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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » New to magic? » » Are some illusions more intrinsically entertaining than others? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Fiddlermatthew
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I was showing someone a few tricks last night, and it made me wonder something: do some illusions have more intrinsic entertainment value than others? I did Mr. Lorayne's Out of This Universe which got a fairly good response, Vernon's Four of a Kind which got a really nice response, and a short cups and balls routine which went over wonderfully. It seems to me, all things being equal, that some illusions are more "fun" than others.

Now I also know from working in live music a great performer can make anything entertaining. From what I've read on the forum others seem to think the same thing about magic. Now that begs the question is every illusion equally as entertaining with the proper presentation? One thing I've read over and over again about card magic is, "Cards are not boring, the entertainer is boring." Simple enough, even the most technically difficult routine is nothing without good performance. Some things though, like sponge balls, TT, or cups and balls seem to always get good responses. I've never read, "It's not sponge balls that are boring, it's the performer." It would seem to be logical to include that these tricks have a better inherent entertainment value greater than that of some other medium (say cards.)

What do you think? Are some mediums more entertaining than others? Can a mediocre performer entertain more with certain illusions than he can with others, or will a mediocre performer always get mediocre results no matter what he uses?
djurmann
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Not all tricks fit all performers equally. Person a) could give a technically perfect performance which would still be less entertaining than person b).....that said this thread should really go in the "Food for thought" section of the Café.
DWRackley
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A lot of factors to consider. Not just the performer and the trick, but also the audience.

To compare with live Music, you already know that certain songs should not under any circumstances be sung by certain voices. By the same token, some songs can be “covered” successfully by a number of performers, and others are such a signature for one performer that no one else dares to even try it.

Magicians (contemplating the whole spectrum of skill levels) as a whole, aren’t that smart. Some guys will try to copy word for word somebody else’s act. Others will try things that they personally like, but they just stink at it.

Only experience can teach you which is which, but ultimately the music (or the magic) needs to fit the performer, the venue, and the audience. I’ve seen some folks do their best work for different audiences and one goes wild while the other goes to sleep. Again, experience can help you figure out what will and won’t work, and often how to shift your focus to hit a particular group. But there are still going to be some surprises out there. It’s just the nature of the beast.

One thing to keep in mind is that just because you like something doesn’t mean the audience will like it, and vice versa. There’s a bit that I’m almost embarrassed to do, but people keep asking me for it; it’s become a favorite, and I still feel a little guilty.

By and large, the effects that involve people on a personal level are going to fly better than a “watch me – look at what I can do”. Also people want to be entertained, so something that makes them laugh, cry, gasp or wonder is going to be well received. Anything that happens in their own hands, or that they can touch or feel is going to be remembered.

But only if it suits you! Smile
...what if I could read your mind?

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Donatelli and Company at ChattanoogaPerformers.com

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Fiddlermatthew
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Thank you, these are all very valid points. Let me rephrase the question. If, somehow, one could program a robot to do all typed of magic with no patter, audience involvement would dome of it still be fun to watch?
Harry Lorayne
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Fiddlermatthew: Please believe me, I'm not trying to be sarcastic or negative in any way, but can't help but suggest, please - if you get only "a fairly good response" with my Out Of This Universe, then it's just not the kind of thing you should be performing. Just my opinion, trying to be helpful. Best - Harry L.
[email]harrylorayne@earthlink.net[/email]

http://www.harrylorayne.com
http://www.harryloraynemagic.com
Fiddlermatthew
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Quote:
On 2012-11-25 11:19, Harry Lorayne wrote:
Fiddlermatthew: Please believe me, I'm not trying to be sarcastic or negative in any way, but can't help but suggest, please - if you get only "a fairly good response" with my Out Of This Universe, then it's just not the kind of thing you should be performing. Just my opinion, trying to be helpful. Best - Harry L.

I agree it's wonderful and a vast improvement over other versions of OOTW. I think the problem was the person I performed it for had a fairly short attention span. I'm sure I'll get better reactions.
DWRackley
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Short answer: If I ever discovered that I was on the same billing as Mr. Lorayne, I’d quit, pack up my stuff, and go buy a ticket to sit in the front row. Doesn’t matter what he’s performing. That’s how much difference it makes.

Quote:
If, somehow, one could program a robot to do all typed of magic with no patter, audience involvement would dome of it still be fun to watch?


Taken in that light, no, I don’t think ANY magic would be entertaining. Just my opinion, but magic can really go down one of two roads; the road I DON’T want to take is the “Intellectual Puzzle”. Don’t get me wrong, people like puzzles, they buy whole books full of puzzles, they subscribe to puzzle magazines. But that creates an adversarial mindset. Applied to what we do, that reduces magic to a simple “fool me if you can” challenge. Nobody likes to look stupid, and they won’t enjoy being “tricked”, not for very long. (There are performers who do challenge people with an in-your-face "I can trick you" style, but to be successful, they include humor, lure of money, or some other "shtick” to make it entertaining. In other words, they add personality. )

When I’m at a trade show, I still see people looking up at the classic water faucet hovering in mid-air with a stream of liquid pouring from its spout,but most of them know how it’s done. Ever since George Lucas kicked open the box of movie tricks with “The Making of Star Wars”, then other movie makers started following suit, the public has developed an expectation to “look behind the curtain”. Without the personality supplied by the performer (LOTS of DIFFERENT performers with lots of different styles of entertainment), then what we’re doing ceases to be magic; it’s just special effects. My opinion.
...what if I could read your mind?

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Donatelli and Company at ChattanoogaPerformers.com

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Fiddlermatthew
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I agree, personality is everything. I believe Doyle Lawson said a performer's success is ninety-eight percent if they like them and two percent talent. Also, if I somehow seemed to be degenerating wonderful performers like Mr. Lorayne I was not. I agree, I would drive a considerable distance just to watch him perform, but his videos and literature are having to suffice.
I also agree about your thesis on the two "roads" of magic. How, in your opinion, do you transition between merely performing and "Intellectual Puzzle" and true magic? Is it personality alone, or are other things necessary?
Jack Crafter
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I've always felt that, certainly with the magic I like to see performed, it's about connecting with the spectator on an emotional level. That might even be the key to moving away from the adversarial standpoint DWRackley talks about. If the spectator is "feeling" the effect they're not thinking about it, so it ceases to be an intellectual puzzle and starts to mean something to them. Bear in mind that's just a hunch based on what I like to see though Smile. I guess it's about selling the illusion through a mixture or personality and content and it's that which creates the connection which makes us all love good magic. If you're lacking those then I guess that's when it starts to feel like a puzzle instead of an experience.
bobthemagicdoerguy
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According to me, there are 3 main factors: Audience, magician, and trick.

Any one of them can help compensate for weaknesses in the other, but having the best in all three is the goal.

Audience: different types of people react differently to magic. Some people enjoy the performance and the whole wonder that comes from the experience. Others think of of magic as an intellectual puzzle and are always trying to figure out "how it is done" and don't enjoy it as much (my brother is like this). Still others don't like magic at all. This is the part you really don't have control over. An audience at the Magic Castle is going to be much more receptive than, say, a random gig at a bar or restaurant. One group appreciates performance and skill, the other may be full of hecklers waiting for the stand-up guy to come out. Which brings us to...

Magician: A good performer can help make up for a bad audience. Of all three factors, I think showmanship is by far the most important. Part of learning magic is to figure out how to do this well, develop your own style. If you are only getting ho-hum reactions to Out of This Universe, and other magicians are bringing down the house with it, is it a matter of performance or skill or showmanship you need work on? Don't worry too much about this. I know, I said it is the most important, then don't worry about it. I say that because much of what you can learn here only comes from practice.

Trick: A great magician can make a "boring" trick wonderfully entertaining. A good trick can be useless in the hands of a bad performer. Part of being a good performer, in my opinion, is to constantly push yourself to not just be a better performer, but to do better tricks as well. If you can make a move look cleaner, or get a similar effect with a better method, it behooves you try.

The interrelationship of these three factors is what makes magic so amazing. Look at the old David Blaine specials. His performances basically consisted of saying "watch," then doing something. He relied on the power of the trick. Other magicians will do the same effect and take ten minutes because its built into a routine.

All that being said, yes - I believe that some tricks are inherently more magical than others. Sometimes the magic comes in knowing that the magician is doing moves right in front of you without being able to spot it (I think of Bill Malone's Sam the Bellhop here). Sometimes it is simply amazing to see something your brain tells you is impossible (the first time I remember feeling this was on seeing Jeff McBride's productions of impossible amounts of cards from mid-air.)

Part of the magical journey is finding your own balance of all these factors. Perhaps you will perform for family and friends. Perhaps you will try the professional circuit. Perhaps you will do street magic. Perhaps you will try humor, or mystery, or whatever. Learn all you can, and keep trying things until you find what sticks.
Mr. Woolery
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Well, I think I'm going to be the oddball, here.

Yes. Some magic effects are more entertaining than others. Given the same quality of performance, one trick will engage the imaginations of the audience better than others.

You got a great reaction with cups and balls. I'm not surprised. Mentally, we can follow the plot of that one really easily. There are three cups and three balls. That's all the audience sees. The plot of many card tricks just doesn't come over as obviously. Since we are used to the concept that from the backs we can't tell which card is which (that's a very important point when playing Poker, for example) we are aware that a card trick often depends on the ambiguity as to which card is which. I feel that this is a major hurdle to overcome when performing OOTW or variations of it. A strong card plot and a good performer will overcome this hurdle but it is still there.

I don't think a robot magician will ever be more than a really fascinating contraption. It isn't magical. That said, manipulation acts (McBride producing loads of cards from the air, billiard balls, thimbles, and so on) can be done silently and be good theater. Card tricks that I use are all fairly patter-driven. Cups and balls can be done silent, as can C&R rope, linking rings, miser's dream, and a host of others. But you have a harder time getting the point across with OOTW if you can't talk. Sam the Bellhop never did anything for me. I've watched Malone do this one several times and I just can't understand why anyone likes it so much.

So, after all that rambling, I think my answer is going to be yes, there are tricks that are visual and don't need the patter to communicate the plot to the audience. The performer has less effort needed in order to communicate what is going on.

Bill Tarr had an interesting idea in his NYSINYD Notebook. It was a miniature stage and theater which only showcases hands. The rest of the performer remains hidden while his hands display feats of sleight of hand. I think he called it Finger Ballet. Not for me, but kind of a neat idea.

Food for thought, not trying to ruffle any feathers.

-Patrick
bobthemagicdoerguy
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I know why some people don't like Sam the Bellhop. What I was trying to say was the reason I liked it was knowing that he was controlling the cards, all false shuffles/ false cuts, etc, and yet seeing him do it so effortlessly that the performance IS the magic - sort of the way I am impressed by a good juggler - it is the doing of something that requires great skill and talent that is entertaining, not so much any sort of magical idea.

But I get what you are saying. I don't prefer the "look at me" type magic, where the idea is to show off. I like the "look at this" type, where the idea is to show something profound.
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