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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » I'll probably get my butt kicked for saying this. (35 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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dustrod
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During the advertising process we get a lot of negative comments that say, "Not another magic show!" during the discussion,fans will run to the magician's defense often (as do I).
The complainer will usually hint and sometimes explain why magic shows have grown tired and lost their interest, usually referring to the "geekyness" of the magician or the "complete cheesiness" that accompanies it.
Often times these complaints are on shows that are nothing of the sort but they assume so because that's all they've seen and they think they're all the same. I always get backlash like this when I book magic shows.

There's one act I've hired twice. The first time he was amazing but the second time I don't think he got enough sleep (I suspected maybe even under the influence of drugs). He did the exact same routines but for the second show we had lots of complaints and even people tell us they figured out how to do some of the illusions. (I don't think they actually fully figured out the tricks, I suspect they just knew there was No Way this clumsy angry guy was magical and they believed what they wanted) Although, This second show was when I personally figured out how to do the lady on the broomstick act because the magician's grace and finesse were completely gone that day and all of his movements were staged and unnatural. The fans were absolutely correct. Originally I was impressed with some of his very impressive and unique stage props & illusions but after the 2nd show, I realized props won't save you from a bad presentation.

We had another magician recently that had lots of big props, women, and fire but an impressive amount of positive feedback came from a short mostly silent closeup act in the middle of the show where he did some very simple effects. Ambitious card, a Spongeball routine, and Double Cross. I thought that was interesting.

I've hired some local magicians to do a few different style shows but upon arrival they sprung it on me that they needed to cut their set length down significantly or almost cancel last minute because they didn't ask important questions about the parameters of venue or didn't bother to advance the show. I hired a walk around magician locally once who decided he couldn't perform unless on stage because none of his tricks permitted any angles other than straight on from stage.

I've hired a few magicians that were so dead set on using their 1,000 year old lapel mic and refuse our audio advice and the show suffered terribly.
Some magicians have brought their own techs who know nothing and refuse to learn or accept the advice of my techs who know the room dynamics, the lighting equipment, or the mixing board and the show has suffered. (this happens with music too and because of it, I've seen the opening acts outsell the merch table over the headliner and while they're buying their album they ask, why did the other band's microphones not work? Or weren't their amps working? Or I couldn't understand them, too much reverb?)

I've realized pitching a mentalism show can be difficult to the general public from a venue perspective. Unless people already know what a mentalism show is or know who the act is, we get a lot of backlash from anti-psychic people that start the heckling the second we announce.
Some of them who attended anyway have called me afterwards to tell me how amazing the show was even though they were expecting something completely different.


I've found it is true that if the fans figure out 10% of the trick, they think they know it all and this is true the most when the show lacks the "it" factor. I often stand at the back of the room to gage the audience's response and I'm approached often as someone leaves for a bathroom break and they'll sometimes whisper to me, "He's good but I know he had it in his hand the whole time" or "that wasn't a real dove". Although I've noticed if the show is really good,Especially high energy, they won't mention this to me,hasn't happened. One show, the blade fell off the saw-the-lady- in-half box and exposed everything but the magician didn't even acknowledge it, just kept the energy going. I heard about 1/4 of the room gasp for a second and it was over. It was a great show overall and Nobody mentioned it to me. It was forgotten.

There was a famous magician who brought his psychotic girlfriend with and she stayed up all night picking fights with security and hotel staff. They're not allowed back even though their show is awesome!

I've also run into newer tour managers spilling the secrets of the star and realized if you need to pick a tm who knows your secrets, make sure they can keep their mouth shut offstage.

There's a few examples. I probably went off topic but these are some of the ones that really stick out to me.
funsway
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Quote:
On Oct 4, 2020, dustrod wrote:
I probably went off topic but these are some of the ones that really stick out to me.



For me you actually "got on topic" as to something I can use or build on. Thanks for that!

For decades I have clamored that magic can only happen if the performer creates the expectation that it will --
that the audience must expect and even desire magic to occur. This can be difficult, perhaps more so in Las Vegas.

But, it is easy for performer to kill the "must be magic" result as you have described.

I would suggest that many magicians today do not even have "magic" on their agenda, but just an opinion.
They may even believe that puzzle, shock, confusion or revulsion are mystical substitutes.

They maybe right! Is there any magic in the mind of the spectator? Has the concept been killed by Hollywood, marketing and childhood stultification of imagination?

You can't fish for trout in a bottle of distilled water!

What does the audience expect when the see "magician" on the billing?

Your comments suggest that some might appreciate magic if it occurs. That is nice to hear.
"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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We own a bar and book magicians now and again for private functions and we get feedback mainly from the bars face book page. Some are better than others and some reviews are fantastic. They get very excited telling their stories about their experience. We ask the client what sort entertainment he wants and he can either book an act himself or we can do it. I am silent partner and don’t have anything to do it but go down to watch the magicians when they have booked one as when I can.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
dustrod
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Thanks funsway. Those are good, thought provoking questions.
tommy
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There is more to patter than meets the eye or ear of course. It is or can be used as misdirection to cover moves, especially mined patter; see Cardini for example.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
dustrod
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Quote:
On Oct 7, 2020, tommy wrote:
There is more to patter than meets the eye or ear of course. It is or can be used as misdirection to cover moves, especially mined patter; see Cardini for example.


That's very true Tommy. In fact just yesterday or so I was reading some things about that and thought long and hard about it... and also that certain communication needs to happen, usually verbally, to make sure the spectator understands the premise or the expectation of an effect. As I'm learning more and more each day I find what you're saying to be true, "There is more to patter than meets the eye."
For those that have their patter down pat, where it adds to their effect without taking away from it, I give them a lot of credit.
ringmaster
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As corporal Shultz would say, "very interesting".
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Jonathan Townsend
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Dustrod, the observations from life are helpful. It's not about who but "what/when" things did not go well.

As a group we can learn from examples of what was poorly set up or tried in the wrong context
...to all the coins I've dropped here
tommy
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Speaking of Mine:

“The audience comes to see you; not the illusion.” Tony Montanaro

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Plt1wY_t1FI
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
dustrod
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Quote:
On Nov 15, 2020, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
Dustrod, the observations from life are helpful. It's not about who but "what/when" things did not go well.

As a group we can learn from examples of what was poorly set up or tried in the wrong context




Yeah, for sure!
Jonathan Townsend
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You're in a great position to observe acts. You know the setup at that venue and you see when the audience likes something. And as a student in magic you know enough to see when a trick or idea is falling flat, gets that "yeah so what... maybe some kind applause will get this guy to do something better" reaction.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
dustrod
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Yeah I'm pretty fortunate to be in this position. I'm trying to get the most out of it.
Josh Riel
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I would agree with what I took from Ray's and Johnathan's posts: "Perform more; Pontificate less" and "the Audience decides".

many people would disagree with my opinion or taste, and that's how it should be.
Magic is doing improbable things with odd items that, under normal circumstances, would be unnessecary and quite often undesirable.
KungFuMagic
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Another perspective from a fairly new practitioner of the legerdemain. Magic seems, to me, its most powerful when the "relationship" between performer and audience is well developed. That depends on all sorts of things from venue to magician personality to style of magic to makeup of the audience to type of show to audience expectation. The engagement of an audience in a street/walkup scenario has to be quick, so a Ricky Jay style flowery dissertation has no place. For example. My take is that the presentation has to be an "organic" extension of the magician's personality and style.

Not all that many performers are as compelling as Tomsoni, Teller, or Shin Lim in the silent style. Not a lot of people are too interesting in the "Hey, look at this magic trick out of the blue that has nothing to do with anything else happening around you or me" style. In a show, it seems there is the BIG invitation to the magic, and then smaller invitations to each effect. Magic doesn't simply "happen" so much as it is a miniature relationship that the magician uses as a venue for the miracles. The magic is another party in the relationship .... we have a relationship with our magic, and bring that to the performance. Those who find their voice are more successful in performing WITH the audience for greater impact .... those who don't end up performing AT the audience for, too often, less to disastrous impact. Each magician has to find their authentic voice in performing to each group and with each effect. The engagement of the audience gives greater range to redirect attention and guide their perception of the effect at the right times as well.
Penn performing to a group of people who never heard of him, with just a perfunctory quick setup .... nowhere near the impact he gets doing his thing (them he doesn't do much high traffic busking, either). Right "voice" with the right effect in the right venue in the given moment with the given audience.

Just dumping my thoughts in to the conversations I've been wrestling with this part of my development as I watch more and more recorded performances that appear to be a varying degree of "success". Mostly by audience reactions. Still learning and still watching. This thread has been challenging and stimulating for me.
Nick Sasso
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funsway
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Good Kung. Since one cannot easily assess an audience's experience or appreciation of "strong magic" it may be advisable to start with effects that can test the level of interest, attention, etc. Then the performer should be prepared to shift in several directions, including "stop."

Of course, remember that immediate reaction is not always the best test of a routine.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst

eBooks at https://www.lybrary.com/ken-muller-m-579928.html questions at ken@eversway.com
Josh Riel
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I've never given my magic meaning... never. I don't want anyone thinking; I want them to have fun.
The immediate reaction is all I've cared about.

I want people laughing and clapping.

If they're left pondering their existence, or in a couple of cases making me swear it wasn't the work of the devil... I feel like I've done them a disservice.

Yeah, laughing and clapping is my thing!
"Meaning" is for those mentalists who pretend Cold Reading isn't why they can tell that one out of the 20 people in the audience has a dead grandma.
Magic is doing improbable things with odd items that, under normal circumstances, would be unnessecary and quite often undesirable.
Dannydoyle
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I do not think giving magic meaning is my goal. I do however give it context so it is not just a series of disjointed experiences.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Pop Haydn
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Magic is the message.
George Ledo
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Way back when I started performing magic, I did what most new magicians do: a series of tricks I liked, without any thought into who the audience was, or whether the tricks worked for me, or anything else. Sometimes I used the patter in the instructions and other times I didn't. I tried out a bunch of tricks as I went along, but never gave "meaning" or the audience makeup any thought.

Later, when I started taking magic seriously, I realized that I was developing a specific style and persona that I liked and worked for me, so I began to market to audiences that I thought would like my stuff: adults at company or social functions. Not blue material, just material and delivery that would have probably not been of much interest to kids or family audiences. Even later, when I developed my cards-and-doves act (around the time Channing Pollock was hugely popular), I marketed to very specific audiences too.

So, basically, I tailored my material to specific audiences that I wanted to work for and thought would enjoy it. And it totally worked for me.

Which, incidentally, brings up an "interesting" story. Whenever I mentioned that I didn't do birthday parties, but worked for adults, people invariably asked me if I did blue material. At first it caught me off-guard, and it took a while before I finally figured out how to say I didn't, without lecturing or looking like I was on the defensive. I never did understand that assumption
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tommy
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Art with a message is propaganda and is the most powerful force on the planet.

“No prison can hold me; no hand or leg irons or steel locks can shackle me. No ropes or chains can keep me from my freedom.”

Harry Houdini
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
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