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Topic: A Guaranteed Way to Make a Reputation in Magic
Message: Posted by: Brad Burt (Mar 25, 2003 09:12PM)
Some time ago I set about to gather all the best material I could find on doing truly Impromptu Magic. The reason was simple and since I don't plan on actually finishing what I started (in this case), I offer it to you in hopes that someone will realize what I believe has the potential to make someone a household name in magical entertainment.

Here's the concept: An act that uses ONLY props, etc. that can be borrowed at the show venue. Period. No gimmicks at all or perhaps very, very few. Perhaps a thumb tip, but I don't want the concept to get to far a field. Perhaps only gimmicks that will then be used to ACT upon items, borrowed, etc.

Think of the power and EFFECT that you could have when you really get your chops down. Now, combine your magic skill with a pleasing personality able to be both humorous and serious. Man you could write your own ticket. THINK, in one sense this would BE what people REALLY expect a magician to be! Walk in and without any 'funny props' you take the audience apart.

Now, a story to illustrate why I came up with this idea: Billy McComb, my vote for one of the 10 best magicians of any kind of all time used to work cruise ships. His reputation maker? He worked a LOT of international cruises and there might be folks from 5-15 different countries on board. He was able to put ANY COIN FROM ANY COUNTRY given to him into a borrowed bottle! Think of that.

There is the basis. You walk into any venue and produce magic with what is there. Easy? No, I don't think so and there may be only a handful of folks in the world that could pull it off. I would love to see someone give it a try or find out that someone has realized my dream already!

Take care and all the best,
Brad Burt
Message: Posted by: BIlly James (Mar 25, 2003 10:58PM)
Well I love that idea, it would be an incredible act, not to mention easy to lug in and out.

I once toyed with the idea that in my close up act everything should be produced at the beginning and vanished at the end, why should I need to rummage around in pockets.
It didn't go past the drawing board unfortunately.

Anyway, your idea has definitely got me a-thinkin' Brad, thank you.
Message: Posted by: Great Domino (Mar 26, 2003 05:07PM)
That's an awful lot of different folding coins Mr. McComb had there. No? Anywho, to answer your question, I think Jay Sankey could pull it off.
Message: Posted by: Brad Burt (Mar 26, 2003 07:08PM)
Yes, Billy had a special case for loading the proper folding coin into his hand, etc.

Jay Sankey was one of the guys I had in mind along with Tom Mullica. Not just because they both published excellent videos on Impromptu magic, but they both fill out the other parts of the profile also.

Brad Burt
Message: Posted by: dillib (Mar 27, 2003 05:26AM)
Wow, this really seems to be like preparing to be unprepared! :) But isn't that what impromptu magic is about? Hmm..
Message: Posted by: Feral Chorus (Mar 27, 2003 03:52PM)
I have a booklet called the "Challenge Magic Act" that outlines an act in which the magician will do a trick with any object any member of the audience might have on them. This booklet was $4.00 from Daytona Magic.

The act does call for the magician to have a small box of props, so one does not just start empty handed. Still, the notes do provide a small primer on how to be prepared for almost anything the audience can throw (not literally) at you.
Message: Posted by: Steven Steele (Mar 27, 2003 06:10PM)
The manuscript that Feral is referring to is an act that was developed by none other than UF Grant. I bought it many moons ago and it is dated, but the potential is there. An incredible act is just waiting to be born from this seed. I use parts of it today, but have never fully incorporated the full intent that Grant put into the original act.

Message: Posted by: John Smetana (Mar 27, 2003 07:17PM)
The Grant manuscript is indeed a much over looked work. The potential, especially for publicity, is enormous. It would be especially interesting if someone.. perhaps a reporter.. or ???, would suggest you perform magic with something really unusual. As long as you picked a slow newsday, I'm sure you could generate a lot of media coverage.

Many thanks to Brad for resurrecting this idea. It is a good one.

Best thoughts,
John Smetana :kewl:
Message: Posted by: Mysticated (Mar 29, 2003 10:51AM)
That is an outstanding idea! I have actually been thinking along those same lines in order to be less burdened when I walk around.
Message: Posted by: Bill (Mar 30, 2003 09:05AM)
This is something that's been on my mind for awhile. Why is it that, in comedy, there are comedians that are "improvisational", like Robin Williams, Jonathon Winters, etc. Why are there no improvisational magicians? Is it because we are taught tricks, and the necessary sleights to accomplish them, rather than techniques and their applications to a variety of objects? Wouldn't that perspective result in more spontaneous effects? :confused:
Message: Posted by: Feral Chorus (Apr 1, 2003 08:55AM)
Robin Williams puts in a lot of time and work to achieve his "improvisational" appearance. Similarly, an improvisational magician would have to be well prepared to look spontaneous. The appearance of spontaneity in performance ultimately should heighten the impact of the effects much like a comic's improv should heighten the audience's appreciation of the comic's skill.
Message: Posted by: DADE (Apr 9, 2003 06:58AM)
Yeah,I love the idea. Great thinking, Brad.

DADE. :bikes:
Message: Posted by: Andrew E. Miller (Apr 10, 2003 08:21PM)
I always wanted to do that Brad. Do a gig with nothing on me! I have seen some "TRULY" impromptu magic tricks such as: Stirring Silver (Jay Sankey), Tenkai Pennies (Tenkai), etc. I wish there were more of these tricks. I think Greg Wilson has stuff like that too. Maybe...

Message: Posted by: indianajones (Apr 10, 2003 10:00PM)
I think between Jay Sankey and Greg Wilson, they could put an act together.
Message: Posted by: DoctorAmazo (Apr 11, 2003 08:25AM)
On "another" magic forum there was a challenge thread where one participant would list two or three common (and borrowable) items. The others would come up with effects, or whole routines, that could be done with them. Sort of a brainstorm/sessioning thing.

Then someone else would propose a new list of items. (But then, how many times can you *do* TIHOIP in one night...) :lol:
Message: Posted by: MacGyver (Apr 14, 2003 02:59AM)
Are you refering to MagicSports, DoctorAmazo?

I think, in the food for thought section, there is a thread about magicsports, a drama/theater game that has been adapted to Magicians. It's kind of like magic improv; the patter is made up, and the points don't matter.
Message: Posted by: DoctorAmazo (Apr 14, 2003 12:14PM)
Nope. This was just theoretical--online.

Only electrons were harmed...
Message: Posted by: Uli Weigel (Apr 14, 2003 08:12PM)
The one thing I did along these lines was writing up a list of things that would most probably be available in certain places, like living rooms, kitchens, restaurant tables, at the beach etc. It is quite an extensive list. Then I was searching my literature for effects that use these props or effects that can be modified. I learned a couple of mnemonic effects (Knights Tour, calendar calculating and stuff like that)and, because for these effects you only need a piece of paper and a pen.
Anyway, I think such a prop list is a good starting point for impromptu work.
Message: Posted by: Turk (Apr 17, 2003 10:31AM)
As part of this impromptu, I would recommend "carrying" the following effects in your head (In my case you start with an empty head and end with an empty head):

1. Doug Dyment's "Mindsight" manuscript. In it, memorize 1, 2 or 3 of the 52 4X4 magic square templates (depending on how many times you might wish to repeat the effect) and you are ready to perform a magic square of the spectator's selected number.

2. Doug Dyment's "Sign Language" (reveal a spectator's astrological sign).

3. Richard Busch's "Number...Please?" manuscript. Two particularly impromptu effects would be "Reversal of Fortune" (mindreading the resulting number) and "In Search of the Unknown Force" (prediction of a number, force of a number). Note: these effects, PROPERLY performed, are not the usual "math tricks".

Knowing these four recommended effects could easily give you a 15-30 minute act with only a pencil and piece of paper (or less).

Message: Posted by: Barryn Vaughn (Apr 17, 2003 11:46AM)
I had two gigs booked for the same day and left my "bag o tricks" at the first event. Upon arrival to 2nd gig... I was at first frantic, It forced me to call upon all of my past resources & knowledge. Having learned many "bar-bets" and from the few items the client" provided me, (salt shaker, napkins, straws, glass, etc.) I was able to blend the bar stunts with magic and orchestrate a full 90 minute program that blew me away as well as my audience. Sometimes we know more than we think we know and unless a situation is
"forced" we will never grow in this
"creative craft" :dance:
Message: Posted by: Marc Levine (Apr 27, 2003 11:45PM)
Anyone who masters the effects on Gregory Wilson's On the spot tapes should have no trouble pulling this off. Thanks to Greg, his material has gotten me out of a pinch on several occasions. My favorites...his coins across with 3 borrowed quarters and recap.
Message: Posted by: Great Domino (Apr 30, 2003 04:41PM)
The main rule is to befriend the audience. By making friends and gathering their names, you really stand out. Imagine, they know you probably meet 100's of people every night but yet you remember their name. WOW! That seems like a pretty good trick in itself. Quite a reputation maker too.
Message: Posted by: Review King (May 1, 2003 10:46AM)
Always carry a TT. Get Gary Darwin's booklet and you can perform miracles 'impromptu'.

I think we forget how powerful this device is. If done/used right, it's mind blowing.

Message: Posted by: WVMAGIC (May 19, 2003 02:42PM)
Martin Gardner's Encyclopedia of Impromtu Magic would be a great resource for anyone wanting to construct such a routine. All the tricks are categorized by what object is used. The book is huge and one of my favorite magic books.
Message: Posted by: MacGyver (May 29, 2003 04:45AM)
Hmmm it's really late and night and this has me thinking.

Doesn't all this improvisational magic somewhat heighten the "challenge" part of magic and not the entertainment part?

It just occured to me that a big reason that we would make an act out of borrowed items and give a improvisational show would be to increase the odds that we fail, or make it more impossible what we are doing, but not really more entertaining.

Creating an act out of this goes beyond being prepared, it just adds to the odds that you will fail, which would just turn the act into a challege type effect.

I am probably reading into it too much, but I think that if you are going to goto a show, you may as well bring props that you know 100% will be entertaining rather than risking someone doesn't have the needed thing for your closing effect. It would be much harder to routine when you don't know what you will be performing for sure.

I know i'm making a mountain out of a molehill but while you should be prepared, making an entire routine from it just seems to be ignoring a huge supply of entertaining props!
Message: Posted by: djvirtualreality (Jul 5, 2003 10:18PM)
I'm well known for my two card transposition, or my 2 card monte.
Message: Posted by: martyk (Jul 8, 2003 12:14AM)
Hands down, Mike Skinner could have. I thing today, Wilson (?) of On The Spot Video probably could; very gifted, knows every sleight around, a zillion effects, and can probably improvise like crazy.
(I hate the Caps lock)
Marty K :hamburger:
Message: Posted by: MagicDiva (Jul 8, 2003 08:32PM)
WOW I can almost smell the brain cells burning on this topic! That would be an incredible act! The one guy I can see pulling it off would also be Gregory Wilson!

-Amelia :pirate:
Message: Posted by: wsduncan (Jul 17, 2003 02:23AM)
In addition to Grant's "The Challenge Magic Act" you should seek out my friend Kirk Charles "Impromptu Magic or What Can You Do With This?" which was inspired by Grant's work. I self-published a short ms. called "The Edge Of The Stage" back in the 1980s based on Kirks' work.

Not to be missed is Michael Webers "Life Savers".
Message: Posted by: irossall (Jul 17, 2003 06:24AM)
Bradburt, I like your concept alot. As long as it doesn't turn into a "Challenge" type of performance. Some Magicians may like to challenge an audience (ala Houdini) but for me personaly, if I feel that someone tells me to "do a trick" I don't accept their "show me what you can do" attitude and I will show nothing, prepared or not. On the other hand if I am politely asked to show an effect and I feel that "entertainment" is the motive, then I am more than willing to show a little Magic. I don't believe that is what you had in mind, I just wanted to get this off my chest, it is something I have wanted to say for some time because I think all of us have had these challenges and I for one ONLY want to perform to entertain not prove my skills to someone who really isn't interested in Magic but is more interested in trying to expose your Magic.
-Iven :patty:
Message: Posted by: Lee Darrow (Jul 17, 2003 10:56AM)
I've actually had to do this on two occasions. One happened when my magic case was stolen from my car, the other happened when an agent called me while I was attending an event she was producing and asked if I could fill in for the performer who was scheduled - he had suddenly gotten sick.

I had to scramble, but it's amazing what you can do with some Kleenix, a martini stirrer (used like a wand for Fl!p Stick and ring on wand), a couple of rubber bands, 3 large drinking mugs, some coins, some lemons from the bar and a cloth napkin (serviette).

The blindfold using the dinner napkin played so well that the agent has booked me ever since - and that was 14 years ago!

And the Encyclopedia of Impromptu Magic and Jay Marshall's Table Cr*p video (a demo of a lot of that material) covers a LOT of this ground, extremely well.

Lee Darrow, C.Ht.
Message: Posted by: grazza (Jul 18, 2003 03:19PM)
I think the concept is a great idea, but I think the real key is in making the act look impromptu, rather than being impromptu.

Asking the audience to provide a load of random items, then constructing a series of random impromptu effects with each one would probably not be very entertaining.

Secretly manipulating the audience into providing items that fit into a pre-determined 'impromptu' act could make for an excellent theatrical presentation.
Message: Posted by: VinceMagicMan (Jul 19, 2003 11:24AM)
One thing that I carry with me all the time is Hundy 500. I am always ready for the "hey do a trick for me/us" and money gets everyone's attention - FAST! I do it with 5 - 50s, that means I always have money in a pinch too...
Message: Posted by: mrmetropolis (Aug 10, 2003 04:58AM)
On 2003-07-08 21:32, MagicDiva wrote:
WOW I can almost smell the brain cells burning on this topic! That would be an incredible act! The one guy I can see pulling it off would also be Gregory Wilson!

-Amelia :pirate:
Those weren't brain cells... I just vanished a bowl of chili. :sick:
Message: Posted by: Scott Wells (Aug 12, 2003 09:11AM)
I'm not one who is too keen on carrying around magic in my pockets (I did that during my early years in magic..."Ya wanna see a trick?" long before David Blaine popularized the drone-like phrase). But I do think that you can and should be prepared to do impromptu magic as the name implies...impromptu, or so it should seem.

First, as Slydini says, set your battleground. As I come into a restaurant, I instinctively look for opportunities. I might pick up some mints (usually picked up as people leave the restaurant, not when they come in) and use a mint as a load for "Two in the Hand, One in the Pocket." I have picked up extra beer mats and tucked them in my shirt pocket for a "Six Beer Mat Repeat" sort of trick I invented (I can send that idea to anyone who wants to PM me). Of course using the cocktail napkins opens a lot of doors (T&R Napkin, Starcle, etc.)

But my favorite is to ask the bartender for a small lime on your way to the bathroom. Prepare the lime as described in John Carney's marvelous book "Carneycopia" and wait until the moment is right for the "bill in fruit" trick (using a coffee cup). This is perhaps the ultimate impromptu trick, but don't force the trick if the timing isn't right. You might even have to scrap it altogether. How long might you have to wait? As Max Malini said, "You vait a veek."

But in my estimation, the best, most impressive impromptu trick is the "Time Machine" watch (or better still, the "Masters Time Machine"). As I have been quoted, this is as close to the Holy Grail of magic that I have found. It is a perfectly natural, fully functioning watch that you wear every day. But when the time is right (no pun intended), you are ready for a reputation maker. Truly.

So, given just those few things, you can enter the imaginations of your group and create a lifetime of memories in a few short minutes.

Scott Wells
Message: Posted by: dynamite (Aug 12, 2003 10:20PM)
I do carry coins in my pocket wherever I go, at least for park tickets. At a moment's notice, these coins come in very handy, sleights and vanishes of all sorts - no props, no gimmicks - just pure and simple coins.

All the best!