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MagicMarker
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> You can only work on yourself.
> If you want, we can discuss the difference between the "you" doing tricks and
> you when not doing tricks.

I don't want to discuss that. Why are you fixated on me? If a non magician spectator came up to you and said, I've been to 10 magic shows and the non magic bits were embarrasing at 7 of them, would you want to discuss the spectators patter? Or how THEY are different when they are watching magic, and when they are not? Of course not, it's not the spectators fault if the patter is embarrasing.

You've said yourself that you cringe, turn down the sound, watch the audience being polite rather than amazed. This is the point I was trying to make, why my *lack of* patter keeps coming up confuses me.

I've heard discussions among magicians about the bad reputation that magicians have. The difficulty there can sometimes be in even getting in the door of a restaurant. Does anyone else see a possible connection between a bad reputation and the fact that a considerable number of magicians ruin their magic with bad acting and scripting?

> Okay, guess we gotta go back to basics.
> How do you account for the magic in your performance?

Similar to Irish guy I don't "account" for it, or explain it. I treat it like I would if I found a frog that could talk and I was showing it to my friends,
"Hey, look at this it's cool!", and I'm finding it as cool as the person watching the trick. I don't decide in advance that I'll pretend to not know how it's done, sometimes I say I don't know how it's done, sometimes I don't. It depends on the spectators.

I still don't see the relevance of this question to the original point, unless you are saying that magic needs a hook to explain it's raison d'etre and it's better to have a bad embarassing explaination than none at all.

If that is your point it's where you and I disagree, but I'm not sure that's the point you're making.

-MM
Jonathan Townsend
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Knowledge brings responsibility.

You can set a good example if you choose.

You can start by including yourself in the terms you use.

The premise of treating some aspects of your performance as if you were showing of a talking frog you found is sound. Smile What specifically is the "found frog" in your routine? The props? The ritual?

I've recently read a discussion of using an audience of cardboard cutouts and blow up dolls for practice. I suggested adding helium and doing a floating volunteer.

Merely railing against a collective indifference to theatrical issues is not going to help this community. Our reputation is made and reinforced by public perception outside our community. If you want better, raise the standards. To raise the standards, get out there and do better work. An informed public will choose the best product it can afford.
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Alan Munro
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Sure, most patter sucks, but I've also seen some of it that works really well.

A performer has a juggling act to do - many parts of a presentation have to fit his character. It helps if a performer can view his act, to a large degree, the way that the intended audience will. This can only come when a performer is in touch with his audiences and performs often enough.
Smoke & Mirrors
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I (think) it has something to do with magic as entertainment for kids.

Kids love stories, and kids love magic. Put them both together and you have a GREAT combination!

BUT, try this on a teen or adult audience and you look like an idiot.

Adults love Linking Rings set to music or Zombie set to music, kids like it, that way, for about 78 seconds then their bored with it.

I'm just generalizing here, but I think this has something to do with the problem. Patter and stories USUALLY work for kids better than adults, there are exeptions of course.

I usually LIMIT the patter for an older audience and try not to be too theatrical. For kids I get overly-theatrical and can be goofy.

To me, Blaine is good at limiting patter but I think he is overly-dramatical as far as trying to convince people he is wizard-like.

Somewhere in all of this are the fine lines!
Jonathan Townsend
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We try to find fine lines for whenever we perform.

probably need a whole script full of fine lines so we can use the parts we need for a performance.

;)
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Smoke & Mirrors
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Your right Jonathan, same as we do for tricks themselves. I look at my Master List of tricks and pick out whats right for each occasion, I guess I should do the same for my stories and jokes!
MagicMarker
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Interesting point about kids stuff not transferring. I don't know how many of the magicians I've seem perform for adults hones their skills in front of kids, but that might have something to do with it.

It's also possible that I just don't get American humour. Great Amerian writing and comedy is excellent, but I like the humour to be kind of subtle. I like Frasier and I like The West Wing which has some really great humour in it.

I tend not to like the Americans sit coms that I call the "Saved By the Bell" class of sit com. But that's the kind of humour I tend to see from magicians.

Though I can't lay all the blame at the feet of the Americans. I watched the Simon Lovell (English) Ambitous Card DVD that came free with Genii (I think) and I cringed at the wise cracks and winks and grins. The guy is brilliant with a deck of cards, but the thought of sitting through a full show where I couldn't turn down the volume gave me the creeps. NO offense to Simon, his style is unique and probably contributes to his success, but it left me cold.

So much so that when I was in New York last weekend I passed up the chance to go see his show. If I was on my own I "Might" have conviced myself to go, but my girlfriend saw the ambitous card dvd too and no amount of suggestion from the guy at Tannen's was going to get her anywhere near Simon Lovell's show.

-MM
Payne
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Too bad you missed Mr. Lovell's performance. I too was dissapointed in the DVD as it didn't capture his performing style at all. I had the great fortune to see him perform at last years PCAM and he killed!!! Best straight jacket escape I have ever seen.
Yes most patter sucks, but then again most magic sucks. It's Sturgeons Law.
"America's Foremost Satirical Magician" -- Jeff McBride.
MagicMarker
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> I too was dissapointed in the DVD as it didn't capture his performing style at
> all.

I thought/hoped that might be the case, but sadly with only the DVD to go on there was no way we could have gone to the show. If I was on my own I would have probably risked it on the basis that annoying as it might be I might see some good magic. But when you're dragging a non-magician along you can't adopt that approach.

I'll keep your advice in mind next time I'm in New York Payne.

-MM
David Todd
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Quote:
On 2005-04-13 18:57, Brent McLeod wrote:
Does most patter suck?

In 6 out of 10 performers while performing certain effects -Yes!!!

Does the word patter suck?-Oh Yes!!

Script sounds better



Brent , you took the words right out of my mouth . First thing we need to do is examine why we use this word "patter" and what the word means .

"to speak in a rapid or mechanical manner ; to talk glibly; Meaningless talk; chatter. "

Another of the dictionary meanings of patter is : "The jargon of a particular group" .

We would be better off from the start if we carefully planned out our "internal script" and paid careful attention to the words we say in our "presentation" (not "patter) , as well as customizing the words to our own particular style or character . If we consider what we say to be mere patter then that's probably the result we'll get .

(meaningless, glib chatter/patter)
Eric Leclerc
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Does most patter suck??? Look at the thread right underneath this one...its called... "the magic toilet paper routine" lol enough said
Brent McLeod
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Quote:
On 2005-04-19 07:54, David Todd wrote:
Quote:
On 2005-04-13 18:57, Brent McLeod wrote:
Does most patter suck?

In 6 out of 10 performers while performing certain effects -Yes!!!

Does the word patter suck?-Oh Yes!!

Script sounds better



Brent , you took the words right out of my mouth . First thing we need to do is examine why we use this word "patter" and what the word means .

"to speak in a rapid or mechanical manner ; to talk glibly; Meaningless talk; chatter. "

Another of the dictionary meanings of patter is : "The jargon of a particular group" .

We would be better off from the start if we carefully planned out our "internal script" and paid careful attention to the words we say in our "presentation" (not "patter) , as well as customizing the words to our own particular style or character . If we consider what we say to be mere patter then that's probably the result we'll get .

(meaningless, glib chatter/patter)


David-

Says it all really!!
BobSheets
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Wow. You are a brave man. I always wonder where you heard that "patter that sucks". Was it in a live professional performance? A magic convention? One on one? Video tape? Right it was the video tape. (This could be a post all it's own.)

Had you seen his "live" performance in front of a real paying audience then your reveiw and opinion could have been a real one. I remember the FIRST time I saw Karrell Fox. I thought he was horrible. I wasn't sure the audience held the same opinion I did. It was at a convention and I found out later that he had some health problems. I then saw him many, many times over the next 10 years and he killed every time. So my opinion of just one performance was incorrect and I'm so glad it was.

I did like you admitting that some paticular patter was not to your taste. That is usually my thought.

The range of performers in our ranks includes very bad to very good. It is very few who can do everything. See my article http://www.fitchmagic.com/Sheets.htm. Many of my friends think that there is a lot of bad magic out there. I think the level of the average performer is much better than when I started.

I think a lot of our nasty problems start when some of these performers perform out of thier depth. It is like watching a bad swimmer in the deep end of the pool. They get in trouble and because they're better salesman than performers they borrow lines and patter out of context and then fail to connect with their audience. They can affect the public opinion of art in the most negative way. At times I have been called in to perform a year after a "comedian" who didn't connect with his audience performed. That I can do. Following a "bad" magician is much harder. I have to overcome all his baggage and still sell my show.

Corny performers have the worst time of it. I have real trouble with the cornball myself. There is nothing you can do about corny. If you suffer from this then you can't do comedy. It will always come off as corny. If the Cornball thinks they are funny then there are real problems. You can't say anything to those people. They will never see or admit this to themselves. On the other hand if you know you're corny, and can embrace it then you and your audience can kick that notion all over the court. I've seen a few rare persons actually pull this off with hysterical results.

That said. Writing patter and comedy is real work requiring deep study and an understanding of who we are individually. I remember what it was like when I couldn't get my audiences attention or laughs. It happens less these days. I still continue to work very hard on this aspect of performing.

When I hear bad patter I try to think how could that be written better? Do I do that? Could it be stated or set up better? Was there no premise or no set up at all? That way I may be able to avoid the territory covered badly by my unfortunate brother.

When I hear good patter I am in heaven. I most likely forget where I am and if my feet are touching the floor or not. I only hope I can achieve the same in my performance. The effort is an ongoing process that I have come to love and embrace as part of what our art is about.

All the best. You are a brave soul for even bringing it up. All the best. bob.
Peter Marucci
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Magicmarker,
Of course most patter sucks.

If most magicians had an original thought, it would die of loneliness!

The problem is not the magician's thinking his patter is funny, or anything like that.

The real problem is that most magicians have no respect for their art.

If they did, then each of them would hire a theatrical director to tell them where they are going wrong (patter included).

A director, dammit! Sell your granny into white slavery if need be to raise the money to hire the best you can afford. It will still be a steal, no matter what the price.

But, you say, I don't do shows, or, I only do one or two a year.

So?

Toastmasters International is probably the best public speaking organization around; but do you think every member who is a more than capable speaker is going to become a motivational speaker -- or even speak to a group outside Toastmasters?
No, but they become better people by the experiences taught them and the direction given them at meetings.

(BTW, I do not belong, never have, probably never will, and have absolutely NO financial or any other kind of interest in Toastmasters. I just happen to know that they do a good job.)
Jonathan Townsend
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I put my ideas in a mental toaster oven till they are ready to present. Smile

Thanks for suggesting the professional help Peter. A director and some acting experience can do wonders for folks who want to offer more effective performances to their audiences.
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handa
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Patter doesn't suck any more than any other non-living, non-breathing thing.

Very little can suck in and of itself.

It is the application of the scripting in the presentation, the performer's attention and attitude toward himself, his material (methods, props, scripting, sound, and lighting), his character, and his audience that has an effect on the overall perception of the person and the performance.

Personally, I am not a fan of what I call "demonstrative magic." This is the typical "let me show you a trick" approach. Think of a typical magic shop/dealer room presentation (there are very many exceptions to this!);think of an illusion show where the curtain opens, an illusion is presented, applause cues are given, and the curtain closes and the cycle repeats until intermission (the next act or end of show). This, I realize, is just my perspective, but I can't watch magic for magic's sake.

How we treat the non-magic things is as important as the practice we perform on sleights or prevent our secrets from spilling all over the stage in front of our audience, maybe moreso. I prefer to use the terms "presentation" and "script" because "trick" and "patter" trivialize the performance.

This may not be a popular opinion, but a magician who has poor acting skills should spend less time rehearsing moves and methods and more time with a director or acting coach. As magicians, we do our art a disservice by performing unprepared, and that includes performing without a well-honed character or having a handle on the communication aspects of words and movement.

Thank you for asking the question. It is a valid one.

Chris
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Some patter can suck, but it is even better if the trick relates to an experince you have had, as you can use that in your patter. If that makes sense?
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Paul D
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Most patter does stink.when I get a new gimmick or routine I will only read the method because I do not want to be influenced by the given patter or presentation therefore all my routines are unique to me alone.
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George Ledo
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Oh, what the heck, here's my two cents' worth...

If we define patter as the verbiage that comes in the box with a trick, or in a description of a trick in a book, then I'm with the camp that says patter sucks. I believe it may have worked for the original writer, but we are not the original writer. I remember when I was a teenager studying Tarbell et al twice as hard as my school textbooks and thinking, hey, I can do better than this. I wanted to do better -- it was me up there in front of an audience, not Harlan Tarbell or anybody else.

But my real issue isn't even with canned patter. Magic is visual. Most of the magic I've ever seen didn't even need a commentary or a story... sometimes I've felt like the patter was a way of apologizing for the trick, as if the magic by itself weren't enough. I almost wanted to turn the sound off.
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daffydoug
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Quote:
On 2005-04-12 16:20, MagicMarker wrote:
I don't know if this is in keeping with this forum, it's not a comment on any patter I've read here. It's just a general thing I've felt for a while when watching magicians. Even technically excellent magicians.

Most Patter Sucks.

We all seem so intent in finding a new original framework for this or that trick that it doesn't seem to matter if that framework is corny, unfunny etc.

A case in point and this isn't meant to offend or single out any particular magician, but I saw a reasonably good show a while back which opened with the magician bringing a briefcase on stage and opening it to find another briefcase, and another in that and so on, a la russian dolls.

In the last case he finds a load that's obviously way to big to fit into the case.
It was well executed, it's visually a very good trick, but his patter was a "Mission Impossible" theme with him radioing back to control about all these briefcases.
To be honest his attempt at acting like a secret agent was more annoying than entertaining and it took from the trick a little bit.

It would have been a much better trick if he had done it silently just getting more and more confused until finally he found the load he was looking for. If anyone know's Rowan Atkinson's character Mr Bean, you'll know what I'm talking about.

This magician isn't unique, Patter in Books, Patter in DVD's. Even when magicians show each other tricks they automatically go into these stories that just do nothing for the trick.

I actually like one thing about Blaine which is he say's almost nothing when he does a trick and when he does speak it isn't to make an unfunny joke.

Is it just me? Does anyone else feel like this?

I don't doubt that good patter can greatly add to an effect, that's not what this is about, I'm talking here about the amount of bad patter out there, not whether scripted patter in general is a good or bad idea.

-MM


I find it fascinating that what you said about Blaine's patter on a positive note is exactly the same thing other magicians have griped about! They say his "look.. Watch" approach is dull and unimaginative. But you point out the simplicity of it and the effectivenes of it for what he does. It seems that there are two different sides to this coin, and NOBODY really knows the answer. We are all so different, and we all have different tastes and philosophies on patter and the art of magic in general. Appears to me that there is no real "truth" only theory and whatever works for the individual.
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