The Magic Café
Username:
Password:
[ Lost Password ]
  [ Forgot Username ]
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Ever so sleightly » » What makes a great performer? (31 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

 Go to page 1~2~3~4~5 [Next]
Al Schneider
View Profile
V.I.P.
A corn field in WI surrounded by
1080 Posts

Profile of Al Schneider
In reading some of these threads lately, I have seen several say something to the effect, "It aint what you do, its how you do it."

Often, how you do it is not addressed.

I am a technician. I strive for mechanical perfection. However, I have found out something else. "If the audience doesn't like you, they won't like your magic." Worse than that, if they don't like you, they won't be fooled or at least will not admit to it.

I believe great performers study the details of all of this. I have heard some say to just get in their face and do it. It seems their idea is that if you simply hide the coin and tell them its magic, you are amazing.

Here are some things I think are important. I am curious what principles other might have.

Interesting vs. Interested.
I have a long battle with this. I have presented it at lectures and have had magicins catch me in the hall later to challenge this idea. The point is this. If you are interested in the welfare of the audience the audience will care about you and enjoy your performance. If you are trying to be interesting to your audience, the audience won't care. There is a fine line between these two perspectives Curiously, those magicians interested in the welfare of the audience understand this concept. Those that want to be interesting, the kind that says, "Here's a quarter, now its gone, your'e stupid," don't get it.

When the magic happens, don't look at the audience. If you are good, the audience will be shocked when they see the result of your magical efforts. When people are shocked they worry about what other people think of their intelligence. If you look at them at the moment of magic, I believe you will pull their mind off the magic and on to their self-analysis. This destroys the magic moment for them.

After a magic moment occurs, wait for a long time to enable the audience to absorb what happened. Often when I show an effect I have my eyes wander around my surroundings as if trying to figure out what I should do next. During this time, the audience has a chance to absorb what is going on.

Don't mix magic effects. This advice was offered by Karrell Fox at one of the first IBM meetings I attended. Someone did a trick in which a card was selected. Things were placed in envelopes and a detector used to identify who put what where. Then the last person found the signed card in their envelope. Karrell said thise should be two separate tricks. The two together just confuse an audience. This brings to mind the performances of Jay Marshall. He is one of my heros. Like his vanishing cane routine. Extramly commercial and fun to watch. He just vanishes the cane. That's it. And it is wonderful.

Well, I could go on with this.

Curious what others think and do. I am curious about how you do it not what you do.

Al Schneider
Magic Al. Say it fast and it is magical.
Nate The Magician
View Profile
Regular user
159 Posts

Profile of Nate The Magician
I personally think that believing what you are telling the audience is the key to being a great performer. If you believe the rings are linking, they'll believe the same. If you believe the ball is in the hand, they'll believe that it is there and will be floored when you reveal it "Vanished".
Also, thinking of how your audience will view/ think about your magic.
-Nate
Nick W
View Profile
Special user
515 Posts

Profile of Nick W
Great post Mr. Schneider. The "how you do it" is difficult to address, don't you think? It's what takes years of failing to learn. Just a small tweak here or there can change an idea, trick, method completely. But to come to that tweak you needed to go through 5 years of training. Why wasn't that tweak apparant in the first month?

Recently my friend told me he was approached by a magician whilst sitting and drinking with a group. Because we've been friends a long time my friend has seen lots of magic. Now when this magician approached him at the table he (the magician) unloaded a bunch of tricks and old hat insult humour jokes. At the end of it the guy put his hat on the table and asked for a tip, which he was not given. Point is that my friend said the the magician invaded everyones space. My friend said that if the magician politely introduced himself and got them to laugh, it would have been a better way to break the ice. I was told this magician didn't look the part. He was more interested to get a tip. Whereas if his method of approach, his dress, his speech. was all in order, the tricks really would not have mattered and he might have gotten a tip.

I suggest that its a delicate balance of being interested and interesting. If your a worker, a grinder, and you have a 100 people to entertain in a short time, you cant go to each table and have a heart to heart. You need to get in there and get out whilst showing upmost respect, leaving the onlookers thinking "wow".

And I absolutely concur, when the "wow" moment happens, never make eye contact. Let that them have that moment for themselves.
ROBERT BLAKE
View Profile
Inner circle
1472 Posts

Profile of ROBERT BLAKE
"people are interested in people - then in what they say - then in what they do".
patrick flanagan
View Profile
Inner circle
lisle, illinois
1045 Posts

Profile of patrick flanagan
People are most interested in themselves. I try to show them that I sincerely care about them (whether I really do or not....lol). In close up situations, I initially talk about.....them.
patrick
Al Schneider
View Profile
V.I.P.
A corn field in WI surrounded by
1080 Posts

Profile of Al Schneider
At one time I felt I was performing for people.
As time passed I felt that people wanted to be a part of the other side of the stage.
Doing walk around magic and engaging people letting them lead to they want to go I found something interesting.
People want to tell you about their magic.
For example, one woman told me she makes fried eggs magically.
She gets a metal tube and cleans it out then puts egg inside and plugs it up with a grease ball.
Then she cooks eggs for her kids. She shows the pan MT and instroduces here magic wand.
She fires up the pan and touches it with the wand.
Magically, fried eggs appear in the pan.
I now attempt to quit being the performer and attempt to invite the spec to my side of the stage.

Al Schneider
Magic Al. Say it fast and it is magical.
Nick W
View Profile
Special user
515 Posts

Profile of Nick W
How has this approach affected/changed the magic? It must certainly add to a pleasant atmosphere.
tomsk192
View Profile
Inner circle
3894 Posts

Profile of tomsk192
Al will correct me if I'm wrong here, Nick. I think it's to do with perception. If you show interest in them, the audience, they will be far more receptive to anything you choose to do. It's almost like administering an aphrodisiac.
Nick W
View Profile
Special user
515 Posts

Profile of Nick W
Yeah I agree, you must show intrest in the audience. I was addind that when your on a time limit to perform, you have to balance the showing of intrest to doing what your paid to do: show magic.
tomsk192
View Profile
Inner circle
3894 Posts

Profile of tomsk192
I'm not sure if a limited time frame precludes showing interest; isn't it as much a case of one's attitude?
Al Schneider
View Profile
V.I.P.
A corn field in WI surrounded by
1080 Posts

Profile of Al Schneider
It does not change the magic I do but does change how the audience percieves the magic. The audience is more willing to point out when they see something phoney. Then I say, "Well, I see you are very observant." They tend to smile at that as if they are in the know. There is the problem with that in that it does take time. Then, I might do one trick because that customer wanted to spend the time talking. The one trick, however, is something that can be seen by other tables. Could be Professor's Nightmare. If I am doing magic just for that table, I stand close and do it under their eyes. If it is one of the single trick deals, I stand back and perform for the table but perform in such a way other tables can watch.

Here, I must point out that I do not have a lot of experience table hopping. I have done it but I am not good at it. Traditonally I have people come to me in a private setting. This might happen while contract programming for some business. I talk about magic on the job and people want to see it. I do not perform on the job but work out a deal that I do magic in a separate room on a specific day at lunch time. Or I will do magic at house parties. Normally these are friends that are having a party.

Much of my magic is not suitable for walk around. I sit at a close up table with a few chairs in front of the table theater style.

In that setting one can be very personal. I invite people into the room to see the magic. While waiting for people to come in to watch I chat with the first few in the room. This chat continues as the room fills to about 12 people. I do not announce the show. I continue to chat and get into the magic without a line marking the beginning. Thus, the audience believes I am simply chatting with them about magic and the show is suddenly over. In essence, I am showing them something they may be interested in.

I just wanted to be clear that I am not a professional but just a guy sharing something people might find interesting.

Al Schneider
Magic Al. Say it fast and it is magical.
Ray Haining
View Profile
Inner circle
Hot Springs, AR
1841 Posts

Profile of Ray Haining
Technical competence is imperative. If you are unable to fool your audience, it doesn't matter how interesting or interested you are: you will look like a fool.
silvercup
View Profile
Loyal user
223 Posts

Profile of silvercup
Fools have been entertaining for years. Magic makes a good vehicle.
Ray Haining
View Profile
Inner circle
Hot Springs, AR
1841 Posts

Profile of Ray Haining
I would substitute the word "performing" in place of "entertaining." I suppose there are people, indeed, who are entertained by someone inadvertently making a jerk of himself.
Dick Oslund
View Profile
Inner circle
8363 Posts

Profile of Dick Oslund
Al...I got a kick out of your magic egg lady story. When I was about 8, my father, knowing my interest in magic, found a tiny little paper back booklet (about 3"x3"x 1/4" thick. It had an old fashioned magician pictured on the cover, and it was "full" of OLD FASHIONED TRICKS! ONE OF THE TRICKS WAS 'YOUR' EGG TRICK!!! A hollow magic wand was filled with a the contents of a raw egg, and the open end of the wand was plugged with butter. A chafing dish (!!!) was heated over an slcohol lamp, the wand was used to "stir" the dish, and VOILA! (the actual magic word!) un oeuf!!! (frites) As Jay used to say, "One egg is un oeuf!") I wonder if that lady had the same booklet!!!

Someone ahead of me mentioned SINCERITY as a big factor in being entertaining. The late DICK JARROW (cousin of EMIL JARROW)and a fellow member of the SECRET SIX, had a page in his lecture notes, entitled, "MASKLYN'S LAWS OF MAGICK". The page listed 13 "laws". The first law stated: "THE SECRET OF SUCCESS IN MAGICK IS SINCERITY. --ONCE YOU CAN FAKE THAT, YOU'VE GOT IT MADE!"

I guess that I'm one of those old geezers who has been saying: "IT AINT WHAT YOU DO, IT'S HOW YOU DO IT!" --That's what the old geezers constantly said to me when I was a young geezer.

I just 'joined this show' (i.e.: came into this Café) in December '12. I've been a paid performer since October 1945. (still in high school) Those first years, I was a 'part time pro'. In the Navy, I 'got' an agent and made enough money part timing it, that I never cashed a Navy pay check. The checks were sent home to the bank. After the Navy, college (back to occasional dates) After college, I worked for the Boy Scouts for 9 years,(still doing part time dates) and then hit the road.(full time) I retired a few years ago.

I was never 'at liberty'. I did mainly school assemblies,(but I accepted all kinds of dates, and work in the off season)and the managers would call me, asking me for a season's work. I entertained (and did a bit of educating) all levels from Kindergarten thru Senior High Schools (and a "few" colleges, too.) If I hadn't entertained them, I would have been like Ken Brooke said, 'digging ditches'!

I've met some very fine people in this Café. I haven't seen them work, but, from the way that they talk,it's evident that they have a professional 'attitude' and really love the art. Unfortunately, I've also found a few who, evidently, are just dabblers (HAMateurs). They constantly recommend BUYING THIS OR THAT 'NEW' TRICK to someone who is a 'first o' May' --and that's the extent of their counsel!

I keep recommending TARBELL, to learn basic principles of magic. But also, Ken Weber's "MAXIMUM ENTERTAINMENT", Henning Nelm's "SHOWMANSHIP FOR MAGICIANS', Dariel Fitzkee's "Trilogy, MASKELYNE & DEVANT'S "Our Magic",ETC. It would require a 'wall of print' to explain "how you DO it!", and, at 82, I can't live long enough! Jon Racherbaumer has kvetched me into writing a book (it's almost finished, Deo Gratias!)about working the 'knowledge boxes' on the 'kerosene lamp circuit'.

I'm happy to see you starting this thread. I hope it helps to explain to those who really want to know, "how to DO it"!

In the first few minutes of my school program, I explain that 'they' are watching an illusion show. I explain in language that young people can understand, how fallible their senses are--and how their minds therefore experience illusion. I use several basic tricks to illustrate the presentation.
School administrators like it (and the audiences like it too.) The high school students seem to realize that I may fool them, but, I wont try to make fools of them!

In the not too distant future, performers who just do a 'watch me do this clever stuff" act will have a problem finding work. INTERACTION! INVOLVEMENT! ARE CRITICALLY ESSENTIAL! I especially liked a sentence of yours: "...I now attempt to quit being the performer, and attempt to invite the spectators to my side of the stage."

My fingers are getting tired, and very likely the readers eyes are getting tired, too.

See you down the road

Dick Oslund
Sneaky, underhanded, devious, and surreptitious itinerant mountebanc
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
tomsk192
View Profile
Inner circle
3894 Posts

Profile of tomsk192
Quote:
On Mar 11, 2014, Ray Haining wrote:
I would substitute the word "performing" in place of "entertaining." I suppose there are people, indeed, who are entertained by someone inadvertently making a jerk of himself.


I think silvercup was making a distinction between what you are describing and a professional 'fool'. It is rather an old fashioned term, these days, but he is right in what he says, as are you in what you say!

Dick, don't stop sharing please!
Al Schneider
View Profile
V.I.P.
A corn field in WI surrounded by
1080 Posts

Profile of Al Schneider
I am not sure how to say what I mean. This comment is in the pursuit of, "How to do it." People offer advice as: be sincere, be engaging, be this, or be that. I accept that they are wise and are offering good information. I would like more information on how to be XXXXXXXX. In my introduction I said don't look at the audience when the magic effect occurs. To me that is a thing very understandable. Many "be XXXXXX's" are not clear to me. I want DETAILS on how to accomplish something.

Here is a rough example of kind of what I am after. Growing up was a bit rough for me. My family was somewhat disfunctional. The result was that my people skills were lacking. I studied this and decided I did not respond to the people around me. I set up a drill to correct this. I made a video tape of saying a variety of things like: "I just got a new job. I broke my arm. I found a penny on the floor. I just got back from Ireland. I got lost in the woods." It was just a video of me saying these things into the camera.

Then I played the tape and practiced responding to the me on the video screen. If the line I saw was positive I responded with, "Great, that's cool." Or if the line was negative I would say something like, "Gee, that's to bad."

I did this over and over. The results were very nice. After that when people said something to me I reacted automatically with something that fit the situation. Then I came up with some canned lines to go with my magic show. If someone giggled during my act, I would put my hand up symbolizing stop and say, "Easy, easy." If I heard a loud laugh from the back of the room, I would say, "Thanks mom." If someone reacted in some positive way, I would say, "I'm glad you came toight."

These things seem to add so much to the performance. I am hoping to pull these kinds of details out of those with a lot of performing experience. They are gold.

Al Schneider
Magic Al. Say it fast and it is magical.
tomsk192
View Profile
Inner circle
3894 Posts

Profile of tomsk192
I can see how that would work for you. For me it was the opposite, I had to make a conscious and concerted effort to be slightly less conversational, and in particular to slow down my speech patterns. But what you describe requires 'knowing oneself'; knowing that your people skills were lacking, and doing something about it. I was put on the stage as a child musician. A lot. I had to deal with grown up people all the time; arts world people; loquacious people. That's why I had to slow down a bit, and learn how to perform magic. I guess I could think of it in terms of Plato's concept of 'form'. There is a 'form' of magic which we are striving towards, but we all of us strive from different places.

I think there are few absolute truths about the performing arts, but in the words of Michael Flanders, "Always be sincere; whether you mean it or not."

Technical competence being taken as a given, conviction is the single most important factor in performing anything well. Instrumental music, which is pure abstract, can mesmerise when performed with utter conviction. The same goes for theatre.

We took our eight year old to see his first Shakespeare the other week. It was Henry V, and he was captivated. This is not because he is prodigious in some way, but because it was a superb performance, and the actors conveyed the meaning with their whole beings. We were watching 'truth'.
Nick W
View Profile
Special user
515 Posts

Profile of Nick W
My response to a particular method on "how to be xxxxxxxxxxxx": Breath control.

In red nose class the teacher always shouted "breathing!!". And it's true, most of us limit the breath we take. Did you ever notice how sometimes you catch yourself taking huge lungfulls of air? that's because you forgot to take regular intakes of air! If you don't breath you are dead. In performance that translate to being dead in front of your audience. Just before walking in front of a crowd we should fill our lungs with air so that we are inflated and full of life. As opposed to deflated and near death. In close up I just remind myself to breathe breathe breathe.

In fact in red nose class the two most important elements of the clown were breathing and eye contact. As was earlier stated, eye contact should be controlled just as we shouldn't be hyperventilating!
Pete Biro
View Profile
1933 - 2018
18558 Posts

Profile of Pete Biro
IMHO "great performers" are born that way. I don't think there are any rules. Charisma is just there or it isn't.
STAY TOONED... @ www.pete-biro.com
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Ever so sleightly » » What makes a great performer? (31 Likes)
 Go to page 1~2~3~4~5 [Next]
[ Top of Page ]
All content & postings Copyright © 2001-2020 Steve Brooks. All Rights Reserved.
This page was created in 0.22 seconds requiring 5 database queries.
The views and comments expressed on The Magic Café
are not necessarily those of The Magic Café, Steve Brooks, or Steve Brooks Magic.
> Privacy Statement <

ROTFL Billions and billions served! ROTFL