I am bored stiff!

Discuss general aspects of Genii.

Postby Mark.Lewis » 11/03/09 10:05 AM

This forum is so dreadfully boring that I almost wish Richard would ban me again. I am falling asleep here. Nobody posts anything interesting here and there is one new post every 5 days or something. The height of the conversation seems to be supposed witticisms about dropped colons.The only mental exercise I get here is trying to figure out what Jonathon Townsend is saying.

Richard says I am not to say anything rude about anybody and I must say that I consider this to be the end of civilisation as we know it. That means that the Goat person gets all the fun to himself. It ain't fair. But the worst part of it is that nobody wants to fight with me any more anyway. I consider this to be an unmitigated disaster.

To relieve my boredom I have decided to become an oracle of wisdom instead. I happen to know everything about magic, hypnotism, psychic readings, children's entertainment, ripping off the public with the svengali deck and much, much more.

I am going to use this thread to answer any questions you may have about these subjects. Old people like to share their knowledge to the young who most of the time don't deserve the knowledge anyway.

I have information inside of me that is worth thousands upon thousands of dollars. I am willing to share it if you but ask. I need to find some way of keeping awake on here. Seek and ye shall find. Ask and it shall be give unto you.

You are going to get it for free. Free is a good price.
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Postby Keith Raygor » 11/03/09 10:43 AM

Since my teens, I've always had either of two visions of a magician, either a Mississippi River boat gambler-type character, like a Doc Holliday, or a Svengali pitchman. Not even sure why, but they were my fantasies as a child.

It sounds like much of your life has been lived in ways I romanticize(d).

I'd love to hear some of what I missed. What are the parts of those activities you list, that you enjoyed the most, and why?
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 11/03/09 10:50 AM

The book arrived, will start on it this weekend or later this week.

In the mean time gonna post some on magic in stories - as found a whopper in Greg Egan's "The Second Coming of Jasmine Fitzgerald".

Now how about some more on how to engage an audience. How to introduce oneself to an audience? How to notice when an audience is missing something critical to a trick? ... you know, stuff people who perform might like to take from instinct into cogent discussion.
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Postby Mark.Lewis » 11/03/09 12:06 PM

I shall answer Keith's question first as it is the easiest. With Jonathon I shall indeed reply once I get it translated. I have no idea what book he is talking about and as far as I know I haven't sent him one. I have no idea what Greg Egan or Jasmine Fitzgerald has to do with what I posted.

I did understand Jonathon's second paragraph though (except for the word cogent) and will answer it in due course.

To answer Keith you haven't missed anything. And I didn't enjoy any of it. People often tell me that they would love to have done what I did. That always amazes me since my work has been a living hell. I think I would rather have done what Keith did.It sounds like far more fun.

As the old saying goes, "The grass is always greener on the other side"
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Postby Jager » 11/03/09 01:12 PM

Mark, I would like to know how you handle the uncooperative spectator. You know the one I am talking about; the guy who is always grabbing at your props, shuffling when he was not asked to shuffle. His favorite words are: Show me your other hand or It went up your sleeve. The know it all who is always out to get you. How do you shut him down without coming off as rude or obnoxious? Or is rude and obnoxious the best way to deal with him?
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 11/03/09 01:37 PM

Okay one more -I wanna know about goat wrangling. How do you find a goat, lure a goat, snare a goat etc?

For those who need such distractions: Friday is coming and I don't have a date yet.
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Postby Mark.Lewis » 11/03/09 01:46 PM

Methinks Jonathon is trying to wind me up. I expect a goat is indeed going to join this thread any minute.

I really like Kelly's question and I feel very qualified to answer it. I shall do so in detail later once I have time. For now I shall merely say that you NEED obnoxious people to improve your work. And no, for close up magic anyway being rude right back is NOT the answer. In fact it means that the loudmouth wins.

Again I have no time right now. I will come back to this later. For the moment here is one quick suggestion for dealing with challenges. I heartily recommend a little known but marvellous book which to my great joy is now back in print again.

It is called "Outs, Precautions and Challenges" by Charles Hopkins. A mere $6 in my local magic shop but the information inside is priceless.
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Postby mrgoat » 11/03/09 07:58 PM

Did someone call?
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Postby mrgoat » 11/03/09 08:00 PM

I'd like to know why you ended up pitching sven decks. I sold then for a while in my youth before I even knew they were a pitch item. So I thought I was being clever working things that are in your book.

Do you think people who bulk sell the decks should also sell your book with them?

What is the ONE key thing in your book to persuade people to buy it?

x
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Postby Mark.Lewis » 11/03/09 10:03 PM

I see that the goat is butting in. I am afraid that I shall have to answer his question later since a queue has formed. Jonathon was technically first but his three questions will take a while and besides haven't come back from the translator yet. I will indeed come back to him and of course the goat personage. However I think I shall deal with Kelly's question first.

First I should, however, make clear that I am dealing with close up impromptu magic when I answer this. The stage has different rules as does pitching magic as does children's shows. There are hecklers in all these areas but different techniques have to be used in those cases. I am well able to pontificate on those areas too but there is no time or space and the answers would not apply to Kelly's specific question since I am certain he is talking about close up magic.

Of course we can subdivide close up magic too. A professional performance for money may have slightly different rules than an impromptu performance for no money. However some of the techniques and philosophy I am about to spout about can indeed be used professionally close up too although perhaps in a slightly more assertive way. I am, however going to talk mainly about close up impromptu magic since the vast majority of magicians are amateurs who do it for fun and this is the type of magic they are most liable to perform.

All this reminds of the time I met grumpy old Al Goshman who was astonishingly more miserable than me. The only time I saw him brighten was when somebody told a dirty joke or when he was counting his money. He railed critically against every noted magician under the sun from David Roth to Dai Vernon. I asked him about Slydini and he merely growled, "Slydini couldn't handle trouble!" which I took to mean that he couldn't handle hecklers. Mind you I don't know what Goshman would have done either.

But I digress. My explanation is going to take a long time but I have considered this in a very thorough manner over many years and thorough thinking requires a thorough explanation. And thorough explanations take a lot of words and space. So if you want the info I am afraid you will have to put up with it.

For now I will point out a couple of provisos before I launch into my long sermon. One proviso in my advice is that my approach may not suit everyone since not everyone has my personality which has been designed by God to stave off hecklers. There may be, however some aspect of what I do that you can adapt to your own requirements.

Another proviso is that what I am about to tell you will not work with drunks. In fact nothing ever will. Mind you, the solution is easy. Don't perform. Wait until the bastard passes out and then do your stuff. If you are in an unpaid situation you can avoid the inebriated since it is all your choice.

In a paid situation it is a bit more problematic but not really. Most paid situations you can still avoid performing for drunks. You are not compelled to perform for a drunk in a restaurant for example. You can easily go to another table. A drunk can be avoided at a cocktail party if you are adept at keeping an eye out for them and disappearing when necessary. I have never seen a drunk at a trade show so that shouldn't be an issue. Perhaps you get them if you are a bar magician but I have never done that kind of work so I can't comment. On the other hand an experienced bar magician doesn't need my advice anyway.

Darwin Ortiz wrote a wonderful book called Strong Magic even though Richard Kaufmann doesn't like it. Of course it is his own publication so that is an oddity to be discussed another time. I agree with virtually everything in the Ortiz book except for his advice on hecklers where he essentially says that you should ignore them completely but if that doesn't work you are supposed to say "that is what happens when cousins marry"

Dearie me no. That is not the way to go. My method is much, much cleverer as befits my genius. Actually it is common sense. Nobody has ever mentioned the obvious solution of making friends with the heckler and getting him on your side. Sure it takes a lot more skill to do this that it does to talk about cousins marrying. But the results are FAR more profitable and the heckler will eventually become your biggest booster.

Now one more thing before I launch my sermon on this matter. A lot of what seems to he heckling isn't. It is merely INTERACTION.
Interaction can be irritating and throw you off your timing but it isn't heckling. The response isn't meant maliciously and in fact it is a sign that the person is actually having fun. If a foolish magician over reacts to this instead of taking it in good part then he is a right pillock or to put it more politely he should rethink his strategy. Defending yourself when nobody is attacking you is not the way to go.

There.The above is educational but I haven't even started yet. Shall I continue?
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 11/03/09 11:23 PM

Continue.
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Postby Mark.Lewis » 11/04/09 12:27 AM

Jolly good. In that case here is a little more:

Unfortunately, in this sad world there are those unenlightened souls whose only pleasure in life is to wreck the magicians performance. The will insist on loudly proclaiming that they know how the trick is done (they very rarely do) and that all magicians are fakes. The will insist on shuffling the pack at inopportune times, they will spot the palmed card in your hand and will brag that they once had a magic set.

There are three solutions to the above problem:-

1. Curl up and die (for the timid among you).
2. Punch your tormentor on the nose (for the not so timid among you).
3. Read on and peruse my advice.

Now lets see. We do not recommend the first solution on the grounds of bad showmanship. Neither do we particularly get excited over the second option. It will distract from the performance and besides, our heckler friend (?) may be bigger than you.

That leaves us with the third solution. Read on, read on.

You must first realise that you are there to entertain people, even the nasty heckler. Tempting though it is to retaliate and be rude right back it is wise not to lose your temper. If you are quick witted and have a little bit of cunning about you it is possible to turn the pest into an asset, or at least quieten him down.

Would you like to know how?
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Postby mrgoat » 11/04/09 06:40 AM

I would.
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Postby Mark.Lewis » 11/04/09 07:44 AM

Jolly good. Here is the answer:

Let me back up for a moment. In the last post I mentioned that you should not retaliate and be rude right back. If, on the other hand, you go against this and you do try to answer him back the performance could easily deteriorate into a slanging match which is not quite what you originally intended. Besides, the more you argue the more hell persist in wrecking the show. You will also find that by resisting him you may alienate the rest of the audience because you are attacking one of their number. We find that people are perverse and although some of the spectators will be annoyed by the pest, others for some psychological reason will tend to side with him, especially if he is not TOO obnoxious. This is probably because people have a subconscious resentment against being fooled. They feel somehow inferior to this sharp trickster who is deceiving them so convincingly and they react with delight when the clever so and so runs into trouble. This being so, they may identify with the heckler especially if the magician has a smart alec see-how-clever-I-am air about him.

One other reason not to trade words with the bore is that if destroys what actors call the suspension of disbelief. To explain this, when you watch a movie or theatre play you are absorbed completely; you know in your heart of hearts that the actors are only playing a part, that what is going on is not real, but for the moment while you are watching you SUSPEND your disbelief momentarily reveling in the illusion that everything is really happening. However, if a piece of scenery drops backstage or the movie projector breaks down you are quickly brought back to reality and the suspension of disbelief starts to disintegrate. Similarly with our magician; he creates the illusion that what he does is magic; of course, at the back of their minds the spectators (unless they are extremely gullible) know that it is not magic, but for the moment while they are enjoying the performance they are willing to suspend disbelief. However, let the performer start arguing with the heckler or tell him to shut up and the whole process will disintegrate very rapidly. Our magician is no longer superman; he actually does mundane things like get annoyed. This maker of miracles is just an ordinary mortal after all,-well, what an anti-climax! Our hero who was dazzling everyone a moment ago with feats of astonishment now shows himself to be just a normal human being who demeans himself by arguing with the lower orders. After all, if he was a real magician, he wouldnt waste time in conversation-he would simply make the heckler disappear!

You cannot ignore the heckler either as Darwin Ortiz recommends because as the presentation section of Expert Card Technique indicates if you ignore him he will persist. You need to shut him up and get him on your side which won't happen if you ignore him.

No,ignoring him or answering back is not the solution to our problem. A better plan is to try and be nice to the nuisance! This will take the wind out of his sails and might make him feel guilty! Of course you might say, Love thine enemy is easier said than done. Well, persevere, persevere. Try and get on his side, even flatter him a tiny bit. You can even let him bully you a little for you have a trump card. Ill tell you about it soon.

Heres more advice: try and make capital out of the situation, look for some amusing remark that wont give offence (do NOT say, We all make mistakes, your mother made one) humour him, laugh with him and try to turn things to your advantage. Oh, and dont worry-we have a trump card. Patience, patience-Ill tell you about it eventually.

More advice: if he says, I know how thats done! you reply, Thats strange, I know how its done too! It is essential that you furrow your brows as you do this.If he then tells everyone the secret and he is right you deflate him by asking, What do you want, --magic? If his antics become TOO irritating I suggest you threaten to turn him into a frog. No doubt this will make him quail with fear and he will immediately go as quiet as a mouse and treat you with the respect you deserve. If for some reason even this master stroke doesnt completely succeed, well, you have the trump card to fall back on. All right, all right. Were coming to it, I promise. But first, a little more advice on this subject.

Probably the best protection against the heckler is your own competence. After all, if you do your stuff well there is less opportunity for interruption. If you perform fluently and as if you know what you are doing it will tend to dissuade the pest from tormenting you. Everyone likes to watch a master at work, even the heckler. If you are exciting and entertaining this will often be enough to quell mutinous spectators. On the other hand, if you are ill at ease and awkward, not only will you cause the audience to experience the same feelings, you will be inviting trouble, as sure as the sun rises in the east. Your attitude is all-important; if you are humble you will tend to make people like you, and the more people like you the less heckling you will experience. Conversely, if you are arrogant and superior when you work, you will attract confrontation like a magnet, and well you will deserve it. Contrary to what you might expect, a little heckling is good for you. It keeps you alert, on your toes and teaches you not to be too complacent. It will encourage you to practice; when the loudmouth says, I saw you switch that card! hes actually doing you a favour. Maybe youll practice so hard that next time he wont see you switch it.

Oh, I mentioned a trump card if all else fails. Would you like to know what it is?
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Postby Joe Pecore » 11/04/09 08:21 AM

Sure
Share your knowledge on the MagicPedia wiki.
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Postby Mark.Lewis » 11/04/09 08:58 AM

Anybody else?
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Postby Bob Coyne » 11/04/09 09:18 AM

On the hunch that in addition to imparting the information, you are presenting this in a self-referential manner, I'd say the trump card is to ask the heckler a question...just like you're doing now. It seems to be working here. Am I not right?
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 11/04/09 09:34 AM

Mark.Lewis wrote:Anybody else?

Please continue instructing.
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Postby Mark.Lewis » 11/04/09 11:08 AM

Asking questions has nothing to do with it. I am merely asking questions to gauge interest and to break up the long sermon somewhat.
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Postby Keith Raygor » 11/04/09 01:36 PM

Please describe your trump card.
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Postby Mark.Lewis » 11/04/09 02:18 PM

Oh, I completely forgot-the trump card! Well its called a SUCKER TRICK. There are a number of them around and using any one of them at the right time is the surest way not only to deflate your tormentor but often to make him your biggest booster. These are tricks which look as if theyve gone badly wrong, but at the last minute the poor magician extricates himself from his dilemna, and turns the tables on everybody by amazing them after all! This type of trick is especially effective for hecklers because they fall into a trap; at first they are delighted that the magician has had his comeuppance, they are flushed with triumph and often loudly mock the performer for his incompetence. However, when suddenly everything turns out right in the end, the gales of laughter from the crowd are usually directed against the heckler who then after his initial surprise and embarrassment, usually admits defeat and nurses his bruised ego by strangely praising you to the skies and becoming one of your biggest fans. In my experience, I have often found these former opponents have spread my reputation far and wide, they get their feelings of importance now, not by heckling but by bragging that they know me, and most incredible of all, get loudly indignant if anyone else dares to heckle me if they happen to be watching!

Thats my advice on hecklers; it has taken up a lot of space but I think its useful advice since amateurs probably get more heckling, especially from family and friends than anyone else when performing in an impromptu close up situation. But this advice may be useful for professional magicians too.

And talking about professional magicians let me remind you all what I said in my very first post concerning this matter. The above sermon does not necessarily apply to stand up magic situations or kid shows or where pitching magic is concerned.

However, if you perform close up intimate card magic in social and business situations, all you need to know about handling hecklers is the advice Ive given you and the knowledge youll get from experience.

One more thing I should mention. I earlier said that I had a personality that God designed to ward off hecklers. Some people might say that it was the Devil rather than God that designed it but whoever or whatever designed it made things easier for me. It isn't my doing that I am made this way but I may as well take advantage of it. The secret is that I am able to charm the heckler. This, of course is a gift from the Gods and not everyone is naturally going to be able to do this. However they will be able to adapt some of the philosophy to their own personality and hopefully make good and effective use of it.

And now one more question. Has all this been helpful to anyone?
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Postby Jager » 11/04/09 02:52 PM

Mark.Lewis wrote:And now one more question. Has all this been helpful to anyone?


Thank you Mark, you have answered my question above and beyond my expectations.
What are your favorite sucker tricks that you use in close up situations?
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Postby Mark Collier » 11/04/09 02:59 PM

If you can maintain enough control over the spectator (and the audience), over the head is a great trick to do on know-it-alls.
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Postby Mark.Lewis » 11/04/09 05:17 PM

There is a ton of sucker tricks. Off the top of my head is Design for laughter or it's ancestor Dunbury Delusion, Three and a Half of clubs, Now you See it, etc;

To this day I still remember a loud mouthed heckler (I even remember his name was Morris and this was around 40 years ago)yelling "I'm Sorry! You've got it wrong" when I apparently placed the correct card down on the table in the Design for Laughter trick in the Royal Road to Card Magic. He grabbed the card and when he turned it over it was no longer there. The yells of derision from the crowd and the look on his face stick with me to this day.

I just appeared humble and innocent as always and he knew he had been had. My style has always been for them to underestimate me. That guy became a fan of mine from that moment on. What else could he do? The only way he could placate his own injured ego was to thenceforth praise me to the skies on the old principle that "if you can't beat 'em then join 'em"

And the above scenario has happened countless times. The heckler turns into a fan instead of a pest.

Far better than using heckler stoppers I would have thought. I bet you don't turn too many hecklers in your favour saying "that's what happens when cousins marry"
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Postby Dave Mithaca » 11/04/09 07:55 PM

Great stuff, Mr. Lewis. A lot of this philosophy could be used by teachers (such as myself) to good effect in a classroom. I especially like your explanation of "suspension of disbelief." Thanks for sharing!
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Postby Mark.Lewis » 11/04/09 09:14 PM

You are of course welcome.

I suppose I had better answer Jonathon's questions now. The problem is that I understand the first one but not the second. I shall have to wait until that comes back from the translater.

He asks how you introduce yourself to an audience. I am of the opinion that you should get straight to the point and not yap too much under the delusion that you are gaining "rapport" when you are probably inducing boredom instead. Mentalists are particularly guilty of this.

You need to get started within 30 seconds of coming out on that stage. Don't waste time. Performers who talk interminably without any action happening put me to sleep and of course mentalists again are the chief sinners in this regard.

I come from the hard school of London night clubs and British working mens clubs where you would not survive if you did all that interminable yapping that goes on nowadays. In London you were given no chance at all and in fact not only were the entire audience drunk they had their backs to you when you first came out on stage. The working mens clubs were much fairer. They would give you a whole minute before ignoring you. And you had to prove yourself in that first minute otherwise you were toast. After that if they didn't like you then a buzz of conversation would go round the room and that would be the end of you.

I learned then to get that first bloody trick started and not waste time. Do your rapport building during that trick not with a whole load of waffle beforehand.

And THAT is how you introduce yourself to an audience.
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Postby Mark.Lewis » 11/04/09 09:16 PM

mrgoat wrote:I'd like to know why you ended up pitching sven decks. I sold then for a while in my youth before I even knew they were a pitch item. So I thought I was being clever working things that are in your book.

Do you think people who bulk sell the decks should also sell your book with them?

What is the ONE key thing in your book to persuade people to buy it?

x


Miracle of miracles. I think I have actually mastered this quote thing.
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Postby Mark.Lewis » 11/04/09 09:26 PM

I shall now ponder the goat's questions. I wish he hadn't asked so many but then he has always been irritating.

I ended up selling svengali decks because I overheard Ron Macmillan offering Val Andrews a massive percentage of sales to sell them at an exhibition. I then made the fatal error of going down to Ron MacMillan's magic studio the next day to offer my services. I wish now that I bloody hadn't. I made so much money selling them for Ron Macmillan that I could never escape from the damn things. I eventually went on my own and sold them all over the world and ended up married to the bloody things.

As to the second question people who bulk sell svengali decks have managed quite well without my book and no doubt will continue to do so. However it would certainly be a good book for a magic shop to carry since if they sell a svengali deck they may as well upsell my book also.

And the one key thing in my book is that it is written by [censored]. I would have thought this was perfectly obvious.
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Postby Silly Walter » 11/05/09 09:55 AM

Mr. Lewis,

We appreciate you taking time out of your very busy schedule to answer such questions. I thank you in advance.

1. Besides Randy Wakeman, David Acer and Paul Harris, who do you think are the funniest and best comedy close up magic guys?

2. Richard Osterlind finally broke his 3 weeks of silence and released another DVD series - this time on 13 Steps To Mentalism. How awesome is that for mentalists?

3. Marshall Brodein also used to pitch the Svengali deck. I believe it was advertised as TV Magic Cards. Was this an inspiration for you to follow in his footsteps?

4. What is Theory 11?

5. When you hand out your business card, do you do something magical with the card like show it blank on both sides, magically print it and then give it to the client, or do you think magicians that do that should be punched in the face?

Once again Mr. Lewis, on behalf of the entire magic community, we thank you.

SW
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Postby Glenn Bishop » 11/05/09 10:24 AM

Silly Walter wrote:Mr. Lewis,

We appreciate you taking time out of your very busy schedule to answer such questions. I thank you in advance.

SW


I am not Mr. Lewis however I will be glad to answer your questions - just to help you out silly Walter.

Silly Walter wrote:1. Besides Randy Wakeman, David Acer and Paul Harris, who do you think are the funniest and best comedy close up magic guys?
SW


Bill Malone, Tom Ogden, and Ricky Jay

Silly Walter wrote:

2. Richard Osterlind finally broke his 3 weeks of silence and released another DVD series - this time on 13 Steps To Mentalism. How awesome is that for mentalists?

SW

Very awesome.

Silly Walter wrote:3. Marshall Brodein also used to pitch the Svengali deck. I believe it was advertised as TV Magic Cards. Was this an inspiration for you to follow in his footsteps?

SW


Having worked for Marshall Brodien in his Marshall Brodien Magic shop before it became Bishop's Magic shop. Back at the Old Chicago Amusement park. Marshall was known for doing the Svengali deck pitch on television. He also pitched TV Magic cards, TV Mystery cards, TV Miracle cards and the TV magic card box.

Along with lots of different magic sets.

Marshall Brodien also was a night club Hypnotist and close up magician in Chicago. Performing hypnotism at the Ciro club and close up magic at the Johnny Paul Magic Lounge.

Later he owned his own night club and went on to inventing WIZO the magic clown for the WGN bozo circus television program.

Yes Marshall Brodien has inspired me in both hypnotism and magic. He did a great svengali deck pitch and used to pitch the deck at Walgreens when the pitch was running on TV. I was also shown how to pitch svengali decks by Eddie Fields. And through the magic shop through the years sold quite a lot of them.

Silly Walter wrote:

4. What is Theory 11?

SW


Theory after Theory 10 and before Theory 12.

Silly Walter wrote:
5. When you hand out your business card, do you do something magical with the card like show it blank on both sides, magically print it and then give it to the client, or do you think magicians that do that should be punched in the face?

SW


I just hand out a business card when an audience member of a client asks for it. And if the client asks for a business card and I am booked at the gig by an agent I hand out the agents business card.

I hope this helps.
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Postby mrgoat » 11/05/09 11:20 AM

Glenn Bishop wrote:I hope this helps.


I doubt it, because he didn't ask for your opinion, he asked for someone else's opinion.

Just my opinion.
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Postby Mark.Lewis » 11/05/09 11:58 AM

I say Bishop old chap. You are interrupting the class. Go and stand in the corner. Silly Walter was asking me not you.

I set up this thread so that I could relieve my boredom and pontificate here without getting into too much trouble. If I am not pontificating that means I go on the other threads and get tempted to say rude things about Jim Sisti who has actually got his revenge without knowing that he got it. And I am not going to tell him either. I don't want him gloating.

Anyway I set this thread up so that I could pontificate not Glenn Bishop. I do recognise that poor Glenn is misunderstood in the same way I am and his wise contributions are not acknowledged as much as they should be. However he should do as I do and set up his own pontification thread rather than ride on my coat tails and hijack my own recognised genius just because I get more attention than he does.

Besides it distracts me from answering Silly Walter's questions. What is the point of me answering them when another person comes along and deputises for me without having received formal permission to do so?

I shall now look at them closely and see what I have to say.

With regard to his first question I don't like anybody doing close up magic today. I think they are all crap but some are lesser crap than others. I think the best ones are dead and I am nearly there myself.

But it is an odd question. It mentions comedy close up magicians. I don't think a close up magician has to be funny to be effective. It doesn't hurt but it isn't essential. Just being funny per se isn't the be all and end all of a good performer. In fact you can be so funny that you kill the magic which does deserve some attention after all.

I will revise my statement that I don't particularly like any of the present crop of living incompetents. There is one chap in Ireland who is little known among magicians and likes to keep it that way. His name is Daniel 0'Donoghue and he is one of the greatest I have ever seen. He isn't particularly funny but as I stated you don't have to be. He is certainly entertaining though and you can certainly be entertaining without getting belly laughs. Smiles and amusement are sufficient.

A few months ago I saw Julie Eng perform and I was far more impressed than I thought I would be. It wasn't so much the magic which was excellent but the charm with which she put it across. Her smile alone would charm the most difficult of spectators. I saw her work to senior citizens who are not the greatest audiences for close up magic but they loved her. The secret is that she sells herself whether she knows it or not. And so does Dan in Ireland. The tricks don't really matter that much. As I keep saying they are only pegs that you hang your personality on.

I am hesitant to mention her here because I am in enough trouble with her already because of the lamentable Sisti person but that is another story altogether and even Sisti doesn't know what it is all about. Still Silly Walter asked the question and I feel duty bound to give a truthful answer. Mind you I haven't really answered the question because Julie isn't a comedy performer either. But then as I stated you don't have to be.

Walter has asked other questions and I will get to them in due course. I am still sulking because of the impertinence of the Bishop person in interruping the class.
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Postby Glenn Bishop » 11/05/09 12:15 PM

Sorry for interrupting the class Mark. I very much enjoyed the class talk on what to do about hecklers when performing. And the class way that you spoke about it "wit and wisdom" as I once said.

I also think that there are even more problems with hecklers today in the real world of performing. Just because of the secrets are easy to get today. With DVDs and youtube. If one is performing today with the exposure - it seems to me that there are more problems with hecklers today in the real world of doing shows.

So in my opinion your advice on hecklers was and is much needed.

Thanks again.

Oh yes I forgot to say "Just My Opinion"!
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 11/05/09 12:17 PM

I'm watching the way you handle the heckler - trying to learn.
Mundus vult decipi
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Postby mai-ling » 11/05/09 12:29 PM

me too!
you will remember my name
http://www.mai-ling.net
world's youngest illusionista

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Postby Mark.Lewis » 11/05/09 12:38 PM

Dunno Glenn. You may be right. I haven't noticed any particular difference but I suppose you may have a point that more people know the secrets so there may be more blurting out those secrets when a magician does his thing. I dunno. Where close up magic is concerned you may have a point although as I have said I haven't seen much trouble yet although I did notice Lee Darrow say much the same as you since people were beginning to know all the gimmicks he used.

Where the stage is concerned though I don't believe for one moment that there is more heckling now than there used to be. I think in fact there is far less. In the old days there were some very rough venues around and if you used the mamby-pamby technique that I described above you would not survive. I emphasis again that my sermon was for close up impromptu magic and sometimes even paid close up magic but not for stand up venues.

I got heckled mercilessly for months on end in London night clubs where the entire audience was drunk and I was a very new performer at the time. I had no idea how to handle it.

Nope. It is a lot easier nowadays with regard to stand up work at any rate. I hardly get any heckling at all nowadays in the venues I work and I must say that I don't miss it either.
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Postby James Munton » 11/05/09 01:02 PM

Doing sucker tricks for difficult punters is a horrible idea. There are far better ways to deal with them. I'd go into more detail, but I have to pop out for a while. I think it is outrageous that you would give these poor people such bad advice. I will take over the class when I return.

James
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Postby Mark.Lewis » 11/05/09 01:06 PM

Munton. You have no idea what you are talking about. You obviously missed the point I made that my advice is for close up magic situations rather than stand up performances. I know your style well. When you are being heckled you immediately get on your high horse and start to reprimand the heckler. Very silly way of proceeding if I may say so and is a common fault of the less experienced or the more experienced who are less astute.

Here is the very proof of my contention. It is well known that I do not approve of Quentin Reynolds and he does not approve of me in return but this is what he said about my work:

"I have no hesitation, nor have I ever had any hesitation or reluctance in acknowledging you as the finest card magician I have ever seen performing for laymen in an impromptu situation.

At conventions I have seen magicians, hailed as some of the world's best by their peers who I know would die a thousand painful deaths in the venues I have seen you perform. Venues where I have seen tough and hostile groups intrigued, tamed and turned into cheering fans in minutes and left shouting for more."

Note the words "tough and hostile" especially the word "hostile"
If Munton were working they would STILL be hostile even if he were able to quieten them down. With me they no longer remain hostile and in fact become "cheering fans". That is because I am [censored] and Munton is merely Munton.

How can anyone that decries my wonderful choo-choo train trick have any credibility?
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Postby Jager » 11/05/09 01:12 PM

Mark.Lewis wrote:I am going to use this thread to answer any questions you may have about these subjects. Old people like to share their knowledge to the young who most of the time don't deserve the knowledge anyway.


Mark, I really appreciate your detailed answers to all my questions and I apologize if I am asking too many. I dont get many opportunities to talk with seasoned working magicians so I am going to take advantage of your generosity.
Do you have any suggestions on selecting assistants from the audience? How do you spot the ones that will be most cooperative? I am amazed at how poorly most young people are able to follow even the simplest of instructions. And when an assistant is just not working out is it okay to politely dismiss them and select another?
Kelly Smith
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Postby Mark.Lewis » 11/05/09 01:21 PM

I can certainly advise on Kelly's question and I shall do so in due course. Munton however has tired me out so I shall have to return to it later.

One question though. Is Kelly referring to a children's show (I notice he mentions young people) or an adult show? I can pontificate about both but the approaches are different.
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