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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » Give something to examine? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Jorge Gonzalvo
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It´s a big question that I´ve asked myself for a long time.

When you perform an effect, or still better, when you buy an effect, magic shops talk about that you can give them to examine after the act.

But...is that always correct?...I mean, that I don´t know if every time you CAN give something to examinate, do you HAVE to do it?

It´s a personal reflection and I still haven´t found an answer.

Cheers

Jorge
Mark Ennis
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I only perform with cards but my personal opinion is that you are never obligated to let people examine your props unless you want them to. Bottom line - it is your stuff.

When I perform, I usually give the deck away so even if I am using gaffs, I can switch them in and out when needed and give the deck away at the end. Also, usually during the performance the spectator handles the deck when they shuffle so alot of suspicion is eliminated.

This may not have really answered your question but when performing with cards, that's how and why I do what I do.
ME
Jorge Gonzalvo
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Really, I´m not talking about the obligation of giving something to examine (your deck included) but the question for me is to define if it´s good or not, to giving the prop to examine with that intention.

An example: you can give your prop to examine, because you end the effect clean, so the really thing I would like to discuss here, is what you prefer more and why.

Cheers
PatUmphrey
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I think the underlying question to identify is:

Do the spectators have any reason to suspect that the object I am using is gimmicked?

If the answer is yes, then you should allow them to examine.

I think it was Brad Burt that said something like "It's your stuff, they shouldn't examine anything". I think (and again, no disrespect intended, this is just my opinion) this is a poor choice because it leaves the spectator with a solution. If they have a solution and it is not diffused, they are satisfied and no longer amazed.


-Pat
“And you’ve got a perfectly logical reason for showing the cards like this” -Harry Lorayne

“Paging Mr. Herman” –Rafael Benetar
Chris A.
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IMHO, "examining" just slows down your routine and encourages the spectators to then want to examine nearly everything.

Why run if you're not being chased?
AKA Chris A.
Keepin' the Funk Alive
PatUmphrey
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Examining could slow down your routine, good point. However, if you have to choose between doing 5 things that leave the audience wondering about your props, or 3 things where they are satisfied, I'd go for the 3.


Also, I should clarify that it is not imperative to just arbitrarily hand things out and insist that they be examined. I just think it is important to realize when things are likely to be suspect to scrutiny, and under these circumstances it is best to diffuse this suspicion by allowing the item to be examined.

For instance, when I do a card set, I will, at some point, allow the spectators to shuffle the cards. After my card set, they no longer need to inspect the cards because they have already done so.

If one is opposed to handing out items voluntarily, I understand. I do not understand why anyone would REFUSE a request to examine a prop. If you are using a gimmicked prop that someone cannot examine, and furthermore it is something that will likely trigger a need for examination, then why bother doing it in the first place.



I think that spectators are MUCH smarter than most of us give them credit for, and moreover I think that they do not always speak up when they may be suspicious. Even if they are not SUSPICIOUS, they could still have a thought as to how it was done. In other words, we are chased more often than we think, and instead of running, we can diffuse the need for them to chase us.

To me, running when you aren't being chased is like the following:

A spectator selects a card and returns it to the center. The performer turns over the top card and says "Notice your card is not on the top"

He then shows the bottom card and says "And it is not on the bottom".

This is running when you are not being chased. IMHO allowing a prop to be examined is not running, it is just being FAIR.

-Pat
“And you’ve got a perfectly logical reason for showing the cards like this” -Harry Lorayne

“Paging Mr. Herman” –Rafael Benetar
RandyWakeman
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Quote:
On 2002-08-20 07:31, Jorge Gonzalvo wrote:
Really, I´m not talking about the obligation of giving something to examinate (your deck included) but the question for me is to define if it´s good or not, to giving the prop to examinate with that intention.


Don Alan felt that is was amatuerish and generally bad. I agree, for the most part.

It can slow down your show (as others have stated), is not entertaining, and sets bad precedent. If you make a "big deal" out of examination, the first time something is not examined can set off alarm bells.

Far better to have the audience handle things in the context of a routine: place the deck on their hands, ask them to cut, and so forth. Count the coins, hand you the cups. That is implied "examination," yet not a declaration of it.

There are certain challenge effects that require it. Perhaps a packing box escape, or metamorphisis. Even in the latter, who "examines" the sack? It is rare.

Examination calls attention that something may not be what it is- why? Back to Don Alan, certainly he would ask folks "to look inside the cup, to make sure no one is hiding." Yet, showing an object as empty is not "examination."

Normally, it detracts and is to be avoided. Often, it has nothing to do with the effect at hand. Let say a card was signed, and appears "in an impossible location." What benefit would examination give you?

The are exceptions that prove the rule, but audience management and directing the ebb and flow of your routine dictate that the "examine this" time be held to a minimum.
PatUmphrey
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Randy-

I agree in that it can interrupt the pacing of the routine. As you mention allowing the spectator to cut the cards, etc. I consider this to be examining (implicitly), and I consider it to be necessary in some routines. It still serves the purpose of cancelling the spectators need to examine anything. (In other words, if they have held the coins in their hand, or cut the cards themselves, they are less likely to assume that the prop is phony).

However, suppose you are in a close up show, and someone asks to inspect a prop. IMHO, saying NO will definitely detract from the magic (and yes, immediately handing it out could also ruin the show). Perhaps saying something like "yes, after the show" would be appropriate?

-Pat
“And you’ve got a perfectly logical reason for showing the cards like this” -Harry Lorayne

“Paging Mr. Herman” –Rafael Benetar
RandyWakeman
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Don Alan said just that: "No."

The examination syndrome seems to be, in large measure, a result of magicians with guilty consciences.

If it happens to the point of disruption, I would question what is being done that looks so phony as to compel the question.

I use no props as a matter of course, yet allow no examination. Cries of "can I see that?" is a form of heckling. Those were always quickly dismissed by Heba Haba and other workers by saying, "if you want to tricks, get your own show."
PatUmphrey
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I am in the Tamariz camp, that you have to leave them with no real options. If they find something that, to them, is a solution, they are satisfied and they are not as amazed as they should be.

If you have done things properly, spectators are not as likely to question your props. Having the prop handed out (whether for a shuffle of a deck, counting of coins, etc.) is an easy enough thing to incorporate into a performance, and it will add conviction by removing any doubt of the legitimacy of the prop.

Taking care of this suspicion beforehand is ideal because (again, without "running") you are preventing any suspicion from taking place. I am not suggesting that you need to hand out the deck after every effect. I am suggesting that having the deck shuffled prior to, will eliminate most suspicion about the prop before it becomes a disruption.

There are a great number of laypeople that are aware of trick cards, stacks, etc. By allowing one shuffle, you kill all of that suspicion whether or not it exists. (And it wont hurt your show).

I also think that in a walkaround setting it is more laid-back and there is more flexibility in regards to allowing examination. Clearly in a close-up show it could be disruptive to toss out props all the time.


-Pat
“And you’ve got a perfectly logical reason for showing the cards like this” -Harry Lorayne

“Paging Mr. Herman” –Rafael Benetar
Thomas Wayne
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Quote:
On 2002-08-20 11:27, RandyWakeman wrote:
Don Alan felt that is was amatuerish and generally bad. I agree, for the most part.

[...]


Yes, but Don Alan ALSO tended to leave a prop on the table when he finished a routine. His pace and timing was such that the audience would rarely consider even TOUCHING a prop, let alone examine one... but they WERE right there if one was so inclined. Consequently, no one ever chased Alan because he wasn't running.

I personally think handing a prop for examination is "bad theatre" and I would have to think long and hard about including a routine that required examination to sell the effect. However, I do like to occasionally let an audience member "grab" a prop when it doesn't matter. A prime example of this is when I do Bob Kohler's "Ultimate 3Fly" in a close-up setting. I begin the routine by removing three silver dollars from a small wallet as I explain their significance and why I have carried them around with me for many years. At the end of the routine I start to put the coins back into the wallet (cleaning up in the process) but then, as an "afterthought" drop the three coins and the wallet off to the side on the table as I reach for a deck of cards or whatever the next routine calls for. Every once in a while someone will dive on the coins and/or wallet, which is fine with me (I apparently don't even notice that they've done so) because there is nothing for them to find. It only lasts a second anyway, as I am well into the next presentation by then.

Regards,
Thomas Wayne
MOST magicians: "Here's a quarter, it's gone, you're an idiot, it's back, you're a jerk, show's over." Jerry Seinfeld
RandyWakeman
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Quote:

Yes, but Don Alan ALSO tended to leave a prop on the table when he finished a routine.


True- but for a reason other than "examination." The reason Don Alan left his dice cup and chop cups on the table, stuffed with overflowing loads, was so that the impossibility of the productions would strengthen and linger.

He would not leave his Invisible Deck / Clyde Deck, or quarter (from cig thru) on in play, as there was no further impact to be gained from it.
Uli Weigel
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I agree with most of what has been said so far. However, I would like to add, that there are some effects, for which a certain extent of "examinition" is essential to be convincing.

Old masters had spectators on the stage to examine the metamorphosis box, the gun for the bullet catch, and other miracles.

I have seen many magicians performing the Linking Rings. Nobody had the rings examined, they just showed them, false counted them and did their routine. I would say, any ten year old with normal intelligence can tell you, how the ring trick essentially works. A have always asked myself, if some magicians are only fooling themselves, if they don't let the spectators examine the rings.

What do you think? What effects need examination to be really convincing?
PatUmphrey
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In my opinion (as I mentioned earlier), we need to be able to identify what effects are likely to cause the spectator to say "Hey, that thing is fake, and I want to see it", and we need to find a way to dispel that suspicion.

Quote:

I have seen many magicians performing the Linking Rings. Nobody had the rings examined, they just showed them, false counted them and did their routine. I would say, any ten year old with normal intelligence can tell you, how the ring trick essentially works.



Well said.
“And you’ve got a perfectly logical reason for showing the cards like this” -Harry Lorayne

“Paging Mr. Herman” –Rafael Benetar
Jorge Gonzalvo
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Great answers from everybody!

Thanks all!!

They have added an interesting point of view to me!

Best

Jorge
Victor Brisbin
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Coincidentally, the only time I have had anybody grab anything, was when a spectator lifted up the edge of my close-up pad. (Don Alan pad by a certain Idaho magic purveyor.) For once, I couldn't help parroting a line I heard Don Alan say on the television show, "That's Incredible": "Don't look under mine, I don't look under yours!" I typically wouldn't say it, but everyone in the group enjoyed telling the gentleman to "keep his hands to himself." I love that pad, but it works better for the chop cup than for on-the-table card work.

It's best to convey the idea that while they SHOULDN'T touch the props, they COULD, and they would find nothing.
"It is better to practice a little than talk a lot." - Muso Kokushi
Hoelderlin
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Ancient Romans used to say "excusatio non petita, incusatio manifesta" (If you excuses yourself, you will show you feeling accusated). I think that giving away props it's not a good thing from a psychological point of view. The main reason is that this creates in your character an attitude of defense, that can stimulate an attack by someone of the audience; another point is that this does not automatically clear in the audience the suspect your prop is not tricked: they could think than the secret is simply well hided (that sometimes it is exactly the truth...); another point is that, badly managed, this offer to perform under "control condition" can be perceived not as a demonstration of honesty (in fact, if you are performing a trick you have to fool them in a way or an other, and they do know it..), but sound as "check, check, I'll fool you anyway" and causing a dangerous challenge attitude. Another (pheew!) point is that allowing someone touch your things cause him enter your proxemic sphere, and you risk to lose part of your control on him and your charisma.
I think that you should have your props checked by a member of the audience only if the suspect the prop is gaffed would otherwise kill the effect (for example, I have a lock that I give to check to the audience, but after I leave it to them for the whole effect, so they will not think i will push some hidden button ore something else).
Anyway, the most important thing is that if you give something to someone for examining it it's because *you* choose to do it for theatrical reasons: if you give it to check because the audience *asked* it, there is something that does'nt work in your performance. If you *control* your audience and people feels entertained and not fooled and enjoys suspension of disbelief this should never happen. Roberto Giobbi performs an effect in which, after some tricks, he pretends to give away as a gift his deck to a spectator. He performs some not-card stuff and after he tell to the spectator: "Excuse me, could you give me once more the deck I gave you?" and with these cards he performs a miracle, because.. the deck is STACKED! During his lecture I asked him: "What if when you give your deck "as a gift" the spectator begins to toy with it?". He answered: "*To me*, this does not happen". And It is a good answer (by the way, to me it would happen, oh yes...)

Excuse my prolixity.
Hölderlin (Massimo Manca) - Circolo Amici della Magia - Turin - Italy.
Lance Pierce
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Many interesting comments in this thread, and I think I see that more magicians than not are prone to discouraging spectators from reaching out to touch the props when unasked. This is an issue aside from the original one about handing out things to be examined at all, and I have to admit to a small bit of puzzlement over it.

Spectators can reach to grab or ask to see something for a number of reasons. Perhaps, if the magician has - intentionally or otherwise - set up challenge conditions, the spectator is only falling into what he or she perceives is the game: catch the magician. Or perhaps some spectators are simply more curious and less self-conscious than others...these people aren't being malicious; they're just being inquisitive, and there's nothing wrong with that. After all, we design our effects to baffle and stimulate this kind of reaction.

But more often than not, I find that the reason spectators reach out to look under mats or inside my jacket or up my sleeves is because they're fooled so badly that they forget themselves for the moment. After all, we can't hit someone with a strong mind-blowing effect (or even a moderate one, sometimes) and expect them to behave normally. We've just stripped their gears, after all, and to expect them to mind their place and be good boys and girls is sometimes not realistic at all -- nor do I think I want them to. I want them to be turned upside down. I desire that they lose themselves. I relish in their excited forgetting of who they are for the moment.

So, most of the time I don't see this type of action on their part as heckling or anything to be defensive about in any way -- and that's how I find many magicians to be about this kind of thing: defensive. No, instead, I regard it as flattering. If I take a lit cigarette and cause it to vanish in my bare hand, and the spectator can't help himself but to reach out and look inside my coat or up my sleeve, then I think I must have done a darned good job, and I let him look inside to his heart's content. Sometimes I'll even ask if I can return the favor and start rifling through HIS jacket, and this is a good time to produce a fan of twenty dollar bills or something like that.

There are times when in the middle of a routine, someone will reach out and pick up a prop to look at it. Rarely is this ever a prop that won't withstand scrutiny, because I try to arrange my routines so that if a prop can't be looked at and it must be set down for a moment, I'll place it in a "guarded" position on the table, just outside of comfortable reach of the spectator and perhaps slightly shielded by my body or my arm. It's certainly close enough that if I see a hand moving toward it, I can pretend not to notice THEM, but simply reach down and pick up the prop as I keep talking, only to set it down a moment later somewhere else more protected, all apparently completely unaware that someone was trying to pick it up.

So when a spectator actually does pick up a prop that I don't mind them picking up, it's no problem for me to either keep going or to pause and look at them slightly confused. When he looks up, say something like, "Should I be doing something about right now?" This is a somewhat nonsensical line that generally gets a nice laugh -- even from the spectator in question -- and it's NOT a putdown in any way. Also, it doesn't tear up the flow of the routine...not that a flow is all that hard to regain anyway. If I've decided to simply ignore them and keep going while they look at the prop and they still have it when I get to the point where I need it, I simply hold out my hand, and they hand it to me. No problem, no trouble, no insult, and no foul.

Now, the original question seemed to be about whether it's a problem to hand out props to be examined in a routine. Well, certain routines, especially strong challenge routines, call for it. Most routines, however, are not that type, but we may still wish to emphasize that a certain prop is okay. We don't have to actually direct a spectator to examine it; we can simply hand it to her and say, "Hold on to this for a moment, will you?" If we really do want her to give it a bit closer look, as for an odd item like an Okito box, then we can add, "Go ahead, step inside and take a look around." While she's doing that, we're talking to the OTHER spectators, and we return to her later to get our prop back. Low pressure, low key, very, very effective. These type of strategies work differently than the direct command to "examine this box." The direct command is a heavy-handed action, meaning we are trying to convince the spectator. The low-key approach is a softer way of doing it that allows the spectator to convince herself. This is a very important idea in magic: If you try to tell a spectator something, they may or may not believe you, but if a spectator comes to her own conclusion, she'll argue with you to her dying day if you try to tell her otherwise. So, quite often, we're better off not trying to get people to accept what we're saying, but arranging things so that they think these things on their own.

Okay, enough for my soapbox now.

Cya,


TCR
Chessmann
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Goodness, lots of long posts here! ;^)

When I think about this, I have to look at

1) the audience (location and number of folks)
2) the effect
3) how good am I at redirecting the audience's focus

I mean, I think there is no blanket right or wrong answer here. It all depends on the situation and the magician.

Also, some magicians can get away with more simply because of presentation!
My ex-cat was named "Muffin". "Vomit" would be a better name for her. AKA "The Evil Ball of Fur".
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