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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Grand illusion » » Is the guillotine off limits today? (25 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Sam Sandler
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Let me be right up front. I am not a politically correct person.
I fully believe in common sense - something lacking in our world today.

That being said with the incredible rise of terrorists (news coverage) and beheadings is it finally time to pull the guillotine from the show?

I have toyed with the idea of using someone's leg instead of their head. But I'm still wondering if the trick is something that needs to be put in storage.

Thanks, I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

sam
sam sandler- America's only full-time DEAF Illusionist
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Moxahalla
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About 10 years ago, videos of the then terrorist be-headings of captive Americans were made known to the public. The horror of the killings was widely reported in the news media. Unfortunately, what has happened overseas in the recent weeks - is NOT new.

At that time, John Calvert was performing a week at the Magic Castle...He was featuring his usual "Spook Show" crazy Doctor character - who cuts off a person's head with a large machete sword. How does one tell a 90 year living legend to not perform one of his classic comedy routines? - well, apparently no one did.

As a 20 year Magic Castle member - I witnessed for the first time several people standing up and exiting the theater during the Calvert routine. This was one of 7 performance nights. I have no idea if this occurred during other nights as well.

I felt John's choice of routine was in very poor taste----but I also assume that he was either ignorant of the current world news, or simply didn't think of the ramifications.

In short --I think its time again for a "cool down" period of routines featuring Guillotines & Choppers
QuailCreek
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I agree with you, Sam. Common sense and being considerate are more important than being politically correct. It's an illusion and it's been performed for generations. My opinion is that people need to grow up and at least act like they have a brain. That said, I think that you could give an explanation before the effect is presented so that you direct their thoughts and change their perception. In so doing you could defuse the situation before it starts. I'm sure your clients know what is contained in your show before they hire you. Have your clients been asking you to take it out?
Regards,
Silverthorne
DeceptionStunts
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My personal opinion is that it would work in certain presentations and be highly offensive in others. But, if I'm being frank, I think the trick is old and tired at this point. If it was made fun of in the Burt Wonderstone movie, it probably isn't a hot trick.
Oliver Ross
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Hi Sam,

I'm into illusions, but don't own any. This said I think I might still give my opinion, since I do magic shows. Smile

I think I have to agree with your comment about taking the guillotine out of your show in reason of the incredible rise of terrorism in the world, specially since the last year's end.

Even though I think it's a great illusion, the head off theme isn't the right thing at the moment and I think this goes for all illusions where the head get's off in a way or another.

I always thought of getting one to theme it, here in France, for July 14th, with a revolution staging and all the costumes that go with it and I guess it would have had get a great impact in this situation, but the today's political situation isn't the right one I think to present it.

This of course is my own humble opinion.


Oliver.
Mark Boody Illusionist
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Sam

I have taken it out of my show for the time being, I haven't performed it since September.

Maybe as time goes by I MAY put it back in.

BTW I use it in a gospel presentation, similar to Duane Laflin's version in Greater Gospel Magic.

Mark
QuailCreek
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I understand that the guillotine is an illusion which is at the extreme LEFT end of the spectrum. My concern is that we'll also stop doing Modern Art, Bill in Lemon and Waling Sawing because they all use knives and blades. What do we do if terrorists start hanging people. No more rope trick?
Regards,
Silverthorne
JNeal
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Maybe it is also time to drop the 'burning alive' illusion that was once so popular in Spook Shows in the past.....
visit me @ JNealShow.com
Lou Hilario
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I stopped using my guillotine and arm chopper many years ago. I feel that it is comedy at the expense of the volunteer. I sold my guillotine but kept my arm chopper thinking I could use it in a Comedy Club again someday.
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jimhlou
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I'm on the fence on this one. I've considered being politically correct, and have backed off of performing the chopper. However, I did the chopper (Lester Lake) at a comedy club last month at their request. It was a smash hit. People loved it! I'm doing it again next week at a Blue and Gold on the scout master. So ..... I guess it just depends on the circumstances. It may be best to just do what you're good at and forget about public opinion (unless it affects your bottom line). As some of the earlier posters said, you might end up doing nothing with blades, swords, fire, rope, and anything else that's remotely questionable.

Jim
QuailCreek
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I like your thinking, Jim.
Regards,
Silverthorne
StevieDee
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A good friend of mine just pulled it from his show and is considering other options. Same reason--sensitivity to recent events. It's a valid question.
Chezaday
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It's a tough call ... we actually had it in the show just a few weeks ago. Many times I have to plan our theater gigs a month or two in advance. The See-thru Guillotine was part of our set list for our annual show at the Arcada Theatre. The very same week ISIS was up to no good ... and it was too late to take it out of the show. It went over just fine as it's just a comedy routine ... life goes on.

Steve
w_s_anderson
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I'm not taking it out of my show.
freefallillusion1
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Yep, it's a comedy routine and should be seen as such by the audience. If you don't want to offend anyone, then really, magic isn't for you because there's still that small percentage of folks who believe magic is real!

This falls under the same heading as the questions of "Should we stop eating fire, because kids might try it", or "What about colored doves- it might be seen as cruel, or a child might be inspired to color the family pet with a marker" (that was actually said on the Café), or "Maybe it's time to stop taking the youngsters to the circus, because they are too impressionable when they see a trapeze act". I say to all of the above- my family loves to see these things, but you'd better believe that my kids know better than to try any of this themselves. So, I say the same to the guillotine question. I have a unique variation of the head chopper that I still use in every show I can, and it's an absolute hit. The audiences love it.

The unfortunate reality is that you can't avoid offeding everyone. Life is just too short and the guillotine is a wonderful, time-proven classic. I say IT WORKS- KEEP IT!
ClintonMagus
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I am not among the "easily offended", but I have never seen a guillotine illusion performance that I thought was appropriate in a normal magic show setting. Andre Kole performs this in his shows using, preferably, a local person with some notoriety. As wonderful a performer as he is, I thought it was a major letdown in the middle of an otherwise amazing show. The audience applause was much more polite than thunderous, as with his other illusions.

That being said, I once built a Lester Lake Guillotine, just because I was interested in how it worked. It was a beautiful piece of work and operated flawlessly, but I never used it, and I later gave it to a friend who never used it. Neither of us felt comfortable performing this in front of an audience.
Things are more like they are today than they've ever been before...
Dr. Delusion
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I had a company show about a month ago and when I was booking it, I was asked if there was something I could do with the Boss. My first suggestion was to magically produce him during the show, nah, that's not what they were thinking. So I ran through things like the tricky bottles and since he was a smaller guy I even suggested a levatation, nope, still not what they were thinking. I then told them I had a guillotine, That was it! I had to get the Boss up for that. We did the show and it was the biggest applause getter of the night. I also do mine in a comedy manner.
I never have used mine much, maybe 3 or 4 times a year, but it will stay in my show.
Bob.
Sam Sandler
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Good comments

i am not dropping my bullet catch or my juggling knives or other things like that. I don't believe in the "superman Affect"
parents need to teach their kids common sense!

that being said I have not performed my head chopper routine in over 2 years. I have been away on tour and 98% of my shows were with my new
show DEAFinitely Magic designed for schools. so the head chopper did not have a place in that show.

being home for the next 1.5 years I thought about putting it back in but with all the stupid ISIS stuff going on I started to rethink it.

so for now my decision is to keep it out of most shows but for some corporate work and other similar events I would use it and I might even ask the client first if they have a problem with it.

either way I am ok. I wont ever sell my head chopper its a beautiful piece of magic and I cant see ever giving it up.

thanks for your comments

sam
sam sandler- America's only full-time DEAF Illusionist
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MagicalMotivator
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I think it all depends on:

1 - the routine - in my version, which is a "comedic" combination of the history of french and native Canadians, it just works - my routine has the guillotine as a piece of history an transcends the gory aspect of it. Presentation is key.

2 - common sense - if you are a seasoned performer you will know what should work, for who and when.

3 - many of the guillotines out there are not very scary looking, lets be real:)

Just my humble opinion.

MM
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Jerry
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I wonder if Jeff Durham is pulling "Achmed the Dead terrorist" from his show.
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