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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Grand illusion » » Guillotine - Distasteful? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Starrpower
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In light of recent events, what's the general feeling out there about using headchopper effects?

Personally, it's leaving my show for the time being. I think our shows should be escapes from reality, not reminders if it.
Magictrickster
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I present my headchopper as a comedy item, where the spectator has to catch the vegetables - but needs to put their head in the headchopper in order to do this.

It tends to go down fairly well, but I'm careful to choose a volunteer who is confortable with helping. I've no real reason to remove it from my act at the minute.

Cheers,

Brian
Brian
MCM
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Star, interestingly, a reviewer noted that a scene in Troy could have been edited because it contained something we have seen on the news lately.

Given that most guillotine effects are done with (dark) humor and are not presented like recent events, I don't think there is an issue. The sword-through-neck illusion would be hitting a little closer to home.

A while ago, I came across this site:
http://student.grm.hia.no/magica/?side=Arkiv
where they try and blend in the current events in a semi-humorous way.
Rob Johnston
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Someone else posted this same question, though I am not sure where it is now.

Don't worry, just do it. That is my opinion. This is too good of an effect to throw away just because of current events.
"Genius is another word for magic, and the whole point of magic is that it is inexplicable." - Margot Fonteyn
KerryJK
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What have I missed here? Has something been in the news lately about a tragic guillotine beheading?
floridamagic
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My feeling is people come to my show to escape from the real world for a hour, and as long as I don't make mention to current war events no one will feel my guillotine is offensive. Erick
Chezaday
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This is one of those times to take something out of the act, the guillotine could really offend some right now. Sure it's a great illusion, it packs flat and plays big .. but you only have to offend a few people to lose the audience .. and it's not worth it right now.

I'll have to knock some sense into your head Erick! I'm coming down there...

Steve
Brent McLeod
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I think it's a personal choice at the moment.

-If you don't feel comfortable, don't do it

Have a break from using it for a few weeks--People will move on in their thoughts etc.

I personally would still use it--but that's me!!

Comedy is a good release in difficult times.
Rob Johnston
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I wouldn't make any comments on the situation, as that is inappropriate...

But people have been losing their heads for thousands of years.
Enjoy your act and I know your audience will!
"Genius is another word for magic, and the whole point of magic is that it is inexplicable." - Margot Fonteyn
daffydoug
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People are SO hypersensitive!

Just recently, a guy named Mark Wills had a hit song on the charts called "Nineteen Seventy Something" There was one line in the song that went "space shuttle fell out of the sky" (referring to Columbia Disaster).

Anyway, after the song was released, we had another space shuttle disaster, and I guess the song caused a big uproar.

Geeese. I think people need to just get a life, sometimes.

My advice? Leave the guilotine in your act!
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
Starrpower
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I think there is a difference between being hypersensitive and being considerate for well-publicized tragedies that have occured.

Like it or not, people are paying our bills and hiring us. We don't all have the luxury of being in Penn and Teller's positions where you can act like AH's and still make a great living. Most of us have to show some consideration for others, or not get re-hired.

I can appreciate differing viewpoints, but I hope we aren't basing decisions on arrogance and bull-headedness. Daffy and Asstinus, you seem to be taking the "Cut off your nose to spite your face" course just because you disagree with the "hypersensitive." I'm not suggesting we need to tip-toe around every special interest, but an internationally akcnowledged heinous act might take a little more consideration.
extremagic
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Starrpower I agree with you (maybe it's a midwest thing; I don't know). What are they thinking? They're NOT... you can be sure of that! "Hypersensitive"?? If you can't deal with "Hypersensitive" maybe you can try to be just a little "sensitive," or is that too much to ask? Do you people ever watch the news to know what is going on in our world?? Or are you too self-absorbed? I hate to say it but igorance has taken a new low on this post... Have you watched the video Daffydoug? Or are you in lalaland? You are setting a HORRIBLE example.
Dennis Michael
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Unforunately, this incident is over shadowed by prisoner abuse, as with the bridge incident, it will go by the wayside for political finger pointing. (Presentital election year.)

One candidate will use it (subtlely) to get himself promoted, while the another promises it would not happen if he was president, while the third shouts, "remember Vietnam...."

We as magicians focus on humor, and the guillotine usage would have never entered my mind until this topic was brought up. Since the person involved is local, I can't help but to think of the sensitivity of it. However, Halloween is just around the corner and it is all about gory stuff, so should we also cancel Halloween?
Dennis Michael
Magicduck
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I probably would, for a few months, remove the guillotine. That would not apply to any other choppers I use, such as a finger or wrist chopper or even sabre sawing in half. I think they are different enough it would not come up; also I play the smaller choppers, not all the unusual, as vegetable choppers. Actually, I get much more use, all in all, out of the wrist chopper than any of the others. It packs small, plays big and allows all the same comedy.
quack
Chris H
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Hmmm...

Despite "current events," I detest the head chopper/guillotine illusion anyway. I was unfortunate enough to get sucked into it a few weeks ago at a local magic show. The performer asked for a $50 note, and I made the assumption she was simply going to perform a bill switch of some sort. So, glad to assist, I offered a $50. From that point on, I was dragged on stage, humiliated (in front of little kids, no less Smile ) and eventually placed in a "head chopper." I didn't see this bit coming at all. As a fellow magician, I was tolerant and obliging, but it was an interesting experience being put in the positon of an audience member.

I felt like an absolute fool, but during this experience was thinking about how magicians go about selecting an assistant from the audience (well, I couldn't move for a few minutes so I had to think about something). This magician had no idea I was a fellow performer. As far as she was concerned, I was simply another member of the unsuspecting public. Shouldn't she have asked me if I would be happy to assist her, instead of tricking me into coming on to the stage? This makes the audience member feel uncomfortable, and as a result, impairs their ability to enjoy the rest of the show. Had she come up to me and said "Any chance you could assist me for a moment?" I would have been happy to ablige.

I thought professional performers were beyond these tactics, but clearly they are not. So, my point is, before you drag some poor, helpless soul onstage, make sure they know what they're in for.

I know I'm kinda off topic now, and sorry for that. If anyone wants to chat more about the ideas mentioned above, either PM me or continue in this discussion.

Cheers guys!

-- Topher
olivertwist
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I got a wrist chopper at an auction recently and haven't used it yet, because I don't have a routine to go with it. I've been thinking about using it with a vent puppet as a head chopper. I think there are good possibilities for humor there. Any thoughts or suggestions?

Oliver
KerryJK
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Re. Topher's move off-topic (but only slightly!):

The problem with getting people for choppers etc. is that if no willing volunteers are forthcoming (as is often the case in family shows) you're left standing there like a lemon. So a little fait accompli is neccesary.

I've been pulled out of the audience on more occasions than anyone I know, one of the reasons I started juggling and performing was to get away from that wretched typecast. When I got to know those same performers socially, apparently I was always picked on because I had an "interested face."

My perspective from that position though helped confirm my philosophy of performance in general: that the one thing I cannot forgive in a performer is a failure to respect their audience. The best performers could make you part of the show in a way where it doesn't feel like ritual humiliation, where you're in on the joke, but every now and then there'd be the sort of performer who sees audience members as chump laymen (and I use the word "layman" in a very disparaging way, because I hate it, it's just a step up from "sucker" or "pidgeon") to be made idiots of. The fact that it never occurs to them that there may be fellow performers in the audience, or at least people who know enough to sabotage the act if provoked, speaks volumes about their outlook. Incidentally, I never actually did intentionally sabotage an act, but I did come close on occasion. Once I answered back when one of these pillocks dragged me up basically to have a target for his putdowns (which, with me, is asking for it), to which I got a savage "I do the funnies, alright?" as he leered at the audience. I don't know why I didn't walk offstage (now, I probably would).

So it's a balance; you have to be a friendly dictator to keep the show moving and avoid the dreaded "Can I have a volunteer? Um, anyone? Please? Help!" scenario, and we all know the sheep philosophy of audience management. But you have to be careful to avoid taking the sheep metaphor too far and disrespecting the individuality and intelligence of the people watching.
Bill Palmer
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I seldom volunteer for the performances of other magicians unless I know them. But if I am dragged up on stage, I will not sabotage their acts, nor will I walk offstage if they do something offensive with me. Any professional performer who does that in the middle of someone's act is right down at the bottom of the evolutionary scale. There are many ways to keep from getting called up on stage if you don't want to go there. And when you answer back, that is basically asking for it.

Regarding the guillotine -- I'm not "married" to any routine I have in my show. If my audience is of a type that will object to the guillotine or the double wrist chopper, out they go. I have enough other material that I can substitute something else, anyway. We run a delicate balance right now. Material that was perfectly okay 15 years ago is completely out of the question now. If you are working a corporate gig or a private show, you are the hired help. If they say, "I didn't appreciate that thing with the guillotine," then you just messed up. I took sidekick out of my act after the Columbine incident.

But if you are working in places where taste is not an issue, go for it.
"The Swatter"

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Bill Hegbli
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HelenHeld,

You have a very unusual view of a audience participation magic act. I totally disagree with everything you stated.

I am very sorry you feel that away toward magicians who wish to involve the audience.
KerryJK
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Could you please elaborate, hegbli? I'd love to discuss this properly, either here or in PM.

My point is audience participation is indeed a vital part of magic and circus performance, but you have to get the balance between the practical necessities of working a crowd and the need not to make your audience think you're an arrogant bully just looking for people to make fun of. This is a perspective I've formed from being on both sides of the divide (I was a fan for years before I got around to performing myself).

I only answered back on that occasion (which was a street show) because the performer in question pushed me too far. I had obliged him by helping out (as an innocent and interested spectator), he rewarded my interest in his show and my taking time out to help by insulting me, how I was dressed, who I was with and basically being genuinely offensive towards me in every way he could in a way in which I was not in on the joke. Being nasty onstage is an art, get it wrong at your peril.

OK, as a performer (I wasn't at the time, but I'm not using that as an excuse) perhaps I should grin and bear morons like that, but as a person with dignity (which was the basis on which I was picked out), if someone challenges me I tend to accept, not because I'm in the business of upstaging everyone I see but because I won't be bullied by idiots. And if you think I'm the only person you'll ever find in your audience that's like that, I'd say you're really taking a chance. Someone else might even respond to that situation with physical violence.

I have seen many more acts where the performers concerned did it right; they could say all the same things this guy was saying (generally they didn't, because they weren't going out of their way to humiliate me in the way this guy was), but did so without making it seem like a string of unprovoked cheap shots. Basically, they let me in on the joke rather than making me feel like a mug for ever stopping to watch their efforts.

There are other threads on this board on the subject of heckler put-downs, the consensus of which is to make sure you keep the rest of the audience onside. When those put downs are directed at people you've asked onstage to help out, I'd say you need to be even more careful.
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