A Few Things I have Learned - Doing Magic Shows!

Discuss the art of Children's Entertainment with your fellow performers.

Postby Guest » 07/15/07 01:55 PM

Dress like a professional - As my Mom and Dad used to say, One step better dressed than the audience is a good rule".

Make your booking and promotion material professional because it reflects who you are and what you do as a professional.

To help with show problems and how the audience will view the show I like to find out as much as I can about the performing venue before the show even if I have to go there a day or so ahead of time.

Show up on time to set your show and to have enough time before the show to solve any before the show problems.

Do a sound check before the show or better still before the audience arrives.

Look and act professional and solve any before the show problems in a professional and user friendly way.

Setting goals and visualizing the future helps to create it.

In the show business world preparation meets opportunity.

It takes talent plus money to make a bankable product or service.

Every live audience is different so live for the moment and tune into them.

Dont be so involved in the magic tricks you do and forget that there is an audience out there watching you.

Treat the audience and people that you get out of the audience to help on stage with respect. Remember that the friends they have in the audience are more their friends than yours.

The audience is there to have fun.

Hecklers and critics are part of it, and problems are often avoided by a smile and good performance material.

When performing with other performers on the same show - respect and courtesy go a long way.

Know your performance material.

Choose your words and performance material carefully.

Laugh at yourself when things go wrong or if a magic trick doesnt work and get on with the next one.

Have one or two extra magic tricks in your pockets to use in case something goes wrong or a magic trick breaks while in performance.

Keep the show moving.

The most interesting and original thing in your show is you.

Dont forget to smile.

It is not about you or the magic tricks it is about the audience having fun.

Listen to the audience and their reactions they will tell you what is good about the show. And more importantly what is bad.

Good shows and good performers get better over time. Remember Rome wasnt built in a day and you are a work in progress.

Your not there to please any magicians in the audience. So dont work for them and remember there is an audience out there, work for the audience.

Start the show on time.

Show business is a cut throat business. It is not Show friends, as I remember this I also practice the golden rule in both my business and my performance. And that is, to do onto others with the same kindness and respect as you would want them to do onto you.

Sometimes your great, sometimes good, sometimes fair, sometimes nothing goes right.

Your only as good as your last show. Do your best and give it your best effort in spite of how you feel, how tired you may be, and how hard the performing conditions may be at the performance location.

Onward and upward!
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Postby Guest » 07/15/07 05:02 PM

Viva Glenn Bishop! :whack: :D
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Postby Guest » 07/15/07 08:00 PM

All good points, Glenn.
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Postby Guest » 08/08/07 03:22 PM

Great advice. Thanks for posting these thoughts

Pete
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Postby Guest » 08/09/07 06:07 PM

"Dress like a professional - As my Mom and Dad used to say, One step better dressed than the audience is a good rule"."

I actually made this post yesterday, but for some reason it dissapeared, so I am making it again!!

Glenn has some good points. However, I do feel one or two of the points apply more to adult than children's shows. The "Dress like a professional" is an interesting one when it applies to children. What does it mean? A Tuxedo? I think not. Top hat and tails? I doubt if kids today would relate to that! A colorful outfit, with a waccy hat and funny shoes(but not a clown)......certainly!

What does "Dress like a professional" mean when it applies to children's entertainers? I am not sure that I know the answer! JR
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Postby Jeff Haas » 08/09/07 06:31 PM

Actually, I think a lot of adults think that a magician should look like Cardini. Even when performing for kids.
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Postby Guest » 08/09/07 06:35 PM

Originally posted by Jeff Haas:
Actually, I think a lot of adults think that a magician should look like Cardini. Even when performing for kids.
And most kids know that a magician doesn't thanks to Harry Potter.

Last time we had a contemporary reference to a magician of note who wore tails was Zatanna and her father from the DC comics.
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Postby Guest » 08/09/07 08:03 PM

I was booked for a show just a couple of days ago, and the client asked me to dress like a magician. When I asked her what she meant, she seemed surprised by the question. On probing further, all she could come up with was a top hat and a cloak. I then showed her my picture gallery:

http://www.comicmagician.com/page_child ... tures.html


That completely changed her viewpoint. She went for the one with the silver hat!!

"And most kids know that a magician doesn't thanks to Harry Potter."

Jonathan......Harry Potter is not a magician. He is a wizard. BIG difference. A magician is still a Muggle. A wizard does real magic, using spells and not "Supreme" props! JR
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Postby Jeff Haas » 08/10/07 10:39 PM

Roger...in other words, your client wanted some kind of fun costume, because she knew you were going to entertain kids, and you did the best thing...you let her pick the one she wanted. It's bright, theatrical, and has a top hat, so it's sort of a jazzed-up version of top hat & tails. The white, silver and blue work well together.

Just wondering...do you make your own costumes?
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Postby Guest » 08/11/07 08:14 AM

Yes, Jeff, I do make my own costumes. Funnily enough, I have just mentioned this in my "Inspiration" thread. I have to admit, I am not the world greatest seamstress, but I get by!! :) JR

PS: I actually find that giving a client a choice of costumes helps sell the show.
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Postby Guest » 08/11/07 11:06 AM

The magician costume that was black tie, tails, top hat and cape was the "black Tie" social dress of the day.

In my opinion later it became the magicians costume. The comic strip of Mandrake by Lee Falk had him dressed in the cape, and tails through most of the Mandrake adventures.

This is the image of a magician that a lot of people have. Cardini dressed "black tie". Gwynne dressed in a white tail suit and a white tux. Plus he had a black tux wardrobe for the occasion that he needed it.

I myself do not ware a costume. I am not an actor or a clown or a childrens entertainer hired to "entertain the kids". I am a modern magician and a family show entertainer. For me how I dress depends on where and who I am doing the show for.

I find out where it is and how the audience is dressed. If they are in Tux's and the woman in [censored] dress or gowns I dress appropriately for the event.

If they are in a business suit or sports clothing I dress appropriately. I look at it from the point of view of a business and I want to look and have the client and the audience see me as a show business professional.

Others have there own way of doing things and that is fine for them.

Just a few thoughts and opinion.

Onward and upward.
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Postby Guest » 09/10/07 07:59 AM

Originally posted by Jolly Roger:
Jonathan......Harry Potter is not a magician. He is a wizard. BIG difference. A magician is still a Muggle. A wizard does real magic, using spells and not "Supreme" props! JR [/QB]
Sorry I don't agree - A Magician is a Magi - Read Tarbell.

And what is real magic?

That depends on your point of view and the point of view of the audience. Story book wizards do not do "real" magic.

Just my opinion.
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Postby Guest » 09/10/07 09:05 AM

"Story book wizards do not do "real" magic."

Glenn..have you read the Harry Potter books, or even seen the movies? To me there is no question that the wizards in the books do real magic. They do not practice Elmsley Counts and double lifts. They do not use Fork Lift trucks to raise their assistants in the air. They really float and fly! There is a big difference between a muggle and a real wizard. JR
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Postby Guest » 09/10/07 10:22 AM

Originally posted by Jolly Roger:
Glenn..have you read the Harry Potter books, or even seen the movies? [/QB]
Yes I have read the books and seen each Harry Potter Movie. And to me they are just that a story in a book and a story in a movie about story book wizards.

Nothing to do with real magic. Or perhaps better put "stage or close up performance magic." Unless the magician is booked to do some kind of a Harry Potter Promotion for a book store or something like some kind of a Harry Potter party.

Or the magician is doing some kind of a trick to tie into the movie to be topical in his or her show.

Originally posted by Jolly Roger:
To me there is no question that the wizards in the books do real magic.[/QB]
How can people that don't really exist outside of the entertainment medium of books and movies do any kind of magic? Real or not?


Originally posted by Jolly Roger:
They do not practice Elmsley Counts and double lifts. They do not use Fork Lift trucks to raise their assistants in the air. They really float and fly![/QB]
Thanks to the imagination of the reader if it is a book and thanks to the WB special effects department if it is a movie.

And it is my point of view that it "is" the imagination of the audience and the spectator that is in the audience - and how their imagination plays an important part in "how" the "real" magic of a magician is accepted and entertains our audience.

Originally posted by Jolly Roger:
There is a big difference between a muggle and a real wizard. JR [/QB]
And in my opinion there is a big difference between a real live Magi doing a real live magic show doing magic happenings at the moment and a story book wizard. And in my opinion Harry Potter - great story about a story book wizard.

But that is just my opinion.
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Postby Guest » 09/10/07 10:33 AM

To be fair it sounds like we are arguing over effect while discussing method. Effect is the story as told by the audience after the show.

Whether it's the tale told by one of your clients about the guy they hired and recommend to others having occasions or the tale as told about a play they saw or the tale as told about a movie or a book.. the very same principle is in action.

It's not what you see but what you interpret. It's not what you hear but what significance you give the message... that's how it works.

How nice and safe that we already know Harry Potter is an invention of J. K. Rowling. But what if she was there with her notebook when a young adult was found in a collapsed building next what looks like a broken stick and some spatters of flesh and blood that have no matches in our DNA databases. ;) Rumor has it that the stranger had no birth records and he won't say what happened to the stick he supposedly had when found by Ms. Rowling.
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Postby Guest » 09/10/07 12:11 PM

Originally posted by Jonathan Townsend:
To be fair it sounds like we are arguing over effect while discussing method. Effect is the story as told by the audience after the show.
Sorry Jon I would rather "talk" about magic to magicians than argue. But Yes to the observation on "magic effect" and the audience. I have written a lot about that over the years. Nice to hear someone agrees with me.

Originally posted by Jonathan Townsend:
Whether it's the tale told by one of your clients about the guy they hired and recommend to others having occasions or the tale as told about a play they saw or the tale as told about a movie or a book.. the very same principle is in action.
Yes. But there is a difference. The tale told by my clients is not a story about a story book wizard. But a story about a Magi.

Imagination of the audience does play a part in both entertainments but story book magic is not real and not at all in my opinion a good example of what "real" magic is. Or what "real" magic would be.

One of the few things I have learned doing magic shows is that there are a lot of magicians out there that don't seem to know that much about magic.

Just more opinion.
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Postby Guest » 09/10/07 12:53 PM

I am obviously not making myself clear. I know that the Harry Potter books are stories. However, they are stories about fictional wizards who do real magic. In the same way that the movie "The Illusionist" was about a magician who does the kind of magic that we all do.........there is a difference. I suppose, outside the storybook, it would, in the eyes of the general public, be the difference between Paul Daniels and Uri Geller. Paul uses trickery, whereas(in the eyes of many laymen) Geller is a real wizard, and does real magic! JR
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Postby Guest » 09/10/07 02:59 PM

Originally posted by Jonathan Townsend:
How nice and safe that we already know Harry Potter is an invention of J. K. Rowling. But what if she was there with her notebook when a young adult was found in a collapsed building next what looks like a broken stick and some spatters of flesh and blood that have no matches in our DNA databases.

Rumor has it that the stranger had no birth records and he won't say what happened to the stick he supposedly had when found by Ms. Rowling.
Perhaps it would be a case for Frank And Joe Hardy or Nancy Drew. Or some other "fictional" detective.
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Postby Guest » 09/10/07 03:02 PM

Originally posted by Glenn Bishop:
Perhaps it would be a case for Frank And Joe Hardy
I just got a huge clue then.
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Postby Guest » 09/10/07 03:18 PM

Originally posted by Jolly Roger:
I am obviously not making myself clear. I know that the Harry Potter books are stories. However, they are stories about fictional wizards who do real magic.
I ask again how can a fictional wizard do any kind of magic real or not?

Harry Potter is nothing more than a good story about a fictional wizard. Any magic in the story is pure fiction and part of a fictional tale.

It is very interesting and amazing how magicians talk about magic on the web today. Magic being "not real". Or magic is a lie or a con and the audience today doesn't believe in magic.

Then there are the tie inns that are used to explain magic and how it is not real and the best example is often given is story book magic like Harry Potter and the witch from the Wizard of OZ.

Very interesting.
Originally posted by Jolly Roger:
magician who does the kind of magic that we all do.........there is a difference.
We "all" do???

I don't do anything with tigers. I can't fly and If I want to make my rabbit float I use one rabbit, a large glass 2 scoops of ice cream and then fill the glass with root beer.

The method, the technique, the science - only the tools of the trade. Just my opinion.

Originally posted by Jolly Roger:
in the eyes of the general public, be the difference between Paul Daniels and Uri Geller. Paul uses trickery, whereas(in the eyes of many laymen) Geller is a real wizard, and does real magic! JR
I have no problem with how performance magic looks in the eyes and the minds eye (mind and imagination) of the lay audience.

The interesting and very odd thing about talking about magic is how "magicians" talk about performance magic. About the mysteries - like magic is not real - magic is a lie etc.

It is not like the days of Kellar and the little red devils.

Magic today seems to be more about the technique than the "effect".

Just an opinion.
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Postby Guest » 09/10/07 09:22 PM

"Every act of true will is an act of magick."
- Crowley

Let's see if I can turn a recently Harry Potter themed thread into an argument about causal determinism and mysticism... :p
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Postby Guest » 09/11/07 08:37 PM

Sorry guys - don't mean to be unkind, but I could not care less about all the wizard/real magic arguments -
Going back, back, way back to the original topic posted by Glenn in July: thank you, Glenn, for your list of things learned and, I am guessing, passed on as advice. I agree with every one except the final, "Your (sic) only as good as your last show..." If one has an occasional bad show (and yes, there is such a thing as a bad audience), one is very often much better than that most recent bad show. The more one performs (over 12,000 shows for me so far - no brag, just fact), the more one realizes that the most recent 'poor' show need not color or affect our self image.
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Postby Guest » 09/11/07 09:56 PM

Phil Van Tee:

Are you the same Phil Van Tee who I saw in a comedy club in NYC opening for Dennis Blair back in the 80s? If you are still in touch with Peter Bloeme, tell him I said hi.
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Postby Guest » 09/11/07 10:33 PM

"Sorry guys - don't mean to be unkind, but I could not care less about all the wizard/real magic arguments "

Phil.........be very careful about making statements like that. You really should care, otherwise one of us wizards might change you into a frog..........really!!! JR
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Postby Guest » 09/12/07 06:00 AM

Hey Phil Van Tee Thanks for posting and thanks for your kind words.

The last thing when I said "your only as good as your last show". Is a very "old school" entertainers point of view. While growing up my Parents (Billy Bishop an' Ann) were members of a show business club called the "Three sheeters".

The club got it's name from the vaudeville three sheet they would give the star act. The star act or what today would be called a "headliner" was called a "three sheeter".

Lots of magicians were members. Jay Marshall, Glenn Haywood, John Shirley, Don Alan, Jack Kodell, Tony Marks, Celeste Evens, Jack Gwynne, Jack Pyle and many more.

It also had agents, comedy acts, jugglers, vents anyone connected to show business as members.

Not being a one sheeter at the time my parents used to take us kids and we would sit at the kid table with the other acts kids and watch the goings on.

Getting on with it - I picked up a lot of "old school" show business thoughts in those days. They used to say things like "between bookings there was no show".

Thanks for your observation on a "bad audience" I agree with that today because some audiences can be a lot warmer and more in the mood for a show than others.

And over a life time of doing shows a few bad shows wouldn't spoil or as you said - "that the most recent 'poor' show need not color or affect our self image."

Thanks for posting it.
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Postby Guest » 09/12/07 06:14 AM

Originally posted by John Wilson:
"Every act of true will is an act of magick."
- Crowley

Let's see if I can turn a recently Harry Potter themed thread into an argument about causal determinism and mysticism... :p
I don't think so. Not here at least. Such would require an adult perspective about how ones actions write upon the world and how ones will is reflected in the consequences of ones actions.

To connect the story of others experience of the world with your willful actions implies a personal (and perhaps social) responsibility.

Come on guy, you're in a group that treats a decade old Chris Preist story as a secret and yet insists it's okay to sell sombody else's marketted trick because they rewrote the instructions and put up a demo video.

Magic is that there is cheese appearing in the maze. Magic(k) is finding out how the cheese gets there and seeking answers to the mystery of how it's made and why it's being put there.
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Postby Guest » 09/12/07 06:24 AM

Originally posted by Glenn Bishop:
Originally posted by Jonathan Townsend:
[b] How nice and safe that we already know Harry Potter is an invention of J. K. Rowling. But what if she was there with her notebook when a young adult was found in a collapsed building next what looks like a broken stick and some spatters of flesh and blood that have no matches in our DNA databases.

Rumor has it that the stranger had no birth records and he won't say what happened to the stick he supposedly had when found by Ms. Rowling.
Perhaps it would be a case for Frank And Joe Hardy or Nancy Drew. Or some other "fictional" detective. [/b]
Glenn, if who they imagine you are is someone who can walk through a fire without being burned, then you are a story.

Let us not forget the circular ruins and Borges reminder of our fictions.
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Postby Guest » 09/12/07 09:10 AM

Glenn...........this is turning into such a great thread, with several thought provoking posts. I would like to thank you for starting it, and livening up the "Children's Entertainment" section of the Genii Forum! Now I must go and reread Ricky Jay's "Learned pigs and fireproof women" to decide if some of the stunts were achieved by real magik!! JR
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Postby Guest » 09/12/07 11:01 AM

Originally posted by Jonathan Townsend:
Come on guy, you're in a group that treats a decade old Chris Preist story as a secret and yet insists it's okay to sell sombody else's marketted trick because they rewrote the instructions and put up a demo video.
There is no such "group." There are people on the forum who respect secrets and the like, and there are people who don't.
The Genii Forum includes both kinds.

Assigning numbers of disparate people to a single group, and treating every member of that group as the same, is a lousy thing to do, whether you're talking about magicians, audiences, or just people in general.
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Postby Guest » 09/12/07 11:27 AM

Pete,

Agreed about negative presumtions about members of a group in general. Those who study history might find the word "lousy" an understatement.

With all possible respect we have it from Mr. Genii Magazine himself, our host, that it's not okay to discuss the story of "The Prestige" here. And likewise this place has advertising for those who we all know have done as described and some who even offer magic "secrets" to lay audiences. I feel my statement is accurate in this context and was not seeking to be pejorative toward any individuals.

And of course there are those here who do respect secrets, stay away from doing or publishing versions of others private and unpublished works and are trustworthy.

Pax
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Postby Guest » 09/16/07 02:06 PM

Glenn, thanks for the history - "3 sheeters" - had not heard that one...
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Postby Guest » 09/17/07 01:44 PM

Thanks Phil Van Tee

Those were "fun" days - a long time ago - And I Miss them!
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Postby Guest » 09/17/07 05:59 PM

Having read many of the Potter books, especially the final tome, I would have to add that these books do add a great deal to the imagination of "real world" magicians (wizards) that can be utilized to treat audiences to new and amazing entertainments.
To argue about fiction is silly, it's fiction. We had a local pastor do a sermon on the local radio where he compared the Bible to Potter. If you're a Christian this argument is not only silly, it's heretical. Non-fiction being threatened by fiction? Who could have dared think such a thing could be?
Only wizards enjoy such things!
What's amazing are those who actually take such argument as the basis for believing thier religion is indeed threatened by said fictitious volumes. Those are the Neanderthals of the 21st century who carry cellphones and MP3's instead of pitchforks and scythes.
I think the Rowling books offer a wonderful escape (which I believe was their purpose initially)into a fantastical world that is, to those who study such things, based very much on the ancient pagan world.
Perhaps that is what people are afraid of...that and not having their "trunk or treat" in place of All Hallow's Eve.
I personally delight that the public has chosed to rend such the fabric of reality to indeed feel threatened by things. It helps heighten their imaginations and render the impossible possible. It helps bring magic to new heights and rekindle the love for the ancient art form in many children and adults. It also helps fill theatres and the pockets of those of us who would feed their families full-time on such "miracles" out of wax, egyptian mirros and spider's thread.
Potter is proposterously palpable in a puzzling perplexity protagonistic of pyrinean proportions paramount to paragonean paychecks.
In essence, Potter is 'wizard' and should be appreciated by all of us as having blessed our livlhoods in this age.
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