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bishthemagish
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This was inspired by the thread called “What hurts Magic” I think that criticism hurts magic. Let me explain. The reason I think that criticism hurts magic is that I see no real growing when it is done. When you criticize others in magic how does that make YOU grow?

Magic is a personal art that is performed on a personal level. Magic is performed like a Monologue as a single performer most often. If there are assistants they are assistants that are there to aide the magician and the magic. The magician IS the STAR performer while he or she is doing his or her act or show.

To criticize another in the field that is out there working does not land you a job. In fact it can work against you landing a job. Magicians do book other magicians. Magicians do help other magicians get ahead. Magicians do help other magicians learn magic. Magic is an art and a sub culture that works by sharing with others.

To criticize others for no reason can burn bridges. Magic success is made partly by sharing. I would not be the magician that I am today without magicians that share. That goes with the older pro magicians and magicians from my age group. To criticize the people that shared with me would be called the art of closing doors.

I have tried to make this point many times and from it I have had magicians say in places that I do not accept criticism. Being about 50 I have had more than my share of brickbats. It is not about me accepting criticism it is about criticism getting in the way of sharing information. I have seen magicians that others would say are the worst magicians in the world become people that have jobs and are in places of POWER that BOOK entertainment. People that like magic often used to do magic and often make up our clients and our audience.

Get what I am driving at?

It may be the squeaky wheel that gets the grease in show business but if you criticize the wheel in many cases it will stop turning. Or at least slow the wheel down. In fact most of the time when a magician criticizes others they do not grow at all - most often THEY shrink! Often in the real world of show business they hurt there own reputation.

To criticize others just because it makes you feel good or for immature reasons is not the road to success in magic.

Just some thoughts.
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Dannydoyle
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Glenn I may agree to a point. BUT think of if we don't accept critical thought, then where does that take us?

We need 2 abilities. The ability to be HELPFULL and critical, added to the ability to accept thoughtfull, truthfull, honest and forthright critical thoughts.

I am not arguing with you, believe me I am not. I am kind of clarifying and I hope expanding the definition a little bit. Looking at others acts in a critical way can indeed help us if we apply those critical thoughts to our own performance.

Magic is not performed in a vaccume. It is done for living breathing people. Not other magicians. people who pay to see us. If we refuse to accept critical thought this will kill any art form.

But indeed under the ways I have laid out. Problem is truth is unemotional. It is like the rain, it dosn't care who gets wet. So we get mad when critisisedand strike back. This is good for nobody. But neither is working with no critical eye.

True critical thought has 2 parts. Offering and acceptance. Many, myself included may offer it without malice, but without care for feelings either. Many can not accept it if they don't agree with it, no matter how true it may be.

I could not agree more that to do it for childish reasons, or to make others feel worse so you feel better is not right. BUT this is not true critical thought. It is malisious and mean spirited and indeed not a good thing for magic in general. But these people will not amount to anything anyhow.

Again I agree with you, but maybe the term, criticism is not quite right. Perhaps back biting, or sniping.

True critical thought is essential and helps. What you speak of is indeed some of the worst things that can happen to any art.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Patrick Differ
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You nailed it Glen.

Where magic is an art, criticism of magic is a fine art. To be able to effectively critique another's work is an act of the utmost highest intellegence. It is the hardest thing in the whole world to do correctly. And that is because very few people know the ingredients of a valid critique. I have a belief regarding this matter that I'll share with you privately.

To say that we must all be able to accept criticism is idealistic. Here's just one of my reasons. I have more. If a pro listens to criticism from a snot-nosed punk that thinks they know which direction the world turns, the pro is wasting his own time and their's. If a pro is listening to a critique of his work from another pro that knows what the heck is and isn't there, then there's a possibility for progress. There's a clear difference.

And the consequences of this folly... egads.

Your "doors closed" concept reminds me of the time I used to be in charge of hiring entertainment for a certain casino. "Burn me once, shame on you. Burn me twice, shame on me." That's a sharp sword that I definately know how to use, have used, and will use again when necessary.

Glen, your point is valid in more ways than one. It goes way deeper. You describe only the tip of the iceberg.
Will you walk into my parlour? said the Spider to the Fly,
Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I've a many curious things to show when you are there.

Oh no, no, said the little Fly, to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair
-can ne'er come down again.
The One
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Understanding why something works or doesn't for others can help you understand why it works or doesn't for you. Unless you are just repeating what you heard, If you are citisizing you are thinking. Of course if you are going to express your opinion, you should also be able to listen to the opposing views.

What really hurts magic is people who don't like to listen to criticism. Who always think they are right.

Criticism is NECESSARY in order for anything to improve. You don't have to change everything you are told to change. Criticism is good becuase if you can come up with a reason why the critique doesn't apply to you, then you have improved

The One
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bishthemagish
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Danny and Patrick Differ thank you very much for posting. Please let me ramble on a bit. I come from the mid-west. I grew up in a special but very strange way - that is in show business. I was around a lot of pro magicians and OTHER pro entertainers including vents, puppet masters, comedy acts jugglers, hypnotists, balloon artists etc.

But learning the craft there was an investment. I started as a birthday party magician when I was eight years old. I built my first show from cardboard tubes and coffee cans. My parents did not let me charge for the show until I could prove to THEM that it was worth money.

When I turned 13 my Dad showed me the die box. This was HIS die box - not a toy. From that moment I had arrived as a student of magic or my Dad would not have let me use his die box from his act. This was one of the few tricks my dad showed me how to do in all his years and my years in magic.

Next big thing - Houdini's Pub with Bill Malone, Bill Weimer and others. This was a growing stage learning how to do magic from people by doing it for people.

Next lots of magic and later a hypnosis show.

Here is the thing what some call constructive criticism I call advice. I do not think that any form of criticism is constructive or wanted. Criticism IS often used by a teacher to slam a student for speaking out of turn - or to nail them if they get a big head. In magic it is used often to nail another magician to a cross because they are successful.

Advice is different. If someone gives you advice it is never bad. Advice is useful or it is not useful but it is not bad. Getting advice from an audience is a must for success. Here is what I think of advice over criticism.

When I wanted to do a stand up act I was booked at Bit O Magic and the guy who booked it at the time was Bill Weimer. I did the first weekend and I went over fine. Two months later he booked me back for a second weekend. This time first night two shows I bomb big time. He shakes my had and says some nights are like that.

I go out and talk to the audience doing close up and find out what’s wrong. The audience gave me there advice. I took out what they did not like and put in more stuff. Next night I go over. The show goes over better.

The same thing I go out into the audience and find out what they like. I take the audience advice. If I ask them - most often they are honest and sincere and want to help if they can this is audience advice and to learn from it is taking advice not criticism. There is a difference.

I did the same thing with my hypnosis show. That is to go out into the audience and do close up and find out what they like and what they do not like. This advice from the audience is why my show is good and gets booked back.

I also agree about getting advice from other entertainers that are out there working. Many times someone like Dan Fleshman or Bill Malone and Bill Weimer will have a great idea or a gag that has been a great thing to add to the show. And often they know what to take out and what doesn't work - and have the show business know how to KNOW WHY!

My hypnosis show would be nothing without Marshall Brodien and his advice and routine ideas. He and Bev Bergeron have helped me so much with the hypnosis show Bev telling me about the hypnotist the Great Franquin - I can't thank them enough.

I am one of those old school guys that think criticism is insulting and often said as an insult. No one learns much from it and it often closes doors. Often it is said at the wrong time. Advice is not criticism and advice is educational. Advice should be given and is most often given at the right time and in the right place.

Patrick Differ and Danny we are saying and agree on the same things but are using different words to make the same points and I think we are on the same page.

Thanks for posting.
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Bill Palmer
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When I first looked at this thread, I was kind of puzzled. Then I realized how differently people can interpret a word.

There was a time when criticize meant to make an in depth analysis of a piece of work, not necessarily in a negative context. It really meant to analyze closely. Much of the progress I have made has been the result of criticism from people who understood what my goals were. This is what Glenn would call advice.

I don't believe that all criticism is negative. It doesn't have to be blunt. Many people have started using the word "critique" in place of criticize in order to indicate the process that "criticize" meant before it became such a negative term. But most people who judge writing style feel that the use of "critique" is somewhat pretentious.

I'll agree that when criticism is unwanted bashing, then it can be harmful to a performer and to his art. However, it can also give us some insight into how others view our work. If we learn to take criticism in the light of who has given it and what their experience is, it can be very helpful.

There was a music critic in Houston some years back who evidently had never learned the actual definition of criticize. He always blasted people's performances, even when everyone else, including those in the know, found them to be excellent. His partner once asked him "Why do you always say such horrible things about people's performances?"

He replied, "I am a critic. My job is to criticize. That means 'to find fault with things.' "

A trip to the dictionary changed his mind.

But it didn't change his attitude.

So people ignored him.

So if you feel that people are criticizing you unjustly, ignore them.
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bishthemagish
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Quote:
On 2006-04-11 23:23, Bill Palmer wrote:
So if you feel that people are criticizing you unjustly, ignore them.

True enough Bill, I often think of criticism in magic and give it as much thought as the sound of dogs barking far off in the night.

But if criticism gets in the way of exchanging information. Or gets in the way of a job or a booking. Or gets in the way of friendships in magic that could have been. Or starts a vendetta between magicians it can be on the childish side.

My thoughts toward this has not changed in many - years. If people in magic want to find fault with anyone, a product, - they will. But in doing so be careful how and why because there is a RIGHT TIME and a WRONG TIME to say criticism. I talked about this in another thread and my Dad was the example.

A young magician came in and showed off his completed promo. My Dad looked at it and gave him a nod. Now if that young magician came in and asked my Dad for his advice BEFORE the printing - the promo would have been improved. After the printing and if my Dad pointed out his mistakes would have been the wrong time also this was in front of a group of magicians.

In show business growing up with pro's some pro's were very nice and some not so nice. Everyone was different. But I found if I was careful and if I would choose the moment the right moment - they would be very helpful. I used to carry my Dads props at some corporate banquet shows. And back in the 60's they used to have big parties and have a show with LOTS of acts. If I tried to talk to these people while they were setting up and getting ready for the show - they would have hated the sight of me. But choosing the moment - after the show while helping them carry props to the car. They were very warm and wonderful people.

Having said all that it is the same with criticism and advice. There is a right time and a wrong time to give it.

Magicians that want to do magic and want to become professionals NEED to know this. We all want to contribute to magic. Magic is not about learning secrets and slamming other magicians. Magic is about looking in the mirror and SELF MASTERING yourself. Having grown up with many top pro's over at the house - I can't remember one ever use today's criticism on another performer or another act pro or not. In fact the only time I ever heard criticism was from my dad when I criticized another performer in my youth.

I had a Dad in show business that told me that criticism burns bridges. That criticism closes show business doors. He was right it can. There is a risk to criticism in show business just as there is a risk to cheating at a card game. Just as there is doing a act and walking out the door. Criticism at the wrong time can lose friends and make magicians not want to help you. Where would I be today without the help of others.

That is what I have been saying these past 4 years.

I think Patrick is right criticism is a double edge sharp sword. Magicians that want to have success in show business need to think about this.
Glenn Bishop Cardician

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TomBoleware
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Quote:
On 2006-04-11 19:51, bishthemagish wrote:
To criticize others just because it makes you feel good or for immature reasons is not the road to success in magic.
Just some thoughts.



Excellent thoughts Glenn. It's not a good road to success in anything.

I agree with Patrick, to be able to effectively critique another's work is the hardest thing in the world to do correctly. Very few can do it without hurting more than they help.

“Advice is like snow; the softer it falls, the longer it dwells upon, and the deeper it sinks into the mind.” Somebodys famous quote.

Tom
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Jonathan Townsend
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A little knowledge is...

Time to read the essay?
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If I may. To pour on nothing but flattery and praise, warrented or not, would be equaly faulty. I believe that fair and unbiased criticism is what the actual goal should be. If it helps, perhaps a replacement of the word "criticise" with the word "observe". Though I believe the actual actions and not the words used to discribe them is what needs augmenting. I certainly want other peoples observations of all of my work. Though I shoul;d comment I don't want just anyones observations. I prefer observations from those who's work I respect. Perhaps reserving criticism until asked for it, might be a good guideline to follow.
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Also remember WHERE you are. On a forum that allows false names that can couch the facts. When thoughts like 'Immature' and 'Childish' come to mind when reading a post that is unjustly or malisiously critical, the post could very well be from someone who IS immature and a child. What can you expect from a punk flaunting his vast knowledge and insight? Most often these twerps are discovered and just go away till the next one rears up and proves to the world that they were very recently having their bottom wiped for them. Offering credibility to obviously juvenile rantings is one way to keep them around and making them part of the circle. It is very difficult to consider the source when HappyDingDong79zonk is the poster and not John Smith who would then put his identity behind his words. Just another element but I think relavant to the topic.

We will always get critcisms for 'Immature reasons' because there are those here that are actually Immature. What else can they do? Especially when hiding behind a silly name. Exposure may after all have it's good points.
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I tend to place more credence in a post when I know who it is actually from. I also check out the web sites that are attached to some of the names. Try this sometimes, it can be interesting.

You may find that the fellow who is offering priceless knowledge is a fellow who thinks he is a big promoter, when he is really wrangling $75 a show birthday party magicians.
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The One
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Ok so criticism doesn'y hurt magic then... It hurts feeling. Feelings of people who don't understand that when you perform your are gonna be criticize no matter what. It's best if they let you know, that way you can analyze why they feel that way. When magicians criticize or question my magic, I argue back (that makes them think too). But I always think about what they say, as I've changed my opinion many times... and that's something I'm proud of.

Now Glen, your father either didn't wanna hurts the guy's feelings or he just didn't care about him. My colleagues and I have agreed to always be honest with each other... and we are always questioning and criticizing each other. We criticize because we care...We make each other better. And by trying to stop people from thinking, just because you just want people to listen to someone, hurts magic.

So maybe there is a right time and a wrong time for everything... well I would say this forum is the right place for criticism.


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bishthemagish
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"My Pappy used to say flattery is like perfume it is nice to smell but don't ever swallow it." Bart Maverick

I often think that Criticism if it were a drug sold in a bottle it most likely be sold by prescription and have a warning label on it to use it carefully and that it has some risk to it. Because it can have a boomerang effect and come back and knock you in the teeth.

Just some thoughts.
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Joe Mansfield
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Quote:

To criticize others just because it makes you feel good or for immature reasons is not the road to success in magic.



Since my post was the inspiration for this thread, I feel I need to explain myself.
My original intent was not (and still is not) to criticize in a negative manner. (Stay tuned for the next dramatic thread; Can one truly improve without criticism? LOL)

I tried to make my point clear: The individual in question claims to be a seasoned professional performer. However, his performance was clearly sub-professional. I have seen him perform on more than one occasion with the same results.
If one consistently delivers sub-professional performances, is it even ethical that one would even call himself a professional?
That is the sole reason behind my post.
If I were trying to be mean spirited or immature, I would have named the individual, which I absolutley refuse to do.
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There is a wonderful essay by Alexander Pope on criticism which covers many of the issues raised, and then some.
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bishthemagish
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Quote:
On 2006-04-12 11:46, The One wrote:
My colleagues and I have agreed to always be honest with each other...


Interesting thoughts... I will add this. Do you have that agreement with everyone you talk to? Sharing information is sort of a (almost) contract between two people. There should be respect. People say respect is something that is earned and to a point it is. But respect between colleagues should be a given at times.

I wonder how many people think that the friendship between two people should be 50 - 50?

I wonder if people think that a relationship or a business relationship should be 50 - 50?

Well if others feel that way it is OK with me. But I feel in friendships and relationships and business relationships I like to put in at least 60%. Because I know that people are busy and tired and often NEED you to do this. Speaking just as magic as a business and magic as friendship relationships. Doing at least 60% really opens the doors.

Quite a few years ago I was at a three sheeters New Years Eve party in Chicago. This was a black tie event. The three sheeters was a performers club and Don Alan, My Dad and just about every performer of the old school were members. Celest Evens, Jay Marshall - jugglers agents and other acts were members to. The women in evening gowns and dressed to the max.

While the party was going on an ice storm hit - the cars and the parking lot was covered with ice. The party ends people are leaving and can't get to there cars because of dress shoes and evening gowns. So I started getting there car keys, warming up there cars, scraping them of the ice off the wind shield, and then driving it over to them.

Many wanted to tip me but I refused the money. I did not make a dime for doing this for about 60 people. But what I got from it was priceless.

In magic, show business, life, it is good to give more than 50% at times. If you only give 50% there will be only few times someone important will tell how you pushed the envelope. How you saved the day, saved the booking. You did the extra you provided the sound system at a moment that it was needed. How booking the show and working with you was an ASSET. Friendship’s and a business relationship is an asset with that guy.

Basically we can sit on the sidelines and criticize things or see them as opportunities to jump in there and make someone’s day. And that is what I think magic is about. Making someone’s day - providing fun in a not so friendly dark world.

Just a few more thoughts.
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Al Angello
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A thick skinned guy will always welcome and appreciate some constructive criticism, but the final decision should always be made by the audience.
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bishthemagish
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Thanks for posting Al Angello. But - Everyone in show business does not have a thick skin. Everyone in magic does not have a thick skin. I agree that it is the audience that is the judge if the entertainment was good or not.

But the final decision of what is in or out in a show rests in my opinion with the performer. Sometimes we a right and sometimes we are wrong and often we have to make changes. Getting the audience advice on what they like and what they do not like is a good ideas if the magician wants to do an act to please the audience.

Pleasing magicians as an audience is a little different. They love magic and have a different way of looking at it. Magicians often are not into magic because it entertains them. Magicians are into magic often for other reasons. There are many magicians - and I am not knocking them that do magic well but have no or little experience doing shows.

So what are we talking about?

Is it good to get advice on what the audience likes and doesn't like from the audience at times? I would say yes.

Is it good to get advice from magicians that are out there working and they give you advice at the right time? I would say yes.

Is it a good idea to take advice from magicians that don't do shows and have little performing experience? Sometimes I would say yes?

Is it good to use criticism of others in magic just to make you feel good? And because you can. And because you hide behind a screen name?

As I said there is a right time and a wrong time. And doing it at the wrong time and in the wrong way has some risks to it. And that is the point I make above and something that magicians - "at times" should think about.
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Glenn we are on exactly the same page my friend. I suspected so from the beginning, just using different terms.

I prefer the term "critical thought".

By the way I should share something. I don't have time to stroke peoples egos. IF they are really bad and will never improve, am I being harsh by suggesting they take up another craft? Isn't the honesty a better thing than the horrible result of constant bombing in front of real crowds, who don't give a who ha about your feelings?

Honesty, (not brutal honesty, simply honesty) is really a better thing for everyone involved now isn't it? It is foolish to think faint praise will help anyone with no talent.

Lets be honest. There are some people who have NO business in show business. Is it so horrible to tell them so? Especially when asked? Many times people ask an opinion to get their ego stroked. They look not for honesty but support as they are insecure. Is this the best person to praise without a good reason?

This is the road we go down when we abandon complete honesty. It for me at least boils down to a simple phrase. "Don't ask me a question you are not fully prepared to hear the answer to.". Simple policy if you ask me.

And yes I live by this rule on both sides of the street. I ask people to be honest with me. I am pretty black and white. Your with me or your against me. You like me or you don't. You like what I do or you don't. It makes keeping score pretty straight forward.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
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