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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » Bad habits worth breaking (20 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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mastermindreader
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Good point, Anthony. Too many performers step on their own lines. Watch old Jack Benny shows for examples of perfect comedic timing.
phillsmiff
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OK guys, OK now, could I just stop saying OK now as a verbal tic, that would be great OK now?

Also: To add this on to Anthony's plea for space for laughter, a lot of performers are (I think) a little uncomfortable with the amazement at the denouement of an effect and have some kind of joke or little phrase that breaks the tension and makes everyone laugh - actually letting this space hang and acknowledging it can be very powerful. It's not just jokes that need some space.

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illusions & reality
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I would also strongly suggest video-taping your performance. When video-tape first started becoming popular (late 1970s), I recorded myself for the first time. I felt like I was watching a horror movie! Who was that guy pretending to be me!?!

One of the things that I learned was that I cut off the audience's applause too soon. It feels odd to be still to allow the audience to fully express their appreciation for an effect, but it is critical to learn to allow that to happen. Don't rush! As Bob suggested above, watch the consummate entertainers -people like Jack Benny, who knew how to allow silence and pregnant pauses speak volumes.

Lou
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I always need to remind myself to interact and really listen to what any audience volunteers say - and not to miss opportunities for some humor.

Sometimes I am so wrapped up in what I plan to say or do that I forget that there is a living/breathing person on stage and that some of the best ways of getting the audience to connect with me, is by having some fun and respectful interaction with the volunteer(s).
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mastermindreader
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Script it, record it, and review it. Rewrite and do it again.
Repeat as needed.
sandsjr
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For those that haven't considered fully scripting, here are a few reasons why you should...

1. you get to slowly and methodically consider exactly where you want to take the audience and why
2. you get to pare down your words and actions to make them as concise, effective and powerful as possible
3. you get to consider any misdirection carefully
4. you get to underscore pauses for humor and aha moments
5. you get to eliminate any knee jerk words/movements, ie; the praying hands, is that fair?, Ok now, rocking your body, and on and on.
6. you can ensure you're doing everything you can to keep the audience enthralled, laughing, or astonished while thwarting any chance of their becoming bored.

This short list should be reason enough to consider scripting out your stuff and stop "winging" it.


As Lou stated above, watch how many performers step all over "aha" moments by quickly moving on to something else. Yes you've seen the effect a thousand times, but the audience hasn't. So while it's natural for "you" to want to quickly move on, they need time to absorb. Full script... built in pauses.

Again, Maximum Entertainment and Bob's Fundamentals etc, are great guides for these types of things and many, many more.
harris
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Slowing down, pauses, facial expressions and what to do with my hands, were all things I learned over time.
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illusions & reality
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It is good to see all of the comments regarding scripting. I totally agree. When you are scripted, it allows the freedom for the ad-lib to surface that is just perfect. But the freedom comes from already having a script and structure. When an ad-lib works well, it then becomes a part of my script.

Don't overlook the importance of both recording yourself and listening to a director or friendly critics. We can easily deceive ourselves into thinking that something "works," when in all honesty, it is falling flat in performance. It could be a "flash"; "an obvious method"; poor timing; unconscious mannerisms (e.g., blinking when you do a move); repeating too many "uh's," "you know," or "like" words as you perform your script, or a joke or instruction that needs a more appropriate word (or words) to more clearly convey the same thought. Even actors who are memorizing a fully written script need direction.

Lou
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One other important thing was the ability to take
Feedback without being crushed.


Harris
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Matt Pulsar
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I have noticed to many mentalists and magicians alike use the phrase "what I'd like you to do is..." When over used it feels like he is quickly training them to be a prop instead of respectfully interacting with them. And, on that note, I have seen many mentalists who just don't take a moment to establish a rapport with the person they are working with on stage.
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Nestor D
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In Magic and Showmanship, Henning Nelms gives wonderful advices on scripting and presentation (quitte similar (but obviously vastly expanded) in fact to Mastermind's advices : great minds think alike).

You can read extracts of the book on google books.
Ben Seatreader
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Or just pick it up for a couple of pounds on amazon Smile
Nestor D
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Yes, the preview is just here to tease you : if you need to present something to someone at some point in time (this book has been recomanded to actors) then you'll get your money's worth Smile
Magic.Maddy
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On scripting:

I have never ever say down and written a full script. I, instead, will get the basics of what I want to say in my mind. The main points I want to make.

During the actual show, I allow the moment to drive my actions. Interaction is very important to me so I am always listening and watching not only the volunteer on stage, but also the rest of the audience.

I have done a lot of improv, so I guess that helps. But it keeps me on my toes. I never want to feel like a robot. I have nothing against scripts, I just know that for me, they don't go with my style.

So the best advice is to play until you find what works for you.



A pet peeve of mine is performers putting up "the 4th wall." The only person the mentalist/magician ever talks to or listens to or acknowledges is the person assisting him on stage. They block everyone else out. This is entirely wrong in my book. I feel the entire audience needs to feel like they are on stage with you, or like you're walking among them.


Another big thing for me is: Power. I think power is extremely important. Magicians/Mentalists with power are successful and in charge of their show. With no power, you will have no control. You loose power when you "ooch" which basically means when you rock back and forth on your feet constantly and continually make minor adjustments in your feet. This takes away power and shows nervousness. Another thing that takes away power is stepping backwards. If you have to go backwards, turn around and go backwards. Don't just lean or step backwards. This is especially true when delivering "lines." When you are speaking directly to the audience, please, PLEASE do not step backwards. All your strength is drained from you in that moment. It makes you look weak and timid. Along similar lines, always move with purpose. Don't continually pace. It makes the audience sea sick. I see this A LOT.

Another thing people do when they are nervous is they squat slightly. I've never understood that one. When they talk they have a little bounce/squat they begin to do. Very strange.



I have MANY more pet peeves that magicians and mentalists do (I could do a 3 hour lecture on it XP) however I think this is enough for now
sandsjr
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I think there's a misconception with scripting and being able to ad-lib with scripted effects. When you do an effect over and over (without having written a script) you are in effect "scripting" it nevertheless! It just takes longer to get there and there's a bigger chance a person will miss things that script writing with concentrated effort would catch. In the end, if you perform a lot, you'll be doing a scripted show regardless of the method used to get there.

I can tell you from personal experience that once you know the script cold you can ad-lib, get interrupted, whatever, just as easily as if you learned what to say WITHOUT writing it out.

Look at any good comedian... totally scripted. You'd never know it though until you got to see the show a few times.

But in the end, to each his own. Do whatever makes you happy!
Magic.Maddy
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Quote:
On Aug 28, 2014, sandsjr wrote:
But in the end, to each his own. Do whatever makes you happy!


That is my point. Smile

I, personally, have no misconceptions. I understand it very well. I write an outline. Not a script.
sandsjr
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Maddy, I said misconceptions because of the comment, "I never want to feel like a robot."

People have this notion you'll sound like a robot if you script your stuff. That's simply not true if you know the scripts inside, out, and backwards... hence the "misconception" comment.
Magic.Maddy
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Quote:
On Aug 28, 2014, sandsjr wrote:
Maddy, I said misconceptions because of the comment, "I never want to feel like a robot."

People have this notion you'll sound like a robot if you script your stuff. That's simply not true if you know the scripts inside, out, and backwards... hence the "misconception" comment.



I understand. And I can see how you could easily be confused.

I act so I'm very used to working with a script. All good actors breathe life into the script and every performance is something new even though there is a VERY particular script to follow with VERY particular actions. Maybe that is part of the reason I'm so turned off by scripts for magic.



The robot comment was more a crack at the magicians who speak in monotoan with no emotion or passion whatsoever. (We all know or have seen a magician like this.) And I'm not talking about a monotoan character, that's different. Those are the "robots" I was referring to, I should have made that more apparent Smile
Ben Blau
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Writing a script that doesn't sound like a script is a skill unto itself. When I write a script, I read the lines aloud to see if I can recite them in a way that seems natural and spontaneous. This usually leads to hours, sometimes weeks, of small revisions.
Ben Blau
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By the way, every word in my HOTOAC promotional video was scripted. I worked very hard on that script to make it sound off the cuff. I also write the lines I want my spectator to say, and the more skillfully the script is constructed, the more likely they will be to deliver their "lines" in the way you need them to.
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