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Topic: Impromptu - 'but' parlour type situation!
Message: Posted by: mrsmiles (Jul 24, 2006 08:51AM)
I think I've noticed that the threads here on impromtu magic seem to assume a close up situation on the whole. I am indeed a close up magician myself but I was at a close relative's BBQ party on Sunday and there were about 18 people there. I didn't really fancy doing or carrying any magic (I was in shorts and a T.Shirt - its hot here now) so I just took a deck of cards ith me as I guessed one or two people would ask me for a close up trick. Anyway, Unexpectedly, the host said 'do you want to perform to everyone?' I declined!! I've regretted this. What should I/Could I have done? Please bear in mind everyone stayed in the garden the whole time so visibility is an issue. I guess this might be akin to a parlour type situation though people would have been spaced out further away than most parlours.
Message: Posted by: Eva (Jul 24, 2006 09:45AM)
Here is what I would have done...but bear in mind that everyone has different skill sets and would do something different in that situation.

1)Obtain some sort of working surface...garden table or chair, or even an upturned cardboard box.

2)Ball up some napkins and do a sponge ball type routine with them. Ask for a volunteer and do some 'in the specs' hands' spongeball stuff. Two in the hand, one in the pocket (assuming your shorts have pockets).

3)Borrow a cigarette and lighter and do vanishes, reproductions, transpositions, etc. If the lighter has a symbol or picture on one side, you are set to do some visual magic with that to.

4)Ball routine using small stones from the garden.

5)Borrow some coins and do Han Ping Chien coins across using the table or chair as a surface.

6)Cellini's ungimmicked ball routine using a balled up napkin or small rock.

It is in the "shorts and T-shirt at a BBQ" situation that you need your sleights to be in top-notch order.

Good luck next time you are in such a situation!

Message: Posted by: Jaz (Jul 24, 2006 10:13AM)
I've declined with little regret. After all, I'm a guest and just want to socialize and eat.

However, the next time I was a guest at a BBQ I brought the Kundalini Rising thing, a loaded TT for a bill switch and other possibles, Jay Scott Berry's rainbow "Eclipse", a dollar size U.S. penny, some half dollars, a shoelace, 2 metal washers and a couple of elastic bands. No real problem when wearing shorts and a T-shirt. I knew I could borrow a deck of cards from the host.
There were about 25-30 people. I didn't do parlor type magic but rather table to table work that was visible by anyone sitting or standing a few feet away. I had an especially good time clowning around with the kids.

Now back to the question as to what you could have done.
What was available or could have been borrowed for some impromptu magic?
At BBQs I've attended I always see opaque plastic and paper cups, bowls, and utensils both plastic and metal, paper napkins, cherry tomatoes and other veggie and junk food snacks among other things.

Besides the cards you carried how about these for a larger group.
"Benson Bowl" routine with veggie loads?
"Cups & Olives/Napkin Balls"?
Over the head "Paper Balls"?
Torn and restored napkins?
Coins to Cup ala "Coins to Glass"?

At a bachelor party, as a guest, I actually borrowed a shoelace and wedding band and did a stand up ring and string routine.
At another beer bash I stole some cigarettes from a box, later I asked for a cigarette from the guy and went into a Chanin routine that Frank Garcia labelled "Cigarama" which produces five cigs.

As a guest I wouldn't really do too much unless I'm prepared and in the mood.
My opinion is that table hopping and strolling is better for BBQs than trying to do a parlor type show. This gives the opportunity to repeat the tricks.

Best to ya,
Message: Posted by: mrunge (Jul 24, 2006 10:18AM)
With the deck of cards, you could have done "Gemini Twins" which kills and plays to a larger crowd. We have done that effect in our club shows to a room full of people.

Another effect that I enjoy is called "Vernon's Variant", by Dai Vernon, found in his book, "Ultimate Secrets of Card Magic." With this effect, you can include up to 12 other people in a "do as I do" effect...and guess what, they can't do as you do! It is a blast.

If you know a couple of mentalism effects, then you could play them to large crowds and angles are not a problem.

Good luck thinking about effects that work in this particular environment. Your magic will definitely grow as a result.
Message: Posted by: Eva (Jul 24, 2006 01:15PM)

Borrow someone's ring and a piece of string and do a routine with them.
Message: Posted by: Cory Gallupe (Jul 24, 2006 01:54PM)
On 2006-07-24 09:51, mrsmiles wrote:
I think I've noticed that the threads here on impromtu magic seem to assume a close up situation on the whole. I am indeed a close up magician myself but I was at a close relative's BBQ party on Sunday and there were about 18 people there. I didn't really fancy doing or carrying any magic (I was in shorts and a T.Shirt - its hot here now) so I just took a deck of cards ith me as I guessed one or two people would ask me for a close up trick. Anyway, Unexpectedly, the host said 'do you want to perform to everyone?' I declined!! I've regretted this. What should I/Could I have done? Please bear in mind everyone stayed in the garden the whole time so visibility is an issue. I guess this might be akin to a parlour type situation though people would have been spaced out further away than most parlours.

Well, 18 people isn't that many. I would have done a stand-up/ parlor type card trick if that's all I have. Unless all the card tricks you do are twisting aces, stuff where the cards have to be on a table, (triupmh, ace assembly, etc.) Then you probably could have done something. Ambitios card, some high impact, visual, easy to see stuff. I'm sure looking back you can see lots of stuff you could have done.
You just have to take a look at your props, mainly the stuff that you bring with you at parties, and look at what works for different situation. Then you should be able to perform in almost ANY situation, on the spot.
I can perform for maybe close to 20 minutes and not bore people with just the stuff in my Pro Carrier. But that sometimes varies. Like I said, look through your stuff, and write down what you can do with what.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Jul 24, 2006 02:24PM)
18 is still close up situation. IF they are that close and such it really isn't as if they are all seated in a "parlor" situation.
Message: Posted by: Lee Darrow (Jul 25, 2006 07:12AM)
18 people is what I would call a formal close up situation, not full parlour work.

Impromptu with nothing but a deck of cards and my trusty TT and some rubberbands... OH BABY!!

Use a TV tray table, bring up two people to sit on either side of it as helper/volunteers.

Borrow about 6 quarters and do Han Ping Chien coins through the table. Follow up with coins through the napkin (Ammar).

Ball up some napkins and do Slydini's Flight of the Paper Balls.

and then show the second guy just HOW easy it is to fool someone who KNOWS how it works (use the TT) and now the first person doesn't feel so bad!

OR do a salt vanish (TT) and passe passe salt.

$100 bill switch (use a $20 and a $1 - this way, you stand less chance of getting mugged on the way to your car after the party).

Cash Ladder (Harlan)

CMH (Harlan)

Rubber Band Through Thumb (Rindflisch)

Ring that goes UP an incline on a rubberband - Harlan videos (I don't remember the name of inventor, sorry)

Cards across (Zens or Daley)

Ambitious Card Routine (Daryl)

Card to Forehead or Under Drink (Andrucci or Eason)

Cards to Pocket (Vernon)

Dual Selection (Jennings/Malone) with deck vanish at the end

That's a full show, right there, but not necessarily in the completely correct order of appearance of effects, obviously.

Lee Darrow, C.H.
Message: Posted by: mrsmiles (Jul 28, 2006 02:41PM)
These replies are so hepful, and I'm kicking myself for not doing it. But somehow I just got a mental block and panicked because it was some fairly close family as well as strangers.
Another reason I didn't perform is that I'm one of the few magicians that's never learnt the cups and balls, so that was out. I'd better goddam learn it! (I'm exclaiming in American, even though I'm a Brit).
However I have learnt some of the things several of you suggest - eg. the torn and restored tissue paper - haven't done it for about 5 years but could've / should've busked it perhaps. Could've/should've done ACR as a close up man its one of my standard effects!!! Why the hell didn't I THINK!! Could have done card in pocket as well as I have a good version.
Another top tip from Lee (everyone's tips were excellent) was to arrange 2 seats at the front and made sure I had 2 people up for pretty much everything. Someone else's tip was to do some mentalism with the centre tear. Guess what, I only started learning it last month! It's not hard but stopped as I was busy.
Finally as mrunge says "Good luck thinking about effects that work in this particular environment. Your magic will definitely grow as a result." This situation has made me think as well as kick myself.
Message: Posted by: mrunge (Jul 28, 2006 03:13PM)
See??? You're growing already. Now that you know what happened (mental block), you'll definitely be ready the next time.

Don't be too hard on yourself. It happens to everyone and it was just your turn.

Now, back to practicing! Let's see...where did I put that...

Mark. :stuckinbag:
Message: Posted by: Eva (Jul 28, 2006 03:18PM)
Next time, you will be ready, MrSmiles!
Message: Posted by: Kent Wong (Jul 28, 2006 03:21PM)
I don't understand why you would feel bad about declining. This is what I call the "Trained Monkey" syndrome. Someone asks the enthusiastic magician to perform a trick and he jumps as high and as often as the spectators want. I've never adhered to the adage that a magician should be prepared to perform 24/7. As the performer, you have the right to dictate when and where you choose to perform.

I applaud your original response and the response that Jaz made. When you either don't feel like it's the right time to perform or if you simply don't want to, politely decline the request. But if you're ready to perform, go out and slay them!

As for the original post, there are effects that can play towards a larger-type crowd. All you need to do is watch one or two street performers and you'll get what I mean. Card prediction effects, with multiple card selections can play fairly big. Paper balls over the head, using nothing but a roll of toilet paper, can get huge reactions.

Message: Posted by: Lee Darrow (Jul 30, 2006 09:28PM)
Thanks for the kind words. They are much apprecisted. And don't worry about having a freeze happen, either - it happens to everyone, sooner or later. Now that you have had yours, you are already taking steps to prevent it from ever happening again, which is the mark of a professional!

Good for you and good for magic!

I also have to agree with the post on the "trained monkey" syndrome. This CAN be a trap, but it can also be an opportunity, depending on the situation and the people involved. If some of the people in the crowd are NOT family, but are strangers to you, you may well miss an opportunity for some serious self promotion by turning down the opportunity.

Some will disagree and they could have just as valid an argument, but, for myself, I got one of my biggest corporate gigs from just such a gathering. The ONE person there who was not a family member or who had married into the family was a friend of a distant cousin. And HE was a vice-president of a large oil company. Get the picture?

Lee Darrow, C.H.
Message: Posted by: mrsmiles (Aug 11, 2006 09:50AM)
Been kinda busy... I've reflected on everything above now and have taken to deciding on the following strategy after all your advice and comments. I'm trying to credit the advisor below. Forgive me if I miss anyone out.
1. Get a table (or upturned box) and 2 chairs for specs at front. (Lee & Eva)
2. Napkins:
i) Torn & Restored (Jazz)
ii)Sponge type routine with balled napkins (Eva)
3. Stiring Silver by Jay Sankey (my idea)
(poss add ring and string (Eva)
4. Cards:
Vernon's Variant (mrunge), ACR (Lee, Cory) Cards Across (Lee) Card to Pocket (Lee)
5. Salt vanish/TT (Lee)
6. Bill switch/TT (Lee)
7. Mentalism (mrunge). I'll utilise CT and one ahead principle
8. Salt shaker or glass through table wrapped by napkin (my idea, but inspired by you guys mentioning salt shaker!)
To do all the above impromptu all I need is a pack of cards and a TT - it is reasonable to expect everything else is obtainable 'on site'. I may as well get into the habit of always carrying them both PLUS either an ID or 3in1 deck for the tossed out deck in which case I'd add whichever one of those I'm carrying to the list above. (I like John Archer's new dvd idea for the deck switch). On the 'performing monkey' debate may I say as an experienced close up performer I agree with magicman to a degree - I wouldn't perform for free when not feeling like it to everyone. However in this instance I had something to gain performing professionally to perform out front and feel I should have done it as I don't have much stage/parlour/cabaret experience. Therefore I feel I should have taken this opportunity. It would have been valuable in that way.
Thanks again for everyone's kind and helpful advice. Everyone was great on this thread and really encouraging. I've noticed some of you are fairly prolific contributors and give consistently great advice - so a second thank you for that too.
Message: Posted by: mrunge (Aug 11, 2006 04:08PM)
Hi Mrsmiles,

Well...it looks like you have certainly given some thought to what took place. Now you have it figured out "for the next time."

Thanks for summarizing the above. It is a fantastic list of effects for one to consider. With those listed above, you would have great magic show if you wanted to perform it all.

Good luck with your magic. Mark. :)
Message: Posted by: Eva (Aug 11, 2006 05:01PM)
Looks like you have thought it out!! Let us know if you get a chance to implement all the ideas.
Message: Posted by: SIX (Aug 28, 2006 03:04PM)
I feel the two strongest and most entertaining things you could have done, are

Paper Balls over the head and Card on forehead you could have a lot of fun with that, also Cards acroos..Three effects not to hard and very entertaining which could play for teh largest of audiances.
Message: Posted by: Lee Darrow (Aug 28, 2006 04:10PM)
NEVER underestimate the salt shaker through the table and the ashes to palm trick. The late, great Heba Haba Al (Andrucci, not to be confused with Tony ANDRUZZI), made a worldwide reputation with that trick, usinf an eyebrow pencil and a sugar cube instead of ashes.

It KILLED everyone who saw it and he managed to get the person's initial onto at least four people before he started revealing the fact that he had "done the work!"

And then the fun would really start, but that routine was a bit ... mature ... for some audiences...!

I miss the little gnome. He was a true master and had the BEST classic force I have ever seen - the only ones coming close to his being Max Maven and Charlie Schulien, who could do it behind his back. Literally.

Lee Darrow, C.H.
Message: Posted by: Matt Malinas (Sep 14, 2006 07:11AM)
I won't say what you could have done , I will tell you what I did in the same kind of situation.
there were probably a little less people when I performed at a BBQ.
the host asked me when I arrived if I would be kind enough to do a small magic act for the rest of the guests.i accepted and went to eat and have a drink so I could figure out what I would do.(i had nothing on me).
it all lasted for maybe 20min.
I did 3 card routines ,a coins across routine in the spec hands(m Ammar) and Sh4de by daniel garcia on a table.the ractions were very nice and people started opening beer cans.so I did sinful for one of the ladies there and she absolutely loved it.freaked a little while studying the can afterwards.i realized that there was a guy who people tended to make fun of so I took advantage of that (maybe that was a little cruel but trust me it was worth it and he loved it as well). I did the paper balls over the head ala Slydini.the guests were very entertained and after the routine I let him in on the secret and he was very amused.because of the great reactions I had after this routine I decided to end it there.i planned on doing some more stuff after that but I found it to have been a good closer.

Message: Posted by: Lee Darrow (Sep 17, 2006 12:33AM)
Just some other things that would fit into this situation:

Vernon's Impromptu Cups & Balls (Stars of Magic)

Carlysle's Watch Steal (Stars of Magic)

Ring, String & Wand - Jim Ryan (use a straw or a pencil for the wand)

Snapping a knot in a rope - use a shoelace

Oho! - Okito - use a shoelace of a ribbon from a giftbox if it's someone's birthday (Okito On Magic)

Equivoque. Borrow 5 items and use your business card to write the prediction on

Chink-a-Chink - use bottle caps

T & R napkin. Obvious

In fact, get a copy of the Stephen's Magic DVD "Table Crap" video by Jay Marshall. It's mostly from the now-out-of-print Encyclopedia of Impromptu Magic and has LOTS of stuff on it for situations like this.

Lee Darrow, C.H.
Message: Posted by: tecumilic (Jul 20, 2018 04:06PM)
A deck of cards works and is visible for 18 peapole.
Message: Posted by: funsway (Jul 26, 2018 05:09AM)
A lot of things have changed in the 12 years since the other posts on this thread.

The acceptance of a deck of cards as "normal" for one thing, the expectations of many people about card tricks for another.
Finding 18 people not on a cell phone is another. The concept of "entertain me" is critical.

One might question whether using a deck of cards is "impromptu" or even "magic," but "at a moment's notice"
does call for some to be prepared. Good for you is you are. (and welcome to the Café)

You reviving this thread does take me to the question, "if you ever have 18 people paying rapt attention to what you are doing, what are you prepared to do?" - "If you desire to get the rapt attention of 18 people, would you do a magic trick or something else?"
Message: Posted by: magicianbrady (Mar 17, 2019 06:50PM)
I have been at that situation where I went to the client's company and he suddenly asked me to perform. I did digital force bag by nick einhorn and social prediction by debjit magic
Message: Posted by: Magic Life (Jun 29, 2019 11:27AM)
Its so thoughtful right.. the post was started at 2006. Now the present time is june 2019, still this post is being read by many magicians..

Thinking this itself gives a magical feel.

Do you agree with what I said. :)
Message: Posted by: BradenCarlisle (Sep 26, 2019 02:51AM)
Digital force bag is a super fun impromptu tool. You can pair it with so many different kinds of revelations. It's so fun!
Message: Posted by: Silversleights04 (Dec 4, 2019 03:58PM)
It's good that the OP was reflecting on his regret and this topic brought up a lot of great discussion on being pressured to perform! I wanted to add my 2 cents to this revived thread for a second to reiterate how important it is that we all remember that it's our right to say NO to a performance!

I certainly agree with other posts regarding the "trained monkey" analogy, but I actually think it's more of the mentality that our regular spectators adopt, not us. Students that do magic at school for class mates will get caught in this loop because they tend to see and perform for the same people at the same time regularly. They grow to expect magic when they see you. Same with "office magicians". If you're around the same people long enough and you do magic for them often enough, eventually (if not immediately) they'll feel comfortable asking you to do something when they want to see it.
Don't get me wrong, I love to perform my magic, my closest friends all know this and will often ask to see somethings when they invite me places, or when we're waiting on something else. I'll usually do something new I want to try, or something old in a new way, but I don't always oblige them just because they asked. Sometimes I'll do a gag or joke or even straight-up pantomime like I'm doing an effect and do nothing at all. It's still funny for them and reminds them that I'm not a trained monkey, but I can still be entertaining company to keep. :-)

I feel like when you always perform magic "on command", it becomes less organic and by extension less magical each time, more like any other skill or talent you can watch on Youtube when you're bored. It's like your buddy Mike that plays guitar or Dave who can do impressions. Both impressive and entertaining skills in their own right, but certainly not as astonishing or magical (no offense fellas). Magic is absolutely a talent and a skill, but I think it's up to the magician to keep it special and from being viewed as "just another skill."

The real problem is when people know your tendencies and start taking advantage of it for free entertainment. It's fun and feels great to perform because people want to see you do your thing. What kills that feeling for me is being put in a position where I'm suddenly (and occasionally very publicly) called on to do a full routine and entertain someone else's guests just because the host didn't plan for any entertainment of their own... That's not fun for me and it makes me feel like you might have even planned to use me that way. I've told friends no in those situations and some have even acted really insistent and demanding about it, that's when you see who your friends really are.

Just my thoughts!