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danfreed
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JR, I can see your acting background in your performances. I don't do the rigid script thing either cause I have no memory and like to be very much in the moment interacting with the kids and making everything seem spontaneous. Although with good acting you can have everything tightly scripted and still seem spontaneous and still improvise as appropriate. After seeing Max, I'm planning to try at least 1 tightly scripted alternate character based thing. Quentin Reynolds has a DVD in which he talks about how to structure a show, and he's on this thread so he can say more about that, but he makes some very good points in the DVD.
charliecheckers
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The #1 lesson I learned from Zucchini was to better determine who my desired target audience is , and then match their desires. So that is what I am trying to get better at. Just getting better at many things will not necessarily improve your show if what you are getting better at has no meaning to your audience.
JoshLondonMagic
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Wow! What a great thread! So happy that there is so many great ideas here, thank you all!

What started this for me was not the fact that I have no business, but rather how do I get better than I already am. I read a booked called "Be the best at what matters most." It's a new book and really opene my eyes to see that my never ending to do list isn't what matters most. My show matters most.

My calendar is very full every weekend and corporate shows thrown in there for some good measure. But I want to get even better.

I'm going to look into some improv classes and acting classes to learn more about stage craft as discussed earlier.

Very good thread that is soon becoming very valuable, especially where so many are worried about the next trick or DVD. The true pros know the next trick won't grow a sustainable business, but a well structured, well rehearsed, engaging show will.

Thanks again guys. Let's keep this going!

As a side note I watched a few clips of my show last night and noticed basic movement things I'd like to change like when I transfer a handkerchief from hand to hand and also noticed some blocking issues.

Does anyone have a book on basic theater techniques they've found valuable?

Josh
Josh
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"Ah, well do I remember when old Omar took the turban from the top of his head..."
Jolly Roger
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This is the text book we used at Drama school, but only focuses on the voice:

http://books.google.com/books/about/Voic......cTuZdsgC

However, this is a great book by my old friend David Wood, who is also a magician

http://www.textbooks.com/BooksDescriptio......odPHcAhQ
JR
Skip Way
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Charles Pecor had an excellent book titled "Staging Magic:The Real Secrets" that he published in 1988. I don;t believe it's still in print and it looks like Amazon has a copy available. You can also reach out to Dr. Pecor personally. He lectured here several times on stage craft, movement, and blocking. Brilliant lectures! I may have his email. Let me know if you need it.

I also have "Bringing the Body to the Stage and Screen: Expressive Movement for Performers" by Annette Lust. This is an actor/director based book, but it is very informative.
How you leave others feeling after an Experience with you becomes your Trademark.

Magic Youth Raleigh - RaleighMagicClub.org
Potty the Pirate
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I agree with skip and Quentin up to a point. Realistically, it's important to both create a good show, and to learn acting skills.

Regarding the latter, I'd suggest that acting lessons are possibly not the best solution. I've often wondered what an "acting lesson" is, seems almost impossible to me, to study the art of theatre in any other way than on the boards. Of course, read and learn all you can. But if you want to develop your stage skills, the easiest way is to join a GOOD amateur theatre group. Seek out a group who have a highly-respected director.

In the UK, and in the US, there are some incredible amateur theatre directors. In some amateur companies, you even get to work with professional or semi-pro directors, and performers. The top am dram companies in the UK easily outstrip most professional repertory companies, and perform at the finest venues. Many leading actors and actresses learned their trade working with am dram companies, then rep, then on to the big time.

There is simply no other way to become a good performer, you need those thousands of hours on stage.

I agree with Quentin on two of his points, but I'm rather taken aback that he suggests that overacting is "a big mistake made by children's entertainers".

Overacting, done well, is a pure delight for kids. We see it all the time - even in cartoons there are overactors (or "ham" actors, as we prefer to call in here in the UK.) Jim Carey is a great example of an overactor, who is thoroughly engaging, not just to kids, but to adults, too.

Pantomime is full of ham acting, and in my opinion, it's one of the very best techniques to engage (especially young) children.

Many years ago, I read the bible of ham acting. I'm really sorry, I can't for the life of me remember what it's called, but it's something like: "How to be a Ham Actor".

Until that point, I hadn't really grasped what this meant, despite acting in many straight plays, Shakespeare, etc.

Ridiculous voices, upstaging, over-exaggerated movements. Knowing what makes a "ham" actor works both ways: once you know the principle, as a straight actor, you understand how to be more subtle, and more convincing. As a comedy actor, you know how to get a laugh, even when you're not the centre of attention.

Ham acting done badly, is about as painful to watch as it gets. Done well (Jim Carey), it's close to genius.

Hmmm...reminds me of the last couple of days.

;)
magic4u02
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How do you get better?.....by failing.

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danfreed
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I agree with Potty's last post....oy! Carrey is great, one of my faves, I'd love to see Jim Carrey do a magic act for kids.
With kids, it's better to overact than underact (though some balance and variety is usually best), especially with young kids. I try to mix up my approach in each show - some over the top, some very subtle stuff. If they are paying attention, which they will do if you are good, they will notice and react to the subtle stuff as much or more than the crazy stuff. So I say mix it up for variety - too much of 1 thing is bad, like if you were to watch a movie with nothing but car chases. No how well done the car chases you'd get bored with it and things would get stale and not move along, you'd drain the audience, etc.

So for a little example, when I do the nesting wands - each time the kid pulls out one of the 4 inner wands I try to react differently. It wouldn't be good to just scream "oh no!" and pull the same face each time. You can plan in advance to escalate up, down, or have an arc in the middle, OR go with the flow of kids reactions which is what I tend to do. To go with the flow, you pay attention to them as you go - do I need to be more animated this time or would a more subtle thing like a pause and eye roll and maybe a little lip quiver be best this time. Then next wand, decide based on how they react, thinking ahead to how you'd like to end it.
In general for each show, for some crowds you may need to go bigger to get the best laughs, for some crowds it works better to be more subtle, and a balance seems best. Sometimes you can get the biggest laughs just by doing very simple stuff like staring straight at the audience and blinking, like Oliver Hardy did when he looked right at the camera for several seconds to show his frustration. I can't stand watching an entertainer do the same thing over and over during the whole show, even though that works well for some guys, doing that usually just shows a lack of acting skill.
Potty the Pirate
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Quote:
On 2013-10-02 16:26, magic4u02 wrote:
How do you get better?.....by failing.

Kyle


Kyle, I don't agree at all. It's perfectly possible to get better without ever "failing". But, I agree, that failure is always gonna be a driver, for everyone but those who can just accept failure. I don't think anyone here falls into that camp!

Get better by learning, listening, and by treating your performing abilities in the same way that any business would deal with their primary asset.

I really think succeeding is about being positive. Failure, when it happens, is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it brings you down, on the other hand, it forces you to work harder, and bring yourself up. I would hope that no one here, would ever feel such a failure, that they stop trying.

Avoid it if you can, but within reasonable parameters, you only ever "fail", if you believe it. Be positive, look around you for any scraps of help that might take you away form that place you're in, if it's so bad.

Of course, you can make it good all the way down the line. But, it's all down to you..this is a matter of psychology, and it's not science.
Magnus Eisengrim
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Quote:
On 2013-10-02 13:25, Quentin wrote:
There is some great advice here. But I still maintain the first step is to have a well balanced show. Such a show has a flow to it. Even when you are busy with many shows in the day and you have the flu and are feeling miserable, a good structure will get you through. Think of it like a roller coaster. Once it gets to the top, the structure of the ride carries the cars to the end.

Once you have a show, you can work on improving it.

A suggestion for such a show:

Something funny to get the attention and the children laughing. Sometimes smaller children can be apprehensive. Once they start laughing they start enjoying the show.

A strong magic effect with comedy that does not require an audience helper.

A helping trick.

A quick strong visual magical effect that is very baffling.

Another helping trick.

A shouting trick, such as Run Rabbit Run or Codology.

Finish with a puppet routine.

If you have the birthday child up helping in either of the helping tricks, make them a balloon animal or produce a small gift.
If you are doing a longer show do Kimmo's Race Game (see a thread on this on the Café) after the shouting trick and finish with the puppet routine.

But get the show first. Then you have something to work with and improve.


That is golden advice, Quentin. Thank you.

John
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.--Yeats
Potty the Pirate
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Quote:
On 2013-10-02 16:53, danfreed wrote:
I agree with Potty's last post....oy! Carrey is great, one of my faves, I'd love to see Jim Carrey do a magic act for kids.
With kids, it's better to overact than underact (though some balance and variety is usually best), especially with young kids. I try to mix up my approach in each show - some over the top, some very subtle stuff. If they are paying attention, which they will do if you are good, they will notice and react to the subtle stuff as much or more than the crazy stuff. So I say mix it up for variety - too much of 1 thing is bad, like if you were to watch a movie with nothing but car chases. No how well done the car chases you'd get bored with it and things would get stale and not move along, you'd drain the audience, etc.

So for a little example, when I do the nesting wands - each time the kid pulls out one of the 4 inner wands I try to react differently. It wouldn't be good to just scream "oh no!" and pull the same face each time. You can plan in advance to escalate up, down, or have an arc in the middle, OR go with the flow of kids reactions which is what I tend to do. To go with the flow, you pay attention to them as you go - do I need to be more animated this time or would a more subtle thing like a pause and eye roll and maybe a little lip quiver be best this time. Then next wand, decide based on how they react, thinking ahead to how you'd like to end it.
In general for each show, for some crowds you may need to go bigger to get the best laughs, for some crowds it works better to be more subtle, and a balance seems best. Sometimes you can get the biggest laughs just by doing very simple stuff like staring straight at the audience and blinking, like Oliver Hardy did when he looked right at the camera for several seconds to show his frustration. I can't stand watching an entertainer do the same thing over and over during the whole show, even though that works well for some guys, doing that usually just shows a lack of acting skill.


Sssh! You're beginning to give a little too much away.

:)

Just joking, an excellent post. Thank you, Dan. I think Jim Carrey (missed the two "R's"!) should definitely make a movie as a kids' entertainer. Why hasn't anyone thought of that before?

Anyone connected to him on LinkedIn? (I might be, I have to check).

There's an idea for a great movie....
danfreed
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Well there's your next project Potty, write a movie for Jim Carrey, but I get 10%. Jerry Lewis played a magician in a movie. He played a character called the Great Wooley, the movie is called The Geisha Boy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Geisha_Boy
Potty the Pirate
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Yeah, but Jim Carrey SHOULD make a movie as a kids' entertainer. He'd be f*****g fantastic" Perhaps it could be about the Great Zucchini. Now, there's an idea!

C'mon, Zuke,this really could be the making of you!
Quentin
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Potty, thank you for questioning my mentioning "Overacting". Let me clarify that.

Hamming it up is par for the course and an art in itself.

Dan hit the nail on the head when he said, " It wouldn't be good to just scream "oh no!" and pull the same face each time."
Then he mentions using different reactions each time. Sometimes a silent facial reaction, and sometimes a more physical or verbal one.
This builds anticipation and hooks in the audience and is the difference to looking silly or being funny. The real art is to ham
it up but know when not to overdo it. It is the overdoing it that I meant by Overacting.

Sometimes I know exactly what I mean but don't explain it clearly.
danfreed
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They are already making a TV show based on him, so the movie will have to be based on me, I'm afraid. I used to do some crazy stuff that could make for a movie. Several years ago I was doing surprise telegrams, costumed characters, clowning, caricatures, magic shows wearing normal clothing, and booking all the better family entertainers in town, all on the same day. On a given weekend day, I would set up a bunch of equipment like moonbounces and dunktanks, then go somewhere else and maybe dress up as a clown and do a company picnic, then dress as a gorilla or cop or grim reaper and do a surprise telegram, then go do a magic show in my regular clothes or a caricature gig, then go back and pick up the equipment. Then I would hang with my crazy entertainer buddies. Or they could do the family man with 2 kids and a wife with a normal job thing, which is my life now.
Quentin
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Just a reference to what Kyle posted. I don't think he really meant failing, deliberately or otherwise.

My take is that you learn from your mistakes, errors, or when things go wrong for whatever reason.
Then you make sure they never happen again.

The late Albert LeBas used say that you never knew a trick until everything that can go wrong has gone wrong.
charliecheckers
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Quote:
On 2013-10-02 14:42, JoshLondonMagic wrote:
. I read a booked called "Be the best at what matters most."
Josh


Thanks for the reference. Sounds like a great book to read.
danfreed
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They are already making a TV show based on him, so the movie will have to be based on me, I'm afraid. I used to do some crazy stuff that could make for a movie. Several years ago I was doing surprise telegrams, costumed characters, clowning, caricatures, magic shows wearing normal clothing, and booking all the better family entertainers in town, all on the same day. On a given weekend day, I would set up a bunch of equipment like moonbounces and dunktanks, then go somewhere else and maybe dress up as a clown and do a company picnic, then dress as a gorilla or cop or grim reaper and do a surprise telegram, then go do a magic show in my regular clothes or a caricature gig, then go back and pick up the equipment. Then I would hang with my crazy entertainer buddies. Or they could do the family man with 2 kids and a wife with a normal job thing, which is my life now.
danfreed
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Well there's your next project Potty, write a movie for Jim Carrey, but I get 10%. Jerry Lewis played a magician in a movie. He played a character called the Great Wooley, the movie is called The Geisha Boy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Geisha_Boy
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