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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Helping hands » » Essay about assisting (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

fefe_fontane
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For reading and thoughts only:

Oftentimes, magicians are seen doing their tricks in magic with one or two or even more assistants to help him with the trick. This is done especially when the magic show requires a person as a part of the trick or simply to hold some of the magician's props for him. Their interaction with the assistants greatly influences the people watching the show. They help in making the audience feel comfortable watching and even joining the show as volunteers in performing some of the tricks.

As an assistant, I also serve as the extra vision of the magician. Since I have access to the back stage, I can be the first onlooker of the performers' costumes and other props as well. I can immediately tell which costume belongs to whom. Packing up props is also another responsibility of mine, since I am usually the person entrusted by the magician to touch his priced equipment or tools. However, there are times when the magician would like to pack his own props. If that may be the case, I can help by making sure that the magician has indeed packed everything and nothing got left behind.

I can also make it a point that all tricks have been made and scenes have been created. There are times when magicians lose track of the succeeding tricks due to the concentration and it is the assistant’s duty to make sure the next prop is presented to the magician to remind him of the next trick to be delivered. In case of an emergency, I remain calm, knowing exactly what to do and how to handle the props as well as other cast members.

Aside from having another set of hands for the show and keeping the props in their proper place, I also help in entertaining volunteers for special tasks as part of the show. I am the volunteers' guide when there is already a need to stand, move or take a bow. Assistants can also play a big role in taking care of any volunteer or who is beginning to act like a nuisance. This can be accomplished by informing the volunteer nicely to behave while staying in complete character.

I also play an important role in drawing the audience's attention since the audience will look where I am looking while a trick is being performed. However, since a slight movement could catch attention, there is an agreement between the magician and I as to when to be still and when to start moving again. My reaction is also vital for it causes the illusion of a trick happening for the first time, thus, giving more thrill to the audience.


As an assistant it is my duty to have the knowledge of the stage, theatre, and magic during the show. I am aware of all sightlines for each separate trick and act. I therefore can make sure that every person in the audience can see what the entertainer is doing. If there are volunteers on stage, I also make sure that they are not blocking the magician or any other sightlines. In addition to keeping sightlines open, I also help direct the audience’s attention to where they should be looking. My eyes are an excellent tool to use. The audience will tend to look where I look. Therefore, I NEVER look at gimmicks because that may draw the audience’s attention to them. Instead, I use theatrical tools for controlling the focus of the audience members. Movement also tends to attract attentions. When the magician pauses, the audience tends to applause. When I move the audience ends the applause. It is known between the magician and I before the show when to move and wait for applause. This is a great aspect of a show that will contribute to its success or failure.



A magician's assistant is not only an assistant to him but to the rest of the performers who are also willing to help whenever she is free of her tasks. This builds camaraderie between the magicians and other fellow performers as well as on and off stage. It is very appropriate to offer the same relationship and respect with other workers in the magic show. The whole success of all the tricks performed will never be complete and effective without the assistant's effort and hard work, too. During the shows I demonstrated to the highest degree of professionalism, these aspects.

As a form of motivation, good magicians should acknowledge and commend the assistant's great job after the completion of a trick. I in turn should then present the magician and commend him on a job well done. Audiences respond much better to someone who is likeable. How the magician interacts with his assistant (I), can affect how willing the audience members will be to volunteer or provide encouragement and applause. It is crucial for the magician to make eye contact with his assistant. During the Illusions show, eye contact between the magician and I kept the audience in tune to the trick and anxious to know what was going to happen next. This eye contact forms a relationship between the two. The audience members strive to see the relationship between the magician and his assistant. Presentation is one of the most important aspects in an illusion show. The other is entertainment. Both of which are displayed by, the magician and the assistant.


An audience wants to be entertained. A trick is 90% presentation and 10% skill. If you entertain your guests correctly they will be satisfied with what they saw and will have gotten the entertainment value they desire. Secretly audiences really don’t want to know how a trick is performed. They enjoy the mystery and intrigue surrounding the magic. That’s why they are there to watch.
A.C.D
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Big Daddy Cool
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We need to talk...

You would be a valuable contributor to my Magician's Assistant School workshops...
fefe_fontane
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Let's talk:-)
A.C.D
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Bob Sanders
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Fefe,

We expected to hear more from you about this. Will we?

Bob Sanders
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FeFe hasn't been around the Café that much. If she's for HIRE, I'll hire her in a heartbeat; just need to LOCK in the dates and find out the total cost.
Mindpro
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Fefe's postings should be required reading for all assistants, or anyone even considering being an assistant.
George Ledo
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Great essay, Fefe, but please clear me up on something.

What you're describing is more like what one half of a two-person act would do than like what an "assistant," in the sense of an on-stage helper, would do. I mention this only because I still remember reading something umpteen years ago (it may have been David Bamberg quoting Guy Jarrett) to the effect that magicians are the only entertainers who use servants on stage...and it struck such a sour chord with me that from that point on I never used an assistant -- in the sense of someone who brings something out and hands it to me -- again.

Granted the term "assistant" has been used for well over a century when referring to other people in a magic show, but, given what these people actually do, I wonder if the term needs to change.

Thoughts?
That's Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
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oddsmaker
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I think Big Daddy Cool has a lot of info on this. I would suggest anyone that is interested contact him.
fefe_fontane
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I think that's funny that you remember the quote "magicians are the only entertainers who use servants on stage" mainly because the quote is completely and utterly false. In nearly EVERY stage production, an actor has an assistant, as does a musician for a concert - many times for both professions they are on stage as well. Their jobs and responsibilities vary, but they are nonetheless assisting the main focused performer. As a magician's assistant, you are doing the same thing in a sense.

And no what I described was not more like what one half of a duo would do - in fact, there are assistants that may not require this type of responsibility in the show with the magician, but need to be aware of what could possibly arise. As a magician, one must be open minded to the potential that maybe an assistant, whether it be on stage or off, is needed. This need may not arise for you or any other magician - but there is always a possibility.

So, no I do not think the title needs to be altered by any means - assisting is what we do. Assisting is an art of it's own and it requires trust, cooperation and a great deal of responsibility. I think the term Assistant, is dead on with describing what we do.
A.C.D
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Magician's Assistant~Actress~Dancer~Model
Angel Freire
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Good essay FeFe. Your magician is very lucky.
Angel
Jethro Magic
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How I wish my former female assistant thinks like that! not just there for the money but also has the desire to be more dedicated.
RodHousley
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Great essay. I agree and am lucky to have an assistant and wife that helps me on stage as you have described. It is a wonderful relationship to have that someone be so ready for anything and helpful. We have worked together for about 10 years now and we know what eachother are going to do, where we are going to be and whose responsible for what. We save eachother sometimes from crashing on stage and we compliment eachothers' faults and strengths. She makes me look good and I thank her everyday for that.
John T. Sheets
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Great essay FeFe. Smile
Magically,
John
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Inventor of the "Quantum Bender" line, as well as other professional products.
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