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BryanKelly
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Just a thought.

As an openner I'm thinking about walking straight up to the mic and after a few words saying, "Excuse me" while I proceed to pull a nail out of my nose that was hidden all the way in my nose before hand.

I'm going to be performing a tight time spot at the improv here in Houston. I'll be limited to about 15 minutes. Normally I would try these types of ideals out and gage the reaction myself. However, since my entire act will be squished down I already have other iffy places where I'm not sure how things will play out so I want to get some advice about this one before I try it.

I thought it might play as a quick opener. Establish, that my act is different than the couple other magic acts going on that evening and worth paying attention too because there will be a pay out in the end.

My question... Is it worth even doing? Or is the greatest part of the trick the insertion?

Thank for any thoughts or advice you might have.
Bryan
dave_matkin
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No trick here.

What is the rest of you act made up of? If its magic - why start with a side show stunt? You may be better off with an appearing pole?
Harley Newman
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Enter, head down, sniffling and sneezing. Cross center, go to mike, raise head. Grab hammer, pull out nail.

"I hate when that happens!"
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus” -Mark Twain

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rossmacrae
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Blazing Saddles: "Excuse me while I whip this out..." [...old woman screams...]

Seriously, I don't think it'll play as the OP has written it. Maybe if you walk up to the mic, pause quizzically, and proceed to remove it with the claw of a hammer with great pain and suffering. Maybe follow that spectacle with an out-of-breath "Sorry y'all had to see that."
BryanKelly
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Thanks Dave. I should have mentioned I'm a mentalist. So side show is relevant so long as the credit is given to the power of the mind. But with blockhead I don't explicitly state that I can hold a nail in my nasal cavity because, for example, my extreme concentrative ability to divert pain. But something along those lines is implied when they see my other powers of the mind demonstrations.

So is my theory anyway. What’s your opinion Dave?

Harley, I like how you think. I forgot about the hammer for pulling it out. I will definitely be doing that so people will realize sooner that it’s a nail coming out of my nose. And great punch line.

So I'm glad to see no is totally against the ideal so far.
BryanKelly
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Thanks greatly for the advice Ross. I agree.
Harley Newman
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We all need to clear blockages sometimes.

You don't absolutely need a hammer. Using some kind of tool for nail removal allows you to have your hand away from the nail, making it more visible. Also, we think of removing nails with a tool, so just sliding it out with a couple of fingers makes it seem too easy, and therefore tricky.

Vicegrips might be nice.
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus” -Mark Twain

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DonDriver
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You'll also have to get across the point that its solid and not made out of rubber or folds up ( you know how marks think)...hmmmm...can't think of anything off hand.
Harley Newman
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Tap it on the microphone after it's out.

You could get carried away with the beat.
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus” -Mark Twain

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dave_matkin
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Quote:
On 2010-10-11 08:01, BryanKelly wrote:
Thanks Dave. I should have mentioned I'm a mentalist. So side show is relevant so long as the credit is given to the power of the mind. But with blockhead I don't explicitly state that I can hold a nail in my nasal cavity because, for example, my extreme concentrative ability to divert pain. But something along those lines is implied when they see my other powers of the mind demonstrations.

So is my theory anyway. What’s your opinion Dave?

Harley, I like how you think. I forgot about the hammer for pulling it out. I will definitely be doing that so people will realize sooner that it’s a nail coming out of my nose. And great punch line.

So I'm glad to see no is totally against the ideal so far.


Clearly you don’t read in here much other wise would have seen my posts and therefore not be asking my opinion! Smile


Now knowing what your act is I can say two things…..

1) I agree with Harley (I just stand behind him nodding and looking thoughtful and agreeable ……… I know nothing but this way I look really good!). Use a tool. I use a pair of pliers. The looks I get when I have to strain to get the nail out are priceless.
2) I think from what you are saying you are using the nail to keep your mental channels of power clear (ie to stop it clocking with the usual stuff that bungs up our noses (eg balloons and bendy tubes – well they bung up our noses in here anyway))

No really, could you claim it is something to do with “keeping the channels open”? Or as a conductor (like a lightning snot I er mean a lighting rod)

Darran Brown used the “mental training” bit for when he did blockhead on his tour some time ago. He went on to glass walk as well and all under the guise of putting himself in to whatever frame of mind it is.

Hope my inane ramblings give you stuff to think about (maybe even avoid as well!)
Stephon
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Building on what Dave was saying--you could establish that you are having difficulties with your mentalist abilities, say that maybe there is some kind of blockage, contemplate what the problem might be, have an epiphany, then use pliers to pull the nail out of your nose; finish with something like, "I forgot that was in there."

If you want to go for comedy.
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dave_matkin
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And then to finish ......


turn round to see a LARGE magnet on the back of your head?

I must admit I like the "some kind of blockage" line.

Right nowthen down to business.....

My fee for this was ...... well go on use your mental abilities......
Roslyn
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Quote:
On 2010-10-11 11:11, dave_matkin wrote:

Darran Brown used the “mental training” bit for when he did blockhead on his tour some time ago. He went on to glass walk as well and all under the guise of putting himself in to whatever frame of mind it is.



Darren Brown? Does he do the blockhead too. He must have copied that Derren chap when he did it on the tele during Trick of the Mind series 2.
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BryanKelly
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Thanks everyone for your help. Here's how I see me performing it now.

With my fingertips held up to my temple in a humorous mind reading fashion I state, "Tonight we’re going to attempt to demonstrate mind to mind communication. In order to do that I must first clear my mind of any blockage." I reach into my jacket and pull out a monstrous pair of pliers and continue, "I do that using these!"

"Excuse me!" I state and begin with great difficulty and suffering to extract the nail and tap it on the microphone to illustrate it is indeed solid. Then out of breath I state, "I’m sorry you had to see that." Wiping off the nail I walk towards a woman in the front row and attempt to hand it to her as a souvenir.

Whether she takes it or not I return to the mic and state, "It’s a real nail" and continue, "Besides the enjoyment I get from watching your faces, I do that for a very important reason. You see - not everything you see me do this evening - is fake."

I then have patter illustrating my skills stem from the vaudeville performers of the 1930's. Who had diverse acts and varied skills but I state that, “One of their greatest skill was their ability to read people.”

I then go on and give comedic cold readings of the audience. Of course it’s the Barnum principle but the readings are accurate and the audience gets a real sense that I can make astute deductions about people that I have never met.

And then I perform the first real mentalism routine that is accomplished by my ability to read people well. A spectator in the audience stands, I send a thought of card to her, she names a card, and it’s the only card in an envelope I've had at my finger tips since she stood up.

So I think it has relevance in my act and plays off humorous enough as well.
Harley Newman
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Doesn't telling the audience what you're going to do, before you do it, effectively steal any element of surprise from them, water down their emotional responses?

It's a traditional style, and a performance convention, but does that make it good?
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus” -Mark Twain

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Roslyn
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Telling the audience what you're going to do works in the right venue. I always do it on the street for example. But then I'm using it as a draw and also to keep the crowd there until the right moment.

Then an audience at a street show didn't know they were going to be an audience until the performer makes them one.

If you're doing this in a theatre, where people have paid to see the mentalist, they already have some expectation as to what's going to happen.

In this case I wouldn't tell them what I was going to do. Instead use their expectations against them.
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BryanKelly
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Well I'm telling them I'm going to clear my mind, not that I'm going to pull a nail out of my nose.

I am telling them that I'm going to use pliers, but that's obvious when I take them out. And then they wonder what exactly I mean at that point.

Good point though, let me think about this.

I must say it is really nice to speak to other people besides mentalist. You all are really making me push my thinking in ways I never would.
Harley Newman
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It's often much better, just to tell the story through your actions.

One of the problems with the expository style, is in the background. When you say what's about to happen, you're not just setting up the audience. You're also saying "Nyah, nyah, I know cool things and you don't". There are many better ways to insult people than to insult their intelligence that way.

Also, if your patter is based on "wouldn't it be amazing if...", since you've told them what will happen, you rob them of the moment of discovery, the moment when they gasp, put two and two together, and then gasp again.

And since you've told them what will happen, why bother doing it? You've already made your point.

This style evolved (I'm pretty sure) from the mid-1800s. The industrial revolution made mass production of stuff both possible and affordable, and a middle class arose, who had the time and money to buy the stuff. Magic tricks were one of those kinds of stuff. The ritual was taken out of the art form. The need to learn from a master disappeared. You could go to a shop, buy a trick, read the instructions, and perform it for your friends after dinner. You could join like-minded people in a club, and play the same games with each other. And because the others in the club were mediocre to start, that became the standard of excellence.

Think about it though. How many of those club member do we know today? None. Who do we remember? The big-name performers who got on stage and told stories. Is it any different now? Do YOU want to be different?

These are performance habits, passed from one generation of performer to the next, embodied in the style of writing that supports the art form, and usually an intricate part of the script.

The thing with habits, is that we perform the actions, without looking at what we're doing. It's automatic. We just don't look at it. We do not see what works, what doesn't work, what might work better, because we're stuck in the habits.

I'm not saying that we should never reveal what we're going to do, ahead of time. But if we do, we'd better have a d*mn good reason. It had better be part of telling the story.

And besides, isn't it more fun to surprise them?

And if, by chance, you see yourself as a trickster, you need to recall that by their nature, tricksters cannot plan anything ahead. They are totally creatures of whimsical action. They have a need, and they will fulfill it. If they are hungry, they eat whatever's at hand, including their hand. If they see a bauble, they take it, or die trying to get it. If they're horny (one of their most common characteristics), lock yourself in a box, and let them get excited about a tree instead, because they will, when they see a knothole. They are incapable of sustained attention.

One of the best books there is: "The Trickster" by Paul Radin. This is about the only complete collection of trickster tales, ever collected. PR lived with Winnebago people for a couple of years, before they were swallowed by our culture. The stories show exactly how trickster goes from place to place, how he slowly learns things and becomes self-aware. His methods are so simple, and they usually complicate his problems somehow.

It might be easy to read it and say "well, it's just stories". No. It's oral tradition material. It's about live performance. It's about grabbing an audience, touching them at their core, and leaving them satisfied.

You don't have to read all the scholarly parts. The stories are more important for what we do. Check it out.
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus” -Mark Twain

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Stephon
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I also like a "story telling" style, but I do think there can be some value in telling the audience what you're going to do; much as telling a torture victim what you are going to do to him increases the effectiveness of the torture, and horror movies build tension through the anticipation of the horror, letting the audience know what you're going to do can create a, "Holy sh!t, he's really going to do that?" / "Oh my god! He actually did it!" situation that can be very entertaining.
~Les S. Moore, The Dapper Dipper
Swami Yomahmi and Cheeky Monkey Sideshow

"Comedy is a man in trouble." ~Bill Irwin
BryanKelly
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Thanks Harley. I already placed my order from Amazon. Cheaper than any magic book I've bought lately. You have no idea how much this book appeals to me. I basically grew up watching the Joseph Campbell interviews "The Power of Myth" by Bill Moyers. From Campbell I found many other people that shared that philosophy about myth: William Blake, J.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis. This coupled with my love of stories in movie format growing up was the reason I decided to pursue my Literature degree in college.

Campbell’s work would be the only exposure I have to Native American mythology, but he never focuses purely on the trickster archetype. But trickster archetypes litter mythologies all over the world. The Norse God Loki comes to mind. Also Puck from Shakespeare’s “Mid Summers Night Dream” was based on an ancient English mythological trickster who goes by the same name.

This should be a fascinating read, a condensed focus on the trickster.

Thanks Stephon, you shed some light on the subject for me. I think it could be illustrated on a continuum. On one end, would be the story telling method where everything plays out to a surprising end. On the other end is the suspense building which involves revealing everything beforehand. Then there’s everything in between, and I would consider this foreshadowing. Foreshadowing tells you something is going to happen, just doesn’t tell you what. I think my opener does that.

But I still don’t know if I’m going to use it. It’s a completely new venue for me to be trying out new material like that. I think I’m just going to shorten my current well tested material and save this for next time.
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