set the bar too high

Discuss your favorite platform magic and illusions.
reburbia
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set the bar too high

Postby reburbia » March 10th, 2016, 6:56 pm

Performed a five minute rope routine at a charity last year. It was a mix of Tabary and Merlin. I don't mean to stroke my ego, but it absolutely demolished the audience. I had to stop several times just to let the applause die down, and it really made me regret only practicing rope magic for the last few years, instead of my entire life. Even a year later, I have audience members coming up to me commenting on the performance

Anyways, I have had a lot of pressure from the charity hosts to perform again. I really want to do something, but everything feels so anti-climatic after such a stunningly visual rope routine. I was considering Celebrity Smart ass, or even Bloom's Strong box routine. These are brilliant routines, and I am very grateful these magicians have shared them. However, I just do not see them hitting nearly as strongly as my previous years performance, regardless of my presentation.

Anyone have any suggestions? As much as I love performing, I am considering just not joining this year because I am afraid I set the bar too high


*also, special shout out to Richard Kaufman for introducing me to Dr Sawa and Jean Merlin; those two minds really expanded my magical paradigm
"My counterbalance to... noisy and orgy-like magic videos....one has to re-look at this video to know what had exactly happened. Screaming and running around audience....convince everyone that the particular trick was fantastic." LF

performer
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Re: set the bar too high

Postby performer » March 10th, 2016, 7:09 pm

You must be doing something else besides the trick to be getting such a good response. I am surprised to hear that a 5 minute rope routine got you a great reaction. In most cases I would think it a recipe for disaster. I detest long winded rope routines with several million phases as it becomes convoluted and confusing. I believe strongly in the Max Malini dictum of "cut the rope once and restore it"

However, one cannot argue with success and you have plainly had some success. But I would like to know why. It would be wonderful if you have a video you could show us of that show but I suspect you haven't. It has to be something in the way you present it. I can't believe the trick alone has done it. I have seen these convoluted rope routines fall flat with laymen too many times. And I assume your performance was for laymen?

Were you using a lot of comedy to get such a good reaction? Or was there something else? I am very intrigued to know your secret regarding this.

But to answer your question. I would do the rope trick again this year. You may well have a different audience and even if you don't I bet they will be happy to see the same trick again. They probably won't remember the various phases you did anyway a whole year later.

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: set the bar too high

Postby Richard Kaufman » March 10th, 2016, 7:18 pm

Mark, I don't think you've ever seen Jean Merlin perform. His rope material is so far above anything anyone else but Dr. Sawa is doing that it's unbelievable.

If you want a killer 5 minute routine. Terry Seabrooke's Burnt and Resorted Bill will get the reaction you want.
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reburbia
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Re: set the bar too high

Postby reburbia » March 10th, 2016, 9:52 pm

Mark: Thank you for your thoughts and suggestion. I appreciate your skepticism because, like you, I have seen some absolutely cringe-worthy rope acts (e.g. Derek Hughes final AGT performance). I often joke that had I grown up in France around the likes of Merlin, I would have gone to magic school instead of medical school. Unfortunately I did not tape the performance. I spent a lot of time marinating on the theory classics ("Strong Magic", "Comic Toolbox," "Scripting Magic", etc) but it was clear that the illusions themselves, and not my words, hit the hardest.

Mr. Kaufman: Seabrooke's routine sounds hilarious, and a better choice for me than anything else I was entertaining. I just ordered Seabrooke's book, and I think you might have - once again - come to my rescue. I acquired a Forbes Portfolio last week so your suggestion comes at literally the perfect time


An artist is never satisfied so if anyone else has any thoughts or suggestions (even months down the line), please do not hesitate to share
"My counterbalance to... noisy and orgy-like magic videos....one has to re-look at this video to know what had exactly happened. Screaming and running around audience....convince everyone that the particular trick was fantastic." LF

Bill Mullins
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Re: set the bar too high

Postby Bill Mullins » March 10th, 2016, 10:59 pm

If you like the continuity of another rope trick, look into Steve Bedwell's "In Over Your Head." It's a combination of Cut and Restored Rope and Paper Balls Over the Head. Very entertaining, and Bedwell's booklet tells you everything about doing it.

reburbia
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Re: set the bar too high

Postby reburbia » March 10th, 2016, 11:22 pm

Hahahaha, Bill that is supremely clever! I would have never thought of applying paper-balls-over-head to rope magic. Thank you for sharing that gem

I'm having difficultly locating Bedwell's booklet; but I'm sure I will be well rewarded once my search is over
"My counterbalance to... noisy and orgy-like magic videos....one has to re-look at this video to know what had exactly happened. Screaming and running around audience....convince everyone that the particular trick was fantastic." LF

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Re: set the bar too high

Postby performer » March 10th, 2016, 11:34 pm

I see that I only partially gave the Malini quote. I forgot the last bit so I'll do it again. He said, "Cut the rope once and restore it-that's enough!" I do it twice and I hope he wasn't watching from the spirit world. However, as soon as a rope routine goes into 3 minutes or longer I am turned off immediately. Phase after phase after interminable phase I find to be torture beyond the imagination.

I did a search for both Dr Sawa and Jean Merlin as a result of Richard's remark but luckily for both of them I never found any video clips of them doing the rope trick so I will have to reserve judgement. However, I have seen the Tabary Rope trick and others of that ilk including one of a very noted name in magic going on for ever and ever and ever with the bloody rope trick and it got to a point where I was hoping he might hang himself with the damn thing and be done with it.

I will accept that reburbia got a great reaction but I am puzzled over the matter. There must be something more to it than that. I can't accept the trick alone did it if it took five minutes to do it. Was there some presentational aspect that stood out? Or was the audience composed of magicians? If so that would explain it.

I am merely curious---that's all. I think there has to be a missing ingredient somewhere.

reburbia
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Re: set the bar too high

Postby reburbia » March 11th, 2016, 12:40 am

it got to a point where I was hoping he might hang himself with the damn thing and be done with it.


Haha, thanks for the laugh. To answer your question, it was a layman audience of approximately 1500, ranging from kids to senior citizens. It is possible that my comedic/oratorical background was the secret sauce, but I'm reluctant to give myself that credit. I also had a difficult time finding videos of Sawa/Merlin performing. There are a few videos of other magicians performing their work (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trWmSqyW7DQ#t=3m)

Your confusion is entirely understandable. When I first watched Tabary a decade ago, I was fooled but it did have a "phase after phase" feeling, instead of a coherent story that is clearly going somewhere. I think you have to be very careful and have a purposeful stage presence (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytqI9QXWvco#t=20s)
"My counterbalance to... noisy and orgy-like magic videos....one has to re-look at this video to know what had exactly happened. Screaming and running around audience....convince everyone that the particular trick was fantastic." LF

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Q. Kumber
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Re: set the bar too high

Postby Q. Kumber » March 11th, 2016, 5:19 am

I'm reminded by the story told by a magician whose name I don't remember from the days before you could record TV shows.

He knew that a magician would be on TV that night but as he had a gig, he would miss it so he asked his girlfriend to watch the show for him. Upon returning he asked, "What did he do?"
"He did the rope trick."
"OK, did he cut it, stretch it, have three ropes that became the same size, or what."
"He did the one you all do, the rope trick."

Jack Shalom
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Re: set the bar too high

Postby Jack Shalom » March 11th, 2016, 8:36 am

reburbia wrote:
I think you have to be very careful and have a purposeful stage presence (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytqI9QXWvco#t=20s)


Uggh. I don't know whether it's worse to think the assistant was freely selected or a stooge. Either way, just awful. Pop Haydn's linking ring teaching bit is so much better--and more respectful.

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Re: set the bar too high

Postby performer » March 11th, 2016, 8:55 am

Jack Shalom wrote:
reburbia wrote:
I think you have to be very careful and have a purposeful stage presence (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytqI9QXWvco#t=20s)


Uggh. I don't know whether it's worse to think the assistant was freely selected or a stooge. Either way, just awful. Pop Haydn's linking ring teaching bit is so much better--and more respectful.


Indeed. Of course it is all a matter of taste. Some people will like it and some people won't. I don't. I find it a little "creepy" but then I am an old fuddy duddy and that kind of thing turns me off. And to be fair the woman seemed to enjoy herself. It is just not for me though.

reburbia
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Re: set the bar too high

Postby reburbia » March 11th, 2016, 9:36 am

Well Copperfield has used a LOT of stooges, but I was guessing this was an authentic volunteer. I agree it was creepy, especially when compared with Pop's classy persona. I was just trying to find a example of a rope routine that was not simply "phase after phase after phase." Sorry for offending anyone

I also have to agree with Q Kumber that even if I made significant changes to my rope routine, many would simply say "well he just did that rope thing again." However, the Bedwell routine sounds like a large departure from anything I did last year
"My counterbalance to... noisy and orgy-like magic videos....one has to re-look at this video to know what had exactly happened. Screaming and running around audience....convince everyone that the particular trick was fantastic." LF

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Q. Kumber
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Re: set the bar too high

Postby Q. Kumber » March 11th, 2016, 9:54 am

Let me also add a story told to me by both (the late) Brian Glover and Walt Lees, both respected magicians.

Along with a lay judge, Brian and Walt were judging a magic society competition. One competitor did Fibre Optics (a là Richard Sanders and George Sands) with panache and presentation. Another did the Edward Victor Rope Routine - well - but with little presentation.

When the judges met Brian and Walt were enthusiastic about the Fibre Optics guy. But not the lay judge who figured the Edward Victor guy was far superior. She explained, "But he really cut the rope with a scissors, the other guy didn't have scissors and only pretended to."

Leo Garet
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Re: set the bar too high

Postby Leo Garet » March 11th, 2016, 10:20 am

Brian told me the story, too. Walt, possibly. Can't recall.

In my routine I never cut the rope, so I suppose that gives me licence to run the thing for as long as I can be bothered. I suppose.

The C&R rope is my all-time favourite non-card trick. Starting with string and a Boys Book Of Magic, it’s trundled along for ever, dodging and weaving, teeming and ladling and has become entirely mine own small trifle.

However, the moves and (non) cuts are the standard things; so what it boils down to is a bog standard C&R. I like it, I can do it and it goes well.

Like a lot of Kids’ routines that develop and extend through years of use, my rope routine runs to about five minutes. It’s not too long. And I don’t care what Malini said, whoever he is. ;)
Oh, wait, isn’t he the chap who said he’d wait for half an hour for the “moment”? Very concise, I’m sure. :D :) ;)

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Re: set the bar too high

Postby performer » March 11th, 2016, 10:30 am

I had never heard of this Fibre Optics thing until now so I checked it out. Now that I have seen it I can confirm that the Edward Victor version is FAR superior. The trouble with this Fibre thing, plus the Tabary version plus the partrige in a pear tree versions is that they are all what Murray the escapologist used to mutter darkly, "Conjuring for conjurers"

I haven't seen Leo's 5 minute routine so in fairness I am not yet in a position to say how ghastly it is. He implies that he is doing it for children so I suppose if that is the case he may be using "bits of business" which have entertainment value and this can lengthen the trick. After all my own egg bag routine for children takes ten minutes to do. However, I am talking about entertaining adults with a five minute rope routine with multiple phases. I would have to see it to believe it. I would not advise such a thing as a general rule but the proof is in the pudding. If it works-it works. However, I would need to see that it works for myself. If it is working it will have nothing to do with the rope trick itself which has a tendency to be bloody awful if it goes on for more than three minutes (and even that is pushing it).

Incidentally if a cups and balls routine goes on for more than three minutes the odds are that it is crap too.

reburbia
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Re: set the bar too high

Postby reburbia » March 11th, 2016, 10:48 am

Mark could you give an example of your favorite lengthy performances? Penn, Teller, and Latimer have all performed a cups/balls routine for over 3 minutes on TV to thunderous applause: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJN1iMOfgAc
"My counterbalance to... noisy and orgy-like magic videos....one has to re-look at this video to know what had exactly happened. Screaming and running around audience....convince everyone that the particular trick was fantastic." LF

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Re: set the bar too high

Postby performer » March 11th, 2016, 10:59 am

I don't trust the thunderous applause on television programmes. They are so fake. They remind me of L and L audiences. Still, I will take a look and render my verdict on the matter.

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Re: set the bar too high

Postby performer » March 11th, 2016, 11:04 am

I just watched the first 18 seconds and listened to the introduction. I am already biased against the gentleman. As soon as I hear the words "World Champion Magician" and the award is from some silly magic competition or other it is usually a very bad sign indeed. Still, I shall stifle my bias and try to watch it objectively and think like a layman rather than as a magician. One moment please.

reburbia
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Re: set the bar too high

Postby reburbia » March 11th, 2016, 11:08 am

Well, Latimer did win the the FISM 2003 Grand Prix, so I think that's why they used that language. But I understand your aversion to the title.

And I echo your thoughts on the L&L studios. A clunky magician surrounded by 20 giggling supermodels....LOL
"My counterbalance to... noisy and orgy-like magic videos....one has to re-look at this video to know what had exactly happened. Screaming and running around audience....convince everyone that the particular trick was fantastic." LF

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Re: set the bar too high

Postby performer » March 11th, 2016, 11:26 am

I watched it. I liked it. And it doesn't go too far over my three minute limit. It runs three minutes and 40 seconds. I will forgive him the 40 seconds. I have no idea where that kind of thing can be done though. What kind of venue can you do that stuff in apart from TV and Magic Conventions? Mind you, I have been told that people do this kind of thing nowadays in large theatres with projector screens. Perhaps that is the wave of the future. I don't think that routine would be anywhere near as effective done right among real people working up close using patter. Incidentally I always thought Vernon went on too long with the cups and balls too. I think he went four minutes or so.

The only exceptions to this seem to be buskers who take ten minutes to do the cups and balls. But here the trick is usually secondary to the comedy .

Leo Garet
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Re: set the bar too high

Postby Leo Garet » March 11th, 2016, 12:58 pm

At no point in my previous post did I mention that I performed the trick for children. I merely made reference to Kids’ as being an example where routines often become longer with the passage of time. Browsers, experts and analysts are responsible for drawing inferences.

However, as always, I bow to superiority. So with immediate effect I have expunged my C&R Routine from my thoughts and repertoire. It is clearly unsuitable and I have been labouring under all sorts of delusions these more than several years..
Until I am able to acquire the required Authority in writing from Major Performer, that’s how it will remain. Considering our geographical situations, I fear that will not be very soon.
Relinquishing such an old favourite (almost a friend) will be some hardship, too. And the mere thought of having to abandon the adulation and autograph signing the routine never failed to generate over the aforementioned more than several years, even more so.

What I would say to Reburbia is not to be like me and resist yielding to such pressure; continue to use and polish the routine and repeat it in the next show. Because, staggeringly successful although it may be, it will be remembered as a “rope trick” and little else. Anyone who saw the first performance is likely to recall their enjoyment of it and relish the thought of seeing it again. If only to see if they can spot "the secret".
Five minutes is not too long if it works. If you’re got the Hits, keep on playing ’em.

Meanwhile I must get to the Magic Shop and see what they’ve got in the economy range that isn’t a svengali and is three minutes or less in duration. And that I can learn for this evening’s gig.

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Re: set the bar too high

Postby performer » March 11th, 2016, 2:09 pm

Poor Leo sounds distraught. However, all hope is not yet lost. I cannot condemn his interminable rope trick until I see evidence that it is as awful as he has now claimed it to be. I would advise that he does not give it up just yet until I have officially said that it is beyond redemption. I haven't got to that point yet. I cannot do so until I see evidence of people in the audience falling asleep or people developing a rope phobia. My cynicism regarding long winded rope tricks was a general antipathy to such horrors and not directly aimed at him personally. I have already stated that I shall take reburbia's word that he is getting great reaction from the trick and in fact I advised him to repeat it this year and not bother hunting new material on the grounds that "if it ain't broke then don't fix it" I merely wanted to know why it wasn't broke-that's all.

Once I see a video or some evidence that the routine is too long for inattentive souls like myself I will give you permission to abandon it. Until then I am afraid both you and your audiences will have to suffer or enjoy it whichever the truth of the matter may be.

reburbia
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Re: set the bar too high

Postby reburbia » March 20th, 2016, 5:16 pm

Bless you all for the advice; I would have been on a completely different tangent. I finally received Seabrooke's book and love it! It looks like it is going to be a lot of fun to perform. I'm still waiting for bedwell's book to arrive

A question came up reading this. What is the classiest way to ensure that the volunteer I select actually has a bill? I was originally going to just throw a paper ball in the audience, but I have heard from many that I should actually select the volunteer myself. However once they are on stage, what happens if they are not carrying any cash? It seems like a huge time waster to then have to ask another volunteer to come up and bring me a bill, as the road from the seats to the stage is pretty long. Also I don't want to actually say the words "I need a volunteer that has a bill!" because (1) I don't think anyone will be excited to come onstage and volunteer their money and (2) it would ruin the surprise of asking them on the spot

I was considering at that point just making it into a sort of game, where I volunteer my own bill and they get a chance to "win" it. But nonetheless, it seems stronger if the bill is borrowed.

(Kudos again to Mr. Kaufman for a home-run suggestion, not like any of us were surprised.)
"My counterbalance to... noisy and orgy-like magic videos....one has to re-look at this video to know what had exactly happened. Screaming and running around audience....convince everyone that the particular trick was fantastic." LF

reburbia
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Re: set the bar too high

Postby reburbia » March 20th, 2016, 5:48 pm

Nevermind, I missed the part where Seabrooke says I should just flat out ask if anyone would like to volunteer a bill. We'll see how that goes...

I must say though, I'm not keen on his fake loading of the bill into the envelope. It also prevents one of the envelopes from being examined. If anyone has a source for the cleanest bill switch, please let me know. It does seem like one of the selling points of the illusion.
"My counterbalance to... noisy and orgy-like magic videos....one has to re-look at this video to know what had exactly happened. Screaming and running around audience....convince everyone that the particular trick was fantastic." LF

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Re: set the bar too high

Postby performer » March 20th, 2016, 8:48 pm

I do not recommend this ball into the audience nonsense for ANY trick for two reasons. One, is that it slows up the show and wastes time. Second, you can end up with the biggest "nause" ever to afflict a magician. For those of you who have led sheltered lives and do not know what a "nause" is it is grafter's slang for an obnoxious idiot who may well wish to ruin the show. At best a show off that you don't want and at worst someone that will deliberately ruin the act. You don't want to leave this sort of thing to chance. I know the logic that you are proving you are not using a stooge but who the hell cares anyway? I am sure the magician is worried about this more than the audience is but even if the opposite is the case don't fret about it, do the job, get paid and go home.

No. Pick your helper out so you have some control who you get up on stage. You can figure this out by experience and prior observation of the audience.

I do know a very brazen bill switch but since I haven't studied the posts properly I have no idea if it fits or not so I will wait until I have the energy to read all the preceding guff.

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Re: set the bar too high

Postby performer » March 20th, 2016, 8:56 pm

On second thoughts I can't be bothered reading all that stuff so here is a decent bill switch for what it is worth. Say to the loaner of the bill, "Did you give me this?" displaying the bill. The volunteer will say "yes". You then pocket the bill and say "that is very kind of you. Thank you very much" This great witticism will either receive guffaws of laughter or complete indifference depending on your comedy skills. You can alter the joke more to you liking if you wish. For example you could say, "Oh, you GAVE it to me! Thank you very much!" or some twaddle along those lines. You then say, "only kidding" removing the bill and continuing with the trick. Of course you switched the bill in your pocket.

It does save you a lot of fiddling about with sleight of hand and other horrible things of that nature.

reburbia
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Re: set the bar too high

Postby reburbia » March 20th, 2016, 9:07 pm

I agree with you. Also, a few other magicians told me I was crazy for doing a random selection. I'll just pick the volunteer myself

I love that bill switch. I have another routine that it will actually work very cleanly with

I should have been more specific though. In seabrooke's routine, he loads the bill into an envelope but it is immediately stolen via a slit. I was just hoping for a different way to either steal the bill, or "fake load" the bill into the envelope. That same bill obviously is later used for the bill in sealed envelope finale. Looking for a steal that is more pure sleight of hand, so that I do not have to worry about not showing one side of the envelope. Also I just did not personally want to do that type of handling
"My counterbalance to... noisy and orgy-like magic videos....one has to re-look at this video to know what had exactly happened. Screaming and running around audience....convince everyone that the particular trick was fantastic." LF

webbmaster
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Re: set the bar too high

Postby webbmaster » May 1st, 2017, 11:39 am

Perhaps a Miser's Dream that you can bring yourself to, or Billiard Balls - see Roy Benson. I don't think a particular dealer item (trick) is what you're after. Rising Cards is very strong. Then there's a Transept with an Egg and Rice in the Eggcyclopedia from Hermetic Press. We changed the rice to confetti, and then to Salt (same trick) and this is a miracle waiting for someone.


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