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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The side walk shuffle » » Busking and mentalism? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

espmagic
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In the 80's I was a low-end busker (The Flim Flam Man) here in Canada, doing the so-called 'common' effects with cups and cards, usually all with a gambling theme. My performance character has evolved to stage performances, specializing in mentalism, and a two-person act, where we empower the audiences' own abilities, while acting like facilitators for the group(s).

Ok, here's an honest question: in a busking situation, is it possible to do mentalism? Mind-reading, both of audience members, and having them read us? As well as other "common" mentalism themes?

I want to know whether I can hit the street and practice and develop material and still offer something that the audience will stop and watch (in comparison to *ordinary* magic acts and other busking shows that offer juggling, etc.)

Thoughts? Suggestions for materials/effects?


Thanks to all,

Lee
"Let it be simple and pure, because miracles are simple and pure." - Mind2Mind.ca
Mac_Stone
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Busking is about being an entertainer, if you can be entertaining while doing mentalism then yes it will work.

Dodd Vickers interviewed Kozmo on The Magic Newswire, that will lay it all out for you.
gaddy
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As I see it, the 2 major hurdles to clear with mentalism in a busking act are:

A) the short attention span factor- 2 or even 5 minute set-ups for tricks are usually not going to fly very well unless you're REALLY entertaining over and above the strength of your material, if you can pull this off, you might also be able to pull off a mental magic heavy act.

and

B) the ability to "hook" spectators in the middle of a mentalism trick -so many mentalism effects are "context heavy" and it's possible that many potential spectators will not immediately understand "what's going on?". This is the kiss of death and many, many, people and will walk away because of that.

As a busker who does almost exclusively "classic magic" effects, but who also loves mentalism very dearly, I feel for your situation. Occasionally I still slip in a mental magic effect (or three) into my act, but I keep them simple and short, and they are never "featured" bits in my act.

Good Luck!
*due to The Magic Cafe's editorial policies, words on this site attributed to me cannot necessarily be held to be my own.*
dmoses
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Hey there, Lee.

I busk with a mostly mentalism act.
It's not without it's challenges but it's certainly possible.
And the reactions are very satisfying.

If you make it to Vancouver this summer let me know and I'd be happy to chat!

I'm not comfortable giving away too much of what I'm working on at the moment but what I'd like to think are my strongest bits have their roots in the work of:
bob cassidy, andy nyman, alain nu, alex marsh, max maven, jerome finley... and al goshman Smile

but that said working on the street is a very different animal than parlour shows or walk=around. I'm lucky to have several buddies to share ideas with who are buskers too. I think we appreciate that different people are trying to accomplish different things when they perform. And if you want a big circle show-- then mentalism might be tough. but for a doorway show... no problem at all. And if mentalism is what you love then I think you should do it. who knows what you might discover about yourself as a performer-- or what you might bring to the art. I think gaddy is right about the specific challenges of traditional mental effects-- but that's the fun!

For me the biggest challenge isn't the effects-- which generally play strong-- it's the transitions, putting together a show that builds and holds just like any another kind of act.

I think it's helpful to heed the advice of experienced performers no matter what kind of show they do-- the best advice for crowd building I got was from Jimmy Talksalot: start small, get 'em in close and build your edge. it's simple advice that takes discipline to follow but when you do you're running the show and not the other way around.

PM me if you'd like to get into specifics about the mentalism.

best

Dave
"You're a comedian. You wanna do mankind a service, tell funnier jokes."
TPR by Dave Moses and Iain Dunford
espmagic
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I have always wondered about mentalism and busking, because, as an advocate of Bob Cassidy and the "less is more" concept (we've been ribbing our magic friends for a long time about their requirement for props, and our stage show being out of pocket!), I have always wondered whether mentalism could play visually enough to hold a street audience. And, although I agree that the entertainer is the reason and the performance is the tool, can street mind-reading be effective for a large audience? Thinking, that mind-reading is a perfect one-to-one dynamic, and how many people can get entertained watching someone else getting their mind read? Ah, I think too much...

If you don't mind sharing, what effects (and kinds of effects) do you do in your street show? I know that "all" <grin> magicians do cups and balls, or some verion thereof (now, there's a stereotype!), and all juglers use knives(!), etc.etc. but I have no experience with a mentalism show a la street...

Lee
"Let it be simple and pure, because miracles are simple and pure." - Mind2Mind.ca
dmoses
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Hey Lee...

I hesitate to give specifics in an open forum... but I've tried just about every kind of mentalism effect over the last few years.
PK/TK, billets, roulettes, cards, Contact Mindreading, Blindfold, Pendulae, Memory work, Suggestion...

Visual doesn't have to mean prop-y. If you think about it many of mentalism's classic effect can or do have an arresting visual image associated with it-- an image that will stop any pedestrian in their tracks.

As has been made clear by greater talents than mine in other threads-- it's not the effects-- its the personality that holds the audience.

What was Gazzo's last marketed effect? Tossed Out Deck! Can you imagine for a second that he doesn't hold the audience? And that he doesn't get an entire show out of it? It's just him a deck of cards and his audience-- and his original entertaining touches. The point is don't listen to me, I'm just doing what I like and trying to make it work-- and I'd suggest that you find what you love and make it work for yourself.

And like I said in a previous post, I'd be happy to share specifics about what I do outside an open forum.

d
"You're a comedian. You wanna do mankind a service, tell funnier jokes."
TPR by Dave Moses and Iain Dunford
espmagic
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Dave - I know what you mean about Gazzo. One year he was here at our Fringe and we (a group of magicians) took him out for dinner, and after listening to him I had the inevitable epiphany: I'm just not as funny as he is. From that point on I wondered about all those people buying his materials and stealinghis script(s), and curious as to whether they ever had any success. I knew that I couldn't perform his material (good for me), and began to wonder about my own material would be accepted.

And, I understand that there isn't *really* a teaching tome about busking, other than simply saying "Just get out and do it" (not stolen from Nike!). So I am at a point of trying to figureout what to do, and how to sell it, and still keep true to my desires for purism in mentalism.

So much to think about...

Lee
"Let it be simple and pure, because miracles are simple and pure." - Mind2Mind.ca
gaddy
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Predict-tac-toe, Jackpot Coins, prediction-type card tricks, swami effects, magician's choice, locked lippencot box predictions with card-indexed outs.

These are some of the tricks that I've used.

One thing I've always wanted to try in a street show, but haven't yet, is Psychometry Readings -this could be a great way to involve a lot of speckies all at once... But making and carrying vast batches of the props is against my lazy nature.
*due to The Magic Cafe's editorial policies, words on this site attributed to me cannot necessarily be held to be my own.*
dmoses
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Hey Lee

I know exactly what you mean... you can't and don't want to be Gazzo-- but you absolutely have to be the street performer version of yourself. Gazzo is just the proof it can be done-- and if you know some one can do it-- some one else can do it too.

And you're right you cannot discover who that is until you perform... and even then-- you have to perform a lot. But a bit of advice from acting school helps: you won't know if the choice you've made is right unless you commit to it totally.

And gaddy's is right if you can come up with something that can involve many people at once-- all the better. people love psychometry, nlp, aura-reading-- pseudo or otherwise.

Procedure is typically the achilles heel of most mentalism presentations-- but on the street you can use that time as an opportunity to build your tip. Process is the other side of the coin-- so to speak-- if your process is engaging and your procedure is made entertaining-- fat hats will be yours-- that's what I'm aiming for anyway... I certainly haven't arrived there yet.

at the moment it's not the effects but the transitions between them that is the biggest challenge for me at the moment. transitions building to a clear finale.

best

d
"You're a comedian. You wanna do mankind a service, tell funnier jokes."
TPR by Dave Moses and Iain Dunford
Mac_Stone
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There is a youtube video of a buusker doing a Magic Square on the street. Just saying....
gaddy
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Quote:
On 2011-04-11 16:43, Mac_Stone wrote:
There is a youtube video of a buusker doing a Magic Square on the street. Just saying....
i sure hope MY attempts to do a magic square in my busking act were not videotaped LOL!

Horrible, just horrible, it was...
*due to The Magic Cafe's editorial policies, words on this site attributed to me cannot necessarily be held to be my own.*
The Burnaby Kid
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I've been watching Dave work the streets, and believe me, nobody's more surprised than I am that mentalism stops people, but it does. Maybe there's some sort of strange urban neo-shamanistic ritual thing aspect to it, but they stop.
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meco
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To the mindreaders busking professionally, what do you guys open with? In my private shows I start with the Tossed Out Deck mixed with some "cold reading lines" to Devine the cards.

I was thinking Bank Night would get attention but I have virtually no experience preforming it. Also there might be some legal implications of the "gambling" nature of it.

-Chris
meco
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On second thought, using my basic improv billet improve reading to stop the first group makes more sense. I've stopped people with that before to promote my public venue shows. Ill open with that, then move into my full act. It currently runs 30-45 minutes but Im going to cut it down to 15-20.

Im going out there tomorrow, any tips on finding a good spot? (I live near philly so I'm going to South Street, what area's should I look for?

-Chris
ringmaster
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I have built and held very large tips with a code act in different vinues. I'm not a busker so I can't tell you how to hat them. But you sure can stop them.
Less than 2% of reported UFO's turn out to be actual interplanetary vehicles.
meco
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I have kozmo's DVD's on how to hat, My act has 2 perfect "dead spots" to insert the pitch. (When 8-10 people are writing down personal thoughts for my sealed envelope routine, while people are shuffling cups and nails.)
RajeshLGov
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Mix & Match is Best. I've NO experience in busking, but I think M&M is the Best way out:) All the Best. Raj.
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