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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » Why do people make fun of magic and magicians? (55 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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lynnef
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Dana and Danny, I'll write Mike back to correct any misconceptions. Like I said, didn't want it to be back and forth, off topic. I wasn't sure, myself, what kind of audience it was; and that's why I wrote Mike. I actually did imagine applause lights, etc, but at the same time thought there were very real unprompted responses. One of these days, I'd like to be in the audience. Fool Us seems to have something for just about everyone from the stage effects to really nice close up. As an aside, I've noticed that sometimes the performers know very well that they will not fool the duo... they're just there for the exposure. That can possibly be made fun of. Lynn
Dannydoyle
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I have a different view of the show. I do not actually think the idea in the end is to fool them at all. I think the show is a wonderful celebration of magic. Sure it would be great to fool them, but can Gazo fool them with Cups and Balls? Obviously not but it certainly is wonderful to expose the public to such an amazing version of a very old effect.

It also gives Penn a vehicle to be so good for magic. Show not only their love of their own show and knowledge, but celebrate the art.

I think it is just such a great concept for a variety magic show. It is a fantastic format for such a thing.

Which incidentally is why I was not being critical at all. I think it has been some of the best TV magic has experienced in quite a few years.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Senor Fabuloso
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Good post Danny as the only thing that really matters is what the show does for the art. However I think like many reality shows that are in fact scripted and choreographed it's a bit dishonest. But what isn't, in the entertainment industry?
No matter how many times you say the wrong thing, it will NEVER be right.

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Dannydoyle
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I don't believe it to be dishonest at all.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Senor Fabuloso
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Quote:
On Dec 11, 2018, Dannydoyle wrote:
I don't believe it to be dishonest at all.


No problem. That's why you are you and I am me. Lets see if you can let that stand?
No matter how many times you say the wrong thing, it will NEVER be right.

If I'm not responding to you? It's because you're a TROLL!
WitchDocChris
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I would say that as much as it can be, the show is completely honest. What you see on stage is what the audience experiences. This is what I've heard from people who were actually on the show.

I've also heard, I believe from Penn himself, that the only reason they have the "Fool us" aspect of it is because the TV producers wouldn't just let them have a show full of up and coming magicians. So as far as I can tell 100% of the purpose of that show, as far as P&T are concerned, is to use their huge influence to help other magicians get exposure and have more chance to succeed.

That being said, I agree with Danny. It's not a typical magic audience, because it's not really a typical magic show. The audience is in a TV studio, in front of cameras. That alone is enough to change normal behaviors. On top of that, the audience feels a bit of competition so they're going to cheer on the people on stage to 'win'. Add in the size of the audience and you even have the contagion factor - one group of people reacting well will encourage others to do the same. Considering all those factors, the audience at P&T Fool Us are really psychologically inclined to react well - thus, they are 'primed'.

The same applies to a certain degree to any performer with a good reputation. If someone has made plans ahead of time to see a particular performer, they are more likely to react well to that performer. They're probably spending at least some of that time thinking about what they'll see and experience and imagining how wonderful they think it will be. They've probably already decided it will be good - so all the performer has to do is not suck and they'll get good reactions.

Compare that to someone who, say, sees an ad for a magic show while drinking their morning coffee and decides to go that night to see the show without knowing the performer. They're going in blind and will have to decide on the spot whether the entertainment is any good.

This is of course veering wildly away from the original topic.
Christopher
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Dannydoyle
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Chris exactly my point thank you.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
danaruns
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Excellent post, Chris, and if this was what Danny was trying to say, then I agree with him and with you. I did not get that from reading Danny, so thank you for saying it in a way I can grok.

One observation about the actual Fool Us taping experience, which is just that it's not taped in a studio, it is taped in the Penn & Teller Theater at the Rio Casino and Hotel in Vegas, where they do their regular nightly shows. And during the taping there isn't really a "competition" feel to it at all, not between the performer and P&T or between performers. P&T have a much longer discussion with each performer than actually airs, and it is very friendly and collegial, like magicians just talking to each other about magic. I didn't get the feeling that the audience is "rooting" for performers to "fool" P&T. Each magician is presented as his/her own vignette, and the audience does not get to see the video packages that air for each performer. It's all magicians, nothing else. Oh, one exception to that, too. The host does tape a number of interludes between performers, only one of which is used on air. And not every performer who tapes makes it onto the aired show. Unlike other TV shows, there are no applause signs, no warm-up act, and no production assistant whipping the audience up into artificial responses during performances. The one thing that is unlike a live show is that for volunteers, they are chosen and then taping stops while they mic up the volunteer. Then the cameras start rolling again, and it is cut-in as if there was no pause. Otherwise, it's a magic show.
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
foolsnobody
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Quote:
On Dec 9, 2018, longhaired1 wrote:
Quote:
On Nov 30, 2018, danaruns wrote:
Why do people make fun of magic and magicians?


I'm a magician and banjo player. Imagine how that feels.


You and Steve Martin.
Charles Gaff
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I think people make fun of magic and magicians because they want to feel smart. If a magician tries to fool them, they have to save face and either learn the secret or degrade the performer. As magic has been used for centuries to confuse people, many feel the need to be in control and not a step behind. This can lead to people giving those trying to fool them a hard time.

Also, there are some terrible magicians out there.
tommy
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It seems to me, the problem with that is with magicians thinking the audience is only there to be fooled. The audience is essentially there for their amusement. The audience cannot get into the spirit of the thing except through proper patter. Proper patter is fiction, which allows the willing suspensions of disbelief. That side of our magic does not fool the audience but allows them to fool themselves by letting them believe true that which they know isn’t true. In short, that’s is the fun of it, when they “play” along. Getting the audience into the spirit of the thing is half the battle.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Charles Gaff
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Quote:
On Dec 9, 2018, critter wrote:
I think maybe it's more important to not give power to the teasing. Eugene Burger and Doug Henning both exhibited a sense of wonder about magic. They appear as amazed as the audience, which I think invites the audience to join them on the amazing little voyage they're about to take.
By making it a partnership it's silly to make fun of them. Not that people won't, but they'll look petty and that doesn't diminish the performers. Henning's positivity probably didn't hurt either.
Then there's Cardini, who appeared confused by the magic happening to him, he's in on the joke so it has no power.

So maybe a question that might be just as helpful is "why do so many of us have such fragile egos?" Taking constructive criticism is one thing, but that doesn't mean we have to indulge insecure people who are just being jerks to try and "steal the show."



I like the idea of conveying wonder. I want to work on this more.
funsway
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In the late 1950's, I was mentored by Arnold Furst and Burt Easley as to the importance of the "Limelight Principle."
That many people enjoy being in the limelight (center of public attention) and will do unusual things as long as they can blame someone else.
That is why stage hypnotism works, and volunteer assistants can be coached sub-vocally and some put lamp shades on their heads at the company party.
A performer can use this in several ways, and the skill of VA selection is worth developing. Easy for a performer with a reputation - harder for a novice or impromptu.

Today the mix of spectator experience and expectations are different. Of magic, of performers and of entertainment itself.
Some carry an iphone for an external audience and are performing for them. Entertainment and peer adulation are addictions, both psychologically and chemically.
Some feel life is a video game with no consequences. They attempt to "seize the moment" in a self-generated limelight.

Sad, but something a performer must deal with (accept) and I must deal with in the grocery store and the highway.

So, the answer to the OP may be "because they can," while no one holds them accountable and their circle of friends cheer.
Bullying of all sorts seems to be on the rise and "the milk of human kindness" has gone sour.

I have always felt empowered by the knowledge that at least one person in any audience appreciates awe&wonder, supports my efforts at creating illusion,
and recognizes a glimmer of art beyond "just entertainment. That is enough. I know this to be true from people coming to me after 20 and 30 years
and commenting on what they saw me do. So, laugh at me all you wish -- just remember the time where together we created a moment where magic could happen.

Yup, I feel that even the hecklers and ego masterb*ters will someday look back and remember, suppressing their weird actions in favor of "being part of something special."
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



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tommy
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The profit Brock Pierce sees life as a video game and has said: “The universe is constantly throwing more coins and power-ups at you, and if you keep collecting them, you get more points and you go up in levels.”
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Senor Fabuloso
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Quote:
On Dec 16, 2018, funsway wrote:
Yup, I feel that even the hecklers and ego masterb*ters will someday look back and remember, suppressing their weird actions in favor of "being part of something special."


In my experiences, with the personality type your describing, is that they would see no benefit in what I think you describing as "retroactive introspection".

The "bullies" motivation for the antisocial behavior is POWER and in the case of heckling, power over the situation they have no control over. To combat such behavior the performer imo need take control of the situation antiaggressively (as the bully knows how to handle aggression very well) by bringing them into the performance and making them look good. (Which is what they want in the first place)

I these situations I believe giving the bully credit for the effect, is a good strategy in dealing with them. Out of this world or something of the sort, could be helpful in these situations. And to your point allows the bully to experience the wonder, while getting credit for it themselves.

My 2 cents for what it's worth.
No matter how many times you say the wrong thing, it will NEVER be right.

If I'm not responding to you? It's because you're a TROLL!
funsway
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Good thoughts, Senor, I did not mean to imply any conscious introspection on their part.
Just that someday, when some maturity sets in, they will look at the world in a more practical way and some will adopt a different worldview.
The lingering memory of having been part of a unique experience may remain, even if their bullying actions are suppressed. Such is the power of the 'awonder' experience.

More importantly, the fact that I (or any performer) can trust in this potential affect makes it possible to "flick the fleas from my sleeve."

One might view that these folks are like a monkey with their hand in a trap - afraid to let go of an imagined prize.
Someday they will let go to claim a bigger prize or need to survive. What will the recall of the time spent with their hand in the trap?
Any events of the "warm fuzzies" might well remain, while the cold facts melt away.

Yes, making them part of the event might make a difference. It certainly will be part of the memory of other spectators who see how you handle the bully.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



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danaruns
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Quote:
On Dec 16, 2018, Senor Fabuloso wrote:

The "bullies" motivation for the antisocial behavior is POWER and in the case of heckling, power over the situation they have no control over. To combat such behavior the performer imo need take control of the situation antiaggressively (as the bully knows how to handle aggression very well) by bringing them into the performance and making them look good. (Which is what they want in the first place)


Yeah, that works sometimes. Other times it's an utter disaster.

I have various ways of dealing with bullies, and none of them involve giving them further ability to disrupt my act. I sometimes deal with bullies by going out into the audience and having him pick a card. Then I tell him to sit on the card and I will get back to him shortly. Then I just leave him there and finish my show. If he asks about it, I tell him to be patient. At the end, I simply ask for the card back, and it gets a laugh. Everyone knows the bully has been played, and I've been able to finish my act. That's just one technique, but I never, ever put them in a position to cause mischief.

Pop Haydn has a video where he involves what I suppose you'd call a bully, and he handles the guy very effectively and humorously. I'm not Pop Haydn.
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
Dannydoyle
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I don't run into the problem much.

I have found that the audience takes care of most of the problems that arise if you let them.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Ray Pierce
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Magic does have an odd reputation in the entertainment industry. The general consensus was always ... "Can't sing? Can't Dance? Can't Act? Try magic!" How many beauty pageant contestants have we seen that opted for some magic tricks as a last resort? We need to face these realities if we are to transcend the stereotype. Yes, magic has a marginally better reputation in the industry in the past decade but only because it has shown a level of financial success.

We need to be realistic and admit that many (if not most) of us who were attracted to magic in our youth had some level of social dysfunction. Magic allowed us to psychologically dominate others as we knew the (typically purchased) "secret". Is it any wonder that others in the entertainment fields such as dance, who spent a lifetime mastering their craft, didn't respect our sometimes purchased act? Yes, I know there are so many examples of those with real talent... I know, I know. There will always be those in each field who transcend the ordinary... but the field is sometimes defined by the largest part of the bell curve which are the "average" performers.

Interestingly, David Copperfield wasn't really taken seriously in the larger entertainment community for many years, even after so many specials. He was the punch line of many jokes... nothing really mean but he became his own trope. Many just considered it a "fabricated character" and implied that he couldn't appear without a wind machine in the footlights. Eventually he was accepted when he became more personality oriented and somewhat self-deprecating which let others know that he "got it".

If you call yourself a musician, that carries a certain set of expectations. If you call yourself a dancer, there are certain assumptions on your experience. Yet anyone that bought (or stole on youtube) a magic effect from anywhere can call themselves a magician. It certainly waters down the standard.

We have to accept the fact that bad (or mediocre) magic is rife for parody. Our goal is to transcend the mediocre, to rise above the average and create art which earns respect from not just our peers, but society as a whole.
Ray Pierce
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George Ledo
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Thank you, Ray.
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
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