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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » Mnemonics performances- are they still amazing? (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Itay
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Hello to you all,

These days many people know about mnemonics and the possible feats that can be achieved with simple memory techniques.
Many people also know how to perform simple memory stunts and feats such as remembering a string of objects etc.

My questions:

With that thought in mind- are Mnemonics performances can still amaze people?
Even if performed in great speed or with great amount of knowledge, is it still that amazing or the amazement factor is damaged?


Thanks for any thought on the subject.

Itay
J ack Galloway
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Yes of course it is especialy if you offer to educate them in how you do it and then cheat.

Cheers

Jack
Corriveau
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As long as it is entertaining, it will impress people.

The Amazing Memory Test in 13 Steps can be a fun routine and there is plenty of room for comedy.

Done right, it can still bring an audience to their feet. Although 30 items is probably too many these days - 15 or 20 would be sufficient.
Parson Smith
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The older I get, the more I appreciate anything that involves memory.
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Scott Cram
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First, a performance of memory feats is nothing more or less on its own than the performance of magic feats. With little or no character and presentation, both can be intriguing at first, and then quickly becoming boring or even insulting (see what I can do that you can't?).

A good example of how to present memor feats is the Café's own Dr. Wilson. How does he perform memory feats AND keep his audience's interest? He presents all his memory routines as a snake-oil salesman trying to sell his miracle cure for the failing memory. It works very well, because he's playing a character to which the audience can feel superior. Dr. Wilson's memory may be better than the audience's, but the feats are delivered with humor, charm and a character that doesn't insult the audience.

Many others, including Harry Lorayne, Kevin Trudeau and Paul Szauter, have done memory lectures as a demonstration of the empowerment their audience can achieve and feel.

Speaker Joe Riding has a great angle for a memory feat that he does. Whenever he performs for a charity, he challenges people to defeat his memory. If he fails anyone's challenge, he must pay them $5. If he passes their memory challenge, however, they must donate $5 to the charity. This is a brilliant example of using challenge as a presentational ploy, without making the contest personal (even when the audience is losing money!).

As Jack Galloway suggests, another way to intrigue people is as a demonstration of the way people can cheat at gambling.

Keep in mind, performers of memory feats don't have to worry about keeping their use of mnemonics a secret. Any secret use of mnemonics in magic, performed properly, won't even bring the concept of memory and mnemonics to the audience's mind.

Ultimately, whether memory or magic performances are entertaining are not up to the feats themselves, but the performer.
Itay
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First of all, thanks for your great comments.

Now, Just for the the conversation-

I know that a good mnemonic feat is more then just the "method”, yet I try to look from the audience point of view-
Many of them know exactly how such feats work as memory knowledge is more common and known today then ever before.
Just imagine a magic trick that the secret is known to many in the audience and the performer tries to entertain with that effect.
Of course the audience can enjoy the presentation, humor etc but the core of the effect, the mystery factor, is gone due the audience’s knowledge.
I believe that many in such audience will not be impressed from the feats compared to ones that don’t know anything about mnemonics.
For me that "wow"/amazement factor is crucial.
There might be some solutions to that “problem” such as: combining “magical” trickery, performing with vast amount of knowledge, performing in great speed etc. but I still feel that the “core” amazement factor of the feats might be gone or damaged.

What do you think?

Thanks,
Itay.
Scott Cram
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If we're talking about memory feats performed as part of a magic or mentalism show (as opposed to a routine of only memory feats), then the question changes.

In mentalism, where the audience is often led to wonder just how much of what they've witnessed/experienced is real, the audience's familiarity with memory technique as something real may actually increase the credibility of the other parts of the show.

By contrast, this idea wouldn't work as well in a magic performance. In "Unforgettable" (from Pit Hartling's book "Card Fictions"), Pit Hartling talks about originally doing this pseudo-memory routine as legitimate memory demonstration. He found that people believed it 100%, and it did not feel right to him. He writes:

Quote:
To me, magic is the art of evoking the feeling of impossibility. For a performance to achieve this, I believe two conditions must be met:

1. It must be absolutely deceptive and
2. It must not be considered authentic.

<...snip...>

I did not want this particular routine to be considered simply a display of memory. That's why I added the somewhat playful premise of orange juice having an effect on my brain. Since I started presenting Unforgettable that way about two years ago, only very few people still truly believe that the effect was achieved by real memory. At the same time, there seems to be asolutely no other explanation.
Itay
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Again -thank you all for sharing your interesting thoughts on the subject.

Scott, Let me ask you this-

I plan to do a performance based on “Legitimate” memory feats only (I really like to entertain with the “real “ stuff)
I do not want the feats to look like magic tricks; I am looking to create amazement based on the skill itself (and to entertain at the same time- I do not want just to “showoff”)
I have that strange feeling that people who know how to do such feats by themselves (even simple feats) or know the “power” of mnemonics will not be that impressed with my feats.
That is why I look for new and clever ways to make my feats (or create new ones) look more amazing even to those who might know about mnemonics or to do such feats by themselves.

Thanks for any advice or thought.

Itay
Scott Cram
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"Sharing is a much better way of communicating than proving or showing off."
-Yo Yo Ma

One of the best places to start for learning about what is truly entertaining is the book Strong Magic (yes, I know you're doing a memory act, but the principles still apply) by Darwin Ortiz. This book will get you started in the right direction, and help prevent the "showoff" quality you want to avoid.

Another good resource is Dan Harlan's "Pack Small Play Big" DVD series, which offers a great way to help structure your act.

Also, realize that you need a place to "be bad", so that you can develop the act into something good. Start with classic memory routines, and make them interesting and entertaining to your audience by the force of your personality and experience. By starting with the basics (magic square, list of 20 items, etc.), you know that it's you who is giving it a new life. The more audiences and the more feedback you can get (and, of course, the more you're willing to listen to them), the quicker and better your act and stage persona will develop.

Roger Klause often talks about "Mr. So What?". He's the guy in the audience whom you have to work towards. Ask yourself why this guy should be at all interested in your memory feats. If you can grab his interest and attention, now you're acheiving something!

Also, take a look at my blog and "Be a Genius*" sites (links below) for other memory ideas and concepts.
Itay
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Great and helpful ideas.

Thanks a lot.

Itay
Alexander Marsh
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I think another point to add would be that because people know about memory techniques they are still powerfull in performance.
Most people know but have never been bothered (or had the time) to apply them so as long as you don't over play it, they will amazed at your abillity, which often seems to go beyond what they think they know, and at your abillty to have acctually applied them.
scott b.
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Hey guys,

I just got Harry Lorayne's memory book and must say I am impressed with it. After having it for 3 days and reading it (now about a week) I was able to memorize decks like I never could before. Memorizing 20 digit numbers that I thought were never imagineable. I am a bit rusty (but hey, I just started the techniques) and do think that yes, this stuff is impressive. A must buy book.

Sorry for making it sound like a plug,

Scott
Thanks! Scott B.

"I don't know the key to success . . . but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." - Bill Cosby
Scott Cram
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Itay, until you can get Strong Magic, I've summed up the entire book as a series of questions you should ask yourself. This is a quick way to get you thinking in the right direction.

PsychoMagi - well said!
Itay
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Scott,


Thank you so much, it was great and very very very helpful!

I really appreciate your help.

Itay
Richard Osterlind
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Itay,

I performed my memory demonstration (from my ebook) at my last L&L taping and it was a huge success! I have done this for all sorts of audiences and have found very few who really knew anything at all about the systems. Even if they do, the SPEED at which you perform usually blows everyone away. You can also do all sorts of little add-on's that increase the entertainment value immensely. Go for it and do not assume everyone knows the secret.

Richard
Bill Palmer
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I used to do the twenty object memory feat at certain types of parties. It worked very well, because I made it interesting for the spectators. One of the ways was this:

I had a whiteboard on stage with me, that had numbers from 1 - 10 down the left edge and 11 - 20 down the center. I brought up an audience volunteer to write down the objects as they were called out. I was blindfolded. I would ask one person to give us a number and another to give the object. I would ask for detail on the object -- for example -- car.

"What kind of car?"

"Mercedes"

"What model?"

"220 SE"

"What year?"

"1979"

"What color?"

"Maroon"

"What is the license plate number?"

"GWD 495."

Then you repeat, "number 7 is a 1979 maroon Mercedes 220 SE, license number GWD 495."

As you add items to the list -- remember you have them call the numbers you are using out of sequence -- you will begin to have interesting juxtapositions of objects, so for example, someone may say "13"

"What do you want to put between the Stradivarius violin and the pair of green ostrich hide Nocona Cowboy boots with the initials FZ on them in 24 karat gold letters?"

And when you get down to the last two, you can have fun with that.

Now here's the reason this works so well. First, you are involving as many as 41 audience members. They will be eagerly awaiting your first miss. Second, adding the detail makes all of this easy to remember. Third, even if they are familiar with the techniques involved, they probably can't do it.

So, although it isn't a matter of presenting the absolutely impossible, it is a matter of presenting something that they think is absolutely impossible.

Don't think like a magician. Think like a spectator.
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Murfmind
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The only thing I might add to this is an endorsement to the above guys who perform this. Years ago I worked for Dale Carnegie Courses and part of our demonstration at preview sessions was a memory technique in appearance to what Bill Palmer and Rich Osterlind talked about. It never failed to amaze people even though they knew we would be teaching a technique for doing such. The speed with which one could memorize got one of those " holy cow " reactions from people. Murf
Ideation
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Quote:
On 2005-03-24 19:08, Itay wrote:

are Mnemonics performances can still amaze people?



In my own experience as an audience member, memory effects can be either very impressive or else very boring -- there seems little leeway for anything in between.
For example, I remember feeling that the mnemonics routine performed by Bob Cassidy (an otherwise wonderful veteran mentalism performer, as we all know) on his video was not (to me, anyway) very entertaining. When he told the audience he was performing for in the video (and how I wish more mentalism videos featured performers working before live audiences!) that he used to do a memory act on cruise ships I appreciated his comment, "Believe me, it was BORING!" but wondered why a great mentalist such as himself would even have performed such an act, especially on a cruise which by its very nature is something where people are on vacation and want lively entertainment.
On the other hand, a relatively brief memory effect performed by Lee Earle on Vol. 1 of his "Best of Syzygy" series ("Deep Sea Digits" was it?) was, to me, very impressive and entertaining (admittedly, perhaps because, unlike Cassidy's memory effect, it didn't involve playing cards.)
Ed Hutchison
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Itay asked if memory demonstrations still amaze audiences.

I had the pleasure this weekend of seeing Len Sparagowski's memory demonstration at the Cavalcade of Magic in Eureka Springs, AR, and to say it was amazing is to understate the case and do an injustice to Len. It was amazing, squared--if there is such a thing.

He had a deck shuffled by a spectator, and then took about 10 seconds to memorize it. Spectators then called out cards and were immediately told where in the deck that particular card would be found. Alternatively, observers could call out a number from one to 52, and Len would immediately tell them the card at that location. It was a wonderful and dramatic demonstration.

Those who know Len's personal story know that it is an amazing one. Without going into detail, suffice it to say that even after 60 years of study, Len practices several hours every day, perfecting his technique. At the age of 88, he remains an inspiration to all who meet him.

Incidentally, as a former psychology professor, I have a fair academic understanding of mnemonic techniques and am familiar with various memory experiments. This background only enhanced the impression Len made.


Edward Hutchison
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Home Page: http://www.ERHutchison.com
Ruben Padilla
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Darn it... I forgot what I was going to post!
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