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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Ever so sleightly » » Reason for the Cups and Balls (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Craig Peterson
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Henning Nelms book on Magic and Showmanship is excellent. It can benefit any routine. One problem I have in applying his principles, however, is the cups and balls. No one can doubt this effect's worthiness, but there is no reason in the world for it. According to Nelms, it would qualify as simply a trick and leave out drama. That seems a shame.

Does anyone have a way of creating some reason or motivation for the cups and balls? Maybe some sort of atomsphere that will help the audience be willing to suspend reality for a while and not feel a challenge to catch the method?
Bill Palmer
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Punx had a dramatic story presentation for the cups and balls. There are many presentations for the cups and balls that use various dramatic ideas with them. Maybe you need to familiarize yourself with the literature.

Let me add this. Nelms' book is excellent, but consider the intended reader. This is intended for the guy who has NO showmanship skills at all. NONE. Zip. Zero.

There are tricks that exist because they exist. Many cups and balls routines fall into this category. If the mechanics of the routine are correct, and the climax of the routine is right, then the showmanship is there to produce a magical effect.

Not all tricks have to be profound mysteries.
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

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doug brewer
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I think it would be unnecessary to wrap "meaning" around this trick. It is a stunner and the one that "get's the money" for me. I simply say it is one of the oldest tricks in magic which I would like them to enjoy right in front of them - one they can touch and see. Enough meaning, I think, for them to take it serious. Now - try to add meaning to about every card trick imaginable (other than Cannibal Kings) - I'm finding myself struggling with the "dance of the cards" more often than not, and I really desire to do some of these awesome effects, that when you think about it, really have no meaning or make any sense as to "why" I am having the cards do what they are doing.
Terry Holley
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Quote:
On 2006-06-26 15:19, cjp24 wrote:
Does anyone have a way of creating some reason or motivation for the cups and balls?


Because I can! Smile

Terry
Co-author with illusionist Andre' Kole of "Astrology and Psychic Phenomena."
Mobius303
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There are a number of people over the years that have created a lot of meaning and good story about the cups.
The trick can stand on it's own and I have even seen a silent version that was amazing.
Mobius
Jonathan Townsend
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The standard bit with three cups has self evident presentation cues.

Imagine just how this trick first came to be and you will have most of your answers.

From there, think long and hard about OTHER interpretations starting with the source or nature of the cups. From there consider the nature of the balls. Again, self evident things come to mind.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
flimnar
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Eternal Order......?

Flimnar
"This one goes to eleven..." Nigel Tufnel
TheAmbitiousCard
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Forcefeeding a meaning or story into a trick can do horrible damage if not done well.
www.theambitiouscard.com Hand Crafted Magic
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Michael Baker
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"Here is a trick that has been around for centuries... in fact, it is one of the oldest tricks in existence. It has both entertained and fooled people all over the world for as long as it has been performed. Perhaps you would like to experience it, and see for yourself why it is so good? Ladies and gentlemen... the world famous mystery of the Cups and Balls."

I suppose in a sense, this too is a story. It is a back story. From this point forward, an expository performance, with the right amount of fun and interaction has been enough for me.

~michael
~michael baker
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Jonathan Townsend
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Okay that is ONE presentation.

World's second oldest trick in the world's third oldest profession. Smile

Anything else beyond "this is what I was taught to do and now I'm going to do it to you" ?
...to all the coins I've dropped here
flimnar
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I like the idea of using cups and balls as a "Lesson in Magic"

Flimnar
"This one goes to eleven..." Nigel Tufnel
Kent Wong
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Whenever I perform magic, I often hear people say, "I'm never gonna gamble with you!" I guess they think that I might be able to use my magical skills to somehow swindle them. Now, that's a fair comment because some of the worlds greatest swindles have their origins deeply rooted in magic. For instance, have you ever heard of the three shell game? Thimble Rigging? Or Three Card Monte? These are street swindles where people have gambled and lost thousands and thousands of dollars.

But did you know that all of these swindles have their roots in magic. Yep. But originally, this wasn't a swindle at all. It was a piece of magic performed purely for entertainment. And we didn't use cards or walnut shells. Instead, we used 3 simple cups and a ball.

Kent
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Jonathan Townsend
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Kent, try that story in reverse. Perhaps the swindler was cornered and extra balls were found. Smile
...to all the coins I've dropped here
Kent Wong
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I'll have to give that a try. Thanks!

Kent
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Lee Darrow
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"My friends, this is the oldest magic trick known to man - or woman for that matter. It dates back to the pyramids, which is a pretty long date, if you think about it! In ancient times, they used three bowls. Nowadays, they use three cups. And some swindlers use three walnut shells and a pea. I, on the other hand use these three Thermos Caps... three little balls wearing tight swaeters (their father was a big Lana Turner fan - and some of you might even be old enough to GET that joke! - and a stick that I laughingly refer to as a magic wand, though it is also useful for keeping people from grabbing the Thermos caps or the little sweater-clad spheres!"

From there, it goes down hill, at a pace that would put the Starship Enterprise to shame.

But it does give the effect some context, if nothing else.

Lee Darrow, C.H.
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<BR>"Because NICE Matters!"
Michael Baker
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Quote:
On 2006-06-30 19:52, Lee Darrow wrote:


But it does give the effect some context, if nothing else.




Absolutely! Smile

As Johnny Carson said, "If they buy the premise, they'll buy the bit."

Spectators are much easier to get along with than most magicians seem to think.

~michael
~michael baker
The Magic Company
Whitewolfny
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I used the C&Bs to demonstrate the problems of inventory control to an audience of purchasing managers. The final loads were used to show how little problems could become big problems. It worked and they paid close attention to the rest of my talk on inventory. There are a million reasons for doing the C&Bs, you just have to find one of them.
Braxton Mannar
<BR>Just an old dog trying to learn new tricks Smile
Jonathan Townsend
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Look folks, if you are so very much in your cups and feel the need to show off your balls, you have plenty of presentation options.

If seriously working on this project, try to remember that when a rite loses its context it becomes mere routine and does not suffice as ritual. I can still hear this guy from the NYC gatherings at Reubens working on the cups... clomp, clomp, clomp. And I kept wondering why he was working on that particular part of the routine.

It all still has meaning. It simply needs context.

And if we don't give it context, the audience will... as above.

He must be very good. He's got three. Smile
...to all the coins I've dropped here
Bill Palmer
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And he knows how to take care of them -- he has a personal "sweater" for each one.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
alakazam!
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First of all, I agree with lots of the ideas above. I do think that sometimes we can get too concerned about the question of "motivation." For the cups and balls in particular, I think we can almost treat the effect in a slightly different way since most audiences will usually be aware of the reputation of the cups and balls and roughly what to expect.

Personally I like to treat this in the more theatrical way with music etc. I would definitely say a few words on the history and current position of the cups and balls (as in the comments above). Also (and this will probably tend to work best for large audiences in a paid performance or for small groups who happen to be particularly interested in magic in general), it is sometimes a nice touch to say why you yourself enjoy performing the c+b so much (if this is the case). This I feel is an opportunity and way in which to be wholly honest.

Audiences will not only feel more a part of the effect but additionally I think will feel more "valued." Rather than (unintentionally) patronising, if for example it is clear that some elements of the routine involve misdirection and "skill" (I'm thinking of Ammar's opening sequence and wand spin), it may be an idea to state this in a manner of speaking at the beginning in the introduction. I appreciate this will not be to everyone's taste and I don't feel I've explained this very well in any case...

Just as a last thought, if you can really "understand" the c+b (and I'm not saying that I can Smile ) then I think your "justification" becomes much much easier. Incidentally, "Complete Cups and Balls" by Ammar would be a great start in this understanding. I know people have said this befire but it really is a great book. I drew heavily on it for my website on the c+b. If anyone wants me to clarify anything since it may not have been explained brilliantly ;-) then I would be more than happy to try to help.

And by the way, I think everyone at some point who has been a magician would have conidered the original question, even if some can find their own answer faster than others ;-)
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