Presentation vs. the actual effect

Dec 24, 2012
4
0
So the question I'm
posing could really be ether of two so feel free to answer ether or maybe even both! :) but the questions could be whats better a good presentation / style to the trick or the actual effect and why? And also whats your favorite trick not because of the trick itself but because of the presentation you give it or spin style whatever and whys that your favorite? remember we r talking presentation here not the trick its self! But my root question is can a well "lame" or "bad" trick with a clever presentation ever beat just a great effect with a mediocre presentation?
 

Bizzaro

Elite Member
Sep 1, 2007
465
7
Vegas
www.smappdooda.com
Tricks that are considered "bad" can be great with the right presentation. I have seen people kill with ball vase. Performing is a separate skill you cannot buy, you have to learn it and practice it more than any sleight.
 
Dec 18, 2007
1,610
13
61
Northampton, MA - USA
Tricks that are considered "bad" can be great with the right presentation. I have seen people kill with ball vase. Performing is a separate skill you cannot buy, you have to learn it and practice it more than any sleight.

AMEN, BROTHER. . . AMEN!

You can give a dozen magicians the same exact effect and even staging and yet audiences will react differently to each presentation because of the performer his/her self. It's that strange "thing" we give off that's usually seen as "confidence" that does more to make or break both, the act as well as an effect.

Presentation, as in scripting & choreography of action is paramount even if you're presenting a piece in "mime". . . if you don't know how to use your body language to convey "magic" how can you create it? IF, for an example, you don't believe the coin is actually taken by the one hand. . . if your body language betrays that belief or "assumption", the audience won't accept the mystery you're trying to create when the coin finally vanishes.

LeRoy introduced the Asrah Levitation in 1902 and received horrid public reactions. If I recall the tale, the prop was given to a friend who turned it into a sensation. As an effect developer I see this all the time; there are many concepts that I come up with that would never work well in my hands in that I visualize a certain performer doing the routine as part of my process; I've superimposed their working style, personality, etc. into the piece so when it's in their hands or that of a similar performer, the audience reaction will prove strong. This however, addresses that other side to the question, as to if it's the effect that creates the impact, and to some significant level, there is a truth to this; not everyone has the ability to "sell" a piece from the stage. In fact, the biggest mistake most people make when they get into big illusions, is thinking that owning the box is all they need. . . bit illusion work is murder! It requires so many little things to be effective, so it's not just "the trick" even though having the right version of an effect and the right sequence of actions, etc. ALL work together in bringing about the desired final outcome.

Favorite Effect?

This has to be one of the most asinine questions put out on any magic forum (other than "what is the best. . . " type questions). . . and I'm not saying that as an insult to you, KJmajik (wow. . . that's a brave name, given who KJMagic actually is). The reason centers on perspective as well as experience. As an Illusionist that worked with big props for twenty some years I have two particular favorites from that world; the Asrah and the Sawing BUT, we need to put things into deeper context in that not all Asrah styled effects work the same, nor do all sawings. . . the breakdown can get intricate as well as "circular". . . the Sawing in Half as an example. . . my favorite to work on stage is the Thin Model, I have more fun with it than any other version going though I did a rather dramatic and gruesome Buzz Saw here and there. For the romance of it all, I absolutely love the Thurston Sawing because, even with the huge boxes that are used, etc. it's totally bewildering even to trained eyes. Then we come to this one; the most impossible variation I've ever seen worked and it's quite close to the original idea.

[video=youtube;4lcbk4VcUwQ]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lcbk4VcUwQ[/video]

But these things are my favorites within one small area of magic, there's so much more and so many other reasons why I prefer one over another as a performer vs. my role as a spectator or technician. It's a matter of personal perspective.
 

RealityOne

Moderator
Nov 1, 2009
3,579
3,849
New Jersey
The thin-sawing has to be one of my favorites too. Alan's method with Jim's touches and Mark and Jinger's presentation make this simply amazing.
 
Dec 29, 2011
703
17
With the question as to whether presentation or effect is more important, it depends what you are trying to achieve, if you are purely trying to entertain, then presentation, if you are trying to fool someone, then I'd say effect, however presentation makes tricks much more effective, in both cases to be a good performer, presentation is extremely important.

If you want to experience what I mean, go and do a trick using only the key card principle, or some other similar selection location, you are now almost purely relying on your presentation.
 
Dec 18, 2007
1,610
13
61
Northampton, MA - USA
With the question as to whether presentation or effect is more important, it depends what you are trying to achieve, if you are purely trying to entertain, then presentation, if you are trying to fool someone, then I'd say effect, however presentation makes tricks much more effective, in both cases to be a good performer, presentation is extremely important.

If you want to experience what I mean, go and do a trick using only the key card principle, or some other similar selection location, you are now almost purely relying on your presentation.

This is a most excellent challenge.

I got a copy of the Larry Baukin Anthology some time back, which is filled with ROUTINES . . . presentational ideas or "themes" if you would, that fit with any number of classic (a.k.a. basic) effects like the Gypsy Thread, Ashes on the Arm, etc. In some cases you'll find close to a dozen awesome routines based on a single, very elementary "trick". The bottom line being that this book, like a lot of material we find from Eugene Burger and other great maniacal minds of Bizarre Magick, focuses on the power of presentation and how "theater" staged within the mind of the observer, transforms our "tricks" into miraculous things.

Look at how much we all laugh as simple slap-stick antics such as the hat or hank that jumps away from us every time we get close enough to grab it. . . it's a classic clown gag and truth is, most of the public is aware of the thread controlling the elusive item in question. . . THEY DON'T CARE because the antics around the effects has AFFECTED them in a positive way. In fact, there is excellent basis that supports the belief that you can be the sloppiest and poorest of all slight of hand technicians but, if you have the sort of personality/character that endears the public, all is ignored & forgiven. . . and I've seen some notable legends get away with murder when it comes to this fact; Albert Goshman leading the way. . . how that man got away with so much slop totally stumps me. . . yet, I never saw it until after the ninth or tenth time I watched him work because I got caught up in his schtick.

The Point Is. . . your persona is a key part of the presentation. What we bring to the stage, as individuals is what radiates outwardly by way of our body language, manner of dress, our ability to roll with the unexpected, etc. All of these things are part of presentation. I can't come near generating the level of intrigue and investment from the audience doing the Ball & Tube that Docc Hilford manages to garner. It's a bloody simple trick, one that comes with most all kiddie magic kits and one that is quickly tossed to the side and ignored by 99% of us . . . just as we did with the Ball & Vase and The Snapper . . . but in the hands of a person that's not just studied the trick itself, but likewise learned how to create and present a story around such simple things, that child's discarded trick becomes a thing of beauty.

I believe it was my PDF on Bizarre Magick that I explain how the first and most important skill a Bizarrist must develop is Storytelling. You see, a good storytelling can capture the audience's attention and more importantly, their imagination; they can create images within your mind that make magic big and accessible. It is when we, as showmen, learn to accomplish this same sort of effect upon our audiences, that we stop being mere "tricksters" and "puzzle makers".

BTW. . . our job is NOT the creation of puzzles or the presentation of tricks. That is, unless you see yourself a jester rather than a conjurer.
 
Feb 4, 2008
959
2
haha I think a court Jester would need excellent presentation! Otherwise it is "Off with his head!"

In my experience the more baffling the effect(from a magician eye at least) the more technically difficult it is to perform. Then people fall in the trap of spending more time just getting down the moves or arraigning the set up. Nothing wrong with that per-se but many of us are lazy sorts which means that by the time we get the moves down we don't take the time to script and rehearse the performance as much as we should.

Darwin Ortiz versus Mac King would be my flame baiting example. First...I love them both. As a cardie I absolutely love the technical skill Darwin has mastered. He has even put an enormous amount of effort into routine construction. Mac King by comparison is not the kind of magician who will fool other magicians. That said his presentation is phenomenal! I was so entertained by his show that he pulled off some of the easiest tricks on me without me even knowing. There certainly are some rare magicians out there who really do both but it really isn't necessary. If you want to perform focus on performance. Enjoy the technical stuff, I know I do, but be cautious before adding it to your show or act.
 
Dec 18, 2007
1,610
13
61
Northampton, MA - USA
I'd hate to see what kind of material you're looking at eostresh. . . the majority of the material I find that tends to be the most mind-boggling. . . especially "magician fooling" tends to work on some of the simplest principles out there. Then again, I've managed to mesmerize solid card workers with a deck switch and pack of Svengali . . . (magicians tend to be easy to fool, btw)
 
Feb 4, 2008
959
2
Well if you are so good do some video of you performing the bulk of the material from "By Forces Unseen!" Her is a kid who did it. Great technique.....no presentation!


[video=youtube;F0wxinoS4eI]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0wxinoS4eI[/video]
 
Sep 1, 2007
1,400
7
35
Belgrade, Serbia
Well if you are so good do some video of you performing the bulk of the material from "By Forces Unseen!" Her is a kid who did it. Great technique.....no presentation!


[video=youtube;F0wxinoS4eI]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0wxinoS4eI[/video]

Let me see that kid do it in front of the live audience and actually entertain them.
 
Jan 1, 2009
2,249
3
Back in Time
Well if you are so good do some video of you performing the bulk of the material from "By Forces Unseen!" Her is a kid who did it. Great technique.....no presentation!


[video=youtube;F0wxinoS4eI]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0wxinoS4eI[/video]

By Forces unseen is a good book, but I think most people/magicians are entertained more by the knuckle busting effects in it.

On a personal level, I can understand the need to try to constantly learn knuckle busting routines. My only main concern with them is that when I try to perform them, I tend to end up being overly concerned with the sleights and not as much with the spectators. Which is why I tend to avoid things like that. Not to mention many of the knuckle busting effects out there just look silly and have no practical value. The Clip shift being one of them. The way the deck is held and everything just screams "LOOK AT MY HANDS!"
 
Sep 1, 2007
1,400
7
35
Belgrade, Serbia
By Forces unseen is a good book, but I think most people/magicians are entertained more by the knuckle busting effects in it.

On a personal level, I can understand the need to try to constantly learn knuckle busting routines. My only main concern with them is that when I try to perform them, I tend to end up being overly concerned with the sleights and not as much with the spectators. Which is why I tend to avoid things like that. Not to mention many of the knuckle busting effects out there just look silly and have no practical value. The Clip shift being one of them. The way the deck is held and everything just screams "LOOK AT MY HANDS!"
Actually I use Clipshift a lot in my live performance, but not as a control but as the ending of impromptu ACR. And the whole point in that moment is for them to look at my hands. I use the pass also, either as a control or one of the phases in ACR. But that's it as far as my nucklebusting moves go.
 
Feb 4, 2008
959
2
Both Toby and Randy have sort of summed up my point. It is great to watch as an aesthetic appreciation of the skill required to master such technique. But I too question if that kid would perform it in front of a live audience and be able to present it in such a way as to be really entertaining. The two are not mutually exclusive but they are generally pretty rare just because to do either really well requires a lot of devotion. Doing both at the same time requires quite a bit more.

Even Guy Hollingsworth and Jamy Ian Swiss, both known for doing tough stuff well and devoting a lot of energy to proper presentation, lose a tad in the presentation. Taken as a whole I would put both on my top ten list of sleight of hand performers but if I were to narrow the focus just to good presentation I wouldn't put either in the top ten. I don't know...If I think of people who can seriously hit a cord with lay audiences(ie. really good stage presence and character) and who do really tough stuff that makes magicians go "WOW" the first name that comes to my mind is Ricky Jay. I'm sure there are others....but he is the one that stands out in my mind.
 
Dec 24, 2012
4
0
I agree with what is being said in the fact that usually the tricks with a bunch of secretive Nacky moves lack in presentation so I guess let me rephrase my question I posed I guess what I'm really asking is is there ever a point when one of those really well movey tricks could ever be "better" then just a simple trick performed with a well thought out and put together presentation can the trick alone ever take place of just a mediocre presentation so can a "bad" trick (bad meaning simple in this context even though most simple tricks in my eyes are brilliant because of there simplicity and usual fluidity and normality) with a great presentation ever be surpassed with a really crazy mind blowing impossible trick even with its nackyness and secretive moves with only a mediocre presentation to go along with it. In my mind I believe it is controversial in a way. What do u think?
 
Feb 4, 2008
959
2
I am not sure I understood the gist of your last post? If you are asking if a solid trick can overcome bad presentation....I don't think so. It could be fun for magicians to practice and session with but probably not enough to overcome the expectations of the laity.

Putting it simply....a good performance is a pre-requisite for a good performance. A crazier and more deceptive the method will fool, and or entertain, a more discriminating audience but at the bare minimum you still need the performance and presentation to be solid. Never lose focus on good presentation in favor of the method but if you can maintain a high level of presentation while at the same time mastering difficult methods then go for it.

For instance, Toby mentioned using the clip-shift in performance. It is a difficult move but I am pretty sure Toby didn't introduce it into his live performances until he was practiced enough with it to do so without adversely effecting his presentations. On my account, I use the diving board double lift. It is one of the more difficult DLs to master. I didn't begin using it until I had been practicing it for over a year. Both techniques are not necessary but if you can perform them without hurting your performance than both are a bit more deceptive than other easier techniques. However, if you have to concentrate on a move then you unconsciously draw attention to it which makes the move less deceptive than using a simpler method.
 
Feb 1, 2013
2
0
Riverside, RI
I am a TRUE beginner, less than a year practicing magic, yet i do manage to practice at least 4-6 hours a day (its still new and exciting for me. I know this will eventually fade). Nonetheless, call me mainstream, but why hasn't anyone mentioned Penn & Teller? In my (very amateur) experience, this is a perfect example of a fine blend of preformance, and technique. Whether or not they are magician's magicians, I don't think people can argue Teller's genius for the art. Or maybe you can. Enlighten us.
 
Feb 4, 2008
959
2
I am a TRUE beginner, less than a year practicing magic, yet i do manage to practice at least 4-6 hours a day (its still new and exciting for me. I know this will eventually fade). Nonetheless, call me mainstream, but why hasn't anyone mentioned Penn & Teller? In my (very amateur) experience, this is a perfect example of a fine blend of preformance, and technique. Whether or not they are magician's magicians, I don't think people can argue Teller's genius for the art. Or maybe you can. Enlighten us.
That is actually an excellent example of guys who use really clever methods and yet also take the time to invest just as much time in their presentation. Probably the only reason they didn't come up is that the T-11 community(look at their product line) is heavily skewed towards close up magic.
 
Sep 1, 2007
3,818
15
I am a TRUE beginner, less than a year practicing magic, yet i do manage to practice at least 4-6 hours a day (its still new and exciting for me. I know this will eventually fade). Nonetheless, call me mainstream, but why hasn't anyone mentioned Penn & Teller? In my (very amateur) experience, this is a perfect example of a fine blend of preformance, and technique. Whether or not they are magician's magicians, I don't think people can argue Teller's genius for the art. Or maybe you can. Enlighten us.

I've said it before and I will say it again. Teller is arguably the most expressive performer working today. He can do the knucklebusters, but he doesn't have to and in fact rarely does. I think a lot of magicians forget that this is really a form of theater, and we're all actors. So act, damn it!
 
May 10, 2012
40
0
It's important to present and presentation is key. However, some tricks in my opinion are so simplistic and powerful you can botch it with presentation by giving it too much. That's just my view on this thread.

I was at comic-con with my friend Rob who was performing/lecturing and another friend of mine showed him and I a matrix with a decent presentation. The thing Rob and I came to an agreement on was that my matrix friend was overdoing it. Rob said the matrix is such a simple routine that it would have been better not to say anything at all and just keep the presentation all in the hand motions and where the magician looks, not quite in what he says.

My favorite performance right now is one of my coin routines. It's a production and coins across routine in my Syfy act. During the coins across portion I stay quiet and put all my attention into what I'm doing which makes it more powerful as compared to performing it while talking.

Good thread topic.
 

WitchDocIsIn

Elite Member
Sep 13, 2008
5,741
2,854
It's important to present and presentation is key. However, some tricks in my opinion are so simplistic and powerful you can botch it with presentation by giving it too much. That's just my view on this thread.

I was at comic-con with my friend Rob who was performing/lecturing and another friend of mine showed him and I a matrix with a decent presentation. The thing Rob and I came to an agreement on was that my matrix friend was overdoing it. Rob said the matrix is such a simple routine that it would have been better not to say anything at all and just keep the presentation all in the hand motions and where the magician looks, not quite in what he says.

My favorite performance right now is one of my coin routines. It's a production and coins across routine in my Syfy act. During the coins across portion I stay quiet and put all my attention into what I'm doing which makes it more powerful as compared to performing it while talking.

Good thread topic.

How do you know it's more powerful than any script out there? You may not have come up with a script that works, but that doesn't mean there isn't one that will resonate with people.

As it stands, I ask simply this: What does your current presentation mean?
 
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