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M@gic Man
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I have been pondering for days about a routine based on cartoons (e.g. Sylvester the Jester). But I don't want to copy him directly, and I want to do tricks that look like they can only be done in cartoons.

For example. Appearing 8 foot pole, appearing bowling ball, mouth coils, growing glove, etc.

Could anyone help me out, with ideas, tricks, tips, costume and finale tricks/gags?

Thank you.
Its not what you do, but how you do it.
Steve Hart
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First I think you need to be clear about how you are going to create this act?

You said you did not want to copy Sylvester the Jester, yet you mention a couple of routines that he performs.

I suggest that you concentrate on your character first, Decide who that is in detail. Watch the cartoons and carefully study the work that went into building the character. Then it will be easier to identify your tricks.

There are so many magical effects that lend themselves to a cartoon type effect.

Before we start offering you ideas, I suggest that you first share with us your ideas in more detail.

Steve Hart
Cape Canaveral, FL USA
"Motivational Magicians are some of the highest paid magicians, find out why?"
M@gic Man
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I want to develop a non talking character, I don't want to use sound effects(unless necessary). I will use a lot of facial expressions, and be very sort of unsure about things, and accident sort of happen. I have a very clumsy nature.

if that helps, I just want your ideas, as I am still working on it.
Thank you
Its not what you do, but how you do it.
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Profile of MikeJRogers
Magic Man,

Take a look at my posts in the 'Little Darlings' section of the forum. I've 99% finished my cartoon styled kids act and I got a lot of help from there. Hopefully it will give you some ideas for your stage act. I've also got a few original cartoon effects.

However a cartoon STAGE act might come a little close to Sylvester's, no matter what you do it will be similar to him. It's sort of his brand name so to speak. This is why I chose to do a kids act and I'm very careful about what I select to perform. My act is cartoon STYLED not cartoon BASED. The magic I perform is the normal kids magic but with a cartoon theme. This style of kids act is quiet unique to me, well from what I know it is.

It would be very, very, very hard to make your stage act original. I guess it boils done to ethics. You have to make the final decision though. How close to Sylvester's is TOO close.

Also cartoon effects are quite difficult to perform. Being an 'accident' character is also very difficult to do, it's usually not convincing and thus not entertaining to the audience.

Maybe think twice about this type of stage act. A cartoon stage act has been done before, try coming up with something a little more 'out of the box'. This is the approach I took to my kids show. I made it unique. Unfortunately the act your wanting to create, solely with cartoon effects, is not unique.

Get your brain ticking. My stage routine is about something completely out of the box, so anything can be adapted. Take a scenario and adapt it to your magic. Give it a try.

Hope this helps,

Mike Rogers Illusion Design - Australia -
"Nothings impossible, the impossible just takes longer" - Dan Brown novel
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Don't know if this is exactly what you want but I'll throw it out anyway.

CardToon trick. Bought this a couple weeks ago and people just love it.

The effect is:
A deck of cards with a cartoon stick figure on top. The spectator can then freely select any card from the deck. The deck is then turned back over and when paging through the deck the stick figure comes to life and procceds to pull the card they picked out of a magicians hat.

Might not work for what you are doing but was cartoon theme.
Hope it helps
Nick Zender

I love this trick every time I do it.
Frank Tougas
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The great Red Skelton did many visual gag type things in his career. Some, very cartoonlike. My favorite is where he sits at a table upon which rests a cup, saucer and a small doughnut. He sat, and dipped the doughnut into the coffee. The next time he held it in the cup too long and pulled out a doughnut about four times the size. Very funny.

If you borrowed it, somehow I think he would not mind.

There is a video set out, advertised on infomercials and late night spots. It may be worth getting as it will get the creative juices working.
Frank Tougas The Twin Cities Most "Kid Experienced" Children's Performer :"Creating Positive Memories...One Smile at a Time"
Dave Egleston
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There's about a hundred pros doing exactly what you're describing - Personally, the best routine using the "Befuddled Magician" theme is/was performed by Scott Cervine (I think I spelled his last name incorrectly)

Approximately 2 minutes into his act he started to get the belly laughs from the audience and never let us catch our breath for the rest of the act.

When you take this particular approach, I think you have to get nothing but big effects - for instance - Not the little girlie-man ninja rings - but the 12- 14 inch rings, maybe even a gaffed hula-hoop set. If you're going to try a pantomime style for kids - the bigger the better

I've also seen some very lame approaches to this angle, get someone who doesn't like you, to critique your act before you try and inflict this on the general public.

Tony Ley
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Magic Man-
Steve, Mike, Frank & Dave made some REALLY good points and you'd be wise to listen to these gentlemen carefully. A cartoon act of any type would have to be VERY 'out of the box' to not be considered a knock-off of Dan Sylvester's act. As Mike mentioned, his act is cartoon 'styled'.

You should spend a few dollars, rent several of the 'old-school' cartoons (early Warner Bros, Jones, Flescher, etc,) and grab a bucket of popcorn. Maybe something else will hit you as inspiration.

One thing that's cartoony and 'hot' right now are 'cell-shaded' videogames. Like mentioned earlier, you could develop a 'look'.

An early Bugs Bunny cartoon had Bugs irritating a stage magician during his act. Try developing a running gag like that. Perhaps some sort of little creature you make appear antagonizes you during your show. All sorts of problems could occur.

Go to the library and check out books of old Sunday Funnies. As was mentioned earlier also...check out videos like The Best of Red Skelton, a couple of Jerry Lewis films like The Bellhop or The Juvenile Delinquet, Buster Keaton in The General, and Charlie Chaplin in The Tramp or Modern Times.

There's a LOT of inspiration out there. The only thing is it's going to take some SERIOUS love and creativity to set yourself apart from the rest of the sheep. Most cartoon acts I've seen are basically rip-offs of Dan Sylvester's incredible concept and are done TERRIBLY!

Find out what you like about the 'cartoon' look after watching all that reference material. Do you like the 'look', the physical gags, the characters? What makes you want to do this type of show in the first place? What was the image you had in your head when you said to yourself that you wanted to create a show of this type? I think you'll find a direction somewhere in those questions.

I hope this helps and I'm sorry for babbling unintelligently but it's late.
Take care and good luck,
Tony Ley
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Tony presents some very solid inspirational ideas, as do others above. I just wanted to add that I don't think it would be impossible to avoid being seen as a cheap Sylvester knockoff. It will just take thought. As others have said, what he does is cartoon styled. But maybe you could focus what you do, not by being cartoon-like, but by being a specific cartoon character--one you'll need to originate to avoid likely legal trouble--and have your act tell the story of a specific set of events in the character's "life," so the magic would play a lively part in a coherent, plot-driven narrative? Cartoons, after all, do tend to tell stories. Your act would be like an episode, and you could later develop additional episodes/acts. Smile
Peter Marucci
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Something that would fit your requirements ideally would be Professor Cheer's Rope Trick.
The magus is doing some sort of rope trick when he (and the audience) notice that there is a piece of rope dangling out of his sleeve.
The magus pulls it out -- about 20 feet of it -- and it gets stuck; then what seems to be the other end is seen sticking out his pant leg. He pulls that and the sleeve end is pulled inside the sleeve but, after about 20 feet, the leg piece gets stuck. Then another piece is seen sticking out the other leg. The magus pulls on that and, after about 20 feet, it seems to get stuck; he gives it a final tug and the whole rope pops out with a pair of garish undershorts tied to the end.
Works very will as a closer but could be used at any time.
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Hi! Daffy Doughere. The "Cartoon Voiced Magic Man"

My claim to fame is doing cartoon vocal impersonations during my act. I include most of the Looney toons, and many others. I have been doing it for years, and can tell you this:Every body loves cartoons! Grown-ups. as well as kids. So your idea is sound, but like the others said, you are gonna have to be really careful, and walk on eggs so as not to be perceived as a Sylvester knockoff. If people perceive you in that light, they could end up resenting you instead of loving you. Not the best way to launch your career.
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
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There is this trick called Acme Portable Hole where a spec thinks of a card and it ends up having a hole in it. The patter has to do with the Road Runner cartoons and all the Acme items he buys, hence the name of the trick. You can buy it online for about $20. Another one is Just in Case where the magician pulls a pool ball out of a small case. heres a link on where to find both of them. Though they are located in the UK.
Tony Ley
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Magic Man-
I was just watching some very old Disney black & white cartoons and remembered what you were trying to do.
Consider this - you could do an old black and white, silent cartoon! You're props could be black and white, you could kind of bounce up and down like the old-school toons did. Maybe you could produce signs like the old silent films to show what you're saying. OR maybe you could even start your act as a silent cartoon act and progress like animation did. You could start silent, introduce sound magically, and eventually color.
Just some more ideas to kick around the old medulla umblagata (sp?).
Take care,
Tony Ley
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I was playing with an idea for a bit. A bee is flying around you, and you comment that it would be a shame if it were to sting you in the eye. It does so and your eye bulges out very jim carrey'esque. Get a fake eye and attach it to your thumb. Take it from there.

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Here are my thoughts. I think someone was ought to be the first to come up with an act like this. And the first on in this case was Sylvester. This doesn't make cartoon characters in magic his.

I would consider it a knock-off if somebody came out wearing a big funny hat, with a big coat and fake hair and large shoes. Or else someone who does exactly what Sylvester does.

I already expressed my opinion in this regard in another thread about masks. If Iuse masks inmy act, it does not make me a knock-off of McBride. If I use swords, I am not necessarily imitating Ayala. If I use fire, I am not copying Alpha and Luce. And so on.

It all boils down to whether you are copying exactly or not. That is a knock-off. Cartoons, Swords, Fire, masks, Wands, Fairies... these are all sources for magic and can be used by anyone.

I like the cartoon style, but would never wear any cartoon costumes. Instead I remain myself and cartoonish events happen to me. Like pulling out a full size shovel from my pants pocket.

The Great Smartini
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Be yourself, bring the best characteristics of your own personality to your magical character and let the chips fall where they may.

Anyone out there have any insights on cartoon characters or cartoon character routine? Perhaps only some/one of your routines needs to have a cartoony theme? Thoughts? The character that I've been trying to develop is a character that alternates between success and magic comedy failure. Still I try to look clever and all throughout the proceedings

Jeff Christensen
AKA The Great Smartini
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Profile of muzicman
I am working on a routine with my Rabbit in the Hat puppet that uses a cartoon style sound track. You can hear the sound track here

I searched many soundtracks before I decided to use this one. I don't think anyone would accuse me of ripping off Sylvester The Jester. Mine is a puppet routine.

This is the most challenging skit I have ever attempted. However, I believe I can get the puppet to animate the mood and actions suggested by the music and sound track. Hitting the sound cues is important. The basic routine is similiar to a Rabbit in the Hat routine I saw someone do on a video I have but I don't know who it is. Basically, a forced card is lost into a shuffled deck. The Magic Rabbit comes out and I brag about how good he is and I mention how he cleaned his hat all day so it would look good for the show. This is in sync with the soundtrack as he takes a little sweeper broom and dusts off his hat. I place the cards in the hat whichs gets the rabbit really upset. He starts throwing the cards out as I apparently don't notice. I mention to the audience that the day my little magic partner can't find the selected card, I am going to make some delicious wabbit stew. At that point, the rabbit panics and begins searching the floor and his hat for the card. The final climax is he produces their card. I like the idea of using a cartoon style soundtrack for this puppet. I have never seen anything like what I envision and I feel it would entertaining to old and young alike. To get the routine down, I had to listen to the soundtrack about 2 dozen times and then begin writing the script based on TIME STAMPS of the certain music changes and sound cues. TIMING IS CRITICAL. I feel I could perform it right now after about 20 hours of practice, but I will easily spend another 40 hours playing and getting those sound cues tight with the rabbits movements and expressions. The rabbit never talks, he just animates based on the soundtrack.
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