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Topic: Delivering Memorized Patter Without Becoming A Robot!
Message: Posted by: daffydoug (Aug 21, 2014 04:17PM)
I'm now working on my stand up show. Also called my "commando act". ( http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?topic=560405&forum=8 ) 
After a struggle, I finally have the props together and have enough for my triple trilogy and a few extras to add in and take out as necessary. So I'm now happily working out the patter for each effect. Probably the hardest part of the whole creative process, but my creative juices are in full swing. 

It occurred to me that the most difficult aspect of creating patter lies in memorizing it. Not that memorizing is difficult in itself, I've done a LOT of it over the decades. I've memorized long literary passages, poems, entire books of the Bible, comedy sketches, my lines of script when I've acted in local theatre productions, you name it. I think it started when I was a kid, and I would memorize Bill Cosby's records and recite them word for word for my young friends. 

I was a WEIRD kid. I admit it.

Currently I'm memorizing the scriptures in Hebrew, teaching myself a new language.

But my stand up show is a whole different animal. The reason I say it's difficult is because of precisely the fact that you have memorized it. To explain, there has to be a balance between not just totally improvising my patter 
from scratch when I'm in front of an audience, (God forbid!) but yet at the same time making it SEEM spontaneous and not WOODEN even though it is indeed memorized! Buck Owens had a big hit decades ago with "Act Naturally". (All I got to do is...)

So memorizing your patter is a double edged sword. If your delivery sounds canned, stale, wooden, expressionless, then you are not going to be anything but boring. 

Yet, unless you are Robin Williams or one of the other masters of improv, then you might stand up there with your fingers up your nose, having NO IDEA what to say during the presentation of your effects.

I once read a book on presenting magic decades ago that stated every word, every nuance of vocal inflection, every RAISING of the supercilious eyebrow must be carefully rehearsed and memorized to perfection! 

Um, I see his point, but I don't think so!! What audience will find it enjoyable to be entertained by a robot? We are not automatons! We are flesh and blood human brings, who just happen to posses some amazing magical powers, heh, heh, heh. 

Any thoughts on this? 
Message: Posted by: Atom3339 (Aug 22, 2014 07:12AM)
Doug, I outline my patter with Bullet Points, highlights I HAVE to mention and, fortunately, usually associated with an action of some kind (display, Spectator interaction, sleight, etc.). I memorize the BULLET POINTS. That way it's not as tough to memorize and "fill" comes easily, naturally. Patter comes off improvised then.

Message: Posted by: daffydoug (Aug 22, 2014 08:08AM)
I'll have to try that. I've heard of the method before, but never quite tried it. But perhaps after several rehearsals I may be SUBCONCIOUSLY keeping bullet points in my mind, but never realized I was doing that.
Message: Posted by: daffydoug (Aug 22, 2014 08:19AM)
One thing I do know. The size of my audience makes a huge difference in my patter approach. If I'm doing an intimate show, i.e., close up around a table, patter is of necessity extremely loose to allow for conversation and interaction with people. Parlor type conditions are the same, although not AS loose as intimate close-up.

If I'm performing on a large stage, in an auditorium with spotlights on me, things take on a totally different perspective since looking out into the audience, due to the lighting on me, when I look out, instead of a sea of faces, all I see is BLACK! I know the audience is out there, but I can't see their eyes, nor can I see them. It's very difficult to interact with what you can not see! Patter in those conditions demands sticking very close to a memorized script. 
Message: Posted by: funsway (Sep 1, 2014 04:50AM)
MY first college degree was in Speech - back when subjects like Interpretive Reading was taught and theme of competition along with Debate, Extemp, Oratory, etc.

IN this your task was to bering the reading of a passage (more than memorized) to vivid life and impact by the control of your voice - rate, pitch, volume, pause, etc. Practice of this art can prepare you to deliver/present any verbal piece with passion and clarity whether it is memorized, read or impromptu. The audience should not be able to tell the difference! Orson Wells could entertain an audience reading out of the phone book. So can you.

Go to a hospital or Senior Center and read stories and articles out loud -- every day. Practice the use of your voice as much as you practice your sleights.
Message: Posted by: daffydoug (Sep 1, 2014 06:09AM)
My voice? Which one? http://tinyurl.com/Dougs-Looney-Bohemian-Rhapsody
Message: Posted by: Neb (Sep 23, 2014 12:42PM)
I use a lot of scripted chunks in my act but I find I can make it natural if I really pay attention to what I am saying as it comes out.

Its a little hard to explain, but obviously once everything is memorised you could potentially just say it all robotically whilst thinking about something else.

But if you become an audience member yourself of what you are saying then you will naturally react to the words as if hearing them for the first time.
Message: Posted by: landmark (Oct 25, 2014 12:23PM)
Scripts are good.
Scripts though demand Acting.
There's lots out there in the Theatre World about acting a script while preserving the illusion of the first time.
In a nutshell: play your intention and motivation, not your words. Decide what you want from the audience and participants and then use the words of the script to get it. Don't worry so much about "How." "What" "Why" and "Why now" are more important.
Message: Posted by: daffydoug (Oct 25, 2014 12:38PM)
That is VERY good advice. I've been in several local theater productions, and amazingly, I've never heard the term "acting a script." Also took some acting workshops with some guys from Star Trek, but even they never mentioned it.

But I sure would like to learn more about the concept!

But I'm always amazed when I watch a good sitcom at how "natural" these people make it feel. I've always thought "Surely they are delivering memorized lines from a script, but they make it feel so spontaneous. Like it's REALITY. "
Message: Posted by: 55Hudson (Oct 25, 2014 11:04PM)
I write scripts for all of my routines. I don't follow them exactly, but close. Then, after a few live presentations I rewrite them. Still I vary from them. After a while, I settle on a script that is 90% the same everytume I deliver it. Then I write what I actually say and do, so it is documented. This step is important because sometimes I take a routine out of my show, a few years later want to put it back in and I have the detailed script to reference.

Notebooks are a wonderful thing for a magician!

Message: Posted by: daffydoug (Oct 25, 2014 11:09PM)
Agreed. I use them a lot. But what I think your telling me, here, is that coming up or settling on a good script is an extensive process. Or it's like a "fine wine" that gets better with time and age, no?
Message: Posted by: 55Hudson (Oct 27, 2014 08:35PM)
Daffydoug - I'm not sure my scripts are like a fine wine, perhaps more like '2 Buck Chuck'. :-). But yes, an extensive process. And for me, writing the script up periodically has made a big difference in improving, rather than just changing, my scripts.

Message: Posted by: Necromancer (Dec 23, 2015 10:50AM)
I've done two one-man shows. Each contained about 90 minutes of memorized script. The first one ran for 10 years. And here's my magical two-part secret to delivering scripts without sounding canned:

1. Write the way you speak.
If your script sounds wooden right out of the gate, memorizing isn't the whole problem. You've got to start with the writing. As Hudson notes above, working through the language in front of an audience over time can help you smooth it out, find your voice, discover new moments, and make adjustments.

2. Take an acting class.
Landmark above is spot on: every time an actor says a line, it must seem to an audience to be the first time. If it sounds like the millionth time, that means he's not living in the moment, not reacting to the people and things around him, and not engaging his mind in the reasons behind why he says what he does. This is a skill you will learn in acting class. Call yourself a magician, but you are really an actor with a specialized area of interest (Robert-Houdin knew what he was talking about). Take it seriously and learn the skills.

Message: Posted by: Ben Blau (Jan 16, 2016 12:41PM)
I make audio recordings of myself reciting my scripts. Whenever I come across something that sounds "canned", or lacking in apparent spontaneity, I rewrite those sections.

Message: Posted by: MaxfieldsMagic (Jan 28, 2016 01:50AM)
This is an issue that public speakers run into as well, particularly if they've given the same talk hundreds of times. For my job, I gave pretty close to the same presentation five times a month for four years, and came up with a few tricks that seemed to help. Sometimes people speed up faster than their natural cadence when they have a script or speech memorized and polished. If you try to keep close to a natural pace and observe pauses where you would normally put them - maybe even occasionally act as though you're searching for an appropriate word - that can help keep the delivery from seeming overly rehearsed. Vary your tone and vocal dynamics just as you would if performing a musical instrument. Also, speak with your whole body - your face, your eyes, your hands, rather than just with your mouth. That will make you seem more in the moment because you will, in fact, be more in the moment. Just a couple of ideas.
Message: Posted by: eralph357 (Jan 31, 2016 10:54AM)
For practice, I'd suggest joining Toastmasters and giving the same presentation many times. Over time you develop methods that work for you to hit all the key pieces you need to without seeming unnatural. Personally I use the bullet point approach, while a good friend and excellent presenter memorizes everything verbatim.
Message: Posted by: MaxfieldsMagic (Feb 10, 2016 10:14PM)
From the "Oh-C'mon-What's-the-Worst-that-Could-Happen?" Dept - https://m.youtube.com/watch?t=3m28s&v=cOOs-ft7S2c
Message: Posted by: Jim Mullen (Mar 15, 2016 12:51AM)
I believe having written scripts is essential to presenting a professional show:
(1) You get rid of all the hems and haws and the dead air.
(2) You end up using correct grammar and word choice provided you edit (or have edited) the scripts by a talented editor.
(3 )You move through the show at a faster pace, which usually is a good idea.
(4) You deliver the punch lines with good timing provided your script does this.
(5) You maintain a record of the script that is useful when you bring an old trick back into your current repertoire.

As for memorizing the script, I find this fairly easy to do if I practice doing the trick at the same time as I practice saying the script. This is because the actions of doing the trick prompt me to say the words associated with the actions. Also, to help me learn faster, I keep a copy of the script on my iPhone during the learning period (and after). Also, for each of my tricks, I have a Word file with two columns, one for the script and the other for the actions associated with the words. For all the tricks that are not in my current regular repertoire, I keep the props and script stored in a clear plastic Zip Lock bag in my prop closet.

As for making the script sound like normal conversation, I usually do not do this. I prefer to act as a barker-type character, who is a bit more animated than I would be using normal conversation. This is like Pop Haydn's performing character for example. For this quality of speech, I use a technique I learned from my readings about Winston Churchill, a remarkable orator. I write the script out in phrases so that the pauses are at the end of each printed line--like the way poetry is written. Thus, when I learn the script, I learn the phrasing at the same time. As I write in phrases, I naturally am inclined to use iambic form, that is with the accent on each second syllable and with an accent on the final syllable in each line. For example, I might have a script that reads like this:

I'l NOW perFORM for YOU
a TEST with TWO wild SIberian BEASTS.
Does SOMEone HAVE a BEAST with HIM or HER toNIGHT?
O KAY step UP to my STAGE.

Note that the lines break at the natural places for resting. And note that each double-syllable iambic pair has an unaccented syllable followed by an accented one. This is a format favored by orators like Churchill and by comics, who like to lay out each punch line with an accented syllable at the end of a line that is followed by a rest.

I find that the above format is helpful for my holding my audiences' attention and for delivering punch lines with suitable force. The format supports a loud delivery, which is useful in larger rooms, and it generally requires fewer words to deliver the same message. Nevertheless, a performer may prefer a more conversational, natural style. To accomplish this, do dot write out a script. Instead, dictate a speech into an iPhone, Dictataphone or other audio-capture device. Then transcribe the audio to written form. Finally, edit the result lightly, just fixing the grammar and word choice, and making the punch lines more emphatic. The result will be a more intimate speech that more closely resembles the performer's normal speech.

I hope this helps.

Good luck.

Message: Posted by: imgic (Feb 26, 2017 09:38PM)
I run thru my presentations while walking my dog. After the walk, I'll jot down notes on my scripts with any changes. I found this technique very helpful and used it to craft and refine my speeches that I wond toastmaster conteste with.
Message: Posted by: RichardIngram (Feb 28, 2017 02:35PM)
I think that sometimes just acting like you just thought of a joke/line or at least delivering it like you have seems to add a freshness that keeps the performance from sounding robotic.
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Mar 12, 2019 03:45AM)
[quote]On Feb 28, 2017, RichardIngram wrote:
I think that sometimes just acting like you just thought of a joke/line or at least delivering it like you have seems to add a freshness that keeps the performance from sounding robotic. [/quote]

I usually do this also but am trying to get better at public speaking now that speaking gigs are on the horizon. I often play a character during my mentalism shows that may not work as well in the corporate speaking world.
Message: Posted by: bluejay17! (Aug 8, 2019 11:59AM)
The way I've found is to have a bunch of line that I can use, and then use whichever one feels right.
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Aug 10, 2019 06:52AM)
Some magicians might call that, a JAZZ PRESENTATION. --from the concept of "jazz" in music. It's a good way to "localize" your presentation, for a "special" group.
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Aug 10, 2019 07:00AM)
[quote]On Aug 8, 2019, bluejay17! wrote:
The way I've found is to have a bunch of line that I can use, and then use whichever one feels right. [/quote]

Some magicians might call that a 'jazz" presentation. (From the concept of "jazz" in music.)
Message: Posted by: ABREWCADABREW (Aug 19, 2019 01:45AM)
Also work your routine/material several times on friends you trust. Get's your chops down as well as honest feedback.
Message: Posted by: weirdwizardx (Nov 12, 2019 09:38AM)
The way I work is by memorizing some key lines that keep me in track and between them I say something that feels right, and by this way of working every perfomance is different.

Just my 2 cents,
Sorry if I made any spelling mistake,