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Topic: How important is a theme?
Message: Posted by: djurmann (Jul 28, 2012 04:46PM)
As you may know I am new to busking and it shows! I have a number of effects which work well but I am thinking of rejigging/rescripting some of them so that there is more of a theme running through the tricks. What I am less sure of is .....does it matter?

If you have time and are willing to answer,

Thank you.

Best wishes,

Danny
Message: Posted by: FunTimeAl (Jul 28, 2012 07:04PM)
Watch a lot of stand up comedy. Some have themes, some don't. Then, remember we're not stand up comics and adapt.
Message: Posted by: Ekuth (Jul 28, 2012 08:24PM)
I would say VERY important. At least in the way that the effects flow together, if that's what you're asking.

Example:

I have a coin set (act) that starts with Continous Coins, then moves to Coins Across, which then moves to Matrix. At that point, I can finish the set by using another coin effect or, since the cards have already been introduced, move to card effects.

Dariel Fitzkee in "Showmanship for Magicians" goes into some depth on this idea, as do others; but that should give you enough to get the idea.

Just look for effects which either tie into each other with a theme, prop or effect. That's not to say you should do the same TYPE of effect one after another; that's a sure way to kill your show.

I'm sleep deprived, but I think that makes sense? :)
Message: Posted by: djurmann (Jul 29, 2012 02:58AM)
Hi Ekuth,

Hope you had a profitable evening and that things on all fronts are looking up. Thank you to you and to Al!

My basic routine is large ring on rope - as a mime, which ends with ..."have you seen my impression of a continent?"

Put the rope in a U shape and go "Eu-rope, U Rope, no?". Ask if anyone has been on holiday recently or has plans to go, (get some names, an audience involvement), show a deck of blank cards, have spec write name of holiday destination and reason for going....do ACR.

Say going on holiday must remember to take money but a bit anxious....leads into Sponge bunnies (they come from my magician's invisible purse...very secure but always full of rabbits).

Need to pack...everything, just in case (Professor's nightmare)

Don't want to forget anything so knot in the hankie (slydini silks).

Put house key in a safe place (key on string), lose key, key is found in wallet.

So the tricks are different, the theme keeps it together, fair amount of audience interaction but....well I am wondering if this is the right route or if people will become bored. Guess I need to trial it and see if I can find some comedy moments.

What do you think?

Best wishes,

Danny
Message: Posted by: MagiCol (Jul 29, 2012 03:17AM)
Watch the reactions of the crowd. They will teach you what they like. And the more you perform your Show on the street, the more you will get new ideas on improving your Show.
When you're doing speaking parts, tell them partway through a routine about what your next trick will be, or how much crowds enjoy the coming effect. This will help unify your Show and will encourage them to stay, anchoring them rather than them leaving in any gap/lack of transition between one routine and the next.
Message: Posted by: djurmann (Jul 29, 2012 03:37AM)
[quote]
On 2012-07-29 04:17, MagiCol wrote:

When you're doing speaking parts, tell them partway through a routine about what your next trick will be, or how much crowds enjoy the coming effect. This will help unify your Show and will encourage them to stay, anchoring them rather than them leaving in any gap/lack of transition between one routine and the next.
[/quote]

THANKS!!! I have a funny feeling with those few words you have helped me make a HUGE improvement in my show.

Best wishes,

Danny
Message: Posted by: DoctorCognos (Aug 7, 2012 12:14AM)
Any time you can engage the spectators, capture their interest, involving them in the act, you will do fine.

By theme, by patter, or by any other means.....

Get them on your side, and you get whats in their wallets.

Doctor Cognos
Message: Posted by: The Burnaby Kid (Aug 7, 2012 12:30AM)
[quote]
On 2012-07-29 04:17, MagiCol wrote:
Watch the reactions of the crowd. They will teach you what they like. And the more you perform your Show on the street, the more you will get new ideas on improving your Show.
When you're doing speaking parts, tell them partway through a routine about what your next trick will be, or how much crowds enjoy the coming effect. This will help unify your Show and will encourage them to stay, anchoring them rather than them leaving in any gap/lack of transition between one routine and the next.
[/quote]

This is excellent advice -- similar to what I've been told before by others, and when I started doing it myself it helped tremendously. One of the big problems with having a trick that's got a great "Ta-da!" moment is the risk of having walk-offs once it's over. Tease them with something good before that happens, have the props out and ready to go before people are done reacting to the initial trick, and you'll reduce that risk greatly.

As for a theme itself... consider that a luxury and an artistic indulgence once you've proven to yourself (and your wallet) that you can put on an entertaining show. Theme in art is valuable, no question, but art's a lofty thing to aim for straight out of the gate.
Message: Posted by: DoctorCognos (Aug 7, 2012 01:42PM)
Another thought....

For me, the reason I do the same few effects, none of which are knuckle busters, and some do require practice to stay sharp (cups and balls are toughest for me, because I am constantly tweaking Gazzo's routine so it fits my style better) is because by doing the same ones that I know so well, I can do the effect without thinking about it, and I can focus on presentation. And the routine flows because it is always the same more or less.

I like to become a story teller. Whether coins or cards, or cups and balls, the trick is the vehicle to the adventure you are describing in your story. I am not necessarily talking about Sam the Bell Hop, although that isn't a bad story if you can pull it off.

But people love to be entertained. And a good story can make even the simplest effect an engaging and interesting experience. Because you are allowing them, no; forcing/engaging them, as they use their imagination to relate to the story you are telling. Once that begins, then you have them hooked. They are your friends.

More than a theme, find your own character. Who are you. What style is most comfortable for you, and relates best to the specs. And it helps you to get into a comfort zone.

When I am not actively performing, (i.e not on the street busking) I carry a deck or two cards, some coins, a TT, silk, etc. All pack small stuff. But most of the time, when I am with folks who do not know I am a magician, the cards etc, only come out if there seems to be a need to liven things up. The point is that I am not always in performing mode. If I am not going to pass the hat, I only perform when there is a need, or I am specifically asked. I can have a good time without forcing people to endure another pick a card trick.

But when I am "on", I am "ON", my buskingpersona is dry wry humor, running jokes, inside jokes with a few of the specs, coupled with a constant smile and intentional eye contact with everyone. I have a professorial appearance (so I have been told) and I have to be careful not to be intimidating. I am not trying to show them how smart, or how talented I am, although I am plenty of both.

I am trying to connect, amuse, engage, entertain, and hold up my part of the performance contract. And with a smile, and eye contact all around the pitch, I remind them of their part of the contract, and I acknowledge that they are seeing magic, that people around the world think is good enough to pay for. I ask them if they agree, and before they can answer. I raise my hands and shout, I knew that you that did!. I tell them at the end of the show, and I will will tell them when it is coming, if the enjoyed the show, then they should definitely applaud, and so that I can afford more than 1/2 gallon of gas at a time, then need to applaud with their wallets.

Rambling now, but I love dropping hat lines. I keep looking for new way to mention the value of what was done. I was in technology training for many years, and that gave me the ability to understand how people learn. People are generally in need of training. This is especially true if the are not used to buskers. And the first time they hear something, most don't remember it very long. But after two, three, four reminders, of what to do and when to do it, you condition them to uphold their end of the contract. Your train them while you entertain them.

Hoping get down to New Orleans again soon. Haven't done cups and balls there yet.

Doctor Cognos
Message: Posted by: Devious (Aug 7, 2012 02:43PM)
Wonderful thread discussion.
Thanks so much for sharing your opinion Dr. Cognos!

I enjoyed the read immensely....

@Burnaby Kid,
What you said in your last paragraph rings very true for
me personally. You will see however some folks who never bother
to return the Art Form aspect of performance. They just abandon
that part of it for good.

Great thoughts gang....
Message: Posted by: djurmann (Aug 7, 2012 06:58PM)
Thank you Doctor, lots to get my teeth into in your posts (and those of others) as for art I know not, I only know that I want to be the best I can be and that every word is important (or lack of words) and that the tricks are less important (for me) than the performance. Thanks to you good folks I now have a theme, now it needs polishing!

Then more polishing











Then even more polishing.
Message: Posted by: The Burnaby Kid (Aug 7, 2012 10:03PM)
[quote]
On 2012-08-07 15:43, Devious wrote:
@Burnaby Kid,
What you said in your last paragraph rings very true for
me personally. You will see however some folks who never bother
to return the Art Form aspect of performance. They just abandon
that part of it for good.
[/quote]

In the end that whole thing is going to depend upon one's definition of 'art' and where magic fits into all that. If some guy walks up to you on the street, points at your hat, and suddenly your hat starts floating a foot above your head, and it doesn't fall back down until he walks away... by some people's definitions, that guy just did more for the art of magic than somebody else who had five minutes of eloquent patter for his cups and balls routine.

It's just so easy to get led astray (or to lead yourself astray) when you start thinking in concepts that are too grandiose. If you don't yet know, better to make sure you're doing good magic in an entertaining fashion, and let the art critics sort out the rest. And, as David Bowie once said, artists define culture, not the critics.