Oh man, so yesterday I posted a routine for a card split routine. Part of the routine you expose a double envelope and it got me thinking about what is exposure. To me 99% of the magic that’s exposed doesn’t matter…well doesn’t matter in the context it’s exposed. I think magic that’s exposed in the moment it’s being done is the 1% that matters.
Ok, now for some of my general thoughts on exposure. I think magicians are the worst at exposure. They routinely give away “secrets” during their shows without realizing it. How they do it is when they cancel methods. For example, simply saying “no stooges” or “we haven’t prearranged anything” in a mentalism routine exposes a viable method.
Other ways things are exposed unintentionally through cancelling methods are things like, “check out the box, there’s no trap doors, mirrors, hidden assistants…” That tips three methods right there. Or at the end of a prediction when the magician/mentalist tears apart the envelope and says, “there’s nothing else in here” also exposes a method.
In the card split routine that I posted, I’m exposing a double envelope. I’d argue this method is exposed by soo many performers in the context of cancelling methods, it’s really not a secret. Also, it’s a logical method for any audience member to think of, to have an envelope with more than one prediction in it. That’s why it’s a common thing that magicians or mentalists expose to eliminate a method.
If your trick relies simply on an A/B prediction where the mystery hinges upon you simply opening one side or another of an envelope, your trick probably isn’t very magically sound. You need to add a lot more layers to your trick to make it a decent trick.
Last night my wife and I went out to see the movie Nightmare Alley. It’s about a guy that ends up working in a sideshow and learns to be a mentalist, who ends up making it fairly big, but then gets involved in some shifty stuff and his success ends up crashing down.
It’s interesting what you focus on when you see things in your industry portrayed in movies. The little thing that drove me nuts was in the sideshow scenes, the banners weren’t tied right, or well. When I worked with the sideshow last summer, I would have had to retie them all if I did them! It’s a small detail, and hardly anyone would fixate on that.
The other thing was the mentalist’s name in the movie was Stanton Carlisle, who is a mentalist and I have a couple of his books. I did a little bit of research and it looks like he insists that’s his name, and he didn’t take it from the book Nightmare Alley. Stanton would have been about 20 when the book came out.
Back at the end of October I had won some of Al Koran‘s ashes from the Ken Klosterman auction that Potter and Potter did. About a month ago they arrived,. I got a display, a sealed deck of Al Koran cards and a vial with some of his ashes.
Recently I got a shipping notice from Potter and Potter and I had to wait a few days for the mysterious package to arrive. It was documentation from Ted Lesley about him giving Ken some of the ashes and a little bit about the story behind it!
This letter wasn’t part of auction’s listing, but it was very cool of Potter and Potter to send it to me when the letter turned up!
There are some amazing tricks in magic, one of them is the lottery prediction. It’s the answer to the question everyone gets (even if you aren’t a mentalist), which is “can you tell me the winning lottery numbers“.
There are a lot of solutions, and the best I think is Cesaral’s CUPP. The cool thing about that is at the end the audience is left with a physical lottery ticket they can keep. Right now I think there are several that use a picture of you holding the lottery ticket. Honestly I don’t think this has the impact of a physical ticket, because the easiest way for an audience to guess how it works is actually how it works.
This picture came across my facebook feed of someone doing a digital lottery prediction:
Here’s the problem with it. He’s using a prop (lottery ticket) that everyone is familiar with, but he’s using it wrong. Tons of people play the lottery, it’s a very popular game and because of that people know the rules. In Powerball you can only play numbers up to 69 for the first five numbers. That means that the 85 on that ticket would be impossible to play. Then the last number, the 99 is in the power ball position, which you can only play up to the number 26.
There have to be people who notice that. It’s a simple thing to fix by giving people a number range. I did the lottery prediction in my show for a couple of years, it’s not hard. That little bit of realism makes the trick soo much stronger.
That’s something that drives me nuts, when someone uses a prop to customize their show, but they know nothing of the prop. Look at how most people do the mismade flag…it’s very disrespectful to the flag.
If you use a prop that is something in real life, learn about it!
It’s the little things that when people notice, I think it elevates your show. Before Darren Brown’s show, I noticed some posters in the theater that seemed out of place. Well, they played a role in the show, but their role wasn’t really IN THE SHOW, but after the show. They reinforced something that happened. … Continue reading “Adding a Bonus Trick”
It’s the little things that when people notice, I think it elevates your show. Before Darren Brown’s show, I noticed some posters in the theater that seemed out of place. Well, they played a role in the show, but their role wasn’t really IN THE SHOW, but after the show. They reinforced something that happened.
There was a very cool moment for some of the people that attended the show as we were leaving the theater. When walking down the stairs from the balcony to leave the theater, people noticed the posters and started commenting on how they were a part of the show. It was almost like the people got a “bonus trick” on the way out of the show.
I’m a huge fan of things that tell your audience that it’s not a bunch of tricks you threw together. That your put thought into your show. The easy way to do that is through call backs, when you reference things that happened earlier in the show later in the show. In magic, you can do more that just reference, they can have a role in what happens later in the show. Darren Brown’s show has this happen in the body of the show, but using it for something that people notice while they are leaving the theater is GENIUS!
Darren Brown’s show is one I’ve wanted to see live for a long time. I got to see it last night on Broadway in New York City and it was amazing! I rarely give standing ovations to magic shows, however this is one that I did and enthusiastically did. Nothing in the show “fooled me”, … Continue reading “Secrets…”
Darren Brown’s show is one I’ve wanted to see live for a long time. I got to see it last night on Broadway in New York City and it was amazing! I rarely give standing ovations to magic shows, however this is one that I did and enthusiastically did. Nothing in the show “fooled me”, but it was all masterfully done and his ending would have gotten me if I wasn’t already aware of one of the principles that was happening.
One of the things that I found really interesting was how he managed to make a trick that was a transposition work within his character as a mentalist. I found this really cool and interesting, and what made it work was that there was only one part of the transposition. There was never a vanish, just a reproduction. I think that also gave it a lot more impact within the context of his show.
I love it when I see something that’s so outside of the “rules”, and the person makes it work and makes it work big! My only complaint about Darren’s show is that I don’t get to complain about any of it!
There is nothing worse than a magician asking to borrow money from the audience and then waiting. I’ve experienced this from the stage as the performer and from the audience watching a show, it’s rarely ever fun to watch. The problem with borrowing money is that it takes forever, and sometimes it looks like someone … Continue reading “PreShow for Non Mentalists…”
There is nothing worse than a magician asking to borrow money from the audience and then waiting. I’ve experienced this from the stage as the performer and from the audience watching a show, it’s rarely ever fun to watch.
The problem with borrowing money is that it takes forever, and sometimes it looks like someone else is going to do it so you don’t dig. In the best case scenario the performer asks for to borrow a dollar. Someone immediately takes out their wallet, finds the appropriate bill, holds it up and volunteers it. In this scenario it’ll take 8-10 seconds.
In a more common scenario the performer will ask to borrow money. There will be a pause while everyone looks around to see if someone else is offering it. Finally someone will say they have it, then take out their purse and start digging for their wallet. Once they find the wallet, they’ll start digging for a bill. In this more common scenario it’s 90+ seconds to get the borrowed bill. That’s a lot of dead time!
Until recently I didn’t do magic with borrowed money because there’s too much dead time. Now what I do is I put a dollar in my pocket and go out into the audience before the show. I introduce myself to someone in the audience and I tell explain that I need to borrow a dollar from someone in the show, and ask if they have a dollar. I then explain how big of a time suck it is to borrow money, so if they have a dollar can the take it out now and keep it somewhere accessible and to offer it when I ask. If they do not have a dollar bill, I give them the one in my pocket.
Setting up that person to give me the dollar bill really makes a huge difference in the flow of the show.
Last night I went out and saw a mentalist perform, and one of the things that stood out to me was how much audio can affect a show. I guess what I mean is that audio problems can really affect the show in a negative way. When sound works correctly, you don’t notice it as … Continue reading “Mic Technique…”
Last night I went out and saw a mentalist perform, and one of the things that stood out to me was how much audio can affect a show. I guess what I mean is that audio problems can really affect the show in a negative way. When sound works correctly, you don’t notice it as an audience member, however when it fails it’s very obvious.
Let’s start with one of the things that I hate, and that’s starting a show by saying, “can you hear me?”. That’s the worst opening line ever. You should just start talking and the sound guy, or audience will let you know if that can’t hear you.
The next thing is to be aware of your mic. The mentalist last night wore lapel mic clipped to his shirt (not jacket) at right in the middle of his chest. It was much lower than most people would wear it on their jacket. During the show he kept reaching into his inner jacket pocket and rubbing his arm across it making a loud scratching noise. For people in the audience, this is not comfortable on the ears.
The moral of the story is if you are doing a real show, and charging real admission, then get a real mic and learn to use it. The audience will never notice this, and that’s a good thing!
This week has been a very magicy week for me. With going to see Michael Carbonaro, to my friend from Ireland, and tonight I’m going to see a mentalist named Eran Raven. One of the pieces of advice I tell magicians is to go out and see all the shows that you can see. Being … Continue reading “Magicy Week!”
This week has been a very magicy week for me. With going to see Michael Carbonaro, to my friend from Ireland, and tonight I’m going to see a mentalist named Eran Raven. One of the pieces of advice I tell magicians is to go out and see all the shows that you can see.
Being exposed to what is out there really contributes to your growth as a performer. You will notice trends, then its up to you to either embrace the trend, or stay away from it. Either way you know what the herd of magicians is doing.
For example one of the big trends in magic right now is having a prediction reveal on a scroll that you unroll. It something that plays really big and is typically referenced during the show. Darren Brown, Penn and Teller, and tons of other magicians use this. Normally it’s used for a confabulation type routine.
Personally I’ve always liked the confabulation premise, but wanted mine to look different. Knowing the scroll reveal is popular, I looked for another way to do it. I ended up with doing an audio reveal from a recording. It’s got a different feel for the audience, so if they’ve seen someone do the scroll reveal, it’s a different trick!