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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Now that’s funny! » » Exposing magic is a "cheap laff" , change my mind (5 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

David Todd
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I love comedy and I love magic , and when the two combine in the right proportion it's a joy to behold. I'm of the mind that the magic needs to be as strong as the comedy. Both the laughs are earned and the amazement is earned.

We've all seen comedy magicians (or prop comics) who succumb to the temptation to score a "cheap laff" by exposing. I understand the temptation to do it , but that always turns me off when I see it in a comedy magician's act ... with the exception being if it is an exposure of an obviously made-up trick, so the "exposure" is of a method that no other magician actually uses, it's created specifically for the gag. But I've always thought that exposing real methods that other magicians use as part of their act is a cheap way of getting a laugh. I don't respect it as honest comedy.

Something I read recently that put me in mind of this topic (again) was a review in the November Genii magazine by Suzanne . She is reviewing Adam Christing's Penguin Live Lecture. Overall the review is positive and I expect it is a great lecture (more about the art of public speaking , with a bit of magic sprinkled in). I like Adam Christing. However , in her review Suzanne mentions this:

Quote:
"After his self introduction he magically produces a dove from under the silk to prove he’s a “great magician.” The dove is then revealed to be fake.

I like the idea of starting with a gag. It lets the audience know you aren’t taking yourself too seriously (I open my show with one). I like Adam’s take on this and why he is choosing to start his talk with a funny self introduction and a gag.

I do have some feelings, however, about exposing the Nielsen Latex Dove as fake. I know a lot of magicians do this gag and, at the same time, I’m not excited about the lay population knowing these tools exist. These latex doves are used by serious dove workers to achieve certain goals that I’m not qualified to go into. I’m friends with Lupe Nielsen and was with the late Johnny Thompson. They had clear thoughts on this gag and I know neither of them like magicians exposing the latex doves as fake. I’m not saying it’s wrong, I’m merely stating a preference and asking for consideration that the exposure of magic tools as throwaway gags, and seeing that it grossly devalues the tools used by serious dove workers."


The other item that comes to mind which I've seen exposed for a cheap laff more times than I care to remember is the "daylight seance" gimmick. If used with a subtle approach , that device can achieve some marvelous effects (and by "marvelous effects" I do not mean making a clown nose or funny glasses appear on your face when you briefly lift a cloth in front of your face and then lower it). It doesn't deserve to be sacrificed as a throwaway gag.

By the way, this isn't intended to be a bash Adam Christing topic , it's not about him , it's just that the example Suzanne mentioned in her review is what put me in mind of the topic, which is exposing magic for a laugh is a cheap way to get the laugh. It could be argued that Adam Christing doesn't actually expose a magic effect as such, he just presents a gag with a "fake bird" and if another Magician X skillfully uses the same item in a different context anyone who may have previously seen Adam Christing's performance is unlikely to connect it with what Magician X is doing. But in principle, I agree with the point made by Suzanne (and apparently also shared by the well-respected , late Johnny Thompson) : "I’m not excited about the lay population knowing these tools exist. "... consideration of the exposure of magic tools as throwaway gags, and seeing that it grossly devalues the tools used by [other magicians]." Malicious exposure by non-magicians who buy tricks and expose them on YouTube isn't going to go away, and I would not waste too much time bemoaning it (and thereby draw undue attention to it), so it's better to just ignore it, however I still think it's unfortunate when we see it occurring from within our community.

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Basil
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Scott Green has a routine where he exposes the Nielsen Vanishing Coke bottle to the audience in his book “Excellence in Family Magic”. If I remember correctly, his justification is that it’s already widely exposed. Which could be true; since there’s a magician going around and exposing it in his act. It’s a good book and I’m not trying to beat up on Mr. Green, but I wasn’t wild to see a classic trick exposed for laughs.
David Todd
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Quote:
On Nov 15, 2021, Basil wrote:
Scott Green has a routine where he exposes the Nielsen Vanishing Coke bottle to the audience in his book “Excellence in Family Magic”. If I remember correctly, his justification is that it’s already widely exposed. Which could be true; since there’s a magician going around and exposing it in his act. It’s a good book and I’m not trying to beat up on Mr. Green, but I wasn’t wild to see a classic trick exposed for laughs.



I think that's a typical lame excuse for exposing. "It was already exposed, so who cares if it's exposed more?" Really? Also, it's not his to expose. Just because someone else exposed it previously doesn't make it open season to expose it in perpetuity.

I want to add that I think Scott Green is a great performer , very funny (and I'm sure the book is worth reading) , but it is disappointing that he chooses to expose that item. I think sometimes what happens with certain tricks is that "familiarity breeds contempt" ; magicians are so familiar with certain old classics they tend to fall into the trap of thinking "oh, no one cares about that old thing (insert name of trick here), it's so old , everyone knows how that's done , might as well squeeze a few chuckles out of it." but not remembering (especially in the world of performing magic for children and family audiences) that to kids especially even old classics can be totally new and fresh. There's no reason to lessen the effect by exposing it.




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The great Gumbini
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Exposure is exposure regardless of the reason the exposure exists. There's only one right time to expose a magic effect and that time is never.

Good magic to all,


Eric
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Now fake exposure in my opinion is fine. That is where you come up with a complete nonsensical way of doing an effect that of course is extremely impossible and even the audience will realize that. And if you are doing it simply for laughs then coming up with a complete fake exposure scenario will Garner you much more laughs then actually exposing the effect.

Good magic to all,


Eric
Dannydoyle
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Here is Steve Martin at about 1:24:30 “exposing” a trick shuffle. https://youtu.be/zr3zTKmI__0

It is actually funny and doesn’t expose a *** thing.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
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