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ku7uk3
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Hi,

I have recently been mastering my cups and balls routine for a magic competition, and like my other routines, I like to test it out at my children's parties.
However, the trick has many problems which makes it unsuitable for this audience.

1. The children in a seated position cannot see the balls on top of a table.

2. This in turn causes the children to stand up and thus, the entire trick / show is ruined.

3. If performed on the floor, the children at the back cannot see, see point 2.

4. The 3 ball parts doesn't really interest the children. They get bored too quickly and I find them a lot easier to control with another puppet routine. I perform a 60 minute magic show, so I know pacing and trick selection play a huge part in achieving this amount of time with the children. But even with the smaller 30 minute shows, it doesn't 'thrill' or excite the children.

5. The 270 degree angle that children are often sat in ruin the load sections as they will always cry out and spoil the endings. You might be lucky and get one load down, but three loads they usually catch on. It only takes one kid to see and shout to ruin the entire presentation.

6. Some kids try to rush forwards and lift the cups early. I know all the stuff about audience management, I wrote the book on it. But kids are just kids and when excited they like to get themselves involved. I don't want to shout at them, so what are the tactics used to stop them lifting the cups, when they are practically on top of you (like in a house party).

7. The whole trick is too big for close-up, yet too small for a kids show. It wants to be bigger in general and be more defiant on the stage. Especially when working a school hall of 600 children.

8. There is no comedy in the routine. Its just a magician showing off, and children hate that, which is usually when you lose them as an audience.

My question is, does anybody perform this trick to children, and what are they doing to make it appealing to them? Do you bother with the loads? How do you handle the table / sit down angle problems? What do you do to make it funny?

I can imagine it in a magic workshop scenario where you teach the trick to 12 children, but what I am after is something suitable for a show of 30+ children with no teaching element.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Steve
magicbern
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Hong Kong, China
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If you get the video by Tim and Sue Ellis called 'Runaround Sue' you can see their 50's inspired cups and balls routine. In an early segment they are doing it on stage in a school show and it seems to play great!
cardone
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I lower the table ... This one I use for ages 6 and up .....no more than 50 kids.... a larger audience I will do something else....For adults I will do it for a huge audience ...250 plus.

This one gets a huge reaction when the final loads come out ... I make most of the routine about audience participation ....I will some day publish this routine ....I think a lot of guys will get a lot of milage out of it ...
Neznarf
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Cups and Ball will establish you are a real slight of hand magician.

Not just a Mak Magic Box Magician.

As Seinfeld would say "Not that theirs anything wrong with that"!

I've seen C & B in performed in a very large venu. 600+ amd play great.

This has been written before. Kids don't care if you do great slight of hand magic they just want to have a good time and have fun.

I myself LOVE watching C&B's.
"Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass...it's about learning how to dance in the rain."
Neale Bacon
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I do a routine about Martians coming to earth in their spaceships. I found a great set of old coloured aluminum picnic cups (in a zippered holder even) and instead of the usual balls, I use sparkly pom poms. Kids love it!
Neale Bacon and his Crazy Critters
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ku7uk3
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Quote:
On 2009-01-11 12:36, Neznarf wrote:
Cups and Ball will establish you are a real slight of hand magician.
Not just a Mak Magic Box Magician.


Sorry, but almost ALL kids magic box sets come with a cheap plastic colourful cups and balls set. Its the most standard mak Magic Box trick in the world.

I also disagree with having to establish yourself as a sleight of hand magician. Skill when working for children is how you make it appealing to them. That's about comedy and interacting with the children, and sleight of hand only comes across as showing off.

Magicians love this trick in a competition environment, which is why I am mastering it. Adults I find appreciate the skill, but honestly, don't have any connection to the effect. There is no reason for them to watch it other than to see you showing off your skill. They only do that for small doses at a time, and usually no longer than 15 minutes. But for children, its a very different audience and they won't even tolerate 2 minutes of skillful tricks without comedy. They must laugh for them to even show the slightest interest in any effect. What tactics are you using to make the children laugh with this effect.

Lowering the table is not an option I have, and I tried it on the floor again today, only to have the children try and steal the balls. I like the UFO idea to the theme. I had an idea to replace the balls with fish, and the cups with shark mouths. I could then do a 'Finding Nemo' presentation. But the table and load problems still exist.

Thanks for your input.
Alan Munro
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Currently, I perform the chop cup for kids and it plays extremely well! My routine is essentially the Don Alan routine, reworked for a standup show.

Paul Daniels keeps the attention of kids, when he performs chop cup on stage, as evidenced in his Live in Edinburgh DVD. There's a great deal to learn from him.

I would look for new phases in the routine and presentation angles that will hold the attention of the audience. It took me years to get my chop cup routine where it is today. Little details can make all the difference. Just make changes, test them in front of an audience after they look good in rehearsal and then keep tightening the routine.

I'd take control of the situation, much more. The kids need to respect the magician's space, otherwise the show stops. No one can be in back of me - it's the kiss of death for visual performances. The loading has to be angle resistant. If buskers can load with tough angles, so can you. Also, the table has to be small, so the table edge doesn't obscure the view of the balls. The cups should be near the table edge closest to the audience, too.
Spellbinder
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Not on the floor, just lower it to a convenient eye level for the kids on the floor, and perhaps kneel behind the table (on a pad, if your knees are like mine used to be). If your table doesn't adjust that low, try it on a plastic crate, suitably covered, of course. It can be done, and when you do it with little rubber duckies or other toy figures, kids love it.
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randyburtis
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Brain storming idea here, what about using a couple kids to be the table, holding their hands out flat, so you would have a single hand, then the middle have the two kids touch hands and then the single hand on the other side, if they kneel, or are smaller kids, that could handle the angle issue, you could certainly add some comedy with them, and looking at them etc could provide so easy misdirection. Having the cups on their hands controls their ability to interfere, and if your final loads aren't too heavy, they may not even feel anything, load wise under the cups. I have never tried this, but I think it may have some potential... it is a brainstorm...maybe will help...
Randy Burtis
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Spellbinder
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That's a good idea, only I would have them hold a tray between them, one hand on the side and one on the bottom to keep their little hands busy. That would give you a more solid surface to work with. You could make a thin tray of hardboard and cover it with felt or even a close-up pad.
Professor Spellbinder

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Publisher of The Wizards' Journals
magicgeorge
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I've not performed it in a children's living room show because of your first 3 points. I did think of bringing a lower table but it seems like a lot of effort for one effect also I like to perform it standing up without doing my back in.


I have done it for children in my restaurant work and it goes down well. I do a 2 cup version as there's less repetition and it's easier for the children to follow.

If they've got the plastic version from a magic box it won't really be an issue it's usually a self-working stacking and penetrating routine and even a half decent C&B routine will be completely different.

george
Alan Munro
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When I perform it for a seated audience, I just use a wooden barstool as the working surface and fold up a bar towel as a mat. I may switch to a thin mouse pad or mat, in the future. When the balls appear under the cup, I wait for some of the people to see it on the barstool and then I pick it up with a hand that people can see is empty.
TheAmbitiousCard
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Highly recommended for kids. Kids don't react to the 3 red balls because they don't care about your skill. Make it more enjoyable for them. Be enteratining in that section of the routine in a way that commands their attention.

Physical comedy, etc.
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Payne
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Quote:
On 2009-01-11 08:43, ku7uk3 wrote:

1. The children in a seated position cannot see the balls on top of a table.



Lower your table

Quote:

2. This in turn causes the children to stand up and thus, the entire trick / show is ruined.



Lower your table

Quote:

3. If performed on the floor, the children at the back cannot see, see point 2.



Lower your taable, but not that low

Quote:

4. The 3 ball parts doesn't really interest the children. They get bored too quickly and I find them a lot easier to control with another puppet routine. I perform a 60 minute magic show, so I know pacing and trick selection play a huge part in achieving this amount of time with the children. But even with the smaller 30 minute shows, it doesn't 'thrill' or excite the children.



Then make it interesting. Plenty of ways to do that. Plus if you end with the trick you don't have to worry about getting their attention back. Kids like to come up and look at all the stuff I've produced out of the cups - Four Balls, a lemon, a wind up chick and a small squash -- and to see if there are holes in the table or if the loads fold up or are collapsible.

Quote:

5. The 270 degree angle that children are often sat in ruin the load sections as they will always cry out and spoil the endings. You might be lucky and get one load down, but three loads they usually catch on. It only takes one kid to see and shout to ruin the entire presentation.



If they catch your loads your misdirection is not being propery done or your loading technique needs work. Study the work of Gazzo and Cellini on properly loading cups in real world street conditions

Quote:

6. Some kids try to rush forwards and lift the cups early. I know all the stuff about audience management, I wrote the book on it. But kids are just kids and when excited they like to get themselves involved. I don't want to shout at them, so what are the tactics used to stop them lifting the cups, when they are practically on top of you (like in a house party).



Again look to Gazzo and Cellini

Quote:


7. The whole trick is too big for close-up, yet too small for a kids show. It wants to be bigger in general and be more defiant on the stage. Especially when working a school hall of 600 children.



Nonsense. It can play for six or six hundred

Quote:

8. There is no comedy in the routine. Its just a magician showing off, and children hate that, which is usually when you lose them as an audience.



Got lots of comedy and bits of business in my routine. The trick is to put YOU into the routine. Don't let the props dominate the presenter or the presentation.
"America's Foremost Satirical Magician" -- Jeff McBride.
TheAmbitiousCard
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Eveyrone on the Café RAVES about all the cups and balls tricks on YouTube and only about 1% of them are entertaining in any way at all.

What the Café residents are RAVING about are secret moves and methods.

NONE OF WHICH ARE ENTERTAINING TO ANYONE BUT MAGICIANS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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ku7uk3
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Frank - I'm with you. This trick is all about secret moves and only magicians find it interesting. Lay people tolerate you showing off, but I have yet to meet any magician or watch any video, including Cellini, where it didn't simple seem like he was amusing himself.

The audience were just watching him and there was no reason for them to care. Gazzo was the same. All he did was make some tiny balls move around to his OWN delight. Yes the audience were interested in what was happening, but not to the same level as magicians are, and not to the same excitement level that other tricks create. This is a trick for other magicians, which is why I am mastering it, to perform in a competition.

I disagree with this trick working to any number over 30 people. The size of the balls make it in-practical. And on the table situation, I'm not about to take with me a whole new table just to perform this trick. I use a suitcase table and that does not lower. Also, the lower you get to the children invites the children to snatch the balls.

Silly routines is the way to go to make it work for children, I agree. Any other ideas on what silly patter (ufo / nemo etc) will work?
cardone
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Ask Jonny fox how many people he performs for at the renfairs.....lots
And he does the cups and balls
Payne
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Quote:
On 2009-01-12 19:07, ku7uk3 wrote:
I disagree with this trick working to any number over 30 people. The size of the balls make it in-practical. And on the table situation, I'm not about to take with me a whole new table just to perform this trick. I use a suitcase table and that does not lower. Also, the lower you get to the children invites the children to snatch the balls.



Disagree all you want, you'll still be wrong Smile

I routinely do this trick for crowds well over thirty as do many, many other cup and ball workers. I won the PCAM Pro Challenge in 2005 in front of an audience of a couple hundred and no one had difficulty following what I was doing.

As for the table. If you're going to bother to learn this routine you should really do it correctly. It takes a special table to be done properly. It needs to be a specific height and size so if it is too much troublr for you to bother carrying an extra table to do the trick correctly you should just not bother doing it.
"America's Foremost Satirical Magician" -- Jeff McBride.
JC Johns
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While I don't do the cups and balls myself, Trevor Lewis describes his two cup kid’s routine in his book Uncut. He does not address all the issues you mentioned, but he does address some of them. He states that kids generally have a hard time following three cups, so he uses two. He also uses chocolate coins instead of balls, which makes it more interesting for the kids. The kids get to keep the chocolate if they can follow along. It looks like a fun routine, one which I might learn if I every take the time to learn the cups and balls.

His routine is for close-up, so not sure it would help in regards to using it as a stage effect.
Alan Munro
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Quote:
On 2009-01-12 19:07, ku7uk3 wrote:

I disagree with this trick working to any number over 30 people. The size of the balls make it in-practical. And on the table situation, I'm not about to take with me a whole new table just to perform this trick. I use a suitcase table and that does not lower. Also, the lower you get to the children invites the children to snatch the balls.



You can get replacement balls that are larger than what came with the cups. I use balls the size of golf balls, when performing the chop cup on stage. Also, consider using white balls instead of red - they show up better at a distance.

You can always bring an additional table. I sometimes use a tripod made by Viking, which fits in my hip pocket. The table top can be whatever you want to mount to the flange. Folding bar stools are also great to use.
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