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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Ever so sleightly » » What makes a great performer? (31 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Rainboguy
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Al:

I LOVE THIS THREAD!

I think Pete Biro sums it up with his comment of "IMHO "great performers" are born that way. I don't think there are any rules. Charisma is just there or it isn't."

Charisma is a great word that, to me at least, seems to highlight the magnetic charm and personality of a performer, and in my opinion IF a "great performer" has charisma, it can be helped along with mentoring and, best of all, a TON of experience working in the trenches for "civilians".

To be a GREAT PERFORMER, you have to have that "certain something", call it charisma, charm, wit, timing, whatever.....that compels people to TRULY ENJOY BEING ENTERTAINED BY YOU BECAUSE........THEY LIKE YOU!...Key words here.......THEY LIKE YOU!!!

Years ago, when I was in the Television Business, my boss, the late Bill Fyffe, the former President of WABC-TV in New York City said to me "Rick.....many of us have a need to BE LIKED....your need is MUCH STRONGER than MOST." My reply to him: "Bill...it's who I am."

We could all give examples of GREAT PERFORMERS in Magic, and I will mention a few of them who stand out....

1. Matt Schulien: I'm 65 now and have been performing magic for money since the age of 8 in 1956, and, to this day, I've NEVER seen a magician who could engage "civilians" better than Matt....what did he have that made him so special?.........."CHUTZPAH!"...PEOPLE WANTED TO HANG AROUND HIM AT SCHULIENS.

2. Tom Mullica: Tom had and still has, IMHO, more RAW ENTERTAINMENT ABILITY AND TALENT than the next 50 or so guys combined.......his secret?.......CHARM!!!

3. Michael Finney: What does Michael have as an entertainer that's so special? He's naturally funny as Hell, and has such an engaging personality and such great timing and "People Skills" that audiences are drawn to him...

Again, these are a just a few examples of many of the Magicians/Performers whom we all know and love, but I must confess that I believe with all my heart that a GREAT entertainer has a burning desire to WANT TO BE LIKED BY AUDIENCES and DEVELOPS and HONES his or her skills in order to be able to do so.....

In other words, You've got to "Have it" and then "pay your dues" by working hard at polishing your entertainment skills at making "It" better!!!

Here's a link to one of the greatest performers I've ever seen in my life.......and he NEVER SAID A WORD WHEN HE ENTERTAINED......but he BLEW PEOPLE AWAY.....ENJOY!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwixqWvCFp4
Magnus Eisengrim
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First, thanks to Al Schneider for starting this discussion. I am deeply influenced by your writing and thinking, Al. I am especially impressed with the humility and willingness to learn that you display both here and in your published material.

I am skeptical that great performers are born that way. It is certainly true that some people have less to learn about performing because of other characteristics, but who can say if they were born with it, or if they learned it in some earlier phase of their lives?

Even those who "come by it naturally" still have much to learn about performance. They just have a head start in the race.

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
Pete Biro
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Had not seen that clip of George. Search him on you tube for some of the real early stuff when he worked as an acrobat.. I tried a number of times to book him for IBM Conventions bu he was always booked solid in Europe when we had our events.
STAY TOONED... @ www.pete-biro.com
fringeMagic
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For the first year of my initial "break-out" into performance I went through dozens of channels and approaches to heightening the experience of magic through social cues and interaction, essentially focusing on my role as the actor playing the magician. Eventually, my pride finally subsided enough to realize that I may be a focused and naturally skilled technician, but, I am a horrible actor/performer by comparison. That epiphany is where I finally found direction to fully realize a well structured performance; I would integrate my love for the sciences into my "character" to bridge the gap between a technical exhibitionist and a well rounded performer...

...I created narratives to illustrate the naturally bizarre concepts in modern science(especially quantum mechanics, cosmology, etc.). This gave me a broad "stage" wherein I could frame my effects and experiments while remaining grounded in relatable ideas. Growing up as an independent artist with Minimal encouragement from the small town environment; this is what made me a good(at least decent) performer -the only subject I knew more about than science was magic. I found an intrinsically interesting subject/backdrop which also gave me a familiar channel to express the abstract plots in magic without being self-conscious about my difficulty in being creative through stressful, high-pressure situations.

So, in my opinion, a fundamentally great performer goes back to a connection with the audience, sincerity will shine through. As long as the work has been put in to make YOUR performance the best it can be, an audience allows themselves to be drawn in to your character when the Magic is presented with a genuine expression of passion. An occasional stutter, a dropped coin, even a failed trick does not have to be the condemning mark of a bad performer when a spectator is truly interested in receiving what you are trying to give
Rainboguy
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Pete:

Glad you liked the clip. I posted it specifically so that Magicians who read this thread can see how the Fabulous George Karl, a World-Class performer who was NOT a Magician, was able to ESTABLISH a CONNECTION WITH THE AUDIENCE.......

I just got back from Abbott's 35th Annual Close-Up Convention, spent a bit of time there talking with Max Maven about HIS performance genre and his upcoming Television appearances (look for FREAK SHOW on CABLE TV), and thought it would be a good idea to re-visit this thread because I think the question that Al Schneider poses is, in my opinion, a VERY IMPORTANT CENTRAL AND SEMINAL QUESTION for all performers, and, I think, especially Magicians.

I say this because, in my experience, learning and even Mastering the "Moves and Mechanics" of doing a Magic Trick, in and of itself, simply won't cut it when it comes to being a successful, let alone GREAT performer. Laymen quickly become rather bored with Magic Tricks that are not well presented...in fact.....they seem to show somewhat of a disdain for "the guy doing stupid puzzles and trying to fool me"...

In the SAGE WORDS OF WISDOM from my good friend and mentor, Dick Oslund, "MAGIC IS NOT INHERENTLY ENTERTAINING"........

The GREAT ENTERTAINERS IN MAGIC SPEND THEIR ENTIRE LIVES LEARNING HOW TO .........ENTERTAIN>>>>>>>>>

Yes, like many and most magicians, I tend to be obsessive-compulsive about learning/mastering the techical "moves" of any given trick that interests me, as a performer, but I've learned "in the trenches" that most audiences could care less about "Magic Technicians and their finger-flinging ability"....with the possible exception of Chavez-Style stage manipulations....

Rather, audiences want to be ENTERTAINED....they want to ENJOY THEMSELVES, they want to RELAX and escape for a few moments from the Real World that they exist in....a world of worrying about paying the bills, worrying about their overbearing boss, or friends and family who may be ill.....

When we as performers give them an EMOTIONAL ESCAPE FROM THEIR REAL WORLD.......they can only get that when they have an EMOTIONAL CONNECTION with us, THE PERFORMER, and this becomes WHAT'S REALLY IMPORTANT....ESTABLISHING THE EMOTIONAL CONNECTION WITH THE AUDIENCE...

It's been said that "Laughter is The Best Medicine"........when audiences truly like YOU, and IF you can MAINTAIN THE CONNECTION and, HOPEFULLY, GIVE THEM A LAUGH OR TWO.......You're in Business!!!

Audiences have to LIKE YOU, not just the Magic.....but YOU!!!! IF you're going to be a GREAT MAGICIAN!
David French
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I think Dale Carnegie said it best in How to Win Friends and Influence People. Become genuinely interested in others....that leads to Likeability. Can't go wrong if they like you.
landmark
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Quote:
IMHO "great performers" are born that way. I don't think there are any rules. Charisma is just there or it isn't.


How to be a great performer, yes probably not teachable. But good, competent, entertaining, and mystifying can be taught to those with some talent and discipline and willingness to work at it. If we accept that we are only in competition with ourselves, there's lots that can be learned, lots of room for improvement.
landmark
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Quote:
Here's a link to one of the greatest performers I've ever seen in my life.......and he NEVER SAID A WORD WHEN HE ENTERTAINED......but he BLEW PEOPLE AWAY.....ENJOY!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwixqWvCFp4



Wow. Talk about "packs small, plays big," Smile
billappleton
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Hat juggling rocks
Al Schneider
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What do you think of Del Ray?
Al Schneider
Magic Al. Say it fast and it is magical.
Pete Biro
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Del Ray's close-up act was not only baffling, but he made it fun to watch. His "accent" and style covered his speech impediment. His stage act didn't register that well with me.
STAY TOONED... @ www.pete-biro.com
Al Schneider
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Here is a bit I have heard about him.
He made a lot of money working for big business.
He loved magic.
He would not fly to accounts, he drove everywhere.
He would do his magic for the paying customers and keep doing magic for staff, cooks, waiters, and so on.
He did not stop until there was noone to watch.
I saw him at some convention.
I will never forget when he put a toy frog in a ladies hand and told here to tell it to stand up.
She said, "Stand up."
The frog did not stand up and Del, in his gutteral voice said, "Ya gotta say please."
Then she said, "Stand up please." The frog stood up.
It was in her open palm up hand with nothing else around.
Not only good magic but very pleasing to watch.
Talk about magic in the spectator's hand.
I bring him up because I wonder if we can classify him as a great performer?
Al Schneider
Magic Al. Say it fast and it is magical.
Pete Biro
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ONE OF THE GREATEST Smile
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Al Schneider
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I bring him up for two reasons.
First, as I grew in magic I always heard about the Del Ray performances. Magicians would rave about him.
Second, I knew a few people that knew Del Ray in his earlier years.
The comment I heard was that when he performed at magic events, the magicians booed him off the stage.
I assume that was the early Del Ray.
Does anyone have informatin to back this up?
I assume he worked hard at it and became the legand he is.
Does this fit the senario that greatness is born?
Al Schneider
Magic Al. Say it fast and it is magical.
Pete Biro
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As I said earlier, "His stage act didn't register well for me." I think, since it was mostly electronic gadgetry, many didn't care for it. But his act on the table (which also was eleactronic) allowed him to really kill.
STAY TOONED... @ www.pete-biro.com
Tim Friday
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Don Driver told me that Michael Skinner used to say when he left a table where he just performed close-up magic, he would rather the table say "he was really a nice guy" instead of "he was very clever."

In his videos Skinner says to the audience

Quote:
"I'm having a wonderful time tonight, and it's all because of you."


Michael Skinner was hired directly by Steve Wynn to work at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas and he is respected to this day by magicians as being one of the best ever at sleight of hand but he still focused on how he treated his audience and how he wanted them to perceive him. Showmanship.

Image
Pete Biro
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Sadly, in his later years, his health declining, Mike worked the tables like a robot... his personality had gone and to me it was painful to see him like that. In his prime, he was one of the greatest! Smile
STAY TOONED... @ www.pete-biro.com
ROBERT BLAKE
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Mr. Biro & Mr. Schneider what is your oppinion about FRED KAPS?
Pete Biro
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That's easy. Fred Kaps was IMHO the best all-around performer of our time.
In his own words, he said he was both an amateur and a professional. His professional work included close-up, cabaret, stage and illusions. In his own language he was VERY FUNNY. His skill was as good or better than any. His three-time FISM Grand Prix wins showed his ability at a high level. As an amateur he loved to play around and improve magic (the dancing cork for example)
STAY TOONED... @ www.pete-biro.com
Al Schneider
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I do not know much about the work of Fred Kaps so cannot make a comment.
Al Schneider
Magic Al. Say it fast and it is magical.
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