IBM SAM Day 6

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Postby CraigMitchell » 07/26/08 12:53 PM

Just finished the finals of the Close-up contest - with the winner being decided by an audience vote.

The toss-up is between Shawn Farquhar & Marc Oberon - who had a particularly strong showing today ...

The results will be announced on tonight's show. Also, a combined convention may well take place now every 5 years.

Eberhard Riese followed with a lecture on "The Evolution of An Act" A brave young performer demoed her act - Eberhard then went ahead and reworked it, going through the steps he covers in making an act that much stronger.

His list of steps in putting an act together and improving it are what many would term 'common sense' but as we well know - in magic that is so often in short supply ... and it is such a great pity that more magicians dont take his words to heart.

In summary, a very useful lecture - reinforcing quite a few of my comments already made on the contest acts ( such as when does seeing a millionth parasol become boring ) Topas assisted Eberhard and covered the 'character of the magician' as the victim, killer and witness ( or whether the magic happens to you or you cause the magic to happen ). His performance of the Professors Nightmare as each of these characters was worth the price of admission ;-) Topas is truly a great performer.

4 pm saw a FISM Update by Eric Eswin - a brief overview of FISM, its structures and their continued quest for continental championships. As many will know - IBM SAM was potentially going to be a FISM North America before the plan was nixed by saner heads. Despite the unwillingness of the individual societies ( IBM, SAM, Magic Castle, CAM ) to buy into the concept of FISM North America and the loss of autonomy that this would entail ( and more likely financial requirements ), FISM seem determined that this is still going to take place in future ...

I can only imagine the difficulties in trying to bring 2 organisations such as IBM and SAM together with all their respective committees and councils - I question whether adding a further 2 to the mix could ever be possible - or what possible benefits any of the societies would receive for such a scheme.
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Postby Tim Ellis » 07/26/08 07:26 PM

Anyone who's seen Topas play MagicSports knows exactly what Craig is talking about here!
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Postby CraigMitchell » 07/26/08 11:08 PM

And the winners are ...

Stage - An Ham Lim - Korea
Close-up - Marc Oberon - UK

Word of warning to all future convention goers - David Kaplin and his bowling ball will be appearing at most of them in the near future ...
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 07/26/08 11:41 PM

How far are we from seeing parlor and stage acts done next to a table as closeup?
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Postby fredreisz » 07/27/08 12:04 AM

In spite of the fact that I agree with the winners chosen for the stage and close-up contests, I question using a "People's Choice" format for deciding winners in a high stakes, big dollar, major prestige national/international magic contest. I suppose the counter argument is that mostly magicians are voting, but non-magician spouses (male and female) and other laity were in attendance. We are dealing with people's careers here. As I say, I like the results of the voting but would prefer at such a level that competent professional judges be used in determining awards.

That said, it was a strong stage show minus major illusions and heavy on card manipulation and mini" snow storms...between the falling bowling ball which took on its own personality tonight and almost stole the stage...not to mention threatening to assault the audience! (You had to be there!)

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 07/27/08 12:14 AM

Tonight's show was, the fact that it was a contest aside, quite simply one of the finest shows ever seen at a magic convention. There was not a single weak (or even mediorce act). All the acts ranged from excellent to superb. There was no question who the winner in stage magic was going to be!
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Postby ICAGG » 07/27/08 12:23 AM

Well, I am not familiar with Marc Oberon, but he must have been great because I am familiar with Shawn. And frankly, when he competed at the Orlando IBM contest - I felt he was robbed of the Gold Cups. So, kudos to an unknown from me, but, I had a rooting interest in Shawn winning even though I was not present at this convention.

Did either Marc or An Ham win the Gold Cups or Gold Medal respectively? Or were those prizes not eligible at this combined convention?
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Postby Donal Chayce » 07/27/08 01:33 AM

Jonathan Townsend wrote:How far are we from seeing parlor and stage acts done next to a table as closeup?


Not far at all. 3-4 competitors in the close-up category had acts that, IMO, were not really close-up at all. Fortunately, none of them made it into the finals.
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Postby Donal Chayce » 07/27/08 01:33 AM

Richard Kaufman wrote:Tonight's show was, the fact that it was a contest aside, quite simply one of the finest shows ever seen at a magic convention. There was not a single weak (or even mediorce act). All the acts ranged from excellent to superb. There was no question who the winner in stage magic was going to be!


I second that emotion!
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Postby CraigMitchell » 07/27/08 09:46 AM

What is scary is that the 1st place winner An Ham Lim - only came SECOND in their regional Asian Championships ... I would love to have seen who came first - magic is clearly on the rise in Korea.

Some thoughts on the convention as a whole:

Things to be commended:

*Registration bag, goodies, custom gifts, surprises etc. A lot of work, time, effort & energy went into this.

*Organisation - something which you only notice when it is sorely lacking - everything ticked along like clockwork, no disasters, major issues or other problems which have plagued conventions of this size before ( and no rioting magicians ala FISM ! )

*Banquet - feeding 1000+ magicians is not easy and from all accounts this went off without a hitch with many claiming it to be the best banquet ever ( personally, it will take a lot to beat FISM 1997's shindig at the Dresden Hilton so masterfully put together by Wolfgang Sommer )

Disappointments:

*Gala shows - the first 2 gala shows lacked imagination and weren't up to the level one would expect. The 3rd gala show ( interestingly the international one ) - while on the long side - raised the bar with a highly entertaining show. Major illusionists were sorely missing from the convention.

Mixed bag:

*Lectures - there was some serious programming dead time ( 6 hours one day for me ) and this could so easily have been avoided with the inclusion of extra events / lectures / sessions. Highlights - comedy trio with Finney, King, Williamson - David Kaye's history of kids magic - and Eberhard Riese's Evolution of an Act.

*Contest - the finals for the contest featured some very strong performers, as Richard said - some of the best out there - but there were too many competitors who were vetted to participate but just weren't near the standard of 'contest of the century' during the prelims. Initially meant to attract all professional talent, it would appear that the level was dropped to bump up numbers - and more likely fill up time.

I'm sure more thoughts will come in the next few days ...

I think the best summary is that it was a good 4 day convention stretched over six days. A far tighter level of programming would have increased the impact and strength of the event immensely. And while a good time was surely had by all - I don't think they succeeded in delivering the "convention of the century"

But what worries me most is the devastating picture of organised magic in the US which I hope wasn't truly reflected at Louisville. I saw more wheelchairs, zimmerman frames, walking aids and magicians clearly in god's waiting room than at ANY OTHER magic event I have attended before. With a dying membership base - and a firm desire to hold on to archaic ritual, bureaucracy and petty politics - the writing must surely be on the wall for these clubs that unless they evolve and dedicate themselves to the future of magic, that their obituaries cannot be too far behind.
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Postby ICAGG » 07/27/08 10:41 AM

Did either Marc or An Ham win the Gold Cups or Gold Medal respectively? Or were those prizes not eligible at this combined convention?
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Postby Ian Kendall » 07/27/08 11:14 AM

Jonathan Townsend wrote:How far are we from seeing parlor and stage acts done next to a table as closeup?


Every year at Blackpool.

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Postby Kenardo » 07/27/08 12:23 PM

Craig,

Thanks again for your detailed reports and personal insights.

Have a safe trip home.
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Postby CraigMitchell » 07/27/08 02:32 PM

"Did either Marc or An Ham win the Gold Cups or Gold Medal respectively"

Being a combined convention - these trophies were not awarded just first place in the respective contests and offers from other conventions to book the acts.

What is strange though amongst the other convention organisers is how many of them were offering contracts to the same top acts - David Kaplin had offers from at least 4 events - now if you had attended IBM SAM ( and I assume a fair % of magicians in the US did ) seeing his act again at so many other upcoming events would not - I assume - add much incentive for your wanting to attend those particular gatherings.
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Postby George Olson » 07/27/08 03:25 PM

How did the Dealers fair?

GO
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Postby CraigMitchell » 07/27/08 03:29 PM

"How did the Dealers fair?"

A fair representation which seemed to have most people happy. I dont believe there was one 'killer' effect that had everyone talking / buying - obviously no where near as big as FISM / Blackpool - but still lots to look at. Steve Axtell's bird probably sticks out for me - amazing piece of technology.
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Postby amp » 07/27/08 06:22 PM

I really enjoy all the reports during the week.
Thank you so much Craig.
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Postby mai-ling » 07/27/08 09:43 PM

Craig Mitchell wrote:But what worries me most is the devastating picture of organised magic in the US which I hope wasn't truly reflected at Louisville. I saw more wheelchairs, zimmerman frames, walking aids and magicians clearly in god's waiting room than at ANY OTHER magic event I have attended before. With a dying membership base - and a firm desire to hold on to archaic ritual, bureaucracy and petty politics - the writing must surely be on the wall for these clubs that unless they evolve and dedicate themselves to the future of magic, that their obituaries cannot be too far behind.




you notice it more when you are caring for a loved who
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or build it as actively as he used.

also when you many of you friends have passed on that
you've been closed for most of you lifetime.
you will remember my name
http://www.mai-ling.net
world's youngest illusionista

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 07/27/08 11:31 PM

There's no question that our field is contracting through natural attrition. There aren't enough kids coming in. We can all see it.
But there were quite a few young magicians at this convention in Louisville, and some of them were really good. I found that heartening.
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Postby CraigMitchell » 07/28/08 04:01 AM

Let it be known that Richard was even seen performing magic !
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Postby Joe M. Turner » 07/28/08 08:09 AM

Having registered as soon as possible, I paid the lowest registration price possible and encouraged others to register early. For my $300, I felt like I got a little ripped off on what was hyped as the "convention of the century."

Were there some wonderful moments? Absolutely. I enjoyed the competition finals and the Riese lecture. I saw some good close-up magic in the bar over the course of the week, reconnected with many friends, and so forth. The Tuesday and Friday shows, while containing some bright spots (Danny Cole, for example), were generally weak, dated, repetitive, or a combination of the three.

Whoever booked four card manips for the Friday show ought to be flogged. Topas, as the MC, was the 4th and even though his take on the idea was unique and I love him as a performer, he should have known enough to cut his bit and done something else from his repertoire. That seems like a basic thing for an MC to be ready to do. (Likewise, I was surprised when Duane Laflin, as MC of the Saturday night stage contest finals, performed the rope with four ends immediately prior to one of the acts which included a very similar rope trick.)

The kids who opened the Friday show were amazingly good for their ages, but they did not captivate the house and they went too long. I don't know why they were chosen to open a show, especially one for the general public at a convention billed to the Louisville theatre-going public as a major magic talent event.

I admire and respect Wayne Dobson, but he did not connect with the laypeople in the audience at all and came across as a pity act, which is precisely what he did NOT want. It was challenging to understand what he was saying and I spent the rest of the evening explaining to my Louisville layperson friend who he was and describing his wonderful television performances in the UK.

I skipped part of the Tuesday show -- got up and left before the show was over. I thought Finney was great but ran long. I agree with several of the previous assessments of the evening and will leave it at that.

I enjoyed the comedy panel discussion just because I find it entertaining to watch those guys, but I didn't think it really achieved the goal of explaining anything practical about the business of being funny. It was mainly a vehicle to allow the guys to crack jokes. Williamson was great, of course.

Williamson's own lecture was more of the same... hilarious... and this one had some good content and he even described a couple of tricks... a novel concept for lectures at this convention.

I skipped the banquet cabaret show.

The close-up show -- Williamson MC'd and was great. I loved seeing Dr. Sawa. One act that I really wanted to like came out and immediately began building a psychological wall between himself and every person there. His apparent joke line, "I don't make mistakes," came across as pure arrogance to a lot of people in the audience. He did familiar close-up magic quite competently, closing with a fooler, but I couldn't believe it when he literally pitched himself for work ("if you know anyone planning to spend a lot of money"... as if he were performing tableside at a restaurant and trying to sell a gig? An audience of magicians? He never once said please or thank you to a single one of his audience assistants.

Anyway, I thought it was a moderately good convention in most other respects, albeit stretched for some reason to fill two more days than necessary. (Maybe a hotel thing to get the room rate?) The location and the city of Louisville are perfect for magic conventions, with plenty of great restaurants and entertainment and a clean, safe downtown area... and a great theatre... and a nice hotel with lots of space for casual magic. But was this the convention of the century? Not even close. I thought the IBM convention in Orlando in 2001 surpassed this, especially in the quality of the stage shows.
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Postby amp » 07/28/08 09:13 AM

Richard Kaufman wrote:There's no question that our field is contracting through natural attrition. There aren't enough kids coming in. We can all see it.
But there were quite a few young magicians at this convention in Louisville, and some of them were really good. I found that heartening.

I think there's a lot of kids in magic but they can't afford to go to convention like older folks who have the dough.
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Postby Adrian Kuiper » 07/28/08 10:10 AM

Craig Mitchell wrote: I saw more wheelchairs, zimmerman frames, walking aids and magicians clearly in god's waiting room than at ANY OTHER magic event I have attended before.


Craig.....ya' mean that God's Waiting Room is in Louisville??? Why the hell did I move to Florida???

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Postby Kevin Connolly » 07/28/08 10:55 AM

Not to worry, Adrian. God has offices everywhere.
Please visit my website.
http://houdinihimself.com/
I buy,sell + trade Houdini, Hardeen items.
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Postby Dave Andrews » 07/28/08 08:24 PM

I think another problem for the younger guys is that they have school during the week so aren't able to go any way, until the weekend.
That was my problem (well one of them!), as a child, and it wasn't until I was in employment that I could then take the necessary holidays.

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Reason: spelling!
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Postby Ted M » 07/28/08 09:33 PM

Joe M. Turner wrote:...Wayne Dobson [...] did not connect with the laypeople in the audience at all...


Insulting the woman from the audience who volunteered to loan him a pen was a rude act of unprovoked bullying.

Insulting her a second time only magnified that abuse of power.

Small wonder that the lay audience might identify with the abused audience member. I was ashamed that the magicians in attendance cheered the abusive magician.
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Postby Geoff Weber » 07/29/08 09:42 AM

Joe M. Turner wrote:I admire and respect Wayne Dobson, but he did not connect with the laypeople in the audience at all and came across as a pity act, which is precisely what he did NOT want. It was challenging to understand what he was saying and I spent the rest of the evening explaining to my Louisville layperson friend who he was and describing his wonderful television performances in the UK.


I wish someone had been around to explain it to me. I just didn't get it. I skipped his lecture because his performance did nothing for me. If you are going to throw your voice so that it sounds like its coming from your spectator, it helps if they're not on mic. And why did he ask them "are you alright?" 50 times?
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 07/29/08 10:24 AM

Not sure what the problem with Wayne's stage act was. I've seen him do this before many times and it's screamingly funny.

Either he wasn't miked properly, or his MS is not allowing him to produce the "other" voices at the necessary volume. He did his killer classic routine ... sometimes things don't always go well.
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Postby amp » 07/29/08 10:28 AM

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Postby Danny Archer » 07/29/08 11:56 AM

Richard Kaufman wrote:Not sure what the problem with Wayne's stage act was. I've seen him do this before many times and it's screamingly funny.

Either he wasn't miked properly, or his MS is not allowing him to produce the "other" voices at the necessary volume. He did his killer classic routine ... sometimes things don't always go well.


I had a seat front row center and I could see that Wayne's mike (an over the ear type)was not properly taped down and it swung away from his face... this problem was compounded when he turned his head to talk to one of his helpers...

I have never seen Wayne do anything but kill an audience and the mike problem was a big part of this performance...
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Postby Kaplan » 07/29/08 01:03 PM

Thank you, thank you, thank you, to all of the people who gave me so many kind words of encouragement at the convention. It was an honor to be able to perform on a show with so many amazing acts - who I now think of as friends.

I know I don't have a normal contest act. You basically saw the most interesting and original ten minute routine that I've been able to cobble together via 20 years of tinkering. It is the material I somehow manage to make a living with, and I use the word "living" loosely. (actually it is the first 8 minutes, and last 2 minutes of my 90 minute show.)

Winning the cash, would have been nice, but my real goal was to showcase my act, hang out with magicians for a week, and hopefully get some work - which I suppose happened. I had a lovely time. Thanks again.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 07/29/08 01:48 PM

Kaplan, I saw your act at a previous SAM show (I think). Whether you are aware of it or not, your act has come a long way. It's in your "being," which is where all great comedic acts must come to rest. Congratulations.
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Postby John Archer » 07/30/08 11:00 AM

Hi Kaplan.

It was (is) a great act. I actually enjoyed it even more the second time round, and I loved it the first time. Surely the sign of a good act.

Well done.

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Postby Kaplan » 07/31/08 01:02 AM

Richard and John,

So glad you enjoyed my act. I felt a little bit odd doing it again for the same people as I lost the element of surprise. The bowling ball rolling back thru the chair may have been the highlight for me...

John, I liked your callback on my uke gag. Sorry we didn't get to chat there. Hopefully our paths will cross in the future.

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Postby Steven Kline » 08/01/08 10:33 PM

David,
Thanks for the Call !! Although I was only at the convention for a couple days - you made it all worth while for me - I was so proud of you ( for those of you who don't know, Dave and I have been friends for years and I have seen the act grow and mature for a looooong time - remember the glass at my apartment ? I do ! ) and it was an honor to get the call and even more memorable for me to get my fat ass out of bed to help bring it all together !
Best of everythng my friend !
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