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Pop Haydn
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Purely descriptive patter describes the visible action: "I will now cut the rope into two pieces." "Now we will tie a knot." It is usually unnecessary commentary, since people can see what you are doing.
Topper2
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Descriptive patter is usually tedious, dull, unentertaining and normally best avoided. If you've got nothing interesting to say while carrying out an action such as cutting a rope or tying a knot etc then it's best to throw in a one liner gag just to keep things moving. One really excellent source for such patter boosters is Si Adams's 'Snappy Rope Patter', it's positively bursting with laughs. Of course if you're not a natural comic it's best not to over do the gag business, but one or two carefully chosen quickies should be within everyone's ability range; just use them as throw away lines with a dry delivery if that's more your style.
Pop Haydn
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I consider the patter for my rope routine to be "pseudo-instructive," a comedic and false explanation. That is not what I consider "descriptive patter."

Al Schneider
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Those that can't do magic tell jokes.
Magic Al. Say it fast and it is magical.
Topper2
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Those who can do magic do tell jokes, if they want to be successful and entertaining that is!

Come to think of it, aside from silent acts and pseudo serious performers such as mentalists etc, are there any really successful magicians who never tell jokes?
Al Schneider
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Del Ray
Magic Al. Say it fast and it is magical.
Pop Haydn
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There is a difference between using humor and the natural comedic situations that arise from the performance of magic and joke telling.
Dr. Who might make wry and intelligent comments about what is happening, he doesn't tell jokes. Merlin might seem like a funny character in Once and Future King, but he is not a joke teller.
Al Schneider
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That is kinda my point.
A person that uses natural comedic situations that arise from the performance of magic is using magic to communicate.
My goal is not to disparage anyone other than those that may tell me my style may be wrong.

If a magician says the card will jump out of the deck and sit on the top of your head, then that happens: seems entertaining to me.
Magic Al. Say it fast and it is magical.
Al Schneider
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Here is another point.
The layman may watch a magician cut and restore a piece of rope with descriptive patter and be very stunned.
A magician will watch it and say it is boring.
Are magicians incapable of seeing what an audience sees?
Magic Al. Say it fast and it is magical.
Pop Haydn
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I agree with you completely, Al.

Magic can be entertaining for its own sake. Presentations should be designed to support the magic, not detract from it. Pop Haydn is a character, but in performance, the magic is front and center. It is the important thing--the character and backstory are just dressing.

I often hear people say that the character Pop Haydn would be entertaining reading a phone book. That isn't true. It took me three years to learn how to deliver the medicine pitch so it could hold people's attention. Every line has to be constructed and presented so that it holds the audience attention, and advances the plot.

I think sometimes magicians see things from a non-spectator point of view. They ignore the magic because they "know" how it works. They forget that the magic is what is captivating.

The dressing is meant to stimulate the creative imagination, to put the magic in a fantasy context--to give a story that is larger than what is seen just on the stage.

Chris Hart produces a bowling ball, and then rolls it off-stage. You hear the sound of the ball rolling off the stage, down some steps and out into the parking lot where it hits a car and starts the car theft alarm. No one believes that it is real. It is just a comedic bit. But the spectators have expanded the stage in their imaginations. The stage is suddenly bigger and more interesting, and the fantastic becomes a part of the memory of the event. In the same way, a backstory can put the stage show in a larger context with the events leading up to the show, and what happens afterward part of the event that the spectators are witnessing.

Fantasy can be serious or comedic. Look at the range of Twilight Zone stories. Those stories could be funny, whimsical or very serious with important points to make. Magic is theater that considers the theme of the impossible, just as was the Twilight Zone. The point is to create an experience of the impossible for the audience. That can be done silently.

Acting is still important, character and backstory less so; but it is the totality of the experience that is important. I always look for the strongest and most practical effects I can find, make them as strong and deceptive as possible, and then find a way to present them the best I can to set fire to the audience's collective imagination.
Al Schneider
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Just for giggles, here is my patter for PN. I do it with short ropes closeup two feet from their nose.

"I have three ropes.
A short one, a medium sized one, and a long one. (show ropes)
If I gather the ends together like this, they appear to be the same length. (gather, stretch, count)
Which is odd because a moment ago they were different lengths. (Bam they become different lengths. This has punch)"

I communicate with the props, not my voice. There are no laughs, just gasps.
Note there is no extra motion involved. Every syllable is accompanied with some hand motion.

Been doing it for over 20 years.
Magic Al. Say it fast and it is magical.
Topper2
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These discussions so often turn on a question of semantics, but maybe it is better to use the expression 'running commentary' rather than 'descriptive patter' for the type of presentation line that sounds so irksome. Trying to formulate a setting for a trick, humorous or otherwise, in terms of patter presentation is usually far harder than perfecting the trick itself, but if you can be interesting while describing what you are doing then that's O.K.; however that situation is rather different from the inexperienced neophyte who just resorts to give a running commentary on what he is doing because he can't think of anything else to say as he hasn't developed a worthwhile staging for the effect. Since saying nothing isn't an option, throwing in a joke to break the monotony seems like a better alternative.
Sealegs
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Quote:
On Nov 18, 2019, Al Schneider wrote:
Here is another point.
The layman may watch a magician cut and restore a piece of rope with descriptive patter and be very stunned.
A magician will watch it and say it is boring.
Are magicians incapable of seeing what an audience sees?


To answer your last question, I personally believe that sometimes yes, magicians are indeed incapable of seeing or recognising what their audience is seeing, or rather experiencing. Indeed sometimes the person most fooled by the performance is the the magician.

Someone watching and listening to a performer describing the actions they can plainly see are taking place might be stunned by the end result.... but they might also be bored and left un-entertained. It’s a judgement dilemma many magicians are oblivious to. A successfully concluded magic effect doesn’t automatically equate to an entertained audience.

My preferred goal, and I assume every magician’s preferred goal, is to astound and entertain. In a way I feel lucky in this regard because by clearly setting my stall out as a comedy act (and a magic act) I have a more obvious gauge at least of the entertainment quotient I’m delivering from the laughs I generate (or indeed fail to generate).
Neal Austin

"The golden rule is that there are no golden rules." G.B. Shaw
Al Schneider
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I have observed that truly strong effects get no reaction at all.
I once opened with the vanishing bird cage.
When the cage disappeared, the audience looked at me as if nothing had happened.
However, after the show while walking around, everyone I encountered asked, "Where did the bird go?"
Magic Al. Say it fast and it is magical.
Topper2
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Quote:
On Nov 20, 2019, Sealegs wrote:
...sometimes yes, magicians are indeed incapable of seeing or recognising what their audience is seeing, or rather experiencing. Indeed sometimes the person most fooled by the performance is the the magician.

Someone watching and listening to a performer describing the actions they can plainly see are taking place might be stunned by the end result.... but they might also be bored and left un-entertained....A successfully concluded magic effect doesn't automatically equate to an entertained audience.

...every magician’s preferred goal, is to astound and entertain.

Very well put, I totally agree.

However when you say "every magician’s preferred goal, is to astound and entertain", that may be the preferred goal but in general being entertained trumps being astounded. If you have entertainment you've got it made, without the need to astound. How many people did Tommy Cooper 'astound'? On the whole laughter was the chief goal with his act, but we still consider him a magician, it's just that he's not a magician's magician.

An 'astounding' magician who is rather tedious is never going to be a top entertainer despite the fact other magicians love him.
Al Schneider
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Personally, I think Nat should play House of the Rising Sun by the Animals while doing PN and other magic.
Magic Al. Say it fast and it is magical.
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