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Topic: Performing
Message: Posted by: Jason Palter (Aug 28, 2014 09:41PM)
Hello all:

I’m primarily a performer with an acting/theater background. Here is the link to my non-performance site, so you can see a bit of what I'm all about [url=http://www.jasonpalter.com]Click Here![/url]

So by all means, ask any questions and/or start a discussion on staging, performing, timing, comedy, etc.!

Best regards,

Message: Posted by: Craig Logan (Aug 29, 2014 10:57AM)
I find it easy in more comedic magic to accidentally use humor to trample the impact of an effect. Are there any tips you could share about NOT lessening the impact of a particular trick?


Message: Posted by: Jason Palter (Aug 29, 2014 11:26AM)
Hi Craig:

Great question! And yes you are correct that in many cases I've witnessed, the effect of the trick ends up becoming secondary, and the comedy and by-play seem to take over. Don't get me wrong, there is not necessarily anything wrong with that, if that is the choice that you have made for that routine and effect.

If you've decided that the effect is the most important part of the trick, then I suggest you think about it this way: use the comedy as an ENHANCEMENT to the trick. Sprinkle it in as "flavours" that you're adding to the main dish, if you catch my drift. So if you use that analogy of cooking (don't ask me where it came from; I'm just typing here. lol), think about over-saturating something you've cooked with too many spices, etc......Suddenly the (example) tomato-sauce pasta you made that was to have some garlic in it, now has WAY too much garlic flavour and you can't really taste the tomato. There's nothing wrong with that if you're a garlic lover and you intended it to be that way. But if you intended to make it a tomato sauce, now you suddenly can't taste it.

You can also think of it this way: I also do voice-overs for commercials, animation, etc. Many years ago a voice coach gave me some really great advice for an audition I was doing the next day. I was to be playing the voice of a well-known cartoon character from the 1970's for a commercial featuring the character, but the actor who did the original voice was not available to do it. So they wanted a "sound-alike" as they call it. So the advice was to make sure that I'm not so focussed on the character and nailing the voice EXACTLY like the original, that I lose sight of the fact that I'm also ACTING and doing a script. She told me that what I want to do is to make sure I'm giving it a good "flavour" of the imitation, but don't oversaturate it. I thought it was great advice, and I suggest the same thing here: If you're doing a magic trick and you don't want to trample it with too much comedy, then make that choice as you're learning the routine. Just keep in your mind that you're a MAGICIAN and you're using the comedy to help move the routine along.

Does that sort of make sense? Please let me know if it wasn't clear. Thanks!

Best regards,

Message: Posted by: Allan Kardek (Aug 29, 2014 12:28PM)
Hey Jason

I'm trying to cross over from being just a hobbyist when it comes to mentalism/magic and start working on a semi-pro basis.

When you first wanted to become a paid professional, how did you start off? Did you have a place that you could be bad at to help hone and define your performances? What other advice can you give to help others like me to transition over from family and friends to paid gigs?

Message: Posted by: Jason Palter (Aug 29, 2014 01:10PM)
Hey Allan:

That is a question that I have gotten asked a lot over the years.

My short answer is that I say perform as OFTEN as possible--any chance you can get, do it!!! Friends, families, charities, clients, etc. Performing is like exercising a muscle. That muscle has to be stretched, worked out, and strengthened. If you stop exercising the muscle, it gets flabby. That’s why any performer gets sort of “rusty” if they haven’t been in front of an audience for a while. You can practice the mechanics and patter all you want in front of a mirror, but there is absolutely no substitute for getting in front of people.

In my case (if you watch my demo video for instance on www.jasonpalter.com), one of my strengths in performing is that I am good at ad-libing and improvising. However I will tell you that I find this skill gets REALLY REALLY RUSTY if I go a long time in between performances and gigs. Yeeesh! lol So sometimes if it's a slow month, I will do a charity or even a non-paying local show just to keep "exercising", and keep my performing/improvising muscles "toned" if you will.

I remember being in a magic shop about 5 years ago. I was hanging out, getting some cards, talking to the owner, etc. and in walked a family that were visiting from out of town. Mom, Dad, and a 14 year old son, and they really seemed like a nice family based on what I could see, what they were saying, etc. I overheard the Mom talking to the owner of the shop about the son. It was he that was the magician in the family, and that is why they had stopped into the shop during their vacation. Mom was saying that her son was really good, but shy and reluctant to perform at times. I know that is quite typical of some people (especially pre-teens) and often you have to "grow" into that comfort level with time and practice. But the next part was what really got my attention: She said that the son had received an offer from a local restaurant in their town to go and perform table-magic there each week, and the son wasn't sure whether or not to do it! There are many of us seasoned performers that have to hunt down work and don't even get offers like that! lol So at this point, I politely interjected, and asked if I may make a comment. The shop owner introduced me to her and the son, explained I was a professional, etc., and the Mom said she would love to hear my thoughts. I asked why the son wouldn't want to go there to perform, and he said that he was nervous what would happen if he wasn't good, and also that he was shy. He asked what I thought about that. I told him that the constant repetition of performing for REAL people is what will help hone his skills and restaurant performing is one of the BEST ways to do this! You're there for a few hours, doing the same thing over and over again for a fresh group each time. I told him to think of it like exercising and building a "performing" muscle; it gets strengthened over time. And if he makes a mistake, then he works on that at the next table, etc. Plus I said that it's a great way to get over shyness, because it literally forces you to approach people (politely of course! lol) and talk to them. His Mom was nodding through the whole conversation and gently trying to encourage her son to give it ago, as I was too. I told him the worst that could happen was that he decides from working there, that at this stage in his life he doesn't want to be a performing magician. But I told him on the other hand, he will probably LOVE it, be making way more money and having way more fun than most people his age at his job. He agreed, and said he was going to give it a shot!

Anyhow I think that restaurant magic (or even performing at a local bar or pub) is an amazing place to hone your skills and make the transition you're talking about. For me and my performing style, the restaurant I performed at throughout high school and university was INVALUABLE in helping me to shape my performing character, learning how to deal with audience members, sharpen up my technical skills, etc. The truth also is that even if you're not getting paid at first, and only working for tips it still will improve what you are doing.

So I say take any opportunity that you can, and (as the Nike slogan says): Just DO it!

Thank you for your questions, and please let me know if you have any more.

Best regards,

Message: Posted by: Craig Logan (Aug 29, 2014 01:31PM)
Very clear, Jason and thank you for the advice.
Message: Posted by: daffydoug (Aug 31, 2014 05:44AM)

There are several sources for information on table hopping. At least over the years I've seen a bunch.
Any particular one you favor or have personally read and used?
Message: Posted by: TrickyRicky (Aug 31, 2014 07:41AM)
Hello Jason and welcome as guest of honor.
As a true professional around Toronto makes you one of the most qualified to give advise on the Café. I've seen you perform many times and can verify that you're one of the best.
They will learn a lot from you.
Tricky Ricky
Message: Posted by: Jason Palter (Aug 31, 2014 09:20AM)
Hi Daffydoug:

To be honest, when I got started doing table hopping at a restaurant when I was 17, I hadn't read or seen a lot of information for this type of magic. I had read an article in (I think) Genii at the time by Jamy Ian Swiss that gave some good pointers and stuff. But really my "schooling" was probably one of the best---and scariest---ways of learning: thrust onto the floor of a restaurant and just do it! lol

More recently I can recommend "Maximum Entertainment" by Ken Weber, although that doesn't just focus on table-hopping. However it does have some valuable information in it, and I think it is great read for any performer. It's making me think that perhaps I should write a book or some information on this style of performing. Hmmmmm...

Perhaps there are others reading this thread that can recommend some other books on this topic? Please weigh-in; I'd love to hear your thoughts.

And to TrickyRicky, thank you so much my friend for those very kind words. Those compliments coming from a true professional like yourself, are very flattering. And dear readers, TrickyRicky is one of the best children's performers you will ever have the pleasure to see, and a very great guy to boot! lol

Best regards,

Message: Posted by: Mb217 (Aug 31, 2014 10:18AM)
Hi Jason and Welcome. :)

You mentioned table hopping…What sort of magic is your favorite to do? I'm mostly a coin guy, but dabble a bit sometimes with cards and other closeup effects. And how did it lead into your career as a magician and other things. :)

Again, welcome. :)

Message: Posted by: Jason Palter (Aug 31, 2014 02:57PM)
Hi Mb217:

Thank you for the question and the welcome!

I really love doing close-up magic, because of the intimacy that it brings and how I can be RIGHT THERE in front of everyone. However if I had to pick one, I think that parlour/stage magic would be my favourite to do. That feeling being in front of 4 or 4000 is just such a rush to me, and I actually find it relaxing--especially if it's a good crowd. lol Whatever it is, I'm a "talker" and love to improvise and ad-lib with my crowd, so as long as I can be talking in front of people and making them laugh, then it's perfect for me! I also do some illusions, but they are done in a very comedic way. The only thing I don't really do is dove magic.

Whether I'm doing close-up or stage, I do a mixture of things: cards, coins, ropes, mentalism, etc. But it doesn't matter what the material is, it's always slanted towards light-hearted material, comedy and tons of audience participation and interaction.

In terms of how it lead to my career as a magician, I'd have to say that it just sort of happened. I did my first paid magic show when I was just 10 years old (I got $3.00 for it, and it was for a neighbour's child's birthday party!), and then I just kept doing shows from there. I was fortunate to be living at home, so I could focus on magic and not worry too much about the bills that we all have now that we are older. lol I went to university, always thinking that I wanted to get a "real" job, but something about performing kept drawing me back. I started acting when I was about 24, and by that point I was doing so well with the magic and speaking that I knew that was what I was going to continue doing. I created my first product "Third Degree Burn" (http://www.paltergeist.com/thirdDegree.php) in 2006 and that added sort of another facet to what I was doing. I love the creative energy of getting and then doing a gig, but inventing and marketing magic tricks uses a "different" area of my creative brain that I really love too. I want it all!!! LOL!!

Whereas they say many actors (performers) want to direct, nope not me---at least not yet! lol I just love to perform, inspire, motivate, make 'em laugh, and engage people. Sorry if that sounds a bit sappy. lol

Do you do any stage magic? Anyhow please continue on with your questions!

Best regards,

Message: Posted by: Ed_Millis (Aug 31, 2014 03:36PM)
How do you rework routines as you move from close-up to parlor to stage? Going from 40 to 400 gives me the willies -- much less up to 4000!!

Message: Posted by: Jason Palter (Aug 31, 2014 09:04PM)
Hi Ed_Mills:

There are things that you have to definitely consider when performing for a large crowd, versus a smaller one. It doesn't matter what style of magic you do, the 2 biggest things that I say you first have to think about are being SEEN and being HEARD. If they can't see you or hear you, the show dies. Period.

So be sure that what you plan to perform is appropriate for the size of the crowd. To do manipulations with coins for a crowd of 250, probably doesn't make much sense--unless they have provided projection screens and a video camera to magnify your image so everyone can see. By the same token, to do an illusion for a group of 50 might just be too much for the room.

And on that topic of projection screens, I highly recommend them for crowds larger than 200......It doesn't necessarily mean the client will follow my suggestions and do them or that the room is appropriate for it, but I try to suggest to the client to have them to ensure that everyone can see and enjoy the show. And in terms of sound, you want to ensure that you have a microphone, PA, etc. so that you can be HEARD. Trust me, if they can't hear you and they can't see you, they will just start to chatter to themselves at their tables, and then suddenly no one is paying attention, and the show will die a horrible death. lol

In terms of reworking routines moving from close-up to parlour to stage, it really just depends what it is. Some tricks can be done close-up and stage. My new trick T.U.R.N. that just came out (http://paltergeist.com/turn.php) can be done both. If you're doing it close-up, that is easy because it's a small prop. But what to do if you're doing it on stage, because the prop is still small?...I recommend that you try to do what I call "expand your presence". What I mean is that you can get up one or two people to help you on the stage, and that just helps to "fill" it in and make it look larger, if that makes sense. Again, I don't recommend doing something as small as coins on stage because no one beyond the front row will be able to see them. So in many cases you may have to not really rework the routines, but rather rework TRICKS---ie. do something completely different for stage/parlour than what you would do for close-up.

Please let me know if that answers the questions. Thanks!

Best regards,