Which group are you in?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Morgan B, Nov 3, 2009.

  1. “Your tricks, and the manner in which you perform them, should be an expression of your life, not a substitute for one.”
    —Mike Close

    Close up magic presentations can be difficult...not because of creativity, or lack thereof, but because of the approach. Approaches that can be grouped. We have the group of magicians that feel less is more, they don’t say much, and let the magic speak for itself. We have the group that says too much, in the name of presentation, they come up with intricate stories that last 20 minutes for effects that are over in 2 minutes. Then we have the group that just speaks to say something, their presentations sound like a confusion of words that might as well be another language. Then there are the few...the few that do present magic in a way that delivers a story that relates to what is being seen, or give the appearance of a conversation in the mix of a performance. Even though I don't believe their is one way to present - I do believe their are some weaknesses to the first 3 groups.

    Allow me a side bar to say, you don’t have to be serious about how you perform magic, to be serious about your magic. Our goal is to entertain with strong magic, so it is important we don’t take ourselves to serious, as we may lead our audience down the same path...which eventually leads to boredom, if one is not careful or interesting when serious. Nobody has ever complained about a show being too funny, or that is made them laugh too much; however, I do hear the opposite about being serious, boring and too dry. Anyhow, I digress, as this isn’t about entertaining, it is about how you are presenting magic.

    I want to deal with each group, and how this performance is perceived.

    The group that talks too little, they let the magic speak for itself. Certainly, there are effects and moments where this is needed. Those that, “don’t say much”, seem to think that they don’t impact the effect negatively with their words...true, but I don’t think they impact it positively either. Then, only your physical presents and appearance are the differences between you, and anyone else that does the same effects. By not saying anything, you are making a choice; this choice prevents you from adding anything...adding yourself...and adding fun. Sure, the magic will speak for you, when done well. Yet, I personally use this as a base – if the effect is great, then what I add will make it better. I consider my presentation the cherry on top of the Sundae. For those that struggle with presentation, read Scripting Magic, and consider writing your scripts – that way if you aren’t the type to think fast on your feet with banter, at least you can appear like you are. Communication is one of the advantages of our art...if you don't interact, what makes you different than a TV magician?

    The opposite of this is the performers that love the sound of their own voice...those that stretch a simple effect into a marathon. Obviously, in today’s society, ADHD will be your opponent, and you bore your audience into hating magic. The bigger concern, similar that exists in comedy magic, is that you have made the magic secondary. The advice – trim the fat – asks yourself, “is it necessary for me to say that for progression of the effect” and “is there a shorter or easier way to convey that with less words”? Again, scripting will help this. I feel I should say more on this issue, but that would be a bit, well, contrary to my advice of keeping it simple while still making a point, but don't let my brevity act lesson the importance of this malpractice, as it is one of the most serious. Moving on.

    We then have the group that thinks they are presenting but are telling stories that sound like they were induced by “magic dust” – these people talk about how the cards blush...or how the Jacks are detectives that find your card...or coins that have wings on them and fly hand to hand. These plots seem childish, and in a modern audience in close up can make you appear out of touch with reality. You may as well be talking Lord of the Rings. Personally, I find these kind of presentations the reason why people say, “my 3 year old would love your tricks” – rather than seeing the value in it for themselves. Sure, these things can be said, but I think more value would be seen if it were said “tongue in cheek”, than as a presented concept that is serious. Unfortunately, I see too much of the latter.

    So, am I saying there is ONE and only ONE way to perform close up magic?no – Guy Hollingsworth and Lawrence Hass performs in a very connected and dramatic fashion...very entertaining – which is very different from Juan Tamriz and David Williamson that use energy and comedy to highlight their magic - still entertaining...and there are many in between. This is where character comes in. What I am saying is that there are CERTAINLY less efficient ways to present magic.

    Personally, I use humour, energy and try to create real conversation throughout my magic to perform close up. I don’t want it to feel like a performance, but an encounter, or meeting of a new friend – that happens to be funny...but can also be serious at times. The magic and mood can change. Often, my presentations consist of motivational message in between the magic, when people ask me about me. My magic serves to educate about what magic is...or what it isn’t...common life situations, and sometimes it is just a laugh. The point? Your magic should be connected.

    If you are talking too much...talking too much about nothing...or not talking at all – you could be putting a wall up and preventing yourself from taking advantage of one of the best strengths close up has. True human interaction – a connected experience that TV, Movies, and other visual mediums can’t offer.

    Now...go say something that means something to you and your audience.
  2. Perfect!

  3. But what if your coin does have wings on it?

    I'm just kidding, though I figure it would be one hell of a sight gag, 'the coin actually turned invisible, grew wings and flew to my other hand'. (open hand to coin that now has paper wings attached).

    And now you know how part of my mind works...

    I agree, and will edit this post when I get home with more...time to leave work!!!
    Yay going home...booo traffic.
  4. Once again, great eye opener (no, that is not a new Sankie effect).

    I would like to add the fourth group, the ones that do all of the first three. Those are magicians that are hobbyist, and perform magic exactly the way they see it/learn it. They would talk a lot in their 2CM, and right after that, they will be silent during ACR, and in the end, a story telling Biddle Trick. Their presentation will go from coins with wings, into science facts, to the mysteries of card cheats, etc. All in the same performance, for the same audience.

    Those are magicians that knows 100 tricks, and wants to show them all at once.
  5. Funny guys!

    Great add Toby - le's talk more about this fourth group - what do you think the problem is with doing it this way? What are the issues? Strengths - weaknesses - solutions?
  6. Or start a new post a day later.

    I think the fourth group is probably the most annoying...but that's just me.

    On topic however:

    First group: The strong silent types. They either watch a lot of DnD style magic or want to copy David Blaine. Watch me explain (heh, get it? 'Watch this guys...' okay, I'm done) Dan and Dave are flourishers who also do magic. They have great technical skill with the 52 pieces of cardboard, both juggling and sleight-wise, but they aren't my favorite people to watch perform. I may as well mute the volume and watch the flashy moves, the magic will be about the same most of the time.

    The Blaine wannabes (wannabes did not get underlined by my spell check...did not know it was a word) can't help it, they watch him get amazing reactions and don't understand the psychology behind his character. When performing he can work the minimalist approach because he has practiced his character, more or less an urban shaman who enters peoples lives just long enough to prove he's magic before walking away forever, and he also has the stare down.
    In his book Mysterious Stranger he talks about Houdini, specifically mentions a picture of him, and how the magic is in his eyes. Intensity that brings you in and makes you want to believe in what he's doing. This works for very few people, and unless you want to be bland and boring you should really stay away from this style of magic. The eyes are important, but saying too little can give your spectators the wrong impression about magic, almost boring them to tears. (like the 21 card trick Everyone and their brother wants to show you when they find out your a magician)

    Group number two: Those long winded orators who could prove well in congress if a filibuster is in order.

    These people probably reassure their audiences of the perfectly normal, standard issue, fifty two card deck that they bought at wal-mart and as they take this new deck out of its wrapper you should note that it is still sealed and while they fan the cards just pick one, any one...and that is not a good way to start any trick. Just unwrap it, open it, maybe shuffle and get on with it, no words needed if the audience can see what you're doing.

    Trim the fat is the best advice, I will also second (haha seconding advice for the second group....dry humor at its best) the notion of scripting.

    Group three: The fantasy world meets your presentation!!

    There is probably more than one excuse for this. They could be fans of fantasy stories and love writing fiction, so they put that fiction into their scripts as they perform (at least they write scripts/know what they are going to say...) and while the brand new iDeck (yes, at a convention, great sleight of hand...presentation made me want to do human blockhead into my ears) may appeal to the 12 and under crowd, and seem interesting to yourself, it's not. It's boring, condescending, and way tooooo long of a presentation for a simple card trick.

    I actually zone out when these tricks are being done...and when asked 'what did you think?' I usually reply 'Huh, sorry I stopped paying attention when you started'. It may be mean, but I then explain why and usually help them work out a better presentation style...or they storm off and put someone else to sleep with it.

    Group 4: They...are lost?

    This is easily fixed actually, if you take the time to script your magic and take time in creating your own, consistent, character when performing...or your own style that is you only instead of you its you doing magic (take that 4 up to about a 7 on the scale of awesomeness) *. I don't see this as often, though it is probably annoying to see. Lots of words, no words and serious presentations turn into fairies and the devil moving cards into your skin and out your arse into your pocket, into a sealed envelope...in the zipper compartment of your 'ordinary' wallet.

    Just saying, it's a great trick, but the presentation needs work.

    Hope you had some laughs reading...I'm going to go do something else now. :)

    *Yes, you practice magic...your awesomeness is probably a lot less than you think, as Dan Sperry says in the manip. 1on1's we are 'professional losers'. :)
  7. Bump!

    I hate bumping threads, that's why this is only my second bump, but I feel that this one is important. I think there is a lot more to say in this thread, and that we have a lot of new members who could benefit form this thread.

    I will start the conversation by saying that the 4th group, I think, are either the beginners, who learn tricks from different sources, and different magicians. So they will perform 2CM exactly the same as Brad Christian because they learned it from him, than ACR the same (well, it cannot be the same, but they will copy anyways) like Tommy Wander, then Biddle Trick the same as Oz Pearlman, and so on...
    Now this is not THAT bad, since they are still beginners, and they may learn the correct way with experience and correct guidance.
    The second reason for this type of "presentation" can be because the magician is just TOO lazy to come up with his own presentation or character, which is a lot more hard to fix, since they are already set on their way's.

    Of course, the only ones who would suffer from this type of presentation is the poor audience who has to sit and listen to all of that.
  8. I believe you're spot on with the reason to why some people act different depending on which routine they're performing. Unfortunately, when teaching routines, tricks and sleights, the magician doing the teaching often just pass by the problem with "Say 'yada yada yada' or something else if you want to". One should more often make a point of that you always should come up with your own patter and performance.

    My way of not copying too much of the patter part or script is that I write down my own instructions on how to do the routine I'm about to learn. That way I re-shape it into my version, create my own patter and even if it may be similar to the original it's at least my own version of the routine.

    And as a plus I end up with tons of routines written down in a style I understand, so if I forget one of them after not performing it for some time I can just find the notes and refresh my memory.

    (I've done my best regarding the language, but english isn't my native tongue so you'll have to excuse any grammatical errors etc.)
  9. Hello ElakPistol, and welcome to the forums :)

    That is a very nice idea of writing your routines down as how to do them, and than add your own presentation to them. One other thing magicians can do is write down the effect on a peace of paper, what is actually happening during an effect (ie. spectator chooses a card, magician looses the card in the deck, and shows that the card is now on top; or magician takes one sponge ball and place it in his hand, and then take the other sponge ball and place it in the spectators hand, magician opens his hand to show it is now empty, and spectator now finds two sponge balls in his hand...etc.). And do that for all your performing effects, and once you start reading the effect over and over again, it will be a lot easier to come up with your own presentation.
  10. Thanks!

    Yes, writing down the presentation of a routine can possibly also help you in creating new ones. You can see which parts that can be connected to other parts of other routines and cook up something new(-ish at least). However, I'm afraid I'm getting a bit off topic now, aren't I?
  11. This reminds me of something I've posted in another forum...

    I've learned that that close-up magic needs to be a conversation.

    There needs to be an interaction between the magician and the spectator. You can do this by asking questions or by having the spectator participate in the routine. This interaction breaks down the wall between the spectator and the magician ("I perform, you watch") and engages the spectator by making them part of the process. It also relaxes the magician because you are getting feedback from the spectators in the form of responses to your questions.

    Your tone needs to be casual, like a conversation. If you are too formal, it seems staged or artificial. Your pacing needs to be just right, not too fast and not too slow, like a conversation. Again, this makes the spectator more relaxed because it seems like something they are used to. For the magician, this is very difficult. The other difficulty is that we tend to talk faster when we are nervous. You have to be aware of the speed at which you perform sleights (usually faster than the other parts of the routine) because that change in speed alerts the audience that "something" is going on.

    Your patter needs to be conversational, not a scientific lecture on the powers of the subconscious and not a long winded unbelievable story. That doesn't mean that you can't talk about people's subconscious... You just have to talk about it as it would come up in a normal conversation ("I just read this article that says that people's subconscious memory is mostly visual, and it made me think of how I try to visualize where the last place I put something that I've lost"). Also, that doesn't mean you don't tell stories... just that the stories are good stories that ring true. If you've ever observed a group having a conversation, you will see that the conversation revolves around something someone has seen (TV show, sporting event, movie) or read (book, news article, something in a magazine or on the web) OR a story of something that has happened to someone (or someone they know).
  12. Thank you R1, a piece of gold.
    That is why, if you have a chanse, first start a conversation, and then do the trick. Try not to take out your cards right a way, and go into the routine. First start a conversation, and than do the effect that fits that conversation. If the conversation is about relationships, don't go "Yeah, but look how these 3 coins go from one hand to the other". If you get what I mean.

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