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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Ever so sleightly » » Are most C&B routines badly constructed? (9 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Ado
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Most coin magicians agree that if I put a coin in my hand, and then immediately show that hand to be empty, then the audience's reaction is "duh! you kept it in the other hand". Why don't cups and balls magicians seem to care about that when they do the part where they make the ball vanish with a tap of the wand? It seems to me that the wand adds nothing, and that those vanishes are happening so fast after the (fake) put that having the "duh" reaction is natural. I think that it only works because the pace is fast and the audience can't necessarily follow the load under the cups, but I mostly think that they are confused at best, and not fooled.

That would lead me to think that the currently common C&B routines all suffer from that common flaw, and would benefit from another take on this approach. Any thoughts on that?

P!
tomsk192
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Firstly, that is a interesting point of view.

Secondly, I am not sure whether 'most' cups and balls routine feature this sequence.

Thirdly, the way you have described it certainly lends credence to your point of view.

Fourthly, and here's the rub, wand vanishes are a prime example of combined principle and technique which become blindingly obvious once the spectator is in the know, i.e. a magician.

This is not equally true of all sleights; but we all share the repeated experience of having had the magic 'taken away' by learning the secret.

The fact is that the wand is very deceptive to the vast majority of any lay audience. Personally, I too have an issue with that sequence, yet I have seen it done well in terms of pace and timing.

The weakness, to me, lies in the third revelation. The first two build some momentum, but as the sequence stands, the third vanish and reappearance fail to adequately cap the initial repetition. Perhaps a better conclusion to this sequence would be to cause all three balls to appear somewhere else?

Now there's a thought.
Mutato nomine de te fabula narratur.
Andrew Zuber
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I think that "Duh!" reaction is from the magician's point of view, not the audience. Once you know the secret, it's hard to remember what a routine looked like when it still fooled you. I've seen things that absolutely floored me. After I learned the method, I worried that the spectators would easily spot what was going on. I still have to remind myself that if the trick got me, it probably gets other people too.

I don't think most coin magicians will agree that the audience automatically knows what's going on. I think they'd change their routines if that was the overall thinking.

The wand adds a LOT to a cups and balls routine. Not only is it an object to hold when concealing something, but when I take it out of the bag, people are excited to see it. The Mora vanish, drummer's spin, wand through the fist, the striking vanish...all of these things use the wand and add flare to the routine. My audiences are fooled - you can see it in their faces. More importantly than that, they're entertained. We've all seen a hundred cups and balls routines, and that's what often causes us to over analyze them (I'm as guilty of it as anyone.) Most audiences will only ever see a small handful of them at most, and that's why they enjoy them so much.
"I'm sorry - if you were right, I would agree with you." -Robin Williams, Awakenings
cupsandballsmagic
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Quote:
That would lead me to think that the currently common C&B routines all suffer from that common flaw, and would benefit from another take on this approach. Any thoughts on that?
P!


I wouldn't include my own routine in that no. Even BEFORE I decided to ditch the wand and re-block it.
Payne
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Quote:
On Feb 22, 2015, Ado wrote:

Most coin magicians agree that if I put a coin in my hand, and then immediately show that hand to be empty, then the audience's reaction is "duh! you kept it in the other hand". Why don't cups and balls magicians seem to care about that when they do the part where they make the ball vanish with a tap of the wand?



Because, unlike many coin workers, a cup and ball magician has more than his two hands in play. There are three cups on the table, ones pockets or the poachers pouch to consider as probable locations for the recently vanished ball.

Quote:

It seems to me that the wand adds nothing,



Then you don't understand the purpose of the wand.

Quote:

and that those vanishes are happening so fast after the (fake) put that having the "duh" reaction is natural. I think that it only works because the pace is fast and the audience can't necessarily follow the load under the cups, but I mostly think that they are confused at best, and not fooled.



Here I will agree with you. Far too many cups and ball workers speed through their routine and leave the audience confused instead of mystified.


Quote:

That would lead me to think that the currently common C&B routines all suffer from that common flaw, and would benefit from another take on this approach. Any thoughts on that?



Hard to argue with literally centuries of success. There's a reason the cups and balls is a classic effect and that the basic structure of the routine has remained pretty much unchanged for hundreds of years. It works and works quite well.
"America's Foremost Satirical Magician" -- Jeff McBride.
Ado
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Tomsk:
1) thanks.
2) I think many do, but I certainly don't have any numbers.
3) Indeed.
4) Maybe. But I think it's the fake transfer, more than the wand, that's obvious to me. (But more on that below in my response to Payne).
Regarding the third revelation, that's true, though I don't think it's a flaw. Rather an unfortunate lack of crescendo. Using hooked balls or chop cups, you could: a) show ball one and two have reappeared, but put them back under the cups (and stuck to the cup), and then show that 3 balls have appeared under cup three (thanks to the chop cup), while balls 1 and 2 have just disappeared (thanks to the chop cup again).



Andrew: Maybe "duh" was too strong for the cups and balls, because the balls are immediately put back into play in a way that is much less obvious. Yet, I feel very uneasy during the puts. I don't think it's just about knowing how it's done. There are many parts in the routine where I don't feel like that; for example, many final loads don't disturb me even though I see when they're done. That being said, you made me want to come up with a coin routine that'd use a wand, so as to "measure" the difference in convincing.


Payne:
Well, I never liked the pouch... But I agree that the increased number of props impacts the amount of attention you can put in tracking everything.
I rewatched Vernon's routine. I think the wand's useful to keep one's distances to the cups, and works perfectly to justify the steal of the third ball in the sequence I don't like. But I still think that the sequence that leads to that steal is not optimal, if not a problem.
I would like to conclude by saying the for centuries, people were happy with oil lamps and candle light, and those worked pretty well. I think the cups and balls, as refined by Vernon, still has a flaw, whether or not the wand reduces the its impact.

P!
ZachDavenport
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Quote:
On Feb 24, 2015, Ado wrote:
I would like to conclude by saying the for centuries, people were happy with oil lamps and candle light, and those worked pretty well. I think the cups and balls, as refined by Vernon, still has a flaw, whether or not the wand reduces the its impact.

P!

I would like to see a flawless magic trick. That is literally not possible because no matter what there are an infinite number of things that could be "problems". Only the audience's response can determine whether or not those inescapable flaws are covered to a point that it is a beautiful routine. Even if this flaw was fixed it would most likely not affect the reaction of a normal spectator as they are not comparing to other routines as we magicians are. That being said, if you think it would make your personal routine better, it should be done.
Reality is a real killjoy.
Brad Jeffers
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Quote:
I would like to see a flawless magic trick


O.K. Here's one.

But that's just my opinion.
____________________________________
Ado
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Quote:
On Feb 24, 2015, ZachDavenport wrote:
I would like to see a flawless magic trick.

Quite a few gimmicks allow to do magic where there's nothing suspicious, and all appears as fair as possible. It doesn't mean the audience can examine all the props, if any...

P!
ROBERT BLAKE
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Read the book AL SCHNEIDER MAGIC. he explains exactly how to do the coins transfers and why.

a magician vanishes a coin = coin is placed in other hand. hand is schow empty / so coin must be in the other hand
a magician vanishes a ball with a wand. = magiscian places a ball in his hand = then picks up a wand = then taps on the hand = the hand is show and bal is gone. end result an ampty hand and a hand that holds the wand. (this is much harder to recontruct for a spectater then a coin transfer vanish)

a magician knows many methods a spectator thinks of a possibility.
ZachDavenport
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Quote:
On Feb 24, 2015, Brad Jeffers wrote:
Quote:
I would like to see a flawless magic trick


O.K. Here's one.

But that's just my opinion.
____________________________________

That is pretty close, but I could see his hand in a slightly unnatural position when he held up the bowl, and there are probably a few other "problems". But like I said, these problems are so small, and well covered that this has achieved true beauty.
Reality is a real killjoy.
David Fillary
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I think some people underestimate how powerful a false transfer can be when done really well.

Here it is done really well because it is practically imperceptible:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvE0gTouogg
wwhokie1
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Quote:
On Feb 24, 2015, David Fillary wrote:
I think some people underestimate how powerful a false transfer can be when done really well.

Here it is done really well because it is practically imperceptible:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvE0gTouogg


Nice!
Ado
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Quote:
On Feb 24, 2015, David Fillary wrote:
I think some people underestimate how powerful a false transfer can be when done really well.

Very nice performance indeed. I might even say it's my favourite C&B routine ever. Simple, to the point, and brilliantly executed.
But it's a different thing, namely a retention of one ball each time, more than a fake put of a single one, even though the last ball ends up like that. I think it works better here because it's the last one, in a sequence which is not 3 times "take one, put it in the other hand, gesticulate, show it's gone", ie that does not lead the audience to think "he kept it" because it's expectedly harder to keep one of many.

P!
funsway
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After reading all of these posts above a couple of times I am drawn to couple of questions:

1) does making a routine more technically flawless make it more entertaining for a lay audience?

2) does "audience reaction" necessarily indicate they thought the routine was more mysterious or magical?

3) to what extend does having a spectator think they have "figured it out" increase their entertainment and satisfaction with the performance?

4) since every spectator can be expected to have some experience with C&B as to method, to what extent is their appreciation based on knowing how it is done and still being entertained?

magicians pretend at doing impossible things and pretend at understanding what a spectator thinks.

From my experience if the expect to find magic they will, and if they expect/need to be entertained they will be.

Either way they will react favorably -- and may applaud just because their neighbor does. Then they may tell you what you want to hear.

I have seen little evidence that a lay audience finds a "near perfect" C&B routine more entertaining or magic than one "more human" with some flaws.

Watch Master Payne's routine. Certainly not flawless -- and does not try to be. You are entertained by HIM -- not the Balls and Cups, and any thought of magic a bonus.
"there is real merit in the magician who tries to be creative – from such endeavors magic sustains its life energy." Harold Rice



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Szymon Krzysztoszek
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I think the most powerfull thing in cups and balls is finallfinale big load. if you fool them with ball vanish that great! But if they gotch you on this and they think they know how it works they will be amazed after that big load!

Also if you have problem with that vanishing in C&BB you can check out David Williamson'sWilliamson's version of that routine
Carlos Hampton
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I believe this is an interesting post. Another thing I never really like about the versions based on Vernons is the sequence where you explain the fake transfer. And I don't like this part not because you pretend to explain a secret...is because I don't find it entertaining whatsoever and the only justification there is to do your dirty business in the pocket.
Bill Palmer
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One hint about the false transfer. It is perfectly explained in Hocus Pocus, Jr..

If you don't have this book, you can download the cups and balls routine that is in this book from the Cups and Balls Museum web site. On the page of notes following the routine, you will see a few remarks I have inserted that basically explain the parts of the handling that people often miss.

I will not explain this in the open part of the forum. However, about 5 years ago, I explained it in Secret Sessons in this thread of posts -- http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......art=0#17
"The Swatter"

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migwar
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I must admit I deliberately pace the 3 vanishes at the start fairy briskly, I can see it being the weakest part of my routine so it makes sense to place it at the start to build to the big finish. As for the speed I open up fairly quickly then slow down for the 0-2- to get the audience to interact. Structured in a similar way to Paul Daniels chop cup routine. I think the cups and balls are of those effects where its sum is greater than its parts.
bigfoot
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I think the thing to recall is that this like any other effect: it is art. When you structure your routine you should look at the effect as a blank canvas. You are will simply painting a picture of what you want your audience to see. You are the subject of your art and your props are like happy little trees (thanks Bob) in the field, or the birds, or even the sun in the sky. You create an emotional hook with your actions much like a painting with the exception you are in motion.
I think so many see this as just a "trick" and that is why they rush through it to get to the surprise finish. Should you ever ask a spectator what they remember about cups and balls undoubtedly you will get "they did a bunch of stuff with these little balls, then a bunch of big balls appeared out of no where". Such a simple explanation for so much hard work!
The reality is the journey is where all the fun is Gazzo has proven this to an nth degree. Tommy Wonder has one of the best cups routines and he does not use a wand nor really any tradition ideas and his routine is a killer for any audience including magi.
If nothing else cups and balls really plays to the old saying "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" To be sure no one will ever make a cups and balls routine (or any routine for that matter) absolutley perfect for you...except you.
Bill Hegbli
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Quote:
"duh" reaction


The "duh reaction" as you put it, is a misinterpretation on your part. Everyone knows that a vanish creates surprise and shock, thus the none response or "duh reaction".

Quote:
and not fooled


Quote:
"Quite a few gimmicks allow to do magic where there's nothing suspicious, and all appears as fair as possible. It doesn't mean the audience can examine all the props, if any...


Ado, I see your problem is not with magic or it's handling, but your words give you away. You just don't understand what magic is and it's purpose. Using words like "Fooled" and your search for gimmicks to substitute what the performer is suppose to create himself, and his audiences. Magic is not self working. It requires the human element to give it life and entertainment. Sometimes "suspicious" leads the spectator down the path to the wrong conclusion intentionally. As you believe everything must be examined, there may be no hope for you as a magician.

How do you learn how magic should be presented, and these questions and situations you mentioned. One way is through reading and learning from the experts and masters of days gone by. Investing in your knowledge to learn and analyze original publications of the root effects.

Trying to talk to someone that does not understand, and will not accept what others have learned, leads to a useless verbiage of information falling on deaf ears. One cannot inform, when the information falls on deaf ears.
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mtpascoe
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In Michael Ammar’s Cups and Balls routine, he has eliminated the false transfer. If I recall I think he only uses it once and that’s near the end of a routine that has made the balls appear and reappear several times.

Besides, any fake transfer should use a delay where you don’t show the object disappearing right away. The purpose of the transfer should never be to the audiences eyes as a means to make something disappear. Rather, it should only to be use to move the object for from one hand to another for a motivated reason.

And as far as the wand playing no part, I disagree. I have done the standard Cups and Balls routine that is from the magic sets and use the wand as a prop. It is not used to assist in the inner workings, but yet the audiences seem to like it.

Once I forgot to use it and snapped my fingers instead. Then I remembered where I put the wand, and continued with the wand. I could tell that they liked the wand better. Lay audiences do because there is an air of mystery to it especially more so with the advent of Harry Potter.
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