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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » Variety Show (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

burst
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Memphis, TN
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I just burnt my fingers quite badly, so I'm going to try and keep typing to a minimum.

I was recently asked to be a part of a variety show. It's fully funded and stocked with professional equipment. I was asked on to act and write, but since I happen to do this business as well, I thought that I should add occasionally add a skit to, well, add some variety.

I was wondering if anyone would like to help me come up with some ideas on what exactly to do.

Currently, I believe we are signed up for six episodes. Let's say I'm given an average of five minutes an episode to do mentalism, what should I shoot for? Should the skits run completely independent of one another, or should they have a progression to them (but be fine if a person jumped in on skit five, never seeing the other segments)?

I should say that I do not want to perform anything that I currently use or plan on using. I would much more prefer to use material specifically for this. I will have plenty of time to rehearse everything. If it doesn't look good to me, it won't be used.

If anyone can give me any help or suggestions, it would be welcomed completely.

I need to stop typing now. I'm sure I haven't said enough. If any of you need any more details, ask away.

Thank you,
/paul.f
aukt
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I would say that mentalism isn't perhaps perfect for this formet.
burst
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I don't understand how it wouldn't fit with the format. It's a variety hour. A new segment comes up just about every five to ten minutes. We have serious shorts, comedy skits, a freaking amazing band, why not add mentalism? I'll probably end up doing one segment of good old fashioned slight of hand. Because I love it.

Anyhow, if I end up thinking it doesn't work when the show is being edited, then I'll have it taken out. I should at least give it a serious attempt. If anything, it would be a good exercise. I'm really not worried about it not working. It'll be enough fun giving it a try. That's reason to do it right there.

My question is what to do. If anyone would like to share ideas, I would love to hear them. You get credit on the show (by that, I mean your name will be in the credits -whoopy!), and if the show hits, I'll pay. Even if it's out of my own pocket. I know a few of you have worked things out for use on television.

If it means anything (it doesn't to me), Craig Brewer (Hustle and Flow, Black Snake Moan) may be getting involved with the project. He's interested in it, and we're in "talks," but, if you know anything about stuff like this, that really doesn't mean anything at all.

Oh, and Orson Welles did a variety hour with mentalism, did he not?

/paul.f
burst
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Also, I should say that I'm not just looking for ideas on what to perform. If anything, I'll do what I already do (if the creators approve of me performing their material on TV)

More importantly than anything, if people have ideas or experience how things should be framed, edited, and absolutely anything else involving mentalism and television, I could really use any and all advice. That is a ton more important than the effects, really.

I'd really like to use mentalism in this show. But if I'm not able to do it right, it's going to be trashed in the editing room. I like to do things properly. That's why I'm asking for help here.

/paul.f
Rory Raven
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Two thoughts:

I'd perform stand-alone pieces, rather than connected ones. However, you may want to connect them with a theme. If it were me, I'd probably take a "Famous Mentalists and/or Weird Characters" approach; "Tonight I'd like to tell you about a woman named Anna Eva Fay ...." and them perform something that could be tied to her somehow. The next week, it'd be "Houdini spent a great deal of time exposing the fraudulent spirit mediums of his day. In the séance room, all kinds of inexplicable manifestations took place ...." and on into something that connects to Houdini and spirit mediums.

So while there would be a theme running through the series of six shows, and you'd be recognizable as "The Guy Who Knows About ((fill in the blank))" each would stand on its own. They would be cohesive, without necessarily being connected.

And obviously, I don't expect my approach is the best for you; you'll need to work out your own theme, should you go that route.

My second thought is that I'd be very hesitant to try new stuff in this particular project. I'd stick to stuff you already know inside-out, with one or *maybe* two new pieces in the middle of the run. Seems like you'll have enough on your mind without having to break in new material. I often attend a variety night here in Providence, and there is often a magician trying out new material, and his stuff always looks half-baked to me, because he's trying it out for the first time. You don't want that going out over the airwaves. Find someplace else to break in the new stuff, then do it on TV next season.

Just my two cents. Your mileage may vary.

R
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burst
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I always rehearse like mad. I think I'm decent at it. And even after the rehearsals, I would perform it on a few groups of people. Then I would perform it on a few people that run the show. Then I would perform it on the people behind the cameras. Then we would be filming it on quite a few different groups of people. I would be study each take before moving onto the next.

I'm sorry I didn't clarify that. Even though I would like to use new material, I would rehearse it for twenty hours or more before I perform it the first time, and perform it at least a dozen times before I film it. I'm trained in acting. In the world of plays, you sometimes only have a week or two to learn all of your lines and motions. In order to get it all in order and to really do a good job, you learn to run your lines and think of what you have to do while saying them even when you are going to the bathroom. I've spent entire days doing nothing but rehearsing, eating, and going to the bathroom. If that's what is needed, that's what is done.

I'm not going to let anything be half baked.

Thank you, Rory. I'm glad you brought that up. I don't want anyone to think that by looking for new material I will be doing a poor job. If something isn't ready, if it isn't as perfect as I want it to be, it's not going to be used. If it's filmed and something about it is off, then it's not going to be used. I have complete artistic freedom with this. I know it sounds impossible, but I have control over every segment that I will be doing. If I don't like it, I try to fix it. If I can't fix it, then it's trashed.

/paul.f
jakeg
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The first thing that I would do is pick up Dunninger's radio tapes and see how he choreographed his routines. I'd feed off those. He was working in front of a live audience.
I'd also consider using local celebrities, (mayors, police chief, pastors, etc.) who I would work my routines on to add authenticity to what I was doing.
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