Hackneyed Bits

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

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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Postby Guest » 12/04/06 08:54 PM

Originally posted by Ryan Matney:

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."
Pretty sure the grandfather/watch gag belongs to (or at least was used by) the great Victor Borge. I suspect Borge was an influence on McComb, who had a similar performing style.
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Postby Guest » 12/04/06 09:52 PM

I don't think Mark Wilson originated the phrase "like so" but he used to annoy me the most whenever he said it: "I place the silk in my hand...like so."
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Postby Guest » 12/05/06 08:35 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!".
I had my first 'pro' gig shortly after I had heard Bill use this line at the Texas Ren Fest.
I remember laughing my butt off.

At the time I had no idea that there were ethics to this sort of thing -much less proprietary rights- so I used the line. A few weeks later while I was at a local Magic Shop (Frankel's) some one told me that Bill Palmer was looking for me because I had used his line. As a 17 yr old 'pro' that scared the crap out of me. I quit performing! A few years later -after moving to NOLA- I was preparing to start working as a restaurant magician. I had studied the ethics of our little niche by then, but still felt a little shame. So I contacted Bill and reminded him of the incident. He cleared me. He also gave me some great advice: Work on your character first - the lines and bits of business will grow around you.

As a result of following that advice I developed character.

Thanks Bill.
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Postby Guest » 12/15/06 07:23 AM

There are two ways to look at 'Hack"

1)Overused.
2)Unoriginal.

With that in mind...

~"LET'S DO IT!"
~"I remember the first time I saw snow."
~"This is the first trick I ever learned."
~The Baffling Bra
~Rings
~Card on the Ceiling
~Sponge balls
~"You've got something on your shirt....Got your nose!"
~"If you believe in telekinesis, raise my hand." (This line was written by Emo Phillips, NOT YOU!)
~"I'm not psychic. Everything I do involves advanced psychological techniques."
~"They're identical, especially THIS one!"
~Exposure-as-punchline.(I've seen this done with everything from Neilsen bottles to Black Art.)
~Professor's Nightmare.
~"Street Magic" in any sense other than an actual Busker.


I'm going to stop now. This is getting depressing

P&L
D
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Postby Guest » 12/15/06 08:06 AM

Ryan Writes>>>If a line is proven and suits the performer, a pro will use it.>>>>>


ARRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH! Why?!? Why would a "pro" use it? Why would someone who is a PRO, (IE: Makes a living from performing magic,) use a line that's been used by every other magician on Earth?

Is it out of laziness? Or an insufficiently developed sense of ethics?

(And I'm not talking here about hired writers, or lines that are otherwise paid-for, like those from Orben books. I'm talking about lines that are, quite frankly, stolen.)

P&L
D
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Postby Ryan Matney » 12/15/06 09:25 AM

Originally posted by DeeBrennan:
Ryan Writes>>>If a line is proven and suits the performer, a pro will use it.>>>>>

Is it out of laziness? Or an insufficiently developed sense of ethics?

(And I'm not talking here about hired writers, or lines that are otherwise paid-for, like those from Orben books. I'm talking about lines that are, quite frankly, stolen.)

P&L
D
Then you did not get my point if that's what you are talking about. We are speaking of two different things.
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Postby Mark Collier » 12/15/06 06:33 PM

"It's my fault, I picked you" (as the Great Velcro gives himself a well deserved bitch slap).
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Postby Guest » 12/16/06 01:54 PM

Ryan said>>>You did not get my point.>>>

No, I got it.

You said>>>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.>>>

I think exactly the opposite. I don't think anyone should EVER use stock lines or "re-written" lines unless they've paid the originator of said lines, or gotten permission.

To use a line whose author is known-but-uncompensated is theft. (To "re-write" one of these is the same a re-painting a stolen car.)

To use a stock line whose origin is lost in the mists of over-use is laziness. (To "re-write" one of these lines is slightly less lazy, but no less inartistic.)

P&L
D
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Postby Guest » 12/16/06 02:39 PM

I think that you're both arguing from different angles.

Ryan Matney is stating what people do.

Dee Brennan is stating what people should do.

Dave
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Postby Guest » 12/16/06 06:28 PM

What?

no Rocco's d-lights?

No thumb tips?

No sub-trunks?

No origami boxes?

no squeezecages?

no zag cubes?

no dove trays?

no tuxedos?

no spandex?

no Peter Gabriel-esque music sountracks?

no bowling balls?

No reappearances in the audience?

No, "where you from" followed by
"I heard you, I'm just sorry."

Not to hijack my own thread, but who might be on a list of the ten most original magicians working today?

(people who might somehow be 100 percent adverse to performing anything that was progeny from the work of others?)
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