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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » New to magic? » » Astonishment or Bewilderment (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Owen Thomas
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I had a thought. I was playing poker with my friends and having a few beers and asked someone to take a card? (forced it) then said "no I don't like 7 of clubs here take another one" (forced same card) again and again.

That person couldn't stop laughing. good reaction. And then I thought about it.

Comedy = Suprise without threat or promise.

so taking the same card over and over in itsself is not a "strong" effect, and is not very "Astonishing" but it is a strange thing that can cause "Bewilderment"

then I thought more about this.

if Comedy=Suprise without threat or promise, then when someone "magician" asks you to "take a card" you instanly have a few expectations on what might happen, example (probly going to find my card ect....maybe my card will end up somewere ect...) which will not be a suprise therefore wont be funny or Astonishing.

to to make an effect "good" I think you either have to make it "Astonishing" (Hard to do lol) example make the card fly around the room, change color ect.. OR make the effect Bewildering (do somthing they will never expect) example ...um don't know maybe stop half way through trick and then sing a song and never find the card?

has anyone thought of this?
adrianbent
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Owen, it sounds like you are a deep thinker of performance. Good on you! It also seems like you are on the road to a creative breakthrough. I`ll throw out another example of a gag that I like where you remove a card box, open it up and pull out ropes for a rope trick. It supports your theory of expectation-surprise.
thumbslinger
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I've thought of this for a few years. Take a card. It get's controlled. I'm more into effects where spectators watch instead of 'being involved' now for this very reason.

Seems like you'd have to go very far past the city limits to find someone who doesn't subconsciously know the pattern "choose a card, magician has it located before the effect is finished" or 'choose a card...he's making me pick this, right?"

Bewilderment and/or Astonishment is always relative to the person being affected, but if I saw a guy juggling playing cards by using a table-top to bounce them off of instead of tossing them in the air, I'd be bewildered, astonished and probably would let out a laugh in "wow, that's awesome!"

Engaging the minds of the spectators really is involving them.
Chet Atkins, Jerry Reed and Tommy Emmanuel are all you need to study to learn to play guitar.
Owen Thomas
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Im just thinking we all practice hard on magic effects, but to make them funny/entertaining you have to not do what spectators expect? (according to the above idea)

So what does one do, say performing the linking rings? (spectator sees a magician with metal rings and expects a "trick" maybe by "linking them"

So I'm feeling like all the practice I put into standard effects is some how wasted
thumbslinger
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Oh, it's not wasted time. The moves are important. What you might think about though, is what else do you do with your time? Watch movies/read, study languages, art etc? Can you find a magic effect in the process of watching a movie? Could the remote control for the dvd actually start controlling the rings?

You might start thinking about how else linking rings can be used. Maybe start out with just one and do a ring and rope routine with it. That would disarm a little. Then, see what you could do with two...maybe some other ring/rope or something else.

Either way, besides creating a story where the rings are symbolic of something, you can introduce the props/materials somehow other than their intended purpose and then cycle around to what their used for, in this case, the linking rings.
Chet Atkins, Jerry Reed and Tommy Emmanuel are all you need to study to learn to play guitar.
Curtis Kam
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Owen, all good thoughts, so far as it goes, just keep at it. You've identified a classic diachotomy that exsists not just in magic, but in storytelling, as well. Alfred Hitchcock reportedly summed it up this way, "it always comes back to the same two choices, do you want surprise or suspense?"

Which is to say, don't worry. You'll find that magic can be entertaining without being surprising, and without being funny. Think about Paul Gertner's "Unshuffled" for instance. It's a pick-a-card-and-I'll-find-it plot, with some novel effects along the way. Even the novel effect of the words appearing on the side of the deck is predictable after the first time, but still entertaining to watch. Many times, the overall plot of a magic effect/movie/play/joke/story can be predictable, but the entertainment comes from the smaller surprises along the way.

Also, it's really hard to have surprise without expectations. A series of truly random events quickly becomes dull, like listening to random notes being played on the piano.
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Owen Thomas
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Curtis Kam suspense in magic is like they know what should happen but don't belive it? so its the waiting for the impossoble but you know it will happen?

Anyway how do you make suspense without doing powerfull effects?
abc
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I did something almost exactly the same but only as a part of a routine in my restaurant act. I just said the trick doesn't work with a specific card.
As part of it I would do a top change and then force the card they assume is on the table.
I would end the bit by having them select another card and then produce the card that "it doesn't work with" from my pocket. The fact that they are looking at another card and are almost relieved thatit is another card is more than enough misdirection.
scaevola
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Don't forget about the "magician in trouble" plot line. I do a lot of effects for kids and I love love love being really confident and cocky that I am going to perform some imaginary effect, then telling the kids that it is very very important that the actual effect I am going to do doesn't happen. Then I do the effect and get comically frustrated.

With the linking rings for example, I might say "I have eight rings and they are totally separated! Solid metal! no matter what I do they won't link! It is very important that they stay separate (link rings) Oh no! well at least the other ones aren't linked. It is good that ONLY TWO of the rings are linked, otherwise I would be in BIG trouble....(link another ring, act super shocked)

This works because kids love to see adults in trouble. It is their main source of suspense and tension. you see it all the time in kids comedies. Of course this doesn't help with adults in the slightest but I feel that there are ways of playing off the tensions and suspensions that happen in adult life and using magic.

People do this when they want to use magic to hit on people "blow a kiss on the cards" they are using the suspense of a romantic interaction and translating that onto the card trick so that when the one card "blushes" it adds sexual tension to the magical tension.

Of course adults love the magician in trouble plot too.

Finding plots for your magic tricks is very hard. that's why so many magicians just say "look, look, look." The more you think of the tricks as incidental to the overall effect of your personality the better off you will be.

How do you make suspense when you aren't doing magic tricks?
Owen Thomas
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Thanks for advice guys
Ed_Millis
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Why do people always go back to the same rides at the fair? Or watch the same movies more than once? They know exactly what's going to happen and where everything is going to go. But the journey from where they are to the ending - though known and expected - is still exciting and entertaining.

I wonder if you had a dozen different card routines that were all "pick a card, let's lose it, I will find it", but took the spectator on an entertaining journey, do you think you could string all 12 together and not bore the audience?

Suspense doesn't have to be "what is he going to do?", but simply "how is he going to do it?" I think this is a major factor in magician-in-trouble - they know the trick HAS to work, but how are you going to do it?

You can also mix up surprise - the totally unexpected event - with suspense - the anticipated event. They are in suspense waiting for the card to be the one on the table; instead you surprise them by pulling it out of your shoe. ("Kicker", Jay Nobelzada) And when you weave the magic into a story that involves their emotions, vice simply engaging their intellect by trying to figure out your methods, you can take the audience down some wonderful journeys. (At least, that's what I'm told - I haven't quite mastered that yet!!)

Ed
Alexio
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Really interesting and insightful posts, guys. It reminds me of a few times when either I've watched an effect and despite my initial thoughts, it went on to astonish and surprise me, but also times when I've amused spectators by surprising them. Really makes you think about 'how do I want the spectator to feel whilst they're watching this, or even, whilst they are a PART of this'.
gaddy
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I strive towards confoundment, addleation, affectation, amazementization, astoundishment, awe-posing, awestriking, baffle, bamboozle, bedaze, bedazzlingly, bewildermentation, boggling, bowl downishness, bowl overingly, buffalo tying, dazing, dazzle, dumbfound, flabbergasting, flooringly, fuddlement, get-goatingly, impressing, marveling, mazing, moving, muddling, mystify, to nonplus, to overwhelm, to paralyze, to perplex, petrify, puzzle, stagger, startle, stick, strike, strike dead, strike dumb, strike with wonder, stump, stun, stupefy, surprise, take aback, throw, touch, wonderment.

To name a few adverbs and such...
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Ed_Millis
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Gotta stop doing the book test with a thesarus, Gaddy!! 8>)

Ed
Owen Thomas
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The best bit of magic I have ever seen was Tommy Coopers Egg Bag Trick.

It is so beatifully constucted.

PLEDGE - Shows and Egg and a Bag ( you asume that hes going to do a trick eg. make egg change color ect...)

TURN - He vanishes the egg in a silly way exposing the "fake method" (puts it under his arm pit)

He then shows is arms empty ( Sucker effect )

PRESTIGE - He says he will now produce the egg from the bag with thunderous aplause, but messes up the trick and cant find egg.

its so good.Pure entertainment
Vick
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To paraphrase Dia Vernon
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Brad Burt
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In 37 years of magic I have found very, very few routines that offer true 'suspense'. Most offer 'surprise. To offer true suspense there has to be something that would happen that the audience would not like to see happen, or see happen in a way that would not cause them to experience 'horror', an altogether different affect emotionally.

Consider a set up on stage in which the illusionist REALLY convinces the audience that he 'could' cut off his assistants head. (Just suppose.) Build up, build up, build up...several possible endings. If we suppose the with proper staging the audience could really think even for a moment that the trick could go wrong and the blade NOT pass harmlessly through the assistants neck then you 'should' have suspense leading up to the denouement. You get there AND...the blade does in fact go through the neck without severing it. Gasp and relief and applause.

Or, the head apparently drops off! HORROR!

Most true suspense if possible in the large illusion area simply because it is very difficult to cause true horror with a deck of cards, sponge balls or some coins. I mean really. Tear a card in half and many times you will get a gasp, but it's more from surprise.

Can you derive horror from a close-up routine? Sure. But, it takes a great deal of thought and it mostly derives from plots in the mental area of our craft. Living and Dead tests offer some very satisfing possible plot turns, etc.

BEst,
Brad Burt
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