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harris
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Harris Deutsch
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As a nearly normal actor (in Theatre) I can still have fun with other peoples words. As a Laughologist sharing my own show, I do a mix of both.(with the emphasis on my own sharing.)

On my reading table last year..Zen and the Art of the Monologue. (Jay S.)

h.l. deutsch
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
drlaugh4u@gmail.com
music, magic and marvelous toys
http://magician.org/member/drlaugh4u
chris mcbrien
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If I had to use someone elses script I'd feel sick. I did'nt go to college, bust my bu** in writing, comedy, drama and "everything else you need" classes, go out and get my chops in live theater and all the other stuff to do someone elses lines. I'm not going to judge those who do lines from the directions, that's not my business. I just can't do it myself. I have to agree with Al, if I could'nt write and do my own lines, I'd quit. I'm not going to say I"m not INSPRIRED by other's lines, I am. All artists are influenced by someone at sometime. that's why I won't judge those who use other scripts. I used Bill Shakespeares' scripts for years...borrowed every line in there!
Best,
Chris
Tony James
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We may not use other people's scripts Chris but plenty of others do. That's why dealers provide the full works.

You can buy today and do it tomorrow. That's what sells magic in volume. For me it's easy. Full blown scripts/presentations didn't exist over here when I came up and in any case, I came up through the theatre. I was surrounded by people who were pros.

But a lot of people do buy the trick and the video and copycat. That's about their limit and it sells magic for the dealer.

Other young people who haven't been exposed to the business from childhood and haven't mixed with pros from all entertainment disciplines, for them it's been a Godsend. They can go out there knowing nothing of the business and make an average fist of it. Better that than making a mess of it.

It still bothers me though. When I look at some of the questions people ask here I wonder what they have between their ears. Creative thought processes seem to be non-existent. they constantly ask other people to tell them what to do.

Look, is a cooker and plater of fast food a creative chef? No, of course not. But surely, better that than letting them loose with a greasy spoon as we call them. It's the same thing.

Chefs are creative, basing their work on classical dishes. Fast food outlets finish pre-prepared food to a formula. It's all food. Well, the fast food outlets appear to think their's is food. I'm not so sure.

The sad thing is when the market finds difficulty knowing the one from the other.
Tony James

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Smarty Pants
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Bingo Tony James!
drkptrs1975
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Both.
Smarty Pants
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I am sorry. What do you mean by "both" drkptrs1975?
Potty the Pirate
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I think everyone has to accept times are changing. Children's Magicians are a fairly modern invention. The first generations have now grown old and left the field to newcomers. But all the ideas, gags, routines, etc, are still remembered. Inevitably some of those routines will still be performed for many years to come. There is a local magician who does a lovely cigarette routine, I think it's called "One Last Cigarette", and I'm sure someone can tell us who originally did the routine. The point is, he's learned this old routine which another magician invented. It's a funny routine with no patter, just music. No doubt he's changed bits and pieces, but in essence he is giving his audiences great entertainment using someone else's material
I think that's fine, it's what he wants to do. Entertainment is about just that - entertaining. So long as you keep your audiences happy, you are doing your job. Creativity comes a long way down the list of important qualities for entertainers, I suppose sadly so.
I would prefer to always use my own material, but I do in fact sometimes use routines I've bought. But I hope that my own personality and style is more important than any of the actual routines anyway. And inevitably, each routine will change to fit your own style over time.
Potty the Pirate
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Thinking further about the question - remember that in many fields of performing the artistes pretty much always perform someone else's material. Actors, opera and musical singers, TV dramas, etc. Of course, a variety entertainer is almost obliged to create his own show, and the logical assumption would be that the best show would be one the performer has created, with all original material. But also a collection of material gathered from other sources works. This has always been done, many of us buy the same props, routines have always been copied, altered, and refined. I find it sensible not to judge, but simply to try to see where we're heading. No doubt, it's the quality of our own show which should concern us the most, not that of others.
Even so, as it's possible to buy ready-to-go routines these days, and killer ones at that, many people with theatrical training can now learn such routines. With so many actors out of work, it's always surprised me that more don't try, but of course, being a kids' entertainer probably sounds naff if you've been to RADA. My belief is that many actors would easily find themselves very capable if they adopted this approach.
The real issue, creativity, is clearly the heart of the matter. But there is as much work in a creative presentation to an audience as there is in preparation.
Audiences will appreciate the end result, how it was achieved is no matter to them really. As performers we naturally would likely respect someone more if they created their own material. Perhaps. Then again, thinking about Mark Lewis, maybe I'm wrong there too....
Smarty Pants
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-Audiences will appreciate the end result, how it was achieved is no matter to them really. As performers we naturally would likely respect someone more if they created their own material. Perhaps. Then again, thinking about Mark Lewis, maybe I'm wrong there too.... -

I would certainly agree that The Bongo Hat is a masterpiece, and his routine is the best I have read. However, even variations on it would be advisable if you want to make it totally unique. The mutiplying wands he suggests are an excellent idea, but why not come up with your own funny wands?

Do some of you actually call your racoon Rocky?

Do you use magic words that you have copied from others?

If you buy a prop from a dealer at a convention, and the dealer says "This is what you must do"...do you believe him?

There are a wealth of wonderful props out there. Many of them can be purchased from the best magic shops. Toys are us, Ross, TJ Max, The Home Depot, to name a few. Most of them won't break the bank, either! Even the Bongo Hat is easily remade to fit your own art work.
Tony James
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I have found that dealers in the UK with a good prop tend to put a routine which often is a bog standard series of events which go wrong before the finale when the result comes right.

Nothing wrong with that but if you're not careful you'll find you've bought a run of effects with a similar line. If I'm that attracted by the prop I'll go and think and if I can see another route I'll buy. In the past I've bought on appeal and ened up not finding a way through which works for me. I get more careful as I get older. Still make mistakes though!
Tony James

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Smarty Pants
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There has been a lot of discussion on the Café about those entertainers who work out of a suitcase, and those who lug trunks full of dealers standard colorful wooden and metal props into a show. There is no right or wrong to this, but do you think children actually notice if you have large colorful props, and fancy painted tables? I don't believe they do. The magic is in YOU, the performer, not in the props. The props are merely a vehicle to project the wonderful, larger than life personality of you the performer. You will be the one to amaze the little ones, to make them laugh, and to make them happy. You will be the one they want to invite back year after year to entertain at their birthday party. It has little to do with your props. They will not be inviting your props back....they will be inviting you back. Get Creative!
Tony James
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Yes - you're right. But.........

There's more to it than that. Your table and its contents is your shop window. It can achieve two things.

1. Interest and curiosity and even suspense with the children. That's why it's so important not to put out on display something you will not or may not use.

Keep props like that hidden. Display only what you will definitely use or you will cause great disappointment.

2. Credibility and confidence with the booker and any potential bookers. They are not going to be bothered what you do but the fact that a smart table and sufficient interesting looking props are on show boosts your credibility. It looks good, makes you look good and gives the booker confidence. So they relax.

Should anyone disagrees with that then we had better start discussing whether it matters if your cloths are smart? I saw a video recently of a magician working in scruffy shorts, T shirt and trainers for goodness sake. He hadn't even bothered to shave his legs! Disgusting!!

Do you need a bag full of big flashy props - NO. Certainly not. Counterproductive. Overkill and the laws of diminishing returns apply.

People who go in for overkill clearly do not understand the principles of performance structure.

One major piece is all you need in a one hour performance (or 45 minutes if you're not up to doing the full hour).
Tony James

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Potty the Pirate
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I agree that your appearance, and the appearance of your props and set, are very important. Think of going to the theatre, the set creates the scene, and that's what a magician or entertainer can do also. Personally, I think there's no wrong or right to this question. I just want to put on a show that appeals in many different ways, and having a couple of big zany props is designed to give my show extra visual interest, and to arouse curiosity among the audience.
For instance, my flag machine is worked by three different kids from the audience, which brings the whole group in, and gets everyone involved with the action. By contrast, when I play my guitar and sing, all eyes are on me, and attention is focussed in a different way.
I believe getting the audience to watch the performer intently, then allowing them to take in the whole scenario, with several kids getting involved, creates a healthy contrast in presentation. It softens the performers personality, and diffuses the intensity of the performance.
Tony James
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Exactly.
Tony James

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Smarty Pants
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There have been some excellent posts on this thread. However, I would love folks here to go deeper into the thought process of putting together a show for children. I am amazed to see from some people on here that the first questions are what tricks are they going to buy, from what dealers, and how much are they going to spend? In my eyes, this is all so unimportant. I truly see it like an artist with a blank canvas and a paint brush. When I create my show, which is always evolving, I go far beyond a series of tricks. It is more like a play, a production. It builds, it grows. I shall expand on this priceless information in greater detail when I have heard from others who have either been in the business many years, or ar just starting out on the adventure.
mystic shriner
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Perhaps those who are the "others who have either been in the business many years" don't want to share with those who are getting started. What do you think when beginners get on here and basically ask for an entire routine for a prop they "just had to get"....perhaps even because someone they want to copy or consider a "competitor" has...and now they're at a loss on what to do with it.
Connor Scot
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I'm relatively new to this forum but its clear to me that there are a few guys on here who are really generous with their advice and others who only show up to ask what routines they should buy to make them great kid's entertainers. I've been working very hard recently on some original material for my act and I will gladly share it with anyone on here who is interested. This has been a great thread!
Smarty Pants
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Mystic Shriner..... that is a terrific, and dare I say creative Avatar. I notice you appear to have the same taylor as Dennis Michael! I have always been interested in the use of the bow tie in connection with children's entertainment. When I first started entertaining children, I wore a traditional black bow tie. Then I got adventurous, and invested in a red one. Then I had a bow tie that lit up. Then I had one that twirled. Then I had one that squirted water at the kids. Then I had a pop-up tie. It would be interesting to know how many children's entertainers still wear bow ties. I have discarded mine, and replaced it with a cravatte. Old fashioned....yes. However, the kids appear to find it enchanting!

Connor..........Yes, this is indeed turning into a great thread. What do you wear when you perform for kids?
magicgeorge
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I must agree, that's a weirdly brilliant avatar. Somewhere between insanity and genius. Connor does all the right tricks but not necessarily in the right order....

SP wrote:
"There has been a lot of discussion on the Café about those entertainers who work out of a suitcase, and those who lug trunks full of dealers standard colorful wooden and metal props into a show. There is no right or wrong to this, but do you think children actually notice if you have large colorful props, and fancy painted tables? I don't believe they do."

I agree with Tony's take on this.
A good entertainer should be able to do an act out of a suitcase but it doesn't mean they have to. We all know (or should know) that you're not going to get a great act by merely throwing money at it and buying fancy props. But colourful and intriguing props do have their uses for even the most experienced and professional entertainer.

On top of the reasons Tony mentioned, they can be a simple focus and talking point for your show. Billy Connolly once did an encore where he joked about the fact that everyone would go home telling there friends how funny he was but when they where asked what he actually said they wouldn't be able to tell them. I think this goes even more so for children. You may have a really funny rope routine that has the kids in hysterics but when they tell their parents about it I bet all they'll really be able to say is "It was great, he had this piece of rope and he was really funny".

My act finishes with the my raccoon escaping in a car. I get a couple of good laughs from it and about 30 seconds of entertainment whereas with most of my simpler props I get lots of big laughs and an extended routine but it is the most mentioned part of my show when people book me. I believe this is because it's something that sticks in the childrens' mind and they can easily explain. They say to their parents "he has a weasel that drives a car" and the parents think "That, I'd like to see!"
I'd assume the same goes for "He drew a picture and it came alive"
Or "he caught my card with a dead chicken"

George
chris mcbrien
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Mystic Shriner's avatar seems to have dissappeared....would have liked to have seen it again.
I think being unique/orginal with the skills to entertain really hones it down to it's bare basics. If you have to rely solely on big boxes and props to keep their interest without having an entertaining personality, you're not an entertainer...your'e like Vanna White on Wheel of Fortune turning letters and smiling...except you don't look as good as her.
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