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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Grand illusion » » Penn & Teller on America's Got Talent - sawing in half (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Slim King
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Not a bad analysis Ray ... I don't often agree with you.
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Sam Weiss
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Yep I don't think anyone else could have said that better than Ray Smile
"There's something that gets in your soul when you study magic,it's in your heart, and when you perform it comes across the footlights and into everybody else's heart..."
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wartnerchaney
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"Do you think they would have been booked on AGT just doing magic? Probably not."

Really Ray?

You don't think they're innovative, unique magic would constitute a booking on AGT? You really don't think that Teller's Miser's Dream (an effect good enough to get them on Letterman for the millionth time) or any of their other ORIGINAL effects are good enough to get them booked on AGT (for the second time)?

In a sea of Origami's, bad synth music and all other usual crap I find them to be a breath of fresh air.
Slim King
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Hold it now ... Did you guys see the "Band" that was a guest just before PT? YIKES !!!!!!
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Ray Pierce
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Quote:
On 2009-08-14 19:02, wartnerchaney wrote:
Really Ray?

You don't think they're innovative, unique magic would constitute a booking on AGT? You really don't think that Teller's Miser's Dream (an effect good enough to get them on Letterman for the millionth time) or any of their other ORIGINAL effects are good enough to get them booked on AGT (for the second time)?


Nope, I really don't. Keep in mind I really like them both and think they're great at what they do and have changed the face of magic... etc... etc... but they need a hook to get booked and an expose' (even a fake one) always sells to producers.

Even a spot on Letterman takes negotiations and weeks of debate to get the right segment together. I was designing a magic spot for Candace Bergan when they were filming out here in LA. The segment producer came to me about a month in advance for ideas. I pitched 3 different pieces, they picked the one they wanted, got approvel and the go ahead from Candace then we worked out the details over the next two weeks. It's a longer proces than most people know even though it looks very random and casual on the air.
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wartnerchaney
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I don't want to get into a back and forth with you Ray, you have your opinion and I have mine. I will leave it at this...

In part I do agree with you. It is true, you do need a hook either in backstory or on stage. My argument is that they have a ton of hooks. Their blood and gore, their truly unique effects, their celebrity, their shock (be it in patter or effect), whatever back story they come up with, etc. My point is that they have as much of a chance, strike that more of a chance than most other magicians of booking that show even if you were to take that "exposure" away. In other words... they don't need the "exposure" to "book the show". Perhaps that is what you were saying the whole time (i.e. you need any kind of hook and the "exposure" is just one example) and you and I are closer to agreement than I thought.

I have no desire to get into a ****ing contest about credits, I'll just leave it with I am also intimately familiar with TV and the way it works. Yes you are correct that often things are planed out weeks or months in advance but also there are frequent emergency bookings and last minute changes the day of the shoot. Something needs to be 60 seconds, than 90, than 30, than it doesn't read on camera what else do you have, etc. Things CAN be as random as they appear and much less rehearsed than you might expect.
Sam Weiss
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This is becoming some interesting topic eh? Maybe someone should start a thread just for people's thoughts on P&T.
"There's something that gets in your soul when you study magic,it's in your heart, and when you perform it comes across the footlights and into everybody else's heart..."
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Ray Pierce
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Quote:
On 2009-08-14 21:49, wartnerchaney wrote:
Perhaps that is what you were saying the whole time (i.e. you need any kind of hook and the "exposure" is just one example) and you and I are closer to agreement than I thought.


Exactly what I was saying. Yes, they're great as are some other acts... but my feeling is that if they were to pitch a traditional magic effect (the Misers Dream as an example) it would have been a harder sell to the network. Even with their "celebrity" status they don't have the Q score to book it without something special. So they created something that would be an easy sell.

As an exaggerated example... if someone more famous (such as a Bono, Sting or even Tom Cruise as nuts as he is) offered to go on the show, the producers would let them do virtually anything they wanted as they would bring in viewers and thus more potential revenue. P&T don't have the draw to bring in as much as a "bigger" star so they would typically have to negotiate what they're doing to sell the segment to the producers. It's all up to the producer's feelings on their perceived value and potential draw to their demographic.

Remember, I think they're great. I admire their passion, thinking and their absolute understanding of their audience. I just don't think of it from a magic point of view but as a producer. When we were pitching celebrities for the opening to the Rose Parade I directed... Elton John, Will Smith and many others were rejected as not being "right" for the piece.

I just always think that we (as magicians) need to understand and appreciate the perspective of the different parties (P&T, The Producers, Talent Buyers, Network Executives, etc.) to help raise our magic from a novelty act to a potential headliner status.
Ray Pierce
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Slim King
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I loved P&T before I got into magic.

Kind of like downloading rip off e-books, until you realize it's wrong Smile

Fun, but not really right! Smile

But they have the cash ... and we don't!
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Slim King
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Just watched it again (On national TV again) to make sure I wasn't a bit rash ...No ... I wasn't.

I just told my wife how I used to love these guys and she said .."Yes, you did!"

That was before I got into Magic I guess Smile
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Well, getting into magic isn't supposed to turn you into some old fuddy-duddy.

If Penn and Teller were entertaining and fun before you got into magic, they should be still.

I have been a full-time professional for nearly forty years, I have always found Penn and Teller stimulating, refreshing and and fun.

They are good for magic, and I think those who criticize them are really just falling into the knee-jerk reactions that characterizes the "most magicians" straw man that they mock.
Slim King
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So Whit ... You feel it's OK to Mock "most magicians" or did I misunderstand?
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Ray Pierce
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For me... comedy is frequently about making fun of some sterotypes or generalities that resonate with the largest group. In that case... it would be smarter to target the largest part of the bell curve than trying to make a joke about 3% of a subset that few can relate to. In other words... if youre doing that type of comedy... it's funnier to mock average magicians than the really bad or really good as that set is too small for the average viewer to relate to.
Ray Pierce
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Mr. Mystoffelees
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After several viewings of the vid of the P&T act recently on AGT, I am forced to conclude that it was total and blatant exposure. Did they, as usual, go on to show that they are above using the exposed method and therefore more clever than most magicians? Of course.

Are they fun and entertaining? Yes! Does that mitigate the exposure? Well, for some...
Also known, when doing rope magic, as "Cordini"
Servante
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I like P and T.

Penn's a student, most particularly, of carny grifts and sideshows. Teller's a student of elegant magic. One hand washes the other.

I admit I winced a bit when they revealed that particular method (among all the different methods), as it is the one most audiences don't know about so much.

Then too..."sawing a woman in half" is pretty old, anyway.
Doesn't excuse anything. Just an observation, okay?

But...and it is, perhaps, a small point...they brought the woman out from the wings afterward, though they had not "vanished" her before...which was a nice mystery capper.

Oh, I know there will be those who say, "They're twins!"
And I had to watch the second time to see where the switch (If they're not twins) had to happen.
It's one of the few times I was surprised. Not that I'm so special, but I've been a student and performer of magic for a lot of decades now.

I pretty much always know how a thing is done.
They surprised me.

And they likely surprised regular audience members and viewers, too...though many will resort to the easy answer.

As for that business about thumbing their noses at other magicians...

Forgive me but it seems to me that we kvetch and kvell about how magic is accepted out there in the regular world...but then, when somebody like Copperfield or P&T poke their heads up above the height of the corn, we start shooting.

I don't get it, really.

And I don't mean to make anyone angry here.

I am a magician and a ventriloquist.
I have noticed that the magic threads here seem somewhat...um...I dunno...meaner than the vent thread. The vent thread (with some rare exceptions) seem more likely to be happy about the successes of vents out there than the magic threads seem to be regarding the successes of magicians getting headlines.

And, of course, I have my own biases...I'm not a fan of Angel, for instance.

I've seen Copperfield live a couple of times. The last time, particularly, he seemed self-effacing and sweet. I really like the guy. And it's one helluva show.

I've seen P&T live...and talked with Penn, albeit briefly. His enthusiasm and "regular-guyness" particularly struck me. Teller, of course, is devoted to the art, and it shows.

And, yeah, Penn's onstage persona is kinda smart-assy and know-it-all...

But those guys certainly set themselves apart from the rest of us. They show us magic in a different way.
Sure, they have "revealed the secrets," but mostly of the stuff they've revealed they've also created in order to reveal. The sawing-a-woman-in-half thing? Well...I wish they hadn't revealed that method, but you couldn't do the gory payoff without it...and I've seen that particular reveal in books and magazines available to the public, in any case.
And the public may be sick of sawing-a-woman-in-half, in any case.


And, listen, if you were Penn or Teller (But particularly Penn), and heard the kind of catty talk that is sometimes aimed at the act, wouldn't you get a little testy, too?
I know I would.

Penn didn't say what he said about other magicians in a vacuum. He said it in an atmosphere that includes a generous dollop of, "We hate Penn and Teller."

I'd probably take a gentle shot...a challenge, really...at "other" magicians, too.

Just sayin'.

Gently.
Servante
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(I really oughta proofread these things for stupid grammatical errors before I post 'em.)
Ray Pierce
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Quote:
On 2009-08-20 10:57, Servante wrote:
But...and it is, perhaps, a small point...they brought the woman out from the wings afterward, though they had not "vanished" her before...which was a nice mystery capper.

Oh, I know there will be those who say, "They're twins!"
And I had to watch the second time to see where the switch (If they're not twins) had to happen.
It's one of the few times I was surprised. Not that I'm so special, but I've been a student and performer of magic for a lot of decades now.

I pretty much always know how a thing is done.
They surprised me.


Maybe that "surprise" isn't the best thing to judge their act on. In most cases, they let the illusion go with her in pieces, but the AGT producers wanted to show that she was ok so they edited the shot when she got out. They couldn't do the routine with the girl reappearing the way it was shown on television. That was a last minute change and they just got her out of the sawing, then had her walk out and edited the result. You can like or dislike the routine or even P&T but don't hinge the magical quality of the act on the girl vanishing from the box and reappearing backstage.
Ray Pierce
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Servante
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Ah, okay. That show is often live, so I thought it was live and unedited.


And, no, I wasn't hinging the magic quality on that. I just said that was the thing that SURPRISED me.
Slim King
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Quote:
On 2009-08-14 22:42, Sam Weiss wrote:
This is becoming some interesting topic eh? Maybe someone should start a thread just for people's thoughts on P&T.


They did FIVE YEARS AGO AND RUNNING Smile

http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......um=27&71
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It's plain and simple in my opinion.

P&T exposed the aspect of a BASE! As magi, you must realize that people WILL remember that concept and apply it when they see other magic. The worst part is they'll think of that concept even when it isn't being used.

If that's ok...

I guess it would be ok to go on AGT or another national tv show and expose Teller's beloved Shadows? Just in the general sense... and follow it up with a kicker ending where maybe a cord is pulled out and still works? Then say... the great thing is mine clearly doesn't work that way, but I've told you how Teller's does and giggle?

It's wrong... they didn't invent the base concept to expose... and their AGT appearance de-values EVERY trick that uses a base method, just a little.

Of course we will survive, but I can tell you... If this was reversed and it was another magician doing what they did... EVERYONE would be in an uproar.

Teller is a VERY talented magician in my opinion and I love his work...but this steps over the acceptable line.... Blast off was fine...NO one uses a portable stage that thick to accomplish magic... but their base, while not the best, resembled many real world magic props.

On a different note...
NO ONE really BELIEVES they actually sawed thru the woman... there's maybe 10 seconds of shock value... then people laugh... They certainly didn't capture the legendary bloody sawing from the 20's.

It's time to be real about exposure. everyone should be held to the same code of ethics whether they have "made it" or not.

it really is BS. Smile lol
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