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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Ever so sleightly » » Face it - The Cups and Balls are .. BORING (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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TheAmbitiousCard
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Someone emailed me how tips on the Cups and Balls.
I replied...

The cups and balls is boring. Period.
The cups and balls needs to be entertaining. You can do it!
DO NOT try to incorporate tons of your favorite moves/slights into the routine.
DO NOT make it long.
DO NOT make it complicated.

Most routines are way too long. because magicians like tons of moves and want them all in their routine.
Your audience is NOT a room full of magicians.
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Harry Murphy
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Frank, even a room full of magicians find some (if not most) Cups and Balls routines boring.
The artist formally known as Mumblepeas!
TheAmbitiousCard
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I'm sorry about that. I hit a key and something happened.
My original post was meant to be (unfortunaly for you) longer...



I will also add that most magicians when starting out try to impress themselves/spectators/victims with their own
"improvements" by incorporating every possible phase they can think of with intellectually stimulating
transitions from phase to phase to phase, adding in (stealing) phases from every known great routine on the planet
to make their routine "the mother of all c&b routines".

That's what I would call "the more phases the better" theory and the more they add, the worse it gets.
There is no better example of "less is more" than the cups and balls.

If you really want to know how entertaining your routine is, get to a street corner and break it out, baby.
You'll be shocked how awful it is. Until one day, when you've killed your darlings, learned to interact with your spectators,
reduced the routine to it's simplest form, stopped focusing on the boring cups and the awful little red balls and actually learned to be entertaining, yourself.

Many years ago, that's how I found out my routine was awful. Not a great day but it was a start.
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kentfgunn
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Frank,

I've seen a couple of routines I thought went a little long. That's never been my major beef. I see way too many magicians doing Vernon's routine, too many doing Ammar's routine and too many doing very minor modifications of those two routines.

The two guys who synthesized those two routines did so, knowing their own skills and presenational skills. I'd bet a dollar they even picked sleights they knew they did well.

I can't guess at how many revisions or fits and starts drew them to the point where they thought the routines were pretty well gelled. You can see Vernon do slight modifications of his sequences in the live footage we have of him. I've seen Michael Ammar do a completely new cups and balls routine of late, he's not done with the trick yet!

I think knowing your own presentational limitations is one key. Even my short routine takes about three minutes and change. That's a long time for a trick for me. I only have one other piece that's longer. The trick has a lot of props and is complex, by it's design.

Most routines I see that I think are less good than others lack clarity of effect. The balls jump around . . . that's all I can tell is happening sometimes, and I have a working knowledge of Vernon and Ammar's routine. Pedestrian patter that simply reiterates what a four-year-old can tell is happening doesn't add much.

Bunch of different paths to go on to improve. If you're trying to get better and making some headway, you're better off than the vast majority who couldn't load a pebble under a trashcan.


KG
Pete Biro
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Nutty Surprise is not boring.

Actually cups and balls is not boring.

It's the performer that is boring.
STAY TOONED... @ www.pete-biro.com
TheAmbitiousCard
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Thanks for chiming in Ken.

Here are a few of the key mistakes I see:
1. way too long
2. ignoring the spectators
3. pattering away, describing (as you say) what a four-year-old can tell is happening
4. awful attempts at humor
5. creating a unique routine before understanding any of the old ones.
6. trying to be/act like a certain performer (gazzo, for instance)
7. thinking that this is entertaining: now they're here, now they're here, this one's here, that one's there, this one goes thru, that one doesn't, they're all over there, I put 'em all away and now they're all back, and now we've got oranges. ta da!
8. using the phrase... "now, I know what you're thinking. you're thinking maybe..." *puke*

The last one is a personal pet peeve of mine because it is so often used sooooo poorly

In fact, most spectators aren't thinking anything if you're not engaging them. If you're "pattering" instead of engaging them, they're probably just staring at the cups, the cute girl across from them, your unpolished shoes, your dirty fingernails, wondering what's for dinner,
etc., or expertly watching for a slightest break in the patter so as not to embarrass you; waiting to make a break for it and taking off, for an early escape.
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billappleton
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- Tension of Mystery

not much mystery for the cups and balls, could benefit from more bizarre treatment or story telling angle

- Tension of Task

not very interactive, and hard to tell where the cups and balls routine is headed

- Tension of Relationship

the homogeneity of the three cups and the various balls is not helping establish relationships

- Tension of Surprise

this one is the strong point for the cups and balls with the final loads

I like the benson bowl because the sponges can be more interactive and the relationships are simpler. this helps with some task and relationship tension.
mrehula
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Quote:
7. thinking that this is entertaining: now they're here, now they're here, this one's here, that one's there, this one goes thru, that one doesn't, they're all over there, I put 'em all away and now they're all back, and now we've got oranges. ta da!


This is my main problem with coin magic. Too many performers try to pass off confusion as magic. Plus, I have yet to see one coin worker explain WHY a coin would appear or disappear from an elbow.

Despite all this, however, I recently obtained a nice set of cups and balls and would like to develop a routine. I've been avoiding doing so because, well, I agree, cups and balls are boring. But it's certainly POSSIBLE to make them interesting (though, let's face it, I don't think I'm the magician to achieve 'interesting' nor 'magical' . . . ).
Pete Biro
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Some will disagree.... but.... learn a basic routine, like Dai Vernon's Then learn how to make it fun to watch, use it as just a tool to make you be a fun, entertaining kinda guy.
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TheAmbitiousCard
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Pete, if they disagree... they're wrong.
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FrenchDrop
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Quick question from someone who doesn't know a lot about the history of the cups & balls...when people refer to Dai Vernon's routine, do they generally mean his Impromptu Cups & Balls from Stars of Magic, or some other routine? If it's another one, where is it published? Thanks!
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kentfgunn
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FD,

The routine most folks mean was published as a pamphlet (my copy is orange) by Supreme magic. Copies of that aren't too hard to find. It's very different from the Stars of Magic version.

It was also published in The Dai Vernon Book of Magic. The Essential Vernon contains the routine. L&L is the publisher of both of those books.

The complete Vernon routine is fully fleshed out and, in my not so humble opinion, much better explained and illustrated in Michael Ammar's Complete Cups and Balls. The DVDs he put out with the same title may help as well.


Pete,

I really think Vernon's routine is way too much as a starting point. There's nothing basic about his sequences. I believe it is too much to present well for beginners.

Fran,

Work on your spelling Smile


KG
FrenchDrop
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Thanks, Kent!
"A great magician has said of his profession that its practitioners '… must pound and rack their brains to make the least learning go in, but quarrelling always comes very naturally to them.'” -- Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell
TheAmbitiousCard
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KENT! Yes, I know your name. Smile My apologies. I don't see how I missed that. Anyway, Ken, sorry that you had to point that out!

Frank
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Jeff Christensen
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No such thing as a boring trick only a boring magician.
JESmagic
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I agree with many of the comments in this post. When I perform cups and balls to laymen, I keep the routine relatively short, to the point, and get to the final loads. I used to do a much longer routine--mostly to amaze myself as I got better and better doing the various cup moves.

There's nothing wrong with performing Vernon's routine, or Ammar's routine. I would agree with Pete--learn either of those routines WELL and them perform them well. With time, one can then add their own personality into the routine. Eventually, you can conceive an entirely new routine, like Kent Gunn's--which is a masterpiece, in my opinion.

I've been performing cups and balls for over 15 years, which is a short timeframe compared to some of my colleagues on this forum. I started learning Vernon's routine...then changed it up a bit. I have 4 basic routines now--one for laymen, one for magicians, one for magician's who perform the cups and balls, and one that I perform only for me (which is where I noodle around and improve). I also watch as many cups and balls performers as possible, to see how they manage things that I find difficult to do.

The point is, that the cups and balls is trick that constantly evolves, which is what makes it a classic. But whatever routine you perform--bring yourself into the routine. If you're performing Vernon's routine...DON'T perform it exactly like Vernon. Create your own lines....don't talk about being "ambidextrous" or balls jumping back to "their little houses underneath the cups". It is natural when one is learning a routine to emulate another's performance--especially beginners.

Keep it simple, fun, and entertaining.
Andrew Zuber
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I wish someone would brainwash me so I could watch a cups and balls routine and be fooled again. I've studied it so much it's hard to be surprised much. That said, I saw Johnny Ace Palmer at the castle last night, and the guy is SO good. I knew what the final loads were but I watched the show once for my own enjoyment, stepped out and got right back in line to see it again and watch the spectators. Aside from his loads, Johnny's routine is fairly simple and straight forward...yet it KILLS. I'm thrilled I watched it twice, just to be entertained by the audience reactions. It felt like I was in on the secret and it's so nice to see genuine laymen be amazed and entertained by something that so many of us take for granted.

I'm with the others - keep it short unless you've got a personality like Master Payne and can get away with a 15 minute presentation. Know your limits and have some fun with it...and don't get jaded. We've all seen a hundred different cups and balls routines. Our spectators haven't. The moves that long ago stopped being amazing to us can still fry the smartest of audiences.
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The Burnaby Kid
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It's probably worth exploring what the individual phases really offer.

For instance, the 2-0-2 sequence allows for audience participation, which is a good thing if you're Master Payne and can make the whole experience funny, but a bad thing if you stink at audience participation.

Similarly, Vernon's sophisticated elimination sequence is fantastic for what it offers if you can keep everything clear, but muddy as heck if you can't.
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afinemesh
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Quote:
On 2012-04-09 21:34, The Burnaby Kid wrote:
It's probably worth exploring what the individual phases really offer.

For instance, the 2-0-2 sequence allows for audience participation, which is a good thing if you're Master Payne and can make the whole experience funny, but a bad thing if you stink at audience participation.

Similarly, Vernon's sophisticated elimination sequence is fantastic for what it offers if you can keep everything clear, but muddy as heck if you can't.


Well put!
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fortasse
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We all use the word "short" (as in routine) but seldom translate it into minutes. Short for me would be, say, 3 to 4 minutes or even less. I suspect that most audiences will start getting bored beyond that time unless, of course, you cast a spell over them to keep it going.
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