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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The little darlings » » "Household" Props vs. Magic-y Ones: Does Familiarity Breed Contempt, or Joy? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Profile of Mumblemore
I just want to get some views on whether Little Darlings use 1) "special-looking" apparatus (rice bowls, original die box, statosphere, etc.) or tend to "shy away from that stuff" in favor of 2) ordinary/ungimmicked looking stuff, or 3) just plain wacky items which are so cartoonish and over-the-top that they spark imaginations. I guess that by the way I framed the question it is apparent that I go for 2 and 3, and sometimes have a hard time conceiving of how a kid will think about some stereotypically magic-y gizmo (dove pan, rice and checkers, etc.). I know there will be a lot of defenders of old-school boxes and tubes out there, but how do you take away the "special magic instrument" label which seems to make kids suspicious, and just make the items normal (or "nearly normal" as one poster likes to write). And are tricks with ungimmicked household items (or apparently so) less exciting by nature than the mysterious magic-y prop tricks? And do the cartoonish props focus too much away from the magician and onto the silliness of the props, or do you find them to work well if you can cull an offbeat style to accomodate these?
Tony James
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I think it's worth bearing in mind that the many props and tables popular in the 19th century were based on household items and furniture. The sort of items which would have been in evidence in any middle class home.

Mostly that style of furniture has disappeared except for those living in old property and furnishing it to suit the period. Only magicians sometimes don't appear to have recognised the fact and some glaring examples can still be found.

The strength of these props originally was their very ordinariness. They could have been placed on a sideboard and considered a household object. Now they can stick out like a sore thumb.

On the other hand, children will accept what we might consider an old fashioned item, seeing it as an essential part of a magical event. magicians have strange items and in a child's fantasy world nothing that's magical is strange at all but simply to be expected and accepted.

So yes, you're right. But does it matter if the prop produces the result?

Materials, props, tricks don't matter terribly. What matters is the person and their personality. It's you that matters.
Tony James

Still A Child At Heart
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Profile of AntonDreaming
I feel like using some props is a good thing or at least having a "propy" table or somthing. I feel having a few nice props ads a proffessional feeling to the show.

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Brian Richards
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I think it depends on your style and your audience. I limit the fashy props when I perform for older kids to teens. If I am trying to not look like a kidshow magician, I work out of a small case and perform mostly with common objects.
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Profile of arizonamagic1
Good topic mumblemore.
From my show here are some audience favorite effects.

Chair Suspension - normal looking props to me, 2 chairs and a board.
Axtell Board - Classrooms today use only dry erase stuff...normal
Miser's Dream - normal stuff
Vanishing Bandanna - normal
T & R Newspaper - normal
Rope Effects - normal
Hat tears - normal
Silk to Egg - normal

In fact, just about the only "abnormal" prop I use is a change bag.
Potty the Pirate
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I like all types of prop, but my favourite have to be weird and wacky type props, such as Chance Wolf makes. That said, my best prop tricks from an audience perspective would be:
Final Answer (ordinary household stuff)
Flying Carpet (looks like an ordinary table - pretty much)
Wacky Weasel with Take Apart Vanish (looks liks something very unusual, very proppy)
Pasing Water (looks fairly ordinary, but clearly a magic prop)
Knot funny (looks like a magic prop, but uses ordinary looking rope)
Axtell Drawing Board (looks fairly ordinary, but lots of kids have seen this one before, and know exactly what will happen as soon as they see the board)
Strat-O-Sphere (looks like a magic prop, but the kids love my silly routine)
Looking at the above answers, it seems to me that the important thing is that your routine fits your show. The type of props you use are less significant, but of course, it's the props you use that leave the impression of colour and showiness.
How often does a kid tell me he recently saw a magician, to which my response is often to ask the magician's name? The kid never remembers. Then I ask what his favourite trick was that he saw the magician perform - and the kid never remembers. This tells me that there are lots of magicians out there who don't know how to make a routine memorable.
It's good to see a distinction between the type of props you use, and the quality of your routines. Colourful props are eye candy, and build excitement and anticipation. But only a great routine can be memorable.
Dennis Michael
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This is a good topic because it is an issue that can have so many answers.

First as mentioned, your audience is very important. If your show is geared for just children, then one answer applys. If it is for a Family stage type show another answer applies, as so forth bependent on the venue.

Since this is asked in the children entertainment section, the first thing we have to do is NOT think like a magician. What does a child see in his mind when he is asked to describe a magician? (If he describes Chris Angel...He's wathing to much late night shows!) Generally, a book store on stoires about magicians protray a propy guy with a "modern cabinet" (So many kids shows have that) as well as a caped magician.

I like the consider the character and audience first. If the Character is Silly then wacky looking props are in. This also applies to a wild and crazy magician.

When a prop can easily be related to like "I got one of them home!" and it does something magical, then a personal connection is made, it grabs his interest, and is magical. You pretty much have him hooked.

Every kid would like to have money, so the Miser's Dream is rock solid.

Daycare and Pre-Schools like story telling any any of Axrell Products go very well.

So "Ordinary" works just as well as something that look "Magical". I know others disagree with me on this, however, many times I am asked if I work out of a suitcase. My response is NO, and then I proceed to tell them the props I use, and the set-up is like a mini theater. Generally this is what they are looking for, because my website displays it.

In Schools, I ask the sponsoring agent, if I could give a prize to the child that draws a picture of what he liked best. Most of the time it is either the rabbit or the Pro-Viper II. As for the Rabbit it is a toss-up on Axtell's Rodney Rabbit and a real rabbit. (Both proved to be valuable.) So puppets do play very well!

1) "special-looking" apparatus (rice bowls, original die box, statosphere, etc.) or tend to "shy away from that stuff" in favor of
2) ordinary/ungimmicked looking stuff, or
3) just plain wacky items which are so cartoonish and over-the-top that they spark imaginations

1.) The classics are classic because they are new and just as powerful today as they were in the past (Performance makes them powerful)
2.) There is a physical, visual, emotional, understandable connection to these props and if they own it it becomes very powerful.
3.) If you are a funny man, clowish, wacky, crazy, laughable guys, these work well. I can see a guy dressed like Silly Billy having a blast with these, or any characte similar to this. It may look out of place based on character but not so if the story line makes a connection.

Just my thoughts and experience on your question.
Dennis Michael
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Profile of MoonRazor
I think the only people who have a problem with "Magicy" looking props is magicians.
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Profile of Bridgewater
When I was a kid, I thought magician's props were so cool. I loved the boxes and dove pans and zombies and head/wrist/finger choppers. I wanted to be a magician in part because they had such great "stuff".
Today, I think a good kids show should feature props both ordinary and outlandish. By all means, show your skill. Then put your ego in check and allow the kids to be dazzled by something exotic or mysterious looking. These days, if you tell the audience "This chest was crafted in farthest reaches of India", you'd probably be telling them the truth!
"Don't run with those..."
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