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TheTopHat
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Hello!
I have been performing about seven years and done childrens parties, birthdays, townmarkets, schools etc. It's more of a hobby next to my regular work. I want to take it to the next level but it feels like I'm lacking something, but I don't really know what. So, in an attempt to shed some light on everything I've decided to go back to the basics and see if I missed anything somewhere along the way.

In this thread I'd like to talk about building a show and everything involved in the process. I've read a few threads on this forum but haven't found any thread that summarizes the whole process in a good way. If such a thread exists, please direct me to it. I think it's a very important topic, especially if you've just started doing magic. That's why I chose to put this thread in this category.

Today I have a show that I've been doing for a few years. Because I only perform in an certain area most people around here have seen me and know of me which have forced me to vary it somewhat. This is the basic structure:

I start with doing some Spongeball-magic. Telling them I'd like to show them one of my favorite-trick. I make the balls disappear and appear in my hands, travel between hands and a running gag about picking a number of a balls out of my mouth. Then I move on and pick out a rope and do my Professors Nightmare-routine, then a card-trick where I rip of a corner of a card and give it to someone in the audience, burn the rest of the card and rubbing the ashes on my arm, making letters appear which spells out the chosen card. The audiencemember get to keep the card as a memory. Then I do a few other tricks to fill the time until the final; As a "thank you" to the audience member who helped me earlier (or in the previous trick) I bring out an orange and cut it open and discover a card inside, which happens to be the card I burned earlier.

This show is very basic and feels like just a series of tricks which doesn't have anything to do with each other (except the burned card which later appear in the orange, I really like that unexpected final!).

It feels like I could summerize my show in the first sentence when I get up on stage; "Hello. I'm a magician and I'd like to show you some magictricks". It feels flat, amateur-like and I feel I come off as just a guy who's learned a few tricks or puzzles and are showing them. How do I get my show to the next level? Or is my show decent enough already and I'm just overthinking this? (Doubt it, because every show can become better).

Next, I'd like to hear your opinions on a few things;
1. How is your show built? Does it start with a bang, goes slower in the middle and finishes with a bang again? Or do you simply build up to a single, strong bang in the final? In what order do you put your tricks and acts? Do you follow a certain theme?

2. How do you enter the stage? First impression is important, we all know this. What's your opening act/trick? And why that particular act/trick? How do you win the audience over in that first meeting?

3. Music! Some doesn't use it at all and it works out for them. In my opinion, music adds another layer and helps create atmosphere. I don't use music today because I rarely have access to sound-equipment and haven't managed to incorporate my magic to music yet. Do you use music? If so, when do you use it? To what kind of magic? Is it worth investing in an expensive piece of equipment if you only use music to one trick?

4. Applauds! I've heard a lot of different theories on this topic. Some say that the audience love to applaud and you should get them to start out very early. Do you agree? Whats your experience of getting applauds? Do you have any tips or strategies on how to get the most out of your audience?

Every opinion is valuable and appreciated!

Yours,
TopHat.
drmagico
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There are some great books on this subject.
Foundations - The Art of Staging Magic by Eberhard Riese
Maximum Entertainment by Ken Weber
Audience Management by Gay Ljungberg
Strong Magic by Darwin Ortiz

If you have access to Magic Magazine online there is a series of articles by Joanie Spina that would help
jimhlou
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TopHat:

I've used music for several years and now I couldn't do a show without it. I follow the Dan Harlan plan, and it has worked great for me. Structure your show in 3 sets of three - as follows: #1 Open with something quick and flashy to get their attention. I use the appearing cane to music. Fire also works well. #2 The next trick should allow you to get acquainted with the audience. Let them know who you are. #3 A short wrap-up trick. I use the torn and restored newspaper. #4 Something new or unusual. This is where I do the "growing head" illusion. #5 Something up-beat with a quick tempo. I always do something fast here and with music. #6 - Your serious bit, or something you've worked hard on. I have a linking ring routine here. You could also do a mentalism bit #7 Lead-in, which could be most anything #8 Your showstopper - I don't do many illusions, so here I do the floating table or chair suspension. #9 Show closer, something silly and charming. Let them know you're not "Mr. Amazing", but just a bloke doing magic.

Hope this helps

Jim
Aus
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Quote:
On Nov 16, 2014, TheTopHat wrote:
Hello!
I have been performing about seven years and done childrens parties, birthdays, townmarkets, schools etc. It's more of a hobby next to my regular work. I want to take it to the next level but it feels like I'm lacking something, but I don't really know what. So, in an attempt to shed some light on everything I've decided to go back to the basics and see if I missed anything somewhere along the way.

In this thread I'd like to talk about building a show and everything involved in the process. I've read a few threads on this forum but haven't found any thread that summarizes the whole process in a good way. If such a thread exists, please direct me to it. I think it's a very important topic, especially if you've just started doing magic. That's why I chose to put this thread in this category.

Today I have a show that I've been doing for a few years. Because I only perform in an certain area most people around here have seen me and know of me which have forced me to vary it somewhat. This is the basic structure:

I start with doing some Spongeball-magic. Telling them I'd like to show them one of my favorite-trick. I make the balls disappear and appear in my hands, travel between hands and a running gag about picking a number of a balls out of my mouth. Then I move on and pick out a rope and do my Professors Nightmare-routine, then a card-trick where I rip of a corner of a card and give it to someone in the audience, burn the rest of the card and rubbing the ashes on my arm, making letters appear which spells out the chosen card. The audiencemember get to keep the card as a memory. Then I do a few other tricks to fill the time until the final; As a "thank you" to the audience member who helped me earlier (or in the previous trick) I bring out an orange and cut it open and discover a card inside, which happens to be the card I burned earlier.

This show is very basic and feels like just a series of tricks which doesn't have anything to do with each other (except the burned card which later appear in the orange, I really like that unexpected final!).

It feels like I could summerize my show in the first sentence when I get up on stage; "Hello. I'm a magician and I'd like to show you some magictricks". It feels flat, amateur-like and I feel I come off as just a guy who's learned a few tricks or puzzles and are showing them. How do I get my show to the next level? Or is my show decent enough already and I'm just overthinking this? (Doubt it, because every show can become better).

Next, I'd like to hear your opinions on a few things;
1. How is your show built? Does it start with a bang, goes slower in the middle and finishes with a bang again? Or do you simply build up to a single, strong bang in the final? In what order do you put your tricks and acts? Do you follow a certain theme?

2. How do you enter the stage? First impression is important, we all know this. What's your opening act/trick? And why that particular act/trick? How do you win the audience over in that first meeting?

3. Music! Some doesn't use it at all and it works out for them. In my opinion, music adds another layer and helps create atmosphere. I don't use music today because I rarely have access to sound-equipment and haven't managed to incorporate my magic to music yet. Do you use music? If so, when do you use it? To what kind of magic? Is it worth investing in an expensive piece of equipment if you only use music to one trick?

4. Applauds! I've heard a lot of different theories on this topic. Some say that the audience love to applaud and you should get them to start out very early. Do you agree? Whats your experience of getting applauds? Do you have any tips or strategies on how to get the most out of your audience?

Every opinion is valuable and appreciated!

Yours,
TopHat.


Any performer needs to ask themselves fundamental questions of why, what and who in everything they put into a performance.

Why:

Why am I doing this?

It's not enough in my opinion to have the trick performed and let the effect speak for itself. There needs to be a reason for the effect of a trick to happen. Is this trick demonstrating a phenomenon, a sociological tendency or a mythological story? A reason by the way is not "I wont them to be amazed", that is the result you wont to achieve by the performance. Eugene Burger makes a distinction between magic and stunts, magic can be performed as stunts but to him stunts are not magic. Many magicians don't necessarily agree with that view and many believe its perfectly fine to perform tricks as stunts. In my view what distinguishes a stunt from magic is the depth of experience.

A stunt can be admired as a moment of physicality and skill well magic can be admired for the same reasons but can also be admired for its emotional depth, this is why magic is such a vacuum for allied arts such as music, acting and ventriloquism to name a few. The first step to establishing that depth is asking why am I doing this?

Why would anyone want to watch this?

Psychology in my opinion plays a part in answering this question. What is the difference between attention and interest, how do I harness surprise and suspense? How do I build anticipation? Not only does these things help the emotional depth talked about previously but are the key lines of thought a magician must think along to get his audience to watch his performance.

What:

What is this piece about?

This is where the details of the plot are fleshed out, in answering the "Why am I doing this?" question you may have said it's about a phenomenon. So whats the phenomenon? Maybe it's you demonstrating how "the force" in the Star Wars movies wasn't a fictional concept but rather a real one.

What would this look like if it was real magic?

What’s my motivation?

Who:

Who are you doing this for, who is your audience?

Who are you in this presentation, your character?

In answering question 1 here is my approach to putting an act together: http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......&start=0

Magically

Aus
Dick Oslund
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The proverbial "six foot shelf" of books might be needed to answer all the questions you have asked in the past 30 days.

I just wrote "my" book (175,000 words) and, my fingers are "calloused".

All of the books which drmagico has recommended (above)are well worth your reading, and STUDY. I believe that Ken Weber's is the most recent, and he is exceptionally qualified to have written it. (About $40., and well worth it)

Others, meaning well, have tried to offer suggestions. in another forum. However, I think that,as you progress,that you will learn that many of those suggestions will prove to be "first aid", when the ministrations of a qualified "medical practitioner" are what you need.

I've spent a life time as a full time professional, performing magic. I think men like Weber,et al, will be a tremendous help to you.

I'm going to "post" this, and continue. (I've written this twice, and this @#%% "infernal electrisch peckenclacker" has "eaten" my efforts, before I got to punch the "submit" button.
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Dick Oslund
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I'm back!

Over the past 50 years, I have been sought out as a mentor, by a number of young fellows. Some of them are now successful full time professional magicians. Others are performing as part time professionals. Several are avid amateurs. Two have passed away, but they were successful full timers for years.

I always explained "up front", that, "I cannot TEACH you anything. I can only HELP YOU TO LEARN." I further emphasize that TALENT is needed. PREPARATION, PRACTICE, AND PERSISTENCE are needed. --I can mentor, guide and encourage (and even criticize!)but, you must have the talent, and willingness to prepare (study), practice, and persist.

An interesting "side note": Neil Foster would charge young magician "wannabees", $1500.00 for the Chavez Course, in sleight of hand skills, and state deportment. Then, they would come to me to find out how to get booked. This, they expected for nothing!

I'll try to give you, just a few basic definitions, and a little advice, and then send you to your book shelf to study. (Ha! SOCRATES gave advice, and they poisoned him!)

Definitions and advice, coming right up>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Dick Oslund
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Before I continue, please scroll up and re read my friend Aus's post. He has, "something to say". --as opposed to just having, to "say something"!

Are you back? OK, as one of my college professors often said: "First! DEFINE YOUR TERMS!

Too many magicians tend to be careless when they speak or write, and they use technical terms too loosely.

For years, when I lectured "from coast to coast and border to border" for magic clubs, regional and national conventions, and even the Magic Castle (Oooh! Yes, I've worked the Castle, and when I can afford it, I'll work it again!--And, I have!) I would begin by asking the group, "How much MAGIC do you own?" Replies varied from "a suitcase full" -- "a basement full" -- "a van full" etc. Then, I would "shock" (or "shake up")the group, by saying, "NO! You own PROPS, and/or SECRETS! You cannot BUY a TRICK! You canno OWN, MAGIC! MAGIC only exists in the MIND of the spectator.

A magician can PERFORM a TRICK. The TRICK, like MUSIC, only exists while it's being PERFORMED. When you stop dragging the rosined horse hair over the catgut, there AINT NO MORE MUSIC!

If the magician PERFORMS the TRICK well, by using his PERSONALITY, and a "good" PRESENTATION, the MAGIC will "happen" IN THE MIND of the spectator. That which the spectator sees (or, thinks he sees!) is the EFFECT.

It's important that the magician understands that MAGIC IS NOT INHERENTLY ENTERTAINING!

All of us (if we are honest!)have seen, and suffered through, more than one boring, dull, unimaginative, "magic" show, that was anything but entertaining.

Only a qualified magician (amateur or professional)can make MAGIC ENTERTAINING, by using an appropriate PRESENTATION, and his PERSONALITY. (The PERFORMER, is MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE PROP!)

He must have SHOWMANSHIP! He must understand that his performance, while involving PRESTIDIGITATION, SENSORY ILLUSION, and, ESOTERIC SCIENCE PRINCIPLES, is mainly an "exercise" in PSYCHOLOGY!

Time for a coffee break! I'll be back in a moment, to add just a few more thoughts.
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Dick Oslund
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"The best of speakers, I maintain, are those who carefully refrain, from speaking in verbose profusion, after saying, "In conclusion!"

Until you have read and STUDIED, at least Ken Weber (and hopefully a few more of the books that drmagico has suggested!) I strongly recommend that you don't try to add another trick to your repertoire.

S. H. Sharpe said, "Those who think that magic consists of doing tricks, are strangers to magic. Tricks are only the crude residue from which the lifeblood of magic has been drained."

Here are Jay Marshall's (and my) "rules" for adding a new trick to one's show:

1. Learn how the trick is DONE.

2. Learn how to DO it.

3. Figure out how to DO it, so that it ENTERTAINS an audience! --(#3 is the hard one!)


You asked in your "OP" above: "How do you build a show?", How do you enter?". You commented on the use of music and applause.

I could easily spend a couple of hours on those topics. But, I've given you a few basics. Now, Go do your "homework"!

Best wishes!

Dick Oslund
Sneaky, underhanded, devious, and surreptitious itinerant mountebanc!
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Jason Simonds
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The books I've been reading to try to better understand this process are Magic and Showmanship by Henning Nelms, Showmanship for Magicians by Dariel Fitzkee and the already mentioned Strong Magic by Darwin Ortiz. Maximum Entertainment by Ken Weber is on my wishlist. Looks like I'll need to add Dick Oslund's book to my wishlist as well.

Jim,

Where can I find more information on Dan Harlan's plan?

Thanks,

Jason
jimhlou
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Danharlanmagic.com

"More than meets the eye"
Dr. JK
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I bought More Than Meets the Eye from Dan's website. It's been a great resource, and I highly recommend it.
- Jeff Kowalk, The Psychic CPA
www.psychiccpa.com
pjarnold
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Completely agree with Jeff and Jim. Even if you stray from Dan's structure, it provides a great jumping off point while you are reading the longer books.
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