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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The little darlings » » Do you get upset by the prop guys.. WHY? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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BIlly James
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Quote:
On 2009-04-08 21:02, noble1 wrote:
Nice thought, except you have the order of importance backwards.


You not supposed to do them one at a time...oh dear.

:rolleyes:
danryb
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When I started out I made a huge backdrop and purchased a sound system (mixer, tuner, double tape recorder, cd player, 2 huge speakers, monitor, speaker stands). I used to bring the biggest props I had and even purchased an MPV and put window stickers to advertise.

I very quickly realised that it is not the props that make my show. It is the props that break my back. I decided that if I want a good show to last for many years then first thing I have to do is scale down (to save my health).

I created a show in a 'doc bag' + a smaller speaker and head mic and that was basically me. It was a bag for the audio equipment, a bag for the magic and another slim box with misc flat stuff.

Eventually I also got rid of the big car and got myself a smaller family car.

Ironically - up until today (about 10 years after I got rid of the car) it is still the car that people remember and ask me about. Nobody realy remembers the props I used to haul yet without expensive advertising and expensive large props I have built a good reputation as a leading childrens entertainer.

I don't know where I got it from, but I have the ability to make a lot of people very happy with things such as balloons, strings, sponge balls, magic wands, paddles, juggling balls and other bits and bobs and I use this to my advantage.

In all my years of performing NO MUM HAS EVER ASKED ME HOW MUCH STUFF I HAVE. They don't care. They want to know how long my performance time is, if my act is suitable for their age group, how much I charge. I suspect an experienced childrens entertainer also has a verbal sales knack more so than an inexperienced entertainer and this goes a long way in helping to sell a gig over the telephone to someone who has not received reccomendations.

I would like to have a remote hands free chimp and toucan, a ladder levitation, and a black art stage and many other nice big stuff but cannot justify it unless my sole income was performing stage shows with a cast and offstage helpers/haulers.

For b.day's - keep it light and simple works best for me. No one is going to remember the big stuff - they will remember if your stuff put a smile on their face and made them laugh and involved them.

I think the one and ONLY way to achieve this is to enjoy performing more than you enjoy taking the money (if you enjoy hauling around and performing with big props and audience enjoys too - then that is fine).

I think the BEST tip any experienced childrens entertainer can give an aprentice is: teach youself to ENJOY performing for free (charities etc) and you will always enjoy performing.

THE PERFORMANCE MUST COME 1ST (this includes Personality, Showmanship and Acting ability - all can be improved!) before anything else. I would then go on to say: 1: costume, 2: sound 3: props (pretty much like noble1 said above)

Enjoy,

Dani
themagiciansapprentice
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Magic is like any other hobby that grows into a business .... we buy everything for a while. Then find what we want to use to entertain and stick with it. I use a range of props but am increasingly just taking what fits into a suitcase to most family homes for birthday parties. I feel more comfortable with that.

Yet bigger props are very alluring, I'm forever looking at the Chalet magic site or Creative Magic site and wishing I could justify buying them.

Each to their own. It's talent, humour and timing that count.
Have wand will travel! Performing children's magic in the UK for Winter 2014 and Spring 2015.
kimmo
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Like a few of the others on this thread, the amount I spend on props and the amount of stuff I carry has diminished over the years as I have grown as a performer. I don't think anyone on this forum (not even our loveable resident curmudgeon MagicSanta) has a problem with people buying or using big props - it's just the daft arguments that flashy props will make your show better and that clients care about how much expensive stuff you use. I'd venture to say that if you are constantly getting compliments about the quality of your props, it's probably because people can't think of anything nice to say about your act!

I've bought truckloads of flashy stuff over the years and most of it is now sitting on my shelves at home gathering dust. I am pretty ruthless when it comes to trimming the fat from my show. No matter how much it cost or how great it looks, if it doesn't get the reactions I expect from the crowd - it's gone.

I think a lot of us are just trying to stop newcomers from falling into the same traps that we did. My good friend Danny Hustle said it best when he wrote:

'A guy who is starting out should learn how to kill with the 20th century silks before he decides to move on to illusions that are far out of his league.'
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Tony James
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You know the best that truly first class entertainers do?

No props at all.

Just themselves. When you can do that, and hold children, then you know you are on your way to being a good children's entertainer.

Try it. Try a cameo slot in your show of just you.Ssee if you can do it, hold them without a prop at all. Work on it. Develop it. And when you have learnt how to to entertain an audience of children, taking them to fever pitch excitement and straight down to pin drop silence without a prop in your hand then you have learnt the real foundation on which to show your props, small or large, subtle, plain, or flashy.

And then you will know - not think or believe but you will know - that the props are really of little importance.

Really good entertainers don't actually need to learn how to do that. They are born with that ability. They still have to learn how to use it but they do have an advantage. That doesn't mean that others less fortunate can't learn how to be much better entertainers.

If you want to test your ability, put in a cameo of just you.
Tony James

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pjw
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Tony Said,

Just themselves. When you can do that, and hold children, then you know you are on your way to being a good children's entertainer.

Hi,
Fine if you want to be a "good Childrens entertainer"
I personaly want to be an "Excellent entertaining Magician" not "a childrens Entertainer . I aim to entertain every one WITH MAGIC regardless of age, also to me the terms "childrens magicain","stage magicain", close up magician etc are a load of rubbish. yes you need to perform material suitable for the venue and circumsatnce but if you are a magicain as I choose to be then I think you should be able to perform for any audiance any where but most of all you should perform mostly Magic.
RJE
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Interesting that this topic should upset anyone.

As has been mentioned by many experienced and competent performers here and no doubt elsewhere, if you are a good entertainer, fantastic entertainer, excellent entertainer etc... then whether you choose a lot of props or very few props or even no props, is irrelevant. Your choice.
harris
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Harris Deutsch
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As a prop guy, (even in my days in stand up) I do have a bunch of "stuff".

Individually they pack small, but as a whole there is a lot to see in my show.

This includes (as I have written here and other places)

1. a stick
2. different musical instruments
3. 10 fingers (don't leave home...)
4. Puppets (as Annie and I are "Married with Puppets"
5. Magical stuff.
6. Noise makers including mosquito whistles (thanks Frank for my latest supply), cartoon sound generator
7. Glasses in many forms including glasses usually used for car repair, windshield wipers...

IMHO there is enough other stuff to rattle my brain than what another performer chooses to use.

Harris ("formerly a legend in his own mime, with Mime over Matter"
2 old to know everything with a bit of a smaller ego than I came into this biz with.

EGO---edging God out.
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
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Regan
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It seems to me that a totally "propless" magician would not be a magician at all. Maybe a mentalist could do magic without props, I don't know? Maybe a ventriloquist could just use their uncovered hand as a puppet? That might work. If I were to try and do a magic show without a single prop then I would not consider it to be a magic show, and I would not consider myself to be a magician. I might be a comedian, or a storyteller, but not a magician. I try my best to fill my magic shows with a lot of things: magic and mystery, ventriloqusim/puppetry, storytelling and music, comedy and drama, and most of all...a lot of fun and surprises!

I try my very best to entertain my audiences, and I choose to use props in my shows. Like I have said, and many others have said many times, it is a personal choice. There are good and bad both ways. I do not want to bash anyone for whichever way they choose. However, it's not right to insult anyone and call them a "hack" just because they use lot's of props. And I cannot understand why so many propless guys seem to try and justify their way, and seemingly want to put down the prop guys. I personally don't care if you choose not to use props. I actually prefer it. That way there it may be less likley that my audiences has seen my props used before.

I also don't understand why these propless debates always end up going to the, ".....try to walk out on stage in front of an audience without a single prop and see if you can hold their attention for an hour....." type of thing. Like I said before, without a single prop, how could you be a magician? I'd like for someone to explain that to me. I'm not the sharpest tack in the bunch, so maybe I just don't get it. If you could kind of outline your hour show, and give me an idea of the magic effects you do for an hour without any props, maybe I will be enlightened.

I am not going to make a decision whether or not an entertainer is good or bad until I actually see the show. If I see a magician come out with a suitcase I am not going to automatically think he is going to be terrible. The same goes if I see a stage filled with props. I have seen too many good and bad performances to know that I should reserve judgement until after the show.

Props aside, entertaining with magic is an artform, to me anyway. I commend good magicians that use many props. I also commend good magicians that use few props. And as I previously said, I am rather glad that there are some that use few props. If every magician had and did exactly the same things I imagine we would all have less bookings. I will admit that I am a little jealous over the easier set-up, tear-down, hauling, etc. I would like that part of using fewer props, and someday I imagine the day will come when I may have to scale down. But right now, I choose to use a lot of props because I feel I have a better show that way.

Regan
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harris
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Harris Deutsch
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Can I do a show without props...

Yes, if that doesn't include musical instruments.

There have been a few times that I have done programs without props, but they were in the area of mental health. These days even in my mental health workshops, I use props...hence the title: "Doctor of Laughology".



Harris
still 2 old to know everything
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
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Chris LaBarge
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Bottom line is regardless if you have a trailer load of props or do nothing but sponge balls and rope....we are entertainers. Call yourself what you may but the only thing that guides our shows is whether the audience is entertained.

Reagan,
I think what Mr. James is getting at is that if you want to see if you are a really good entertainer, try dropping your props for a couple of minutes during a show and try to entertain your audience. I guess this would work best if you envision yourself as an entertainer and not just a magician.

Like most kids magicians, I see myself as an all around entertainer and not just a magician. I can, and have, just been in front of an audience and had them rolling without doing one trick, but that's my style. I think doing bits in your show with minimal props are good to break up the pace a little. My best routine in my kids shows right now involve 3 pieces of rope (professors nightmare) and a volunteer and it stretches a good 10 minutes. Think of the best magicians in the world (Copperfield, Burton, etc.) they routinely do a small closeup routine or manipulations to break up the pacing.

To each his own...what matters is if the audience is happy.
harris
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Harris Deutsch
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Chris...

Your style sounds a bit like mine.

I find it easy to go propless.(and hairless said Nigel)
Taking healthy risk (while remaining family friendly) is exciting. This is based on quips, a persons fun laugh, someone in the audience looking like someone famous, or something seen on the way to a show...

Example on the way to a show I saw a big dumpster in a house's drive with sign..Dump all your trash here....so I cleaned out my back seat...

Side advise...take time to learn from improvisational classes/troupes. I have done both.


Harris
who sometimes forgets his own advise.
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
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Chris LaBarge
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Yes improv classes are great!

Think of the show "Whose line is it anyway" Take what you have and run with it.

I think kids are use to very dynamic multimedia experiences, we have to be able to compete with that.
NJJ
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I'm currently performing from a single briefcase. Usually, I have a roll on, a rabbit, a funhouse, a sound system and a sidetable.

My fee is the same (albeit in pounds rather than aussie dollars) and the reactions seem the same.

However, I enjoy performing with all the extra props so I'll be putting them back in the show when I return home.
John C
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What is the point of performing a MAGIC show without props?

J
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magicgeorge
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I think the point Tony was making was that a good entertainer can hold their attention without props. It's a good exercise to see if you are your over-reliant on them. If the MAGIC is the only interesting thing in your show then IMO you've got problems.
Kevinr
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I think a kids show "prop" magician is the same as big stage illusion show. You know the big dogs who get all the credit. Except the kids show magician is actually working more. Most of the big stage illusion shows the assistants are doing all the work.

Quote:
On 2009-04-08 20:51, TomBoleware wrote:

The second magician says, "I will need to get there about an hour before to unload the truck and get set up."

There is no question in my mind that mom is going to want the magician with a lot of "stuff." (Assuming she hasn't heard anything bad.)

Maybe not fair to the magicians, or the best way to choose a magician, but that's the way people think.

If they could hire David Copperfield with his semi loaded with magic for the same price, he would be doing the show. Why? Because he does a lot of stuff.Smile

Tom


SUCKS but SOOO TRUE!
pjw
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Quote:
On 2009-04-08 20:51, TomBoleware wrote:
I agree that props don't make the magician. We all know that. But I do think the one with the "stuff" has an advantage when booking the show.

The birthday mom calls and the first magician says, "I have six other shows that day, but I can be there in time, it only takes me a couple of minutes to set up."

The second magician says, "I will need to get there about an hour before to unload the truck and get set up."

There is no question in my mind that mom is going to want the magician with a lot of "stuff." (Assuming she hasn't heard anything bad.)

Maybe not fair to the magicians, or the best way to choose a magician, but that's the way people think.

If they could hire David Copperfield with his semi loaded with magic for the same price, he would be doing the show. Why? Because he does a lot of stuff.Smile

Tom


Hi,
Tom I dissagree with you, if you tell a client

""I have six other shows that day, but I can be there in time, it only takes me a couple of minutes to set up."

Then that's poor telephone/sales technique that's lost the show .
I also think most clients would be put off with you arriving an hour before the show.
TomBoleware
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I agree that wasn't the best example.

Still my main point with Copperfield,(and maybe over emphasizing a little again) is it's very easy for us to forget why people hire a "magician." Why would the birthday mom hire Copperfield over most? Certainly not because of his birthday party experience. Not because he is funny. They would just assume he could do bigger and better "magic" for the kids.

Please understand, I admire and love watching those who can walk in and entertain without anything. But very, very, very few can do that and walk away and still be viewed as a magician.

Entertainment alone is not "viewed" as magic, comedy is not viewed as magic, clowning is not viewed as magic. The parent may say, "yes they loved the show, and the kids had a great time," but when you leave they will add, "he wasn't really a magician." Not saying that is a bad thing, it's just very hard for most to be perceived as a "magician" without using some magical items.

I just personally think getting too far away from the "expected" when you call yourself a magician is not as good as it sounds. You can put a lot of good entertainment into a briefcase, but don't fool yourself into thinking a big magic show will fit in it.

Bottom line, I guess is it depends on what you selling.

Tom
Do What Others Do And You Will Become Average

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Tom Boleware
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Clownboy
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I believe this has been the best handled and most balanced thread that I have read to date on this subject.

I know that there are extremes to both sides. People like to put labels on others from past experiences they've had. Bottom line is the prop doesn't define the entertainer no more then a car defines a person. It might speak of your personality but its whats inside that creates the "Magic" within a show.

Personally I buy larger props for two reasons. One is to obviously try out and see if it will work into my show. If I think it fits my style and will create a desired reaction I will keep it in. Otherwise it either gets sold or goes on my shelf.

Second reason I buy the props I do is to simply collect and enjoy them. I have props that were made in the 40's that will never see a show. Its simply to bring me pleasure when I get it down and play with them or to admire its history.
(These may be my retirement too but that becomes very last in my mind.)

And for those who still aren't convinced, I will say that there is nothing that could be said to change your mind. But its guy's that purchase these props that support the creators, and this my friend, keeps well made and entertaining props coming.

Cheers to you all!

Brad
As the Frogs say "Times Fun when you're having Flies" Smile
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