Performers Should Be Less Boring

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Ben Long, Jan 22, 2009.

  1. That means you.

    First of all, I hate magic performed exclusively for a camera. Magic is meant to be performed for a live audience and I stand by that.

    Now, I understand that it is well within one's rights as a human being to post just about whatever they want on the internet, be it a bad coin trick or a bad card trick or footage of them at Thanksgiving when they were five. It was never my intention to be a youtube Nazi.

    Suffice to say, I have seen a fair number of performances for Mr. Joe Internet, that is, the "performer," with his or her head outside of the frame, doing some piece of decent to nausea-instilling magic for his or her web cam. Many of my posts and threads have been wasted on condemning such practices. It won't stop just because I think it's stupid, and to be fair (I hate being fair) sometimes it is worthwhile to be able to share ideas with fellow magicians via the inter-web. Far be it from me to be against fellow magicians showing their skills to test-audiences.

    So every now and then, I do see a performance of magic for (god forbid!) real live people (and occasionally these brave performers dare to venture out into the sunlight, confident that they will not turn to stone). And here's the problem. I hesitate to use the word "perform." I hesitate a lot.

    The thing is, these performances are not so much "performances" as they are "demonstrations" of magic. What I'm seeing is the pallid-skinned teenager do something along the lines of a sedated David Blaine impersonation.

    I've seen artists on this site say over and over that "you should be yourself [when you perform]." Is everyone who does magic really as apathetic as they seem. It is possible (and you may have to take my word for it) to be oneself and to at the same time be an affable charismatic human being. It is possible to put some life into one performances. It is feasible to put at least a few ounces of thought into patter to change "example of card prowess" into "elegant and esoteric performance of illusion."

    I suppose if one truly wishes to appear to their audience as if they've been tranquilized, then I guess that's their prerogative. To all of you who agree that this is how you want to be perceived, I urge you, carry on. Let your hands take center stage and amaze and shock some people. Don't be engaging to your audience. Let the muscle memory do the talking. Your audience will react wonderfully. They'll say, "why, what a wonderful trick I saw the other day, Uncle Abner. My card went into the middle and then it was suddenly on top! What wonderful magic it was! What's that? Who was the magician? Why, I'm not sure. But it certainly was some great magic."

    In the meantime, I plan to be remembered for me.
  2. amen

    amen again for word count
  3. Ahh this is another one of those historic posts that seem to be popping up lately.
    I may have to write one soon, right after I go perform :D With plenty of audience interaction.
  4. A lot of the fundamentals of good magic - unique presentation, charisma and showmanship, connection with the audience, original trick selection - are hard to pick up on for some people simply because we don't have reference material. We have people saying, "We should do this and this," but there's no examples of what they mean. It's not easy to hear, "do what you're doing but differently," and come up with something spectacular.

    Yeah, it's all about being original, and what you put into your magic, and being influenced and molding it into something great. There's no guide to how to do that - you have to be good at what you do and you have to be creative, and willing to take risks. But most of us don't get these things until we see something that makes it click.

    That's why we need more performance videos circulating the magic community, both from the big names and from us, the uneducated rabble. We need to document ourselves and get serious about performing, and we need to communicate and critique one another. There's some creative genius lurking in the back alleys and seedy pubs of the magic world, and it doesn't come to the forefront. If the community at large could see what a good performance looks like, could get inspired, then they could fit the pieces together more easily.
  5. the only performance videos i can find, are of classic magicians. The ones that talk really fast, and use sponge balls, and cups & balls. Dont get me wrong theres nothing wrong with that, but thats not how i want to perform.
    We do need to see more videos of magician's from this site and others, not so that we can copy them and try to be like them. But to use them as learning tools, see how they control an audience, how there routines flow, etc.

    Of course were not going to get better by watching other people perform, so dont think im saying there the only way to get better.

    We simply need to perform more, i think its that simple.
    Like ben said, we need to stop making videos of single tricks, and start making videos of us performing.

    just my thoughts on this
  6. Yes, Ben is right. BUT, i think that anyone who starts this kind of threat needs to attach a video of him performing, to back up his words...

    You start a thread about how we do it wrong, but don't show us what is right. It is just like when your parents tell you that smoking is bad, and then you see them enjoy smoking... So how can you believe them?

    There are numerous threads about "Go out and perform", "You do what you want, but I'm performing everyday for real people" bla bla bla... Ok then, show us...

    This goes for everyone with this attitude. Steerpike, Medifro, Morgician, Praetoritevong, Dee, Romeo Sierra etc. Big amount of their posts are about performing for other people, and "I want to see more live performances"... Well, make one yourself. Because, believe it or not, every other member is looking up to YOU guys that I just mentioned... And if there were more videos of you performing, and so backing up your own words, more people on this forum will post up those videos...

    On the other note. I made a thread about presentation itself, couple of days ago, because I needed help... But it never came from those guys mentioned, EXCEPT Praetoritevong, who give me pat on the back... That thread got pushed down in the mud by the threads like "What the HELL" and "Oh my god, that dude have worst web design ever, and he is designing DG's web sight also, I'm so sad... aka. Justin Millers New Web Site".
    In this thread i wrote a lengthy post about every word that I say and every thing that I do in my short routine, so that someone can help me improve it. And everybody else could write the same thing, and get help and improve his performance....

    But I guess that "Purple nipple juice" is more important...
  7. Of course it isn't, and I'll direct this post at everyone.

    I come on theory11 to have some fun, if that isn't obvious by my many strange posts :D not necessarily to learn something, but if I do, it's a lucky break.

    I like to take my fun loving attitude and direct it towards my audience. That way it's not a serious atmosphere, and if I screw up, so what? We all get a good laugh out of it and everyone walks away knowing that they've just had a good time.
    I don't go out and blow people's minds, I just give them a laugh or 2.
    Maybe being boring is somehow linked to taking things too seriously.
    Have a good one :D
  8. I hope you didn't take that personally because it wasn't directed at you. You are the one who said it, but it was meant to T11 at a whole...

    You know I love you man ;)
  9. Of course not, and it's nice to be loved.
  10. Alright. An example. Even better, how about someone from these forums I can cite. Look at Michael Kras' stuff, he has a bunch of videos floating around. Also, Nexusmagic has some good pieces.

    I admit that you are right. There will need to be a lot more bad performances before a really good one emerges. I think it would be beneficial if, in general, we saw more performance videos and we really focused on critiquing technique.

    And you're right. It does take a while to develop a consistent way of performing. What I recommend is to get an idea and just go with it for a while because, who knows, it could be the next big thing in terms of performance.

    Did I notice a little Freudian slip there with "threat?"

    Yeah, you're right. Why don't I post a video of my own spectacular live performances in which I execute some suave sleight of hand while dropping one-liners and charming all the ladies?

    Well, I'll make that a priority. I'm serious, I will. I'm bringing my video camera with me up to college this semester and I'll try and get something up of what works for me as a good performance. But will that help you? Maybe it will. I mean, I don't really need to prove anything to myself. I already know how I perform, but if it helps for others to see it, why not then?

    Jok3r, check out this link:

    That's Lee Asher's compilation of what he views as great performances of magic. I've learned a lot by watching those.

    Remember, being a great performer isn't just about dropping one-liners and charming the ladies. It's one's mannerisms, and all the subtleties that come along with that.

    But like I said earlier, just get an idea and run with it for a while. Maybe it'll lead somewhere good.
  11. I didn't understand the first line, I'm not so good with English. Can you explain a little better? Thanx...

    About the rest of your reply:
    Yes, it could help me. Or maybe not, but it will sure lighten up this place a little bit. Who doesn't like to see live performances? And if you ask me, I would more like to see live performances from you guys on the forums, than from T11 artist's. It will be more fun, thrust me ;)
  12. Slip number two!
  13. couldnt agree more.
  14. Care to elaborate?

  15. ahh, thats sweet. im going try to watch them all haha
  16. Well, as for that last part, I'm flattered, but no thanks...

    I think that it would be wonderful to see more members post live performances, but not just live performances--good live performances. It's not enough to simply go up to people. We should really try to engage them.
  17. Hey y'll I have something big in the makes for over the week end I'll keep you all posted.
  18. Ben,

    While I would agree with you, in practice it won't work. Here's why:

    Magicians on the internet have been conditioned to believe that there is only one proper reaction to a magic performance - screaming, illiterate, homeless people shouting expletives and running away.

    The truth is, this is one of the weakest reactions one could strive for as it is purely visceral. We could elicit the same response by threatening them with a knife or farting loudly (and noxiously) in the direction.

    Real magic performances do not occur like the fantasies we are fed on magic demos and TV street specials. Real magicians don't get to burn through hours of tape to find the one idiot without social awareness.

    So, a truly stunned audience doesn't "read" on the web.

    Take for example Zach's performance on Master's of Illusion. The girl he worked for was stunned. You can see it in her face. But so many here thought he failed.

    He didn't.

    They simply have no idea how real people respond to magic in real performing conditions - life is but a "single take" opportunity.

    So, a real performance in front of real people will be met with shouts of "boring" or "why didn't he do something badazz like 'flow.'"

    What these critics can't see is the captivation of the audience, the depth of the moment of astonishment, or the connection created between the performer and his guests.


    Brad Henderson
  19. Wow That was a truely great post Brad.

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