Hackneyed Bits

Discuss the historical aspects of magic, including memories, or favorite stories.

Postby Guest » 11/29/06 11:45 PM

Not being a magician myself, and being someone who probably only sees about 15-20 magic acts a year, I was wondering what
the more professorial members of the magic community
might list here as the most cliched, overused and/or overdone
bits in magic today. (exposition, dialogue and jokes included).

Perhaps at the end of this thread, I can compile a top 10 list.

I recently saw someone perform for a college crowd and with all due respect to him, I think he may have hit all of them.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 11/29/06 11:53 PM

We don't have that much bandwidth.
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Postby Guest » 11/29/06 11:59 PM

OH MAN--you don't really want to get us started do you?!

Yeah? O.k. Finally! The perfect place to openly mock the dorkiest b.s. effect in magic:

(wait for it...)

The Dancing cane!! :whack: Ooh VERY deceptive! Great dance moves too!
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 11/30/06 12:18 AM

Okay: Some ground rules for this game (please!).

List your candidates, but NO coming to the defense of a trick or line or whatever, saying that so-and-so does it well, yata-yata-yata. I dont want this devolving into an argument about who does the Zombie well and blah, blah, blah.

If your favorite trick gets slammed, bite your lip and take the pain.

Keep it civil. Theres no reason to get personal. Mr. Ritter is looking for overused tricks, bits, and lines; not attacks on the individuals who use them.

I mean it: Anything that falls out of line will get zapped! Thanks for your cooperation!

That said, I think I second the dancing cane.

For lines, "The clean one" is the killer for me.

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Postby Guest » 11/30/06 09:14 AM

"Do you want to change your mind? Or are you happy... " Do I really have to finish it?
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Postby Guest » 11/30/06 09:34 AM

Ahem... "Pick a card, any card..."
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Postby Guest » 11/30/06 10:48 AM

"Wow - how did you do that?"

"Quite well, actually"


Dave
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Postby Guest » 11/30/06 10:59 AM

And this is a perfectly ordinary deck of cards...
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Postby Guest » 11/30/06 11:26 AM

"I want you to clear your mind... that was quick..."
from dealers - "packs flat, fits in the bottom of your bag" (or was that just Supreme magic?)

Jon Randall
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Postby jerry lazar » 11/30/06 11:42 AM

Can you keep a secret? ... So can I...

It's OK, I've seen this trick...

Careful, it's a little Sharpie...

Um, I don't recall giving you a speaking part...

... AND THEN ALL THE PITIFUL PLEAS FOR APPLAUSE:

I was so astonished when I first saw this that I, too, forgot to clap...

No, no, let it build... it's got a weak finish...

AND BELIEVE ME, I'VE USED 'EM ALL!!!
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Postby Guest » 11/30/06 12:47 PM

Most laypeople don't see 15-20 magic acts a year. I've often worked for audiences who've seen a handful of live acts in years, most magicians they've seen have been on television.

A bit is not hackneyed if the audience has not seen it numerous times, or if they saw it once years before and forgot it.

It is a given that the thinking performer should eliminate unnecessary/redundant lines from his presentation but this question seems more suited to convention goers and magic club members.
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 11/30/06 12:51 PM

Originally posted by David Alexander:
A bit is not hackneyed if the audience has not seen it numerous times, or if they saw it once years before and forgot it.
"If you haven't seen it, it's new to you!" is a poor excuse for a lack of creativity, in my opinion.

-Jim
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Postby Guest » 11/30/06 01:14 PM

Mr. Alexander, You have been around! Have you NO pet-peeves? :D
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Postby Guest » 11/30/06 01:56 PM

"and I said to him, have you got the trick with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 playing cards....."

Jon
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Postby Guest » 11/30/06 08:39 PM

That's a really good start---

in a slightly different direction, I've seen four different magicians make it snow---and that doesn't include two non-magic shows that used the effect such as the recent holiday musical "White Christmas".

-----Not that the effect doesn't work for all of them on a commercial level, which is the name of the game.

Having worked on a cruise ship for a couple of years, I've seen quite a few sub trunks and interludes as well.

The isbn code prediction bit, I think, is getting to the point that even the general public sees the punch line coming.

I wonder what object Geno Munari sells the highest quantity of...

I wonder what device Bill Smith builds the most of....
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Postby Pete Biro » 11/30/06 08:47 PM

OK, who is the originator of...

"Hold out your hand... no the clean one."

And he really got upset when everyone started to use it... so many that it became a cliche...

Who was the originator?

Walter, Zaney, Blaney :cool:
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Postby Pete Biro » 11/30/06 08:48 PM

"Oh, that was the clean one!" :D :D
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Postby Pete Biro » 11/30/06 08:49 PM

My re-write.

"Hold out your hand..." (beat, look at hand) "Ummm... did you have a flat tire on the way here?" :eek: :D :eek:
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Postby Ryan Matney » 11/30/06 09:21 PM

Thanks Pete! I've wondered for a long time whose line that was. Tell us a few more originators of well known lines if you can, please.


Personally I think most smart professionals use stock lines. I can name 4-5 magicians that perform full time that I consider to be the best working that use stock lines. David Alexander is right, most laymen don't see near as much magic as we do. Hopefully, anyway. If a line is proven and suits the performer, a pro will use it.

That is to say, all of these professionals I'm thinking of use a mix of stock lines, re-written lines, and original lines.

There's a bunch like the "No the clean one" that I wouldn't use myself because I don't like the tone with the spectator...for me anyway.
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Postby Guest » 11/30/06 10:58 PM

The first time I saw Ricky Dunn perform, I was a little turned off, because I heard him use so many of what I considered to be "stock" lines.

Later I found out that Ricky had WRITTEN many of the lines that countless magicians had stolen from him..... many others stole from the stealers......and eventually no one knew where they came from!

This is the crime of stealing other's lines.......eventually the originator looks like the one who steals, or is a hack.

As Groucho Marx once said, "Imitation is the sincerest form of plagerism."
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Postby Guest » 12/01/06 08:17 AM

Awwww man - you guys are outlawing all of Paul Daniels' patter :)

However, I guess that since I was watching him when I was a kid back in the 70's, that anyone still using the same lines 30 odd years later would deserve to be called "hackneyed".

Or are the old ones still the best?
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Postby Mark Collier » 12/01/06 08:31 AM

Bill Palmer wrote, "I'm a magician and I'm going to magish....you should be glad I'm not a wizard!".
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 12/01/06 08:49 AM

Originally posted by Mark Collier:
Bill Palmer wrote, "I'm a magician and I'm going to magish....you should be glad I'm not a wizard!".
Bill only wrote the second half of that line, and actually has registered trademarks for both "just be glad I'm not a wizard" and "aren't you glad I'm not a wizard".

http://merlinthemagician.com/opener.htm

-Jim
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Postby Danny Archer » 12/01/06 08:51 AM

My two cents

Why not take a stock line and put in a little of yourself and rewrite it?

Here is a stock line - "I want you to clear your mind... that was quick..."

Here is my rewrite - "I want you to clear your mind... Wow! And he did that without the use of chemicals or TV ..."

The rewritten gag plays so much better for me (I know because I tried them both), because its more ME than a stock line
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Postby Pete Biro » 12/01/06 10:01 AM

Danny is right. Like I have said before... I have used a lot of stuff out of Orben, but CHANGE the references... you have to bring them up to date.

Example: The oldest known joke in written history goes back to the crusades. It has be re-written for each succeeding war.

Short version.

Soldier's leg is blown off. His pal picks him up and tosses him over his shoulder to get him back to the medics. While going back a shell blows the guys head off.

When the soldier brings him into the medics and they put him on a cot, the medic says, "why did you bring this guy in, he's dead, his head has been blown off?"

The guy replies, "The liar, he told me it was his leg."
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Postby Pete Biro » 12/01/06 10:07 AM

AFAIK Jay Marshal originated:

It was nothing, I could tell by the applause.
My name is Jay Marshall, one of the Better cheaper acts.

I believe Benson... "While you examine this deck, I'll use this one." "It's not much but I think someone will like it."

Harold Sterling: "If I cut off the ends of the rope we have a rope with no ends."

Me. (Handing out linked rings for examination) "Like to know how it's done... BUY YOUR OWN." "Here's a trick I'll teach you so you can go home and fool the kids. If you don't have any kids you can go home and work in that."

McComb: (many but I love this one where he does a biti then says) "... which is amazing, altho iti seems I'm the only one that thinks so."

Orben gag I use... "Here's a trick I did on the radio last week over 200 people called in and said they couldn't see how it was done." (IT PLAYS).

Any idea who wrote "Save it up, I have a weak finish." ??? When one person laughs, "Hey, move around make me a hit througout the room."
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Postby Guest » 12/01/06 10:43 AM

When I started in magic, aged 10, I thought I needed patter so bought the Bert Douglas ABC of Patter for sixpence and there's a line, slightly related to Danny Archer's which still plays well
I'll go into a trance--you won't notice the difference
Worst trick, definitely Floating Cane, almost acceptable when Brahma or Peter Pit performed it but otherwise-ugh! I was surprised when Ken Brooke did it but he had his reason.
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Postby Guest » 12/01/06 12:03 PM

Originally posted by Pete Biro:
Danny is right. Like I have said before... I have used a lot of stuff out of Orben, but CHANGE the references... you have to bring them up to date.

Example: The oldest known joke in written history goes back to the crusades. It has be re-written for each succeeding war.

Short version.

Soldier's leg is blown off. His pal picks him up and tosses him over his shoulder to get him back to the medics. While going back a shell blows the guys head off.

When the soldier brings him into the medics and they put him on a cot, the medic says, "why did you bring this guy in, he's dead, his head has been blown off?"

The guy replies, "The liar, he told me it was his leg."
Hillarious. I hope you don't mind if I use it for the next 30 or so years.

Gord
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Postby Guest » 12/01/06 12:06 PM

One very old stock line I love is the old "Watch, watch ... watch" (Magician then shows his wrist watch.) I know it's very old but it cracks me up every time.
One line that I hate is used with a chopper. "Ok now, one, two, three weeks ago when I last did this ..." Man I hate that one, yet it seems everyone uses it.

Gord
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Postby Mark Collier » 12/01/06 01:59 PM

Nothing here....nothing here.... nothing here (points to head)
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Postby Guest » 12/03/06 09:49 AM

Thanks experts,

So----perhaps here's the 10 list.

1. the dancing cane
2. "No, your clean hand" --"oh, that WAS your clean hand".
3. Pick a card-any card.
4. Watch, watch, watch -----(point at wristwatch)
5. I'm a magician. I magish. Aren't you glad I'm not a wizard?
6. (said to a child) So, are you married?
7. Can you keep a secret? So can I.
8. it's okay. I've seen this trick.
9. I want you to clear your minds. That was quick!
10. How did you do that? Quite well, actually.

Omissions? Changes in order?

I imagine that back in 1960 or so,
based on the Warner Brothers (and other cartoons of the 40's and 50's) that the terms "abracadabra", "hocus pocus", and the uses of a magic wand, a top hats and tails and sawing a woman in half were pretty high on the list.
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Postby Jon Allen » 12/03/06 11:10 AM

"Show all your friends.... that shouldn't take long." (And that coming from a magician!)

"Here I have a red silk" (Surely silk is not a noun?)

"..because it's an ambitious card." (Aaaaargggghhhhh!!!!!!)

"I'm a mystic.... and here's me stick"

"If you enjoyed the magic, my name's (your name)... if not, it's Paul Daniels." (Is this a British line or is it a cliche over in the US and other countries too?)

"Stand right here.... over the trapdoor."

"On the count of three, I want you to clap and cheer loudly so the booker can hear."


As for tricks, I cant stand linking ring routines where the stage performer simply links and unlinks.. and links and unlinks... and links and unlinks for no apparent reason and/or without any thought. Then come the questionable shapes (Ball, seat, Mickey Mouse etc.) For me, the Linkign Rings is the stage version of Ambitious Card.
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Postby Guest » 12/03/06 11:20 AM

Kid: "I know how you do that."
Magician: "You know every time you say that, an angel dies."

(Alternately:) "Every time you say that a mother cat eats one of her kittens."

John R
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Postby Guest » 12/03/06 01:42 PM

Presto ( Earl Johnson) doing the Milk Pitcher at a kid show:

Kid yells I have one of those

Presto says- No you don't.. this is a professional model


All the best,
John Smetana
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Postby Guest » 12/03/06 09:29 PM

Not quite a line...

"I want you to..."

Almost always superflous and frequently overused.
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 12/03/06 09:47 PM

Originally posted by Jon Allen:
"If you enjoyed the magic, my name's (your name)... if not, it's Paul Daniels." (Is this a British line or is it a cliche over in the US and other countries too?)
It's used here as well, but with (usually) David Copperfield's name substituted in.

-Jim
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Postby Ryan Matney » 12/03/06 11:17 PM

Originally posted by John Signa:
Not quite a line...

"I want you to..."

Almost always superflous and frequently overused.
Another bad habit line like this is "What we're gonna do is..."
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Postby Ryan Matney » 12/03/06 11:22 PM

Pete,
It wasn't George Sands who first did the "Cut the ends off the rope " gag?

By the way, Pete, did Billy McComb crib a joke or two from Woody Allen or did Woody cop a joke or two from Mr. Mccomb?

The two I heard Billy do on the Stevens video that Woody also did in two of his films were "My grandfather, on his deathbed...SOLD me this watch." and the one about his honeymoon "I never had so much fun withoutlaughing."
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Postby Jon Allen » 12/04/06 06:53 PM

I forgot my favourite cliche word in magic as used in countless titles of tricks.....

"Ultimate"

It's probably the most pointless word in the English language.
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Postby Guest » 12/04/06 08:33 PM

"Can you tell one card from another? What's the other?"

What the *!@# does this line mean?
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