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George Ledo
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Re: Brad's comments:

To quote many many people in show biz over the years (including our own Dick Oslund): It ain't what you do, it's how you do it.

It's not just magic. I've been in live theatre most of my career, and I've seen actors take a perfectly good character or story and sound like they're reading the telephone book. Then again, I've said many times that some people, like the late Victor Borge or Robin Williams, could probably stand up there reading the telephone book and have the audience rolling in the aisles.
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
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Dannydoyle
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To quote The Who "It's the singer not the song, that makes the music move along".
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Dick Oslund
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Hey George! Thanks for the quotation!

I'm not a rock and roller (at my age!) but, I like Danny's comment, also.

But, you guys gotta remember, according to that "matrix magician", I don't know "nothin'" about what I consider to be 85% of what makes, magic, magic.
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Jonathan Townsend
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@Dick, if you would like to share a specific example of where your theory does better than what's been offered so far - please do.

Some words to distinguish our craft from others: the matter is how to use harmless trickery to entertain. There's a trick, a con involved. The standup comic tells a joke - a short con to elicit a perception of the absurd as amusement. Our cons are aimed at a different emotional response; to sense the double bind of known expected reality versus perception. The humor is in seeing how much we don't really see.
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Dannydoyle
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To be fair Dick The Who are not far from your age!
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Dick Oslund
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Quote:
On Aug 25, 2018, Dannydoyle wrote:
To be fair Dick The Who are not far from your age!


Hee hee! Thanks for "them words" Danny! I think though, that I'm more of a Lawrence Welk guy! I played his home town several times! --Strasburg doesn't even have a McDonalds!!! It's what circus people call a "high grass town"!

Mentioning Mr Welk, brings up a "question". What's the difference between an onion and an accordion:? -- Nobody cries when you cut up an accordion.
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Dick Oslund
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Quote:
On Aug 25, 2018, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
@Dick, if you would like to share a specific example of where your theory does better than what's been offered so far - please do.

Some words to distinguish our craft from others: the matter is how to use harmless trickery to entertain. There's a trick, a con involved. The standup comic tells a joke - a short con to elicit a perception of the absurd as amusement. Our cons are aimed at a different emotional response; to sense the double bind of known expected reality versus perception. The humor is in seeing how much we don't really see.


Thanks for the "invitation", Jonathan, but, I would rather not. --Anything that I would say, would just get insulting comments from that "matrix person". I have learned to ignore him.

I don't get into conversations with those who resort to ad hominem arguments.

Nowhere in this thread have I suggested that I have any better ideas than anyone. I was just a successful performer. on the road, all my life. I never had to ASK for a tour. Managers would call me, to ask when I was available. (I must have been doing "something" right. I was never "at liberty".)

Gene Anderson has a bit of "farmer philosophy" (Gene grew up on a farm in Minnesota.) Gene advises: "Never wrestle with a pig, You both get dirty, and, the pig likes it."
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Dick Oslund
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Quote:
On Aug 21, 2018, Brad Burt wrote:
I have always contended that magic IS in fact Inherently Entertaining/Interesting. In fact in a recent post I noted that again. I've just changed my mind. That is, I reframed 'how I think magic is seen/experienced by spectators'.

Here's the thing I suddenly realized as I reviewed a bunch of magic I have witnessed over the years: Most magic tricks/routines are pretty interesting. (I contend that generally the longer and more complicated the routine the less magical it "tends" to be. That's a related issue.) The problem is almost always that there are folks who do/perform magic that are simply dreadfully boring. And, it's them, themselves. They don't want to be boring. No one 'wants' to bore folks. I have seen lectures by big time exponents of various subjects the material of which was really compelling, but the presentation of which had me wanting to jump off a tall building. It wasn't the material. It was the presenter.

This is something that is simply not talked about. It's ignored, because no one wants to tell another that their performance could put a Meth Head to sleep. Can this situation be "cured"? Maybe.

The fact is that there are folks who can do a trick/routine perfectly. The moves, the patter, etc. And, still there is something lacking. If you could find a pill for it or a fruit that grows in an isolated valley in the Amazon...you could make a lot of money.

What's the 'take away'? It's all connected. IF a person really, REALLY wants to improve their performance it would behove them to find one, possibly two pros that they trust and believe in to rib what they do apart and offer advice on how to make it better. That would include a discussion with video of HOW the performer looking to improve looks while they perform. It's humbling and hurts like the dickens.

Final note: Just because you are paying someone to help you improve is not to say that you cannot argue for something one way or another. It's the interaction and willingness to learn from the process that will make the improvements over time.


Thank you Brad, for your change of mind!

When I was a teenager, in the '40s, I would buy the dealers' 'left over' magazines *(@ half price!). Dr. A.M. Wilson's op/ed page in the "SPHINX", had a fancy masthead. The good Dr. had written: "Magic is an art that sometimes instructs, often amuses, but, always entertains."

I was just beginning to perform, I was 15. I lived in a small town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. HE was a doctor, a publisher/editor of a "big" magazine! I thought that he must KNOW. I believed him.

For a couple of years, most of the magicians that I saw perform were school show magicians, and circus/carnival side show magicians. They were all good, (Some of the school show magi were "gooder"!

Then, I joined the Navy. I was stationed in a big city (on the east coast). I went to a magic club meeting. Most of the "magicians" worked with "cans, pans, tubes, boxes, and red velvet bags on a stick"! I suddenly realized that Dr. Wilson was perhaps a nice man, BUT, he was living in "a dream world"!

It was obvious! Magic was not inherently entertaining! My mentors (mostly school show magicians) had always said: "PRESENTATION is what makes a magic show entertaining. --OR: "It aint WHAT ya do. it's HOW ya do it!" I had those words, "tattooed" on my brain!
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Alan Wheeler
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Presentation and showmanship is a given in entertainment, even in more serious performance arts. I doubt anyone argues that these are dispensable.
As Brad Burt says, "It's all connected."

What distinguishes magic, however, is the impossible effect. In one sense (only one facet of the diamond), "effect is everything"--just as in stand-up comedy the laugh is everything or in a classic tragedy the catharsis is everything. To provide a specific example, Jerry Seinfeld has worked relentlessly honing his material, *** good jokes, which are inseparable from his inimitable delivery.

I know the argument is perennial, and I really believe it is healthy to hold these elements in tension during the creation process, but ultimately I still fall into the camp of Maskelyn and Devant, Ortiz, Giobbi, and what I have studied of Haydn. I like to balance these thoughts with writings by Maven, Burger, and Berglas. Maybe these are some of the thoughts that Jon refers to as what has been said before...
The views and comments expressed on this post may be mere speculation and are not necessarily the opinions, values, or beliefs of Alan Wheeler.
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Ray Pierce
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My personal belief is that magic like many other arts is not inherently entertaining. I have seen too much bad magic that confirms this. There is nothing fun about watching someone blandly deal cards out yet again in a different pattern and asking you where your card is. The reality is the interest and entertainment is what we as good magicians bring to the table. There is a weak link in every effect we do... it's called the method. Our job is to take people on a journey that focuses on the impossibility of what we propose and leads them away from the method to create something that in retrospect will have been impossible in their minds. The interest and entertainment values are what we bring to each effect and no... not all magicians are created equally.

"The true skill of the magician is in the skill he exhibits in influencing the spectator's mind. This is not a thing of mechanics. It is not a thing of digital dexterity. It is entirely a thing of psychological attack. It is completely a thing of controlling the spectator's thinking. Control of the perceptive faculties has nothing whatever to do with it. Convincingly interpreting, to the spectator, what the senses bring to him, in such a way that the magician's objectives are accomplished, is the true skill of the skilled magician." - Dariel Fitzkee, Magic by Misdirection
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Dick Oslund
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Thanks for that great post, Ray!

It's quite evident that "thee" and "me", and, Dariel Fitzkee, think/thought alike!
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Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
On Aug 27, 2018, Ray Pierce wrote:
..."The true skill of the magician is in the skill he exhibits in influencing the spectator's mind. This is not a thing of mechanics. It is not a thing of digital dexterity. It is entirely a thing of psychological attack. It is completely a thing of controlling the spectator's thinking. Control of the perceptive faculties has nothing whatever to do with it. Convincingly interpreting, to the spectator, what the senses bring to him, in such a way that the magician's objectives are accomplished, is the true skill of the skilled magician." - Dariel Fitzkee, Magic by Misdirection


Thanks for the reminder about this book. Curious how he describes what the audience interprets and what inner story the audience builds from their perceptions. Narrative.
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danaruns
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I've always agreed without thinking that magic is not inherently entertaining. But I'm going to switch that up as I'm thinking about it now. I think that the moment of magic is inherently entertaining. It is magicians who are not inherently entertaining.

Take the magic itself. You walk up to someone at a bar, grab his beer bottle and whip out a half dollar. Then you have him hold the neck of the bottle as you slap the coin against the underside of the bottle, and the coin appears inside the bottle. You walk away without a word. I think that is inherently entertaining. It's magic! It's stunning! The people who saw it will be talking about it, trying to figure it out, laughing about it, and poring over the bottle with coin. Watch them from a corner of the room, and you will see people who are entertained in the sense of having surprise, enjoyment, a diversion, and being engaged.

If someone encounters magic unexpectedly in the midst of their day, they are entertained. If they are walking down a sidewalk and suddenly see a woman levitating in the air, they will be surprised, intrigued, and delighted in the apparent impossibility. Likely, a hundred passersby will whip out their phones and put it on YouTube. Put the same levitation on stage with a lame magician, and all the entertainment is sucked out of the magic.

A magician who will, as Ray posits, "blandly deal cards out yet again in a different pattern and asking you where your card is," will have destroyed the inherent entertainment in the moment of magic by surrounding it with garbage.

I think that moment of magic is, indeed, inherently entertaining. Magicians and magic tricks, however, are not.

Okay, tell me why I'm wrong.
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Jonathan Townsend
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The audience needs to convince themselves that magic is happening. They hear what they hear and see what they see. They do their own thinking. From Fitzkee to Schneider there's much to read about that thinking.

For the working performer that audience experience happens
* after the audience agrees to be led and
* after they've convinced themselves to take what they see at face value and
* after they're sure what they are seeing is not consistent with the world as they know it and
* after they decide to interpret the events as a harmless entertainment - to know they've been tricked and enjoy the trickery.

Diversion ( Smile ) We don't usually say laughter is the entertaining part of comedy. Laughter is how we outwardly respond to comedy. It's the desired outcome of a comics performance.

The coin in bottle is a fine example effect. They need to be okay with you showing them a bottle and a coin. And then they need to convince themselves that (that) coin is now in the bottle. Practical performing concerns need to get you into and out of that demonstration. You need to say something while getting the props into place. How much story you put into your comments is up to you.
"Folks might not know it but glass is a liquid. There's a museum where a drip of glass has been flowing for a hundred years. Really. But it's not quite like water. You can drop a coin into a fountain and hear a splash. ..."
or...
Everybody knows bottles don't go around eating half dollars on their own. That's not what folks used to mean by "milk money" or why we don't use glass bottles so much anymore."

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Senor Fabuloso
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Psychologically speaking, any form of entertainment or art form is meant to "move" those who experience it. The movement happens in the mind and is catered to, through the experience. Ergo, all art is psychological. I believe however that the more important aspect of art is the emotional. Imo, when we can touch our audiences on a visceral level, then we have accomplished true art. The feelings experienced by those in attendance, will move each person differently but on the way to the same place. Almost like mass hypnosis, a collective experience is had. At least that's what I'm trying to do with my performances. It's also great if I can leave the people with some tool that they can use in life to help them in times of distress. That too, is a psychological aspect of my work.
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Quote:
On Sep 27, 2018, Senor Fabuloso wrote:
At least that's what I'm trying to do with my performances. It's also great if I can leave the people with some tool that they can use in life to help them in times of distress. That too, is a psychological aspect of my work.


I have found in 62 years of performing that the knowledge that what I can have an affect on someones is psychologically motivating for me. I don't have to see it happen to know that someone in my audience will go way better prepared for life than when they arrived. Many make the mistake (opinion) of need affirmation or acclaim in order to support the notion of affect. Wrong! That is to only "believe" or "Hope" that what you do is art or produces affect or inspiration. "Knowing" is a different matter. Like creativity, it needs no affirmation, proof or recognition.

However, being human, it is nice to have someone approach 30 years later and tell a friend how much you performance changed their life.
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Dick Oslund
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Quote:
On Sep 28, 2018, funsway wrote:
Quote:
On Sep 27, 2018, Senor Fabuloso wrote:
At least that's what I'm trying to do with my performances. It's also great if I can leave the people with some tool that they can use in life to help them in times of distress. That too, is a psychological aspect of my work.


I have found in 62 years of performing that the knowledge that what I can have an affect on someones is psychologically motivating for me. I don't have to see it happen to know that someone in my audience will go way better prepared for life than when they arrived. Many make the mistake (opinion) of need affirmation or acclaim in order to support the notion of affect. Wrong! That is to only "believe" or "Hope" that what you do is art or produces affect or inspiration. "Knowing" is a different matter. Like creativity, it needs no affirmation, proof or recognition.

However, being human, it is nice to have someone approach 30 years later and tell a friend how much you performance changed their life.


Friend Funsway~! I agree with your thinking.

Over the past 60 years, I have had the wonderful, and humbling experience of young men telling me that my performance, and my mentoring, have had a very positive influence, and, have changed their life. I have never kept a record of how many!

A number of those young men, are now firmly established, as full time, successful, professional magicians. Others are active performing amateurs.

Thank you for your comments above which caused me to realize how many lives I have affected.
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