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jondark445
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Hi:

I'm putting together a seance with a more humorous than spooky thrust. I'm looking for a few other things that I can use in it similar to the old "2 fingers on the eye" gag. Any suggestions????

--Jon
Bill Ligon
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Please, just don't tip the two fingers thing.

Bill
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jondark445
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Over the past five years I've seen some ten magicians tip it...one of which was Ricky Jay, who tipped it at two DIFFERENT public shows.

--Jon
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Aaaarrrggghhhhhh!
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StrangeMagick
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Quote:
Over the past five years I've seen some ten magicians tip it...one of which was Ricky Jay, who tipped it at two DIFFERENT public shows.

--Jon


jondark445:

That doesn't mean that you have to tip it and also cheapen the art of magic. In my opinion, a Seance can contain some humor/comedy, but to make it a series of gags is NOT a seance, it's just gag magic. I liken this to using the Tarot for just another pick-a-card trick. A seance can be a REALLY strong performance piece and is very difficult to pull off.

Just my 2c.

Dave
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My current show is pretty dark but does contain humor.

The theater owner on seeing the first run through stated that he did not think it would be so funny.

But it is situational humor and is used to release pressure every so often.

Also the use of humor can make one seem more real and or aproachable.

It also allows access to more parts of the audeances mind.

However to turn a seance into a magic trick gag fest is in my opinion a road to no were and of no value. (Only my opinion of course)

Jim

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Seance
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Corinda's "Power of Darkness" and Mike Caveney's modifications of it may be more of what you might be looking for. The participant doesn't know what is happening, but the rest of the audience does.
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Use a ouija.
Ask if there is a spirit present.
Move the planchette to "NO".
Dr Spektor
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If it must be tipped (and I doubt it "must" (the 2 fingers)) at least make it as part of a sucker effect where afterwards you now do a psychokinetic touch from across the room....
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In the Seance collection by Scott Davis, there is a very good routine by Tommy Tucker called 'The Comedy Seance' which plays as an expose of fraudulent spirit mediums.
jondark445
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Thanks. I've gotten some good feedback here.

Let me clarify....while this is humorous, in no way do I mean that all the humor is stemming from exposure or turning it into a magic trick "gag fest" as one person put it. The bulk of the humor stems directly from the person being contacted (still keeping that under my hat) and the conversation that unfolds with them. I thought some bits about the ways in which spiritualists fooled people in the past might be a good addition to it.

Thanks for all the feedback...the critical and the constructive.

--Jon
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I'm really not that concerned about the two fingers thing, that's an old gag that I think most people already know or can figure out, even if they don't say so.
Anyway, comedy seance, that sounds like fun !
Use a remote controlled "spirit" whoopee cushion when asking if there is a presence in the room... ;-)
Perfect if you use the "gypsy finger" pendulum.. just pull it first. Smile
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I'm of the opinion that if the performer invites the audience to symbolically walk through the cemetery at midnight, it is a disappointment to people if it all turns out to be an elaborate practical joke. I do think humor is necessary in séance magic, as Jim-Callahan points out, to provide the release of dramatic tension. If that is not provided, the audience may laugh at inappropriate moments. However, humor should be used judiciously, strategically. When it dominates, the mood and atmosphere are spoiled. It's important to keep in mind what the audience is buying the ticket for: the goosebumpy experience of confronting the unknown.
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I agree with David - dating myself here - but for those who saw the original Night Stalker films with Kolchak - there was the perfect blend of humour and horror - and at all times the humour was done within the context of the fictional world - and appeared only when appropriate... hence why it became a cult classic. The peaks and valleys...the peaks and valleys... just remember (this is from basic education theory) - what do you want people to remember and take away at the end? That should help guide the construction....
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Yep that's it Dr. Spektor the up and down of it.

Hide and seak.
Say boo and run back into the shadows giggling.

I loved the Night Stalker when I was a kid.

Jim

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Mystician
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Kolchak was my favorite show back then ! I even read both the novels.
RIP Darren McGavin, by the way.

Some of you sound like you revere a seance as much as you might actual mass (or whatever).
Which is funny, since seances are faked - bottom line.
Has no one seen a comedy skit involving a sermon ? How about the Simpsons ? The preacher there is on regularly.
So what's wrong with a humorous seance ?

Very few things deserve that kind of impunity from satire, IMO.
Maybe it's just my sacriligious streak, but, aside from child abuse, murder, or rape, everything else that humans do is fair game to laugh at, since we do nothing perfectly anyway.
Mostly though, it all depends on the context - the environment, how he presents the show, who the clientele is, even who his "target spirit" is - whom for all we know, is Laurel and Hardy, or WC Fields, or George Burns.. etc.

Granted, it would be awkward to start off the seance as completely serious, and then suddenly throw some slapstick in there, sure.. that'd just be crappy showmanship and planning, and a lack of continuity; but if the entire thing is lighthearted from the start, then I think it could be lots of fun for everyone, and people who are normally squeamish about such things might actually feel comfortable enough to participate in something they always wanted to but were afraid to try.
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David Parr
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Mystician, no one is condemning comedy here. We are suggesting it be used wisely. I think theatrical seances should incorporate some element of humor. Gothy portentous self-seriousness tends to be unintentionally funny.

I think a theatrical seance is different from a spook show, and the audience goes into each with different expectations. One promises an exploration of the uncanny and mysterious, the other a collection of screaming giggling thrills. Both are valid forms.
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jondark445
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David:

I completely agree with you. I think if an audience is being invited to walk in a graveyard or sit at a table and speak with the undead then yes, the use of humor here should be subtle.

HOWEVER, if you're inviting the audience into a forum in which they are well aware of what they're going to be getting, then I don't see a problem with it. John Edwards and James Van Praagh make a living out of "speaking with the dead," I think it's high time to use some very strong satire, humor and magic to skewer them. They're fresh for the plucking. I have no intention of inviting an audience in and expect them to believe we're going to be contacting the dead on this night (literally or theatrically). In terms of my own performance style, I'd never be able to pull something like that off.

Does that mean that others shouldn't do it? Not at all. But by the same token do you really think, during your shows, that the audience believes you're contacting the dead? Not at all. You're instilling in them an emotion. The emotions of chills, thrills and fears through your performance.

I simply want to use similar techniques to take them down a different emotional road. We NEED to laugh at people who claim to speak with the dead. If we don't laugh, then we dance that all too dangerous line of taking them seriously. And we certainly wouldn't want that! LOL.

--Jon
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I can see both sides of this coin. I am seeing the humor of this seance as sophisticated...although, I must admit, Mystician's whoppee cushion idea does sound funny. I've been involved in comedy for twenty years (performing and writing) and have also performed seances. I would buy a ticket because it sounds like fun and I would like to see how you pull it off. The idea of it being a satire of pompous mediums, IMO, could work, as long as it is clearly billed as such. You want the audience to know what it is getting. But why not try something different, something others are saying can't or shouldn't be done? It seems silly to me to restrict this form of entertainment -- and that's all it is. Yes, it could fall on its face, but so can a serious seance, or a stand-up act, or anything. If you are passionate about it and have the skill and talent, show everybody that it can work and then they'll all want to do it. I am not picturing this as a string of gags and jokes, but rather as a satirical sketch of a self-important seance medium who gets his comeuppance when everything he attempts goes wrong. It certainly is a different take.
David Parr
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A parody or satire of the self-serious spirit medium could definitely be done -- and be very entertaining. (I'm picturing Rowan Atkinson's Blackadder character here.) The key will be coming up with a title and tag line that make the satirical nature of the show clear to the ticket buyer. After that, it's all writing and acting skills.
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