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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Rings, strings & things » » Whit H. Comedy 4 Ring routine (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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aussiemagic
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Hi everyone,

This is my first post! I am an Australian magician working in Japan. I love the linking rings. It was Cellini's routine that I first fell in love with. It is a great routine, but there are some angle problems.

I worked on Whit's routine and have had some great success. In fact I have just come home from doing it at a hoel lobby. I find that when I do it with an adult it goes down really well and the understad the comical element. However, when I do it with a kid they don't seem to get it. The first link gets a reaction and when they link the rings get a good reaction but after that it doesn't seem to have as great an impact...

Am I doing something wrong? Anyone experienced something similar?

I would appreciate some feedback.
Thanks

Simon
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TheAmbitiousCard
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My suggestion is to buy "Seriously Silly" from your local magic shop
and read about how you need to modify routines to fit different age groups, etc.

I think Whit's routine has a lot of potential with kids and it's
method of invoking comedy can be applied to other types of effects.

I do something similar with my rope routine.
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wsduncan
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For what it's worth, I wouldn't buy the DVD if it had a less than optimal performance on it. When I purchase video it is most often to see someone whom I enjoy whenever I wish... not to learn a trick, or tricks.

If there is value in seeing things NOT go well for Whit, I can agree it would be valuable to have it on the DVD, but not at the expense of having a good performance of what I consider to be the best linking ring routine around.

I first saw it perhaps twenty years ago and I haven't seen any better since...
Curtis Kam
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Are you working for Japanese kids? Or kids raised in Japan? The might not find the situation you're putting the volunteer in funny. Or it may be that it's not funny that an Australian magician and a Japanese volunteer aren't quite understanding eachother.

It works for Japanese magicians with Japanese adults. Shigeo Takagi's rope routine used the same gag, and I've seen it work for Japanese adults. (when he did it) No idea whether it works for kids, tho.

I've found that Whit's routine plays flat when I haven't set up the moment properly. When the audience, and the volunteer, thinks that the magic is supposed to work for the volunteer, and it's his fault--rather than mine--that it doesn't, then the whole thing can just play like a cruel joke. This is true of American audiences, even. If you hear the audience laughing AT the volunteer when he can't unlink the rings, you're in the wrong groove.

Take a look at Shigeo Takagi's ring routine. (Amazing Miracles of Shigeo Takagi, Kaufman)He had a volunteer link and unlink the rings, but he avoided the prolonged period of potential embarrasment. Shoot Ogawa's (second) routine does about the same.

These approaches are safe, but they're second best. The optimal presentation successfully communicates your (Whit's) idea, that the volunteer rises to the occaision, as planned. Once you can guide the audience through a potentially uncomfortable experience, with everyone feeling like a winner at the end, you've tapped the full potential of Whit's creation.
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TheAmbitiousCard
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An approach that Steve Bedwell uses in his killer rope routine allows for the spectator to receive applause at certain moments in his routine by use of an applause cue, repeated several times. Buy the manuscript for more detail, I did.

Clearly this can be added to Whit's great routine. The audience is told that when the routine gets to a certain point, (which could be as simple as holding the 2 rings up at chest level, using both hands and smiling, or displaying the linked rings with one hand and gesturing like Vanna White) that they should applaud wildly for the spectataor. This cue is repeated after each "link".

Given this, the spectator is constantly receiving wild applause during the routine. This technique might deflate the potential for the "cruel joke".
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Whit Haydn
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This is the point of spinning the rings after each segment. That is the applause cue for the assistant. The joke, "It's show business--like parsly on fish," sets up the cue for applause for both the assistant and the audience.

It also enables you to cue the spectator if he does not catch on to the bit, and is in the wrong position with the rings when you turn around--still trying to get them apart or trying to be funny by putting them over his head, etc.

You take his rings and put them in position and say "No, give them a spin, like this..." and turn immediately to the audience and gesture for applause for the spectator.
TheAmbitiousCard
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Correct. I had forgotten.
You win!

"...like parsley on fish." I like that.
Do you grow your own?
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sugam
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Quote:
On 2005-03-25 03:46, Curtis Kam wrote:
I've found that Whit's routine plays flat when I haven't set up the moment properly. When the audience, and the volunteer, thinks that the magic is supposed to work for the volunteer, and it's his fault--rather than mine--that it doesn't, then the whole thing can just play like a cruel joke. This is true of American audiences, even. If you hear the audience laughing AT the volunteer when he can't unlink the rings, you're in the wrong groove.
---
These approaches are safe, but they're second best. The optimal presentation successfully communicates your (Whit's) idea, that the volunteer rises to the occaision, as planned. Once you can guide the audience through a potentially uncomfortable experience, with everyone feeling like a winner at the end, you've tapped the full potential of Whit's creation.


That's what had bugged me about the routine at the beginning, that I wouldn't have the character to pull it off (i.e. making the volunteer a hero versus a cruel joke). Also, I'm glad that Whit mentioned that it was an atypical performance in the DVD... that may have contributed to my thoughts... too bad I haven't had the chance to see this routine live. It sure was good to see old footage though!
TheAmbitiousCard
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If you're unsure of yourself, tell the audience specifically, "when she displays and spins the rings everyone give her a rousing round of applause. make her feel good. it could be you up here!"

In my opinion, there's nothing with coming right out and telling them what to do.
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Whit Haydn
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Frank, that telegraphs the wrong message: "It could be you up here having a hard time." You want the audience to think that you think the assistant is doing great!

The spectator is making a fool of the performer, who is obviously out of the loop, and not aware that the assistant isn't keeping up. The audience is forced into playing a role of mischievous students laughing at the teacher. They have to pretend that the teacher doesn't know what is going on in order to laugh at him. This forced role play of the assistant and the audience is the heart of the theatricality of the routine.

In fact, at one point I berate the audience, "See if you were paying attention, you could be learning something! (Turning and beaming with pride to my assistant) Like Debbie..."

It is better simply to react with delight and pride at what the spectator has done, and demand applause for him/her. "Perfect! That is great!"

Use the patter as written until you understand. Most people have a hard time with the routine because they make up their own patter before they understand what needs to be said and done and when.

You should always learn routines the way they are written first, and perform them that way before you start monkeying around with them.

I have done this routine for thousands and thousands of performances in front of every kind of audience over more than thirty-five years. Everything is there for a reason. Don't try to reinvent the wheel.

Once you can kill with the routine as written, then you can consider making any changes you think would be an improvement.
TheAmbitiousCard
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I agree that would be the wrong message if done during the routine. I was thinking to say that at the very beginning. I understand your point. It is well taken.

When I take on a routine, I usually, if not always, do it "out-of-the-box" and it changes on it's own, over time.
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sugam
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Thanks for the great advice again. I think that I will try your routine the next time I have a chance to perform, just need to get the lines down.

I'm studying both Capehart's and Haydn's routines right now... both excellent!
TheAmbitiousCard
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Yes, they are.
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bropaul
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Ahhh... Whit, Whit, Whit...

I do remember when I booked you in 1977 or 1978 at the Magic Lamp in Cucamonga. It was the first time I saw you do the ring routine and I remember what I said, "You've got to put this out and get your name on it or it will be stolen and no one will know where it came from."

We put out 200 signed copies and the the rest is history and a great history it is. I have also performed your routine thousands and thousands of times. It has made me a ton of money in every venue that I have ever worked. I am very grateful.

I did take about 10 years before I started "Monkeying" around with it. During that time I felt that I couldn't change a thing to make it stronger. It is truly a perfect routine. Then it happened. A line here and a line there, but the meat of the routine is and always will be yours.

I told Paul Harris a couple of years ago that his Interlaced Vanish had made my close up work sell for more than I should be making... All he said is to send him a check. If I had to send you a check for what you have done for my show, it would be at least in six figures.

Also I have never really thanked you for watching my version of your routine, in my coach in Tempe, AZ after a couple of scotch rocks and then you jumping up and told me that the opening link was wrong... Man has that ever made a difference. Only about 20 years of screwing it up. But no more.

I love working it with adults and that is my preference, but as you once told me to get on my knees and do it with a 4 year old. I've been there too and every place in between. It just works. BUT remember, you really need to know why it works so you can adjust on the spot for the weirdos that you will encounter.

In any case it is the best ring routine that I have seen and the psychology is what makes it work. Yo the Master!

By the way... Give me a call. I want to talk about the shells.
Bro. Paul West

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Whit Haydn
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Thanks, Bro. I remember all of that very well. You gave me the same advice that Vernon did, but you published it, and got it out there. That brought it to the attention of Jay Marshall, and Magic, Inc. then put it out around 1979.

I love to watch you do anything, Paul, and hope to see you doing my routine before a crowd again.

It is always a pleasure to watch someone else's interpretation of something you've created.

I am glad that you have found it useful. All the best.
sugam
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Well, I kept my promise - I performed your routine tonight at a bar/restaurant, and it was a blast! I think a particular volunteer makes all the difference (as mentioned in the tidbit section of the DVD). Only missed a few lines, and had to add a couple of impromptu ones of course. Thanks!
MaxfieldsMagic
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Mr. Haydn -

I've been doing your Comedy Linking Rings routine (TERRIFIC routine, as I'm sure you've heard many, many times before) with a rather cheap set of rings. However, the k** on my key isn't very large (which makes some moves, like the toss, a little risky), and the rings aren't as visible as they could be due to their size. I'd really like to upgrade to rings that are more like the ones you use in the DVD. You mentioned on this thread that you have a set of 10" Merv Taylor rings. Were those the ones you were using in the performance section of your DVD?

Do you have the standard k**, or did you have one specially made with a larger necessary? It looks like the necessary on your set is about 3/4 of an inch - is that approximately correct?

Also, on an old thread I noticed that you said the locking k** could be a useful addition for the display at the end. Did you ever go on to try that yourself?

Thanks very much for your help. I've greatly enjoyed studying your Chicago Surprise and your linking rings routine, as well as your thoughts about routining.

I also appreciate the fact that you're one of the few respected voices advocating learning proven routines before changing things for the sake of originality. I remember reading a book about Scott Joplin, the ragtime piano composer. When he was young, he received free lessons from a German instructor who volunteered his services because of Joplin's talent. When Joplin started ragging up Mozart, his instructor stopped him and said, "when you play Mozart, you must play Mozart. If you want to change it, you must write your own piece." So the instructor helped him develop his chops, taught him the finer points of reading and writing music notation (the only reason Joplin's music didn't die with him), and indirectly pushed him to compose on his own - all by encouraging him to learn the works of others as written.

Thanks.
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Whit Haydn
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Thanks for your kind comments. I enjoyed your Scott Joplin reference as well.

I used 10" solid stainless steel rings for 30 years. Those are Merv Taylor "Orbs Eternal." They are what I use on my DVD on the rings.

I am now using the Owens 15" hollow stainless steel rings.

I think they look better up against the big frock coat I wear, which tends to dwarf items in my hand, but they are a little rigid, and don't have as good an illusion of being linked when they are not because of their thickness. The trade-off is worth it to me because they look so much better against the coat, but they also are too big for children to handle easily.

The opening in the Owens key is 1 1/2" to 2", and is made by just opening the key ring by gently pulling it wider. The key should be opened at least two times the thickness of the ring.

I would recommend 12" rings as the best size for most people, and I prefer solid over the hollow as they have more springiness for crash links.

I have played with a locking key, but never used one. It would probably be worthwhile only to hold all four rings in a chain with the top ring hanging off a single finger. That one display would be the only one I think would be really a useful addition, and it would come right near the end. Afterwards, the three rings are held on one, and then all four counted separately.
jimhlou
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I do Whit's routine in almost every adult show I do, and it really goes over well. I tried many different routines before finding this one, and I wasnt't happy with any of the others. Whit rocks!

I would recommend 10" or 12" rings (I am now using 12" Klamms), but I think the 15" rings look a little awkward, even for a seasoned professional.

Jim
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