"75% of performances are poor...." -- Fitzkee

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by RickEverhart, Dec 30, 2011.

  1. In Showmanship for Magicians pg. 4 Fitzkee is talking about how poor performances can not only hurt that particular magician, but all of us as a group.

    He states that a full seventy-five percent of magic performances are poor according to modern entertainment standards and another twenty-four percent are mediocre.

    He estimates that not more than one percent of daily and nightly performances can be called smart and modern.

    When ninety-nine percent of a product is poor or mediocre ALL of it is classed that way. That's why every poorly prepared magical performer hurts the entire field.

    Just food for thought when some of you (including myself) make a purchase and do not give it the deserved time, energy, practice, patter, etc and hurry out to try and astonish some spectators.
  2. This forum is in desperate need of a "like" button
  3. #3 William Draven, Dec 30, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 30, 2011
    I got his Trilogy for Christmas, and currently have showmanship cued for reading over the next week or two. I will say this though, from what I've read here, and in his introduction, I hope the entire book isn't going to look down it's nose at me. He really seems like an elitist. And yet I would also argue against myself that truer words have not yet been spoken.

    I think this is going to be an educational read.
  4. Interesting post Rick. I strive to give my best not only in magic, but pretty much everything I do. This just makes me want to work that much harder to make sure I do what I can to deliver the best performance possible to my audience.
  5. Well if we need to prevent bad magic from getting out into the world then we need to agree to a world wide moratorium on Kids Magic. Kid's magic, due to its very nature, kind of needs to be "bad magic." Kid's just respond better to that stuff.
  6. I still feel a little mediocre...that´s why I am taking theatre classes and vocalization and other stuff like that, since I already have the trick art covered...anyway, I hope to stop doing public shows and just focus on table hoping for now...while I develop all my potential...
  7. This, my friends, is a very good post. I just hope this guy takes a look at the whole thing. Because if he sounds like an elitist and comes off as a hater, then his opinion is just as irrelevant as a "yes man"s opinion.

    I do think he has hit a very good point. I hope that once I release my videos online next month, someone will take a honest view of my stuff I present. Because that will allow me to grow as a performer and entertainer.

    I think too many people are afraid of offending someone by giving honest feedback just as much as many people are too insecure to give someone a compliment when deserved. It's rare to find that person who hits that line perfectly that can give both honestly and fairly.
  8. I will say this about Fitzkee's work. It's been regarded as a foundation work when it comes to magical theory by many a great and important magician. I'm not discounting the knowledge he has to impart. I've thumbed through the book a few times since Rick's post reminded me that I haven't read the book yet, and I'll say he's dead on with everything I've briefed through. He may sound like an ass, but he's an ass with a solid point. I have to give him credit where due.

    It's when we are forced to look at ourselves in a real way, ego and pride stripped away, that the real growth begins to happen. Growth comes from being honest with yourself, and seldom does anyone who believes they are "doing it right" ever really hit that next breakthrough that their act needs.

    I think I'm going to enjoy this book a lot. It's already made me uncomfortable within the first chapter or so, and that's a good sign that something important is going to come out of this.
  9. I think that Kid's Magic is bad magic BECAUSE of how people have interpreted Fitzke's book. If you look at two of the most respected writers on kids magic - David Ginn and David Kaye (Silly Billy) both of them speak highly of Fitzke and both of them espouse that idea that it doesn't matter if the magic is good or not, as long as kids have fun watching you perform. This comes out of Fitzke's idea that magic needs to be dressed up to be palatable to audiences. So if your performance is silly enough and makes them laugh, then it is a good performance. I disagree.

    To quote Darwin Ortiz from Strong Magic:

    I agree with Fitzkee's diagnosis of most magic today. Probably for different reasons. I think most magic today is presented as a trick, a challenge or a "look at what I can do." The patter is canned or simple say-do-see patter. There is nothing more.

    I disagree with Fitzkee's prescription. The answer isn't to sugar-coat weak magic to make it entertaining but instead to use strong magic with meaningful patter. This goes for Kid's Shows and magic for adults.

    Read Fitzkee but think about it critically and ask how it applies to your magic. Decide what you can take from it to make your magic more powerful. But don't stop there. Read other theory such as Strong Magic and Eugene Burger and Bob Neale's Magic and Meaning and Tamaritz's Five Points.
  10. All great posts gentleman! Draven, I was lucky enough to borrow the 3 Fitzkee books from a magician in my neighborhood. I was so struck by that statistic that I had to post it and let everyone digest it. I don't know how accurate only 1 percent of magic being considered "good" is, but it really makes me take a step back and really critique myself. I'm definitely back into the 24% of mediocre. I think I am going to enjoy this set as well.

    I know for a fact that in my magic club that we have around 30 grown magicians. I'm being brutally honest that when we get up and perform that it doesn't matter even if someone performs the most awkward, horrible, effect....everyone claps and that magician goes home thinking he has done a great job. I hate it. I want someone to rip my effect and patter apart and it is tough to get someone to do that for you because feelings will get hurt. Not mine...I want that critique.

    As far as a lot of kids magic being "bad". I think it is because there are a lot of aspiring magicians who "think" performing for kids is the easy route and that anyone should be able to handle it. They show up for the show, lay all their props out on a table, and then work their way down the table performing with each and every prop not really entertaining.....just doing tricks for kids. Kids can be brutal and are a difficult audience if you don't know what you are doing.

    Reality One has a lot of good thoughts and info on kids magic and the two of us are brainstorming and compiling info and our own experiences for a kids entertainment ebook. I knew you'd chime in on this one David....thanks.

    Luis, let us know how the theater and vocalization classes go. Fitzkee is a huge theater guru.

    Keep the thoughts coming!
  11. You know, I just thought I should chime in here with some advise/information.

    I really do agree with this "statistic" all the way. I cant tell you how many times I've seen a "professional" making rookie mistakes, lashing out at the audience, or any other manifestation of poor performance. Guys: making money DOES NOT make you a pro or any sort of expert in your field.

    But now I want to talk about my experiences with showmanship. Personally, I do more than magic, such as Side Show and being a very lucrative PUA (If you know, you know). many people have said this before and I'll say it again: You can have the most amazing effect in the world and it will mean nothing without a strong presentation. What I think is that a large demographic of beginning magicians have a problem that the PUA community calls "Inner Game". It basically means that you become your character and you do not deceive but rather you believe. for any magician, deception should be an afterthought; your primary action should be to believe that you put the coin in your left hand.

    Rick, if you've seen my typical critique posts, I am less than nice. If you feel comfortable you can post a video on these forums. I will make it a personal point to comment with my input. Thanks.
  12. Whit Haydn talked about dressing up magic with too many different theatrical aspects. He mentioned that if you do that, then it no longer becomes "magic" and ends up just being a special effect in a movie. Sure it can help tell the story, but it' no longer magic. Darwin Ortiz pointed this out too about how (I forget the performers name), did that and while the performance was excellent, people weren't blown away by the magic, they were blown away by the story telling. Now that doesn't mean you CAN'T or SHOULDN'T do it. it just means that some people are better story tellers than they are magicians.
  13. Valid point Randy. I believe the best performers can blend the two aspects together. Copperfield does a great job of sucking you in emotionally to some of his stories that coincide with the magical effect.
  14. I have said this time and time again that magic lacks teachers. What modern magic has done is taken the old tradition of teaching and taken the living teacher out of it. Thus eliminating the chance to workshop effects on the spot. Ask for advice and by all means have someone yell the living crap out of you. The modern performer is alone with no one to rely or count on. Also the amount of materials out there is insane and finding the right stuff is hard. Although the teacher always guides their student in their own direction the fact is that after giving all of the knowledge over to his student the student has the right to go and explore. But that starting base where you have already mastered the basics and more is what gives you the edge. I can vouch for the old technique of having a teacher to give you the platform where to start and what to do. You cannot start something on your own, you always have to rely on someone elses knowledge or face having a ton of problems that might lead you to success but also the rocky 180 degree side of the fairytale.

    Performing is an art and magicians these days tend to think that magic does not incorporate performing. Patter, movement and music is not performing - it is giving people something that they have never had to make themselves better. Even when you don't go through some scenarios in your life it does not mean you don't need the knowledge for them. Think about it for a second - are there any thoughts or situations you have handled relying on something that happened in a book, film, play or even a magic act?

  15. #15 eostresh, Dec 30, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 30, 2011
    @ realityone...I didn't mean to imply that kids magicicians are bad. There are loads of wonderful kids performers. What I mean is that kids process things differently. Magic that completely frys and amazes adults completely flies over their head. So kids react well to the really obvious stuff and anything with bright shiny colors. The kind of stuff that screams "Gimmick" to an adult. It's not the kids fault they are stupid. Their brains haven't developed yet. Nevertheless, effects that play well for kids are basically "Bad" magic. At least that has been my experience. I perform for a lot of kids and adults but I am no Pro so take all I say with a grain of salt. I am an amateur who performs a lot....which is a big difference from a Pro who performs a lot but likely not much different from a pro who books one gig a month.

    Anyways on the performance end of things I see what Fitzkey is driving at. I consider myself mediocre but at least I consciously work to make myself better and I strive to be excellent. What worries me is the insinuation that those who are mediocre should self regulate and stop performing until they are excellent. You just can't get good until you have experience. Mirrors don't teach you how to interact with an audience. You can perfect the moves but you can't perfect a performance until you perform it. I'll bet 100 bucks that Fitzkey was a pretty crappy performer when he first started out. I'm pretty sure we all are pretty crappy performers when we first start out. What separates the truly greats from those that just think they are great is that the truly great magicians set such a high standard for themselves that they continue to think they suck, thus continue to improve their performance, well past the point at which they are a good at their job.

    Besides all that, how many other entertainment industries are hurt by poor performances within that industry? How many people here realized that Plan 9 from Outer Space (regarded by many critics as the worst movie ever made) was released in 1959. The same year that Ben Hur(Listed on AFI top 100 movies of all time) won the academy award for best picture.
  16. I hate to always seem like devil's advocate, but I am in almost 100% complete disagreement with that "statistic".

    Magic is different for everyone, and good showmanship and magic for one audience might be absolutely horrible for another. There is bad magic out there, for sure (I work in a magic shop, so I see a HUGE amount of it). That being said, it isn't fair to rate magic that way; it's ridiculously subjective.

    I'm a fan of Fitzkee's theories typically, but I find it far less arrogant to state that magic is an art of subtlety and should be treated as such. Thought should be given to every speech, mannerism and trick done before an audience.

    I think Fitzkee's point here was to point out that we (as magicians) should simply work harder at appealing to our audiences, but I don't think that there is nearly that much bad magic out there; no magician intentionally doesn't cater to their audience, they simply have different perspectives on performance (which aren't capable of being judged as bad, mediocre or non-modern).
  17. I just finished this book about a month ago, and I am seeing more and more things to prove this statistic that Fitzkee brings forth. There are to many magicians out there who become magicians for magicians. They seek to entertain those who are in the trade and it really shows. Here is a test for all those out there, show a ten random people on the street some of the work that has been put out on you tube and what not, and ask their reaction. Most of them might be mildly interested, but will not pursue it at all. Now get one of the top performers in normal entertainment (Rappers, country singers, theatre pieces, the list goes on) and see how many of them would be really interested, and most likely will pursue this entertainment in some form or fashion. The truth is, the biggest thing killing our art is our selves, because it really does require so much energy and effort to make it effective. This isn't like playing a guitar where you can learn a couple of cords with a few months practice and be decent. To be decent, you most really put a lot of effort into it, and most magicians don't even do that. I just watched a big name on this website do a performance for a group of people, and I wasn't even entertained. I could tell that those around the performer couldn't have been that entertained either, but sure enough, this is what they post on You Tube as their pride and joy.
  18. I think the other thing that should be thought about is the time and era that the books were written in and while his books are great reading, they shouldn't be considered gospel and shouldn't be followed down to the T. But then again this should be a given with ANY book on Theory or magic really, I think the reader should take bits and pieces from said books and come to their own conclusion and idea as they continue to read other books and perform on their own.

    This also deals with Fitzkees idea of "Modern Magic". We have no idea who he was talking about at the time the book was written and which magicians he's seen (though I can differ that he was mainly talking about Stage magic, sense I don't think strolling or close up magic was popular back when the book was written.). So there is that to think about as well.
  19. Not to play devel's advocate but you just stacked the deck against magicians. Try this. Take the best performers, (Greg Wilson doing close-up, or say Derren Brown doing mentalism) send these guys into the street and ask them to perform one of their best close-up effects. Now compare that to the performances of the "average" rapper or the "average" country singer(the guys who still play gigs behind the cage at biker bars.) Now you will likely get the exact opposite results.

    Again, I don't disagree with the sentiment that we should all really seek to improve our performances, perfect our sleights, and select the most powerful material available to us. I'm of the opinion that we should all consider ourselves crappy performers with lots of room for improvement. If we all did that the overall quality of magic being presented to the public would increase drastically because our own standards would increase. I just disagree with the sentiment that bad magicians give us all a bad name. Bad musicians haven't negatively effected the music industry, bad movies haven't negatively effected the movie industry. So where is the leap of logic?

    In my opinion, the biggest problem with the industry right now is ego. And in that sense the Fitzkey points do nothing to solve the problem. In fact it seems to foster it. If you get a bunch of big headed, egotistical magicians who convince themselves that they are excellent then they never improve their own performances. If those egotists can convince the newbies not to perform because they are not "good enough" then you are narrowing the actual talent pool of potential magicians. Good for the self deluding egotists but bad for magic.
  20. I agree Randy. Fitzkee wrote this book in the 1940's. 1944 to be exact. To put things in proper perspective Germany was at war with Europe, the US hadn't entered the war effort as of yet, and the entertainment scene was totally different from what we know today. When he cites actors who have done things "right" in his first chapter there are names which I'm not totally familiar with. so when he talks about magicians failing to entertain, it's hard to get a grip fully on the scene as it were that he was describing. I'm sure anyone in that era would have agreed or understood, but looking back on it, I can only take what he wrote, and interpret and apply it where applicable against my situation in today's standard.

    I still think he has a lot of valid points (from what I've read thus far), but your right. It's dangerous to take it as gospel. At the core I believe Fitzkee's message is to evaluate our act, and develop ourselves as an individual, not a carbon copy of another established name. To that extent this message is nothing new, as it's been preached for months on this board by many of its more illuminated contributors.

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