5 Minutes to Perform...What do you do?

Discuss your favorite platform magic and illusions.

Postby Sean-Dylan » 10/12/09 08:48 AM

If you only had 5 minutes to perform (lay audience) and had to make a big impression. What would you do?
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Postby Steve Varro » 10/16/09 02:07 AM

I'd perform the Gene Anderson Torn and Restored Newspaper. It's always a huge hit!

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Postby Ray Eden » 10/16/09 03:37 AM

I'm assuming you mean that one has 5 minutes and full access to one's props. I suppose I'd perform SnowStorm under those conditions.

In an unprepared situation... I would perform Wayne Houchin's CONTROL. It never fails to KILL!
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Postby Spellbinder » 10/16/09 06:28 AM

If you want to make a GOOD impression rather than a BIG impression, use your five minutes to ENTERTAIN the audience, not just perform magic. Magic without ENTERTAINMENT impresses only magicians.
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Postby Brad Henderson » 10/16/09 02:47 PM

And what, then IS entertainment. Just putting it in capitals does not define it. Is it corny jokes? Playing card neck ties? Bunny rabbit pins with eyes that blink?

And cannot magic, simply done well, not be entertaining or must it be "propped up" with pull my finger gags?

What. SPellbinder, IS entertainment?
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/16/09 03:02 PM

Let's suppose you could change a few atoms of carbon dioxide into gold but ... even if well done who would care? So IMHO that's a no vote to the proposition about magic well done being entertining all by itself. Magic is a means to acheive the magician's ends - and IMHO not itself any more entertaining to others than watching paint dry.

Now if one has a care about others - might I suggest one start by engaging them, offering them something by way of rapport and perhaps a promise of a diverting amusement - and then proceed to make good on ones promise? Just another silly suggestion here ...or you could go on changing the salt shaker grains from salt to chalk one at a time by arcane means and wondering why folks aren't applauding your efforts.

;)
Mundus vult decipi
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Postby amp » 10/17/09 08:44 AM

Sean-Dylan wrote:If you only had 5 minutes to perform (lay audience) and had to make a big impression. What would you do?

Why?
What lay audience ?
I might take 2 minutes and just talk to them.
This lay audience are they at restaurant or cocktail party ,ect..
Maybe kids or adults.
Is it close up or stand - up?
I think you have to rephrase your question.
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Postby Spellbinder » 10/17/09 07:11 PM

Brad Henderson wrote:And what, then IS entertainment. Just putting it in capitals does not define it. What, SPellbinder, IS entertainment?


Putting it in capitals was my way of EMPHASIZING the words. Most forums do not have the luxury of italics. But if you have to ask me to define entertainment, I'd respectfully suggest you may be in the wrong forum. However, Jonathan came to my rescue and provided a more than adequare set of examples. Thanks, Jonathan.
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Postby alames » 10/17/09 11:26 PM

OK, I'll bite, at the risk of stepping into something. I'll try, at the risk of potentially failing, to provide something perhaps more concrete (and maybe more to the point of the original post). It seems perhaps important here to try to answer the original post, and in actionable terms, rather than argue around each other. Maybe the question can inspire, rather than open up a bunch of silly flaming?

I would perform of one of two not-yet-famous tricks, either the Failed Needled Balloon or the Muffin Through Brick That Doesn't Work Either.

Per classical Needled Balloon, I had carefully sharpened my needle. I had carefully oiled it. I had carefully bought a batch of brand new balloons and carefully tested them to be sure my needle adequately pierced the balloon without popping it. I had inserted confetti into the balloon.

I stood confidently before the audience. I showed them, oh so carefully, that terribly sharp needle. I showed them just how sharp it was by touching my finger tip to it, oh-so-carefully. And they were convinced it was sharp. Then, with all the bravado I could muster, I showed them a balloon, and inflated it. It was a brave, strong, bold, and true balloon, a true inspiration, and a pity it might die. As I inflated it, the confetti swirled dramatically inside the balloon, a herald to its bravery.

Now, dramatically, I oh-so-carefully inched the point of the needle toward the balloon. I kept fearfully looking away, trying with all my might to go through with the oh-so-frightening act of actually touching the balloon with the needle. Everybody was terrified with me that I might actually touch that balloon, and that it was going to pop.

But I *knew* inside myself that this was going to work.

So, I proceeded to touch the needle to the spot on the balloon where I knew the needle would penetrate the balloon, where I knew without-a-shadow-of-a-doubt that it would work because I had prepared it relentlessly. And I knew, for absolute surety, that in a short moment I would be showing so dramatically and so proudly that the balloon was, of a surety, impervious to the terrible, sharp weapon.

And the balloon popped. It echoed throughout the hall.

Confetti flew everywhere. And I stood there dumbfounded. I was prepared to continue going through all the remaining motions, to push the needle through the other side, then pull it completely through, then pop the balloon through the side and take my oh so triumphant bow. But it had failed. It wasn't supposed to do that. I stood there, completely shocked that it didn't work. And I had been so intent on what to do next that I had no idea what to do next now that it didn't work, so I stood there dumbly with a look of complete and utter shock on my face.

It brought down the house. After perhaps 30 seconds of dead silence, they laughed. For minutes, they laughed out loud, helplessly. Then I got a standing ovation.

We can go analyze it, in terms of reversal of expectations, or in whatever terms you want, but quite simply, the completely unexpected look of shock on my face, after I attempted to do something so completely ludicrously stupid (so much so that I myself had been acting up to increase the proof of how ludicrous it was) was, apparently, quite funny.

Stupidly, I tried the trick over again later, and it actually worked as expected, but didn't do much for the audience. Just wasn't the same.

I offer the Muffin Through Brick That Doesn't Work Either: a similar attempt to make a muffin penetrate a brick, trying to convince us all along that it's going to work, while we're not really sure, and we really can't bear to watch and here goes nothing and then SPLAT it fails, throwing chunks and crumbs of muffin everywhere and the poor sap magician is actually shocked that it didn't work.

Sort of the classic sucker trick involving "get the magician up a tree, throw rocks at him, then get him out of the tree", only I stopped at the first rock. And stood there dumbfounded. (Getting him out of the tree was a waste of time -- it didn't work).

If that doesn't work for you, I'd try for something that touched the child in all of us -- something that inspires wonder. Where I can be one more of the children seeing something for the first time, hopelessly lost in the fun of a completely new experience. Don't yet know what the particular effect would be -- can anybody help with it? I'm thinking maybe a snowfall inside a theater, so real it feels cold, it gracefully lays tiny, dainty snowflakes on our hands and faces, touching everybody, then it disappears without a trace, to a dry, warm theater.

Perhaps defining ENTERTAINMENT (writ large) is like trying to define pornography. Story goes, a famous judge was struggling with creating an objective definition of it (naked people? art has naked people. Intent to tittilate? How do you prove intent? Crass? how to define? and so forth). The working definition of pornography, based on his decision, is that he "knows it when he sees it". Suitable for a courtroom. But if you want to teach it, you might have to show an example or two.

Respectfully,
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Postby mrgoat » 10/18/09 05:04 AM

Spellbinder wrote:[ But if you have to ask me to define entertainment, I'd respectfully suggest you may be in the wrong forum.


I'd love to know too.

How on earth can one possibly define entertainment? Very interesting topic and totally worthy of this great forum.
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Postby Bizzaro » 10/18/09 07:48 AM

Fire.
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Postby Brad Henderson » 10/19/09 12:39 AM

Spellbinder,

I think my post may have come off more antagonistic than intended (exasperated may have been more my intention.)

I see people expose the power of "entertainment" all the time, but never has any of them ever been able to describe what that is. There is almost an inclination that it's something (like salt) that must be added to magic in order to make it palatable.

Further, it seems, those that espouse the "entertainment is more important than magic" fail to deliver either. Generally it's some sort of hackneyed parade of irrelevant and outdated one liners that only the performer finds amusing.

Mugging is not entertainment.

As to Jonathan's example, I think the transformation is too subtle. However, if a performer stated, 'I have the ability to transform silver coins into gold," and did that cleanly, clearly, and without any nonsense in the way - I think people would be excited to see the phenomena - assuming it was deceptive and "realistic."

I, personally, do not believe magic needs to be propped up with gags and nonsense. Of course, we have all seen magic performed poorly and with lackluster delivery. But I think deceptive magic, performed with grace and charm, can be engaging to adult audiences.

. . . no, the clean one.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/19/09 12:26 PM

Brad, my intent was not to diminish the value of a subtle effect but rather to point out that unless the magic has or adds value to the company it's not so likely to be appreciated. My favorite example is the ham sandwich story from Tarbell. It's not the sandwich but that a wish was made and the magician granted it FOR the person that seems the entertainment/magic IMHO.

Notice that the "effect" would be entirely different if the performer attempted to foist said sandwich upon an orthodox Jew, a vegetarian or even a stranger in this day and age.
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Postby Brad Henderson » 10/19/09 01:04 PM

But I would wonder if this issue - which is a valid one - speaks to the notion of "entertainment."
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/19/09 01:07 PM

Some people find executions entertaining. As so we still have the guillotine and other more torturous tricks to present. Some find dogfights entertaining.

Seems a matter of context to me. If one wanted to find an abstract structure to apply, I'd suggest rhetoric where first off you get them to like you, then appeal to their preexisting beliefs and from there... to some affirmation.
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Postby opie » 10/19/09 01:11 PM

Damn!!!! If I cannot wear my "Pull my finger" t shirt, I guess my Cockroaches in the Entre is out too...

....but, to be serious, my best responses from restaurant groups have been when I treat them like long-lost cousins and treat them just like family....If I overhear or sense something about them, I try to work it into whatever I am doing...

I am always prepared with coins (Muscle Pass, Passes, Karate Koin) and my roaches (in case somebody asks for a smoke...tsk tsk)...Torn/Restored Napkin (sucker ending), Shaker Thru Table, and a fairly large arsenal of other impromptu effects...

Cold approaches are not my favorites, and I do agree that it is usually best to wait for an invite or respond to a lead-in comment...

...as I like to say, "Magic makes children of everybody...play with them!!"

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Postby David Alexander » 10/19/09 05:10 PM

mrgoat wrote:
Spellbinder wrote:[ But if you have to ask me to define entertainment, I'd respectfully suggest you may be in the wrong forum.


I'd love to know too.

How on earth can one possibly define entertainment? Very interesting topic and totally worthy of this great forum.



Supreme Court Associate Justice Potter Stewart said he couldn't define it, but he knew it when he saw it. Or maybe he was talking about a different form of entertainment that magicians seem familiar with.
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Postby NADLIVE » 10/19/09 06:00 PM

Entertainment. Noun

1. the act of entertaining; agreeable occupation for the mind; diversion; amusement: Solving the daily crossword puzzle is an entertainment for many.
2. something affording pleasure, diversion, or amusement, esp. a performance of some kind: The highlight of the ball was an elaborate entertainment.
3. hospitable provision for the needs and wants of guests.
4. a divertingly adventurous, comic, or picaresque novel.
5. Obsolete. maintenance in service
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Postby Brad Henderson » 10/19/09 06:11 PM

Perhaps, as far as magic goes, it is better to avoid implying that entertainment is something ADDED to a presentation, but is instead the avoidance of certain conditions.
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Postby opie » 10/19/09 06:37 PM

Aristotle informed us that all art is imitation, and Robert-Houdin said that we are actors playing the part of a magician. The performance to entertain is the key and the tricks merely script and props.

The alternative to entertainment is almost too horrible to discuss on this family forum.....

...besides, the question was what we would perform if we only had five minutes notice? I would say that the answer is a little role-playing piece of mystery entertainment, which might be dramatic or mirthful, as long as it is not drowse inducing...

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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/19/09 07:19 PM

NADLIVE wrote:Entertainment. Noun

1. the act of entertaining; agreeable occupation for the mind; diversion; amusement: Solving the daily crossword puzzle is an entertainment for many.
2. something affording pleasure, diversion, or amusement, esp. a performance of some kind: The highlight of the ball was an elaborate entertainment.
3. hospitable provision for the needs and wants of guests.
4. a divertingly adventurous, comic, or picaresque novel.
5. Obsolete. maintenance in service


Dolt

1. Magician without language skills
2. Internet poster using wiki or online dictionary as source rather than offering cogent discussion
5. What most people wind up trying to fit to a nut
6. A sound that rhymes with see

Which brings us back to ... duh.

;)

Aristotle had all sorts of interesting opinions. :)
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Postby Brian Marks » 10/19/09 11:57 PM

Because this is in the platform area I can assume the original poster does not mean close up.

I would do 1 or 2 tricks from act. Tricks that are done deceptively are entertaining or at least my audiences seem to react well to them. I don't add "entertainment" to it.

My act is about me and my relasionship to the audience and not necessarily about tricks. Tricks are just something I do along the way.
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Postby Gord » 10/20/09 09:42 AM

If I had only five minutes, most likely my card stab routine. If I was just told to go do anything I wanted, head chopper.


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Postby Brad Henderson » 10/29/09 11:42 AM

I think anyone interested in the topic of "magic" and "entertainment" would do well to read Steinmeyer's excellent essay found in "The Secret No One Tells You."
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/29/09 12:17 PM

If you're working onstage you can do a Flash Appearance and one other illusion in five minutes. I'm not an illusionist, but I've seen it done. I also saw Al Delage work, and he did about 30 tricks in five minutes.

If you're doing close-up, Ambitious Card and Spongeballs.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/29/09 12:29 PM

Sean-Dylan wrote:If you only had 5 minutes to perform (lay audience) and had to make a big impression. What would you do?


If money is not a factor why not let Madonna and Justin Timberlake perform "4 Minutes" and quit worrying about it? ;)
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Postby Q. Kumber » 10/29/09 01:38 PM

I'd perform my Five Minutes With a Pocket Handkerchief routine. Being extremely visual it also plays well for non-English speaking audiences. And it's available from Meir Yedid at http://www.mymagic.com
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Postby Mark.Lewis » 10/29/09 09:38 PM

In five minutes I would have the place in uproar. What tricks do I do? That is a completely irrelevant question since I don't present tricks. No. I present ME doing tricks.

The above uproar is applicable to close up magic. On a stage I would produce less uproar but the rule still applies.
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Postby smokemist » 11/06/09 04:19 AM

Brad Henderson wrote:And what, then IS entertainment. Just putting it in capitals does not define it. Is it corny jokes? Playing card neck ties? Bunny rabbit pins with eyes that blink?

And cannot magic, simply done well, not be entertaining or must it be "propped up" with pull my finger gags?

What. SPellbinder, IS entertainment?


Couldn't agree more..

What's wrong with unleashing an visual magic assualt on your audience? Ask the main question to FISM champs, Jason Byrne, Greg Frewin, Rocco, etc... What would they do?

The comments i have read over the yrs about "entertaining your audience" not just doing the magic... makes me cringe a bit.
"A real pro will do 2 effects in 20 min, ect.." To even imply that this is how it should be done, is garbage.

What is magic? Is it not entertainment in itself? Is that not what people come to a magic show to see? ..... magic..not nessesarily a comedian/magician all the time, which seems to have been a continuing trend especially at places like the Magic Castle.

Do we need to be comedians with the usual magi jokes: "Be careful, it's a sharpie" hahaha.. etc.

We all have our individual styles that work best.. There are no rules in art. And there are no magic "gods" with the "best" way to do things.. No one can say the best way to hold the paint brush or the best shade of blue to use on which canvas.

For example, if I were given 5 min... I would do my silent manip act that has a lot of visual effects.. It suits my comfort level the best, and suits me the best.. I get right to the magic from begining to end.

I know some may have a problem with it.. due to personal limitations, jealousy, or who knows what..

Magic is an art... I appreciate those who have broken the cookie cutter approach to any art.
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Postby Mark.Lewis » 11/06/09 08:01 AM

Oh dear! This is a subject I could waffle on endlessly about since I know more about it than anyone else. Alas however you will all have to wait until after the weekend once I have deprived the public of their money. Paul Pacific will be accompanying me on this mission and I do hope he puts on some shoes when he does so.

I haven't read this thread properly but I expect most of you are talking nonsense as most of you always do. I am however heartened to see that Opie and Brad Henderson do not appear to be at each other's throats any more. Hopefully peace and goodwill now reigns between them.

On the other hand it deprives me of some fun.

Anyway I shall pontificate on these matters after I have collected donations from my congregation this weekend.It really is about time you all learned to do magic properly. I shall be along shortly to tell you all how to do it.
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