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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Boxes, tubes & bags » » Mike Caveney's Linking Coat Hangers (9 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Sealegs
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To keep Billupdated ... I tried out my new routine. I'm pleased to say that it went ok. Certainly I was pretty happy with it as a first try out. It wasn't clunky and didn't didn't bring the show to grinding halt which is always a bonus with a new routine.

I think though I am slightly slipping out of character with these props and that might be the biggest issue I am having with them. I was treating them as if I was doing a linking ring routine. I think I was trying too hard to get the audience to appreciate the magic moments. I prefer the magic moments to in my show to be 'discovered' by the audience rather than served up to them.

So rather than starting by 'presenting' the Hangers and then pointing up the magic moments in a well practiced and crafted routine I believe I ought to just be doing the routine in a manner that would be more compatible with having just found them backstage and that I am experiencing what I can do with them for the first time. I wouldn't actually present it in that way but that I think ought to be my inner dialogue or mind set.

At the moment the Hangers don't feel like they earn a place in my show.... but for me, no new routine ever does after one trial. I'm not convinced yet that I can make this something that might find a place in my show but I think there's enough there at the moment to warrant persevering.
Neal Austin

"The golden rule is that there are no golden rules." G.B. Shaw
Sealegs
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Another outing with the Hangers. This time in a much bigger theatre... and the whole routine felt completely... ’meh’🤨

I only really managed to create just one lightweight comedy moment in the entire routine and the magic moments didn’t have the immediate nd visceral impact I’m looking for. The best I could say about my routine was it was that it didn’t impact in anyway negatively on my show; it was certainly no worse than the best routine I’ve seen with them and in fact it was better than any routine I’ve seen by virtue of its brevity.

It’s hard to say why I’m continuing to persevere with these props. I think it’s that’s I just don’t like the idea of having to admit they’ve defeated me.😳 It might have been better if the routine had crashed and burnt. That way I’d be more inclned to simply put them back into storage. But while they’re not having an adverse impact on my show I’ll keep trying new tweaks to see if I can get them to a point where I can make them both magical enough and funny enough to be happy with them.
Neal Austin

"The golden rule is that there are no golden rules." G.B. Shaw
Sealegs
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Another trial with these and it surprised me that it went as well as it did. I’ve reinstated a first link of two individual hangers as the first magic moment, followed why the same with the other two. I think that has helped the routine establish more clearly what the magic effect is that is being played out throughout the routine. Going straight into the, visually impressive eye candy instant linking of 4 separate hangers as a first opening salvo was, in hindsight, too much, to suddenly and too soon for the audience to fully understand what had actually happened. It took them by surprise and they had to pause a moment to process what had happened. That took some of the momentum away from the routine. The surprise and visual change was, I think, catching out their senses.

Linking two hangers and then the other two in two separate groups first, gets over this. It also plays better from the openly fake links I am doing that precedes this moment. And as the method I have for linking the two sets of two is the same as I was using to link all 4 separate hangers, the eye candy factor is pretty much the same as before and the impression is strangely still of 4 hangers linking together at that moment.

I’m also happy that the routine got more laughs than before. I added a few extra lines that I had written and performing without losing any of my character and style of performance without doubt was a big factor in making it play funnier. The magic quotient remains high too and is strengthened by the brevity of the routine.

The best imporovement has definitely come from performing the routine in the way and manner that I do the rest of the material in my show. I had previously been treating this routine a bit too preciously.. I think I had been wanting it to be seen as a bit of smart strong magic and that affected the way I was doing it. Now I’m just doing the routine as me and of course it works and feels a lot better.

My ultimate goal would be to have this become a signature piece for me.... I’m an astronomically long way away from it being anywhere near that at the moment though... but it’s starting to at least feel like I’m edging away from solely putting it in the act out of belligerence due to not wanting it to be beat me.

It’ll get another airing this week. Smile
Neal Austin

"The golden rule is that there are no golden rules." G.B. Shaw
TheRaven
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I love the idea of TLCHs but I think one has to accept their inherent magical limitations. The impossibility of linking two clearly solid rings is immediately and unquestionably apparent. Coat hangers on the other hand look like a puzzle tangled objects puzzle like you find at Cracker Barrel. Yes, we have all experienced them getting inexplicably tangled, so that reenforces the puzzle nature and removes the “obviously impossible” nature.

Examination helps but doesn’t remove the puzzle solving angle IMO.

I think they have tremendous possibilities as a comedy routine that can be very funny but will always be light on the magical side.
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I'll be honest, and I mentioned this in another post I did, I have never really had thought the linking rings suited me. I have recently started playing around with them and having fun. However, I just find the whole linking rings, coat hangers etc a bit too old school for an audience.

I thought about this and felt it was just too obvious of an old classic.

So I came up with linking HDMI cables.

I get the spectator to tie them and then go into a routine regarding no matter how well you try to keep them sperate they always link.

I have them link each other, the spectators arm, neck etc and then have them multiply. Because let's face it, no matter if you have just two cables the next day you can guarantee you'll have 10.

For a finale I make them disappear and say I'd rather use Bluetooth anyway,

I can't say it's a show stopper, but it's a filler and people relate to it. I throw in enough gags to make it last and it's purely designed to segue into a much bigger routine.
Sealegs
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I think all tricks have ‘inherent magical limitations’. The question is whether within those limitations a strong and effective routine can be developed.

I believe though that TheRaven has identified a valid point. People have experience of hangers tangling together and those metal puzzles. Both present situations where the objects are seemingly impossible to free from each other yet actually easily come apart as they weren’t actually physically joined together in the way they appeared to be. Perhaps this accounts, in part, for why so few people have found success with the Hangers.

However, a strategy I often employ when faced with a weakness in a routine is to find a way to make that weakness a feature within the presentation. If done successfully this can result in making the weakness a real strength. And this is what I have done (or am trying to do) with the Hangers. I am openly using the distinction between hangers being tangled together from being physically linked into each other as the way into and out of my routine.

As to mr_misdirection’s point about the Hangers being ‘old school’ ... well I see that could be the case for the Rings but the Hangers (to me at least, and for me) negates this as an issue. I’m not sure how the Hangers could be thought of by the audience as ‘old school’ when the chances of anyone in an audience having actually seen them used is virtually zero. I use the Hangers as a way of myself subverting any ‘Old School’ associations that the Rings might have and my experience so far is that it more than achieves this.


And I reckon I must be pretty old school myself as I don’t know what an HDMI cable is or why I might have 10 of them the day after having one. Consequently for me this would have the issue of having to explain what it is you are using and what properties they have before showing you can subvert those properties. This in a way is something the linking rings also has to overcome. With the rings their simplicity makes this relatively easy but none the less they solely exist in order for magicians to use. At least Hangers don’t have this issue.

But of course, each to their own. 😎🙂
Neal Austin

"The golden rule is that there are no golden rules." G.B. Shaw
TheRaven
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These are some interesting Anti-Theft Coat Hangers. Could be some interesting by-play about getting them from your hotel room... or bringing them out still on the rod.

https://ae01.alicdn.com/kf/HTB1IJrhQpXXX......x640.jpg
Sealegs
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TheRaven, I haven’t seen these anywhere before. I suspect that would be true for many people too. This would present the same issues I previously mentioned that come with using objects that are unfamiliar to an audience. They are interesting for sure... but I’m not sure how they’d fit into a routine other than being a curio or part of a routine’s ‘backstory’.
Neal Austin

"The golden rule is that there are no golden rules." G.B. Shaw
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I love hearing from sealegs about the progress. I, unfortunately, did not get a chance to workout or practice the LCH at all. I'm self-conscious of the clanging and try not to annoy other people around me (I know, weird.) So, maybe the upcoming tour - I'll have 8 weeks. We will see.
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Rainboguy
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Jeff:

Please shoot me a PM when you know that you're going to be in Wisconsin....it would be good to hang out with you again......have fun on the tour!
Sealegs
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I had stopped posting here about my ongoing trials and tribulations of the stage-time development of my routine for the Hangers because it occurred to me that no one was interested (surely not! Smile ) ... however I actually found that writing down my thoughts as I went along had been very helpful. It allowed me to more readily identify which parts of the routine I was developing were and weren't working and why this was or wasn't so.... but while that's interesting for me I can see it having a limited appeal to anyone else..

So it was rather pleasing to see that Jeff has enjoyed following my progress or, at times, the lack of it.

I understand Jeff's thoughts on the clanging that the Hangers make while rehearsing, practicing and experimenting with them. My wife would be the first to agree with how annoying that can be for anyone within earshot. On the cruise ships (where I work) most of my fellow guests are out of their rooms during the day. Luckily this affords me plenty of time to work on my routine without causing anyone any grief.

I haven't given the Hangers an outing for a quite a while now though.... I have, for sure, fallen onto the classic stumbling block that can happen when trying to give a new routine stage time. That is; I find myself not wanting to risk upsetting the momentum of a show that feels like it's effortlessly steaming along..... or alternatively.... I feel unwilling to take the risk with a new routine in a show where I sense a firm hand on the reigns is required throughout. This is always a dilemma for introducing new material when your objective is to give the audience in front of you the very best experience you are capable of delivering for them. You only get that one shot with any one crowd.

But I think I'm going to have to make myself do the Hangers in my next show.... so watch this space for the next instalment.... (or of course don't if you're not interested Smile )
Neal Austin

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61magic
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"inherent magical limitations". As magicians we often struggle to make any effect magical and not just a puzzle to ponder. Linking Rings is a classic for a reason and have stood the test of time with presentations as varied as the number of performers.
The impossible linking of two solid objects is easily understood by the very young to the vary old so the effect endures.
I've watched this thread for some time and how it has progressed to the point I wanted to see several performances of the Linking Coat Hangers. I watched Mike's routine from several different performances, performances by others doing Mike's routine verbatim and some very original routines.
Most were played for comedy but one was played as a straight Linking Ring routine.
I didn't find any "inherent magical limitations" causing any of the performances to be anything but entertaining.
For me this really stimulated my thinking and I will purchase a set and move from the Linking Rings routine I have used for years. I have gotten older and my character had to change to fit me as I am now. The difference in the Coat Hangers vs. the Rings allows me to go in a whole different direction while still having the "classic" magic proven to entertain.
The real magic is not finding a limitation but finding the presentation fitting the personality and feel of the act, when this vital point is found is when the trick becomes magic.
I found the idea of "inherent magical limitations" causing me to investigate a way to improve my act. The idea was very enlightening, thank you to TheRaven for your point of view.
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Sealegs
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If there is deception being used in a trick then there are inevitably compromises to be made between what we are actually doing and what we would do if we really had the magical abilities we display. These are the “inherent magical limitations” that I believe were being referred to within this post. They exist in virtually all tricks and the Hangers has its fair share of these sorts of potential compromises! But like virtually all magic tricks, regardless of the limitations the potential for a magical and entertaining routine with Hangers is there.

It’s good to hear that 61magic has found the Hanger routines he’s seen to be entertaining. I’d liked to have been able to see Mike Caveney performing with the Hangers as he obviously found they worked very well for him as he used them for years. Others using Mike’s routine (including me) haven’t faired so well in my opinion. Bruce Gold has an entertaining routine and of the performances I’ve seen his is the one I’ve enjoyed the most. But to be honest I have yet to see a routine with the Hangers that I have really been impressed with.... and at the moment that also includes the one i’m currently trialing and working on too. Of course over time I’m hoping that will change. Smile

I think that having developed my own handling and new ways to link and unlink the Hangers has been helpful in allowing me to create a routine and presentation that feels like me..... and I feel I’m starting to get closer to having something that earns its place in my show.

I believe 61magic is dead right that a presentation that fits one’s personality is the key. This is indeed true for all the tricks/routines we perform. The Hangers though, are proving a particularly tough nut to crack in this regard.

But not to be defeated by them, they’re in with my props for my next gig (which is tomorrow as I write this) My intention is to put the routine into my main set to give it some more stage time. Lets hope I don’t chicken out and leave it out! Smile

I’ll let you know how it goes... or maybe doesn’t go. Smile
Neal Austin

"The golden rule is that there are no golden rules." G.B. Shaw
Sealegs
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Good news and bad news. The good news is that both of last night’s shows really rocked. The bad news is I totally forgot to put the Hangers in either show! Smile

I usually try out this routine in my ‘2nd’ or ‘B’ show. Last night I would have been doing them in my ‘A’ show. When adding in a new bit such as the Hangers prop management is always a concern. One has to ensure that the presence of a new prop doesn’t interfere with the established management of your other material. In my ‘2nd’ show I have a place in my set up to accommodate the Hangers. But in my ‘A’ show that same spot is occupied by another prop. My solution was to place the Hangers on my prop stand directly under my prop box. There they were accessible, isolated from my other props but also completely out of sight. Unfortunately out of sight on this occasion meant completely out of mind! and I forgot they were there until I started packing down my show at the end if the night Smile

Still, at least I got to rehearse the routine a bit more in the afternoon’s show prep. Next time..... Smile
Neal Austin

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Sealegs
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I’ve decided I need some kind of ‘left turn’ happening at the end of this routine to make it really work for me. The magic is good, the routine is strong but without it veering off at the end in an unexpected way it isn’t me.

Caveney’s hacksaw I suppose sort of does this but it’s just too contrived for my liking and will look a bit desperate in my show. I’ve been wracking my brains but haven’t come up with anything but in doing this I have devised a method for imitating reaching into a closet to get a hanger and having them all coming out tangled together.... I can show they are just tangled by carefully separating them.... but then from the tangled mess two link then the other two and then you’re into the routine. I like it but still have the problem of the ending.

Without a surprise ending it all just feels just a bit... twee, I think it nes to end on a note that signals the end of the routine but also gets a big reaction, preferably a laugh. The right joke/line would probably do it but without it will always feel like filler material and I don’t have filler material in my shows.

I’m keeping at it though Smile
Neal Austin

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61magic
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I don't normally tip what is in my routines but I have a bit of business I use with my normal liking rings that I will carry over to the hangers.
At the start of my routine I have all the rings together and banded with a paper ring and tape. I bring out a pair of scissors to cut the band to free the rings. I only do this so I have an excuse to have a pair of scissors near the rings which eventually become linked. Ala Topper Martyn...
I think this will work perfectly with the hangers since real hangers come that way when purchased at the store.
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Bill Hegbli
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David Copperfield can't even get good audience reaction from the Linking Coat Hangers.


Vietnam Veteran 1967, Sgt. E-5

Graduate of Chavez College of Prestidigitation and Showmanship

"Magic With A Twist Of Comedy"
Sealegs
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You made me smile with that comment Bill.

I have to say that given that this is in front of a TV studio audience it does show up how hard it can be to get a reaction with these props.

I'm still working on my own routine and am regularly including my Hanger routine in my (2nd) show. It's been (and still is) an interesting journey with them. The difference between getting reaction or not from the various moments in the routine is a much more fragile thing than with the Rings. I think the Hangers need a really strong comedic script to drive the routine and this is the biggest element to get right.

I feel like I'm getting there with them.... but I also sometimes wonder if my efforts wouldn't be better focussed on something else! But I have bit of a blindspot for the Hangers and don't wanton to beat me.

When I get back from my next gig I might post a video or two of the various new handlings and moves I have come up with the Hangers. I don't honestly think that these new handling are a solution to how to make the Hangers really work well as a routine.... but some of the handling I've come up with do open up the possibility for new avenues to explore with the scripting.
Neal Austin

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Bill Hegbli
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I posted that because that opening is exactly the same reaction I got, silence. I don't know if people don't connect with such an every day item, or that they think they know how it done. Do they think, the magician just untwist the wire at the neck and then re-twist it for the linking? There must be something else we are not considering.

Watch Copperfield's face, he becomes timid at the lack of reaction as well.

Everyone uses coat hanger, everyone at one point has experienced tangling the hangers when dropped or piled up. That should be funny, as they should be able to relate to the experience. But No, it is total silence. Why? Coat hangers are not something so personal that don't find it funny. They can be frustrating when that happens to them, untangling some hangers and just as you get one free, pick it up and along comes another hooked to it. So are they thinking, "I have done that, and I am not a magician."

There must be something we are not "putting our finger on." They should be laughing, but are not. Why? Why? Why?
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61magic
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Interesting how everyone's perspective is different. I didn't feel the reaction DC received was all that bad. I've seen DC in person many times and found some of his smaller effects receive less response than the illusions.
Performances always vary and audiences to too, you may get a huge reception one night and totally flat the next. Ask any comedian about this and they will tell you just how much trial and error they endure just to get their routine down.
Here is a video of Topper doing his routine some people find totally hilarious while other think is totally stupid. Martyn https://www.magicana.com/video/topper-martyn-linking-rings
I also think the coat hangers can look odd and awkward if they are pulled out in the middle of an act which features slick colorful manipulation, or as the only comedy spot in a serious character act.
In my experience doing both the rings and hangers in different shows people grasp the idea of the rings linking very quickly but I need to pause with the hangers to give them time to process what they just witnessed.
Just a few thoughts.
Professor J. P. Fawkes
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