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Topic: Messed up manipulation
Message: Posted by: Austini (Mar 13, 2007 11:09PM)
Have you ever messed up a manipualtion act in front of an audience. I know practice and practice before you perform but you can never be perfect. I'm just wondering what mishaps have happened to you while performing.
Message: Posted by: Daveandrews (Mar 14, 2007 08:24AM)
I once, many years ago, spread a pack of fanning cards along my arm in preparation for a one-handed catch (left arm). Flipped them into the air and completely miss timed the whole manoeuvre, knocking the cards in various airbourne directions and them finally landing all over the stage.

Not a happy moment!


Message: Posted by: thoughtsexplorer (Mar 14, 2007 09:50AM)
Read everything that you can get about Murphy's Law.
Message: Posted by: Big Daddy Cool (Mar 14, 2007 10:07AM)
To avoid these things from happening I adhere to John Carney's advice: Less is more, and Don't run when nobody is chasing you... I'll let you decide what that means to you.
Message: Posted by: thoughtsexplorer (Mar 14, 2007 11:37AM)
On 2007-03-14 11:07, Big Daddy Cool wrote:
Don't run when nobody is chasing you...


Yep, but the line is not from Carney.
He says "...to qoute the late Al Baker:"
Message: Posted by: markis (Mar 14, 2007 12:22PM)
If you do any decent amount of shows, you will mess up. One thing to keep in mind is the audience doesn’t know what you are going to do next so if you recover somewhat gracefully or act like it was an intentional “goof” all will be well.
Message: Posted by: thoughtsexplorer (Mar 14, 2007 12:27PM)
Law of large numbers.
Message: Posted by: Ron Reid (Mar 14, 2007 12:43PM)
Hi Austini:

I agree with the advice markis has given you. I will add this to what he said: If the audience truely likes you, they will forgive and forget just about any mistake you make.

I definitely wouldn't put pressure on myself to give a perfect performance; you said it well that practice will take care of most mishaps, but just know there are sometimes when things will happen.

Good luck to you.

Message: Posted by: Darkwing (Mar 14, 2007 01:56PM)
Oh yes.

I was doing Thurston's Five Card Routine in front of an audience and on the single card productions at the end, the cards popped out of b--k p--m. So I just went ahead and produced all of the cards with my other hand. My magician buddies back stage said, "Dave, you really screwed that production up but recovered well".

Honestly, I was just lucky.

David W.
Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Mar 14, 2007 02:06PM)
People are right here. There are a few things to remember when doing any manipulative act.

One was stated already in that no on knows what is supposed to happen next. So if you learn to improv and to build "outs" into your act, you will be prepared to continue onward in the event something does not go according to plan.

Two is that nobody will really know it is a mistake unless you tell them it is a mistake. If your ovement is natural and you keep on going, no one in the audience is any the wiser that anything even happened.

Three is making sure your act is never totally dependant upon anything happening correctly before it. You need to make sure your act is built in such a way that if something does not happen (like a silk being produced) that you have a back up silk ready if you need it for the next sequence in your act.

Message: Posted by: iwillfoolu (Mar 14, 2007 03:47PM)
You need to understand that you define the performance, not the other way around. If the deck falls to the floor say "I need a card chosen in a random way..." etc. don't say "Son of a ...". It's all part of the show. And if it wasn't, it is now.

Finally think about what could go wrong...really wrong. Find ways to prevent this kind of stuff and the little stuff will mostly fall into place. For example: Having the cards fall all over the stage at the beginning of your 10 minute silent card manipulation act is very bad. Do the arm spreads at the end...

Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Mar 14, 2007 03:58PM)
I agree with joe. You need to look at your act and then think and create "outs" for the various things you know that could go wrong. If you need a particular item for your next sequence, then perhaps having a back up is an "out" that you need to set up into the act itself. It is a matter of thinking and working smart.

Message: Posted by: WagsterMagic (Mar 14, 2007 05:51PM)
I have heard of a time that ice mcdonald was performing and had to use one of his friends mccaw for his end production. Too bad the mccaw was too small for the
h****ss and climmed out during the routine, and got on top of the table.

He just took him offstage but the stage mananger was afraid of birds so he wouldn't take him. Luckely one of his students, Miss Jessica Reed got the bird from him. It was her bird.

When it came time for him to produce the bird he just flapped his wings and laughed it off.

This is how you recover from an act. You just need to laugh at yourself.

Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Mar 14, 2007 07:05PM)
That is one way. However the point of the matter is that often times you do not have to laugh at anything. In most acts remember that the audience has no idea what is really supposed to happen. If they do not know, then the only way they will ever know is if you draw attention to the fact. If you keep on going then it looks as if you meant for that to happen and that is was all a part of the act or routine.

The only way this would nbot work is if there is a blatant mistake that just spells to the audience something went wrong. In which case I would think the magician could get out of it if he or she built an out into the act in the event that that situation happens they have a way out of it or an avenue to head down.

Just food for thought.

Message: Posted by: Ron Reid (Mar 14, 2007 07:27PM)
Kyle has given excellent information, as usual! Concerning a blatant mistake: If you act flustered and upset, that will make you look amateurish. However, if it's an obvious mistake and you shrug it off with the attitude of "Oh well...I'm not going to let this get in the way of entertaining you all," then I think it's really no big deal.

I still remember a performance of Marvin Roy at the "It's Magic" show in LA many years ago. Both he and Carol had gotten food poisoning before the show (I later was able to find this out). I'm sure he wasn't in his right mind during the show, and made some obvious mistakes, but kept going and didn't let it bother him. He still pulled off a nice performance.

Message: Posted by: Daveandrews (Mar 14, 2007 07:35PM)
Just to put this back into perspective - the question was asked as to whether anything had gone wrong ie. 'messed up'. I didn't read it as a 'what to do when something goes wrong'. However .....

The follow up to my mishap was that I looked at the cards all over the floor, smiled, reached out and produced a fan of cards (a bit like dropping a single card and 'picking it up with your foot').

I knew that someday this was going to happen and I had a complete deck of Fanning cards set and ready to steal from a body load - what a misdirection!!

Best of,

Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Mar 14, 2007 08:33PM)
Boy, oh boy, does this bring back some fond memories.

I was the opening act on a convention show, and I was planning to debut a new manipulation act in which there were MANY things that could go wrong. Lots of serious manipulation, lots of precision gimmicks for load steals, etc. The act had three main parts: cards, cigarettes, and billiard balls. To myself, this was sort of a tribute to Cardini, but not a reinactment of his act, or anything. The magic was entirely different; different effects, characterization, and theme.

Ok. 30 minutes before curtain time, I am in the dressing room doing some prep work. One of my sequences during the cigarette phase involved smoke; a smoke ring that became solid and then dissipated just as quickly. I had a device in my tail coat that delivered a puff of smoke into my hand when I wanted it. It was a chemical method with ammonia and acid. This required the two different chemicals to each be loaded into separate vials with the use of a syringe.

I had used this device many times before, and always without incident. However, this time things were a bit different. Rather than loading the device, and then installing it, I had it pre-installed in the coat, because several other holders, pockets, and sundry gimmicks had to be installed over it.

Murphy's Law reared its ugly head that evening. As I was loading the vials, the syringe malfunctioned, and the acid shot out the back and all over the lining of my coat, which was laid open on a table. As, I was standing there trying to comprehend this change of plans, I am watching the lining develop little holes as the acid is eating away at it.

First thing I do is unload the towel dispenser, soak them in the sink and start blotting the coat to dilute the acid. Then I start to mop everything as dry as is possible. At best everything is damp.

Off on a bad foot already, I realize that my time to curtain is fast approaching, so I finish loading my props and head toward the stage.

Assuming I will be going on in a matter of minutes, I try to compose myself and just calm down. One of my friends, another act on the bill senses something wrong,because I am usually not nervous before a show. It must have showed, so I explained the situation. Sympathetic reaction of course, with an encouraging, "Everything will be fine."

This is until the MC, whose job should be to get the first act onstage, went over 20 minutes. Meanwhile, the moisture inside the coat is beginning to soak through my shirt and I am now starting to feel the burn of acid on my skin. The worse this got,the more I sweated, and the moister things under my coat got, including cards, cigarettes, and matches... all paper items. Conveniently these were all loaded on the same side where the spill and all the moisture was.

Thinking I was going to be walking onstage in the next few seconds prevented me from leaving the area, but the MC kept going, and going. He was not aware of my situation.

When I finally walked onstage, I got just a short ways into the act and realized that all these paper props were disintegrating on me. Cards that fanned beautifully at home, were handling like glued up hunks of wood. Cigarettes were falling apart and jamming up the droppers. Matches were not lit when produced. Silks were badly wrinkled. Life pretty much sucked for me at that moment.

To make matters a bit worse, the act had been carefully timed to a music track, with specific things happening in sync with the music. That did not happen.

I remember praying that I would get to the billiard ball phase, because the balls were all on the opposite side, where things were dry. The act finsihed ok, even preceeded by several minutes of dismal failure.

So... this may not be the worst that can happen in a manipulation act, but I bet it beats a lot of them!

Lesson learned: Murphy is REAL!

Wisdom gained: I no longer take myself so seriously. I have learned to have fun in spite of the world's best attempts to stop me.

Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Mar 14, 2007 08:38PM)

That is a perfect example of carrying on as if nothing happened at all and also a great example of always being prepared with an "out". Nice job.

I do understand the original question was posed as what mishaps have happened to you while on stage doing a manip act. I think we can continue to list the mistakes and mishaps that happened but I think also the importance of this thread could be in not only learning what went wrong, but also listing how and why it went wrong and how we can or did get out of the situation.

As Dave just listed, he listed the problem that happened and how he himself addessed it. I think by showing both the mishap and the solution will better benefit us all. This way we can learn from each others mistakes and gain more information we can apply to our own manipulative acts.

One problem I had in an act was that I was supposed to do a toss vanish. The idea was to look as if I tossed the ball up and it vanishes in the air. The problem was that the ball slipped in my hand and actually went airborn. Not sure why I did this but I had a white silk rolled and set as a load and I just instinctively grabbed it as the ball was in mid air, as the ball cane down in my hand I let the white silk cascade out. The audience went nuts. What was supposed to be one thing ended up in a very happy accident. I now perform it this way all the time. It looks like a very nice ball to silk transition.


Message: Posted by: Marvello (Mar 14, 2007 09:50PM)
At last years Michigan Magic Day Professor Gene Anderson had a heck of a time, but he still put on a great show that everyone enjoyed - his show tech power supply broke prior to going on, he cut his clippo wrong, his torn and restored newspaper ended up being a torn and TRANSFORMED newspaper (it was a different paper), and a harness he was wearing got caught up in his suspenders. Nevertheless, it was a very entertaining show, and everyone really enjoyed it due to Gene's great showmanship and personality. It happens to everyone, so be prepared for the eventuality. A true pro can recover from even the worst mistakes, and still put on an enjoyable show.
Message: Posted by: Austini (Mar 14, 2007 10:20PM)
Thank you all for these wonderful stories. I love the one you wrote Michael, it was sad and funny at the same time. Two nights ago I was doing my jumbo coin manipulation routine and I did my tenkai vansih and slipped out of tenkai palm, it was very embarassing but thankfully noone saw it in my hand. The coin actually just slipped from the tenkai palm but didn't fall.
Message: Posted by: Ron Reid (Mar 15, 2007 11:40AM)
Speaking of major mishaps, I remember one where I couldn't go on. This happened about 20 years ago. I had a large cylinder/table where I threw all of my items as I finished with them - I had silk display fans from Japan and a Silk King Studios Blendo in that can. I also had two Harakhan Canes and a couple other items.

I got to the part of my act where I did a little bit of cigarette manipulation and had a fickle fire cigarette pack where the pack lit on fire and I used it to light the cigarette. I then closed the lid of the pack, extinguishing the flame. I then would toss the pack into my canister along with all my other stuff.

Well, one night I guess I was extra careless and didn't close the pack all the way when I tossed it in the canister. I was doing a linking ring routine when I looked over and saw smoke billowing out like a chimney. My keen mind immediately figured what had gone wrong. The only thing to do was take a bow, grab the canister and walk quickly off stage. I think everyone knew a mistake had been made.

All my items were burned up, but the manager at the restaurant where I was working gave me $100.00 to help with the costs of replacements. That's the part I remember the most - the kindness of the manager.

Message: Posted by: kregg (Mar 15, 2007 07:10PM)
Chances are the audience doesn't realize it's not a part of your show. The best make the best out of their mistakes and work through it.