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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » New to magic? » » Why do so many magicians do the classic tricks? (98 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Wizard of Oz
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Whew. Thank goodness. I was getting worried.
Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Pop Haydn
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No worries. Smile
Vlad_77
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Quote:
On Jan 24, 2018, coachawsm wrote:
First of all I am quite new to magic myself and I want to make clear, that I don't want to be disrespectful with the following thigns I am saying.

I think the reasons why a lot of magicians perform these old tricks is, because they have not evolved with the nowadays audience. Life becomes faster and faster nowadays and the attention spans shorter and shorter. Also due to the Internet (Social Media, Google and co) also laymen stumble across card tricks here and there and definitely do understand some slights. Hell so many people know about the one of the most fundamental card light, the DL (the reasons why I myself started to perform the Stuart Gordon DL, cause it seems less obbvious. Also due to those medias they also see "amazing" things each day and are not impressed that easily anymore.

Problem is... at least to me it seems that way: a ot of magicians haven't evolved the same way and still think they can impress with linking rings, ropes or some self working card tricks. Yes, there might still be an audience for that, but as long as you don't want to perform in a school for kids (that do not have smartphones yet) or all inclusive clubs for old people, I think it is time for a lot to step up their game.

That said: It is still important to study the classics. You cannot play the piano without studying Mozart first.



One of the oldest and greatest of the classics is the Cups and Balls; it's been performed for thousands of years through wars, the rise and fall of empires, and ever changing philosophy from Plato to Merleau-Ponty to Eco and beyond and a well performed Cups and Balls routine is eminently entertaining and devastatingly powerful. The routine itself never needed to "evolve."

There is no way in Hell I would EVER presume to know more about our art than Pop Haydn or Dick Oslund so there is not much I can add. Rather, I want to focus on your statement about magicians needing to step up their game. I couldn't agree with you more! As Messrs. Haydn and Oslund have already explained, it IS the performer's job to, as Pop stated, make the routines interesting one more time. I think that the statement should be carved in granite.

We recently lost a titan of the art, Ricky Jay. Mr. Jay was a true master and a brilliant performer. If you ever saw his "Ricky Jay and His 52 Assistants," you would perhaps rethink your opinions on the classics. There was not a single latest and greatest type of trick or routine in the entire act yet the show was sold out at every performance. In fact, one could accurately call Ricky Jay's show rather "retro." I also guarantee that no kids with smartphones would even have the slightest scintilla of what to Google from his act. Mr. Jay entertained AND he fooled the bejeezus out of all and sundry, and, ALL with "classics."

"New" doesn't necessarily mean "better." Sure, methods have evolved but remember that the audience should have no clue as to method anyhow. I've shown non-magician friends performances of Pop Haydn and Ricky Jay just to show them that I am not as good as they think I am. In ALL cases, I wish I had a dollar for every laugh and every gasp of pure astonishment they elicited! I'd be quite comfortable financially. Smile

I'll end with a musical question: The Beatles broke up in 1970. They recorded their final album - Abbey Road - in 1969. Why do so many of today's great musicians from virtually all genres of music credit The Beatles with not only being profound innovators but also these same musicians COVER The Beatles!What they did between 1963 and 1969, from their first number one hit "Please Please Me" to their swan song "The Long and Winding Road" is absolutely mind boggling. I've seen Macca twice in concert and don't ever think that it's just old hippies at those concerts. Hell, I am too young to have grown up with them. I saw 15 year olds singing along and they were just as captivated as their grandparents. Why do you think that is? Smile

The classics aren't stepping stones, Mozart and The Beatles are not an introductory courses to music. Classics are, as more informed people have already stated, classics because they have withstood all manner of change around them; they endure because they are both foundation AND pinnacle but, ONLY if they are performed well.
funsway
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Not much to add to Vlad's thoughts and the echoes on mentioned giants, but will play with the line, "Life becomes faster and faster nowadays and the attention spans shorter and shorter."

I strongly disagree with both views here. Life does advance one click at a time, and always has. The human brain cycles at the same rate too. What is different is the amount of drivel
one chooses to muddle their life with. People choose to do that. They choose to spend hours each day on the vicarious thrills of others, real or fictional. This may mean less time to spend on considering more important things, but it is still a choice. The apparent lessening of attention span is not a biological function. Yes, the Internet and Social Media provide a larger menu of option from which to choose "with little effort." They do not provide "more" input to the active human brain. When I was twelve my mind was filled with thousands of idea to be considered. They came from personal observation, interactions with people, reading books and an active imagination and excitement over "things considered impossible." Today I still have thousands of ideas to consider at the same life speed as before. If I choose to be on the Internet I must wade though a barrage of drivel foisted by marketers and power mongers. They provide data but little information. Younger folks today do not have less attention span - just little discrimination over what to pay attention too.

but, enough of opinions ...

from observation of magicians over more than six decades, I would suggest the major change is not the audience as much at the willingness of the performer to expend effort to get results.
Competence as a performer takes work. Master of sleight or routine takes work. Voice control takes work. Orchestrating hand, body and foot movements takes work.

and, doing the classics of magic takes work. Anyone can buy a packet trick online, fiddle with it for ten minutes and go out and expose the method to friends the next day. This is not magic.
Anyone can record and edit a trick on an iPhone and broadcast it around the world. That is about ego and not magic. It is not about creativity or awe or even fueling imagination. It is about offering puzzle and challenging others to figure it out. That is not magic either.

It is certainly possible to engender the "must be magic" long-term memory using a new gimmick or sleight or theme. It is not a comparison between "classic" and "new."
The contrast is between "going through the motions" and Vlad's "performing well."

Maybe my thoughts are biased by the title of this thread. There are no "Classic tricks." There are "Classic Effects and Routines," i.e. what the audience sees, experiences and remembers.

Doing trick is easy. Create an effect of magic is more difficult. Orchestrating the conditions under which magic is expected, provided and appreciated is very difficult.

Choose a Classic Routine or one just off the self. Then MASTER it and yourself before inflicting it on the world.

Happily the method is classic: "if you think you can or you think you can't, you are probably right!" (Henry Ford).
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



ShareBooks at www.eversway.com * questions at funsway@eversway.com
Zama
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It seems to me that the aspiration of classical performance is like a kind of respect. This is about the same as reading classic, because it never goes out of fashion and in any millennium it will be relevant,as with tricks. Classic tricks are tricks that never will not go out of fashion.
HeronsHorse
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Quote:
On Jan 29, 2019, Zama wrote:
It seems to me that the aspiration of classical performance is like a kind of respect. This is about the same as reading classic, because it never goes out of fashion and in any millennium it will be relevant,as with tricks. Classic tricks are tricks that never will not go out of fashion.


Absolutely accurate. You hit the nail on the head for me. I respect the magicians of the past. I stand on their shoulders and will never forget that. Like you say, the classics will never get old. If the presentation becomes dated then it is a simple matter to update. That is what a good performer learns! I don't even look in the latest and greatest section here and I have zero interest in buying gimmicky, 'no skill required' tricks. I'm not saying all bought tricks fall into that category, but a lot of them sell that point in their ad copy. It's gross. There definitely ought to be skill in this Art. I'm tired of seeing magicians with no showmanship or limited skill and a box of toys! I'd rather learn the classics. Get a solid foundation in the beginning of my learning.
Paul
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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."
- S.H. Sharpe
Pop Haydn
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The trick with the classics is that you have to find a way to make them like them "one more time."



Danny Crook
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Precisely, Pop!

People have been performing the same plays for years, but people still go see them. It's a metric of sorts. So and so's Shakespeare is no different, in essence, than Wonder's Two Cup Routine. It might be a familiar effect, whichever classic you choose, but the great performers bring something new, advance the visuals and make "the thing" important again.
Pop Haydn
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Quote:
On Jan 21, 2019, Vlad_77 wrote:
The classics aren't stepping stones, Mozart and The Beatles are not an introductory courses to music. Classics are, as more informed people have already stated, classics because they have withstood all manner of change around them; they endure because they are both foundation AND pinnacle but, ONLY if they are performed well.


Beautifully said.
TomB
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I saw the linking rings on television by a "master magician" and was bored by it, but naturally wanted to know how it was done. How could one object pass thru another? I only learned one part of the performance and thought, that is dumb. I then saw it and heard the rings clinging together on a cruise ship live, and was very impressed and convinced myself despite thinking I knew how it was done, that there must be more. The performance was good, but not great. I never saw myself practicing the routine or least yet performing it. Then I watched Pop Haydn breath life into the act. The more you watch it, the more the genius of Pop comes out. All of a sudden you realize, the performer can do any trick if he is great. It does not matter if Van Halen is doing cover songs or original music, it is the performer that makes it great. You also start to realize that that the classics have been forgotten by lay persons. This is why David Blaine is popular. He did a TV show with a weak performance doing classics. The fact of the matter is most people have never seen tricks done over 100 years ago. Just as most kids never heard of Mark Twain, most adults do not know who Joseph Buatier DeKolta was.
Ado
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Another probable reason people do the classics: most of what's released is either crap or too difficult/angly/technical, so people go back to what's simple...
ABREWCADABREW
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On Aug 23, 2019, Ado wrote:
Another probable reason people do the classics: most of what's released is either crap or too difficult/angly/technical, so people go back to what's simple...


Similarly, I love going through my collected "classic" notes and books and trying to make out what's going. I'm sure in trying to get what the author meant I've completely botched it but "discovered" something else/new/even better. Smile
Pop Haydn
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Quote:
On Aug 22, 2019, Ado wrote:
Another probable reason people do the classics: most of what's released is either crap or too difficult/angly/technical, so people go back to what's simple...


Classics are not necessarily simpler or easier than new magic. There is plenty of challenging stuff in Erdnase, and other more than 100 year old stuff. Phoenix Aces, Mosquito Parade, or Interlocked Productions would all be challenging even by today's finger-flinging standards. But you are right, they usually are more practical, less angly and simpler in effect.
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