(Close Window)
Topic: How to make a manipulative act something people will remember
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Dec 6, 2003 04:50PM)
I wanted to post this because it is a subject that keeps coming up over and over again when I talk to other manipulators who are trying to put together an 8 min act.

There main question is how do I put together this sequence of cards, billiard balls etc into an act that will get a good response.

Below is my response to that question along with some ideas and tips that I feel can really work. I hope you enjoy and I look forward to anyone's feedback and comments on this.

My first question to anyone putting a manipulative act together may seem a bit strange or sound like me being too harsh, but read on and I think you will see what I am referring to.

My big question to you is: WHY!

I told you that it might seem a bit strange but let me go on now to tell you about what I am referring to.

To a magician, we are fascinated with cards and flourishes and vanishes and anything related to manipulation. It amazes us by the technique and the method and skill involved in doing the executions of the routines. This alone keeps us striving to learn more and peaks our interest and curiosity.

However, this is often NOT the case with a lay audience. A lay audience does not see manipulative magic in the same way we do. They do not understand the techniques and skills involved and nor should they if what we are doing is supposed to be magical.

With this in mind, the audience often will say to themselves... "WHY". Why is this magician doing the same thing over and over again?

Why? Because the magician knows he is doing different vanishes and each one is slightly unique. However the audience only knows that the card vanishes, the card returned and now your doing it again.

This is why an act of manipulation is very hard to do well if you’re doing it for 7-8 mins in a normal act time. You do not want your audience ever going "Why" at any time in the routine.

So how do you work around this problem of boring your audience to tears? Well that is where research and creativity comes into the picture.

It gets back to the point that in a manipulative act you must give the audience "more". It is not good enough to simply show an 8 minute act of pure skill alone doing moves that appear the same to any audience.

So how do you give your audience more? Well you can give them more through the use of themes, character, style, pacing, transition effects and emotional response to just name a few.

Let me go on to talk very briefly about each of these I just mentioned. Each could be an article all in itself but I will just give you my tips on each one for now in hopes you can grasp what I am referring to.

- Themes: You can give more to your audience in any manipulative act if you simply add in a theme to the act you are doing. This can be a generalized theme in regards to the objects all relating that you are manipulating, or the act itself can be themed around a storyline. In this way you are performing a small 8 min play that just so happens to have magic in it. The audience can relate to the themed objects or the story and get more involved with your act and with you.

- Character: Every act you do should have a strong character present on stage. The audience needs to be able to connect with this character. If you can connect the audience with you, then they become more attached to you and can relate to what you are doing on stage. Ask yourself if your character is suave, comical, athletic, hip, sad, down on his luck. Each of these can become a strong character that can be conveyed in your stage movement and even your music.

- Style: With style, I mean the way you move on stage and the way you conduct and hold yourself throughout the act. It is something that must be learned over time. It is those little things that make a huge difference to an audience liking you or not. It can be the way you pause at the right moment and look at the audience and wink right before a big production. It could be the way you move and look and smile at the audience as if saying thank you without moving your mouth at all.

- Pacing: The way you pace and time your act can make a world of difference to an audience. In many manipulative acts, the audience is being barraged with too much visual input. They cannot follow it all the time and so start shutting them down from even watching what it is you are doing. You must pace your act and place in it pauses that give the audience a chance to catch up, breathe a bit and give them a chance to applaud you before going into the next sequence.

- Transition effects: These are the simple things you can place into your act that changes it up a bit and ads so called "spice" to the act. It gives your audience something more to watch and breaks up the act from being too repetitive. For example: You could be doing a billiard ball act. You do a few vanishes and produce the ball. The ball gets tossed up and as you catch it turns into a white silk. You do a knots off silk effect and the not becomes the ball again. In this way the ball to silk becomes a transition effect that gives your audience something more to be interested in.

- Emotional Response: This is a HUGE one and can work so wonderful if done well. If done right it can make your audience connect with you long after you have left the stage. It is causing an emotional response in your audiences by allowing them to connect and relate to your character and the predicament presented on the stage. It can also work closely in with the theme you are presenting.

Every person in your audience has experienced something in common. What are common to us all are emotions. We have all felt fear, love, confusion and happiness. These are common to every person know matter who you are performing for.

So if you can connect with them on one or more of these emotions, you can get that audience member to really relate to you because they are remembering a similar situation when they too had that exact same emotion or situation happen to them. They can relate.

For example, your manipulative act could be all about this guy at night who is just trying to reach a bus to get home. It is late and he misses his bus and the entire world seems to be passing him buy. He sits on a bench to wait for the next bus and turns on his radio. He drifts off to sleep only to awake moments later. He realizes that magic starts happening to him even though he does not know exactly why it is. Though the magic that happens to him it causes him to smile and to realize that life is full of wonder even if we may not always se it.

Now this is just a very vague example but you can see how the entire act could be a manipulative routine but now you are relating to them a story of a very well defined character with a well-defined theme. You give them an emotional response to the act because most can relate to being in a similar situation in their own life. In this way they relate better to what you are doing on stage.

Now these ideas are not meant to be the bible for a great act by any means. They are simply some of my own understandings on what I have experienced that has really worked not only for myself but to other acts that have really "made it."

They are meant only to be reviewed and given some thought to. Take even one thing from them and I think you will see your act reaching your audiences in a whole different light.

So I simply ask you to ask yourself.. WHY!

Message: Posted by: maylor (Dec 6, 2003 05:06PM)
Kyle, I think you should write a book on contructing an act - you've got loads of ideas. And I think they're all good.

I was reading a book a while back on how to get publicity. The method highlighted a three point technique. It struck me that the same three points could be used as the basis for a good magic act. The three points are DES:


If your act is different it will stand out. As Kyle was saying, if it is emotive it will draw people into it and if it's simple (the plot) - those same people will be able to follow it. We don't want to confuse!

I think these three points basically sum up what Kyle was saying above- but I think they're a good little checklist to help us remember.

For me, a story line always makes magic more interesting to watch. But I don't want to be thinking too hard so I'm happier if it's simple. I think most people are like this!

All the best. And remember : DES.

Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Dec 6, 2003 05:40PM)
Thanks so much for the great compliments. I do appreciate it. I do write articles for a magic e-zine and that is where some of these ideas come from. It is a free publication and I have an article in there every month. It is called Smoke and Mirrors. If you are intersted in signing up, shoot me a PM and I can get you the information.

I like your 3 points and they do make a lot of sense as well. I just feel these are just a few of the many ways to give your act something more that audiences can hold on to and enjoy.

If our goal is to entertain, then there are many more ways to put entertainment value into the act you are doing.
Message: Posted by: -The Scot- (Dec 7, 2003 12:14AM)
Excellent information, Kyle!

It's great to have such advice,

Thank you sincerely!

Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Dec 7, 2003 12:52AM)
You are most welcome. I just hope that some of the information was of help to you as well as to others. They are simply observations I learned and figured out throughout the years that seemed to really work well for me. I also learned that the really good acts that I liked so much, were doing some of the exact same things.

I finally sat down one afternoon and tried to figure out what it was they were doing that made their acts get such great response. I realized that most of the time it really was not the magic skill at all. That is what made me realize they were giving a lot more to the audience then just a mere showing of technique.
Message: Posted by: whitelephant (Dec 24, 2003 04:48PM)
Once again, absolutely great advice!
I hope there was some thought put into the guy falling asleep on the bench because if that's what just jumps off the top of your head, I'm entirely too jealous.
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Dec 24, 2003 08:28PM)
To be honest with you, that idea really did pop into my mind as I was typing it. I get these images in my head for creative uses for acts that really mean something and acts that push the envelope and give back to the audience more then what they have come to expect.

It is a certain way of thinking. I do not think like a magician. I think like an artist and I also think in terms of theatrics. It has really changed the way I construct my acts for my show.

Being an artist has also helped me train my brain to think in creative terms. To overlook the obvious and come up with various ideas that may not be so commonplace.

I am really glad that you liked my post and that it may have inspired you to be creative as well.

If anyone would like to talk more about this subject, or would like help with ideas for their own act/s, I would be more then happy to talk to you about it. I love sharing ideas and thoughts with others. It would be my pleasure.

Message: Posted by: DwightPA (Dec 26, 2003 05:02PM)

Thanks for the post. You have put together a great check list for all of us. Even though each of us might think of one or another of these items at some point, I doubt that we have them as well organized. I have printed your post and intend to use it as a reference from time to time.

Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Dec 26, 2003 11:07PM)
Thank you so much for the kind words. I hope the post gave you some ideas and suggestions for use in your own acts or routines.

All of these tips mentioned above came from years of research and observation from my own routines and shows. I have spent many times really evaluating why certain routines of mine went over well and why others did not. I realized that there were elements I could add into my routines to give the audience something more.

In a way a straight forward act is like a plain pizza. It is good and you enjoy it but it could be better. The items mentioned above are the toppings of the pizza. Each can be added onto the pizza (your regular act) to make the act more "layered". Which each new topping, your offering your audience soemthing more to go home with.

If you have any routine or act your working on currently, I would love to hear it and then show how possibly some of the above ideas can add more spice to it or to show how you may already be using these ideas to great appeal.

Message: Posted by: stephenbanning (Jan 3, 2004 06:47PM)

Good show. Nice article.

One point you don't mention is that in regard to why do manipulative magic over other types of magic is that people are initially facinated by magic that happens in the hands and apparently without apparatus. That is a strong pull. That being said, after 30 seconds of cards being pulled out of the air, the audience needs variation, etc. and a founding motivation. I do think that "finger flingers" are somewhat maligned as being mere jugglers when the audience appreciates the simplicity of the magic. The audience may not appreciate the moves and the skill, but they can appreciate the wonder of it all if it is routined nicely. This is not a disagreement with what you have said, just an addition.

Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Jan 4, 2004 07:51PM)

That gets back to early points as to why I listed a few things in my article. The audience sees the card vanish and reappear, they do not understand that your doing the Tenaki vanish and this time your doing a bakpalm. To them it is the same thing and becomes too repetitive. This is why there are so many great ways to add spice to your manipulative act and give back more to the audience. These tips were discussed and I would love to share or talk more about them if anyone is intersted.

Message: Posted by: abc (Jan 5, 2004 04:24PM)
I wish I still had a copy of the lecture that I attended years ago and it probably shaped my idea around routines. I think it must be the best lecture I ever attended and I didn't even like the magician who did the lecture. He said that there are 7 different effects in magic. Vanish and re-appear, Transform, Levitate, cut and restore, transcend ( I think) manipulation and I cant recall nr 7 now but I may have messed it up. An Act should cover all of these even if it is a Sleight of hand manipulation act. Multiplying balls that Multiply (manipulation) Vanish and re-appear, change color, Levitate and float from one hand to another, change to a silk that changes color covers already 5 different effects.
It should be called sleight of hand not manipulation no 1 and number 2 when there is an easy way to get a better or the same effect why practise something that you run the risk of messing up. Manipulation should and always will baffle audience if the act in which it is performed is well rounded. I perform a CD act that involves manipulation and also color changes and I am working on a little CD levitation routine. Add to that Murrays disk that is broken and and restored and I have a great act covering 4 "effects" in a few minutes.
Variety is very important. and there is no need to give up the magic of manipulation and the empty hand for lack of routine planning.
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Jan 5, 2004 05:20PM)
Routine planning and having a well balanced act is essential. Some of the tips that ABC mentioned above are certainly ways in which to add flavor to the routine your working on and helps you to make sure you have well balanced sequences and transistions that keep interest.

I also mentioned above other ways that once you have these sequences and these ideas, how best can you add more to the act to give your audience and even greater experience.

I hope they are of help to others.

Message: Posted by: Dakota Rose (Jul 28, 2004 10:32PM)
Hi Mr. Peron,

I really enjoyed reading your article. My mom is an artist and so are most of the people in my family. We didn't know that much about magic when we first started putting my "Shaman" routine together, but we knew we wanted an "emotional response" in there.
Some of the other things you talked about just kinda happened during the course of brainstorming.

I think the reason I get so many compliments on my routine is because many of the elements that you discussed are in my routine.

Mom says you put into words what she feels but couldn't express.

I am working on a close-up routine and Mom says we need to make sure we have all these elements in this routine also.

Mom says thanks for posting this.

Dakota Rose
Message: Posted by: zombieboy (Jul 28, 2004 11:11PM)
Hey Dakota!

Jeff tells us all excellent things about you! I for one am really impressed with your act. I hope to meet you in person one day.

Keep up the EXCELLENT work!
Message: Posted by: mattisdx (Jul 29, 2004 02:27AM)
As long as it entertains people, they will remember it :D
Message: Posted by: Kevin Vu (Aug 9, 2004 10:10AM)
I always love your advices. I still remember your PM on the shot cards thank you! You have gave me many ideas on cleaning my stupid act!

Kevin Vu
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Aug 9, 2004 11:10AM)
The only stupid act is the magician unwilling to evaluate and make changes and adapt. If you stop learning then that truely is "stupid", but if you continue to learn each time you perform, you can not ask for anything more then that.

I just feel too many people do not push the envelope of creativity enough. They do not put forth the effort it takes to really entertain their audiences. It is hard work for sure.. but to me it is so well worth it.

Thanks all for the great compliments. I really do appreciate them. I just hope that you gain insight and get help and advice from my tips and suggestions.

I am always there to help anyone out at anytime. Just PM me or e-mail me.

Message: Posted by: harris (Aug 9, 2004 06:04PM)

People in Kansas City are still talking about your program and contribution to the "Big Convention".

I hope to get a chance to see it.

Will you be in Reno in 2005 for the IBM Convention?

Harris Deutsch
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Aug 9, 2004 10:36PM)
Dakota did a great job in the Stars of Tomorrow show at the SAM convention this year. It was certainly a great pleasure to be able to work with him back stage and during the production of the show.

What I liked the most was that even at his young age, he already has taken a lot of the ideas and tips and suggestions that I have posted and mentioned in this thread and put them to great use. It makes for much more entertainment for an audience.