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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » New to magic? » » 'Sucker; Effects (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Ironjim
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Hey -

I was wondering what your guys take on 'Sucker' Effects are.

I don't care for them so much myself.

I was just watching Penn and Teller's Fool Us - Nicholas Wallace, I believe, and he had a 'Sucker' Effect. His helper, the Awesome Allison's reaction was 'that's mean'. I agree with her. Sure he fooled P&T, but, I mean those type of effects seem to only really impress the performer.

I remember a concept from Darwin Ortiz's Strong Magic, the performer and the audience are on same team, to have fun for everyone.
Sure use them on a Heckler/Jack @ss - but just in general not my cup of tea.

Thoughts?
The Burnaby Kid
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The thing about the term "sucker trick" is that it's been applied to a lot of different kinds of tricks. For some people, a sucker trick is meant to make the spectator feel like a sucker. Most people's instincts would say that's a bad thing. The thing is, you can get away with this, in the same way that you can get away with a good-natured insult with your friend, but you have to be super-charming. It's not easy, and I know, because I'm not super-charming. I'm only regular charming. Judge me all you want, but it's all I could get from Walmart with five bucks.

Some people also refer to "magician-in-trouble" tricks as sucker tricks because you've been induced to believe that the magician was in trouble when really he wasn't. The thing about magician-in-trouble tricks is that they can play VERY strong, so strong that there's a temptation to do them all the time. I recommend looking into Tommy Wonder's writings about "failureffects" when it comes to how to handle them well.

And then there's the fact that "sucker" is synonymous with "lollipop". I'm against sucker tricks of that sort mostly because of that one time when I was without my kit and I had to find a creative way to vanish a lollipop, and... well... the less said of that afternoon, the better.
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Markus_M
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Absolutely right. There is nothing wrong with 'sucker tricks', it's the way they are presented. Basically every bar bet is such one. Yet with the right attitude they are perceived as friendly clever puzzles.
And then look at the shells, or 3 card Monte
Watch Pop Haydn's "3 shell exhibition" and see how entertained 'the suckers' are.
Gazzo's C&B has a sucker phase. He even calls out his 'stupid audience' and it is hilariously funny. Well, when he does it.
Mr. Woolery
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If the audience says “that’s mean,” you’ve probably chosen a sucker trick presentation that I would avoid.

Frankly, the most common routine for the ch*p cup is one I hate because the premise is that you keep making the participants wrong. I don’t like that at all. Yet, mention it and people will point to Paul Daniels and say “look, it plays.”

What works for one performer may not work for another. But if he is insulting the audience, I will lose interest fast.

Patrick
Bobby Forbes
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I think the sucker silk to egg and the die box are 2 of the best "sucker" type tricks you can do. Saying that, they are extremely fun and fooling routines. I don't think the audience will think your being rude with these types of routines unless your just being a jerk.
Ironjim
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Thanks for the replies. I appreciate the other perspective. Yes, with the right routine and presentation, I agree you can get away with and entertain your audience.

With that said, I am going to keep in mind that the effect can go wrong and ruin someone's day. and proceed with caution.
Mr. Woolery
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Markus mentions Pop Haydn. I was just thinking about him in relation to sucker routines, actually. I believe that a huge part of why he can do a routine that is entertaining, fun, and totally non-offensive where another person would be rude and inappropriate with the same routine is the Pop character he plays. He is very natural in the role, but it is also very clear that he is playing a character, performing a role. We recognize that he is playing a part of a cheat or a con man. He isn't really insulting the audience, he is playing the character of someone who is insulting the audience (not much, just a tiny bit). That's just plain fun. But if we really believed we were seeing the opinions and feelings of Mr Haydn, not those of the Pop character, it might be less fun and more insulting.

If you can find Master Payne's PEP talk about audience abuse, it is well worth watching. He talks at length about what makes a gag funny or not funny, and I think this applies very well to a sucker trick as well.


-Patrick
Markus_M
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Exactly my thinking behind that. And the reason why I called him Pop and not Whit.
Russo
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I've done many sucker effects in a row - BUT - play them as "Magic changes",or "WOW, it changed!!" not sucker effects-like "Ifooled You"-
Ironjim
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Again - I appreciate the different perspective. If you go back to the original post - the spectators reaction was "That's mean" - Those are the types effects that I was referring to. Sure playing around is one thing, but making the spectator have such a poor reaction? I don't know, I prefer the type of magic where we all have a good time. Again to each their own.
Pop Haydn
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My two favorite sucker effects:




Ironjim
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Hey Pop,

You have convinced me. Your samples were great, and a lesson on how to use the Sucker Effect correctly.

Thank you Smile
Pop Haydn
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Thanks, Ironjim! I am glad it was helpful.
DaveGripenwaldt
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I tend to stay away from "sucker tricks" (defined as those approaches that, even mildly, belittle a spectator) as well as patter that does the same thing. Insulting an audience makes no sense to me...especially when it is not necessary. I have never heard a spectator complain, "I didn't like the performance; he didn't insult us enough"; (side note: I actually saw a spectator helping an insult-humor kind of Magi leave the stage. She just said, "I don't need this" and walked off. I wish more audience members would do that... it was the best part of the show).

But back to the topic...

Seinfeld did a stand up bit on not liking magician's because "...they make you feel stupid. Like, where's the coin? Boom you're an idiot....is this your card? You're an idiot..." etc. That's his take, of course, but enough people laughed at the bit to make me suspect a lot of them take magic performances like that.

Vernon was not a fan of sucker presentations. His solution was to tell the story in the 3rd person. So instead of directly doing 3 card monte to a spectator so they are the one who is wrong, he'd tell the story how he saw a monte tosser and this is what he saw, etc. That way all the same moves can be made without the sting of the "nope, wrong again", which Seinfeld loved so much.

I agree some people can get away with sucker-type effects. like Pop, and more power to them. But for me, I prefer not to be anything but gracious to people who are taking the time to watch me.
Wizard of Oz
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Like any style of routine, it's finding the right persona to present the magic with confidence and still respect the audience. We've all seen insult comedians who are pitiful little bullies, and yet the late great Don Rickles had a lovable demeanor about him that gave him carte blanche with insults.

In the same vein, Pop Haydn's character is the perfect likable snake oil salesman, who fools you, but somehow makes you feel like you're part of the family verses a victim.

I like your Vernon reference DaveGripenwaldt! I'm certainly not The Professor, but I do like performing sucker-type effects in the third person. I then become the "mark," not my spectators. I'm simply retelling a story that happened to me, and letting them enjoy me being fooled.

We can share wonder and invite our audience to feel empowered, or we can seek merely to fool and hope to empower ourselves. I like the first choice.
Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Russo
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True -Self, being surprized or 'its magic' is better than 'ha ha I fooled you'
Dick Oslund
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Hi!

The 'sucker' die box, was one of the early sucker trick, and yes, it was a SUCKER TRICK. When I was a beginner, as a 14 year old (in the mid '40s) I had a die box, and, yes, I did it as a SUCKER TRICK. Fortunately, I realized fairly soon, that, to be a successful ENTERTAINER, it was necessary to be ENTERTAINING!!!!! I cut the die box out of the 'act'. I realized that LAUGHS were more important than YELLING.

About 25 years ago,the late Karrell Fox and, I were talking about sucker tricks, and, the manner in which far too many magicians presented them.

We agreed that one should present a 'sucker' trick in what we called a 'soft sucker" presentation.

I do a soft sucker presentation to open my 45 minute show, and, it gets a BIG LAUGH, and a 'BIG MITT' (applause) at the end.

Several years ago, I wrote a 400 page book on my life in magic (70 years) I have mailed copies all over the WORLD. One of the things that I discuss, is SUCKER TRICKS.

I suggest that you PM me, and, we will talk in more detail.
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