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Profile of EllisJames52
I've been struggling to oscript my cups routine. Every script I write doesn't feel unique to me. How did you script your cups and balls routine? Did you write the script and then put moves to it, or the other way around?
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Profile of WitchDocChris
I use scripts that are fun or interesting to me, on the assumption it would be fun and/or interesting to someone else just due to my showing interest.

I'm working on a new routine based around perception and how magicians manipulate how the audience is perceiving what's going on. That way I can kind of let them peek behind the curtain without actually revealing any secrets.
Witch Doctor

Psycho Seance book:
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old things in new ways - new things in old ways
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Profile of funsway
For all of my effect descriptions I have shifted to describing FOUR Scripts:

ACTION - what the audience sees
STORY - what the audience hears, assumes or expects
INVENTORY - materials, moves, sleights, stratagems
SECRET - all the sneaky stuff both physical and psychological liked to Actions and Story

once these our outlines, the details fall into place -- and you can start with any of them
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst

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1470 Posts

1) I read all kinds of routines
2) I pick what I like
3) I make selection
4) add ideas
5) make routine
6) try out and see where the problems are
7) rewrite and try out
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Profile of sethb
EllisJames52 wrote: I've been struggling to script my cups routine. Every script I write doesn't feel unique to me. How did you script your cups and balls routine? Did you write the script and then put moves to it, or the other way around?

Whatever you do, PLEASE don't start off by saying "This is the oldest magic trick in the world." I grind my teeth whenever I hear it, and I hear it far too often and from people who ought to know better! In the first place, nobody cares how old the trick is. Nobody cares if it was performed in ancient Egypt because there are supposedly pictures of it in the Pyramids. Nobody [except other magicians] cares if the trick is a "classic of magic." They just want to see the darn trick already.

I suggest that you work out a routine first, arranging things for good pacing that will build to a maximum effect. Don't put every possible move in your routine, just the ones that make sense and move things along briskly to the final loads. Use moves that you can do reliably and accurately. The Vernon Wand Spin is a beautiful move, but if you can't do it gracefully and convincingly, leave it out, no one will be any the wiser. Nobody [except other magicians] cares if your sleights are easy or difficult, as long as they are clean and work well. A simple FP and a good false transfer are all you really need for starters.

I present the Cups & Balls as a mystery. While the cups themselves seem to be solid, at times they aren't, which permits the little balls to penetrate the cups and/or jump from cup to cup! Amazing! You also need some logical or illogical/funny reason for the final loads besides a "see what I snuck under the cups when you weren't looking" approach. And don't limit yourself to the usual fruit loads, either --- use your imagination to do something unusual, creative and different.

When I demonstrated and sold the C & B using the small Royal Magic/Fun Inc. plastic cups, I used a "D" size alkaline battery as a final load. Before producing the battery, I would announce that a ball would penetrate two cups at once -- to the bottom cup of a stack of three cups. After pretending to fail (and loading the battery in the process), I'd stop to think for a moment and then say "I know why it didn't work -- the battery's dead!" and then skip a beat and reveal the battery. It made no sense at all, was funny, and yet there was the battery, which usually produced a few gasps and laughs from the specs. You don't have to use live chicks, stacks of poker chips, liquids or other difficult loads to get a good finish. The battery was easy to handle, easy to palm, easy to load, cheap and instantly recognizable by the audience. It also made a very effective and convincing "thump" when I picked it after producing it and dropped it on the table. That proved it was solid and real without my saying a word.

Bear in mind, too, that many people think the C & B is just another form of the Three Shell Game, so that it's just a guessing game as to where the balls will be. That mindset changes the effect from a entertaining mystery to a frustrating puzzle or worse yet, a challenge. Unless you can handle that sort of situation, I wouldn't suggest going there.

Whatever you do, have a good time with the effect and your audience will, too. SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
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Profile of EllisJames52
I had messed around with starting with saying “this trick was found on a hieroglyphic in the tomb of Beni Hassan in ancient Egypt. On the hieroglyphic to the left is where you can find the patter that every magician uses. The next tomb over is where we get our jokes. “

I’ll probably use it if I perform for magicians, but it doesn’t work as well for laymen
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Profile of sethb
Some of the "jokes" and patter I've heard in C & B routines probably were old enough to come from Egyptian tombs! <grin> You're on the right track, work up some new and interesting stuff. Just because Professor Hoffman used something, doesn't mean that you have to, so be discriminating.

BTW, I meant to mention that the battery load is not original to me. Magic dealer Al Cohen used it for a kicker finish when doing his Coin Cup routine (sort of a small Chop Cup that uses half dollars). Whether it was original to him or not, or where he got it from, I don't know.

But when I was playing around with the Royal Magic cups and trying to figure out a impressive final load for such small cups, I remembered the battery gag and decided to incorporate it into the routine. It also meant I only needed one final load instead of three, which not only reduced the chances of getting caught out, but also still provided for a good bang-up finish. Just a reminder that "we all stand on the shoulders of giants," as the saying goes. SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
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Profile of BarryFernelius
If you want to learn more about scripting, I highly recommend Pete McCabe's books, Scripting Magic and Scripting Magic 2. They're full of exercises and examples that will help you improve your magic.

So, with a bit of fear and trepidation, here's my script for Brian Watson's Anytime, Anywhere Cups and Balls. This shows how I've taken Brian's basic idea and created a presentation that fits me. The scripting strategy is to use a story to frame the magic. Because the story is largely true, it's easier for me to tell it with conviction. The middle section is expository, but I've tried to strip it back to the minimum number of words required to make the procedure clear. The ending re-connects the routine with the story, providing a satisfying coda to the magic.

Note that scripts are written from a third person point of view. Scripts are supposed to represent what you'd see and hear if you watched a magician perform. There are stage directions, but the secret moves are left invisible.

This is an actual performing script. Unless you grew up in Casper, Wyoming and knew Chet personally, please don't use it. Find a way to connect the trick with your own life and passions.

A Presentation for Brian Watson's
Anytime Anywhere Cups and Balls

(Barry takes out a clothespin bag and starts to open it.)

Barry: People sometimes ask me, "How did you become a magician?" The short answer: 793.8 (pause) -- but instead of telling you, let me show you.

(Barry sets the bag on the table.)

Barry: When I was growing up, I used to watch The Magic Land of Allakazam, Mark Wilson's Saturday morning show. Pretty soon, I got a magic set for my birthday, but I didn't like the cheesy plastic tricks. That's when I visited the most magical place that I knew back then: a store called Chet's Toy Box. Chet was the first adult who let me call him by his first name. I asked him, "How do you become a magician?" He smiled, and brought out a stack of cups like these. I'll never forget what he did.

(Barry opens the bag and removes the stack of cups. He puts the bag behind him.)

Barry: He said, "Copper cups, and a little bit of magic."

(Barry stacks the cups mouth down and pauses a moment. He waves his hand over the stack of cups.)

Barry: "Watch! A ball."

(Barry lifts the top two cups. A single ball is resting on the overturned cup. Then, he re-nests the cups.)

Barry: I wasn't that impressed, but he waved his hand again. "Two balls!"

(Barry lifts the top two cups and now two balls are resting on the cup. He re-nests the cups.)

Barry: And he did it once more. This time, there were three balls!

(Barry pauses, and lifts the two cups. Three balls are resting on the cup, and the audience applauds. He un-nests the cups and places them in a row, with one ball on top of each cup.)

Barry: I'm going to break the rules of magic and tell you what's going to happen. I'm going to place one ball under each cup. Then, they're going to gather together under one cup, by magic.

(As Barry does so, he continues to speak.)

Barry: No nonsense, no fancy moves; just magic.

(Barry pauses dramatically. He then picks up the two side cups at the same time. The balls are gone! He then dramatically picks up the center cup, and all three balls are there. The audience applauds.)

Barry: I'll do it again, but I want you to be convinced that there's only one ball under each cup.

(Barry sets the three balls in a row and sets each cup on the table so that one edge is on top of the ball and the other edge is on the table.)

Barry: Is that fair?

(Barry slides the two side cups forward so they cover their balls. He then slides the center cup over its ball and pushes the center cup forward.)

Barry: Pay attention to the center cup. I'm going to put away the balls on the sides, and they're going to magically return. But the third time, all the balls will gather under the center cup...

(Barry lifts the stage right cup, removes the ball, and sets the cup back down.)

Barry: watch it like a hawk. Before I put it away, I want you to see that everything's fair.

(Barry cleanly shows the ball in his right hand. He picks up the cup with his left hand and shows the inside to everyone. A single ball rests on the table, where the center cup was sitting.)

Barry: Take a mental picture of this moment.

(Barry cleanly sets the center cup back over its ball, and puts
the stage right ball away. He then lifts the stage left cup, removes the ball and sets the cup back down.)

Barry: Let's put this one away too.

(Barry repeats the same display that he did with the stage right ball and the center cup.)

Barry: And everything's still fair. OK?

(Barry again sets the center cup back over its ball, and puts the stage left ball away.)

Barry: But look; this one's returned.

(Barry lifts the stage right cup, and its ball has returned. He starts to put it away with his left hand and his right hand lifts the center cup.)

Barry: Still just one.

(Barry sets down the center cup and picks up the stage left cup. Its ball has returned.)

Barry: Another one returns!

(Barry puts this ball away.)

Barry: Remember what I said about the third time? It's already happened.

(Barry lifts the center cup, and all three balls are there. The audience applauds. Barry moves the cups so that they're back in a row. He places one ball on top of each cup.)

Barry: I'll never, ever forget what happened next--and NEITHER WILL YOU. When I put all three balls away at the same time, you won't believe what happens.

(Barry dramatically puts the three balls away. He lifts the center cup. A tennis ball! A pause. He lifts the two side cups. Two more tennis balls! Another pause. He lifts the center cup. A fourth tennis ball! The audience applauds. Barry waits for them to calm down.)

Barry: And then, Chet did exactly the right thing; he DIDN'T tell me how it was done! Instead, he just smiled, wrote a number on a piece of paper, and gave it to me. (Pauses) 793.8--the Dewey Decimal Classification number for the public library section devoted to Magic, Juggling and Card Tricks, my roadmap to the land of dreams. I became a magician, and I'll never forget Chet's kindness.

Finally, here's a video of Brian performing his wonderful version of the Cups and Balls.
"To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time."

-Leonard Bernstein
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