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500th Post: Why are you showing me this?

Mar 6, 2008
1,483
3
A Land Down Under
I would like to start that say a lot of people will not understand what I am trying to say. I am fully aware of that and the people who read and understand this I hope will take something away from this post.

I hate to say it but everyone in some way is selfish, as humans we are concerned with ourselves and what can benefit our lives. And to perform magic for them in any way usually serves nothing more than entertainment. Whilst this is what they expect especially if they come to see your show or request your services at a restaurant or bar. However, being entertained is all that they will experience, they may wonder for a few days or be amazed or in awe of the talent from the performer.

I feel that magic can be used for so much more, and to achieve this we can use Tommy Wonder's Ham Sandwich Theory. Briefly if the performer produces a sandwich whilst it is clever and and amazing it is something that is lacking something. On the other hand if someone states that they are hungry and you produce the same sandwich you have a miracle on your hands. I suppose that this can be closely linked to what W:H said in the SNC the other day. If we had powers what would we use them for?

If we were to use the example of an ACR (as almost everyone has done it). What is the point of making the card come to the top and more importantly how is it useful. The same point can be made about the cutting a lady in half, although serial killer going through an identity crisis may find it useful it could hardly be considered practical. Showing the latest colour change to people may be amazing however hardly useful (except to other magicians.)

While we can stand around waiting for someone to ask for a sandwich that we have body loaded. This would create a miracle but not in the most practical of methods. A lot of mentalist choose to close their shows with displays of skill more so than that of 'powers'. Bob Cassidy has a very 'psychic' persona yet he will often close this show with a card memory demonstration. He does this for a multitude of reasons but one of the most important ones is that people can relate to having memory problems. He also explains how mnemonics work, much the same way that Derren did in his blackjack demonstration. Whilst this is not the actual method to the effect it is plausible and accepted by his audience.

After hearing Bob talk about mnemonics and demonstrating how they 'work' a few members of his audience may actually look into them and help better their lives. If we can take this a step further we can get our audiences to want to see an effect. And by giving the audience the 'method' and demonstrating something that is amazing with it they will most likely want to watch it and be drawn into it. If they can use it in their day to day lives why would they not want to see it.

In summary we should all try to create the desire for our spectators to want to see our magic. Once we have that we should try to keep them interested and accepting of what we are doing. Also we should help them the experience more than just sheer entertainment and make it personal for them.
 
Nov 23, 2009
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While the Ham Sandwich Theory may have been explained and used by Tommy Wonder, it was originally published in Henning Nelm's book Magic and Showmanship, so if anything it's Nelm's.
 
Aug 2, 2008
496
0
Cincinnati
I see what you mean. Thats why I try to figure out a good patter to an effect each time. I try to make it entertaining and fun so that the audience will like. Obviously, I can't make each one relevant all the time but I try. I do certain effects that are cool and nothing more than that. I'm sure the spectators don't really feel connected on a big level. Still working on it!
 
Does the entire show need to be full of usefullness, or could it be the opener. Now that you have their eye you can introduce some other effects like the ACR with a great script.

While I completely agree with you D ICE R, sometimes you can't really have a useful script. I don't see the biddle, or here then there explaining some useful subject and while I'm sure it could be done none here would attempt that.

One of my openers is a simple lie detector test, done through the outlaw wallet or some other device. Script is simply based on the ability to catch lies and whether or not we want to.
 
Making magic real is one of the toughest things in performing but the thing you brought out with this was the entertaining bit.

Magicians, mentalists, filmmakers, play writers etc. have taken a course, lets entertain the living crap out of these people. On some level that is acceptable but as with other things in life we should more than entertain people. We should go far beyond entertainment and start poking realism, find ways to hack life, so the people think.

Also we constantly try to over do everything, there are about 1 million TNR effects out there, over 2 million acr techniques and its is still not enough. Yes they are cool to perform but if you generally had powers i think you would be probably rather making things levitate or transpose than just getting a card on top with a DL.

Mikk.
 
Apr 5, 2009
874
1
28
Illinois
Ah, the ham sandwich theory, love it. It is very difficult how ever to produce something when asked for it. Say someone says, “I need a cardboard box and a utility knife!” you can’t just make that appear underneath a napkin at the dinner table. But in much simpler requests, or that sort of thing, like “does anybody have a dollar?” one can, not that I recommend it, pull a dollar out of their ear. The ham sandwich theory doesn’t always apply to a massive holy crap he pulled a puppy out of midair right when I asked for it!!! It can be simplistic, produce a quarter for a friend going to the soda machine, swap an unsharpened pencil for an identical sharpened one, anything along those lines has that same power,
But then beyond that the ham sandwich theory can also lead us into emotional hooks, like the most common money, or the uncommon say love, hope, justice, or “I bet this guy a basket of chicken wings I could find the four kings” tricks like extreme burn, or my four kings trick, can be extremely useful in this aspect.
Another one I enjoy getting is, “if you could make my card…. I would freak out” because occasionally, I can, but I don’t tell them that’s what I’m going to do, I start it like any other trick, then fail miserably. And close with somebody finding it in his or her pocket, or whatever. I find that is also something that the last snc touched on…. You would not levitate your shoe if you could really do anything.

correct me anytime, please if you disagree take a stand.
 
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Feb 27, 2008
2,342
1
31
Grand prairie TX
Like stated in a previous thread. Magicians today think that the supernatural and unreal have no place in magic anymore.Which is very contradicting of magic itself.
We'd rather tell them it was pure skill and deception. Hand is quicker than eye. And no one can deny that thats what most magicians today always like to say when they are asked what is their style.
Yet the supernatural is still very commercial. The runaway success of the dresden files,harry potter,twilight,stephen king novels/films seem to contest all magicians thoughts.
So where do harry potter and white wolf studios succeed where we fail?
Where we are scared to go because we dont "want" our magic to be considered real?
 
I see the point you're trying to make there.

It's hard for us to make the audience want to see our magic other than for its entertainment value, as not everybody has the mindset of viewing magic as an artform than just....entertainment.

Now there have been times where I show people effects and they actually go home and look up "how to do magic trick" videos. They just come back the next day saying, "Ha. I know how you did that." That's not really the result we are looking for are we? But I do have friends who understand magic as an art and I sometimes show them methods to (simple) tricks to show them the skill and demonstration that is involved in making a "trick" into "magic."

With that said, I think that we don't really need to "force" a desire into the audience to want to see our magic. Those who really do appreciate our art would want to see it themselves without our consent. Just my two cents.
 
Jul 13, 2009
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Wait now I am confused cause I am getting mixed posts, D ice r are you talking about like hanging a piece of meat in front of a lion to make it want to follow you? Like a magician enticing his/her participants to want to see more of your magic while connecting at a primal level of emotion?
 
I think someone missed the point of the post. It's not about art and people respecting that and wanting to watch it.

Why should they even watch it in the first place? What reasons pertaining to the audience would entice them to watch some crazy loon fiddle around with some cards or tell them you can read their mind?
 
Mar 6, 2008
1,483
3
A Land Down Under
A few points that stood out to me are:

visualartist's talk about the supernatural. Yes supernatural themes are very popular still to this day however everything example you stated was in some form of entertainment. If someone watches a movie or reads a book they know it is not real but they still suspend their beliefs for the duration of the entertainment. At the end of it all that they will do is say gee that was a good... and nothing more they may recommend it to someone else, however they will not change their life because of it. In my original post I made reference to Bob Cassidy's show which has a very supernatural theme to it, yet he closes it often with a memory demonstration and that helps is what people relate most to.

VagueTheory the whole idea of the post was not to get people to think it was you were performing was a trick. If they look up something like how to do magic on the internet then you have failed in the point I was trying to make. However if they look up how to develop a powerful memory of mnemonics then that is a huge success.

worldwdeme the idea was not to wait for someone to ask for something but to force them to want it. Michael Weber in his book Lifesavers has an effect where he produces a spoon whilst it is useful what helps push this effect over the edge is that he stole the spoon from someone at the table earlier making them want it. Whilst we can do a poker demonstration a few people will look into the skill to bottom deal however to be truly useful they should look into reading tells, true theory of the game and things of that nature.

Sherlock with that Video you posted it was kind of the opposite of what I was going for however in the same time it was a perfect example. It was a magic trick with a meaning and was very interesting to the audience. However it was a trick and nobody thinks any different, but the symbolism is there and the whole presentation fits. While nobody is going to learn it it still makes them better there lives after the effect. (I know it was a TV show but to quote Penn, What's the difference?)
 
Feb 27, 2008
2,342
1
31
Grand prairie TX
A few points that stood out to me are:

visualartist's talk about the supernatural. Yes supernatural themes are very popular still to this day however everything example you stated was in some form of entertainment. If someone watches a movie or reads a book they know it is not real but they still suspend their beliefs for the duration of the entertainment. At the end of it all that they will do is say gee that was a good... and nothing more they may recommend it to someone else, however they will not change their life because of it. In my original post I made reference to Bob Cassidy's show which has a very supernatural theme to it, yet he closes it often with a memory demonstration and that helps is what people relate most to.

What im saying is that the supernatural IS entertaining. No doubt about. My question is why do magicians these days think its no plausible in magic anymore. Or why they are afraid to portray their magic as such.
What you said about a movie and a book where audiences suspend their disbelief is exactly what magic is. Magic isnt any different than those arts. Magic is theatre adjacent to film performances. The audience SHOULD be able to suspend that disbelief with us. But the majority of us dont give them that anymore.
 
Mar 6, 2008
1,483
3
A Land Down Under
Whilst I agree that magic should be up their with film and other mediums of entertainment I feel it can be so much more. Whilst a lot of people try to replicate Derren and using psychology, very few pull it off well. I feel that you can connect much more intimately with people than any film so why not try and make it more meaningful to the audience. Whilst teaching them something is not the way to do it, it can be a huge step to bridging the gap. Teach them something real and they can easily accept what you are doing as being just as real.
 
Apr 5, 2009
874
1
28
Illinois
worldwdeme the idea was not to wait for someone to ask for something but to force them to want it. Michael Weber in his book Lifesavers has an effect where he produces a spoon whilst it is useful what helps push this effect over the edge is that he stole the spoon from someone at the table earlier making them want it. Whilst we can do a poker demonstration a few people will look into the skill to bottom deal however to be truly useful they should look into reading tells, true theory of the game and things of that nature.

so your saying, the idea is for us to create a need, and then fulfill it? rather than packing around a ham sandwich everywhere, steal their ham sandwich and return it magically? so then pickpocketing is kind of the same idea?
 
Feb 27, 2008
2,342
1
31
Grand prairie TX
Something that everyone should consider. Magic in of itself is already entertaining. You dont have to add anything to the basis or technicality of a trick like say pressure or exile. Just watching it without a word is pretty cool.
Now.
What you have to do is give it meaning. What is the purpose of the trick. Nowadays most of us are content to saying "oh well i do it just to entertain" and proceed with patter that consists of saying what is happening and full of "umms".
Why do we feel that we cant combine substance and spectacle together? Thats what magic is so why seperate it!!.
If you do one without the other the result becomes lackluster or boring.
Magic without substance equals a big,loud piece of fluff that leaves audiences empty.
Magic without spectacle equals a boring guy talking.

Put them together.
 
Feb 27, 2008
2,342
1
31
Grand prairie TX
Whilst I agree that magic should be up their with film and other mediums of entertainment I feel it can be so much more. Whilst a lot of people try to replicate Derren and using psychology, very few pull it off well. I feel that you can connect much more intimately with people than any film so why not try and make it more meaningful to the audience. Whilst teaching them something is not the way to do it, it can be a huge step to bridging the gap. Teach them something real and they can easily accept what you are doing as being just as real.

Everyone feels their respective industries like film,art,magic can be more.
Thats the kind of attitude we need.
 
Jul 13, 2009
1,372
0
32
Why should they even watch it in the first place?

I kind of already addressed that, you dangle bait in front of them. The bait being ideally yourself making a friends with the strangers. Now obviously I am not talking about stage shows, cause people pay to see the show. The bait in that case would be your advertisement.

Now during this baiting period you should of convinced the spectators that you aren't some crazy and actually made friends with them.

But then when you do some magic for them or end up reading their minds, they will not go directly to the crazy loon theory because that isn't very nice to do to a friend.
They may question what you do and its your job to dispel that with a "Miracle" trick that leaves absolutely no other explanation that something strange is going on.

Also I firmly believe its the way you present yourself and WHO you present yourself to. If I was at the white house and did burning the American flag effect that Penn and Teller did, dressed as a terrorist do you not think it would be a memorable presentation? A less extreme example would be doing the stigmata (Religious one) while talking about the final moment of the man named Jesus who got crucified during a mass.

Why would a church group want to see that? To be reminded of what some dude did in an attempt to save their lives. They take away from your performance a moral value that they want, the sandwich if you would.


And if I am still missing the point Oh well,

Silver
 
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There is nothing I can do to "prove" to people that I am doing magic. How could I have prevented the guy from going home and looking up card tricks on the internet? By doing a better performance? I don't think so. Card tricks are still card tricks no matter how good you perform them.

I see your point with the whole Bob Cassidy's mnemonic things, but that only pertains to mnemonics. Can you really achieve the same goal with other types of magic?
 
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