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leomagnus
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Hey All,

Recently I've been reading through a couple of highly interesting threads regarding two very interesting topics. One thread dealing with making routines that really "fool the audience", particularly with the final load sequence, and one thread asking the question whether the cups and balls appeals/works with a "mainstream audience". However, both of these threads gradually wandered off topic. My purpose with this thread is the bring these two issues together, and see if we can't investigate them further. What follows is my opinion on the two issues.

I believe that the cups and balls without a doubt work with a "mainstream audience". As a quick example, I've shown my little sister who's 14, probably over a dozen videos of the masters doing the cups and balls. While she doesn't react that much to the first 3/4 of most of the routines, the final loads always kill her. She always says and I quote: "I never get how the fruit, or the big balls get under the cups. I mean, you can't hide something that big in your hand. I'd see that." And she's a teenager who's grown up with magic around, and has probably seen the Vernon final load sequence in various forms 20 times. There's no doubt in my mind that the final loads play just as well with audiences now, as they've ever done. The final loads ASTOUND! However there is a problem with most cups and balls routines. Everyone I've shown these routines to(all lay-people), also reacted very strongly during the Latimer routine, the Tommy Wonder routine(close-up and stage), and pretty well to the Paul Gertner routine. Observe, in these routines that the patter is stripped to a bare minimum so as not to distract from the effect, and even without patter(as in Latimer's routine), the WHOLE routines are visual and audible(in Gertners case) eye/ear candy. I've heard this from laypeople, as well as noticing this myself, most cups and balls routines are just plain confusing! As Vernon said somewhat ironically: "confusion is not magic".

My conclusion is that the aspect of the cups and balls that needs the most work isn't the final loads, and isn't even perhaps the presentation. The quality of the body of the routine leading up to the final loads makes most of the difference. We should work on trying to make the main body of the routine as amazing as the final loads(Impossible? Maybe, but we can get pretty close. Look at Jason Latimer). Visual/dramatic vanishes without a bunch of hand-to-hand transfers, startling visual/super-clean appearances, not doing the same effect "different ways"(its STILL repetitious!),and a routine that doesn't end with the "I'll put a ball a away to make it easier to follow" Vernon loading sequence are what you want.

Vernon's final load sequence while revolutionary for introducing the final loads without a servante, was a bit confusing. In the hands of a lot of people it's very confusing. He made it work okay, by explaining a basic vanish. This made the many trips to the pocket seem to have more motivation, not enough motivation in my opinion, but better than most people. Most people who learn the sequence, and then try to cut out the vanish expose, look terrible because they're going into the pocket many time with no other motivation then the lame "I'll remove a ball to make it easier to follow." Well, those rapid fire trips to the pocket with ball coming back, etc etc, definitely don't make it "easier to follow." Ricky Jay probably does the Vernon loading sequence better than anyone, because the trips to the pocket are spaced out, and all of them a have a motivation that makes sense in the context of his routine. We need shorter routines, visual, direct, and to the point. One way that could definitely make the effect simpler, is the use less cups like Tommy Wonder did. But there's another big problem.

To much patter is another flaw. However, you can't just say: "well just don't talk so much." I believe that the patter problem comes from the type of routine I discussed above. There are three balls to follow, 3 cups that the balls could be under, the magician is constantly moving them around, then they're seemingly moving around by themselves, then there's the wand being waved, all this is happening at a rapid rate of speed, THIS IS HARD TO FOLLOW! I believe that when you do a routine like that you HAVE to talk a lot just so the audience can have a chance of following the routine! By making the routines slower and the effects fewer and more direct, we will not only have the effects largely speak for themselves, but we'll just have less to talk about! Think of Tommy Wonder, "I'll show you how a ball can come underneath this cup. Here we go". And so on. Simple and to the point. I'm a great admirer of Tommy Wonder's stage routine as well as Jason Latimer's, because they do cups and balls routines that you can follow with NO PATTER! Imagine trying to do these routines with patter, they would both suffer tremendously. Again, this doesn't mean that having a routine with patter is bad, just make you're routine easy to follow, engaging, and mystifying, and good patter will follow if it should.

Well, that's my take on these questions. This was probably way too long, so forgive me for that. Please share your opinions on these topics. Please share your opinions of my opinion. If you disagree with me, please tell me why. I'm only 16, and probably have made some mistakes. If you have other issues with the trick, or have other ways of making the trick better please share them. The cups and balls are one of my favorite tricks, and I'm always learning!

Cheers!

-Leo
gdw
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I was quite surprised to read you are only 16. Very well thought out, IMHO.

"Visual/dramatic vanishes without a bunch of hand-to-hand transfers, startling visual/super-clean appearances,"
This is probably the one part I don't (neccessarily) agree with.
Not that it wouldn't help, just that I don't think these in particular are the direction to go. I think Wonder's routine (close up) shows perfectly why. In many way still very traditional, in terms of the body of effects in the main portion of the routine, but leaps ahead still.

Though not generally a fan of the usual final loading sequence, it is usually the exposé portion that makes it undesirable to me. I think a brief, but brisk, almost furry-esque sequence of the balls reappearing after being our away can work quite. However, in the end, I'm still not too find of it, especially after seeing Wonder's routine.
Of course, part of the lack of appeal, to magicians, comes from familiarity. No reason it can evolve.

In the end, I STRONGLY agree with your main point, that we need to make the body of the routine appealing. It should not just be the pre show we make the audience sit through just to see the main event.

IMHO, the body should almost stand in its own, and the climax should serve to enhance, compliment, and punctuate the rest of the routine.
The very fact that Tommy Wonder throws a final load into the middle of the body of his routine (an idea I believe predates his routine, but I could be mistaken) is a testament to how one CAN make the main routine entertaining and more than just something we're "obligated" to go through before the "real" effect.

Despite what some may say, it is not all about getting to the big balls. At least it shouldn't be.
It's amazing, people will criticize you for "biting the hand that feeds you," while they're busy praising the hand that beats them.

"You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one."

I won't forget you Robert.
Larry Barnowsky
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I find that audiences get confused when the action happens too fast, not giving them time to react and think about what happened. That can occur with or without patter. I do the cups and balls with a patter in verse and the rhyming patter helps punctuate the actions they are seeing. In my routine I think the patter adds greatly to the entertainment value and adds a pacing or cadence to the magic they are seeing. Cups and Balls I have found to be a real audience favorite and many times I've been asked to "bring those cups" for repeat performances.


Larry Smile
leomagnus
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On 2012-03-07 21:15, gdw wrote:
I was quite surprised to read you are only 16. Very well thought out, IMHO.

"Visual/dramatic vanishes without a bunch of hand-to-hand transfers, startling visual/super-clean appearances,"
This is probably the one part I don't (neccessarily) agree with.
Not that it wouldn't help, just that I don't think these in particular are the direction to go. I think Wonder's routine (close up) shows perfectly why. In many way still very traditional, in terms of the body of effects in the main portion of the routine, but leaps ahead still.

Though not generally a fan of the usual final loading sequence, it is usually the exposé portion that makes it undesirable to me. I think a brief, but brisk, almost furry-esque sequence of the balls reappearing after being our away can work quite. However, in the end, I'm still not too find of it, especially after seeing Wonder's routine.
Of course, part of the lack of appeal, to magicians, comes from familiarity. No reason it can evolve.

In the end, I STRONGLY agree with your main point, that we need to make the body of the routine appealing. It should not just be the pre show we make the audience sit through just to see the main event.

IMHO, the body should almost stand in its own, and the climax should serve to enhance, compliment, and punctuate the rest of the routine.
The very fact that Tommy Wonder throws a final load into the middle of the body of his routine (an idea I believe predates his routine, but I could be mistaken) is a testament to how one CAN make the main routine entertaining and more than just something we're "obligated" to go through before the "real" effect.

Despite what some may say, it is not all about getting to the big balls. At least it shouldn't be.


I totally agree. I'm sorry, I should have made clear what I meant when I said: "Visual/dramatic vanishes without a bunch of hand-to-hand transfers, startling visual/super-clean appearances," When I was writing it, I was actually thinking of Tommy Wonder's vanishes and appearances in his close-up routine. His vanish from the audience's view is the ball goes into his hand, he shows the cup empty, then he bends over, pauses for a moment(to build tension), then it vanishes and appears under the cup. No back and forth movement or monkeying with a wand. That's what I meant by a "dramatic vanish". And by "startling appearance", I was actually thinking about the first appearance of the pom-pom in the middle of his routine. The "visual" was me thinking about Jason Latimer. Definitely you shouldn't try to build a routine around a particular vanish or a production, but they are an important component of one. When I mentioned them, I was listing them among other important component of a good routine.

On the subject of the usual final loading sequence, I agree that one can make a flurry like sequence entertain, but only in context. If the flurry happens with you in a state of confusion over why the balls keep coming back it makes sense. However, if your script is along the lines of "I'll put one away to make this easier to follow. Actually, I'll put this one away also to make it really easy to follow. But look, now this ones back. Look now this one's back. Now there're how many under the center cup? No! Three! But if I tap the cups extra hard I get all the balls to come back. And they grow too." That reads very silly and exaggerated on paper, but in reality many routines go along very similar lines. By taking out the expose the loading phase loses its logic. When the balls start coming back you have to have a new reason, or you have to be just as baffled as the audience is for this to play well. Either that or break up the loading sequence into several smaller sequences a la Ricky Jay.

Cheers!

-Leo
Yellowcustard
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I feel that with cups and balls there are a lot of copycat styles. Few people seem to spend time to make different. Just look at how many street buskers just copy Gazzos set joke as well. But look at Mario Morris street set.

Some people also seem to think that every phase/ move you learn you should use. I find this all to over the top. One move or phase I don’t like is the spoof I show you how I did it but that’s my opion.

I do find some routines just to long. I do notice especially on the street people zone out they start to chat to each over or zone out. My wife very rare she watch the whole thing yet other acts doing more varied stuff she stays.

All the above is my opion. I love doing cup and balls yet perform it very occasionally. I have not quite worked out my spin on it like Paul Gertner did.
Enjoy your magic,

and let others enjoy it as well!
leomagnus
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Quote:
On 2012-03-07 22:19, Larry Barnowsky wrote:
I find that audiences get confused when the action happens too fast, not giving them time to react and think about what happened. That can occur with or without patter. I do the cups and balls with a patter in verse and the rhyming patter helps punctuate the actions they are seeing. In my routine I think the patter adds greatly to the entertainment value and adds a pacing or cadence to the magic they are seeing. Cups and Balls I have found to be a real audience favorite and many times I've been asked to "bring those cups" for repeat performances.

Larry Smile

Absolutely. Patter can definitely help the audience follow the magic, as well as keep the routine in rhythm. As for it adding to the entertainment value, I couldn't agree more. A good example of this is Gazzo. Personally, I'm not fond of his loading sequence even though a lot of magicians love it. However, his patter keep the crowd laughing, engaged, and actually misdirects and relaxes the audience to cover any flaws in his loading sequence. This proves how important patter can be, without his patter I feel the audience would catch a couple of his loads, but with the patter you haven't got a chance you're laughing so hard. I also totally agree that speed can definitely be confusing. Confusion isn't magic. Smile

Cheers!

-Leo
Quote:
On 2012-03-08 01:00, Yellowcustard wrote:
I feel that with cups and balls there are a lot of copycat styles. Few people seem to spend time to make different. Just look at how many street buskers just copy Gazzos set joke as well. But look at Mario Morris street set.

Some people also seem to think that every phase/ move you learn you should use. I find this all to over the top. One move or phase I don’t like is the spoof I show you how I did it but that’s my opion.

I do find some routines just to long. I do notice especially on the street people zone out they start to chat to each over or zone out. My wife very rare she watch the whole thing yet other acts doing more varied stuff she stays.

All the above is my opion. I love doing cup and balls yet perform it very occasionally. I have not quite worked out my spin on it like Paul Gertner did.

Agreed. Copycats can't ever do a routine as well as the inventor, because the routine was created specifically for one person: the inventor! And on the long and over the top routines, better to be short and sweet, then long and convoluted.

Cheers!

-Leo
Payne
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Quote:
On 2012-03-08 01:10, leomagnus wrote:

And on the long and over the top routines, better to be short and sweet, then long and convoluted.

Myself, I prefer long and convoluted
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leomagnus
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On 2012-03-08 11:13, Payne wrote:
Quote:
On 2012-03-08 01:10, leomagnus wrote:

And on the long and over the top routines, better to be short and sweet, then long and convoluted.

Myself, I prefer long and convoluted

I've seen your routine, and it's long, but it's not convoluted. You're audience reaction proves that.

-Leo
Pete Biro
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There are no rules. I find that having fun, keeping it simple and easy to follow wins. (And whatever Payne does wins too) Smile
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FrenchDrop
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On 2012-03-08 15:29, Pete Biro wrote:
(And whatever Payne does wins too) Smile

Literally!
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leomagnus
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On 2012-03-08 15:32, FrenchDrop wrote:
Quote:
On 2012-03-08 15:29, Pete Biro wrote:
(And whatever Payne does wins too) Smile

Literally!

Agreed!
Pete Biro
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There is nothing wrong with the cups and balls. There are a lot of things wrong with some performances.
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yin_howe
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Maybe the premise/presentation of the traditional CNB need to be changed slightly e.g oldest trick in magic history, Egyption hyroglyphics etc. to a presentation that is more relevant to current times.. The Bar Cup by Roger Nicot comes to mind.. or like RIcky Jay's presentation in a form of a history lesson.
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leomagnus
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On 2012-03-08 21:57, yin_howe wrote:
Maybe the premise/presentation of the traditional CNB need to be changed slightly e.g oldest trick in magic history, Egyption hyroglyphics etc. to a presentation that is more relevant to current times.. The Bar Cup by Roger Nicot comes to mind.. or like RIcky Jay's presentation in a form of a history lesson.

Gotta love the Ricky Jay routine!
Quote:
On 2012-03-08 19:57, Pete Biro wrote:
There is nothing wrong with the cups and balls. There are a lot of things wrong with some performances.

Too true.
TheAmbitiousCard
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Most of the problem is that the magician falls in love with move and phases and tries to cram in as much as possible.

spectators don't like moves and phases. they just want to be entertained.
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gdw
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On 2012-03-08 23:45, Frank Starsini wrote:
Most of the problem is that the magician falls in love with move and phases and tries to cram in as much as possible.

spectators don't like moves and phases. they just want to be entertained.

:thumbsup:

Soooo true. One the hardest things I had to do/learn with my own routine(s) was cut phases I loved because they weren't working, or we're simply too much. Similarly adding/using phases, methods, moments I personally didn't care for, bit are what works best for the routine and audience.
It's amazing, people will criticize you for "biting the hand that feeds you," while they're busy praising the hand that beats them.

"You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one."

I won't forget you Robert.
Bill Palmer
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I've mentioned this before, but not recently. There is a fellow I know of who can do about 30 minutes of cups and balls moves without repeating a single one. The problem is that he thinks the cups and balls is about the moves. Consequently, he is no longer asked to perform the cups and balls for the local magic club, because he insists on doing every move he knows.

One of the many secrets of the cups and balls is knowing what to leave out. This is especially true when you consider that many of the moves look like the same thing to the layman.
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gdw
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"One of the many secrets of the cups and balls is knowing what to leave out."
True of MANY things. Particularly in magic.
It's amazing, people will criticize you for "biting the hand that feeds you," while they're busy praising the hand that beats them.

"You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one."

I won't forget you Robert.
Dougini
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Quote:
On 2012-03-09 10:03, Bill Palmer wrote:
...One of the many secrets of the cups and balls is knowing what to leave out. This is especially true when you consider that many of the moves look like the same thing to the layman.


So true, and in my case, I discover this after recording my (so far) routine on a camcorder. "Moves" and "passes" were OH SO flashed and unnecessary! Using a mirror, I had incorrectly not considered angles, using the mirror masked MY VIEW of the "moves"!

I started over, and will practice the Vernon Routine until I have this down, backwards and forwards. This time the camcorder RULES! Smile

Doug
gdw
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Dougini, especially for concerns with angles, a three mirror set up is also very useful.
It's amazing, people will criticize you for "biting the hand that feeds you," while they're busy praising the hand that beats them.

"You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one."

I won't forget you Robert.
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