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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » All tied up! » » The Problem (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

MarkTripp
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Michigan
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I had intended at one time to write a column about this, but this seems a good place to share.

There is a core problem to Escapes and Escape Artists in general that must be addressed if your show is to "work" on all the levels a sucessful entertaining event must be.

The best way to begin, is to paint you a picture.

Imagine you are in a suburan town. You are at a strip mall, nothing fancy at all. The stage is a flat bed truck, and the neighborhood has seen better days. Clearly there is some sort of promotion going on so you walk up to watch.

A young man climbs up on to the flat bed, in tie and tails, steps to the microphone, puffs up his chest, sticks out his chin and proclaims:

"Ladies and Gentlemen, I the great whosit, am the only legitimate successor to the great Houdini! I and I alone am the only one who has mastered Houdini's escapes and I and I alone am the only man who can excape from anything! I challenge you to lock me in anything from which I can not escape..."

Here he tears off the sleves of this coat, just like he read Houdini did and says...

"I thank you for coming out the the grand opening of Joes Pizza shack and bowling alley, I shall now attempt to escape from....."


Got the picture? Can you tell what is wrong with it? Worse, I didn't make it up, it happened, I saw it.

When we understand the problem, our art and craft can take a major step forward.
SANTINI
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SANTINI
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Hi Mark,

Man, I could not agree more! My latest book on entertaining with escapes deals with this and many of the other points you have mentioned.

I am not trying to plug the book here but instead point out there are others who see things the same way.

Regards, Steve Santini
Dr_Stephen_Midnight
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SW Ohio, USA
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I've addressed this in "The Escapist Newsletter" and am still amused by escape artists (and magicians) who hawk the tired old "world's greatest" schtick.

This is old, hoary vaudeville hype and is totally out of date in the information age. Let's face it, more than one world's greatest ANYTHING is one too many...and by what yardstick? Even Guinness has ground a halt to escapology records due largely to the uncontrollable factors.

In this respect, magical arts are behind the times.
Who is the world's greatest comedian; the world's greatest singer; the world's greatest rock band? Doesn't seem to apply too well, does it?

There are hundreds of escapologists and thousands of magicians who do (or should) bring their own unique style to what they do.

Houdini clones are just that...clones (and underdeveloped ones at that), and using the 'world's greatest' hype is whipping the bones of a long-dead horse.

As for Houdini's official heir...that was Hardeen; he's dead now.

Come on, people, get off the world's greatest kick and start being yourselves. Make yourselves someone memorable, and not a pale image of a man who died in 1926! Despite what you're thinking, that WILL NOT make you famous! That will just make you another bitter also-ran!

As for those bound and determined to claim the "world's greatest escape artist" title: all of you get together and parachute into North Korea or Iran. First man out alive wins. Fair enough?

Steve
Dr. Lao: "Do you know what wisdom is?"
Mike: "No."
Dr. Lao: "Wise answer."
Riley
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Darlington UK
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..Or, as the late David DeVal put it:
"There's no point trying to be the NEW Houdini, the world hasn't finished with the OLD one yet.."
..and, it probably never will, not even in the case of Hardeen.
So . . be YOURSELVES, and if the audience don't like YOU as a person and performer, then maybe you're in the wrong business, no matter what props etc you might have. How will you know? You can expect repeat work offers from the same bookers!!! Smile

Best wishes

Riley
MarkTripp
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Michigan
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Well, beyond that, and you guys are dead on, lets think like the audience for a second:

Here is the new Houdini, opening a bowling alley????

How well do you think magic would go over if we challenged the audience to try and catch us at every movement?

If you "stick your finger in their eye" so to speak, they will have an answer. It doesn't matter to them if it is right, it just has to suit them and you are dismissed.

No one is EVER going to believe you are better than Houdini, so I'd let that lie.

Moreover, especially if you are going to do an element of death escape, why should they care if you make it if you come off as an arrogent donkey?
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