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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Grand illusion » » David Copperfield Show Reviews (5 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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illusionbuilder
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Thursday, January 3, 2008
The Jaded and Arrogant Magic of David Copperfield

I’ve always loved magicians. Or rather, I’ve always loved what magicians can do. The can make people levitate, make people disappear, make people transform into ferocious animals. There’s no limit to the types of illusions they can create, and the fun part is trying to figure out how they do it.

Like most people, I know the majority of magic tricks are based on some very simple principals: a trap door, a hidden wire, a forklift. But when someone can perform a trick that’s so unusual and complex that you just can’t fathom how it was done, I have nothing but respect and admiration for their skills.

So it should be no surprise that when I went to Las Vegas a few years ago, one of the shows I definitely wanted to see had to include magic. And since the only resident magician I was familiar with was David Copperfield, I decided to go see him. Not that I had a particular affinity for Mr. Copperfield, other than remembering he once dated Claudia Schiffer; he just happened to be the only magician's name I recognized.

So I went to his show with great expectations. Upon arriving at the theater, my friend and I were escorted to the front row, and placed at a small round table with another couple. We were then asked if during the finale of the show, we would participate by immediately standing up and applauding when the trick was over.

“And feel free to yell out words like Bravo or Encore or encouraging stuff like that,” the bright young P.A. explained. “Let David know how much you love him. And while you’re standing, David is going to come down the row and shake everyone’s hand. Isn’t that great? You’ll actually get to shake David’s hand. Cool, huh?”

Yeah, real cool. Naturally, my friend and I looked at each other with a little bit of skepticism. Why would someone as famous as David Copperfield need his audience to shill for him? Was he that insecure that he needed a standing ovation every night? I suddenly felt like I was “in on the trick;” like I’d been exposed to a part of the act I wouldn’t have been privy to had I been sitting in the third or fourth row. But since my table was practically hugging the front of the stage, I was being “used” to trick the rest of the audience into giving Mr. Copperfield his nightly ego boost. (And I wasn’t even getting paid for it.)

Nevertheless, we agreed to do it, if only to keep the P.A. from harassing us. But after waiting over a half hour for the show to start, I began to get a little irritated. Then, before Mr. Copperfield even appeared, we still had to sit through a twenty minute film which did nothing but tout Copperfield as the greatest living human being in the world. Forget being a magician, David was portrayed as a virtual God. It was a little weird. Why did this guy need to remind us who he was? Didn’t he know that’s the only reason we came to see him? Why was he giving us such a hard sell? The whole thing made me very uncomfortable.

But that was nothing compared to the shock I felt after David finally appeared. Because you’d think after all that build-up and self-aggrandizing, you’d be greeted by a guy that was full of energy and bigger than life. Instead, David appeared rather bored and indifferent throughout his act, walking around the stage with all the energy of a nightlight. There was no pep in his patter, nor any enthusiasm for what he was doing. It was like he was walking through the show with condescension for both his audience and the very tricks themselves. (No wonder he made us sit through all the film clips—it was the only time he showed any life during the entire evening.)

And though there were a few stand-out illusions, including the finale where he magically appears from the back of the audience, most of the show consisted of smaller, more ordinary tricks. Magic that could probably be done by most magicians in their sleep. In fact, that’s exactly what it looked like Mr. Copperfield was doing. Performing in a slumber. And since he couldn’t bring himself to actually wake up to participate, he decided to sleepwalk through it instead. (To be fair, Mr. Copperfield was doing a lot of sniffing and snorting throughout the show, so perhaps he was suffering from a cold. Or something.)

Or maybe he was just getting tired of doing magic. Maybe after years of performing, he was finally more jaded than genuine. After all, he’d probably done these tricks a thousand times before for countless audiences all over the world, many of whom were probably much more important than us. Regardless, I paid good money for my ticket and I expected to be mesmerized; not condescended to.

So when it came time to stand up for Mr. Copperfield during the finale, half the front row hesitated. Why? Because we all knew it was BS, and maybe felt a little weird contributing to Mr. Copperfield’s already bloated self-esteem. Of course, we all eventually did, but I definitely came away from the show with a very bad taste in my mouth.

Then months later, when all the allegations came out about Mr. Copperfield’s “alleged” sexual misunderstanding with a female in the Bahamas, I wondered if David had gotten bored with other social conventions as well. Like the not-so-subtle differences between dating and rape. But regardless of whether Mr. Copperfield is actually guilty or not, his persona has forever been tainted in my mind. And not because he’s not a talented magician; but because his talent seems to have ballooned his head into monolithic proportions.

Perhaps he should take a clue from the Dickensian character whose name he cleverly borrowed, and return to a time when he was more humble and less arrogant. Then maybe we’d all rediscover the magic that used to be David Copperfield.

But that’s just me. What do you think of David Copperfield?

Posted by Henson Ray at 9:23 AM

Labels: blog, celebrity, David Copperfield, ego, funny, humor, illusion, Las Vegas, magic, magician, people, review, show, trick

4 comments:

CherylM said...

Thanks for the interesting analysis. That really is very weird that front tables are told how to act. At least you now have an interesting story from it.
January 8, 2008 7:40 AM
Henson Ray said...

And that was the edited down version.

Thanks for stopping by.
January 8, 2008 2:47 PM
Kalei said...

OMG...I saw this show about 2 years ago. It was the worst magic show I've ever seen. I almost walked out after he was 20 minutes late starting the show ~ and then the 20 minute video about how !@#$%in' he is. What a joke! I was living in LV at the time and told EVERYONE not to see the show. We sat in the back and even we were asked to stand at the finale.
Either we were at the same show or he was suffering from a perpetual cold!
I'm glad it's not just me who thought he sucked. Smile
January 17, 2008 10:34 PM
Henson Ray said...

Kalei,

Thanks for stopping by. It does sound like we were at the same show. I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who had this opinion of Mr C. Sometimes an artist should remember that "less is more" and that ego is something that should be left in the dressing room, and not imposed upon the audience.

Henson


Source http://hensonshell.blogspot.com/2008/01/......vid.html
IllusionJack
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Forcing standing ovations at DC shows is not a new practice. Some of the audience cheers and hollers are pre-recorded and played back as well.

--Jack Smile
JayH
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Hi!

I saw his show in Finland in 2003 or 2004. I think he was then full of energy and his show was great! BUT I have heard from a couple of my friends who have been in Vegas that he is now doing 6 shows in week?!?!? Its not miracle if you get little bored when you do that many shows...

Jay
oddsmaker
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I saw David 2 years ago,I agree he does seem to be just going through the motions.
Christian Illusionist
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I went and saw him last year about this time and loved every bit of the show with my only complaint being the sexual innuendos throughout some of his script.

He seemed alive and happy to be there and performed every illusion perfectly. There were no flaws that night.

I am not someone who thinks David Copperfield is the only way to perform magic and appreciate various styles and methods, but I can honestly say that I learned a lot about timing, presentation and how to keep a show moving in between effects just from watching his show live without the cuts to commercials the specials contain.

My party and I were also permitted a brief but pleasant meet-and-greet after the show and were able to say a few words to Mr.Copperfield, take a picture and get an autograph.

Overall it was one of the greatest shows I have ever seen and I would gladly see it again.
We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.
jcmagicman
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I got an opportunity to see David Copperfield at the MGM back in December of 2006. My friends had taken me to Vegas for my b-day and we bought some tickets for his late show.

The show began with the long winded video montage (I personally had no problem with it but a few of my friends did). Soon enough, the vibe in the air turned sour. I started to hear bad comments coming from other people from the audience that night. For instance, the guy sitting next to me was a corporate lawyer from the Philippines. He turned to me and whispered.. "Oh this guy is so full of s..t I'm gonna go get my money back." And, I guess he wasn't kidding. He never came back to his seat. In this other moment a jerk blurted out "Uhhh! Uhh!! I saw it. That box has mirrors in it! while referring to the duck bucket. Unrattled, David ignored his comment but rushed through this segment.

Overall, I felt Copperfield's performance was lacking energy and enthusiasm. David mopped around as if he had just eaten a bad dinner and wanted to finish the show quickly so he could drink some pepto and go to sleep. His actions were weary and unmotivated.

When the curtains finally came down, I saw a washed up magician in our field. It made me feel sad inside and wished everything could had gone smoother. People didn't seem too receptive to his act and immediately cleared the theater except for me and my friends. We stuck around a few minutes to meet David.

Then, I saw some people from the back of the theater come down the aisles and I realized some were the stooges on stage. A female stage hand approached us and asked if we lost something or needed some help. I told her my friends wanted to get an autograph from David. She said "David is not going to see anyone tonight. I'm sorry. You guys have a goodnight okay?"

Not to start any rumors, but someone once suggested to me the mob might have a hold of David.

What do you guys think? Is he being a workhorse for those men behind the scenes?
AnthonyMaze
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This is my review of what we saw on New Years Eve this year (2007-2008) while in Las Vegas...

http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/searc......=5404485
...for the 51st time... that is NOT my card...
soleil
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Let's see his next show and tour. I like David very much. He's certainly one of the very best magicians of all times and he has influenced the art of magic like no one before.

So, please have some respect and understand that he is a human being like everybody and could be sick, tired or having other problems. He has given us so much that we must at least be comprehensive about this "low" period of his career.

Personally, I send him my best thoughts of health and inspiration and hope he'll come back soon with new energy and ideas.

Best,
Soleil
"Art is the Artist. The Artist is God."- Goete
Banester
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When I caught his show last year I thought he was great! He doesn't jump and run like he was 20 years ago though. I felt he was more relaxed, but not dragging his butt.
The art of a magician is to create wonder.
If we live with a sense of wonder, our lives
become filled with joy
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reedrc
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A funny link related to the show review:

http://flickr.com/photos/thesongswesing/408646998/
Kind Regards

Ryan C. Reed
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Illusion Entertainment &
Half Moon Bay Studios


Half Moon Bay, California USA

designer, director, theatrical consultant, digital wizard, magic impresario, wonder aficionado, Illusioneer, dream architect, collaborator & seeker of love.

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maurermagic
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This could be a good time for him to take a sabbatical from performing and get a well needed rest. I am assuming that he does not need the money, but is performing for his ego.

David needs to think about his place in magic and what he has done to make the public aware of magic as a performing art.
INMOTION
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I saw David perform about a year ago, and my opinion was much like some of the others. He appeared to be worn out, un-enthused, had a cold, etc... It was the 4th or 5th year in a row that I have went and watched him, and the show has not changed at all. He is in my area next month again, however based on the reviews he has only changed one or two things, other than that, same show. I will pass this year.

Sad thing is, I was looking at a ticket broker site, and browsed some of the reviews in regards to his shows. Much the same there as it is here. As many bad reviews as good reviews. Seems the the good reviews are coming from first timers or people who have not seen him in awhile. Most of the bad reviews are identical as here, late start, egotistical, sexual innuendos, not enthused, etc.. I do hope he gets something turned around, all this bad publicity will catch up to him eventually.
reedrc
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I hope he chooses to surround himself with a new team with new & refresh approach. I fear his days are numbered if he does not re-approach his way. Not even his name will sell tickets if he is not careful. Just me though.
Kind Regards

Ryan C. Reed
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Half Moon Bay Studios


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designer, director, theatrical consultant, digital wizard, magic impresario, wonder aficionado, Illusioneer, dream architect, collaborator & seeker of love.

Member: SAM, IBM, The Magic Circle UK,

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mvmagic
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Ryan's got a point there. My laymen friends were very unimpressed after seeing him live in 2004. Most of them used the words "unenthusiastic", "tired" and "forced". Apart from one, none of my friends would go to see him again.

I recently spoke to lady whose son works at a local show company that handled some of the stage technology (not sure what actually) while he was here and she entertained the tech crew after the show. She mentioned the things she observed to the DC guys and said that he should take a break and rethink himself. And the reply she got was "Well...you go and tell HIM that."

I had seen him in 1997 and he was just brilliant, so my expectations were very high and I kept telling my better half how his persona and humour will fill the stage. Guess who was equally unimpressed...
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JayH
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Quote:
On 2008-02-12 12:09, mvmagic wrote: I recently spoke to lady whose son works at a local show company that handled some of the stage technology (not sure what actually) while he was here and she entertained the tech crew after the show. She mentioned the things she observed to the DC guys and said that he should take a break and rethink himself. And the reply she got was "Well...you go and tell HIM that."


Is that "HIM" David or who? Sorry, but I get little confusing...
mvmagic
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Yes, HIM is David! Sorry if my post was confusing!
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Magic Patrick
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I too was bored to death with his show here in Phoenix. He seemed tired, bored and lifeless at times. I wasted my birthday watching his show. I should have gone to see Elvis at Gila Bend Casino.

BYUDAD
Chad Sanborn
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A lot of you mentioned seeing the show multiple times. If it was that bad, why go again?

Chad
JasonB
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I saw him twice in one day a bit over a year ago and then once since then. LOVED the car appearance. But as an entertainer I was really impressed by the direction and production. Almost every single move and audience handling was so carefully thought out. Assistants entered and exited at only the right times and with the correct attitude. They went so far as to have stickers of feet on the stage where some audience members were to stand. We all know that prop management onstage can be a troubling issue but his were thought out brilliantly and I was so inspired by that. Some of the effects were gorgeous and a treat to see live after having watched them so many times on the small screen.

As far as his performance... It's funny, I remember Jay Leno once saying that when he does stand-up he's done the same set for so long that he actually adds a long line of numbers in his head as he performs. Without creating excuses, none of us have the pleasure of knowing what it's like to do 500 plus shows a year to packed audiences and to be the reigning King of magic for 20 plus years.

Each level that most of us eagerly anticipate as "arriving" on some level soon becomes trite and dare I say somewhat boring. How many of us almost won't work a particular venue to save our live's that we once wanted to work at very badly? Some might say "well then quit" or change jobs. But we all need to work right? If everyone who lost passion in their work quit the world would stop.

Mr. Copperfield's attitude might be just an interesting experiment to see what the response is. "Its not the "tricks, it's the magician and his personality." Well, is it.. or is it his promotion and name recognition?

I once heard that Mr. Copperfield would't take the stage at a theatre and made the people wait a very long time. Well, the manger of the theatre got so mad he told the audience what was happening and that he would give them full refunds. Not one person in the theatre stood to leave, they all stayed seated. That is an amazing social and theatrical experiment.

Just some ideas to ponder,
JB
soleil
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Thank you JasonB, I like your post.
Best,
Soleil
"Art is the Artist. The Artist is God."- Goete
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