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Pop Haydn
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Thanks, Steve. There are also two different points of view on stage--what the audience sees and thinks, and what Pop sees and thinks. These differing perspectives are what lend interest and layer to the show. It enables you to watch and enjoy more than once.

A great magic trick needs to be clear, but it doesn't need to be simple.

For me, the best line in the performance is "Did I drop one?" because it so points out the discrepancy between these two points of view.

From Pop's view, he has only thrown away one card, and now instead of the six he expected there are only five. What happened? I must have miscounted. Pop counts again, and this time everything is as he expects it to be. The trick worked, but I somehow must have miscounted. That wasn't very good. I should try again.

From the audience point of view, Pop has completed the effect now four times, but doesn't realize it. They know there should only be two cards in his hand, and instead there are five. He doesn't know he has actually already done the trick twice, and when he counts again, three times! When he asks, "Did I drop one?" the audience is thinking, "Are you kidding? You've dropped four!"

At this point, Pop is thinking he tried the trick and it worked but blew the applause by miscounting, "Okay, the trick worked but it wasn't very impressive. I should do it again from the beginning."

To the audience, Pop has done the trick four times and thinks he has only done it once, badly.

It is only after counting seven twice that Pop begins to realize something wrong is happening.

The audience is way ahead.

The first miscount from the envelope is foreshadowing. It may be seen as magic later by the audience, but when it is happening, both Pop and the audience think it is just a screw-up or joke being played of some kind. It isn't magical.

It is like in a ghost story movie, and things are noticed to be "out of place." The audience knows something bad is happening, but the characters don't yet "get it."
Sealegs
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Hi Pop,

I'm not suggesting that your charm and charisma is inherent or natural to you.

I've never met you so I couldn't possibly know what you are like? I only know your onstage character Pop.

That you're likeable charming and charismatic as Pop is a credit to the successful effort and work that you've put in to crafting honing and creating the character. For all I know if I met you off stage as yourself you might be a surly, foul mouthed, pain in the rear. Smile

I really (cafe posts aside) only know Pop and I only know him as one might know a character in a soap.

If you are mildly insulted that people like you as Pop before you overtly do anything to 'make ' them like you (such as a magic trick) then all I can say is... tough. Oh that we all had such things to be insulted by.

Being likeable and as a consequence having people predisposed to like what you do doesn't lessen the art, or the craft of what then present to people. An audiences predisposition to liking a well honed warm character with whom an audience has an instant rapport isn't an endless stream of love. We've all seen (and if you're an act probably experienced) an audience turn from an adoring throng to an angry mob. Having a character that comes across as likeable merely gives one a foot in the door. We still have to deliver and anyone who has tried their hand at performing knows it's a specialist discipline.

Your character and on stage persona is of course just one factor that goes to make up the performing experience you present but it is by far the most important one. It's certainly more important than the magic. But an audience doesn't owe the performer anything and they can change their mind about them whenever they want.

So, to answer your question; "Would you credit an actor's wonderful performance of Falstaff as being due just to his personal "charm" or perhaps, a bit, to the wonderfully written words and actions that Shakespeare put into him?"

Well I certainly credit Shakespeare but if it was only down to Shakespeare's written words and the actions that Shakespeare put into him... then all Fallstaff's would be the same... and they most definitely are not. Now why would that be do you suppose?
Neal Austin

"The golden rule is that there are no golden rules." G.B. Shaw
Pop Haydn
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Work, training, discipline, study? Ask the same actor to make up his own words and actions, and the experience might vary again.

Of course, Pop has a likeable personality. What does that mean? What does that consist of?

Why is Pop funny? Why is he fun to watch? What is it about him that you find funny?

In my mind, what is funny is the way he reacts to various situations, and what is revealed about him in the process. He is not a wit. He doesn't tell jokes. The actions he takes and the reactions he makes are all thought out, written down, memorized and rehearsed.

This is the first trick in the show. The opening routine. The audience doesn't know Pop. They are taking this time to find out who he is and what sort of thing they should expect.

They laugh because of the juxtaposition of what they "know" and what he "knows." They find it funny to see a magician treading water and trying to get through a situation he doesn't understand.

To say that they laugh and enjoy this routine no more than they would if Pop just did the repetitive, boring and predictable routine that is so common, it would not be as entertaining. Even Pop can't make something entertaining that is stale, predictable and weak in method. I don't do any routines that I don't think are solid, well-written and well thought out.

I am terrified of going on stage without a script.
tomsk192
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With all due respect, Pop, you asked for comments and then seem not to welcome them. I know plenty of people in the performing arts who train and study with great discipline. Some of them are wonderful, some are merely workmanlike. There are other factors at play, which I do not for one second believe you to be ignorant of. I'm rather disturbed by the nature of this thread, or perhaps, looking at the dialogues, I don't really see the point of it.
Pop Haydn
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I do welcome comments. That has been very helpful. But I do think that the point is to evaluate the work, not to defend it. I don't agree with Neal on his view of this routine. But I certainly appreciate his taking the time to give me his point of view.

Do you agree with him that the routine is badly structured and unclear?
tomsk192
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You know I do not agree, if you have read my previous comments.
Pop Haydn
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I am looking to improve it, but only if the changes are an improvement.

I don't agree with Neal on his view of this routine, but I certainly appreciate his taking the time to give me his point of view, and it has been very helpful to consider it. That doesn't mean I need to agree with him. If he can convince me that there is something wrong with the structure, I would change it. In fact, I think the things he is objecting to are the VERY things that are its strengths--the things that add depth, color, variety, character, and layers to the performance.

I think his suggestions would make the trick weaker, not better.

Do you agree with him that the routine is badly structured and unclear? Did you lose interest at some point? Did you find it confusing and pointless?

I have found Neal's critique to be interesting and thought-provoking, but I haven't yet found it to be convincing. I certainly am not ready to change the routine yet.

That doesn't mean I want Neal to quit trying to convey his ideas about it. He at least has made a serious effort to understand and evaluate the routine, and I really appreciate it.

I would love to hear especially from others who agree with Neal, or have other critiques or suggestions. I am only interested in making this new routine as strong as possible.
Sealegs
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Pop asked; What does a likeable personality consist of? and what does that mean?

This seems a strange question to ask. Pop has created the character of Pop in a certain way... I find it hard to believe during this process you didn't have in mind the desire to ensure Pop's character was likeable. to that end you must know what like-ability consists of.

Some people are likeable and some... not so. What makes people like one person and not another is derived from a myriad of factors that carry differing significance and weight between different individuals and the characters they create. The likeableness of the personality of Pop comes from all and any qualities that you have given the character along with the adaptions, moulding and accommodations of the physical characteristics that {i]you[/i] have.

The factors involved in this process can be seemingly endless but would include, your posture, your gait, your voice's tone and timbre, your accent, your phrasing, your sentence construction, your physical appearance, the clothes you wear, your facial hair or lack of it, your choice of hair style and/or headwear, the way you look at the audience, your facial expressions, the way and amount you smile, the way you move, your coordination, the gestures you make, how you stand, your degree of relaxedness, your nervousness, and in more general terms your look, your degree of able-bodiedness, your demeanour, your manner, your confidence... and so it goes on and on and on.

Every detail has an affect. Some more affect than others but all details play a part as they all provide an overall gestalt.

These qualities along with the words you speak (and how you speak them) and the actions you perform (and the way in which you perform them) create the character and all of these are the qualities on which an audience bases whether that person is likeable, watchable, interesting etc.

As to what it 'mean's to be likeable (another strange question to ask)... it means that those elements, for that character, with that physicality, and with that gestalt that combine to engender in the audience a character that they feel they would want to hang out with.

Pop says; "In my mind, what is funny is the way he reacts to various situations, and what is revealed about him in the process."

Well I'm hard pressed to think of any speaking performer of magic tricks who welcomes a comedy reaction who doesn't do this. It's situational comedy which is what comedy in magic is. Whether the reactions are funny depends on what the reactions are in relation to how the audience perceives the character.

Just because Pop is likeable, engaging and watchable doesn't mean that the audience automatically find him funny. Like any other performer has to earn his laughs and applause. That he is likeable means an audience will give him a chance to do that.

The structure of the tricks being performed provide the situations for the character to react to. If the structure is not as it should be, such that it confuses the audience, then the audience can't assess the character's responses to the action because they don't know or understand what is going on or supposed to be happening.

Pop says that; "they laugh because of the juxtaposition of what they "know" and what he "knows." They find it funny to see a magician treading water and trying to get through a situation he doesn't understand." That's fine and all well and good but if the audience doesn't understand what they are supposed to know and what he knows they get stymied. How can they find it funny to see the magician trying to get through the situation when they don't know or understand what the situation is?

Pop believes that with regard to this routine the audience do know what the situation is and that there is no confusion. If he wishes to believe that then that's fine by me.

All I know is that when I watched the video and I couldn't follow parts of it and there are parts of the routine where I still don't know what supposed to be happening or what I'm supposed to make of it. So Pop's belief as far as it applies to me is wrong. And I'm pretty sure I'm not alone. You only have to listen to the audience's reactions on the video clip. Clearly thee are times when the audience doesn't know either. They are, incidentally at the same times in the routine that I have a problem with.

The potential reaction from the crowd is clear to see (or hear). I think it's easy to assess those comedic moments that the audience follow and understand compared to those they don't follow or understand from their reaction. Compare when Pop accidentally drops a card... to their reaction at the discovery of how many cards are left when 5 remain or the 2nd time 7 remain. It's a full on ebullient reaction from the entire crowd that clearly gets the moment vs one lone nervous laugh or one persons unsure lone applause hesitantly and limply joined in by a few others; and most obvious of all a response of complete silence from a crowd that doesn't get the moment.

Pop says there's no confusion but I say there can't help but be confusion due to the structure of the routine. So lets look at the part I think creates the confusion and why I think it creates the confusion. When Pop throws away 1 card and accidentally drops 2 and is left with 5 what is the situation from the two perspectives of Pop and the audience? From Pop's perspective it is that the trick hasn't worked... he had 6 threw away 1 and he is 1 card short.

So far so easy to follow.

Now the audiences own perspective. From the audience's perspective he has 2 cards more than he should have if the trick failed and no magic took place (6-3=3) ( I am genuinely now struggling to work out the rest...).. he has 1 card less than he ought to have if the magic worked in the way Pop says it's going to work where one card is deliberately thrown away card came back (6-1)-2 +1=4... the right number of cards if; the magic works on both the unseen dropped cards but only (for some unknowable reason) on those two cards and not the deliberately thrown away card... or alternatively that the magic worked on one of the dropped cards and the deliberately thrown away card but not the other dropped card... or indeed if the magic worked on the other one of the unseen dropped cards and the deliberately thrown away card but not the other dropped card... and along with that we also have to carry Pop's perspective too, that he thinks he is 1 card short because he is unaware of all the alternative combinations of what might have actually happened.

And that's not confusing?

Now of course no one is going to go through that mental process... that's my point. Instead the audience sit there trying to make sense of something they don't understand. They don't know how to respond because they don't know what they or Pop are responding to. I'm completely with them at this point in their daze of uncertainty and confusion. I completely empathise with the one lone person who attempts to allayed their nervousness and discomfort of not knowing what's going on with a single unconvincing laugh, and then on the next phase someone's hesitant lone applause that's unenthusiastically followed by a small few equally unsure people...... and then just silence.

I don't know what Pop sees here, but as Darwin said, maybe we're looking at different videos.

Interestingly (to me at least) I think that if the 'hostility of objects' conceit that Darwin referred to was either applied consistantly or given a consistant outcome I think this would help the audience feel they were on a path they understand.

Pop says; that if he just did the repetitive, boring and predictable routine that is so common, it would not be entertaining. And that even Pop can't make something entertaining that is stale, predictable and weak in method.

Well you have no argument about that from me. I completely agree. As I said just being likeable isn't anywhere near enough... any performer still has to deliver.

However the question here isn't, can the 6-Card Repeat trick be improved? or even, is your routine better?... the question is, Is the structure of the routine you've come up with sound? Could the structure be improved?

Well you know my answer and you know the reasons for my answer. I think the routine's structure has some flaws and I think if these flaws were dealt with the routine would be much better for it.

But I of course respect Pop's and anyone else's opinion. I was asked for mine and have given it.

Finally, Pop says; "I don't do any routines that I don't think are solid, well-written and well thought out." This is an unfortunate turn of phrase as it reads in a way that sounds completely dismissive. As if any suggestion would already have been considered in coming to the 'well thought out' routine and that nothing anyone can add or say could be an improvement other than those identified by the performer.

It's a shame it reads this way as I genuinely don't believe that this is Pop's view. But I do think that perhaps we aren't so much looking at different videos as looking at the same video through different rose coloured spectacles.

I have no ax to grind, and am a huge admirer or Pop. As far as personal standing goes I realise I am on a hiding to nothing by giving an honest opinion that contains some strong criticism of a performer that is rightly held in the highest of esteem.

But as Pop says it's for him to assess any invited comments and either agree with them or not and act on them or not. Either way I wish him well with it and like the fact that he has looked to improve on one of the modern classics of magic. It's only through the willingness to work on and then try out innovations such as this that the performance of our art moves forward.
Neal Austin

"The golden rule is that there are no golden rules." G.B. Shaw
Pop Haydn
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Thank you so much, Neal. I really appreciate all your efforts.

Neal sent me the original post privately, and I asked him to post it here so we could look at his critique. He was nice enough to do that, and I am very interested in his ideas.

I think this last post is wonderful, and really shows Neal knows what he is speaking about. I do try to work stuff out, and didn't mean to be dismissive. All I meant though, is that this routine was intentionally constructed the way it is...it isn't an accident. I worked hard and believe in my work. That doesn't mean it can't be wrong, or can't be improved.

Neal has explained his critique extremely clearly and well. I have been trying hard to see things from his point of view.

The problem I have is that the audiences all week loved the routine. It was a good response in every show. I don't see the problem that you are seeing for some reason. I don't think the audience is confused about what is happening--they think that I am trying to do a trick involving counting cards, and for some reason, the cards are resisting being counted correctly. I am not trying to make that happen, it is an odd and inexplicable and magical problem.

I would really wonder if other people found the trick unclear and puzzling rather than funny and amazing. I would appreciate hearing from anyone who agrees with Neal on this...So far, I haven't heard from anyone who seems to share this concern. It would be helpful to find that others agree with this analysis. Is the structure unclear and confusing? Do you have a hard time understanding what is happening?

If I counted six at the point at which I count five, would it be better? Would the audience be more pleased and sure of what is going on? Would I have to end the effect there?
ljsviol
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Pop/Whit,
If it helps, here's another, maybe naive, viewpoint -). I enjoyed the heck out of your routine; I didn't find anything confusing, and I thought the routine suits Pop very well. I've watched a lot of your routines (and bought some for my own use) - this looks like a really good addition.

The above might seem like mere flattery; it's not meant to be just that. Good job! If you market the routine, I'll probably buy it. -)

Larry S.
Pop Haydn
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Thanks, Larry.
Jiceh
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Quote:
On 2013-07-21 07:02, Darwin Ortiz wrote:
On the way to achieving the intended effect there occurs a series of what a dramatist would call “complications.” These complications use a common comedic technique sometimes called “the hostility of objects.” The complications themselves involve magic. The magic effect of the complications is easily stated: The number of cards is never what it should be. (Why you label this “confusion” I don’t know.)

The magic effect of the complications is easily stated: The number of cards is never what it should be. (Why you label this “confusion” I don’t know.) : I agree about what sealegs wrote.
It's not so easy to analyse and summarize the effect, as you have done in one sentence, when you are a spectator.
It reminds me something you wrote in strong magic : A performer talks about 2 foreign coins and one american coin instead of a dollar, a centavos and a english penny (I don't remember the coins but it is not important. Only the idea is). Maybe it would be a good idea to help spectators do the same job (summarine the effect to make it clear) in Pop's routine.
Any ideas?
Pop Haydn
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So Jiceh, you agree with Neal that the plot is confusing for the spectators?
S2000magician
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Whit:

Would you agree that premise that the audience should accept initially is that, historically, the effect has worked for Pop without a hitch?

Do you believe that you have established that premise as valid? If so, have you done so through some overt action on your part, or merely through the audience's general understanding that this stuff works for magicians?
Pop Haydn
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It is a great classic feat of magic. I never said I had ever attempted it before.
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Quote:
On 2013-07-22 19:34, Pop Haydn wrote:
It is a great classic feat of magic. I never said I had ever attempted it before.

But should the audience expect that you have?

(I ask because if you have done it before - successfully - then the absurd situation in the Castle is all the funnier. If it's never worked correctly for you, then maybe, to the audience, you simply don't know what you're doing. Clearly, from the audience's reaction, they believe that you've done it before; that's a belief you want to reinforce.)
Pop Haydn
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I think the audience knows that the magician behind Pop knows what he is doing, and has done it before.

Pop probably is just goin' for it. It isn't sleight of hand for him. It is a simple feat of real magic.

He isn't screwing up the counts either intentionally or accidently. The numbers of objects in his hands magically keep changing. There are only six cards. Or only five. Or seven. The numbers keep changing inexplicably, as if arithmetic kept shifting--count the sheep. Six. count em again. Three.

The actual number of the objects keep changing--by magic.

The magician behind Pop is doing this, not Pop. Pop thinks he should be able to do this old classic...how hard could it be? But his first attempt, the card doesn't come back. He counts again, and thinks "I made a mistake."

Pop doesn't understand it at first, only when he counts seven twice in a row. Then he realizes that the mathematics of the room are a "bit off." Now he knows what is wrong. He now can use that knowledge to somehow "catch the wave" and complete the effect.

Pop lives in a magic world where fantasy, reality, science and crackpot theory all exist together and for real. He is a time-traveler and a con man. A humbug, huckster, and crackpot. From his point of view, he decided to show this old classic, and after a couple of false starts because of the math of the room, he finishes it successfully. It is mostly positive thinking on his part. Or perhaps, once he knows the mathematics is slightly screwed up, he can account for that and make everything work out. It is a mathematical card trick.

The job of the actor is to make them forget the magician and his real machinations, get carried away by the magical character and his view of things.
S2000magician
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All the more proof that you've thought this through thoroughly.

Sometimes we have a vague idea in our head, but it doesn't coelesce until we try to explain it to others. (Many have said that the best way to learn something is to try to teach it to someone else: in that attempt any shortcomings you have will be laid bare.) Clearly, that isn't the case here. Bravo!
Pop Haydn
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This routine has drawn elements from other different plots that are similar. The Too Many Cards, and Eleven Dollar Bill Trick for example.

But the plot that we are attempting to show here is the Six Card Repeat, which is an effect of stasis--even when members of a set are discarded the set returns to stasis. Show six, throw away one (or two, or three) and the packet returns to its original number by magic.

In this presentation of the plot, the trick is accomplished before the magician realizes it. The second attempt, which Pop thinks is the first attempt, it only comes back to within one card of right. Pop sees a complete failure, since he threw away one, and then had five--as would happen in real life. This puzzles Pop, and when he counts again, he does have six! He must have miscounted. But that wasn't very good, it may confuse the audience, so he offers to attempt it a second time, only now he keeps getting an extra card when he starts.

So really, even though we don't repeat the effect the same way each time, we do the effect of returning to stasis several times and I think the audience understands that from Pop's point of view the trick is finally accomplished by Pop correctly for the first time at the very end of the routine.
Pop Haydn
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The audience is aware that magic isn't real, and that the performer is playing a role. In magic, this trickster/magician character is playing the role of a real magician. A charlatan never lets the mask slip. A magician loves to slip the mask, and maybe reveal another mask underneath. One is stealing. The other is playing. We can engage the audience in a play if we create a character that is believable enough and fun enough for them to want to believe in him.

The magician/trickster is like the ventriloquist, we know he is behind everything, but we really want to talk to the dummy--the magical character that he creates.
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