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clarissa35f
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Jax I am sorry, I do not understand how you can On the one hand...Play up the sucker gag, on the other deliver it in any way that is not taken as hurtful.

The problem is not so much with how you intend it, but in how it is received. You are the professional, therefore how the other person takes it, is mostly your responsibility. I am just very curious, how you would play up the sucker gag, which has the consequence of stressing the audiences having been played for a fool, and yet claim that it was not delivered in a way to hurt?

The sucker gag in Eddie Fechter's "That's it" is the classic." magician in trouble" plot. The humor comes from the audience believing the trick went wrong... The magician messed up...and does not know it.

The " sucker" in this gag is always and should always be the magician. The Audience is still interested, and the drama mounts because the more he goes on with the trick, the more it looks Like he cannot save the trick...

In the mind of the spec the trick is blown...so if the magician can still save the effect that packs a huge wallop.... as long as the audience never feels they were being suckered. Play down the sucker aspect it looks like a miracle. The final reveal of their card in your hands should be almost like an accident.

Deep down the audience KNOWS better, but they do not need to have it rubbed in their faces.


About the audience " knowing" that the magician had the trick in hand all along... and " feeling" that he blew it, I refer you to Darwin Ortiz' Strong Magic where he talks about the differences between " Intellectual" and " Emotional" knowledge.

Intellectually the Audience KNOWS after the trick, that the Magician had it in hand all along, Emotionally during the trick they think he blew it... he's the sucker, therefore to play up the "Sucker" gag at the end is to shift the sucker tag to the audience. In my experience that is never a good idea. If you can come up with a scenario where it works for the magician I'd like to hear it, I can always learn something new.

By the way... Both those tricks are not sucker tricks. At least not as I understand the term. And the way I have seen other magicians discuss " Sucker gags" Spider vanish, etc... this isn't what they were talking about.
“Amateurs practice until they get it right.
Professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.” <Anonymous>
"There is no such thing as magic, there is no other way that could have been done" <Whit Haydn>
Jaxon
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I'm sure there are different descriptions of what makes things a "Sucker trick". So I'll try to explain what a sucker trick is to me.

One type of sucker trick is when they think they know something but at the end it turns out they are wrong. For example the little video of me doing some manipulation with a cigarette in my first post in this discussion. At the end they think the cigarette is behind my hand but it turns out it's not there. To me this is a type of sucker trick. They think I'm showing them how it's done but I'm not.

Another type is when the volunteer is the only one fooled and the rest of the audience isn't. For example the card on forehead in the Mike Finney video or the napkins over head in the Slydini video. Both of these to me are sucker tricks. The audience knows what's happened but the person you are doing it to is the only one that is fooled.

Neither of these hurt anyones feelings unless you give them an attitude about it. A simple, "That you for being a good sport" and a friendly hand shake at the end is all that's needed. So as I said. It's all in the delvery and the attitude in which it's presented.

An extreme example just came to mind. I remember seeing an act in which the performer would blind fold the volunteer and while they can't see the performer would go into a sneezing fit. The volunteer was feeling the mist of the sneeze on his face so he thought the magician sneezed on him. But what he was actually feeling was water coming from a spray bottle. The audience could see that he was squirting him on the face as he made the sneezing sound but the volunteer didn't know this.

Then at the end when he pulled the blind fold off the guy he sneezed again and this time let the volunteer see that he was squirting the squirt bottle. Then he gave the squirt bottle to the volunteer and let him squirt the magician in the face with it. This turns the "Sucker aspect" around so now everyone is in on the joke and the target of the joke got to get the magician back for it. This to me is like saying "Thanks for being a good sport".

I honestly don't think things like this hurts anyone. The bottom line to me is if they are volunteering to be an assistant in a show they better have a sense of humor. Magic is suppose to be unexpected so they should know to be ready for anything.

Now that last paragraph will probably bring up the response that a magician who would be mean to a volunteer is harmful to the art of magic. I agree with that but I also feel that not everyone should like my act. I know that sounds strange and I hope everyone does enjoy my acts but in all honesty I don't expect it. I know this is an entire different discussion but it's in some ways tied to this one. I just think that we need more variety in magic. Some may prefer magician A over magician B. Just like some prefer comedian A over comedian B. A comedian would end up with a number of Fans but also have a number of people who can't stand their show. We rarely see that in magic because everyone seems to want to please everyone.

Ron Jaxon
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After regaining my ability to hear after 20 years of deafness. I learned that there is magic all around you. The simplest sounds that amazed me you probably ignore. Look and listen around you right now. You'll find something you didn't notice before.
clarissa35f
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Hmmm... Maybe I just am misunderstanding. For me although the Finney etc routines seem to be " sucker" gags, because a member of the audience is the " sucker" I do not concider them to be " sucker" gags. And I am pretty sure that as the term has come to be understood, other magicians would agree.

I will say this, when you give the attitude of " Thank you for being a good sport" that is exactly what is meant by downplaying the " sucker" aspect.

Seems that to the extent that we disagree on " Card on Forehead" " Balls over the head." being " sucker gags" I can see Playing up the cards over the head and stuff to get more laughs from the audience, so I can see the reason for our confusion. Same with "Card on forehead".

All I can say is, that I personally would never do either of those routines. Not because they are not good routines. Just that as I see it the balancing act of making the audience laugh, and STILL not making the volunteer appear foolish would be too much for me. I am not saying it cannot be done. I just know that that delicate tightrope walk would be too stressful for me, as I try to balance other performance issues.

Maybe that is the sign of a true professional. Being able to deliver fun for the audience, while not making the spectator volunteer appear foolish, along with everything else going on. Well, I aspire to that, even though I may never perform it myself, knowing I could if I had to, would do wonders for my confidence and performance.
“Amateurs practice until they get it right.
Professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.” <Anonymous>
"There is no such thing as magic, there is no other way that could have been done" <Whit Haydn>
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