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Smarty Pants
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-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!
TheAstonishingLarry
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Dan -

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

Regards,
Larry
"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." - Carl Sagan
Tony James
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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!!!!
Tony James

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Lewis Carroll
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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!


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
Smarty Pants
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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?
Tony James
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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.
Tony James

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Smarty Pants
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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.
Tony James
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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.'
Tony James

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Smarty Pants
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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!
Potty the Pirate
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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.
Smarty Pants
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-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.
Tony James
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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.
Tony James

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chris mcbrien
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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
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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 ....'
Connor Scot
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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 ....'


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.'
harris
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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....
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
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jakeg
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[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.
harris
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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
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
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Smarty Pants
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-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.
Al Angello
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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
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