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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Ever so sleightly » » Criticism Please (3 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Dick Oslund
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Yes, the wand in your first video looked much better.

Yes, the cs & bs can be done on stage.

How big is the audience (heqq! that's a dumb question!!! They're all "people size"!!!) How many will be in the audience? Is there good lighting?

Your final loads (big balls) would need to be from pockets. There are always people in the wings in a talent contest.

I'm not excited about the appearing cane. It's tooooo much. You've sold a sleight of hand routine, then throw in a mechanical prop.

Check the sight lines from the house. Talk WITH the audience, not AT or TO them.
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landmark
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Quote:
I'm not excited about the appearing cane. It's tooooo much. You've sold a sleight of hand routine, then throw in a mechanical prop.

I agree with this. Along the same lines, the wand from bag, the cups thru cups, wand thru cup, and the bigger inside than outside gags all send the message that maybe the props are gimmicked. That's a message that you don't want to send. If you're going to do this, maybe just pick one of them--and then it should be a throwaway, as if you didn't know it was going to happen.

I like the wand as bridge between the two cups.

Overall, I don't think you need to explain the magic so much as really believe in it. At what precise moment does the magic happen and what makes it happen? How do you feel about what happens? Don't explain this to the audience with your words, but with your inner reactions.

Thanks very much for posting this Zach. It not only is brave and gets you feedback, but it also helps the rest of us here think about how we can improve as well.
migwar
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I think descriptive patter can work with cups and balls, as long as its self aware. Vernon himself uses the concept. But Dick is right in that that it needs spaces for the audience to get engaged mentally. Its like having a conversation, you need to leave gaps for the responses but think of the response as a mental one. I think that is difficult solo in front of a camera however. I'm guilty of exactly the same thing.


I also agree Re: the cane. It becomes an anti climax. Play up on final 4 loads more.
Dick Oslund
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I'm very pleased to see you "coming back" for comments! --Your second video was better than the first (except for that yukky wand!---hee hee)

Young magicians (old one's too) need someone who can give an objective viewpoint! Actors in plays, always have a director. Few magicians have directors. I remember the late Charlie Reynolds working with Harry Blackstone Jr.!

It's a "case" of the old Latin expression: "NEMO JUDEX IN CAUSA SUA!" (No one is a judge in his own case!" YOU, can't be objective enough. YOU may not have said THAT, but, it's apparent that you realize it. That is GOOD.

Hidden away in a box, I have a phonograph record (!!!!!) of ME, performing at the local Eagles Lodge in 1948. I was 16. (Very eager, but, definitely not a polished performer!) I no longer have a record player! (What's a record player???!!!) Years ago, I would play that record (privately!!!!!!) to remind myself that I sure needed "direction". I did have several professional magicians who mentored, but it was by letter! It would take weeks to get a reply!

Video recordings, computer internet conversations, etc. have made it much easier, and more efficient, to get comments! Andrew Zuber, "Plunk" Robert Blake, 55 Hudson, MGordonB,and migwar et al, have made many good and helpful suggestions.

I know Ricky Jaye. Believe me! It "took" a "few" years of research, practice, planning, more practice, ETC.! to become as good as he IS. Jay Marshall and I caught him working a "blue jeans" night club in Chicago in the '70s. He did two 45 minute sets (all different material, and GOOD!) and he was brilliant. Then, after hours, a few reporters from the Tribune came in, to see the club manager, who asked Ricky to "show them something". These skeptical reporters were absolutely knocked off their chairs! when Ricky did a routine from ERDNASE!!!

You have the enthusiasm of youth! --and, the wisdom to seek knowledge! Go for it!

BTW...If you can, KEEP those videos. Like my phono. record, you'll be able to refer to them, to note how well you have progressed!

Someone asked Fritz Kreisler, "What was your best concert?" He replied, "My next one!"
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
JLemoine
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I may be the only one, but I do like the wand of the second video. ^^
Not classy, but funny.

Although I regret we can't see your face (so we only concentrate on your sleights), I think the second video is better than the first one. It's a good routine (very influenced by Michael Ammar). The only advice I would be give you is maybe to try to make it more lively, to practice it as if you were doing it in front of actual people (but it's not easy to get it lively when you're alone in front of your cam).
The cups & balls is a game of hide & seek (at least, before the final loads). You've got to play with your audience, make them guess where the ball is, laugh with them, etc.
ZachDavenport
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Dick Oslund
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MUCH better!!!

It's obvious that you have been listening to the various comments! --It really SHOWS!!!!!!!

Now we get down to the "nit picking"! --Not really, but, there are some "little" things that need attention. (The devil is in the details!)

First, COMMUNICATION. I like your verbals much better. (Here comes the BUT! >>>Communications needs much more than verbals! <<< Body language! Again,your face is not in the frame! (You saw the English actor doing his very simple routine. Did you notice the body language, facial expressions, etc.? (In the clip, he didn't SAY anything--(with his mouth.) Here comes that BUT, again! You KNEW, what he was thinking--and "SAYING"!!!

You did the wand production very well. Here comes the BUT--once more! The black wand "against" the black shirt "lost something". Thirty years ago, a young man from Chicago, appeared on the Abbott Get Together show. He used three Jet Set "frames" to display three 6' Rice silks, as his backdrop. His act was mostly the production of flowers. (MUCH $$$$$!) He did the mechanics of the productions quite well, One more time: Here comes the BUT! The flowers were "invisible"! They were "lost" against the silks!!!!! Black wand against black shirt!

The litle balls were almost "lost" on the dark table cover. (More contrast!)

I liked your handling of the wand!

You "put" three little balls in your right pocket (???). Your action of that was not "convincing". Perhaps, actually putting your hand into your pocket would be the answer.

Final loads. MUCH BETTER than earlier!

When you produced the big yellow ball, you "walked away". Stand still, smile, STYLE, and WAIT for the applause.

Overall, great progress from your first video!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Watch that tape of the "English guy" again and again. Note his body language, and his reactions.

Professionals (successful ones) KNOW WHEN TO PAUSE.

You have improved tremendously.

A little more polishing, and, yes! Enter that talent contest!
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SmileAndNod
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Maybe a bit less telling what you're doing. I think some of the greatest magic is the magic that is downplayed. You don't need to repeatedly point out that the wand is bigger than the bag it came out of. The visual alone is enough in my opinion, and if you don't think it's enough you can non-verbally communicate it. Look bewildered, look into the bag, place the wand next to the bag as if comparing them. That gets the same message across without the audience feeling like you're beating them over the head with it.

Final Loads - Bring the cup to the load, not the other way around, but more importantly, you need to not think about the final load while your doing it. Spend a couple of hours going through the motion for 1 final load. Just do it over and over and over again until you no longer have to think about it.

Also try this. "It becomes invisible, and then, when I stick it in the middle cup." Pause. Lean into the cup. Look closely as you grab the cup. Pull up with some energy revealing the 3rd ball. Smile and look into the eyes of the spectator. "It becomes visible" Your entire body relaxes during this line and you transfer the cup to your left hand. Don't load the ball in yet. You can use the cup to cover the ball. While making a gesture with both hands lower the front edge of the cup sleightly so the ball falls in. Toss the cup (mouth face up and towards your body) to the right hand as you say, "But this isn't the most confusing thing about the cups" While finishing that line you are placing the 3rd cup down and spreading the balls out with your left hand.

You of course don't have to do it exactly this way, but this an example of how tension and relaxation can be used to make moves less noticeable. The audience is going to focus on what you're focusing on, and during the final loading sequence, it's the cups, despite your patter being about the balls.

Keep it up! It's looking great!
SWNerndase
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Hey Zach--

Great that you are working on the classic Cups and Balls. It is one of the best routines in magic, and also teaches you everything about construction, misdirection, sleight of hand, performance, management, etc. You're doing fine. You're getting a lot of advice here, some good and useful, some not so much, and some--in my opinion--is flat wrong. That is the nature of asking advice from a crowd as diverse in experience, taste and knowledge as the community found here at the Magic Café. What's difficult is to sift through it and recognize what is helpful to you, and what can be safely ignored.

If I may, I'll offer a bit of different advice: We--all of us--work with what we know or can create. In every aspect of magic, the more you know, the more you've studied and practiced, the more "raw material" you have to draw from in putting together your own interpretation. My advice then is to read and learn to perform all the Cups and Balls routines you can get your hands on. Nearly everyone has worked with the Vernon routine. Some know the Mendoza routine, the Gazzo routine, or the Ammar routine. Only a handful can speak from experience about the Williamson routine. I suspect most have seen the Tommy Wonder version, but I've never seen anyone actually apply his ideas to their own routines. Why? Fewer still know the Elmsley, Riser, Miller or Bertram routines. And who among us really understands the Fawkes routine, the Hofzinser routine, or Krieger's version? (Did you know that Scotty York perfumed a version where the final loads were concealed in the cups the entire time?) There are unique sequences and ideas in each of these versions that will enrich your vocabulary of Cups and Balls, and help lead you to your own masterful version. If you want to be a great Cups and Balls worker, you should make it your mission to learn everything you can about it from the literature.

As you learn different versions of the Cups and Balls, (and I'm suggesting that you actually learn to do all of these routines, not just read about them) you'll automatically develop your own tastes, your own ideas about what's magical, what's practical, what matters and what doesn't, and advice from me or anyone else will become completely irrelevant--because you will have become an expert.

SWN

PS--When I was a much younger magician I got a great piece of advice about the Cups and Balls. One of my wise teachers challenged me to perform my routine for a while without any final loads. Sounds crazy, right? But it's actually a terrific test of your routine and structure. If the final loads are carrying you, if the routine is only so-so without the loads to finish, you need to keep working on it. When it's magical and entertaining without the loads, you'll know it's really working, and the final loads will take it over the top.
ZachDavenport
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It's been awhile because I got distracted with other magical endeavors, but here is my new routine: http://youtu.be/qBMk-oh4EEc
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ROBERT BLAKE
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Zach in the beginning you put the wand in front of the cups. this blocks the view of the balls when you lift the cups.
ZachDavenport
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Thanks, I'll keep that in mind.
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landmark
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Wow, Zach, you've come a long way with this! Good work.

Three things from this spectator:

1) I don't know if that T-Shirt was your costume or just a rehearsal shirt, but it's very distracting. The audience wants to focus on your face, not the face on the T-shirt. No writing, no pictures, no busy patterns, please.

2) Careful of flashing going for the loads. You need to stay fully behind the table, or else we see your hand go to the pocket each time. While we don't see the loads themselves, the hand in the pocket is telling enough.

3) The biggest point: You are beginning to have reactions to your own magic. Great! Go much further with this, not just at the end. Have a point of view and an emotional reaction to the magic. That's what makes you a performer and not a robot. Don't be a "demonstrator," be someone who is living in a magical moment.

Much better with the edited script, much smoother with the misdirection, much better with the sleights!
Dick Oslund
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Yes!!!

Landmark has said it so well, that I shouldn't even comment!

I have enjoyed watching you progress. I'll leave you with a thought from the late WILL ROGERS,American humorist. One of his "statements" was, "I'm pleased! --but, not satisfied."

It's very difficult for a magician to win a talent contest! --"BREAK A LEG!"

P.S. Don't forget Robert Blake's comment above!
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
ZachDavenport
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Thanks for the replies! The shirt is not the costume, it is just what I happened to be wearing that day. I'll practice staying behind the table.
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Critisizer
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Script could be improved a bit
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ZachDavenport
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Any specific problems?
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Malakim
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I have a general question regarding the final loads.
In this routine, you lift the Cups to show them empty before you fill the final load. My question is to the professionals, is it not more easy to rather show
something under the cups before I fill in the final load? This would draw the attention naturaly to the apearing balls on the table where as "look nothing" draws the attention more to the cup?
SmileAndNod
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Meh, Tommy Wonder argues that revealing a small ball as misdirection for loading a big ball is flawed because the audience has seen you lift the cup to reveal a small ball several times already, so it's less likely to hold their attention.

Zach, I'd like to see you try this. For the first big load - your line is, "when you tap just one cup". Now, instead of lifting the cup as you say the ball turns invisible, tap the cup with the wand, and say, "now it's invisible." Pause while looking at the audience, "no really" transfer the wand to the right hand (which is holding the final load) in the same motion, lift up the cup with your left hand (your right hand is still holding the wand at a resting position on the table. You can get away with the dirty hand because when you're holding something, it looks natural) As you lift the cup, your eyes are looking at where the ball would be. Not rotate the cup and your head together so you are looking at the cup. Then rotate the cup AND your eyes to be facing the audience while relaxing your posture (your right hand is still holding the wand and the final load.) Now do 3 things at once. Bring the cup down to your right with your left hand. With your right hand drop the wand and bring the load up to the cup, and most importantly, bring your eyes, which were looking at the audience, down and to the left ending where the "invisible" ball is. (Notice how you are crossing the movement of the cup with your eyes). With your left hand pick up the "invisible" ball.

Here's how the timing should end up. Your left hand should reach the "invisible" ball at exactly the same moment your eyes do. At that same moment the right hand should have loaded the final load.

Pick up the invisible ball while leaving the cup in your right hand (with the final load) on the table on it's side (thank you Tommy Wonder). Transfer the "invisible" ball to your right hand and place it in the center cup. (The same moment you place it in the center cup, with your left hand grab the cup on it's side and place it in the correct position)

It'll feel like you're holding the final load for a long time, but hold your ground. It's never not covered by the action of holding something.

And on the topic of final loads, strawberries would be perfect. They would tie the whole routine together.
ZachDavenport
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Thanks, I'll give that a try tomorrow! I also like the idea of strawberries. I have to see if I can find giant strawberries.
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