presentation and patter

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Seth Hughes, Nov 29, 2018.

  1. i know that everyone says that magic is only 20% method. but i was wondering if there were any good sources for learning how to develop you presence as a magician, and to help you come up with patter for you effects.
  2. Scripting Magic Vols 1 & 2 by Pete McCabe
    Maximum Entertainment by Ken Webber
    Books of Wonder Vols 1 & 2 by Tommy Wonder

    I also recommend Alchemical Tools by Paul Brook.
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  3. Tricks of the Mind by Derren Brown. More of a book on psychology, but also has what you're looking for.
  4. I really enjoyed Strong Magic by Darwin Ortiz that you recommended to me for this reason. I’d definitely recommend it and I’m always going back to it.

    That said, you recommended scripting magic even more so that’s next on the list.
  5. Strong Magic is a good book, but it does have flaws that irritated me. In my opinion Maximum Entertainment is a better book on the subject.
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  6. I don't know even a little bit of magic trick, but I love watching magic shows whether on tv or on the street. If it's worth anything, here's my reasons for liking a magic show;
    1. Total performance = series of tricks and finesse in delivery of performance
    Series of tricks = accumulation of oohs and awes leveling up from beginning to end.
    Performance = the way tricks are done with smooth transitions from first trick to the finale.
    Performer = presentation of self, confidence, attitude and flair.

    It's like the song and the singer. Two singers can do their rendition of the same song with one doing it better than the other.
    The arrangement of the song and the way it was sang by the singer to present a total performance (voice techniques, body movements, dance, stage presence, lights, background music, backup singers).

    I've never heard of Ricky Jay until I came to this forum and watched some of his performance videos. To be honest and with no intention of disrespect to Ricky Jay, I'd rather watch Shin Lim or David Blaine. Why?
    He talks to much. It somehow gets in the way of the appreciation of the trick. If the trick requires him to talk, then that trick should be revised to remove the talking part of the performer. The other magicians let their tricks do the talking and its more effective in leaving a magical mark on the audiences' minds after the show.

    Again, I am more of the audience of the magic show than someone aspiring to be a performer. My views may not be the same with others.
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  7. I've been thinking about getting it for a while. Mind sharing some of your thoughts? You seem to be the only person I've encountered who didn't love it.
  8. Ortiz never misses an opportunity to plug his other books, which could grate a bit. He’s also a real card man and his shows are, from what I gathered, all gambling and cheating related. This is fine, but perhaps limits his scope and experience a bit when talking about other genres.

    For me his chapters on character development were strongest even though they lacked a bit of depth regarding other genres. The strongest parts of the book are how he breaks down what makes an effect successful and the way he ties the theories in with other forms of entertainment.

    I think in @ChristopherT ’s orginal recommendation he lamented that ortiz both demands his readers give the impression of having your spectators believe in miracles by performing real, impossible magic whilst simultaneously suggesting that no modern audience can be made to believe in it.

    Aside from these contradictions there is some good stuff in there and its a surprisingly easy read. That said, I’ll be picking up Maximum Enterainment asap so I may have a different opinion of strong magic once I compare it to other similar works.
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  9. If that's true...

    You are the smartest person on these forums. No joke.
  10. Ninolng is correct.

    He talks about his other books as if they are gospels. That's really annoying to me. A reference or two wouldn't be bad, but it's seriously on almost every page. "In this other book I talked about this. Aren't I smart? Look at how smart I am." At first it just feels like fluff, but then it starts to feel like he's begging you buy all his books, and then it just feels like ego stroking.

    He, like many contemporary magicians of note, is a "skeptic" (actually a cynic, but they call themselves skeptics). They discuss at length the need to make something magical but what they are describing is merely impossible. They also take every opportunity to make it clear that they're just doing tricks, not 'real' magic. I personally find this approach insulting to the audience and devoid of meaning.

    Oh, and he tries to speak as if he were an authority on subjects he clearly does not understand. Obviously the man is intelligent, skilled, and respectable in his field. But he is just about the last person who's advice on, say, bizarre magic, I would ever consult.

    It's a good book. But Maximum Entertainment is better all around.

    That can be done. But in reality what usually happens is that the 'mark' left behind is that they can't solve the puzzle the performer put in front of them.
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  11. Perhaps our greatest resource is our own imaginations. Presenting magic in a way that suits our true personality in everyday life will ring true with the audience. I like to make up stories around my tricks and routines - people love stories and it tends to make them drop the defensiveness against being "fooled." And it's fun.
  12. Speaking for myself, I, as an audience of a magic performance has expectation of an amazing visual and emotional experience,... the magician need not tell me that in the next instant the rabbit will appear at the other hat. I don't want the magician to tell me the sequence of the trick, I want him to just do it and amaze me. I watched a magic show and got amazed with tricks. Yes, I asked myself how did he do it. Will I devote a substantial portion of my time to investigate and unravel the secret to that trick? No! I don't need to know the secret. I have other things to worry about... family, wife, children, job, bills.

    I am speaking in this forum as a audience of magic show without ambition of becoming a magician. I'm being candid about what I like and did not like about a magic show/performance. Again, that's me and my opinion may differ from others.
  13. What you are describing is a very poor performance.

    A good performance means drawing the audience into the story, not just narrating the adventure of the props.

    Of course, everyone has their own preference and if you prefer just watching a trick demonstrated that's fine. Personally, I like theater in my theater.
  14. Thanks for your thoughts on Strong Magic gentlemen!

    I’ll have to look at Maximum Entertainment. I’m curious now if you guys have read any of Fitzkee’s work as well? I’ve heard good things, and I wonder what your feelings are.
  15. I've read some of it. I found his writing style a bit of a trudge, and at the time when I was reading it was I less focused on theory. I plan to pick up the trilogy and read through them at some point, but I've got a stack of books to read already so I'm holding off on new purchases for a while.

    What I have read makes me agree with RealityOne - that Fitzkee thought that magic needed 'more' to be a contender with other forms of entertainment, which is why we now have a proliferation of dancing girls and sequined suits and other such fluffery intended to add value but in my opinion usually just looks gaudy.
  16. I think the issue is not with the fact that they are saying something, but the fact that the what they are saying doesn't connect with you.

    Telling someone what they are going to do is (quoting @ChristopherT quoting Eugene Burger) narrating the adventures of the props in the magician's hands. Nobody whats to hear that. Good presentation goes beyond that in that good presentation: 1) should accompany strong magic; 2) should have a clear relationship with the magic (and not just be something that sounds like it was made up to you had something to say); 3) should be able to stand on its own as being entertaining; and 4) should touch the audience's emotions, intellect and/or sense of humor. At the end of the day, good presentation becomes inseparable from the magic. When people talk about effects I perform, they remember it like "when you were talking about [insert topic] and did [insert effect]."

    So for books, I would divide books between theory and presentation:


    Strong Magic - Darwin Ortiz. This is a lot of theory that really only makes sense after you have been performing for a while. It is a hefty read and a lot of the theories in the book need to be examined against your own experience. I agree with a lot of what Darwin says, but disagree with some of his analysis and some of his conclusions. I disagree a bit with his conclusion about challenge magic (especially related to Slydini who used a challenge as part of his character which worked very well for him) but think that he doesn't go far enough because I think that say-do-see patter (where the performer focuses on is saying what they are going to do, doing it and telling the audience to see the result) has the performer talking about what they are doing inevitably leaves the audience to thinking about how they are doing it. I also disagree (in part) about his ideas about suspension of disbelief and encouraging belief. To me, a magician's job is to have the audience "suspend belief" where we view a magic show much like a movie -- we know the movie is a bunch of still frames being shown in rapid sequence and that what is happening in the film is not real but that we suspend that knowledge in order to enjoy the film).

    The Fitzke Trilogy. This is a tough read. It is a bit self-aggrandizing and, as ChristopherT pointed out, Fitzke doesn't think that magic is strong enough to stand on its own, so it needs music and sequin clad women. I have no objections to music or sequin clad women, but with everything else you add to an effect, you need to have a justification for it. Fitzke's justification is that magic isn't entertaining on its own. That may be a reflection of the times that Fitzke was writing. It is worth reading the Fitzke Trilogy to give you perspectives and something to think about.

    Maximum Entertainment - Ken Webber. This is more practical than theory. You should never perform a professional show without having read that book. Ken does a great job and provides very specific and practical advice regarding words to use (or not use), how to treat volunteers, how to deal with venues and a lot more. This was an afternoon's read for me and a book I've reread a second time and still enjoyed.

    Magic and Showmanship - Henning Nelms. I like this book because it talks about ideas and theory in the context of effects. However, none of the effects are really that good. For the price, it is a good read.

    Designing Miracles - Darwin Ortiz. This talks about the design of effects, something I've always been enamored with. It gives you a lot of good terminology and theory to work with and gives good examples of how the theory works.

    Five Points in Magic - Juan Tamariz. An easy read and something that you should be thinking about in your performance. It is worth it solely to learn the "crossing the gaze" move but you will learn a lot more.

    The Magic Way - Juan Tamariz. OK, so I disagree somewhat with the idea that the best way to make an effect seem impossible is to lead an audience down a path where they think it is done through one method and then disproving that method. If they are thinking about the method, then you have failed to present magic. That said, there is a tremendous amount of information about how to subtly structure and effect to make if more impossible.

    The Magic Mirror - David Parr and Robert E. Neale. A profound reflection on magic (see what I did there?). This is graduate level philosophical stuff. I fully buy into his theory about magic being a reflection of ourselves shown to the audience so that they can see themselves in our magic.

    Books of Wonder - Tommy Wonder. These are a mix of theory essays and magic tricks. His work on misdirection is seminal and his work on the "too perfect" theory (along with several articles posted years ago by others in Genii) are essential reading.


    Transformations - Larry Haas. I like Larry's approach. I like how he designs scripts. Some scripts ask too much of the effect (as an example, I like Bannon's original Play it Straight better than Larry's presentation). His idea of how to take a trick and turn it into a presentation piece has changed how I think about magic and has made my life much more difficult because I can't just perform a trick anymore without over contemplating it and working it until it becomes something amazing.

    Scripting Magic - Pete McCabe. This is great because it is examples of good scripts. I don't like the method that Pete uses to script magic, but that may be that I have my own method [essentially writing the script with blocking and moves in brackets]. Some scripts are better than others.

    Art of Magic / Experience of Magic - Eugene Burger. Most are a collection of essays with effects and presentations intermixed. These are beautiful works. There is something about his presentations that makes magic... well, magical.

    Life, Death and Other Card Tricks or anything else by Robert E. Neale. This is the ultimate in presentation that makes your audience think and feel. The sophistication and emotion in the presentation pieces are amazing. Be warned, it is not for everyone because I don't think may 16 year olds could pull off a card trick about the five gifts of life. There are some effects that I think cannot withstand the weight of the presentation, but for most of the effects, the presentation is amazing.

    The Magician and the Mentalist. Yeah, that one has to still be written by Christopher and me.
  17. Some great recommendations here so I figure I would throw in something a little different from the other resources that can supplement them.

    Take a public speaking course! Learn how to use your voice and presence to the best of your ability in holding an audiences attention.

    Take a writing course for learning how to script. Or see if there is a theatre troupe you can learn from/practice with.

    Maybe standup comedy if you are trying to be funny. I know people think they are funny but being a comedian is more involved than just that and incorporates many of the same things a magician needs to learn. Like timing and leading your audience in a direction to better land the coup de grace. Try looking for an improv group if you are not ready for standup.
  18. One piece of advice that I can you is that your script comes from performing that same effect over and over and over again for different audiences. Listen to their reactions and things they say while the effect and presentation is taking place. You can use lines and if you know they get a good laugh, then put them in your script so that the bit of funny business happens every single time. I have effects that I have performed over a hundred times and I know exactly where my punch lines are yet I am also able to deviate or veer off the script for a moment and then get back on track. Too many young magicians don't put the time, effort, rehearsal into an effect. They purchase the latest and greatest and when they don't get a good reaction, they claim the effect is garbage and not strong. This couldn't be further from the truth. YOU need to bridge the gap from the magic to the spectator and make it meaningful to them.
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