroke his ego with the one thing you did like about his show, if any. It will give him time to filter your comments. As long as you do it in the spirit of wanting to help he can not complain.

The funny thing about people is that even ONE comment can get under their skin. David Copperfield once revealed this. He said he could do a great show for 2500 people but if he catches one person who is not having a good time he is bothered by this and wants to correct his show.


I might approach it from a TEACHER standpoint. You might just start out that you were a teacher at the show and that will make the late start and how it disrupts the schedule have more weight. I have been part of large shows and sometimes there are unavodable issues that cause delays. It might have been a one time thing so first see if you can find out why there was the delay. However I have worked with some people that do not care about time and say "they'll not care if we start late."

Some magicians will appreciate, if not be embarrassed or resistant, that a magician pointed these things out. They would rather have someone on the inside tell them what they exposed.

However I think we worry MORE to hear it from the client or guests since it means that the word of the poor show might get around.

Even as a teacher,you can talk about the exposure. Say something like that you love magic and do not want to know so were very disappointed you exposed a magic trick you loved. Then say "I thought magicians were not supposed to reveal their secrets?"
If you tell him you are a magician you can still mention that but maybe can ask him why he choose that one to be the one exposed.
I think someone else already posted to suggest a LESSER version of exposure.


I think the letter is the best way since it will give him time to read over your words and really THINK about it. He can not yell at the letter and leave in a huff. He will go back over that letter a few times and it will play in his head even if he thinks you are out of line.
I bet he will actually thank you.

Let us know how it goes.


PS
It is interesting that most people of the same trade will not say anything bad about the competition by giving a name even if some should be warned of the quality.

This does not make much sense since if you were not a magician, you would be mentioning his name to all your colleges so they do not get a bad show as well. I think we are more afraid of then getting a backlash from the person we mentioned by name and fear that they would start making up stuff about us.

So this is another reason bad magicians get hired over and over. People are getting way to PC. (I agree his name was not needed for your post but you should have let your principal know all your thoughts without "code".
Message: Posted by: NJJ (Jan 17, 2008 02:22PM)
Was he performing the sucker torn and restored napking routine? That has 'exposure' as part of the plot.
Message: Posted by: gadfly3d (Jan 17, 2008 04:57PM)
When I see bad magic I tend to slink out the door after the 3rd trick. I share the desire to "help" the performer but tend no to. I recently went to a local mall to see a magician, who also started 20 minutes late and didn't make 5 minutes before I left.

Gil Scott
Message: Posted by: Terry Owens (Jan 17, 2008 05:20PM)
I think you have to earn the right to be "brutally honest" when it comes to talking about someone's performance.

I have someone that I work with that I can get that brutally honest opinion and I pay good money for that, but that's because I care about being the best I can be, but they have my respect, someone I don't know...or someone I'm not working for doesn't have that right, and for all I know, they may be worse than me.
Message: Posted by: Futureal (Jan 17, 2008 06:13PM)
Sounds like he's out there ruining magic for people.

- He should be told.
Message: Posted by: TrickyRicky (Jan 17, 2008 08:00PM)
Crystal,you must have died a thousand deaths watching this performance.
I can just imagine what went through your mind.
Some years ago a mother called and asked If I could watch her 19 year old son who was performing at a library. She said he would like some pointers after the performance.
To make a long story short---he was horrible.
The first trick was the brassiere trick with one of the kid mother. Everything went down hill after that.
I told him that I could help him a quite a lot on restructure his routines to make them more entertaining.
I gave him my card and left. He never called, and that's 7 years ago.
I herd he's out of magic. Thank goodness for that.
Tricky Ricky
Message: Posted by: chris mcbrien (Jan 17, 2008 08:14PM)
[quote]
On 2008-01-17 18:20, Terry Owens wrote:
I think you have to earn the right to be "brutally honest" when it comes to talking about someone's performance.

I have someone that I work with that I can get that brutally honest opinion and I pay good money for that, but that's because I care about being the best I can be, but they have my respect, someone I don't know...or someone I'm not working for doesn't have that right, and for all I know, they may be worse than me.
[/quote]
This is very, very true....
The thing is, is now she's been stewing on this...it's the energy from what she SHOULD have done and knows she should have done...gone up and told him it was horrible...in A NICE WAY.
I would try and find out his contact info, call and ask if he sends feedback forms, try and get one or ask if you can send some comments, seperate your anger from your good intention and use the good intention to HELP HIM/aka send him something that he could use. After that energy is gone, I'm betting it will feel right again.
It sounds like this guy needs to hear it.
Best,
Chris
Message: Posted by: lou2 (Jan 18, 2008 10:35AM)
Quote:

I refrained from doing so as I felt I would blast him. What would you guys have done in my situation?

Chrystal

Hi,
I would have done nothing, He was booked not me if his performance was rubbish that's not my problem. if his show was as bad as you say he will soon lose bookings and drop out of the system. I personaly not a believer in the idea that if some one bookes a bad magicain they will never book another magicain .
lou
Message: Posted by: Donald Dunphy (Jan 18, 2008 10:46AM)
Another idea, is to vent what you have to say by writing it in a letter, and then destroy the letter (instead of sending it). Then it is out of your system, and you are no longer stewing on it.

You let the universe deal with him in the way it sees fit.

- Donald
Message: Posted by: Habu (Jan 18, 2008 02:05PM)
Great advice Donald! I am working on my master's degree in education. A big part of my schooling is in learning teams. Most of this is done by a school forum. There are many times I will wonder what a team member is thinking when they submit inferior material, or no material at all, and cause the others to have to scramble to make up for them.

We have a set of rules from which to pull to handle most situations, but there is always that urge to fire off a letter or email blasting them for letting everyone down. I usually write everything down in Word, then spell check it, and then check it for grammar, content and style. By that time I've spent my energy and follow the protocol for handling team member disputes.

I believe in this case I would reassure the principal that this fella is not indicative of most performers. He is shooting himself in the foot and will likely stop doing shows before long anyway.
Message: Posted by: John Bowlin (Jan 18, 2008 03:01PM)
Chrystal, what was the feedback on this guy from the kids and other adults you spoke with and just judging their reactions. It does so pain me to see these types of performances you described. Some are just starting out,some are just hacks and some are just burnt out on performing and should be put out to magic pasture. It's usually only the first category that it is worth saying anything to. I'm more the Magic Santa style guy when it comes to handling these types.
Message: Posted by: Chrystal (Jan 19, 2008 01:22AM)
Hi,

To answer the last question by John, at one point in the performance a new teacher to our school who is not aware that I do magic myself, leaned over and said "Yikes, he's not very good is he?".

Many students lost interest and became extremely rude during his show and a constant stream of teachers handed out pink tickets to them for bad behavior. Pink tickets means a phone call home to parents. They were such an abundance of pink tickets handed out that day that they totaled more in one day that the entire school year. The smallest students really enjoyed him based on comments I heard when the children were emerging from the Gym. The school has aprox 600 students.

To those of you that wondered if it was the sucker effect of Tear and Restore..no it wasn't.

Thanks again for some very insightful answers and in retrospect I'm glad I didn't speak to him that day as know I've had time to mull it over and am much calmer.

I'm afraid I have to disagree with you Lou. You're right, I didn't hire him so why should I care? Let me explain. I care because every performer after him will be effected by his exposure, so while it may be nothing for this magician to be concerned about..it affects all those that perform for those children in the future. Those same kids might be in my audience some day and I may be performing some of the same illusions which is unintenionally exposed and the one he intentionally exposed. Secondly he broke a cardinal rule is the way I see it.

Thanks again to those that posted responses, I was interested in your thoughts and insights. Much appreciated!

Chrystal
Message: Posted by: lou2 (Jan 19, 2008 01:43PM)
Quote:
I'm afraid I have to disagree with you Lou. You're right, I didn't hire him so why should I care? Let me explain. I care because every performer after him will be effected by his exposure, so while it may be nothing for this magician to be concerned about..it affects all those that perform for those children in the future. Those same kids might be in my audience some day and I may be performing some of the same illusions which is unintenionally exposed and the one he intentionally exposed. Secondly he broke a cardinal rule is the way I see it.


Hi,
We will have to agree to dissagree , I very much doubt his exposures will hurt others
, people make loads of fuss about exposure but it rearly does any real harm
lou
Message: Posted by: Kent Wong (Jan 21, 2008 03:02PM)
It may rarely do any harm, but it NEVER does any good. Unless this person was hired as an exposer of magic, he defrauded the school and his audience. The students and the teachers expected to be entertained by magic and he either negligently or intentionally did not deliver.

Have you ever gone to a movie that was so bad, you knew you had just wasted 2 hours of your life? That's what this guy did. 500 people in the gym watching a painfully poor one-hour "magic" show. That guy stole 500 hours of life from the people at that school.

Now imagine if you were a fellow magician who also happened to be listed in the book. If he is supposedly representative of the quality of magicians in the book, schools are going to be very hesitant to hire others.

Kent
Message: Posted by: NJJ (Jan 21, 2008 04:16PM)
I would want to know if I stunk. But I know that I would only take on the advice if it was given in a constructive way otherwise I'd just get defensive and angry.
Message: Posted by: Hoppini, the Mediocre (Feb 1, 2008 01:07AM)
As far as the tear and restore...I'd let it go. Doug Henning showed every kid in America how to do it on the Captain Kangaroo show. In fact, nearly every magician I ever remember seeing on TV as a kid usually did a spot, usually near the end of the program, that went something like this: "magicians are never supposed to really reveal the secrets of their tricks...but I'll show you a little trick you can do for your friends."

I know it sucks for the performers who do the trick in question, so I'm not sure myself if I agree with exposing it...but I do believe the guy came by it honestly. Even if it is wrong, I can't be too mad about it. I'd be madder about the half hour late and the shoddy show.

I think if it was me, and I was in your shoes, I'd approach him, as previously suggested, and ask if he had an off day...he may just break down and tell you his wife just got told she'd been diagnosed with cancer...or some such awful situation. An extreme example, but you never really know. Life happens.

However, if the guy just blows you off or (worse yet) acts like everything is normal, then I'd go to the School Board. Tell them exactly what you saw, why it was bad, and suggest a better magician.
Message: Posted by: Mikael Eriksson (Feb 1, 2008 02:38PM)
Chrystal, exposing seems to be the "next" big thing in magic, you better get used to it.

I was treated very badly by some people here awhile ago when I objected to some magicians who did some exposing.
Message: Posted by: Hoppini, the Mediocre (Feb 1, 2008 03:37PM)
[quote]
On 2008-02-01 15:38, Mikael Eriksson wrote:
Chrystal, exposing seems to be the "next" big thing in magic, you better get used to it.
[/quote]

I should point out that the Doug Henning example I gave, as well as the TV magicians I referred to all happened in the mid to late 70s.
Message: Posted by: Chrystal (Feb 2, 2008 02:57AM)
Thanks again everyone for the comments. Some points to ponder definately.

Doug Henning! We Canadians loved Doug Henning! We've been petitioning the government to have him honored on Canada's Hall of Fame.

For those of you that wondered what I did ...nothing. After I vented on here I felt better. So thanks for listening everyone! I didn't contact the school district to voice a complaint as although he probably deserved it - I couldn't get past bad mouthing another entertainer no matter how lousy he was. I would probably have spoken to the entertainer personally if given the chance again.

Does that make me just as quilty as him then?
Message: Posted by: Hoppini, the Mediocre (Feb 2, 2008 10:44AM)
I don't think it makes you guilty at all. It took me a long time as a clown to realize that I didn't carry the weight of all clowns on my shoulders. I think its the same for magicians. (but, you have to admit that it IS frustrating when one bad apple reflects on he rest of us)

Just be the best that you yourself can possibly be, and try not to worry about everyone else. Its really all you can do. To thine own self be true...and all that.
Message: Posted by: SpellbinderEntertainment (Feb 2, 2008 02:38PM)
First they came for the Socialists,
and I did not speak out -
because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists,
and I did not speak out -
because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I did not speak out -
because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me –
and there was no one left to speak for me.

-Martin Niemoeller's Holocaust Poem-
Message: Posted by: Hoppini, the Mediocre (Feb 2, 2008 04:11PM)
That's a pretty wonky parallel.:confused: Bad magician = nazis?