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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The May 2011 entrée: Mark Lewis » » Dropped Details » » TOPIC IS LOCKED (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Destiny
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Mark, I have always loved your theory of 'dropped details'.

Can you expound on it here?
*Mark Lewis*
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Too tired. I am fed up running all over the place to answer questions. It is all Munton's fault. At any rate the theory is explained in my Wit and Wisdom e-book.
*Mark Lewis*
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I am a better mood now but not much. Here is what I said in my e-book concerning the matter. I was talking about Billy McComb.
.........................................................................................................

When I first saw him 45 years ago, he was the funniest performer I had ever seen. Then 35
years ago, when I was working the nightclubs, he was just very funny. 25 years ago he was
merely funny. And he has remained so ever since. He is still funny but you should have seen
him in his younger days. It was quite something.
It is very easy to get less effective as the years go by. I call it the “dropped details” theory that
I came up with. You go over great, but one night you drop a detail. Everybody still loves you,
so a month later, you drop another detail. You still go over terrific and you don’t notice the
dropped detail and you carry on without it. Then a couple of months later, you drop another
detail and you still go over well and you still don’t notice you have dropped a detail.
However details mount up and after a few years you have dropped so many details that
you wonder why you are not going over as well as you used to. You will probably blame it
on changing audiences and changing times. But you will not put the blame where it really
belongs. On the dropped details.

Same thing with Jay Marshall. He was a fantastic performer when I first saw him years and
years ago. Probably about 45 years ago. Then I saw him gradually deteriorate over the years.
Dropping details right, left and centre. Getting worse and worse as the years went by.
Quite frankly I always thought that Lefty9 was overrated. I thought that John Salisse’s
presentation of Francis the Duck was far superior. And Salisse didn’t even have to use
ventriloquism as Marshall did. Jay Marshall got standing ovations in his later years at
magicians’ conventions only. If he worked anywhere else I suspect that the results would have
been quite different.
This is probably because Jay Marshall and McComb were unfortunate enough to be good in
the first place. If you are good you are far more likely to deteriorate in the fullness of time
because you get lazy and drop details. However if you are mediocre in the beginning you
might have the shrewdness to know you are bad and try to improve.
I am not particularly referring to age when I talk about dropped details, although, of course,
if you are old then I expect quite a lot of details have dropped. The key to resolving this is to
realize that the details are dropping and that you have to either replace them or get new details.
Not going over well on a consistent basis has a salutary and motivational effect on you. Going
over great leads to complacency.
will however be happy to admit that a noted restaurant magician told me that Jay Marshall
once performed a stand up act in his restaurant in his later years and went over great with the
laymen so perhaps I am wrong. I doubt it though. I AM Mark Lewis after all.

Same thing with Cardini. I saw a film clip of him and marveled and marveled. I have never
seen anything like it since and I don’t suppose I ever shall. I don’t think that any of the young
hotshot whippersnappers with silent acts come even close. And they never will.
Yet I was told by magicians that had seen Cardini in his earlier years that the movie clips did
not do him justice. That he was far, far better in his younger years. He must have dropped
details for these older magicians to say that. Lucky he had a lot of details to drop.
James Munton
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The first time I read the above, I didn't really know who Mark Lewis was. But after reading it, I decided that the author was one of the most perceptive magicians I had ever encountered and I knew I had to learn more from this person. I think the theory of Dropped Details is one of the most devastating theories in all of magic. Magicians who ignore the above wisdom do so at their own peril.
Jonathan Townsend
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Do you have any suggestions for how not to loose too many details too quickly?
Does scripting help?
...to all the coins I've dropped here
mastermindreader
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Mark-

Thanks for one of the most insightful essays I've read in a long time.

Good thoughts,

Bob Cassidy
PaulPacific
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Quote:
On 2011-05-30 00:58, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
Do you have any suggestions for how not to loose too many details too quickly?
Does scripting help?


Scripting?!

I know Mark well. Them's fighting words!
Blessings on thee, little man,
barefoot boy with cheeks of tan...
Outward sunshine; inward joy,
Blessings on thee, barefoot boy! :-D
Zebaztian
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I'm not a professional magician, I'm a teacher. A darn good one, that's just my talent. But I'm noticing that things in my lessons don't come by itself anymore. Now I know why: I'm dropping details. And I'm flying on the automatic pilot.

Thanks for the insight. I've got work to do.
My mind reading routines: http://www.basjongenelen.nl/goocheltrucs/. Scroll a bit down to the English routines.
*Mark Lewis*
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I hate that word "scripting". It reminds me of the twits on the Genii Forum. It is a pretentious word. The correct word is PATTER and it has been so for generations. It is the end of civilisation as we know it to interfere with tradition like this and I don't care what Al Angello has to say about it as I know he is going to.

However, I shall bite my tongue and consider Jonathon's question. After all it is a more important matter. Let me think for a moment. There. I have just thunk.

I think the answer is to pay attention. Just that. Observe yourself and be self critical. Or as I said in the original article get new details. One thing that scares me rigid is the fact that as I get older my sleight of hand skills are going to disappear through age, arthritis and other horrors. In fact because of the climate in Canada I find certain things harder to do because my hands get dryer here very quickly whereas in the UK the problem never arose. However, as long as my tongue and my brain works I am still in with a chance. I learned a long time ago that it is not the sleight or trick which gets the reaction. It is the MAN. I shall repeat that because it is so important. It is the MAN not the trick which is the vital thing in performing. Any bloody trick will do. The trick is merely a peg to hang your personality on. So if my sleight of hand skills disappear I will simply do easier tricks. For example many of the best card tricks of all time depend on no sleight of hand at all. So I will adapt.

The key thing is to be alert. Constantly alert without being paranoic about it. Watch yourself to see if details are dropping. Learn fresh material. Remember as the years go by that your personality changes and what suited you years ago may not suit you now. That is because you are a different person now. And fresh material will help you avoid getting stale. And it can be very useful for repeat shows to the same audiences who have seen you a million times already.

One thing you can do is tape or video yourself at each performance and watch it later to see if details are dropping. I don't practise what I preach here but I think it a valid suggestion to those who are less lazy than I am.

Keep passionate about magic and constantly view your audience reaction and never get complacent about it. The passion alone will keep you fresh to a degree.

And may your details never drop.
Destiny
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Thanks Mark - I've found that bit of writing invaluable since I first saw it on Buskers and am glad you've been willing to share it here.

I worked for a while 20 years ago with an indigenous cultural show directed by an English theatre actor and one of my jobs was 'notes'. As I performed before dinner and not as part of the main 2 shows, I watched those shows, took notes, and any problems I noticed were then addressed at rehearsals. I don't know for sure but imagine this is based on common practice in real theatre.
Danny Hustle
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I also remember when Mark made that post on the buskers. For a long time afterward when people would ask, "How can you have that Mark Lewis on your site!" I would always direct them to this post.

Mark, it is wonderful to see you here, and Steve you are a rock star for having him back!

Best,

Dan-
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Jonathan Townsend
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Thanks Mark,

I hear you about the folks who armchair rather than perform and their attitude.

What I don't understand is how to keep the details at the same time as I learn to get the most from the audience in performance.

Jon
...to all the coins I've dropped here
*Mark Lewis*
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Jonathon. Don't worry about it. Don't drive yourself crazy with it. Just get on with the job and don't think about it. Just being on the ball and interested is enough. Details drop when you no longer care. You seem to care.
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