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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The words we use » » Memorized vs extemporaneous (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

daffydoug
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The question in my mind is this: How do you decide on whether to memorize or improvise your patter? Does it depend on the venue? If I am on a stage, I have it all memorized, but even then the challenge is to make the memorized patter not seem "canned". I want to really communicate with the flesh and blood people before me and sometimes memorized patter does not feel like I am getting through.

On the other hand, it is a comfort to know what I am going to say, but I can't resist the occasional ad libs. In fact, some of the biggest laughs I have ever received in my comedy magic act were ad libbed.

On the other hand, if I'm performing close-up, people can speak back to me and if I'm just going entirely by a script, then I seem like a robot. I deeply feel the need to speak to them on their level, where they are at. Every person is different and it is impossible to write a script that will fit like a glove on any spectator I may encounter one on one. It's real tricky, at times to know what is the best and right approach.

What do you think? Smile Smile Smile
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
Ronin
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Personally, I ALWAYS script my magic. I don't have to write a script "that will fit like a glove on any spectator," just a script that fits MY character. The audience changes, but my character doesn't.

With a close-up script, I simply allow for responses from the audience. This may mean I deviate from the script, but I will eventually go back to it. Also, if a great ad lib strikes me, I'll use it. But I consider magical effects to have a plot and the script is meant to amplify that plot. If I'm just "winging it" with what I say, the results tend to be mushy at best. Also, I generally have a little (sometimes a lot) of misdirection built into specific lines which HAVE to be in certain places.

Don Alan and Eugene Burger are great examples of using scripts AND interacting with spectators close-up. Check out the Jon Racherbaumer book In A Class by Himself: The Magic of Don Alan or Burger's Mastering the Craft of Magic for some great examples to follow.
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JimMaloney
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Having a script does not mean that you must not ever deviate from it. Having a script means that you have something that you CAN deviate from.

Any live performer who feels that they must rigidly stick to the script is bound for failure. Those who are flexible and can incorporate live events into their existing script are the ones who succeed. Be rigid, but flexible at the same time.

FYI: comedians famous for their improvisation skills (such as Robin Williams) only truly improvise about 5-10% of their material in any given show. Think about it.

-Jim
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dreidy
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I talk for a living. If I walk into class to teach, I know where I want to go, I know what I want to get across, but I'd never script it (of course with four hours of teaching every day it would be impossible anyway). Even if I give the same class a few times, it's very different each time. I do the same with magic performances, I know where I want to go, but that's it.

I think it comes down to being comfortable with the material, if you know it really well, then the words just come.

Incidentally, I'm hopeless at sticking to a script. The one and only time I had to do a scripted presentation it was almost a complete disaster. Horses for courses I suppose.

David
eddieloughran
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I always script out a routine, if only in my mind when practicing. When I first started I didn't bother and several times said silly or the wrong things. An example being to put two sponge balls in a person's hand and refer to them as "them" insted of "it".

I also had trouble in not making instructions clear to assistants, messing up tricks.

I work with some beginners and it's surprising how many repeat the same words in every sentence, or use two words when one will do.

Eddie
JimMaloney
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Quote:
On 2003-12-29 16:09, dreidy wrote:
Incidentally, I'm hopeless at sticking to a script, the one and only time I had to do a scripted presentation it was almost a complete disaster.

I'd be curious to know what was so disastrous about it. What was the problem? How much prep/rehearsal time did you have? What was the situation?

-Jim
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A C Spectre
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When planning a new routine I will jot down ideas that come to me and then rehearse each until I have the one I think will work the best. Once I select the idea to use I rehearse some more, looking for the right words and actions to use to achieve the effect I want. The only things I ever actually write down or "script" are the general ideas. Once I pick one of these ideas to use I rehearse enough so that I am comfortable with the presentation. I operate much better extemporaneously so I never restrict my words or actions by scripting them. This allows me to tailor my routines to a particular audience and in my opinion gives the show a more personal feel.

I work the same way with my running gags and physical comedy bits. I have several routines I use and I bring most all of my gag props to every show. I try to get a feel for my audience as soon as I arrive at a venue. Once I start performing I generally have a good feel for the audience and if I haven't chosen a running gag yet I do so at this time. I work the physical comedy bits in as I go and whatever I don't use for a particular show simply stays in the trunk until next time.

I personally like the flexibility of being able to tailor my show to the audience as I go.

A C Spectre
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Decker
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The "actor" part of the magician sort of has to take control in order to give a lively performance of scripted material. I think ad libbing is important because (at least in close-up) the spectators are dying to be participants. If you deny them this you are doing your magic a disservice. All it takes sometimes is an aknowledgement, then back to the script I go.
"He had alot to say... He had alot of nothing to say..." --MJK
R2
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I have always scripted the essence of the patter/storyline, memorized the essence and then spoke from the heart not the mind in performance...

I have felt guilt at times because of this during rehearshal because the timing was always different (i.e. actions to words and movement or blocking varied with each rehearsal and I never felt the confidence I needed).

I have come to realize that without following a script that remains constant, but appears off the cuff, it is almost impossible to have the same timing performance after performance.

When uttering spoken words timing is everything and to some it is nothing.

It is now something to me.

Special thanks to Brother Bill Palmer for helping come to some conclusions about speech!

ReyRey
Steve Hoffman
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According to what I have learned in various places, such as Master Classes with Eugene Burger & Jeff McBride, scripting is essential. Relying on "winging it" or ad libbing is the wrong way to go if one wants to really hone one's craft as a magic performer.

Nearly all the great entertainers—including but not limited to magicians—are working off scripts. As someone else posted, even Robin Williams, who during his stand-up comedy days sounded like a crazy man on methamphetamines, was actually performing a script.

Of course, this doesn't mean that you can't occasionally deviate from a script. Of course you can. And the mark of an entertainer is that he or she makes the script sound fresh and real each time it's performed. That's where acting comes in.

I once heard jazz great Dave Brubeck state that there is not really such a difference between improvising and composing a song. Composing COMES from improvising. But when you've experimented with different patterns of notes and come up with a distinctly pleasing result, you've got a composition. In effect, a composition is a distilled, perfected improvision.

In magic, the script is especially important in that your moves are tightly coordinated with your words, not merely for purposes of entertainment but also for purposes of misdirection.

Steve Hoffman
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JoeJoe
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Every presentation should appear to be extemporaneous. Even if you have it memorized to all heck, it should appear extemporaneous to your audience.

If your patter sounds "canned" then you simply don't have it fully memorized yet ... don't try to go home and keep memorizing, as that's not gonna help make it extemporaneous. The only way to do that is keep performing until it comes naturally to you.

And that's the key word: natural. I no longer try to memorize entire routines, and focus on key sentences and lines ... letting the rest of them just come naturally.
Amazing JoeJoe on YouTube[url=https://www.youtube.com/user/AmazingJoeJoe]
chrisrkline
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Wasn't if Mark Twain who said, that it takes him several weeks to develop a really good extemporaneous speech?
Chris
Big Daddy Cool
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Here's the deal...

Every top working pro I've ever talked to says the same two things:

Define your character/persona
Write a script.

I have yet to meet one magic superstar who does not agree with this.

I mean, really would you expect (insert your favorite music artist here) to get up on stage and make up their songs as they go along?
Swing hard, swing often, and we'll catch ya on the Flip-Side!
John Pyka
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JoeJoe
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Scritps work - but they are not always in use. One of my favorite shows is "who's line is it anyway?" - where the comedians just make up everything off the top of their head. The audience is often involed and give them a theme to work with.

I don't like being confined to a script, I perfer things to just come off the top of my head. My technique is to isolate the "key phrases" needed to make the illusion convinving. Certain sentences - sentences that must be there for the effect to work. That is my script. But only those sentences are scripted, I make the rest up as I go along. It's nearly always along the same lines, but I can and will deviate for a paticular audience based on their reactions and things they say. This can make the show much more personal for them.

As a result, no two pitches are ever the same. No two shows ever the same. I find it more fun and rewarding that way. If you lock yourself into a script, you may find yourself iqnoring your audience's reactions and their responses.

Scripting is a good idea, but try not to lock yourself into it.
Amazing JoeJoe on YouTube[url=https://www.youtube.com/user/AmazingJoeJoe]
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