The Magic Café
Username:
Password:
[ Lost Password ]
  [ Forgot Username ]
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » Magic isn't enough (3 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Jonathan
View Profile
Inner circle
Oklahoma
1223 Posts

Profile of Jonathan
I haven't posted in a long time, but I had something on my mind that was bothering me. I watched some extremely sub-par magic and it was so frustrating. I just had to vent!

(BTW, I'm referring mainly to performing on stage. Close-up, one on one effects are different because you are connecting personally with someone, but for the most part the same thing applies.)

In my opinion (and experience), magic by itself isn't enough. Audiences just don't care enough. I believe there has to be something else, and magic is just a means to an end. It's a way to display the thing the audience DOES care about.

I wanted to grab every one of those magicians backstage and ask them one question. "Why?"

Are you making roses appear and change color? Why?

There needs, in my opinion, to be a REASON behind doing what you are doing and that reason needs to be made clear and you need to tailor everything you do in that routine to fill that reason.

Are you making roses appear because they remind you of a lost love who loved roses? Are you changing their color because she loved a certain color of rose? That would be interesting! The audience would understand your motivation and there would be an emotional element. They would care that a rose appeared and/or changed color. So, use emotional music and put a lot of motivation and acting into the performance.

Are you demonstrating some "real" paranormal ability you have to make roses appear out of nowhere? (please no) If so, then you need to explain that and make it very clear. Then do some test condition demonstrations. But, even then, why should the audience care that you have this skill? Should they view you like a freak show act? If not, what's the difference? Can they benefit in some way from your ability? Can they be inspired by it? A science exeriment won't be too interesting for most people unless the results affect them in a way of which they are aware.

Are you just displaying some skill at an ancient artform which you appreciate? (I suspect this is most often the case) Then the audience needs to be aware of this. Explain the art form, what it means, etc. Magicians are already familiar with this and thus can enjoy watching performances of manipulation and illusion. But, audiences aren't. They don't know why they should care. No one is going to leave blown away, having no idea of how cards appeared at your fingertips or how something changed underneath a hankerchief.

But, if they understand that you are just using a classic artform to use optical illusions to make it appear as though magical things are happening, they can sit back and appreciate your skill. But, they need to be aware of how difficult it is and have some idea of what you're doing. I think of Penn and Teller and their cups and balls routine. They had another routine as well which explained all the sleight of hand Teller was doing with smoking a cigarette. Obviously, you want some surprises in the act, (I'll get to that in a minute) but for the rest of the act the more they know about what you are doing the better. They know they aren't supposed to expect to be fooled or blown away. They can enjoy the art part of the artform (although it's not for everyone, and most seem to have no more than a passing curiosity).

Are you using magic to make people laugh? That works well. In that case, it's the comedy that is the source of entertainment and magic is just a means to an end. But the magic has to complement the comedy and distract from it. Having the right focus and achieving that delicate balancing act is tough. I suggest one or the other has to be the main focus, and not get equal billing. Comedy is self-depricating in nature, while magic is empowering (usually). Those things pull in different directions. So, either the magic has to play into the self-deprication (like the Amazing Johnathan or Tommy Wonder) or the comedy needs to be more dry and made to raise the audience's respect for the the performer (like Derren Brown or David Copperfield).

Is the point of the routine to surprise? People like that! Much like comedy, having a routine set up the audience only to have there be a big twist and shocks the audience is very entertaining. However, it's not easy to do. Like comedy, either it works or it doesn't. Not all surprise endings are equal. Just like twist endings in movies. Many try, most fail. Some audience members will be a step ahead of you, while others are struggling to keep up. You have to be simple and obvious enough that everyone can follow the set up, yet dubious enough that no one will see the twist which was right under their nose the entire time. Few people care about a movie where the bad guy ends up being someone they haven't seen, but when it ends up being the best friend that no one suspected...

Unfortunately, you can only surprise people so many times before they aren't surprised anymore.

Is the performance graceful and beautiful to watch, like a dance? If so, do you have that natural ability? Because that's not something a person can really learn in my opinion. Either you are graceful and can feel it or you can't. If you can, go all out and create a moving visual spectacle.

Is the point just to share your personality? If you are likable and interesting as a person, then magic is a great way to display it to others. Is the goal to inspire or motivate?

The thing about all those examples is that they all use magic to help provide something that you don't NEED magic to provide. You don't need magic to provide comedy, or touch people's emotions, or dance, surprise, etc. But, magic is a good way to do it. Magic by itself, however, isn't enough.

I suggest that if people wouldn't be interested in the show without the magic, they won't be interested in it WITH the magic.

If they don't find you funny, then they won't like your comedy magic. If they don't like to watch dance, they don't like your graceful manipulation act. If they don't like science lectures, they won't like your test condition demonstration (but, if you can't prove your abilities they won't care). If they don't like circus side shows they aren't going to like your demonstration of freak abilities. If you can't inspire or motivate without magic, the audience won't be inspired or motivated by your magic. etc, etc.

Of course, there are always exceptions. Some people like magic for magic's sake, but those people are definitely the minority and there won't be very many of them in your audience.

Thinking through this has made me go back over my shows and ask myself that question. "why?"

Thoughts?
morgaine_le_fey
View Profile
Veteran user
Montreal, Canada
391 Posts

Profile of morgaine_le_fey
Very refreshing post Jonathan!
Why? is probably the question I ask mysef at every stage of my 'act'.
The logic, handling, story, feeling... it all has to be a natural flow.
The best magic I've seen was holistic: it didn't look like magic at all (in fact, I don't even think there was a trick involved).
Your remark regarding this is spot on, and I think that ultimately the best magicians are first and foremost great storytellers.
If you can tell a story (with or without words) you're communicating, bonding, touching...

Man I love this post!

xxx Morgaine
saysold1
View Profile
Eternal Order
Recovering Cafe addict with only
10624 Posts

Profile of saysold1
Thank you Jonathan and I also agree with Morgaine's (as always) great insights Smile

I would like to recommend an amazing (and free) PDF on this very worthwhile subject that is available from our friends at Vanishing.Inc

It is called "Magic In Mind" and it contains some of the finest thoughts and essays on how to make your magic, mentalism and performances far more meaningful and powerful.

This well researched collection of essays are sourced from some of the best thinkers in magic, and they should be read by every one of us who seek to make our magic meaningful.


https://www.vanishingincmagic.com/magic-......in-mind/


A note from Joshua Jay: What if I told you that today we are releasing a book with contributions from Derren Brown, Teller, and Juan Tamariz? How about if the book also included contributions from John Carney, Darwin Ortiz, Tommy Wonder, Pit Hartling, Rene Lavand, Tom Stone, and nearly thirty other magic luminaries?

And what if I told you that this collection was entirely free?

I have spent the last three years working on Magic in Mind, which is my gift to all magicians, young and old, who care deeply about magic. I set out to assemble some of the most important, influential, and helpful essays on magic ever written, and make them available to all serious students of magic for free. Coming in at over 500 pages, Magic in Mind is finally ready.

I am overwhelmed by the generosity of nearly thirty of my heroes, who kindly consented for me to publish or republish their words. Some essays the serious student will be familiar with, from Houdin to Fitzkee to Maven. Others are more arcane, but no less important. For example, I was able to get permission from the Tommy Wonder estate, and to have Juan Tamariz’s blessing to publish his essay on “illusionism” for the first time in English. I feel very lucky to have worked on this project, and I hope that magicians who read Magic in Mind will find the material as inspiring as I do.
Magic in Mind
List of contributors to Magic in Mind

Tommy Wonder
Charles Reynolds
Simon Aronson
Paul Harris
John Carney
Jamy Ian Swiss
Dariel Fitzke
Peter Samelson
Derren Brown
Michael Close
Pit Hartling

Eugene Burger
S.H. Sharpe
René Lavand
Robert-Houdin
Henning Nelms
Juan Tamariz
Rick Johnsson
Tom Stone
Darwin Ortiz
Milt Kort
Arturo de Ascanio

David Regal
Doug Conn
Ken Weber
David Kaye
Roberto Giobbi
Eberhard Riese
Brian Brushwood
Teller
Whit Haydn
Max Maven
John Nevil Maskelyne

One small favor, if you please. In the sharing spirit this book is offered, please help me spread the word. If you know a young (or old) magician who would benefit from this collection, please send them to us so they can download it as well. Your tweets and comments will enable Magic in Mind to do what it is intended to do: improve the quality of magic in our industry.

Dow
Creator of The SvenPad Supreme(R) line of premium, made in the USA utility props. https://svenpads.com/
Rolyan
View Profile
Special user
I'm fencing in my land; so far there are
586 Posts

Profile of Rolyan
Having studied Magic in Mind when it was first released I can highly recommend it.

I have always asked myself "why" before, during and after every performance. Interestingly my audiences did the same.
DrTodd
View Profile
Inner circle
1922 Posts

Profile of DrTodd
More of this kind of thinking here

http://www.todd-landman.com/magic/the-magiculum/
Jonathan
View Profile
Inner circle
Oklahoma
1223 Posts

Profile of Jonathan
Thanks for the link. I will definitely read that! Smile

Another thought comes to mind that I forgot to put in the original post. Some of the best effects out there will blow people's minds because of their impossibility. This is a great response, but only seems to really affect the really logical thinkers in the audience, and the ones who are fairly secure in themselves. The illogical don't follow the logic well enough to notice just how impossible it is (it's just a mystifying as anything else they run into every day), and the ones who aren't as secure don't want to admit to themselves they can't figure it out so they'll come up with and latch onto whatever ridiculous explanation they can come up with. :-/

Anyone else observe this?
insight
View Profile
Inner circle
3095 Posts

Profile of insight
A great observation! Although, I believe that if the majority of the audience can't "figure it out" but still attribute the "miracle" to another reason that they come up with and latch onto (however ridiculous their reasoning may be), the magician has failed. If the magician cannot create the joyful sensation of inexplicable wonder for a majority of the audience, then something is seriously wrong in the performance.

Regards,
Mike

Quote:
On Jun 18, 2014, Jonathan wrote:
Thanks for the link. I will definitely read that! Smile

Another thought comes to mind that I forgot to put in the original post. Some of the best effects out there will blow people's minds because of their impossibility. This is a great response, but only seems to really affect the really logical thinkers in the audience, and the ones who are fairly secure in themselves. The illogical don't follow the logic well enough to notice just how impossible it is (it's just a mystifying as anything else they run into every day), and the ones who aren't as secure don't want to admit to themselves they can't figure it out so they'll come up with and latch onto whatever ridiculous explanation they can come up with. :-/

Anyone else observe this?
hypblake
View Profile
New user
47 Posts

Profile of hypblake
That, or it could just be fun and entertaining. Let someone not think/worry about the stresses of life for 2 minutes.
Jonathan
View Profile
Inner circle
Oklahoma
1223 Posts

Profile of Jonathan
Why pay money for a distraction from stresses of life when they could just watch TV?
funsway
View Profile
Inner circle
old things in new ways - new things in old ways
8905 Posts

Profile of funsway
Form "SwayMagic"

From without, no wonderful effect is wrought within ourselves, unless some interior, responding wonder meets it. Herman Melville

bring alive the wonder of life through performance magic

A fanciful dream, no? Certainly an illusion for those who believe that “doing magic” is a matter of purchasing gimmicks and package tricks, “fooling people” or massaging some ego enhancement game. It is easy to do a magic trick. Add a bit more difficulty to perform a magic effect. If you desire to introduce an element of “affect” then you must do things most magicians will not. How about orchestrating conditions in which anything you do will be considered magical by the observer? Extend your imagination to being able to create a magical affect with every person you meet in everyday life! What is the story each spectator will tell afterwards? Is magic the hero?

The formula is simple. Recognize awe and wonder in every facet of living. Recognize the power of your own imagination. Find ways to communicate both to another person. Be willing to say what you will do, then always do what you say. Learn from the experience. Be what no other has ever been – do what no other has ever done!
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



ShareBooks at www.eversway.com * questions at funsway@eversway.com
funsway
View Profile
Inner circle
old things in new ways - new things in old ways
8905 Posts

Profile of funsway
Form "SwayMagic"

"From without, no wonderful effect is wrought within ourselves, unless some interior, responding wonder meets it." Herman Melville

bring alive the wonder of life through performance magic

A fanciful dream, no? Certainly an illusion for those who believe that “doing magic” is a matter of purchasing gimmicks and package tricks, “fooling people” or massaging some ego enhancement game. It is easy to do a magic trick. Add a bit more difficulty to perform a magic effect. If you desire to introduce an element of “affect” then you must do things most magicians will not. How about orchestrating conditions in which anything you do will be considered magical by the observer? Extend your imagination to being able to create a magical affect with every person you meet in everyday life! What is the story each spectator will tell afterwards? Is magic the hero?

The formula is simple. Recognize awe and wonder in every facet of living. Recognize the power of your own imagination. Find ways to communicate both to another person. Be willing to say what you will do, then always do what you say. Learn from the experience. Be what no other has ever been – do what no other has ever done!
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



ShareBooks at www.eversway.com * questions at funsway@eversway.com
myrealsphinx
View Profile
New user
Brazil
79 Posts

Profile of myrealsphinx
Quote:
On Jun 18, 2014, saysold1 wrote:
Thank you Jonathan and I also agree with Morgaine's (as always) great insights Smile

I would like to recommend an amazing (and free) PDF on this very worthwhile subject that is available from our friends at Vanishing.Inc

It is called "Magic In Mind" and it contains some of the finest thoughts and essays on how to make your magic, mentalism and performances far more meaningful and powerful.

This well researched collection of essays are sourced from some of the best thinkers in magic, and they should be read by every one of us who seek to make our magic meaningful.


https://www.vanishingincmagic.com/magic-......in-mind/


A note from Joshua Jay: What if I told you that today we are releasing a book with contributions from Derren Brown, Teller, and Juan Tamariz? How about if the book also included contributions from John Carney, Darwin Ortiz, Tommy Wonder, Pit Hartling, Rene Lavand, Tom Stone, and nearly thirty other magic luminaries?

And what if I told you that this collection was entirely free?

I have spent the last three years working on Magic in Mind, which is my gift to all magicians, young and old, who care deeply about magic. I set out to assemble some of the most important, influential, and helpful essays on magic ever written, and make them available to all serious students of magic for free. Coming in at over 500 pages, Magic in Mind is finally ready.

I am overwhelmed by the generosity of nearly thirty of my heroes, who kindly consented for me to publish or republish their words. Some essays the serious student will be familiar with, from Houdin to Fitzkee to Maven. Others are more arcane, but no less important. For example, I was able to get permission from the Tommy Wonder estate, and to have Juan Tamariz’s blessing to publish his essay on “illusionism” for the first time in English. I feel very lucky to have worked on this project, and I hope that magicians who read Magic in Mind will find the material as inspiring as I do.
Magic in Mind
List of contributors to Magic in Mind

Tommy Wonder
Charles Reynolds
Simon Aronson
Paul Harris
John Carney
Jamy Ian Swiss
Dariel Fitzke
Peter Samelson
Derren Brown
Michael Close
Pit Hartling

Eugene Burger
S.H. Sharpe
René Lavand
Robert-Houdin
Henning Nelms
Juan Tamariz
Rick Johnsson
Tom Stone
Darwin Ortiz
Milt Kort
Arturo de Ascanio

David Regal
Doug Conn
Ken Weber
David Kaye
Roberto Giobbi
Eberhard Riese
Brian Brushwood
Teller
Whit Haydn
Max Maven
John Nevil Maskelyne

One small favor, if you please. In the sharing spirit this book is offered, please help me spread the word. If you know a young (or old) magician who would benefit from this collection, please send them to us so they can download it as well. Your tweets and comments will enable Magic in Mind to do what it is intended to do: improve the quality of magic in our industry.

Dow



Magic in Mind id GREAAATTTTT !!! Thanks
C.J.
View Profile
Inner circle
There's a lotta rambling in my
2366 Posts

Profile of C.J.
As I've posted a number of times here before, in the world of Theatre, the dynamic which drives stories and performance forward is called 'Tension'. Tension doesn't just mean "stress" in the context of Drama, it relates to the tangible or intangible elements that make meaning and cause something to "happen". Consider the difference between a dictionary and a novel - both have words, but the latter uses tension to make a story.

Dramatic tension exists in four commonly-accepted forms: Mystery, Task, Surprise and Relationship. Good theatre will always use at least two of these intentionally, and often all four. Magic tends to use only one, and that is the problem being alluded to in the OP. I believe that most magic these days relies solely on mystery, which by itself is not enough to create a meaningful connection with an audience. I've written a treatise on why, which you can find in this thread.

As the OP indicates, Surprise added to your mystery creates interest. But the best thing we can do is to incorporate the tension of relationship, which can be done in 1001 different ways. This relationship aspect is what mentalism is particularly good at, and I think it's why magicians all want to come over to this side - what they think is "more powerful effects" is actually just "more relatable performances". And then you see a lot of mentalists wanting to do or incorporate "readings" for exactly the same reason; turning the relationship tension up to 11!
Connor Jacobs - The Thought Sculptor
Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur
Be fondly remembered.
Marmen
View Profile
Regular user
157 Posts

Profile of Marmen
I am a little discouraged from downloading this free book by viewing the list of contributors. Half of them have no idea what they are talking about. I am far too tactful to say which half. Still, since the cost is zilch I will download it and report back.
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » Magic isn't enough (3 Likes)
[ Top of Page ]
All content & postings Copyright © 2001-2021 Steve Brooks. All Rights Reserved.
This page was created in 0.34 seconds requiring 5 database queries.
The views and comments expressed on The Magic Café
are not necessarily those of The Magic Café, Steve Brooks, or Steve Brooks Magic.
> Privacy Statement <

ROTFL Billions and billions served! ROTFL