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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Grand illusion » » When illusions don't work (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

skilusion
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Let's say you are doing a show and you have a single illusion (versus a sequence of illusions) and it doesn't work. We will use metamorphosis for an example. The person is placed in the box and the other person (illusionist) gets on top to switch. When the cloth falls there is nobody there or the person on top trips and the cloth falls in the middle of the switch.

The question I am posing is, what is your way of getting out of it with the audience? You just spent 1-3 minutes to present this illusion and it doesn't work. Do you say something to the audience and if so what? Do you ignore it and go on? What exactly do you do as a clever way to recover? Smile
skilusion
Blair Marshall
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My experience has been to go on and complete (if possible) the presentation. If the presentation is strong enough you may be forgiven for the technical glitch by the audience. There may also be more to come (ie. person reappears elsewhere) in the presentation. What may appear as a major glitch (a flash of gimmick, a glimpse of the trap closing) will probably not be seen by everyone. Remember, you are working for all. It truly is a judgement call. If you want treat it as what it is, make a dead stop, and ask the audience if they would like to see how it should look and then take it from the top. (This presumes you will not screw up twice in a row!)

Hope it helps, I look forward to reading other thoughts.

Blair Marshall
"ShaZzam!"
Kendrix
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That is where practice comes in. After I finish an effect, I try to duplicate it exactly time after time. I then complete it no matter what occurs. This gives me an out for every possible mishap (well, almost). I also have a "disaster CD" to play in the event it occurs. I keep a Tommy Wonder Levitation System/Zombie handy in the wings with a designated person to give it to me if problems occur.

I would never grind the show to a halt and repeat an effect if it failed the first time. Think of how you would look if it didn't work the second time. It would make the audience very uncomfortable as well.
victorkent
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There is no single answer for this. In some cases if the situation is salvageable you do what you can and finish the trick. If it is totally blown out of the water then you shrug and move on to the next trick. Sometimes a joke about the situation works. Sometimes you just pretend it didn't happen and keep going.
Sometimes wonderful new ideas end up springing up from these mistakes and you go with them when they come.
No two mistakes will be the same, so there is no single way to handle them. If you are a comedian, you are a little lucky because it can be turned into a joke.
I recently did a mentalism trick that worked well, so I thought, until a person from the audience said they noticed something and so did others (it was a company party in the owner's home). I made a joke about it, went onto the next trick and ended up with a very nice tip and a phone call today from one of the attendees for a party they are having.
The main key is don't show the audience that you are flustered. Have as much fun with the mistake or totally ignore it as best you can.
Lots of performaces will introduce to a plethora of errors--some that will totally baffle you as to how that could ever have happened. It is only when it happens that you learn to handle it. Practice like a wild man and keeping your props in good condition will help keep some of those errors from popping up. But nothing will keep them 100% away. Hey, even David Copperfield cut the tip of his finger off in a show. He told the audience, "I cut off my finger". They laughed.
Good luck!
-vk
John 3:16
http://www.victorkent.com
http://www.kentfamilyillusionshow.com
[email]victor@victorkent.com[/email]
JAEIII
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I think having a quick wit helps in this. When something goes wrong in my show, I first quickly evaluate the situation and see if there is a way to finish the trick/illusion without the audience knowing I messed up. You have to be quick on your feet, but you can usually get away with it.

Sometimes, however, a mistake is obvious and there is really no way to get around it. In this matter, I try to come up with a joke or bit of comedy. My best example of this happened just recently while performing for a Christmas Party. I was doing the Torn and Restored Newspaper trick. Everything was flawless, the jokes were perfect all the way through, everything was set, and when I made the paper restore itself, everyone gasped in amazement. However, right after that the "gimmick" (without giving anything away) and everything attached to it fell to the ground. Naturally everyone was starring at this. I, with only a few seconds to react, made a joke about it. During this particular performance I was using the original routine and kept repeating the phrase, "This is an illusion, this is an illusion, this is an illusion," throughout the show. So when the "gimmick" fell to the floor, I made a funny look in the audience and shouted, "And that is a failure!" and then I kicked the gimmick across the floor. It was all very comical and everyone in the audience laughed out loud! I think about half of them thought that was supposed to happen.

So to get back on this subject, just be quick on your toes. Evaluate the situation and see what will work best at that particular moment. I wouldn't recommend just walking off stage though. Come up with something, even if it's a one line joke.

I think, and it has been a few years since I've read it, that inside the "Idiot's Guide to Magic," it has a section just on how or what you could do or say in the event something goes wrong. I would recommend you purchase this book.

I hope this has helped somehow! Smile

Oh, I don't think I did, but if anyone reads this and thinks that I have given too much detail on the Torn and restored paper trick, just let me know and I'll delete my story. I don't think though that anyone will know what the gimmick is unless they perform the illusion. Thanks!
Believe In Magic....I do!
Blair Marshall
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Some great ideas. Guess the saying experience pays off in these situations is true. Get out and perform, and the more you do, the more situations will arise to test you, some small, some "disasters".

On one of Dougs' specials on national t.v. he stumbled, and his foot "disappeared" into the top of a mirrored base, but he went on!!

Blair Marshall
"ShaZzam!"
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