David Copperfield on America's Got Talent

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by j.bayme, Sep 15, 2010.

  1. I've never seen him live. Which, I know, is basically magician blasphemy but stage illusion has never interested me. No video I've ever seen of him entices me to make the trip and spend the money to see his show. Even the video JB just posted, Portal, doesn't really have meaning. It has the emotional hook, sure, and it has the impossibility, but what message is he conveying? Reuniting the son with the dad is great theater, but it means nothing to me, I don't know those people.

    Look at Penn & Teller. The first part of their show (When I saw it) talks about how TSA security measures are ineffectual, they talk about patriotism and they speak out against frauds that use magical methods to dupe people into believing they have real powers.

    David Copperfield's performances are beautiful and have the emotional hook. But, to return to my previous metaphor, so is/does a wedding cake.
  2. You don't need to personally know the people in the story/effect of Portal for it to be effective. Copperfield gives you all the info about them necessary for it hook and resonate.

    Just because it isn't spelled out for you, or you don't get it, doesn't mean there isn't a meaning or a message there.

    I think the comparison between Penn & Teller vs. Copperfield is like non-fiction vs. fiction. Penn & Teller are very grounded and hit you in the face with what they're saying, whereas Copperfield wraps it up in a bit more poetry.

    I think you just need to say DC live.
  3. When you go see a movie for the first time, you dont know the charactars, & at that, they are FICTIONAL charactars, yet we are still interested & moved by them, & you eventually rout for them, so magic theater shouldnt be any different. Or people watch Maury, & the audience DEFINETELY dont know the guests, & yet, after just hearing a few words about them, they dont hesitate to boo them because they say they are not the father. So there is definetely big business in exploiting unknown people or fictional charactars on tv & in movies for entertainment.
  4. BTW.. Happy Birthday to DC who was born on Sept 16th in 1954.
  5. OMG Sweet. :D Yeh Happy Birthday David!

  6. ARGHHH!!! I can't believe I missed it. But I caught it on Youtube and the performances were amazing :D

    Also that photo is extremely precious

    P.S. This is officially my 100th post with Theory 11 :)
  7. The first time I saw Portal (when I was still a layman), I literally cried and couldn't stop thinking about it for a long time. That illusion made the biggest impact (emotionally) on me over every other thing I've seen in magic. David is truly an extraordinary performer.
  8. Sorry, but I just don't care. My family tree takes twenty minutes to explain, due to the amount of marriages, divorces, children to one marriage or another ... hell, on my dad's side, my family is adopted for THREE generations. You want tear filled reunions? I got a basket full of them.

    Ok. What's the message? What's the meaning?

    Sure, okay. So what's DC's message?

    I assume you mean 'see'. Perhaps. But I've still seen nothing to motivate me to spend the money to see him. I could see P&T again (they put in a new illusion I'm interested in), or I could see Mac King. Or Ka, or Zumanity, or Mystere. All of which interest me more than watching DC pull some boxes on stage and do exactly what I expect him to do when I see those boxes.

    I want art.

    I want meaning.

    I want the level of magic that Robert Houdin was showing when he stopped a war with two illusions.
  9. Is every trick that you perform like this? If so, I would love to see your show!

    I think what makes someone like David Copperfield so great is that he pretty much added context to his magic, and was one of the first (at least first notable person) to really add current, relevant context to his shows. He would add themes to routines based on movies or tv shows, or other ways to make his show relevant and familiar.

    I've had the opportunity to see his show twice recently in Edmonton, and an effect like this is presented in a context of a larger show that he has already built rapport, he already has hooked the audience, and can do something amazing, simply in the context of that is what people are expecting from him because he is famous for it. For someone like you or me, we need to earn the right to show someone magic by building a context for our audience. Because why should they care that we can make a dollar bill float? Where as when DC floats a tissue, people love it, because he already has built the context into his larger show.

    All that said, I would recommend Steve Cohen's show to you. Here is someone who (although not stopping wars with his magic) has build a very solid show, where each effect has a purpose and a reason. In fact his entire context is very reminiscent of the old parlor shows. And it's all close up. Absolute must see, and positively brilliant.
  10. When did I say I was that good? No, I'm not. This is my ultimate goal, though. To create meaningful show with a real message. Just because I can't achieve it yet, doesn't mean I can't recognize it when I see it (or don't see it, as the case may be).

    And because of that, some day I will see his show to see what all the fuss is about. However, there are so many performers that have already interested me on more than their sheer reputation. Such as ....

    His show is very high on my list. I plan to see it next year when I move back home and will have a lot more disposable income and will be living far closer to NYC.
  11. Sorry I didn't mean to say that you were being prideful, I meant that to convey that just because an effect doesn't have a context, doesn't mean that it can't be entertaining or worth watching. Sorry, reading it again, I didn't say it well at all.

  12. Illusions and even magic don't always have to have some sort of deep meaning to them. He is David freaking Copperfield! He performs magic, that is as deep as he needs to get. Why? That is his character, he is a playful wizard who does astounding feats of magic, demonstrations of his power! He manifested himself and a motorcycle from the shadow realm impossibly. He led the audience to his secret warehouse where he used his playful magic powers to shrink himself down to mini-me proportions. He has made the statue of liberty vanish, he's demonstrated that no solid wall can contain him, heck he walked through the Great Wall of China!

    He is what every single one of you should all be striving for, yes even you Christopher, he is a well put together character that has stuck to what he does best, perform actual magic. He doesn't need complex stories that the story teller, ritual magicians use. You talk about Rober Houdin Christopher, but are you aware of Buatier DeKolta? How about Nevil Maskelyn, Alaxander Herman, Charles Morritt? What about Thomas William Tobin the creator of the cabinet used by some illusionists to this day to perform the famous "Things that go bump in the night" Trick. What about a less obscure name, PT selbit the creator of the Sawing in half illusion. Was there context or a meaningful story behind that? NOPE, just a wizard demonstrating his powers.

    That isn't to say that some of these magicians didn't make magic with stories, ohh nooo. The Mascot Moth, which if memory serves was created by David Devant and played out like a one act play. A man sits down at a poker table, losses all of his money and is thrown out onto the streets. This is where the down and out of luck man meets a gypsy who tells the man about how to get good luck. A beautiful woman with a wing like dress comes on stage and folds her wings over her shapely body. When the man goes to touch the "Mouth" She completely disintegrates into thin air. Off stage a loud scream is heard and the out of luck man finds out, the men he was playing poker with were shot dead for being caught cheating.

    There is no meaning to that other then just a bit of theatrics and a fun illusion to watch. Doug Henning performed the Mascot moth in Merlin. Let me find that clip...


    Also this clip basically sums up everything I am trying to say in this post.
    "It's about magic. It's about wonder. Its about take your breath away, can't believe your eyes!..."
  13. He's a great performer and he's had amazing success. But I don't want to do what he does. I want actual meaning. I want to create art.

    Do not, for one second, ever presume that you can dictate what I want to achieve with my art.

    That means nothing. I'm not interested in his work because it's dessert for the brain. I want the meal.

    Right. And we shouldn't bother, you know, trying to advance the art at all. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

    Again. Why should I keep doing what everyone else has done? I want to move things forward, to create art.

    Not for me. I want to say something. I want to hear something. I want meaning.
  14. I can sympathize with what you are saying to an extent. I'm not a big fan of stage illusions myself, and I find good close up magic to be more captivating than stage magic in general. Also, if you don't think David Copperfield is the best and that P&T and others are better, I don't have any serious arguments to try and change your mind. There are many others like you who don't worship DC and that is fine.

    Sometimes, all a magician needs to do is to just perform good, solid magic. Nothing more, nothing less. All this insistence on art and meaning can be distraction from the important things. As a magician, you need to put up an entertaining show, with tricks and effect that leave the audience mystified and puzzled. As a performer, you need to have good pacing and tempo to make sure the audience is with you at every stage of the effect.

    If instead of focusing on these fundamentals, you focus on some way of injecting art and meaning into your performance and end up with a hodgepodge of a narrative, you have only yourself to blame. A performer must make sure the fundamentals are excellent and the overall show has a consistent and interesting narrative with some nice hooks to keep the audience engaged. After this, if the situation permits, he can try and infuse some other deeper meaning or maybe even some other artistic elements into the show.

    If you disagree with what I've said, that fine. Maybe you want to achieve a totally different set of goals in you magic and you feel that DC is falling woefully short. As long as your yearning for meaning and art does not get in the way of performing good magic, everything should be OK.

    P.S. Robert Houdin stopping a war with an illusion is probably never going to be repeated. Don't keep that as a benchmark for magicians.
  15. Out of curiosity, is there a modern day performer who does this that you would recommend, or is this an ideal that you personally hope to reach?
  16. Whatever Christopher, you have fun. You obviously didn't see me outling success and how to be succesful in your goals. Just contemplate this, When I go to the movies I am going to watch the story and be entertained. When I go to a musical concert I am going to get away from reality, mosh (violent dancing whatever) and get lost with like minded people. When I go see a magician, I am sitting down expecting to be entertained and possibly even fooled. I will tell you that if every single effect performed had something that connected with me and my relatively crappy life, I'd leave the show incredibly dissappointed. I was not going to see the show to hear a lecture about life, I am not going to see a preacher doing magic, I am there to see some guy wave his hand and make impossible things appear or disappear right before my eyes. People go to magic shows to be entertained, not lectured at.
  17. Ok... After all this crap that has been posted (jk, its not all crap), I might just give my two cents about DC...

    To be truthful, I was a little disappointed. Not too much... But disappointed nonetheless... I had never seen David Copperfield's show before or any other magic of his really too much (other than his legendary making the statue of liberty disappear), and I've heard really amazing things about him. So watching what he did on AGT was pretty standard to me... I mean to a layman, it was awesome... But to me, seeing these kind of things before and knowing how its done, it just didn't feel right. I wanted him to fool me, like the disappearing Statue of Liberty. I'm not trying to say I didn't like it... I just guess I expected too much... I really need to watch him live...
  18. Nope. Because you outlined how to be successful in your goals, not mine.

    Firstly, not all meaning has to come in the form of lectures. Look at the movie, The Illusionist. The part with the Count Von Taschen on stage in the robe, when he makes the reflection kill her and her 'soul' fly away. He talks briefly, saying (paraphrased) "All the great religions speak of an afterlife. Of the soul's endurance after death. What then, does it mean to die?"

    That's it. That's meaning, right there. Life death, rebirth, souls, religion, the afterlife. People thinking about all of that in three sentences.

    You watch Penn on stage in their show ranting in his way about the TSA regulations and how they infringe on our liberties without being all that effective, and that's not a lecture.

    One can put meaning into their performance without standing up on stage like Ben Stein. I do think it's very important to be a good entertainer first. I just think that too many people stop after they get consistently good reactions and don't reach any further. So many people talk about wanting to 'further the art' but put no effort into doing so.

    For 'grand illusion', I actually do think DC is the best. But that doesn't mean I like him, or that I'm interested in his work. Stephanie Myers is the best at writing teenage fantasy "vampire' books (at the moment) and I couldn't make it through 15 pages of her horrid books. At least DC is really, really good at what he does.

    P&T don't do what DC does. Even though some of the illusions are similar, they give the feeling of being a parlor show, not a grand illusion show.

    I think magicians should always perform good, solid magic. But I also think that at least some of it should have a real, meaningful message to it.

    I agree. The technique needs to be solid before any real meaning can be injected. Otherwise you're just a joke.

    I feel I should explain. I don't dislike Copperfield. I have a lot of respect for him and what he's achieved, and I think he's very good at what he does. I'm just not interested in it.

    Two illusions. A Bullet Catch and he made a wall bleed. I'm not saying that a magician should be able to stop a war these days, what I'm saying is the magic should be powerful enough to sway people's minds. A big problem I have with the modern world of magic is how much trivial crap we, as magicians, perform. I'm guilty of it too, to be honest. If someone wielded the unchecked powers of the cosmos ... why would they squander that power making little balls of sponge multiply? I know why -I- do that trick (Because it makes me money), but why would someone that has magical powers do it? This is a point that bothers me.

    Derren Brown does in some of his work (His most recent special completely changed a man's life, apparently). P&T have their political message. It's mostly a personal ideal which I will, admittedly, probably never reach to the extent that I'd like, but I will continue to strive.
  19. #39 b_08, Sep 19, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 19, 2010
    That is truly all that matters then. I can respect anyone with that attitude.

    On the other note; I think that you really haven't seen all (or maybe much) of David Copperfield's televised specials because many of his illusions contain exactly the type of magic you are striving for. I agree with what you said about magic delivering a meaning and I'm saying that David Copperfield was a master at that during his prime.


    With this illusion above we all can learn that the illusion itself doesn't have to be technically insane it's how he frames his stories and message that delivers the magical feeling that people get.

    Christopher, in your quest to deliver meaningful messages in your magic, you don't have to mimic his style but I feel that he is a great source to learn from and I think you'll be missing out on some valuable lessons if you don't know his work at a deeper level.

    For those who aren't old enough to know David Copperfield's body of work (not just the big illusions like Statue of Liberty or Great Wall of China), don't judge his abilities based on his showing at AGT. Believe me he is one of the best teachers you'll ever see when it comes to connecting with an audience.
  20. Barry and Stewart (sp?) may also strive for something similar

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