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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Magic names and the media » » Close-Up Magic Week on Letterman (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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gaffed
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So far I've managed to gimmick
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The only thing I was able to watch was the clip that someone provided here with Jason performing WOW. I perform WOW myself but I bent over backwards working out a routine where I could justify using that plastic sleeve. Bringing out a plastic sleeve, such as Jason did, simply screams GIMMICK but perhaps I’m thinking as a magician would and not a lay person. However, as soon as David saw it he pretty much nailed it down as to some optical illusion and that must have temporarily stopped Jason’s heart as I’m pretty sure no one has ever said that before! However, at the end, it did seem that it indeed did take David by surprise.

I’m sure most, if not all, have already seen Jason’s first performance on David Letterman, but David had nothing but praise for him and he did a great performance.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQySKzULNOY
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KevinWisch
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Quote:
On 2010-05-18 16:28, BarryFernelius wrote:
Quote:
On 2010-05-18 13:55, KevinWisch wrote:
I don't comment here often, but I did see this episode last night and thought it appropriate to comment. To me it shows how unbelievably important using "non-gimmicked" effects is for a TV spot such as Letterman. If it's close-up magic week, it needs to be not only close-up, but world-class non-gimmicked sleight-of-hand.


I love sleight-of-hand as much as the next guy, but there's some bad news about pure, world-class non-gimmicked sleight-of-hand: TV cameras never blink (they can't be misdirected) and almost everyone can use a DVR to go over your bit again and again. I haven't seen much pure sleight of hand that could stand up to that kind of scrutiny. At least Masuda's WOW is a visual effect that looked great on TV. (Too bad that the trick puts too much heat on the gaff.)

That's why I understand where you're coming from, but I respectfully disagree. I'd put it another way: if you're going to use a gimmick during a TV spot, it probably shouldn't be immediately obvious that a gimmick is being used. You'd better have a way to bring it in and take it out that won't cause suspicion.

Also, the Letterman show presents some fascinating angle problems. Take another look at last night's spot and ask yourself: what kind of blocking can work under those conditions?

Heck, the number one problem is battling nervousness and dealing with David Letterman. David isn't a classic heckler. The problem is much more difficult to surmount. It's David's show, he MUST be the center of attention, and he has a disarming way of completely taking a magician out of his rhythm. When someone completely disrupts my timing, I find it difficult to stay on track. Letterman is the very definition of the type of guy who disrupts the rhythm of a close-up performance.


Hi Barry- I hear what you're saying. I'm not against gimmicks, but I think if you're going to be on Letterman, it should abide by the 80/20 rule. (80% sleight-of-hand and 20% gimmicks). Jason used the opposite formula.

In other words, one gimmick or even a few is fine and it's a part of magic. However, they should compliment the skill on a Letterman type of stage. Keyword there, compliment. There were just so many glaring mistakes in the routine that my point was really that his sleight-of-hand skills couldn't overshadow the use of the Sleeve or any of the other gimmicks- at least on last night's performance.

That said, I'd also think about the angles argument. My father, Bill Wisch, constantly talks about Slydini and his opinion. According to my father, he asked Slydini once what if people catch me? Slydini's response: let them. If the skill is good enough, they'll be amazed at seeing it anyway. And, any magician worth their salt can handle someone knowing how the trick is done because there is an out for it. (My father has a ton of these- I've seen him use them on numerous occasions). Hopefully this doesn't come off bad but IMO, if a magician is on Letterman, they should be able to deal with angles and DVRs. If they can't deal with that- then don't go on Letterman.

So- with the angles, I need to agree with Slydini. It takes courage to do sleight-of-hand on national TV and thus, that's how you earn the respect from the host.

One other thing about Letterman- he's got the ego for sure. I've had the opportunity not to work with Letterman, but with Conan when he was on (not with magic and I wasn't on, but with other things in business). Conan did the same but the key is respect. If you watch the video back again, watch the one joke where the rhythm truly changed- it was Jason's comment that "and you handle it so well!"... the joke bombed and Letterman had this look on his face like "okay buddy, you asked for it."

Thanks for the great discussion though! Smile

- Kevin
lebowski
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It's possible in past Letterman appearances Jason used up his A material for this sort of circumstance. My impression is that his stuff from other appearances was put together over a lifetime, and the material for this appearance wasn't as well thought out.
Mb217
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Jason seems to be a pretty good-enough close-up guy to me but it's clear that Dave enjoys his company beyond the magic, and that clearly has gone a long way for him as far as their continuing relationship. Good for him! Whatever works - Just win baby! Smile Or it's better to be a billionaire than a college grad any day, or something like that. Smile

Seriously, Letterman proves that specs don't see half the stuff that magicians think they ought to see, even when effects aren't done with exact precision. Cubio or Wild Card would fool him and actually fools most laymen good enough. Smile
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Andrew Zuber
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THANK you Doc for making a comment that reminded me as well...why on earth pull a red deck from a blue box? I kept waiting for Dave to comment on it. I can't imagine what led to that decision (or mistake) other than Jason losing a deck of cards and needing to find a replacement in a hurry.
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Doc Eason
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Mb217 I don't under stand your statement

"Seriously, Letterman proves that specs don't see half the stuff that magicians think they ought to see, even when effects aren't done with exact precision."

DL asks (politely) 'Can I ask you a question? Can you do it without the sleeve?' and "Does that sleeve have some kind of optical feature to it?" It seems that he nails the thing that magicians are worrying about it. YES the specs *do* see that stuff and have questions about it.. some are too polite to mention it. Not that DL was impolite last night- he is an astute observer who is not bashful about asking questions.

And yes... DL seems to genuinely LIKE JR.. I think that is the key here.. JR has earned DL's *respect* from his previous appearances. That may explain why he didn't jump on the red deck from a blue box thing.

I am popping popcorn for tonight.
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Brad Burt
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Doc Eason's analysis was right on. It's too bad, Jason is a great guy and it looked bad.

That said....anyone coming onto the Letterman show not knowing what to expect from Dave and really, REALLY preparing in advance is ... well, just not....prepared in advance.

David Letterman is just simply not the nice, supportive guy that Carson was and nothing he's ever done vis-a-vis novelty performers of almost any stripe, especially magicians, hypnotists, etc. would prove otherwise.

And, I think that was the problem with the first nights performer. He was just not ready to have his performing rhythm put that far off....and, as pointed above, for Dave, the intrusion into the routines was fairly tame.

Part of the problem with Letterman is that you get the idea that 'magicians' are kind of set up, "Hey, come on the show..yes, we know that Dave has a reputation for being hard to work for as a magician, but he's assured me that the magicians for this week are really, really going to love it!"

Working magic, etc. for Letterman is something you do at your own risk. It may or may not be worth it, but you get a great credit. Even if you look bad, you look good just for being there.

I really DO miss Johnny. Best,
Brad Burt
Benji Bruce
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I never watch Letterman and didn't know he was a heckler. He is a heckler on a whole new level and its very interesting to watch. It seems like magicians allow him to dominate their performance. I would love to see someone like Joel Bauer perform on his show Smile
TheAmbitiousCard
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Think of it this way..

There are certain card tricks that we all have done 1 billion times.
We know every single possible statement that someone might make, including letterman. We know responses to them. We have the one-liners, the gags, the jokes. All organic stuff that we've made up ourselves after YEARS and YEARS of performances.

We've seen it all. We've done it all. We've succeeded with great laughs to the point of people having tears in their eyes and peeing their pants in hysterics.

Why did he NOT do something that he was THE BEST IN THE ENTIRE WORLD at?

That's what I would do. Something where I honestly have no equal.

We all have that set of tricks where we are better at them than anyone else on earth. THOSE are the ones you do.

You do not cobble a few gimmicks together for a TV spot.

.. in my opinion.
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lebowski
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Okay, we all agree with you Starsini. And if you have used up those bits on previous appearances and are asked to return during close-up magic week, you...
TheAmbitiousCard
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Do the same damm thing or more of the same damm thing. The only thing you do NOT do is something relatively new. That's what (it appears) he did. Cobbled together a few gimmicks for a TV spot. why not do the same set? who saw it the first time, anyway?

I had no idea what that last trick was. I , currently, could not even come up with a plot. Cards disappeared from the wallet? but they were doing something in his hands but I cannot remember what? multiplying? I'm not sure. then for some reason they changed color at the end. but for no better reason than if he would pull a birthday cake out of his shoe at the end of the trick. I just didn't get it.

I would just do one of the sets from my strolling / close up set. simple as that. I have several sets I would feel comfortable with AS DOES EVERYNOE else that performs regularly. we have to. we must. it's what we do. if you perform regularly, I'm sure you do too. yes?
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pepka
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All I've seen is the clip with the WOW gimmick. All I could think is, "I bust my *** to learn palming, passes, second deals etc. and THIS is what gets you a spot on Letterman?" The thing is cute, but it SCREAMS gimmick. I love Dave, but he can be a real jerk to magicians, unless your name is Penn or Teller. VERY curious to see how Carney, Cohen and Ammar handle themselves.
Nelson Hoofard
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I thought Carney was great. He flashed the orange but it wasn't his fault, bad camera angle. Other than that he was awesome!

He came on there with loads of confidence and kept Letterman entertained. Carney didn't give Letterman a chance to "heckle" him.

Good job John!
Jamie_H
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Loved the Carney routine. Wasn't expecting the glass dissapearance...nice!
teevtee
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First off Letterman did not heckle anyone. He admires magic, has showcased it numerous times and is interacting with the magicians in the exact manner he interacts with all his guests. To expect Letterman to quietly sit there with his hands in his lap is naive and foolish.

Secondly Jason not only looked foolish on this appearance but on every single Letterman guest spot he has had. I am not sure how he got discovered by them in the first place or why Letterman loves him but his ineptness is not something only magicians would notice, it is down right amateurish. Come on, he is performing beginner to intermediate store bought tricks and doing them incredibly poorly. Seems like a nice guy, God knows I could not do better, but then again I am not being presented on TV as some great performer, and frankly I actually think I would do better.

There was just not one thing natural about any aspect of his performance, he tipped the wallet method, blew the sleeve, screwed the sticky cards, had an incredibly odd handling of the shrinking case deck and on and on.

Carney was better but far from great. Flashed the orange in a huge way (and I think it was more than just the camera angle) but more to the point chose to perform a fairly confusing routine for TV. Was he bad? By no means, and VASTLY better than Jason but still a mile from where things should be.

Get Ricky Jay out there for God's sake. Get someone who can converse, entertain and ultimately amaze. Instead we have thus far had an amateur and a working pro who seemed in over his head... this is really the best the magic world has to offer?
teevtee
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One other thought that was previously mentioned:

Matthew Fox (the guys from Lost) did in fact GREATLY upstage Jason with what was actually quite a nice trick. Letterman did not take this seriously but what does it say when an actor can recall a trick from when he was a kid and out perform the pro?
Jonathan Brown
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Carney was great...the bits with the wand- beautiful. Sure the orange flashed, but through it all, Letterman didn't see it. He was still just as amazed. The home audience lost out on that one, but his key audience (Letterman) was fooled, and I would rather flash that orange, than do what Randal did. His demeanor and technique were impeccable! And he was so undaunted...I think Letterman felt a little bad tonight about busting Randal's balls, so he was a little standoffish with heckling Carney, but if you look at it, Carney gave him no reason, let alone a moment to give him any flack. Very enjoyable performance. I was a little let down though- during one of the "preview: scenes before commercial break they said, "...and John Carney," and showed a clip of him standing up doing Zone Zero, but they didn't include that in the performance segment!! That would have been a great one! Oh well. Still enjoyed it thoroughly!

Jonathan Brown
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There is no magician I admire more than John Carney, but I have to say that tonight he seemed nervous ( his hands were noticeably trembling) and the darn camera angles badly flashed both the orange and coconut loads. That should have all been worked out in rehearsal. The overhead camera gave clear views of where things were coming from. That wasn't John's fault, but it was abysmal for the home viewing audience. Only thing worse was the night before, for all the reasons that Doc Eason and others have already pointed out. This has been painful so far.
Magic Mike Japan
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I saw Jason Randal perform on the Letterman show. He performed the Wow trick pretty much the way I do it, however, I usually have the dirty work done while the gimmick is in the participant's hand to make it more believable. In any case, I'm surprised he used this gimmick on a popular, national t.v. show since I've seen so many knock-offs sold for $1 over here in Asia in every 100 Yen shop. The trick was great at one time, but has been seriously overexposed due to knock-offs. I agree with the other bloggers that he should not have done that trick with Letterman. But the good thing is that magic is getting good billing on t.v. now, so it's all good.
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lebowski
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I'd like to think I'm wrong, but if a guy like Carney has visible nerves it makes me think Letterman's show isn't as accomodating in one way or another as it could be. Or maybe it's just that some of our great close-up magicians don't get enough opportunities on tv to get really good at it.
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