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Topic: And all our yesterdays have lighted fools?
Message: Posted by: Happy Hank (Aug 19, 2010 01:39AM)
Capehart-sillybilly-capehart-sillybilly-capehart-sillybilly-, UGH!!!!

As a new guy here and a casual observer of your kids' forum, I just want to get a few things off my chest.

I've noticed that people here go lady gaga over kid performers Silly Billy and Chris Capehart. First, What irks me is that no one ever mentions their mentor/teacher Presto Johnston. I do not have a fincial stake (unlike other people who hawk their products here) in his lecture dvd, but please contact the Deleware ring as they are still trying to raise money for his headstone. You'll See kidshow-performer-chris uses the SAME jokes, gags, and some tricks as him. I've never seen Silly Billy perform but I bet dollars to dounuts he's cut from the cloth of presto. I just wish people would give credit where credit is due.

Second, what even makes me even more mental here is how people bow down to the British kid performers here. look, (most) British performs _ARE_ better than Americans because the British people do not coddle children like in america, actually I think kids there are boardline unloved when they used to be sent off to boarding school far away from loving parents, why else are those AWFUL 2 hour parties so popular? I think they crave an adult's attention.

Finally, While children are the same across the spectrum, they are not the same culturally. You know where in the world has the **BEST** children entertainers? India. I am not kidding. I wish they were better represented here and all your "championships". If you think Presto spawned some popular kid magicians, you should see what Prof. Vazhakkunnam has brought us.

I wish I can post here more often, but my group home limits my internet use. I think it's terrible and I can't take it. That's why I'm here.

Message: Posted by: Salguod Nairb (Aug 19, 2010 03:02AM)
[quote]Second, what even makes me even more mental here is how people bow down to the British kid performers here. [/quote]

I agree, with an exception for Jolly Roger. He is related to royalty you know![img]http://i264.photobucket.com/albums/ii197/ransomb/Emoticons/1sm186jackinabox.gif[/img]
Message: Posted by: Signor Blitz (Aug 19, 2010 03:58AM)

There are some who worship the billy that is silly!

But I agree-over rated and underwhelming!
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Aug 19, 2010 07:00AM)
I live very close to Wilmington, De. and I have never heard of Presto Johnson. Is there more information on him? What the heck I'll contribute to his grave stone. I have known Chris Capehart for about 20 years, and I love him because he and I work the same, so there is nothing bad that I can say about the white haired magician.

The British magicians come from the theater, they do classic magic, and some here don't like to do the skilled stuff.

Silly Billy is great but he does get a bit too much play time here.

Roger is a bit too eccentric for this forum. After all he comes from royalty you know.

Tricky Ricky, and the man who can not be mentioned ML are incomperable.
Message: Posted by: harris (Aug 19, 2010 07:40AM)
Mentors are very important. I worked with a wonderful puppeteer, Emiline Dobbins, in my early days of puppetry. Back then I knew next to nothing about performing. These days I know even less. Today I am working on a workshop to present to 7th graders next week. Passing it on and giving credit (most of the time) where it is due.

Sometimes my influences aren't remembered, until someone is kind enough(or not so kind) enough to point it out. Back in the comedy club days, folks were very plain about not using other's bits. A recent example, was when someone on this forum, gave me the author of the Toast Song which I had heard and adapted for my mouth only puppet.(see my web site for examples of my nearly normal puppets)

Stepping out of the mold ...into another mold...(perhaps jello...said Nigel the puppet that rocks and talks)....

still 2 old to know everything...
Message: Posted by: Skip Way (Aug 19, 2010 07:47AM)
Lovely. Another gods-gift-to-kid-performers with all the right answers conveniently locked away in a closed mind judging people he admits he knows nothing about. Just what this forum needs.

If Hank had bothered to read any of the many interviews given by Chris, he would see Presto mentioned prestigiously in every one. Chris openly and happily honors Presto as his mentor and role model. That said, Chris is no more a clone of Presto than David Copperfield is of Bob Elliott or Daryl. His talent and style are uniquely his own.

As for David Kaye: Like him or hate him, his incredible resume, book and DVD speak for themselves. David richly deserves accolades for his insight into performing for children whether or not you agree with his personal style. Anyone who gives of himself as freely as David deserves better.

Regarding the Brits - Let's all run out, review and bash a magic effect or act we've never watched. What fun! Clearly Hank's exceptional grasp of the British family structure justifies his public denunciation of performers he's never actually seen in action.

"Best" is a very subjective thing. How fortunate that Hank's inordinate wisdom allows him to qualify it for all of us less-endowed beings.

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

Fools, indeed. :pop:
Message: Posted by: TommyJ (Aug 19, 2010 07:50AM)
Very well said Skip.
Message: Posted by: harris (Aug 19, 2010 07:56AM)
I remember a new performer that I took to a library program a few years ago.

Afterwards he said, so simply you play "The Fool".

I answered yes, but it is not so simple.

These days, my programs are not as physical as "back" then. I have more quieter moments in my Doctor of Laughology Programs. I have seen Mr. Capehart share during a lecture. His philosophy and thinking behind his routines works for him and many others. Don't know much about Silly Billy's stuff. ..so I can't write or comment on that.

I do like to read and watch those that came many years before us. An example was seeing what looked like the "moon walk" in an old movie from about the 1930's...More recent examples are from Danny Kayes and Jonathan Winters works..and just prior to the wonderful silent comedians to Shields and Yarnell. (the later recently passed away)

Message: Posted by: stempleton (Aug 19, 2010 08:08AM)
On 2010-08-19 08:50, TommyJ wrote:
Very well said Skip.

Careful, Tommy...he probably just forgot to include you :)
Message: Posted by: Spellbinder (Aug 19, 2010 12:08PM)
Earl Johnson, aka Everett Johnson, aka Presto: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIgZs21yBOs&p=6504CAED23A5C646&playnext=1&index=12
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Aug 19, 2010 12:40PM)
What an artist, there were more laughs there than I could count, not a lot of unnecessary props there either.

My quiestion is how does a magician from the Nevada desert know so much about a dead black magician from the east. Was he a member of the Delaware Knights, and did they ever get a stone for his grave? Just watching him work was worth a couple bucks to me.
Thank you Professor
Message: Posted by: Happy Hank (Aug 19, 2010 12:49PM)
Please Al,

you don't want to fraternize with me, God knows I'm the only know-it-all here that doesn't know what he is talking about.

All I'm saying is that I wish more Indian performers were better repesented here. That's all.

Message: Posted by: Starrpower (Aug 19, 2010 01:00PM)
While I hate to generalize, I have found British performers to be rather condescending to kids. And while I like David Kaye personally, his magic IMO is just so-so (although I can't argue with success.)

I do not have a single favorite kids performer; however, I have found little things here and there from LOTS of performers that I have found appealing.
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Aug 19, 2010 01:01PM)
I already have a bad reputation here, so associating with you doesn't really bother me. I am going to go to a Wilmington Delaware Knights meeting soon, and ask around about him.

I don't believe that we have a lot of Indian children's magicians that belong here. This guy is not a kids magician but he is still pretty good, and he does it all without a back drop too.

Message: Posted by: harris (Aug 19, 2010 01:27PM)
I don't know many Indian entertainers, but through my nearly normal wife, I have met quite a few professors and students. (She helped coordinate bringing in international students to one of our the University of Missouri system) I also have enjoyed sharing at 1 year old birthday parties.

I am "delighted" that we have a Café that bridges the gap between entertainers around the world. A few years back, I met someone from New Zealand (sic? and too lazy to use spell czech)at a magic event. I introduced my self as Harris Deutsch. He quickly quiped ah...the Laughologist. (The Café does make our world a bit smaller)


a legend in his on mind
Message: Posted by: Spellbinder (Aug 19, 2010 02:53PM)
Info about Earl "Presto" Johnson and the memorial fund drive:

Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Aug 19, 2010 03:23PM)
I know that I have said many times that I never buy performance DVD's. Well this is one exception to my rule. I hope that they have a few left.

Thank you
Message: Posted by: MagicSanta (Aug 19, 2010 05:29PM)
I didn't read all the responses because hey, I don't care. My comrade Happy Hank is correct. Ed Presto was a fantastic performer, I saw was as he passed away not too long ago. He had significant influence on Capehart, not sure about Silly Billy, you would have to ask him. I will say without a doubt if I was to watch one video right now it would be of Ed Presto, they are on youtube from back in the 70s. He has been brought up by some of us more hipper types Hank.
Message: Posted by: Danny Hustle (Aug 19, 2010 05:33PM)
Presto was also a BRILLIANT street performer and shared that trade with a lot of folks as well. Chris Capehart has always spoken very highly of Presto any time I have seen him lecture as well as on his DVDs.

I think great kids entertainers come from everywhere...as well as the bad ones.

I will say from my personal experience the magicians I know from India do not post here because they are very, very, smart. :)


Message: Posted by: MagicSanta (Aug 19, 2010 05:38PM)
Danny knows...cuz he is also a brilliant performer who really is with it. I am only fit to be in the audience in the same theater as guys like presto or Danny.

Posted: Aug 19, 2010 9:11pm
I can't find the Ed Presto vids, does anyone out there have a link? He really is someone people should see performing.

Wait...I just realized that in the Capehart video he mentions Ed.
Message: Posted by: The Old Man (Aug 19, 2010 10:54PM)
"And all our yesterdays have lighted fools?"

I don't understand the reference.
Message: Posted by: BIGmagiclV (Aug 19, 2010 11:17PM)
I would just like to know when the "happy" kicks in.
Message: Posted by: Mary Mowder (Aug 19, 2010 11:21PM)

(And Star Trek).

-Mary Mowder
Message: Posted by: MagicSanta (Aug 20, 2010 12:03AM)
Ever been to Winnemucca? He's down right jolly.

Back to Ed, who has the videos?
Message: Posted by: Spellbinder (Aug 20, 2010 12:40AM)
Earl, not Ed, Santa. No wonder you never deliver the toys to the right houses. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIgZs21yBOs&p=6504CAED23A5C646&playnext=1&index=12

His name was actually Everett when I first met him. He decided to change it to Earl one day and tried it out on a bunch of us at Mecca Magic in NJ. I told him it sounded like royalty and he liked that.

"Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing." Shakespeare in Macbeth.
Message: Posted by: MagicSanta (Aug 20, 2010 12:56AM)
Dang, I have been typing Ed...sorry Earl! I do that, I'll get something in my head and run with it. I'll actually mistype the same word on a given day over and over. The other name I can never type the first time is Doug, there, I just had to correct it. I don't have a clue why I block it.

Thanks Spellbinder!
Message: Posted by: Red Shadow (Aug 20, 2010 03:55AM)
It has nothing to do about nationality. Its all about the performer.

There are some absolute great kid-show performed in the USA, Dan Garret for instance. Using his show as an example, I loved it myself because he looked the part (wearing a wizard costume), he put on a 'show' (meaning his entire act was not contained to a briefcase) and most importantly he was able to make fun of himself. This last point is the key to understanding what makes children laugh.

In my show, I make the children feel important. I give them the magic powers and make the tricks work for them, and not for me. This gives them the control and the feeling of 'I'm special', which resonates with the kids. They don't feel like that normally. They never get to feel smarter than the adults, and with my show I give them what they crave, to be important and smarter than the grown-ups.
For that reason, I have complete control over the children for 2+ hours. Because they WANT to feel more of this.
It means I often look silly, or stupid which is not appreciated by most American magicians.

I say magicians, and not 'children's entertainers'. The problem I have with a lot of Children's show DVDs (both UK & USA) is the magician is showing off. They're performing trick after trick, its boring and not that impressive. All those DVDs are shot in a school hall, with teachers surrounding them to keep them in control. It is not a true representation of a normal Birthday party show, which is what the bread & butter of our business is.

I know my early show DVDs came under scrutiny because I showed a real Birthday party. It was a great show, but not set in a school with perfect kids. I had crying babies, bouncy castles and other obstacles to contend with. I tried to show the truth and help other entertainers by showing how to overcome those problems. Many people appreciate that and thanked me. But it was the few that couldn't understand why I did that, that made there voices a little louder.

They had watched many of the perfect kids show DVDs and expected all shows to be like that. Which is simply not the case.

Many DVDs so far have all been about 'make the magician look good'. Both in how he looks (wearing a suit is not proper attire), the size of his briefcase (a magic table holds so much more). Having an elaborate sound system and performing to music (definitely not applicable for most birthday party shows), and treating the children with respect and making them important (and not just prop holders).

Us Brits also like to run the full two hour party, with a full 60 minute magic show. While Americans shout at us because they only do 15-25 minute performances and claim to make twice as much money. But us UK entertainers get tons of repeat and referral work from each show, and only travel within 30 miles of our home. While the US entertainers seem to travel 400 miles to a show and have to beg for repeat work (mainly from libraries).

I've outlined some of the differences as I see them. No doubt I'll get shouted at simply because I am the only Brit willing to respond on this thread.

But the truth is, its not the nationality that separates us, there are just as many bad UK Magicians as US Magicians. But even those bad ones can teach us something, and who knows, if there in an area without competition - how are they suppose to know that there bad?
Message: Posted by: Nick Nolan (Aug 20, 2010 04:24AM)
I agree with Steve, Im a Brit myself...

If people think that even a 1 hour show is harsh... Get a load of this...!!

I do a 45 minute show,
1 hour show,
90 minute show
and a 2 hour show!

And I get work fine, and to be honest most of my work are 2 hour shows anyway because the parents are so thrilled that you can keep children amused for so long better than they've seen some teachers do!! A 25 minute show for me.... is maybe a vent routine and 2 tricks!!

I don't wish to have a fully blown arguement on here, but that is my point of view anyhow....

Message: Posted by: pixsmith (Aug 20, 2010 08:48AM)
Harris --

Wanted to chime in and say what a delight it was to see Emmeline's name mentioned. I knew her through the Puppeteers of America and she was talented, and very worth listening to. I am glad to hear that her legacy lives on through your work!

Message: Posted by: harris (Aug 20, 2010 09:18AM)
I worked with her right after college. At the time I was working as a clients in a group home. At the time many friends and relatives questioned my decision. It is a 2 year period (back in 76 & 77, that has paid off for many years.

We did mall shows to corporate work. I remember shows from Peter and the Wolf to excerpts from Oklahoma the musical.

We do stand on the shoulders of those that came before.

Message: Posted by: MagicSanta (Aug 20, 2010 12:50PM)
Any of you ever consider that someone from WINNEMUCCA, NEVADA referencing Indians might be talking about the Indians as in Native Americans that populate much of Nevada and maybe in a town named after an Indian chief?
Message: Posted by: harris (Aug 20, 2010 01:03PM)
Could be.

I have a wonderful friend who shows the difference as feather not bead. (She is Native American/feather)


still too old to know everything....
a "fool" for all seasons...have puppets will travel...distances require a plane...or astral plain....
Message: Posted by: MagicSanta (Aug 20, 2010 05:49PM)
Around here the indians call themselved indians or natives....so unhuff your chests of those out there that have no business huffing it out in the first place.
Message: Posted by: TonyB2009 (Aug 21, 2010 12:07PM)
I don't hold with the view that the British are the best children's entertainers, but I do prefer them to the Americans. Sorry, guys. Maybe I haven't seen enough of you, or maybe I have seen the wrong ones. I have seen some well-respected Americans doing shows that use too many props, and are too serious. I also dislike the messages that occasionally creep in - particularly gospel stuff.

But Presto was a revelation. What a sponge routine - genius. Thanks for bringing it to our attention. It shows what I always say. It is not the props or the backdrop or the staging. It is the man.
Message: Posted by: MagicSanta (Aug 21, 2010 02:56PM)
He had a great stage style didn't he? Wonderful voice, completely in command.

Everyone knows the Russians are the best children show magicians.
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Aug 21, 2010 03:14PM)
I feel obligated to disagree with you IMHO Argentina has the best childrens magicians.
Message: Posted by: MagicSanta (Aug 21, 2010 04:26PM)
Having been to Argentina I disagree....
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Aug 21, 2010 05:16PM)
Just how many childrens magicians did you see doing gigs when you were in Argentina? Maybe it was Uruguay that I was thinking of? Have you been to Uruguay too Santa?
Message: Posted by: Spellbinder (Aug 21, 2010 07:52PM)
The quote from Shakespeare should be: "it is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing."

Neither nationality, race, ethnicity, nor language make a magician better or worse. Each person who decides to be a magician makes himself or herself a good one or a bad one by study, by practice, by various decisions and taking the personal responsibility to either work hard at it, or not. What will be your legacy? What contributions are you making to improve the art that you can leave to the next generation of magicians? Those are the important questions to ask and answer before the candle goes out.
Message: Posted by: MagicSanta (Aug 21, 2010 08:06PM)
I was in Uraguay, took the bus to Argentina. Great prices on leather and excellent beef in Uraguay. I actually didn't see any magicians in either country but I did run into a couple of angry anti US lesbians from Colorado that the locals asked us to remove from their country. I've been all over South America, love it, my favorite country is Chile.
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Aug 21, 2010 08:29PM)
Perhaps it was Paraguay that is famous for kids magic?