Contradicting effects.

Nov 13, 2019
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To start off no hate to the magician, I just happened to be watching his performance when I thought about this.

In the Britain's Got Talent Auditions, a guy called Damien O'Brien did this performance
. To start off, I was actually fooled by some bits, (the card through phone - if it was in fact examinable) and the overall trick was nice to watch (though probably not good enough to win compared to previous magicians - this is my own opinion). But the last two effects is what I want to talk about.
On the metal he predicts the number 71059 which is the result of some calculations made on his OWN phone. (I'm sure I don't need to elaborate)
He then proceeds to say that the number is also Simon's birthday - 07/10/59 (in the British way of dates).
In my opinion these two effects contradict each other, it turns from a how did he predict that? To, how did he force that? (or to laymen, how did he manipulate them to choose that number). So therefore the first effect is slightly invalid.
It was still a smart performance with using David's credit card so no-one can check the math, but I wanna hear your guys opinions. In your experience, would you perform a trick where you change the effect? Or do you base it off initial reactions and the feeling, rather than how fooling it is.
(I tried to explain my question as well as I can but honestly I'm just curious as to what you guys think and any sort of answer would be good.):D
 
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RealityOne

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This is the problem with kicker endings - in most case they distract from the clarity of the theme of the effect. An effect cannot simultaneously be a prediction and a coincidence. It would be like forcing a card and having that card be reversed in another deck and THEN showing that the card is actually tattooed on the performer's back. The effect morphs from the spectator and magician both choosing the same card to the spectator choosing the card tattooed on the performer's back.

Also, there appears to be a decision made by the magician to pack this routine with distractions (which I'm sure he thinks are additional moments of astonishment). The credit card has nothing to do with the effect and the changing the phone to a block in the routine isn't as impressive as it would be by itself. By doing all four effects - prediction, penetration, transformation and coincidence, it weakens each effect and confuses the plot. Packing this much into an effect almost admits that the individual parts are not that strong. Also, this fails my rule that you should be easily able to state the plot of an effect in a sentence. Doing that with this effect results in a major run-on sentence.
 

WitchDocIsIn

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Sep 13, 2008
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If you've ever seen me talk about how magic and mentalism require different theatrical approaches - this is a good example of why that is.

Magic has "ta da" moments. Mentalism, by and large, doesn't. At least, not the same way.

What I see quite frequently is that magicians who try to use mentalism in their show feel that the final reveal isn't on par with the other kinds of "Ta das" throughout their show, so they try to add something on - some twist, some kicker ending. Not realizing that they are hamstringing their potential reactions by loading far too much into the same routine. This is one of the few critiques I have towards Derren Brown; his big end reveals have a tendency to be big, muddy messes with far too many reveals. But hey, he's famous and wealthy, so maybe my opinion is moot.

As David said, kicker endings are almost always going to lessen the impact of the routine, not enhance it. I think it was Darwin Ortiz that talks about this in Strong Magic? Might have been Ken Weber in Maximum Entertainment. Not sure - David can probably correct me.

Clarity of effect is essential in both magic and mentalism. In mentalism I feel it is more crucial, though, due to the cerebral nature of the art form. Since it's already all in people's heads for the most part, it has to be extremely clear what's happening.

Without that approach, you get routines like this - someone trying to pile one thing onto another in the hopes that at least one of them will hit.
 
Sep 20, 2009
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This is the problem with kicker endings - in most case they distract from the clarity of the theme of the effect.

Just as a side conversation... would you say "classic" routines, such as Triumph and the Biddle Routine have "kicker endings" and would you say that it distracts from one "act of magic" fixing a deck... except one card... and then it is their card.... knowing what their card is, now there are only four cards, now their card is reversed, etc
 

RealityOne

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As David said, kicker endings are almost always going to lessen the impact of the routine, not enhance it. I think it was Darwin Ortiz that talks about this in Strong Magic? Might have been Ken Weber in Maximum Entertainment. Not sure - David can probably correct me.

Darwin Ortiz has a chapter on on kicker endings in Strong Magic. Ken Webber talks about multiple climaxes being bad. So you are right on both counts.

Just as a side conversation... would you say "classic" routines, such as Triumph and the Biddle Routine have "kicker endings" and would you say that it distracts from one "act of magic" fixing a deck... except one card... and then it is their card.... knowing what their card is, now there are only four cards, now their card is reversed, etc

Historically, you are right about the kicker ending for Triumph. The original effects were merely righting cards reversed in the deck so that all of the cards were going in one direction. Sid Lorraine and Steward Judah added the selected card and then Vernon came along with his handling and Marlo had close to 100 variations.

However, I don't see the plot of the Triumph effec as a kicker because the card is selected in the beginning. The selection of the card foreshadows that something is going to happen with it and it does. Also, it isn't a one reveal and then another. Both effects are revealed at the same time and have a synergy -- all of the cards righted themselves except one. Now, I would consider a color changing Triumph as a Triumph with a kicker. The color change was not foretold and it really doesn't make sense in the context of the effect.

What most people call the Biddle Trick is a called "Biddle-Thru" published by none other then Elmer Biddle in The Gen (1960) which is a variation on Richard Bruce's "WOW!" which was published in Hugard's Magic Monthly (1951). Bruce's "WOW!" was based on Elmer Biddle's original "Transcendent" that was published in Genii in 1947 and then again in Hugard's Magic Monthly. There were two versions of Transcendent - one was a card to pocket and the other was a cards across. I think that in all of those the ending is integral to the effect. When something vanishes, the natural question is to ask where it went to. A kicker to the Biddle Trick would David Solomon's effect where the position of the selected card in the deck is based on the sum of the values of the four remaining cards in your hand. That detracts from the effect of something vanishing (magical) with second grade math (not magical at all).

Probably the closest call to me is the Brainwave Deck. The card is reversed and it has a different colored back. That would be a kicker ending under my definition because it isn't really foreshadowed and isn't integral to the effect. However, I've found that spectators react more to a brainwave deck than an invisible deck. My sense is that the different colored back disproves any possibility of sleight of hand (maybe that also proves Tamariz's theory about disproving the method the audience believes).

That said, I love Bannon's fractal card effects (Spin Doctor, Mega Wave, Royal Scam) where cards move around and then at the end you have all of the cards change in some way. BUT... the reaction from spectators was just good, not great. In contrast, I've gotten great reactions for Walton / Colombini's Restless Colors (where the packet in your hands changes colored based on a leader card and at the end, the packet has one card of each color and the faces are different than the cards you start with) and Color Monte (yes, the $4.99 packet trick with three cards). In both those routines, the ending makes sense. In Restless Colors, you see different colored cards throughout and in Color Monte the "You Owe $14" makes sense based on the presentation.

The one example that Darwin Ortiz gives is the Cups and Balls. Ortiz seems to argue that it really isn't a kicker because the effect is about things appearing under cups. However, the appearance of some large object under the cups at the end really doesn't make sense in most routines. I've tried to address this by using "eye-ball" stress balls (after reminding kids to keep their eyes on the cups the whole routine). I'm working on one that starts with a red 3 billiard ball (appearing when the audience expects 3 red balls) and then going on to the 4,5,6,7 and 8 balls. I'm working on another routine that uses green olives and stainless steel cups which talks about my being a bartender while in law school and making martinis. The end is a giant olive followed by me explaining that I no longer can drink a martini, but merely have a gin and tonic with lime (as I produce two limes). To me, those sorts of endings make sense based on the presentation.

Darwin Ortiz does point out that magicians like kickers, probably because we know the original effect. The real question is how it plays to audiences. Often, you have to just perform it to find out.
 
Sep 20, 2009
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Probably the closest call to me is the Brainwave Deck. The card is reversed and it has a different colored back. That would be a kicker ending under my definition because it isn't really foreshadowed and isn't integral to the effect. However, I've found that spectators react more to a brainwave deck than an invisible deck. My sense is that the different colored back disproves any possibility of sleight of hand (maybe that also proves Tamariz's theory about disproving the method the audience believes).

I was going to bring this up, to me, this "add-on" makes sense in that it just continues to "add-on" to the larger context of the effect and essentially continues to "prove" it was always one card


One card was turned around, and it has a different back... and the rest of the deck is blank

it continues the effect while "proving" it was only one card, it doesn't introduce something "new" or a new line of thought that is unrelatable to the "effect" or routine

so maybe if we think of it as an "add-on" and frame it as layers that are relateable and complement the routine it can continue to elevate the reactions
 
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Jun 18, 2019
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Just an observation: The phone turning to a block would have been far more impressive for us if performed in real life, or in this case, for the judges compared to the viewers, because that seems like the easiest part of the effect to achieve considering the limitations of camera magic and cuts.

I liked the performance as a whole. I loved the beginning, the ending became a bit anticlimactic for me till he revealed that it was Simon's birthday printed on it. I found that really sweet! (emotionally speaking) Must have been an awesome souvenir for him (and of course midway through the performance I was like "Oh, poor David..." :D ).

As said earlier by @RealityOne and @WitchDocIsIn , the only problem is that he muddled up the coincidence and prediction effects. So what you're saying is absolutely right.

This could have been avoided if he had somehow implied that he's influencing them to think of those dates specifically, but then I also think that a lot of magicians overlook this point. Prediction vs Coincidence effects get muddled up all the time and most of the times I'm extremely forgiving of this mistake. It's terribly easy to make, I do it, others do it, even Paul Gertner did it here:


(Basically in the above performance, he first milks the entire performance based on how fair the choice of card and guitar pick is, and saying there's no way that he could have known what P&T were going to choose. In fact, the first climax depends on that [if he already knew they will pick that, the first climax doesn't make sense]. However, in the end he reveals that he in fact knew exactly which card and guitar pick will be selected.]

As far as I know, most laymen don't let this bother them too much, and that's a good thing. All they are seeing is that things are getting progressively more and more impossible. They do register it I guess, but again, don't let it bother them.


In your experience, would you perform a trick where you change the effect?
If I'm creative enough to pull it off without starring in a future "Terrible Magicians" list, then yes.


Or do you base it off initial reactions and the feeling, rather than how fooling it is.
Once it can 'fool' (what an ugly term. I strongly dislike it), I focus on the feeling. Reactions are something I have no control over practically speaking.


The credit card has nothing to do with the effect
Yes...I kept wondering why on Earth he did that. It does scream "IMPOSSIBLE" to most non-magicians, maybe that's why (and it screams "GIMMICK" to magicians but who cares about us :p )


Magic has "ta da" moments. Mentalism, by and large, doesn't. At least, not the same way.
By the way, this has been my philosophy for thinking about presentation for quite some time, that's why I'm wondering, is this completely your philosophy or inspired? Because I like to know who exactly are responsible for shaping my opinions (so that I can credit them or blame them, if my application of the philosophy falls flat :D).


would you say that it distracts from one "act of magic" fixing a deck... except one card... and then it is their card
But then you are able to describe this effect in a few sentences...
Describing the original performance posted here in a few sentences would require some serious comprehension-summary skills (again, I personally liked the performance quite a bit).
 
Nov 13, 2019
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(again, I personally liked the performance quite a bit).

Just in case you haven't seen it, he got through to the semis and this was his trick

A bit of loading effects on top of each other but I feel this works better, though his presentation was a bit meh (even my layman mother picked up on this, as there would be a few periods of silence within the trick).
-Also little Easter egg for you, the screen says it was a Monday but in fact the 5th of October 2003 was a Sunday:)
 
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Jun 18, 2019
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Just in case you haven't seen it, he got through to the semis and this was his trick

A bit of loading effects on top of each other but I feel this works better, though his presentation was a bit meh (even my layman mother picked up on this, as there would be a few periods of silence within the trick).
-Also little Easter egg for you, the screen says it was a Monday but in fact the 5th of October 2003 was a Sunday:)
This is amazing.

But the most amazing part for me was how easily he unboxed the smartphone box. It takes me quite a bit of aggressive shaking to do that, how on Earth did he open it so smoothly! :confused::confused:

Regardless, amazing performance. Loved the written prediction far more than the smartphone one. The writing on the pad is obviously the best part, but it also looks like an example of a Too-Perfect effect, please correct me if I'm wrong.

But again, fabulous performance! Deserved to go to the Semis, in my opinion.
 

Josh Burch

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On the metal he predicts the number 71059 which is the result of some calculations made on his OWN phone. (I'm sure I don't need to elaborate)

To give Damien some credit, this method works just fine on a borrowed phone. The reason he's using his own phone is to show the initial condition of the phone before it changes to metal.
 

Josh Burch

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Yes, this trick is logically inconsistent.

A kicker ending is fine but care should be taken to make it logical. It seems like this is a kicker for a kicker's sake.

Another problem is this, if you reverse the math you now know the guys pin number. If he reversed the math he would find that it didn't come out right, so there's an additional loose end there as well.

Damien could have easily accounted for this by appearing to influence their decisions from the beginning and having them enter more of their numbers in secretly and fixed a bunch of the issues. Nothing would have been lost in this presentation either.

For some back story on the routine here's an interview he did for Penguin:

 
Dec 22, 2019
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Just in case you haven't seen it, he got through to the semis and this was his trick

A bit of loading effects on top of each other but I feel this works better, though his presentation was a bit meh (even my layman mother picked up on this, as there would be a few periods of silence within the trick).
-Also little Easter egg for you, the screen says it was a Monday but in fact the 5th of October 2003 was a Sunday:)
What disappoints me with talent shows (except for Penn and Teller Fool Us) is that most of magic tricks you see are just predictions stacked on top of each other, like in this case.
 
Jun 18, 2019
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Penn and Teller Fool Us is such a blessing for magic on TV. All the effects are creative and the presentation is mind-blowing.

It is a pity though that laymen need the "Can they fool them?" hook to watch the show. But I guess you can't have everything in life...
 

WitchDocIsIn

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P&T pitched the "Fool Us" angle to the producers because they knew they'd never put a show on without some kind of competition angle.

I'm willing to bet the lay audience would be perfectly happy to just have P&T comment on a variety of performances.
 
Dec 9, 2019
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Both tricks are weak imo, but i beleive the fact that he pointsnout the birthday matches does add on top to say "ok i didnt just sneekily write this number on the block of steel in some way that makes it look like its etched in. "

It does reinforce the trick.

Ive done the same thing once , where the outcome was a number and then i started pulling cards one by one from top of deck to match those digits, i got the last one wrong and told the girl the missing card is in her bra.. (she looks, laughs no its not there) i assure her it is, (she pats her breasts and i stop her and say no just wanted to see if youd start playing with yourself) pause for laughs..

Then i pull theblast missing card next out. Then to reinforce it, i poijt out that the number could be a phone number since it has so many digits and get the girl to call the number, my phone rings and i say, hey now i got your number... Maybe we can set up a date sometime.
 
Nov 3, 2018
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Penn and Teller Fool Us is such a blessing for magic on TV. All the effects are creative and the presentation is mind-blowing.
Well ... mostly. I enjoy most of what comes across on that stage, but it's a pity that some performers - without naming names - only focus on creating something fooling, instead of something entertaining and magical.

I'm willing to bet the lay audience would be perfectly happy to just have P&T comment on a variety of performances.
I agree. Most of my friends who watch FU don't really care about "fooled" or not, but care about whether they were entertained and mind-blown by the magic.
 
Nov 13, 2019
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The penultimate bgt semi-final just aired recently and a kid named Jasper Cherry did this performance:
Sorry, @MohanaMisra but I much prefer this performance, plus the card to pocket where he doesn't even touch him? That's fooled me hard, in which case does anyone know any teachings of this online as most card to spectators pocket require the opposite of pickpocketing (there is a word I just don't know it off the top of my head) - (unless it was pre set-up in that case I am severely disappointed).

In my eyes the whole performance was better, especially for someone at 14; the presentation especially at the phone call was clever, and the trick threw in some unexpected things for me while following a pattern, use of phone for one part, use that phone - use the card, back to phone, then a kicker ending that suited the effect imo. (I expected the video to show the card in his lanyard but not on the screen, plus the card to pocket which I already spoke about).

Just wanted to see whether you guys agree and for you guys to watch it as BGT performances don't always get that much recognition (and to find that card to pocket effect.)
 
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Jun 18, 2019
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That's fooled me hard, in which case does anyone know any teachings of this online as most card to spectators pocket require the opposite of pickpocketing (there is a word I just don't know it off the top of my head) - (unless it was pre set-up in that case I am severely disappointed).
Put-pocketing might be the term you're looking for.
I don't specialise in this area (currently) at all and I'm also sure that somebody here can point you out to a source to learn seemingly invisible put-pocketing. However, I firmly believe that trying to reconstruct effects EXACTLY, through a spectator's memory of the trick or a performance video of that trick (especially those on TV) is futile. You can definitely come up with a novel idea of your own, but you'll never know how the other magician did it specifically.
Also, you'll be surprised to know how much of magic is disappointing. :p


In my eyes the whole performance was better, especially for someone at 14; the presentation especially at the phone call was clever, and the trick threw in some unexpected things for me while following a pattern, use of phone for one part, use that phone - use the card, back to phone, then a kicker ending that suited the effect imo. (I expected the video to show the card in his lanyard but not on the screen, plus the card to pocket which I already spoke about).
I think the performance was amazing, regardless of his age. It was precise (something all the best performances in my book are) and seems impossible. I again, absolutely love it. But if you go by the old-school (and in no way outdated) principle in magic where the magic has to be summarised in a sentence, his effects won't fall into that (even though the video title tries :D ).


Just wanted to see whether you guys agree and for you guys to watch it as BGT performances don't always get that much recognition (and to find that card to pocket effect.)
That's really nice of you. I don't watch Got Talent performances a lot as it is, but it's really inspiring to take a look. One of my favourite BGT performances was Richard Jones' (the season winner if I'm not mistaken) book test in the semi-finals. It's beautiful and ties in emotions as well.

You don't have to be sorry at all, haha!

It's not like I said that Damien's (or Jasper's) performance is now the Holy Grail standard for me. I do have my issues about his performance, and even Jasper's performance, and everybody's (of course including my own) performance, but that's only because I believe everybody can be better. Nobody is the absolute best, at least, not all the time.

It's just that it's pretty difficult for me to become too critical about somebody else's performance or point out flaws unless that performer is doing something blatantly wrong (ethically or just technique-wise) or they ask me for an opinion themselves. Because I am aware that sometimes when I perform in a new setting, sometimes I do things that I know I shouldn't do (maybe a mumble, or add extra filler-patter, or a fumble, not really paying attention to what the spectator said, lack of reaction to the surroundings) due to nerves, or lack of sleep the previous day, lack of rehearsal maybe, some other personal issue, or just a sudden lack of confidence. If Damien or Jasper ever reach out to me personally and ask "Hey Mohana, tell me all your opinions about my performance!" then I won't hold back. :D

It's hard for me not to be empathetic, even if it's a bit too much. I haven't walked in their shoes at all, after all. This is all just a personal thing, please don't mind it. :)
 
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