Weekly Magic Failure?

Sep 2, 2007
1,188
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39
London
I have to wonder if self confidence is a problem for the magic community in general.

We're performers. The need for approval is what drives us or, at least, is what motivated us to take up a performance art in the first place. Of course self-confidence is a problem. But also, sometimes, love for our art is what motivates criticism, whether it's constructive or not. When we see someone, in our opinion, despoiling the thing we love by sloppy performances, badly thought-out releases, or whatever, it creates an emotional response. It's like someone's insulting a friend of ours. And, while writing a blog defending our friend against insults might not be everyone's response, it's certainly understandable.
 
Apr 17, 2013
886
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1 - Do not laundry list everything the magician did wrong. This only discourages the magician. They can not improve 20 things at the same time. Instead pick a maximum of TWO items that need improvement.

2 - Tell the magician what they did good. They will repeat those items they improved upon.

So lets say they use someone's ACR lets say Daryl's. Now they have a solid effects and good patter, but... They telegraph the moves from three blocks away and flashes more than a drunk girl on Bourbon Street and the fumble most of the moves and their pacing it like molasses on a cold day. In the end they nail the ending with the rope and they do not screw up the patter. Do we tell them "Hey nice ended and good patter," and skip the other 98% of the effect that was bad. We are just to say "Hey sport, good job on those two things, here is your trophy." They don't know it's bad because no one said "Hey that was really really bad and here is how to fix it." Instead we get to tell them two of the twenty? Sorry, if it is 98% bad they need to know.

Do we all have to get together and pick the same two? Wouldn't it discourage them more if we tell them those two are bad and skip the other eighteen. They come back with those two things fixed and then we have to say "Hey nice now go fix these two." They are thinking "Why is it bad now and not last time" and we keep doing that eight more times until all twenty things are fixed. What should have been a one and done takes maybe six month. They could have been told once everything wrong, but now they are told they did something wrong every time they come back. To me it seems like it would be more disheartening to be told ten times you are screwing up instead being told once you screwed up twenty things.

It would be like giving your ad copy to someone and they say "Hey nice phrasing and word play, you misspelled these two word." Then you don't check your spelling on the other words and post it with eleven misspelled words one of which is wrong four times, and words that are not spaced right, because no one gave you a list of what you did wrong.
 
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WitchDocIsIn

Elite Member
Sep 13, 2008
5,739
2,854
We're performers. The need for approval is what drives us or, at least, is what motivated us to take up a performance art in the first place. Of course self-confidence is a problem.

Speak for yourself. I do not perform for approval.

So lets say they use someone's ACR lets say Daryl's. Now they have a solid effects and good patter, but... They telegraph the moves from three blocks away and flashes more than a drunk girl on Bourbon Street and the fumble most of the moves and their pacing it like molasses on a cold day. In the end they nail the ending with the rope and they do not screw up the patter. Do we tell them "Hey nice ended and good patter," and skip the other 98% of the effect that was bad. We are just to say "Hey sport, good job on those two things, here is your trophy." They don't know it's bad because no one said "Hey that was really really bad and here is how to fix it." Instead we get to tell them two of the twenty? Sorry, if it is 98% bad they need to know. ...

In this case I do have to disagree with you a bit, Krab. Most people don't take well to having their entire performance smashed to bits like that. Some of us would rather get all of the bad at once, but many people will just throw their hands up and either stop listening to criticism or just give up.

In this case, I would say, "Good job getting up there! Listen, there were some things wrong with that performance. Here's a couple main things. Work on those and when you think you've got that worked out, show me again and we'll see if the rest has improved. If not, we'll work on it some more until it's perfect. You did really well with X and Y though."

The reason for this structure is that it lets them know they didn't totally fail, there's a couple things to work on for now and more coming later, but this is what you're doing right. So, basically, yes, it's being nice to their ego but that's how you encourage someone who isn't going to respond to the tough love.
 
Sep 1, 2013
305
15
South Africa
The only type of destructive criticism that was ever justified was by Dai Vernon, if any of you read up about him you will know what I'm talking about and The professor used this cleverly. What I've seen on this website is demoralizing all the performers he's "reviewed" as he says some pretty harsh things about the performers and he leaves no room or even a hint of appreciation for any form of effort. I can take a leap and say the magicians that have been praised are going to be legends and influential names in magic which I believe as he feels he can not criticize the men who left their mark on magic whereas it's acceptable to criticize a new magician who is trying to be different and innovative and not make a mockery of ones ideas and I've seen some of this in abundance. What he is doing is wrong and it's naming and shaming in his case which is absolutely ridiculous.
 
Apr 17, 2013
886
4
The only type of destructive criticism that was ever justified was by Dai Vernon, if any of you read up about him you will know what I'm talking about and The professor used this cleverly. What I've seen on this website is demoralizing all the performers he's "reviewed" as he says some pretty harsh things about the performers and he leaves no room or even a hint of appreciation for any form of effort. I can take a leap and say the magicians that have been praised are going to be legends and influential names in magic which I believe as he feels he can not criticize the men who left their mark on magic whereas it's acceptable to criticize a new magician who is trying to be different and innovative and not make a mockery of ones ideas and I've seen some of this in abundance. What he is doing is wrong and it's naming and shaming in his case which is absolutely ridiculous.

But he has slammed people who are names in the magic world as well.
Sure the Professor would do it and so would Charlie Miller and a few other of the old guard.
 
Apr 17, 2013
886
4
The more I think about it the more I remember that pretty much all of the best old school guys were hard on everyone and would just bust you until you got it right. You have to think if it is really bad to do that then why did so many magicians come out of that some of the biggest names of the last 40 years?
 
Sep 2, 2007
1,188
16
39
London
Speak for yourself. I do not perform for approval.

I was generalising, of course, but I think it's a generalisation that stands up pretty well to scrutiny. I would contend that any form of conscious development (learning a language, having a child, buying a house, learning magic) is designed to fill a vacuum. It solves a problem that we, consciously or unconsciously, feel is present in our lives. Maybe we feel as though we might be less knowledgable than we should be, so we read a lot. Maybe we feel a concern that nothing of us will persist after our death, so we create art or have children. I believe that anyone who decides to dedicate a large amount of their time and effort to performing is seeking to fill a need to be noticed and for the approbation of audiences. Of course, the more confident we become in inhabiting the role of a performer, the more that need subsides, and the more we measure ourselves not against the general public (among whom our desire to stand before an audience is unusual) but against other performers. That's why, as a performer becomes more confident, their ego subsides. They've filled the vacuum that was their need for approval, that's now taken for granted, so now the spotlight of their insecurity turns to other things.
 
The more I think about it the more I remember that pretty much all of the best old school guys were hard on everyone and would just bust you until you got it right. You have to think if it is really bad to do that then why did so many magicians come out of that some of the biggest names of the last 40 years?


Being a good magician does not automatically make you a good teacher.

Who is the better teacher, someone who has 95% successful students, but no elite students or someone who has a 5% success rate, but all are elite students in the field?

If you really want to help others improve their magic, then take a class in giving feedback. Once you start getting trained in giving feedback, you will understand why a laundry list of criticism isn't usually the best approach.
 
Now on to the weekly failure ..........

I personally find magic effects very difficult to "review or rate". There are moves which I could never pull off, but for others it may be their easiest slight. So an effect which may not work for me, may work for someone else. I would also say that presentation plays a big role. Maybe an effect is great for me, but may bomb for others because they do not have any ideas on how to present the effect. How many people do you know that have ranted and raved about a book, but do not preform any effects from the book?

For me a good review tells you the facts .... ie. the gimmick is 2" x 4" and is battery operated. There are 10 impromptu card effects and 10 gaffed card effects on the CD. Most of the effects require a stack.....etc.

For the most part the weekly failure has a lot of emotion. I would rather not burn bridges, magic is a small community, and if you are successful you will probably meet these people in your future. Would you say the same thing to their face? While I do admit to laughing about it a few times, I just can't help but feeling like the author is a bitter person. I sure hope he doesn't ever need help from the people he trashed. Lets face it he often takes personal attacks on people. While other may forgive a hard review, they will usually remember a personal insult.
 
Apr 17, 2013
886
4
If you really want to help others improve their magic, then take a class in giving feedback. Once you start getting trained in giving feedback, you will understand why a laundry list of criticism isn't usually the best approach.

Okay here is why I do not buy into giving them only a couple of things wrong. Lets go back to Johnny Youtube who lifted the Daryl ACR.

Like before he post his video and ask what is wrong. Of the twenty-two items in the effects twenty were bad.
My way, "Okay you did 1-20 wrong. You nailed the ended and you didn't do play by play patter. Fix those twenty things." This way they get everything up front.

Your way.
"The patter was nice and great ending. You need to work on A and B."
Now they think all that is wrong and moves A and B. They spend the next couple of week fixing those two moves but spend more time doing the other eighteen thing wrong. It is becoming more habit and muscle memory of doing those things wrong. They come back and you say "Hey nice job on A and B but C and D were bad." He is thinking why are they bad now but not three weeks ago. So off he goes to fix those two things and spend two or three weeks doing sixteen things wrong in his practice. Making them more into bad habits and muscle memory. Comes back and gets told two more things and the cycle repeat for months.

To me it seems like he would be more discouraged and down hearten by being told week after week after week that he is doing things wrong and each time it takes longer because the new things he needs to fix takes more time, because he thought he was doing them right so he kept doing them.


Being a good magician does not automatically make you a good teacher.

Who is the better teacher, someone who has 95% successful students, but no elite students or someone who has a 5% success rate, but all are elite students in the field?

I would want to learn from someone who is the best at what they do. Someone who attracts those who are driven to be the best. A high attrition rate in something like learning a performance art skill can be a good thing. It weeds out those who just want to do a few things from time to time for people and those who want to be at the top of the field. Why seek out someone who just pumps out cookie cutter people and not try to become one of the elites? I mean someone who wants to be the next SRV is going to try to learn from Buddy Guy and Clapton. Someone who just wants to play on the first five frets around the camp fire is fine with a guy who has a 95% graduation rate. You have to know what you want and finding the person who is going to get you there.

Now on to the weekly failure ..........

I personally find magic effects very difficult to "review or rate". There are moves which I could never pull off, but for others it may be their easiest slight. So an effect which may not work for me, may work for someone else. I would also say that presentation plays a big role. Maybe an effect is great for me, but may bomb for others because they do not have any ideas on how to present the effect. How many people do you know that have ranted and raved about a book, but do not preform any effects from the book?

For me a good review tells you the facts .... ie. the gimmick is 2" x 4" and is battery operated. There are 10 impromptu card effects and 10 gaffed card effects on the CD. Most of the effects require a stack.....etc.

For the most part the weekly failure has a lot of emotion. I would rather not burn bridges, magic is a small community, and if you are successful you will probably meet these people in your future. Would you say the same thing to their face? While I do admit to laughing about it a few times, I just can't help but feeling like the author is a bitter person. I sure hope he doesn't ever need help from the people he trashed. Lets face it he often takes personal attacks on people. While other may forgive a hard review, they will usually remember a personal insult.

Again, he seems to be making a fine living with his magic so it't not a bitterness towards other workers. If you can get into his super secrete magic blog (invite only), where he shows his work, you see his skill and his passion and his love of magic. You understand why he does what he does. He is fed up with the cheese and the youtube videos of the kids exposing magic and making videos where their junk is front and center. He points out bullies and scamers. He talks about how there seems to be a level of acceptance among magicians about how poorly some treat their birds. He covers many of the things that happens in magic that no one really wants to talk about.

Also, as William said, he does change his stance from time to time. His made William a WFM and then later had a change of heart. He has sung the praises of Harry Lorayne but at the same time talked about how he is now hurting his image with his tantrums on the green monster.
 
Sep 1, 2013
305
15
South Africa
Criticism in mind, is calling a magician "untalented" an acceptable form of criticism? I've seen this on that website, if any of you can somehow back up calling a magician "untalented" then there is a serious misunderstanding.
 

Mike.Hankins

creator / <a href="http://www.theory11.com/tricks/
Nov 21, 2009
435
0
Sacramento, Cali
Criticism in mind, is calling a magician "untalented" an acceptable form of criticism? I've seen this on that website, if any of you can somehow back up calling a magician "untalented" then there is a serious misunderstanding.

Just because someone can execute advanced sleight of hand, doesn't mean that they can also "perform". UNTALENTED is the wrong word to use. It's a disrespectful word and at best, doesn't get very far in terms of "helping" someone...
 
Jul 13, 2009
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0
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I found the Weekly Magic Failure Blog through Bizarro's Blog a few years back. I found the opinions expressed on these styles of magic blogs to be entertaining, mostly because I do believe that some performers and professionals do need to be held at a higher standards. Yes they are performing for people and possibly selling out theaters, but sometimes finance and bussiness becomes the main perogative and the magic performance suffers because of it. Not to mention with the advent of the internet and technolgy it has become much easier to fill the magic marketplace with crap. Not saying that it wasn't plagued with the odd flopper of a tricker before the internet but at least I could throw a stone and and hit gold instead of a turd.

Also found it hilarious that Roland posted for the first time on this forum since his account creation in 2011.
 
May 6, 2013
148
5
www.Ibimania.com
Just a little snippet from the WMF blog:

"I'm not saying he is a bad mentalist... I'm saying there are way better mentalists out there. Luke Jermay, Keith Barry, Richard Osterlind, Gary Kurtz, Max Maven, David Berglas and Derren Brown just from the top of my head."

So where are those who claim that there is nothing positive in the blog?
 
Apr 17, 2013
886
4
Just because someone can execute advanced sleight of hand, doesn't mean that they can also "perform". UNTALENTED is the wrong word to use. It's a disrespectful word and at best, doesn't get very far in terms of "helping" someone...

To be fair the writer of the blog is German and English is his third language, who know what it is in the original German. I mean as we all know Shakespeare is better in the original Klingon.
 
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May 6, 2013
148
5
www.Ibimania.com
WMF on MaxMaven:
If magic has one thing in abundance it is performers who have little to no characteristics that one from another. Max Maven is different. In the world of magic he is know under two names. Max Maven and Phil Goldstein. In the following video you won't see him do a lot of magic/mentalism, but it gives you a great little view into the character that he is.

On Derren Brown:

But Derren Brown has done for mentalism what David Blaine has done for magic. He brought it to a level where people actually believe it is genuine.
What Derren has done to it is nothing new, but he certainly has done it well. Derren cultivates an aura of psychological genius. To the audience he doesn't predict the future, but he has decided what the future event is going to be, and he does all his mental tricks to make it happen.

And you know what. That is a believable premise for a prediction. In fact his whole show is designed around this idea.


I dont believe for a second that it WMF is negative for the sake of being negative. I believe is honest about his opinions. I just LOVE reading his blog and no possible argument can change that.
 

Mike.Hankins

creator / <a href="http://www.theory11.com/tricks/
Nov 21, 2009
435
0
Sacramento, Cali
To be fair the writer of the blog is German and English is his third language, who know what it is in the original German. I mean as we all know Shakespeare is better in the original Klingon.

Wasn't saying that HE was calling someone untalented. Someone else in this thread used the word...
 

Mike.Hankins

creator / <a href="http://www.theory11.com/tricks/
Nov 21, 2009
435
0
Sacramento, Cali
WMF on MaxMaven:
If magic has one thing in abundance it is performers who have little to no characteristics that one from another. Max Maven is different. In the world of magic he is know under two names. Max Maven and Phil Goldstein. In the following video you won't see him do a lot of magic/mentalism, but it gives you a great little view into the character that he is.

On Derren Brown:

But Derren Brown has done for mentalism what David Blaine has done for magic. He brought it to a level where people actually believe it is genuine.
What Derren has done to it is nothing new, but he certainly has done it well. Derren cultivates an aura of psychological genius. To the audience he doesn't predict the future, but he has decided what the future event is going to be, and he does all his mental tricks to make it happen.

And you know what. That is a believable premise for a prediction. In fact his whole show is designed around this idea.


I dont believe for a second that it WMF is negative for the sake of being negative. I believe is honest about his opinions. I just LOVE reading his blog and no possible argument can change that.

I spent some time yesterday looking through a lot of his blog posts. At first I was feeling a little angry. Who does this guy think he is to be writing such harsh words about so and so?

Then I stopped and realized that this kid has some balls. And for that, I applaud him. He is merely writing out his true feelings and is not holding back. He feels strongly about something and expresses it. Now is he always right? No. But that is just my opinion just like it is his...

To me, him writing about said subjects and voicing his opinion is no different than going to a magic convention and making fun of all the "vest-wearers" with your small circle of friends.

So by all means, if you have never once voiced an opinion about someone or something, then be as mad as you want. But don't be a hypocrite. (If the shoe fits). Because even if he IS wrong, he still has the right to say whatever he wants.
 
May 6, 2013
148
5
www.Ibimania.com
I spent some time yesterday looking through a lot of his blog posts. At first I was feeling a little angry. Who does this guy think he is to be writing such harsh words about so and so?

Then I stopped and realized that this kid has some balls. And for that, I applaud him. He is merely writing out his true feelings and is not holding back. He feels strongly about something and expresses it. Now is he always right? No. But that is just my opinion just like it is his...

To me, him writing about said subjects and voicing his opinion is no different than going to a magic convention and making fun of all the "vest-wearers" with your small circle of friends.

So by all means, if you have never once voiced an opinion about someone or something, then be as mad as you want. But don't be a hypocrite. (If the shoe fits). Because even if he IS wrong, he still has the right to say whatever he wants.

Great response.

If I say Criss Angel is not what a magician is supposed to be like with not even quarter his success or one tenth his fame, this keyboard puncher has the right to say Daniel Madison in his opinion is untalented (he said that). Now it doesn't mean he is right. But he is voicing his opinions and he cannot be blamed for that. He has changed things at times and has stood corrected. He moved Zach Muller out of the fail category when some comments convinced him he was too quick to judge.
 
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