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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » Do gambling demonstrations diminish the impact of a magic show? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Bill Palmer
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This is a two-edged kind of discussion. It applies to anything other than pure magic that is introduced into a show.

If you are doing a magic show, and there is nothing in the show to indicate that you have excellent sleight of hand abilities, does the introduction of a gambling routine, such as the three shell game or three card monte destroy that feeling of pure magic?

If you are doing a mental act, does the introduction of a gambling routine into the act produce an implication that what you are doing is strictly sleight of hand?

If you are doing a mental act, does the use of hypnosis produce an implication that you are actually doing something entirely differently than what it seems that you are doing?
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Payne
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The question is of course "Do your spectators ever attribute anything you do to "Real Magic"?".
How many times have you had member of your audience, after seeing you do an effect or two, comment that you must have fast hands or that they certainly wouldn't want to play cards with you. Most people these days attribute the effects they are seeing to the magicians physical skill rather than his supernatural powers.
So I really doubt that an gambling expose segment would detract from your performance, unless of course you were doing some Bizarre piece that required the audience to believe you had true magical abilities.
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Bill Palmer
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There is a line from Punx that I think is important here. He says that when he finishes a show, he doesn't want people to say, "What a clever magician!" He wants them to say, "What a great artist!"

Are people more likely to credit great skill and dexterity or some kind of special devices?
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Jonathan Townsend
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Perhaps after doing a demonstration of skill you could let them shuffle the cards and make skill seem inapplicable?
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I do see not see a lot of gambling stuff as magic. In fact there is a lot of stuff I see magians do that I do not see as magic at all.
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Bill Palmer
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The reason I'm asking this is that when I do gambling demonstrations, the impact doesn't seem to be as dynamic as when I do "straight" magic. It's not a matter of chops or getting caught. It's not even a matter of low impact material. I think it's a matter of finding a level of frustration for the viewer.

They know that no matter how clever they are, they won't win the bet.
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Jonathan Townsend
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Aw come on Bill, I used to start with Bruce Cervon's trick The Devil's Elevator playing it up as skill and ending with the nearly impossible tabled bottom deal.

Other more seasoned performers must have explored this approach.
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I've been to a few demonstrations, instead of Oohs and Ahhs, I hear Ohs?.
Bill you are an entertainer and audience feed back is very important.
Instead of thinking of these departures from your normal act as a demonstration, think of it as a show and you'll get what you give.
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Rik Chew
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I probably wouldn't mix the two together in one performance, there's enough material in both magic and gambling, to have an act 'themed' around one.

A tabled bottom deal, now that sounds like something, though I can think of a way to reasonably simply get the same effect... What's that routine, I've never heard of that, not that that's saying much!
Whit Haydn
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I do the shell game and endless chain in magic shows, and it is usually seen as a nice change of pace.
Bill Palmer
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That tabled bottom deal sounds a lot like my tabled center deal. It was an interesting thing to work up, but not worth it in the long run.

I think you are right about presenting it as a show, and not as a gambling demonstration, because I have a couple of items I regularly use -- non card ones -- that are presented as gambling games, but I don't let the spectator guess until the end. Then they win. But not in the way most people would think.
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Dave V
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Quote:
On 2006-05-01 16:48, Whit Haydn wrote:
I do the shell game and endless chain in magic shows, and it is usually seen as a nice change of pace.


Whit, in both cases you're not really doing a "demo" of them, you're actually playing the game, although you do hint in no uncertain terms that some cheating is going on. Nowhere during the performance are they thinking that the pea "magically" transported to a different shell, or that the chain "magically" penetrated their finger. In both cases it's clear you're the "con man" not the magician.

I see that differently than someone doing a full set of card magic, only to "pop their bubble" by then revealing how gamblers can use similar moves to cheat people. You've now given them an explanation that they can fall back on to satisfy themselves that "he must have been using those moves earlier, so it wasn't magic after all..."

Once you show them how a cheat can deal seconds, centers, bottoms, whatever what stops them from thinking (right or wrong)that you used those same methods in the other parts of the show? Where's the magic now?

This ties in with your philosophy of modeling close up magic after the con man rather than the card player. Now that I've seen you perform "live" I can see what you mean but I just can't exactly put it into words.
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Whit Haydn
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That is a very astute observation, Dave. There is a big difference between doing a "demo" and playing the game. I always enjoy directly challenging the spectator whenever I can, and actually having one or more of the spectators playing the role of the "sucker" adds excitement and interest that is difficult to obtain when the shells or chain are presented as an expose without direct audience challenge.

However, there is a sense in which the shell game and the endless chain are just like any other magic trick.

Basically, you are stating a lie and then proving it:

"One loop is always inside the chain, and one loop is always outside the chain."

"The pea actually slides from one shell to the other--just faster than the eye can follow. See?"

Part of the fun of the game is to see if you can catch the performer lying, cause you know there is something wrong here...

It is the same with any magic trick.
Jonathan Townsend
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Okay, what about dice stacking?

Seems to impress.
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Whit Haydn
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Dice stackers tell a lot of lies, but the audience usually believes those. It is really just a display of skill, augmented just beyond the possible by perspicacious mendacity. "Name any number..."

There is usually no claim to such a skill that the audience couldn't accept it. They will assume everything done is by the skill attributed to it. There is nothing that would offend their sensibilities and make them go, "No way! You're cheating! That couldn't happen!" as in a magic trick. They simply go "Wow! That's impressive! You are really good!"

If you load the cup with a large douse, an orange, a glass of liquid or whatever, then you are no longer dice stacking. That would be magic.

The reaction at this point will not only be greater, it will be of a different kind.
Dave V
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In my (admittedly brief) experience with busking, I used dice stacking merely as an attention getter, going for progressively more difficult stacks as the crowd builds. Well, visually more difficult. In reality the later stacks were actually easier, but I wasn't going to tell anybody.

I finished with a single jumbo die load, and went on to the magic portion of the show from there. In this case, there were no gambling demos or cons of any kind, as I was in a foreign country and the language barrier would have made it hard for me to clearly explain what I was doing, or what I wanted them to do. As it was, even the simple "hold this" of the McAbee Rings was assisted by a friendly grandmother who explained to her grandson what I wanted him to do.
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landmark
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Gambler vs Magician effects seem to play on this dichotomy.

So I could imagine a show routined as "here's what gamblers do, now let's get on to the real magic."


Analagous to what Derren Brown and others do with mentalism: "Okay I've just shown you some clever card tricks, now let me show you the real thing . . ."

By contrasting one kind of skill with another, we can play around with foreground and background.


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Dave V
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Here's an imaginary conversation inspired by my reading "The Shiels Effect":

"Can you do real magic?"

"Of course I can! I just perform these tricks because that's what they expect me to do."

Sometimes you can get away with both, as long as they know the difference, and you don't "demo" something that you just performed.

For me, gambling demos are fine, just not during a performance of card magic.

Others will surely come on and say "It's worked for me for years..." and that's fine... for them. I just don't think I could switch gears (or more importantly, get my audience to switch gears) from one to the other in the same performance.
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Quote:
On 2006-05-01 17:45, Dave VanVranken wrote:

I see that differently than someone doing a full set of card magic, only to "pop their bubble" by then revealing how gamblers can use similar moves to cheat people. You've now given them an explanation that they can fall back on to satisfy themselves that "he must have been using those moves earlier, so it wasn't magic after all..."

Once you show them how a cheat can deal seconds, centers, bottoms, whatever what stops them from thinking (right or wrong)that you used those same methods in the other parts of the show? Where's the magic now?





You can set up possible methods and then later destroy them; this is similar to the agreement that Whit gets in his Intricate Web of Deception routine - "That would be real magic, wouldn't it?!" For example, I present my poker deal in the form of showing how gamblers USED TO cheat in the early days of poker, openly setting up 4 aces, then dealing a 5-handed game and bottom dealing myself 4 of a kind; I then explain that wouldn't work now, because the deck would have to be shuffled (false), cut (false), every card would have to come off the top fairly because bottom dealing is so well known (every card DOES, in fact, come off the top), and I let the spectator pick my partner...after shuffling and cutting and taking each card off the deck fairly, when the hand the spectator selects ends up with a royal flush...that wouldn't be cheating; we've just seen how gamblers cheat and made those methods impossible. That would be real magic...wouldn't it?!
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Dave V
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There you go! I told you someone would come along and offer what works for them.

Congratulations. That sounds like a very good way around the issue. Rather than destroy your previous work by doing the demo, you destroy the demo, leaving them nothing else to believe. Good job!
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