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"Street Magicians" From Denny Haney of Denny & Lee's

Mike.Hankins

creator / <a href="http://www.theory11.com/tricks/
Nov 21, 2009
435
0
Sacramento, Cali
My good friend and mentor Denny Haney recently sent out this "essay" that I think needs to be read by everyone...

Please enjoy it...

Mike Hankins

FROM DENNY HANEY:

A FEW THOUGHTS ON “CLOSE UP” MAGIC.
I was just sitting and thinking about how much magic has changed since David Blaine, Criss Angel, and the Internet. The name “Close Up Magic” seems to have been replaced with “Street Magic.” This seems to be all the rage with new products constantly being produced and sold on internet shops throughout the world. When you watch live demos of these “new” effects, the accent seems to be on spectators running down the street and yelling obscenities about what they just saw. I have been told that this is “progress” and a few have suggested that I must change with the times. Well, I gave it some thought and I must admit that this is the way magic is “sold” today. Some have said that I am old fashioned and stuck in my ways. Again, I thought about that. They are correct again.

Progress and change do not necessarily mean “better.” Don't get me wrong. There have been great improvements in magic over the past decade as far as “method” and the ability to fool an audience of spectators. Some very clever things have been produced and released. The appeal of the “bizarre” type of magic seems to be the end game in these effects. So what is todays general performance of close up magic lacking…and why?

I think that the key ingredient missing from most close up or “street” magic is “entertainment value.” I don't mean shocking an audience into a flurry of expletives. I mean giving your audience a truly pleasant experience. Making them smile or laugh seems to be the last goal of todays “new” magician. Thinking about this caused me to open a book that was published over ten years ago and has been almost forgotten because the “hype” is over. That book is titled “In A Class by Himself, The Legacy of Don Alan” and it was written by Jon Racherbaumer.

When I think about the great close up magic entertainers, I think I can count them on two hands. Don Alan is right there on the first hand along with Al Goshman, Del Ray, Bert Allerton Matt Schulien, Bill Malone, Tom Mullica, etc. Sure, there are many more but these are the ones that immediately come to mind as I write this essay. What do they all have in common? When their performance is over, you can honestly say that you had a really great time watching them. If you turn to your wife or girlfriend, you will also see that they feel the same way. That's the difference.

In Don Alan's book, there is a two page chapter titled “Sneaky Things to Remember.” In this chapter Don gives 23 items that you should think about when deciding what “tricks” to perform. Item #2 is “All tricks must play to women” and item #21 is “The ratio of laughter to bafflement should be 6 to 1.” There are 21 other items in this list, all important and worthy of study, but these two sort of stuck out because of the topic of this essay, “entertainment value.”

I have seen some wonderful card and coin magic during my life in magic and much of it was extremely clever and baffling. I have also been bored to death as I watched. While I can appreciate the technique and the “surprise ending,” in most cases these tricks were NOT something that a layman would really enjoy. Sometimes we “magicians” appreciate things for a different reason than a lay audience. We are a bit “too close” to our own art.

Now let's take an in depth look at item #2, “All tricks Must Play to Women.”
Why? If you really want to understand this, ask your wife to go with you to the next IBM or SAM meeting. Watch her reaction. Maybe you can talk here into going to the meeting but usually when you get home, she will say “Don't ever take me there again!
If a man takes his wife or girlfriend out for a night out on the town, it is IMPERATIVE that she enjoy herself. If not, you will pay for it when you get home. When attending an event with your best girl, you must make sure that she is enjoying herself. It's your responsibility. If Don Alan were performing at your table, she would be laughing and having a good time. When you get home, she will thank you for an enjoyable evening.
If you saw some guy doing gambling demonstrations with cards, you may very well enjoy it but I seriously doubt if your girl would be as impressed. It's all about having a good time and Don REALLY understood that! There are exceptions to this situation but they are few and far between.

Now let's look at item #21, “The ratio of laughter to bafflement should be 6 to 1.” Now this does not mean that you have to be a comedian when you perform but it is important that during your performance of a trick, you get a laugh or a smile from the things you say while performing. This is entertainment! In many cases, the steps involved in a trick are actually very boring to watch. You need to inject a few lines here or there to keep a spectator amused while going through your paces of a trick.

It really does seem that the “new” magician of today approaches you with a somber attitude and wants to show you that he has some sort of special powers that will amaze you. This is the influence of David Blaine and Criss Angel. It has proven successful for them but remember that is because they have TV Specials. They are already a star. That is their image and it works for them. You are simply not that believable for if you were, you would also be on television. An audience recognizes this immediately.

I could probably write 50 more pages of thoughts about this but I only want to get this point across in a short essay. Some will disagree with this essay and we are entitled to our own opinions. My opinion is based on what I have learned through my own professional experience which as all based on the advice of the GREAT close up performers who I have had the pleasure of watching.

NOW FOR THE SALES PITCH:
Without a doubt, every magician who does close up or “street magic” should have “In A Class by Himself, the Legacy of Don Alan” on their bookshelf. Not only are all of his effects explained and taught but there is a transcript of a lecture he gave about magic and his thoughts on what is happening to it. This book is just full of great routines as well as great thoughts on performing this type of magic. This book is on my website:

IN A CLASS BY HIMSELF...GREAT book. And at $50, is a steal! Pick it up from Dennymagic.com
 

CaseyRudd

Director of Operations
Team member
Jun 5, 2009
3,225
3,399
Charleston, SC
www.instagram.com
Fantastic essay from Denny! Loved every part of it. I have tried to slowly get away from the "Street Magic." Every time I busk around town, I always perform AT LEAST a 20 minute close up "show." Everyone loves the magic and I can tell because either they are smiling, or I bust out some funny lines here and there. It truly DOES help and I will definitely pick up the book soon! I recommend every close up magician read this essay and give it a lot of thought.

-Casey
 
Oct 15, 2008
826
0
Tennessee
I just bought like 7 new books, i wish i read this a few days earlier i would have picked it up.
This is a great essay, some of these things ive been thinking of myself.

I suggest everyone go to aaronfishermagic.com and listen to Aaron's pod cast with Denny!!
 
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