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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » New to magic? » » Is show advice worthwhile for casual magi? (15 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Terrible Wizard
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Casual amateurs work almost exclusively for friends, family and sometimes strangers in ad hoc, unplanned, casual settings - at the dinner table, in a café, on the street, in school, on a bus etc.

They do tricks a couple at a time. What they don't do (hardly ever) is perform shows, beginning to end, for an audience of interested strangers.

Many resources aimed at beginning and amateur magi, though, give advice about routining, planning, scripting and rehearsing shows/performances.

What is the point of this? Is it space/time that could be better used discussing other things?
Dick Oslund
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Yes, to your first three paragraphs!

It seems that every month, or even more often, amateurs write in with pleas for HELP. They almost always have had requests for a "show" for a "worthy cause". --And, their only real experience is casual, close up, or parlor type "performing" (note the " " !)but, no experience in a "formal" stand up show. Usually, the "gig" is NEXT WEEK!!!!!

Well meaning part timers, or "advanced amateurs", will suggest TRICKS that they use, or have used. I cant recall any of the responders offering "advice" about scripting, routining, planning, or rehearsing formal show performances.

It's already, TOO LATE!!!!!!!! (Only "mentalists" can PREDICT the FUTURE!!!!!!!!!!!!

When friends, acquaintances or associates, who are in a charitable group or whatever, and they remember that their friend, "does magic", they will
request or suggest that he/she do a show! They think he/she should be able to do a show!

IMO, if one is an amateur, one should learn a bit about "theatrical techniques", not just the basic performance of a trick or two.
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Terrible Wizard
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Good point.

In general it seems best for the amateur advice giver to tell the amateur magi to 'Just say no to shows' - at least until they've done the necessary specialist reading/training/prep. And then proceed to give advice about the REAL contexts casual magicians find themselves in.

Yet rarely do I see much advice on how to perform or prepare for amateur contexts. The Jerx website is the only place I've found that talks about this stuff.

To quote from that blogsite:
"... while there is a huge population of amateur magicians, most of them perform rather infrequently. And to get useful insights and ideas, you really need to be out performing regularly. But the people who are performing regularly tend to be professionals, so most of what you read is from that perspective. To perform a lot as an amateur, you have to be independently wealthy ..."
WitchDocChris
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There are plenty of part-time professionals, or amateurs, that perform more regularly than "professionals".

I give advice on scripting, routining, and that sort of thing because even if it's a casual performance I still think one should strive to give a "professional quality" performance.

Amateur doesn't mean "crap". It just means you're not making the majority of your living through performance. Some of the best magicians in history were technically amateurs. One of my favorite quotes, paraphrased, is "Amateurs are the ones who push the art forward. Professionals are too busy looking for the next gig."

What the magic world needs is a higher quality "baseline" of performance, and I think the thing that raises the quality of performance is often the scripting, blocking, and theatrical considerations. That's what takes something from being a cute little trick, to being magic.

Every performance is a 'show'. Every performance, even when doing card tricks for the guys down at the pub, should be of the quality that would be acceptable for a paying audience, in my opinion.
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danaruns
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No. Don't learn any of that stuff. There needs to be a huge difference between what a spectator sees when a working magician performs versus Uncle Murray doing a card trick at Thanksgiving. Casual amateurs shouldn't get too good.







;)
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
Terrible Wizard
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"even if it's a casual performance I still think one should strive to give a "professional quality" performance ... Every performance, even when doing card tricks for the guys down at the pub, should be of the quality that would be acceptable for a paying audience, in my opinion."

I agree with this witchdoc. But the standard advice on constructing a show tends to come from professionals who don't have the 'two quick tricks to family in the pub' context primarily in mind. And as such the advice doesn't seem appropriate.

For example, how often have I read advice on developing a 'show' in books compared to advice about how to perform tricks for family? Which is more useful for amateurs?
WitchDocChris
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True. I'm not disagreeing with that point.

But the same principles apply to large performances as casual small performances. It just takes some thought to 'translate' as it were.

Scripting, transitions between tricks (turning them into routines/acts/shows), adjusting for angles and physical blocking, audience control, volunteer selection - all of these things are really universal. One needs to take into consideration the environment they'll be working in. I know I personally write separate scripts for different environments.

I definitely agree that there isn't a lot of resources (yet) aimed specifically at helping the casual performer increase the quality of their performance. Perhaps in the past it was assumed anyone serious about magic would be working towards being a professional?
Christopher
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Psycho Seance book: https://tinyurl.com/y873bbr4
Terrible Wizard
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I think you've hit the nail on the head there. Yes.
John Oaks
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I don't worry about amateur/professional magicians so much as your doctor.
He/she is only a "practicing physician!" Smile
Have a Magical Day!
------

I really didn't know how to explain it.
So I told them the truth, and they fell for it!
Terrible Wizard
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A thought:
If, as witchdoc and I agree, there's a dearth of books offering showmanship advice specifically for the hobbyist and directly addressing the casual context - who would be a good choice to plug that gap in the market?

Who could even write such a book? They'd have to have had many years of regular non-professional casual magic experience (and yet not be a working magician), but they'd also have to be well versed in theatrical techniques and have well regarded presentational techniques. That sounds a rare beast ...
Dick Oslund
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[quote]On May 3, 2018, danaruns wrote:
No. Don't learn any of that stuff. There needs to be a huge difference between what a spectator sees when a working magician performs versus Uncle Murray doing a card trick at Thanksgiving. Casual amateurs shouldn't get too good.



I've been performing for 70 years, and, I've mentored some fine young guys. Some had no desire to be full time professionals, but many DID. and, ARE. A few DID, and, WERE. (Does the name, Doug Henning "ring a bell"?! How about Bob McAllister? One of "my guys" won the FISM award for illusions. A young lad, whom I am currently mentoring, won a scholarship to a major regional convention (Magi Fest). Then, he qualified for Tannen's "MagiCamp", and, he has "earned" a second year scholarship at Tannen's.

"PROFESSION" IS A MATTER OF A T T I T U D E!!!

IMHO Danaruns should have learned better from Mark!
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
willtupper
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Dear Mr. Oslund,

I think you may have missed the following bit from Ms. Dana's post:

Quote:
On May 3, 2018, danaruns wrote:

;)


Through the power of the mighty "Winky Face" emoticon, I suspect she was kidding.

Hope you're all having an amazing, "as professional as you choose to be" day!

PS - one book I might suggest that could help the casual performer is Mr. Jamie D. Grant's wonderful book, "The Approach." It's terrific, fun, inspiring, and is filled with advice on how to structure one's performances in a way I can't recall seeing in any other book out there. Which doesn't mean other books with such advice don't exist, of course.
I just haven't found them yet.
Signet
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I was thinking the same thing as Terrible Wizard stated in his op. I don't believe amateurs should have to study for twenty years before performing magic. At the same time, we don't want completely inept people exposing secrets and embarrassing all of magic. There has to be a balance, somewhere in the middle. There's nothing wrong with an amateur doing a few effects for people they run into during the course of the day. If you can bring a smile to somebody, what's wrong with this? You should try to learn as much as you can about presentation and showmanship. Not very many of us are going to be Doug Henning. Does this mean we should never dabble in the art? Many times, the people who we entertain would never have the chance to see magic without the amateurs.
Signet
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One solution to this issue is a local magic club. We have one in Scranton that meets every month. It is comprised of people of every skill level. There are professional magicians, total newbies and everything in between. The one thing we all share is a love for magic. We all strive to get better, some of us just need a little help getting there. The fact that we can try out effects before showing them to the public is a big advantage. The pro can try out ideas they're working on as well.
Terrible Wizard
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I wonder if the decline of magic shops has made it worse? And made the need for books specifically aimed at helping the a,ather performer more necessary?
Dick Oslund
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Quote:
On May 4, 2018, Signet wrote:
I was thinking the same thing as Terrible Wizard stated in his op. I don't believe amateurs should have to study for twenty years before performing magic. At the same time, we don't want completely inept people exposing secrets and embarrassing all of magic. There has to be a balance, somewhere in the middle. There's nothing wrong with an amateur doing a few effects for people they run into during the course of the day. If you can bring a smile to somebody, what's wrong with this? You should try to learn as much as you can about presentation and showmanship. Not very many of us are going to be Doug Henning. Does this mean we should never dabble in the art? Many times, the people who we entertain would never have the chance to see magic without the amateurs.


Hi Signet! You've said it very well. The only thing that I would say differently, is: "...doing a few effects...". --Neither you, nor I, nor any magician, can do a few EFFECTS. (IIRC, you are a registered nurse, and medical "people" must use correct terms!) The EFFECT, is, WHAT THE SPECTATOR(S) PERCEIVE(S)! TRICKS ARE WHAT WE "DO"!

It would appear to me that you have "found" an ideal magicians' club!
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Dick Oslund
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Quote:
On May 4, 2018, willtupper wrote:
Dear Mr. Oslund,

I think you may have missed the following bit from Ms. Dana's post:

Quote:
On May 3, 2018, danaruns wrote:

;)


Through the power of the mighty "Winky Face" emoticon, I suspect she was kidding.

Hope you're all having an amazing, "as professional as you choose to be" day!

PS - one book I might suggest that could help the casual performer is Mr. Jamie D. Grant's wonderful book, "The Approach." It's terrific, fun, inspiring, and is filled with advice on how to structure one's performances in a way I can't recall seeing in any other book out there. Which doesn't mean other books with such advice don't exist, of course.
I just haven't found them yet.


Thanks, Will, for the "education"! (heehee) Yup, I've been "around" for an "eon" or so. I didn't even notice the ";)". "Emoticons" are a relatively recent "invention" (at least for this octogenarian!). Perhaps, someone should publish a "dictionary" of emoticons!

I grew up, with Dariel Fitzkee's trilogy, Maskelynne & Devant's "Our Magic" and Doc Tarbell's scholarly work, and, have done a "few" shows, successfully, I didn't even know that Mr. Grant, had written a book about the topic under discussion! --Thanks for mentioning it!
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
donny
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Maybe, Terrible, you and Mr Oslund are having a row? You, "Terrible", are arguing that the casual magician is good stopping point and not inferior to "higher platform" Magician (right?). Thus from your perspective, those who go farther are egoist, narcissist and blagards. But, the only time you go there is when you encounter the "Drill Instructors" of Magic; the ones that are going to help you, whether you know you want it or not. The "Drill Instructor" sees your reticence and only has one reaction and explanation,"boot up a**". "Drill Instructor" does not identify residual jealousy, laziness, lack of ability. "Drill Instructor" only shares passion and discipline (maybe they've seen where lukewarm motivation leads. hmm?). Yeah, "Drill Instructor" is a bully who makes you fly or fail. And who gave him that right? You may not be impressed where "Drill Instructor" has landed in life, but you must consider, he came from a different time, and maybe you don't understand what it took to get there, in this time.
Can I suggest "Terrible", if I'm 70% right, you develop your "casual magic life" and don't depend too much on "contempt" as motivation for your passion. If you do, it's likely you'll always get destroyed by hecklers. Rather, accept the "narcissistic boob" within yourself and you won't self-detonate when challenged performing magic. Consider any magician that performs past his prime (admit we all differ on opinion here). You have to be willing to look like that, some of the time, in front of people you don't know. You ready? ...Don't tell me, now get out there, bear your cross, as others have done, and SHOW ME!!!
It's not their senses that mislead, it's their assumptions.
Terrible Wizard
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Sorry, donny, but I really don't understand what you're saying - and I think you have picked up on something that really isn't there Smile. No worries, though.
paulalpha
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It has been said that the amateur magaician is always performing new tricks for the same people, while the professional magician is always performing the same tricks for new people.


Three years ago, my wife used to enjoy the magic tricks I performed for her. Today she doesn't enjoy them very much, so that I now longer use her as my first test audience. Partly this is because she has learned the sneaky underhanded ways that I accomplish some of my miracles. The grandkids also seem to have become similarly jaded about my magic. I'm not a real magician to them, I'm just grandpa.

My Professors Nightmare and my Ninja rings routines are good, and when presented to strangers get good reactions. But I cant present those routines to my wife and grandkids any more as they have already seen them enough.


If you want to keep performing good magic, and to improve on your skills, it seems inevitable to me that you need to seek out gigs to perform for strangers.

If magic tricks could be presented entertainingly with 10 minutes of practice/rehearsal, this would be purely academic discussion. But when real magicians have to spend hours, days, weeks and months working on a trick/routine, its hard to just do your magic for friends and family.

Always coming up with new tricks to entertain ones friends and relatives is a very high bar.
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