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DaiBato
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I purchased a book entitled "Programmes of Famous Magicians" by Max Holden.

Though fascinating, it still doesn't answer a question I have: how do you routine your act?

Is there any method to the madness?

I'm sure trial and error is involved, but is there any underlying theory to routining? I wanted to see what the Magic Café's take on this major topic was.

Dai Bato
kregg
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Start big - keep the middle tight - Finish Bigger!
POOF!
bishthemagish
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Thank you for asking this question. My first suggestion is to get a copy of Greater magic and read the section that Fu Manchu wrote (David Bamberg Okito's son) on showmanship and presentation.

There are no set rules but here is some thoughts. First of all it depends on what venue or kind of show you are doing. Stage - close up - outside or inside. And here are a few thoughts that might help you along.

Close up inside.

I like to open with the chop dice cup because it draws them in. And I draw the audience in when they look at the cup. When they look at the cup there is an investment on there part in interest as to see what happens. Then the short routine - bam climax the end. They are hit with a shock big surprise with the loads and after that the audience is hooked.

Then two card effects. Take several cards they help with the magic by cutting piles and I have fun with the classic force and this is lighthearted and it entertains.

Then matrix - cards to coins and an effect that fools them.

Then The shell game - a show of skill plus if done in the right way it entertains and is light hearted with good situation comedy.

Then cups and balls - a short and snappy routine with the loads as a strong climax.

Inside this works out very well but outside you must gather a crowd if you are performing close up at a trade show or a mall. If I am in this situation I open with the cups and balls. The dropping the cups through each other makes NOISE and attracts attention. I pass three cups out and that draws them to my table because they have to give the cups back and now they have an investment of interest.

Then I do the same act and close with the anvil in the hat. Erdnase card in the hat with the anvil as a load. Then I pass the hat for a tip if I am doing street magic.

If it is a stage show my advice is to open strong - entertain and then end strong.

If it is an outside stage show at a fair or festival and you open with some flash trick you may be half way through the routine before you get a crowd. So what I do half hour before the show is make balloons and have people line up to get a balloon. I have often gone where the people are and then make balloons and slowly walk back to the family stage. Leading the crowd like the pied piper.

Then I get on the stage start the show and do the linking rings. It makes noise and attracts the crowd. My dad used the misers dream for the same reason. Plus getting a kid up for the first trick is a good idea to get that bond with the audience.

Inside I often do the hydrostatic glass to music.
Rings
Chinese sticks
Sympatric silks
card duck
Chain escape burned bill cups and balls
Jumbo 3 card monte.

If I need to pad the show to make it look bigger I use a Zig Zag, or my blade box a chair suspension or the broomstick cabinet I call the star chamber.

If I need more time close up for a formal close up show I pad the show with three card monte and the poker punch deal and other gambling stuff.

That is the run down of the order - why - and what works for me as far as show structure is concerned. I hope these tips are helpful.
Glenn Bishop Cardician

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Bill Nuvo
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I can often spend a year putting a new act together and even then it's not finished. I still have to audience test the material. And then make changes, then tweak some more, audience test some more....

First you have to start with the best material you have. Sometimes you won't know what works best until you perform it. So trial and error are the best methods. Also, studying how others (not just magicians, but jugglers, movies, public speakers, ads) put something together, you can take some of their ideas (not routines or actual performances but the theories) and see if they apply to you. For example. In dance, you'll often see them making eye contact with the audience and even a little nod towards the audience can add so much.

Kregg's suggestion is very valid but missing some important info which can make it misleading. By "big" and "bigger", it doesn't mean in size, but in the strength of the effect. Every show has weaker moments. But what you have to do is make those weaker moments as strong as they can be and surround them by stronger effects.

Now we can't say what is a strong effect in regards to just naming a trick. It really depends on the performer. The interlude illusion as done by Siegfried and Roy, in my opinion isn't as strong as Copperfield's. And this is why I think Copperfield is able to drag it out longer. S+R version is done well and it fits their style, probably as best as it could, but it is definately not their strongest effect.

I hope some of this rambling helps.
Dannydoyle
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Routining an "act" or more appropriatly a show, is really a tough thing to cover on the internet.

It has to do with scripting issues, ups and downs, the building and releasing of tension, comedy, drama, and the eventual build up using these tools to a logical ending that leaves them wanting more. How much time, blocking, staging and all of these things come into play.

And that is if you want to do a close up act right. Let alone a stage production. Add lights, music, assistants. It really can NOT be covered here properly I am afraid.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
tommy
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Speaking as a pure armature card guy.
With regard to cards there is cool advice on "The First Trick" in "Expert Card Technique". Roughly it says make it a good one but moreover one that gives you confidence.
The whole choice of material should be limited to that which you can do well with comfort and suits your style of course. Sometimes we armatures try biting off more than they we can chew I think.
Also some card tricks follow each other nicely because the prior trick has left the deck in an order that is helpful to the next. That might help in the choice and influence what follows what and why. We armatures do not get as much chance to audience test by trial and error what we do. Personally I have never worked out a real routine, if asked to do a few card tricks, I just do what springs to mind. I only do impromptu work with a straight deck. I would like to work on a real routine just for fun and thank you for the advice.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

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bishthemagish
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On 2006-04-16 12:54, DaiBato wrote:
I purchased a book entitled "Programmes of Famous Magicians" by Max Holden.

Another one of the books I like on this line is Spotlight on 101 great magic acts by Tony Taylor.

There are people in magic that like to talk about the importance of scripts, costumes, dance lessons, acting lessons, make up and things like being in character and magicians are actors pretending to be magicians. And like to think that magic is adult serious work.

The real truth is that most magicians do small local shows.

This is what Jack Gwynne did when he wanted to book himself into Vaudeville. He got out pen and paper and made a list of the tricks he could do. Then he made a list of tricks that others were doing in vaudeville. Then he crossed off tricks that he could do that others were already doing.

From what was left he made up his first vaudeville act.

Get out paper and pen right now and make a list of what you can do. Start with a strong opener. Put in stuff to entertain in the middle and then a strong closer. Then go out and do it in front of several audiences. After making changes and after a while you will have an act.

Magic has a lot of people in it that take it to seriously and there is a lot of theater mumbo jumbo. But it also should be fun. Like one of the days I stopped by Magic Inc one afternoon to ask Jay Marshall a question. He was taking tricks off a shelf and asked me if I wanted to go out to lunch with him.

He handed me a few things to hold and asked if I had a deck of cards on me. I said no so he handed me a deck to. He said follow me. We went out the door and walked a block or so to a church that was about a block away from Magic inc. He said that he was doing a small show here and then we would go out to eat.

Then he said here is what your doing. You can do the sponge balls right. I said yes. So as he took a bunch of stuff from off the shelves of magic inc. You do the sponge balls a couple of card tricks and then cups and balls. And he handed me a set of Ross Bertram cups then went into the kitchen for three lemons for the loads.

He went out did the vanishing cane - newspaper hat needled balloon. Introduced me - I did my bit including cups and balls on a stool. Then he closed with Lefty. The guy that was having the party gave Jay $50.00 and from that it covered lunch and my pay was lunch and a fun day with Jay Marshall and a set of Ross Bertram/Charlie Miller cups.

I left and forgot the question I had wanted to ask Jay - the reason I went in Magic Inc for in the first place.

I mentioned this party to my Dad after he got home. And he said that Jay Marshall gets short notice calls at Magic Inc all the time - Calls to do Birthday parties and all sorts of small shows. And he doesn't care what the fee is - he just grabs a bunch of tricks off the shelf and then he goes and does them. He has fun - makes some money and doesn't care what others say.

So go grab some tricks off your shelf and go out and have some fun and make some money!
Glenn Bishop Cardician

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Dannydoyle
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Glenn your forgetting ONE important componant of the equasion.

Jay had 70 years experience by the time you had seen him do this.

The mumbo jumbo you speak of is what holds theater and shows together. It can not be ignored. It was second nature to Jay. Trust me I worked with him for 10 years.
Routining and such were his specialty. Yea he did what you speak of and the audience never knew the difference, but to suggest this as a way to put a show together is somewhat disingenuous don't you think? Yea having fun is important and all of the things you mention, but to completly discount the mumbo jumbo as you so flippantly call it is not fair. Jay himself is who taught me most of the mumbo jumbo I know. He was an absolute master at it. He knows the Juan Eskadero paper hat is a great lead in for the vanishing cane.

As you admit he CLOSED with Lefty. He knew it was good theater. You don't have the resume' that Jay did without the mumbo jumbo. It is not possible.

As a matter of fact the "mumbo jumbo" is what often the only difference in amatures and professionals. To simply dismiss the need to think of these things will serverly cripple anyone trying to take magic seriously as an "art" or as a professional venture.

To do small local shows yep your right, having fun may very well be the most important ingredient. But to aspire to more you have to work more.

So if all you want to do is small local shows(which is perfectly ok by the way) then cut short learning anything. BUT if you want to aspire to more, then you should do more. Even Juan Tamariz in his books stresses the importance of these things. The 5 points in magic goes OUT of its way to stress them. The whole book is about body language and such.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
bishthemagish
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Magicians today are not playing in vaudeville. Few are doing things in Branson and Las Vegas. Most just do small shows. I am not telling anyone to take a shelf full of royal magic or Tenyo magic and go knock on the doors of Las Vegas.

What I am telling people is to dust of some of their props that they have on the shelf and get out there and have some fun. Jay Marshall after all his success DID birthday parties. My Dad after all his success did birthday parties and balloon deliveries.

Most of the theater stuff is not needed. Sure if a magician wants to study theater they can - acting dance - go do it and if it helps them great.

But in magic it is not needed for MOST magic shows. All anyone needs to do magic IS to be a nice guy - and a group of tricks that they are successful at doing. Be a gentleman like Nate Leipzig said. Have a personality a warm and friendly smile. Love the audience and they will love you back.

Not much more is needed if they need more like lighting or the extras like make up they can just employ someone to do the job.

All they need is to know their performing material - be ready to perform at the agreed upon time. After that they walk out and hit their mark and it is show time.
Glenn Bishop Cardician

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tommy
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In a nutshell can you guys tell me what you mean by "Mumbo Jumbo". I guess you mean theory? That experiece will teach theory more than reading or thinking about it?

Sorry, I posted that before seeing you last post Glen.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
JackScratch
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The problem with this question, is that it's a little like asking, "What is art?" or "How do I go about being creative?". They are all completely valid questions, that need answering, but I never know where to start with the answer. Your routine should be like a story. It can suggest a simple theme, such as a most basic progression (e.g. Pull your thumb of followed by sawing yourself in half). There can be an actual story, which is enacted by the various effects. (E.G. Miser's dream, where you tell the tail of a miser who in his dream was able to pluck money from the air, you discribe the dream by enacting it.) One of my favorites is to play the part of a character who is not a magician, but the things he does are magic effects. Truely, any literary format can be applied to routining, but to learn how to do it, that's a horse of a different coulor. You might consider taking some writing classes, but beyond that, I just wouldn't know where to start.
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Quote:
On 2006-04-16 18:36, Dannydoyle wrote:
So if all you want to do is small local shows(which is perfectly ok by the way) then cut short learning anything.


I don't agree here, Danny. Don't wanna short-change the AUDIENCE, even if the performance is VOLUNTARY. Smile Regardless of the size or location of venue, the audience deserves an informed performer. To perform otherwise, even if one can get away with it, is unfair to the audience and to the performer himself. Keep raising the bar.
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It seems to me that this topic has highlighted a problem in magic. No one seems to be able to explain clearly the theory behind it. Try it and see if it works does not seem right to me. I like to understand why it works not just know it works or doesn't.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
magicalaurie
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The only thing I find I can do about that right now is to KNOW WHAT I LIKE. Study the entertainers who ENTERTAIN. I have a theatre background, which I can apply to my "study". Develop my artistic eye.

Focus, pacing, efficiency, economy. Get to the point. Keep it moving with FOCUS. Trial and error will be necessary, I think. Many are natural entertainers. I believe myself to be one of those people. Even so, study of MUMBO JUMBO Smile can be extremely helpful.
Bill Nuvo
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The problem is that every audience and market is different. Along with every magician is different. And without know the question asking person better it is hard to help.

For example, I can do a stellar job at one show, go to the next just down the street, same age group and the show can recieved poorly. (this has really happened)

There just are too many variables to consider to have the perfect show. You have to consider:

age
culture
religion
sex
time of year
financial status
mental status
health

and more about the audience. Then there is yourself too. Some things you can handle on the fly, as it were, but that only comes with expanding your knowledge through learning about people and through experiece (trial and error).

There are many books out there that talk about psychological aspects of our performance. All should be read.

So make this shorter (I could really go on for hours on this). Know thyself. That is your starting point. Look at it from a viewpoint about how can YOU present these tricks to make them entertaining. It is not really about what trick would follow this or that. It's about looking at your own strengths and weaknesses.
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Tommy the act is like a routine. You have the start of the routine. The middle and then the end. And the end should have some kind of a climax to make the audience go wow.

The act is several routines blended together to a harmonious whole. That is you have a beginning a middle and an end. Grab the attention - hold it and entertain them and then the wow finish.

That is the theory as I know it. In vaudeville they saved the best trick or the big trick for the end of the act. So the act built to this climax. Now it is harder to get the attention. On TV if you do not grab the viewer in the first five seconds he or she will change the channel.

Knowing this many magicians open with something VERY STRONG to get the attention of the audience. But that depends on the booking. At a fair and you open with this effect often it is over before the crowd is there. First you have to build the tip (the audience) then the wow stuff.

Having grown up in show business I think that people in show business have big ego's and there is a lot of talk of theater that the mumbo jumbo. The magician does a trick to get a "Magic effect" from the audience. The magic comes from the magician. If the magician knows his or her performing material than they do not need anything else to do a show in most markets.

Now if the market is bigger the show must meet the market and the demands of the business. Fu Manchu worked with the Raymond show in South America. Then escaped (Quit) had a hard time for a long time and was broke. Tarbell sent him the complete Tarbell course for free.

He got hooked on magic and put together a small act of things like card in the banana, the needle trick and the Tarbell rope trick and a few other things. The torn and restore laundry ticket. Then he got a backer and produced the first show.

This show was a hour long show for theaters. He added illusions costumes a backdrop because he was in a theater and that was the equipment needed when you performed in theaters along with a movie. But between the larger effects he did the Chinese laundry ticket, card in the banana, needle trick.

All any big show is - is just a small show with padding. The padding and the extras can be hired on as a service and often there are unions and other things to deal with in the larger theaters.

All shows grab the attention, hold them and give them a wow ending. At least the successful shows do.
Glenn Bishop Cardician

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magicalaurie
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Mrbilldentertainer,
Very true. Gotta know yourself and your audience, too. Study, study, study.
Bill Palmer
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I'm confused. I see a post from Glenn explaining that he posted the invitation to view his 11 minute act to teach structure and texture, and then another that says, just do it, and ignore the MUMBO JUMBO.

I don't care where you are working, whether it is close up at a table in a restaurant, on a platform after a banquet, or at a trade show, every show has to have an opener, a middle and a closer. It doesn't just apply to vaudeville.

When Jay pulled those tricks off the shelf, he didn't just grab tricks at random, I'll bet. He knew what he was after.

He had his closer, Lefty, in his pocket. He did two classics -- the vanishing cane -- a good opener and attention getter, and the needled balloon -- which holds people's attention. Then you were the rest of the middle. Then he did Lefty. That's a strong closer.

Having a knowledge of theatre will help you, if only to keep you from tripping over your props. It's not absolutely necessary, but you need to be ready for when you get to work that big stage, because one day, if you are good, you will get a chance to do it. When you get there, lighting and makeup aren't "extras." And knowing how to hit your mark (and what your mark is!) is absolutely necessary.

This said, the way I programmed my act depended on the venue. If working close-up, I had an opener, a middle and a closer that were card tricks. I had another opener and middle and closer that were not card tricks. These were for strolling. At Magic Island, I had a close-up act for the rooms that were styled in Egyptian decor that was based upon Egyptian themed magic.

At Renaissance Festivals, when working the path, it was very much like a street show. In these cases, you have to gather a crowd, do your show and then pass the hat. The formula is a bit different. You have a crowd gathering bit, then you do what would be your real opener, then a middle, then your closer and your hat pass.

For bigger venues with a platform or a stage, same thing, bigger opener, bigger middle, bigger closer. By bigger, I mean more visible at a distance. This act can be the framework for a larger act or the first half of a longer show, if needed. You add material in the middle.

Some of the routines were in chunks of three, when I was working close-up. They made for a set that flowed together very well, but still had places for the audience to applaud. Some people routine their acts so tightly that the audience doesn't have a chance to respond. This hurts the ending.
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bishthemagish
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Quote:
On 2006-04-16 20:17, Bill Palmer wrote:
I'm confused. I see a post from Glenn explaining that he posted the invitation to view his 11 minute act to teach structure and texture, and then another that says, just do it, and ignore the MUMBO JUMBO.

I did not say ignore the mumbo jumbo I said and if you read my post - magicians are to much into the mumbo jumbo. If people want to learn theater, mime, dance lessons, lighting - and if it helps them great.

But I do not think it is needed in most magic shows.

Most magic shows need a magician that knows there performing material. Most magic shows can be done with a magician with a warm personality and a nice smile. Houdini was no actor. Many magicians said that he wasn't a magician.

But a lot of his audience sure thought that he was.

Dunninger said that the best thing about Houdini was his smile.

I can't say that a line of dancing girls and modern music wouldn't improve my what’s next spot card routine in a theater. But it would really look strange at a blue and gold banquet that I did last month.
Glenn Bishop Cardician

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tommy
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Cool I get it now thanks. Frankly I have been seeing no logical sequence to magic effects when I watched a show. Each effect seemed to be a unconnected and a thing on it’s own. Much like when I see a singer perform a series of songs, there appears to me to be no logical reasoning to the order they are song. The overriding factor seemed to be to get their attention and keep it until the finish. The effects only seemed to be connected by way of style. I saw nothing wrong with that but that’s how I seen it.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
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