Performing Close Up Magic In Restaurants

Discuss general aspects of Genii.

Postby Glenn Bishop » 11/06/09 11:13 AM

Over the years I have talked to a lot of magicians about performing magic on a stage and close up. Most of the magicians that did it for a living that I have talked to. They all had sort of the same answers and even when they were very different magicians. They ended up in the same place.

I have a lot of experience performing both stage and close up magic for many kinds of different audiences. I have found that I have had hecklers in the realm of stage magic in only two kinds of shows. That is night clubs and high school gigs.

In close up I rarely get hecklers in the night club bar situation for the thirty fifty something audience. However I do get hecklers when I perform for the younger teen and twenty something audience in the family style restaurant.

I think part of this is that there are a lot of the teen twenty something crowd into magic. Learning secrets - more than there was in the 70s before the web. I am not saying that this is a bad thing however it is part of the changing audience that happens over the years as things change.

I was performing in one of my restaurant gigs last season and I got a table full of teens. One of the teens called himself a magician and two of his friends were his close friends - the friends that he practiced on and were in on his secrets.

Once I found out what kind of an audience it was. That was as soon as they started to talk how I did something. I switched methods. I would have to say that it is an interesting thing performing for an audience when they think - or say that they are in the know and they are not. One of the things that got the audience on my side was that I fooled them - but in a nice and non challenging way. I also entertained them as I fooled them.

If I have time and when the restaurant isn't busy I will often let them do a trick for me. And often they will ask me about my magic and want to learn. I often take this opportunity to teach them a quick magic idea. This often brings them over to my side even more.

My closing trick is the cups and balls. When I pulled out the trick the teen magician said "I know how to do that - you use blank (number of balls). I smiled and went on with the routine as he sat back and acted like he was in the know. Then I lifted the cups and showed the loads and knocked his socks off.

I think that there is a way to perform magic as magic brings out the kid in most audiences. There are ways to get around the kid that wants to pick up the cup and the wrong time in a nice way.

Often placing objects on the table a tad out of reach will make it harder for them to try to pick them up. I had a kid reach for my chop cup - and all I did was place my hand on top of the cup and I smiled as I paused. This got a laugh - the kid let go of the cup and there was no more problem. Often kids and adults can get excited and surprised at the different props and want to pick up our props and look at them. Large dice - the loads of my dice chop cup. They most likely never saw anything like that - so they want to look at it - to touch it.

I think that the spectator picking up the props is often encouraged by me - just because I have them look at the chop cup before the trick to draw them in. So if the reach for the cup when the unexpected happens - it happens.

I am of the opinion that the best way to control the audience and it's hecklers is to have good material and do it in nice and friendly way. I am also of the opinion that not everyone in the world is a fan of magic. I remember some advice that I got from a magician that was working restaurants when I started out. My job in that restaurant was not to perform magic for everyone in that restaurant. It was to offer to perform magic.

If the audience is not in the mood and they can be not in the mood - I thank them and move on!

This is just my opinion.

Anyone else that performs close up magic in restaurants have any of their own stories and opinions?
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Postby James Munton » 11/06/09 11:37 AM

Glenn Bishop wrote:My job in that restaurant was not to perform magic for everyone in that restaurant. It was to offer to perform magic.

If the audience is not in the mood and they can be not in the mood - I thank them and move on!


Glenn,

That is an excellent post and we definitely think alike. I think Mark Lewis could learn a lot from you.

In the "I am bored stiff" thread I mentioned that when a performer feels the need to perform for everyone in the room s/he turns from a "magician" to "inflictor of magic."

This is especially true in a restaurant environment when most of the time people did not come to see you, they came to have dinner.

I love how you dealt with the chop cup. I do a similar thing if someone wants to shuffle the cards. I smile and say, "You know why I can't let you do that? The trick wouldn't work!" It gets a laugh and removes any sense of challenge. It also shows that I don't take myself too seriously.

Best,
James
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Postby Glenn Bishop » 11/06/09 01:44 PM

Hi James Thanks for posting. If I may add - I could also learn a lot from Mark Lewis. He has been in show business for a very long time. And I could learn a lot from him as from others.

By reading some of your posts Jim I could tell that you worked and did magic for a living. I find that people that do it - really do it - may not have the exact same experiences but somehow sort of arrive at the same place.

I have worked with a lot of very good and great close up magicians over the years in some of the Chicago magic restaurants and magic bars. I met Bill Malone and Bill Weimer at Houdini's pub when we were all working there. Also John Bernell. All of them were great and had their own way of doing things that worked for them.

Jeff Korst used to work for my Dad at the old Bishops magic shop when it was the Marshall Brodien magic shop. Later on Jeff went on to be a great close up magician and a fantastic stage magician.

I met and worked with Dan Fleshman later on. Dan is one of the best working magicians that I ever met. Not that his tricks were better than other close up magicians that I have met. But Dan is a worker and works hard and I think he loves doing magic so much that he will out work every magician on the floor. Dan Fleshman is great.

Another line when I am working tables in a restaurant I use with card magic that gets a laugh and my way - with the audience member that is trying to be funny.

Here is the situation - they take a card and I ask them to put it into the deck - they don't want to put it back they way I want them to. They want to place it deeper in the deck and want to shuffle it. (Although I am a card guy that very easily get around that) - it slows the show down - and in most of my family restaurants I have at least three to five tables waiting). So I say the line - indicating with my action - to put it here by saying "this is the way the book said to do it."

This gets a laugh and my way and speeds up the show. Then I produce the card going on with the routine - and the magic happens.

In my opinion sucker tricks are great but have to be used in the way of being a nice guy. I look at it this way that each table I do has a person there that might lead to a possible booking. So when I do a sucker trick - I try to "NOT" make an audience member the sucker.

When I do the bust out bluff move (A sucker move in the shell game) I feint the pea under the shell and the audience would bite and know it was there because I flash it - but then I steal it out of the shell and load it under another shell. This can lead to "the sucker you fool" situation that can have a negative effect on an audience member. However in the way I do it I get a very strong laugh because I do not make the audience wrong I make it fun.

I know you know this stuff - and the reason that I try to do my magic the way I tried to write about it above is that I want to use it to get more shows. Because the more I work the more work it gets me. And I often get shows from clients that see the way I deal in a kind way to rough people that want to heckle the magician for fun. That I often run into when I perform close up magic in todays world of show business.

I see it as part of doing business as a magician.

Just my opinion.
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Postby James Munton » 11/07/09 01:46 AM

Glenn,

You should know my arguing with Mark Lewis is good-natured. He does indeed possess a large amount of experience and knowledge due to his advanced age. But in all seriousness, I have learned a lot from him and I think his Wit & Wisdom book should be required reading for anyone who wants to perform magic.

Best,
James
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Postby Mark.Lewis » 11/07/09 02:41 AM

I think Glenn handled the teenage hecklers in exactly the same way I would have done. And of course as I said in the other thread it doesn't really sound like outright heckling. It sounds like INTERACTION and I already pointed out the difference.

Again in the other thread I emphasised two things. I said that I was mainly talking about impromptu magic for no money since this is the type of magic that most people on this forum do.And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Most magicians are hobbyists and they are entitled to indulge in their hobby. I was merely advising them on how to do it correctly. And I also said that SOME of the advice could be transferred to the professional close up sphere but I also implied that perhaps not all of it could since it is a different environment.

The other point I emphasised is that the advice I offered was applicable to ME and the way I work. I said quite clearly that it may not be for everybody but that it was likely that elements of what I said could be applied to suit oneself. In other words if you are not a sucker trick type person then don't bloody do them.

I do them often and anyone that uses them will tell you that they can be terribly powerful if they are NOT done with a smart alec attitude that so many magicians take on. I have mentioned on this forum and elsewhere the "defensive resentment" factor and this superior see-how-clever-I-am attitude aggravates this tendency dreadfully. And if you so a sucker trick with this attitude then James is right when he says the audience will feel like punching the magician.

But imagine now the scenario when the magician is humble and friendly. He is being unmercifully heckled to an extent where it is about to go out of control. Then he does a sucker trick with the same innocent and humble attitude. The audience may well be on his side because of this and be irritated with the heckler who is after all spoiling the fun. So when the sucker denoument happens and the heckler drops himself right in it yet the magician still looks innocent and humble while the audience is loudly mocking the heckler can you NOW see the results that can be garnered from a sucker trick?

The heckler can't be annoyed with the magician who hasn't been insulting at all. But he would be if the magician was arrogant and performed in a confrontational style.
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Postby Glenn Bishop » 11/07/09 10:32 AM

One of the reasons that I perform in restaurants is to use the restaurant as advertising and book shows. At the restaurant I meet people and give out a business card. And as most of us know it is a great way to showcase.

I think that sometimes a magician can lead an audience in a way into being a heckler of sorts. To me a heckler is someone that wants to disrupt the show of the magician. I don't know if it is because they want to show their friends how clever they are or that they are smarter than the magician. That is coming over to their table and trying to trick them with a magic trick.

I remember when I was younger and I used to get invited to parties and then at the party some people would want to see me do magic. I was one of those young people that always had a deck of card in his pocket. So I would take it out and do a few tricks. In this party situation I would often get the heckler - I think because there are people that just don't like some people with talent showing off - so to speak.

Later on I was starting to get booked at parties and I had clients want me to "act like a guest" but then do magic for them.

This to me was odd because I found that people were polite and they watched the tricks - but they did not respond to the tricks as if I was a magician - hired to be there. They responded as if I was a guest - doing a few magic tricks.

At the time - I talked this over with several of my older friends in magic. Buddy Farnan who was one of my mentors told me to book parties in a more formal way. That is do a formal close up show. Have one of the rooms at the party a "magic room" then charge to do magic for a given amount of time. The host of the party will be out there getting people to go into the room to see the magic. The magic is no longer an interruption but it becomes a destination.

I booked parties this way for years and the magic went over much better because I was seen by the guests at the party as a professional magician - not a guest.

Today if I am invited to a party and they want me to do magic I talk to the host and offer a short show if they want me to do some magic. I get them to set up a table and I will do a short show - using often a dish towel as a close up mat - a deck of cards and tea cups for a cups and balls with loads most often fruit and rolled up bills for balls for cups and balls.

I will give them a short magic show. This way I am seen at the party as a professional and people that want to watch magic can watch magic - I am not an interruption. I have booked shows at a few parties in my past for doing magic this way.

One of the things about Don Alan was that he did not stroll when doing magic. He did magic at a station or at a table.

I think that having the place to do it and being a destination instead of an interruption - along with the audience seeing a professional magician instead of just a guest - plus doing good material. I think that helps me when I perform have less hecklers when performing close up magic.

Just a few more thoughts and opinions.
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Postby Glenn Bishop » 11/07/09 07:14 PM

Mark.Lewis wrote:It sounds like INTERACTION and I already pointed out the difference.

Thank you Mark you bring up a great point. I think that that interaction and the magician that is a conversational performer.

That is that the performer has sort of a conversation with the audience. As the magician does magic the audience talks and the magician talks back and what builds is what I call the situation comedy magic show. Others may call it something else but that is what I call it.

In my opinion my dad (Billy Bishop) was the best at this that I ever saw work this way. He got people up - and involved them in a situation comedy as the trick unfolded. His work with the box trick and often let the audience members put carry the box onto the stage - then look at the canvas cover and all that with the gags - it was a riot.

The same thing with the old abbots bow sawing. He used one of the helpers from the box trick and got the bow sawing stocks around them by saying it was an escape trick - then it went wrong and the helper was moved into getting sawed in half with the old bow saw. It was funny stuff.

The thing about my Dads act was that without helpers in the audience - it did not work. He needed the audience and helpers to talk and say things and then he could respond and get that laugh. So in that my Dad was not doing comedy material in the strict writing of jokes. He did a routine - where the audience got to act in a situation comedy. In my opinion that is very different.

No surprise - I work the same way too.

I also respect people like Bill Malone and Billy Weimer. I worked with both of them for years and Houdini's pub and Bit "O" Magic in Chicago. They were naturally funny. Bill Malone in my opinion is as funny and entertaining as he is skilled. I remember in the early days of Houdini's Pub. Bill did great card work (way over my head at the time and a lot of it is still over my head) and he was funny and entertaining at the same time. And he is so good that he makes it look easy.

I think that it is that interaction or conversation with the audience and that audience reaction is the part I like best in close up magic. And in my opinion and some may agree and that I think it also brings the customers back in a restaurant performing situation.

Anyone have any restaurant magic - heckler - audience reaction stories that they would like to share?

Just my opinion.
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Postby Glenn Bishop » 11/08/09 11:07 AM

I guess this is going to be one of those threads like the thread I did on the punch deal.

Speaking of the punch the first and only guy I saw use the punch in his show work was Jack Pyle. I saw Jack Pyle many times when I was a young kid and my Dad used to take me downtown to Magic Inc. When there was some kind of a social get together. At these social get togethers magicians (magicians that did shows that is) performed magic.

By the way in my opinion the magicians that I met when I was a young kid - they were all working pro's. Just about all of them were on TV at one time or another. I saw Jack Pyle, Jay Marshall, Don Alan and many others on the Bozo show. This was a live kid show that was on at 12 noon every weekday.

I also saw the great Mardoni and many other of what my Dad was fond of calling the "old timers".

At these get togethers most of the magic talk was about past shows that these magicians did. And often it was about agents and who was booking who out of what city. Stuff like that. Very different than the session talk and methods and technique that magicians often talk about today.

I think the reason was that these magicians all had working acts and they had an act that made them money. So a lot of the talk was about booking more than what to do in an act. Because when they talked about the act it was more of a story about a night when this happened - something happened by accident while they or someone was doing the act - and it was that kind of conversation going.

As I said Jack Pyle did the punch deal and was known in Chicago as the punch deck pro. At the time I had no idea what a punch deck was. So the card trick - poker and bridge deals - I had no idea he used a punch deck.

Later on when I found out what a punch deck was (From Terry Veckey) who was a lot more experienced than I was. At the time Terry Veckey was the table magician at the New York lounge and I was in my Early 20's. I worked out the punch deal (later on I got the books (Marlo in spades - The Punch Letters and Phantom of the card table) and still later on Jack Pyle showed me how to do his bridge deal using the punch.

I tried it at some of the close up shows I was doing at the time and it did not go over the way I wanted it to go over. Part of the problem I was very young - and I looked younger than my age. The second problem I had with it was that people that I did it for at the shows I did - they did not play bridge. They played poker - mostly draw poker and stud poker at the time.

Then it hit me to use it in culling instead of the second deal. To me the principle idea was the same. That is the punch to read to get a good card and manipulate it to a hand with a second deal while dealing - use the punch with a cull to read and manipulate a good card to the hand I wanted while jog shuffling.

And for me - it worked.

Later on I worked out several routines for draw poker using the punch. (plus I did 2 DVDs and wrote a book about it). Plus there is video of me doing and using the punch at my web site. However I am not going to say which video's I use the punch in.

One of the things that I liked about Jack Pyle and the way that he worked in front of an audience is that when he did his magic and poker and bridge deals. He did it in a non challenging way.

He let the audience shuffle the deck and cut it before the bridge deal. This is what makes it so strong in my opinion. And he used the spectator as his helper. And dealt him the winning hand - once and a while letting him play the part of his partner.

In my opinion that was one of the coolest things about the way Jack worked. He let them shuffle and cut the deck often - and used that to draw them in. He also did not stroll - he liked to sit at one table and let the audience come to him. Being the destination rather than an interruption.

In my opinion magicians do and use a lot of different things when they performed - but often they end up at the same place.

Just my opinion.
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Postby Glenn Bishop » 11/08/09 02:13 PM

If I may add I rarely do the punch deck or other poker deals in the restaurant situation. In most of the family style restaurants where I work - I just don't have the time to do the poker and punch deals at the tables.

I Have used it often in the late night bar and night club situation. But rarely in restaurants. And it is part of my act when I do a formal close up show (45 minutes) of close up magic at a single large table surrounded by party guests.

I remember just after I moved out of Chicago I worked for the Dave and Busters chain with Dan Fleshman. At Dave and Busters I used to get the twenty something - thirty something crowd. I would also do a lot more gambling related magic - because I would get audiences that played the games of chance at the riverboats casinos that were in town.

Here the situation was very different than the family restaurant where the audience is mixed with adults and little kids.

I remember doing one table and the "I would not play cards with him" opening happened. I did my cold cut to the aces from a shuffled deck - then the full house cull stack from a shuffled deck - then the full house - four ace double duke kicker. Then closed with three card monte.

This was a large table of people that went to the riverboat casino often - so the material was good and slanted in the direction of that audience. I have to say they really liked it and as I remember I got a very large tip that night. Plus booked a show just from that one table.

I have found that in certain situations it is nice to be able to branch off and do other things - when the right kind of audience comes along.

Just my opinion.
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Postby Glenn Bishop » 11/08/09 09:45 PM

Speaking of the Chicago Magic Restaurants that I used to work. Bit "O" Magic was one of them. It was on the south side of Chicago. Bill Weimer used to book the place. I think that Bill Weimer is one of the greatest off beat comedy magicians that there is out of our younger crowd that got together in those days.

Bill Weimer and I and many other magicians in town were booked at a company party. It was at the Field Museum. The show that we ended up doing is a story onto itself. We had a rehearsal day and then we were booked to do close up and be part of a stage show. I may save that story for another time.

It was show day (the day after the rehearsal day) and the plan was for me to drive over the Bill Weimers house and then he and I would get into his car and He would drive as we road in together.

Bill Asked me if I could find his house OK over the phone as we talked the mourning of the show. It was winter and it snowed. And his house was the only house on the block that wasn't shoveled. So I said easy - your house is the only house on the block that isn't shoveled.

So in the twenty minutes before I got to his house before the show and we were suppose to drive in together. He went out to shoveled the walk. As he tells the story I went around the block all day until he came out of the house to flag me down. However my story is a little different and less funny.

However that gives readers and idea about how funny and off beat Bill Weimers comedy mind is.

At one time I was going to do a stage show at Bit "O" Magic. So I decided being a fan of John Scarne - I would do the cups and balls with baby chicks. I looked all around Chicago looking for a place I could get baby chicks. As the date got closer - someone said the feed store that was just off I55 in Summet IL.

I went there three days before the show. And the baby chicks that they had were way to big. Then I noticed three little birds in a cage that would fit in the cups.

I asked a guy that worked there - he said that they were button Quail. I asked how big do they grow? He said OH - They are full grown. So I got my money out and the three birds were boxed up and I drove home. I had the whole afternoon off from the magic shop (Bishops Magic shop). I could practice the live loads with my cups and balls routine all afternoon and be ready for the show at Bit "O" Magic in three days.

I put the mat out - got my load bag ready - I was all set...

I opened the box and ---- I found out that Button Quail can FLY!

It took me all afternoon to catch those little birds and get them back in the box - so in my show that weekend at Bit "O" Magic I produced Oranges in my cups and balls routine.

This is a true story - Such was the life of a restaurant magician.

Just my opinion!
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Postby Glenn Bishop » 11/09/09 10:02 AM

And then there was one of the many times that I fooled my Dad doing card tricks. Dad knew me as a card guy who back in my late teens and early 20s used to go to the lectures of the latest magicians that lectured for Hardcore at Magic Inc.

My close friends at the time were Al Bach, Terry Veckey, Steve Sadaro, Jim Gleason, Bill Weimer, Bob Rumba, Bill Malone and Jack Pyle. I see one of them at least once a week. And then once and a while I went in to see Jimmy Molinari at Mr. C's magic lounge.

I remember when Jimmy Cards Molinari came into Houdini's pub and I was the only magician that went over to entertain him and his wife with close up magic. At the time Jimmy was the top card guy and he was working at Mr. C's.

Getting back to this story - of fooling my Dad. I picked up a deck and showed my dad the three of hearts - put it in the center of the deck made a fancy flourish - like I did something and then turned over the three of hearts on the top of the deck.

I did it three more times. Dad was impressed - I asked him if he wanted to learn it. He said yes and thought he was going to get in on some new secret move that I learned at the lecture I was at yesterday at Magic Inc.

I said it is easy - all you have to do is have a deck of cards with about 6 three of hearts in it. As I spread the deck and showed him the several three of hearts that were still in the middle of the deck.

He hit the floor laughing.

My sisters just had a sleep over with a bunch of friends and they played war with several decks of cards and watched TV all night. I picked up one of the decks - it was mixed with other decks all around the room - because they played war - so I just took advantage of the deck in hand - and fooled my dad. I often laugh when I think of this story.

Sometimes if the situation is right - magicians are easy to fool.

Just my opinion.
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Postby Glenn Bishop » 11/10/09 11:28 AM

Back when I started doing close up magic my closing routine in the restaurant was the shell game. I had been doing the shell game for many years as a closing trick.

In my opinion like three card monte I think the shell game routines can get mudded up with a lot of story and history patter. I don't agree with giving some sort of Pseudo history lesson when doing these classic swindles.

I also don't agree with doing a monologue about how there was a fella once that was swindled by this game. First he guessed here and it was wrong - bla bla.

If that kind of stuff works for you and that is to your taste - however I find that audiences have heard about three card monte and the shell game. At one time or another. And in a close up magic show - it is a safe way for them to play the game and not have to lose any money. So I let them guess - and I use sucker moves however I do it in a very nice way.

I also think that these routines are great as long as they do not go on to long. An audience will only want to play and lose or guess wrong for a short time. So like the cups and balls when I started doing restaurants - I used to do a longer routine.

However over the years I have cut it down to just the highlights. The strongest parts that get the best audience reaction.

Over the years I have seen many cups and balls - shell game and three card monte routines that were so long - I thought I would have to shave again.

I was lucky to have invented an ending for the shell game that took off. A lot of magicians do it. This was the feature closing trick when I was performing at Houdini's pub. I fooled Ed Marlo and later on Eddie Fields - Ben Tallman - Jack Pyle - My Dad and a lot of others with that pea in the shot glass ending. Thinking back a full list would read like a whos who in Chicago magic. I later published the routine in lecture notes - Then I did a comb bound book manuscript - and later on 2 DVDs.

I still use it in the restaurants on occasion and in my formal close up show work.

I think that Leipzig said it best - they the audience like to feel that a gentleman has fooled them. I think that that kind of attitude should be applied when doing sucker tricks like many of the moves in the shell game and performing magic in general.

Just my opinion.
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Postby AnthonyBrahams » 11/10/09 12:53 PM

Lack of room on the table precludes me from performing the Three Shell Game in a restaurant. I don't like having to ask diners to move or move their table stuff about. Interested in your comments, please, Glenn (and others?) from your experience. Thanks.
Anthony
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Postby Glenn Bishop » 11/10/09 03:59 PM

Hi Anthony - thanks for the kind words. As to the diners moving stuff. Here in the USA it depends on the place - because different places have different things on the table. It can depend on how you work - before or after dinner - after dinner things need to be moved.

And it also depends on how the performer (you) like to work. Back when I was working Houdini's pub. I used a full sized close up mat. Then later I cut the full sized mat in half.

I also changed the act over the years. I took out the shell game and closed with the chop cup. Then I decided that there were to many magicians using the chop cup (cup and ball) routine in Chicago to close with.

Then I did the Jim Ryan cups and balls routine with sponge balls. When I started to do the Jim Ryan routine I started to open with another chop cup routine using a die and a dice cup as the chop cup. Then later on I changed the cups and ball routine again doing a few Jim Ryan moves and some of my own and a few of Dai Vernon's.

I use the shell game most often to bridge the gap from doing magic to a gambling theme. Then after I do the shell game I go into a few poker and bridge deals - close with three card monte then often close the show with cups and balls with the loads.

I like to a lot of variety when I do a formal show. However the variety helps because I can use one or more routines from my formal close up show - then put it in to my restaurant work for one or two nights - when I get repeat customers. To give them something new to see. It also helps keep my skills sharp with the material that I do for my formal close up show. Because I don't do a formal close up show every week. Like I work restaurants every week.

I hope you enjoy this too.

Just my opinion.
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Postby Glenn Bishop » 11/11/09 03:52 PM

One of the things that has helped me over the years doing different kinds of shows is. That I have most often tried to make the magic visible and able to be seen. I remember years ago when performing at Bit "O" Magic. Bill Weimer booked the stand up show on the weekend. As I remember there were 2 performers doing 2 shows per night - Friday and Saturday night. That made 4 shows in one weekend.

Between the stage acts magicians did close up magic at the tables.

Bill Weimer used to like to MC the show. There was an opening act - often the magic act. Then there was another magic act or a comedy act. I remember Emo, Bob Rumba, Judy Tunada and Ken Shultz performing there often.

I did a stand up act there one weekend - then I was booked again about two months later and the first night I bombed big time on the 2nd show. Even when the first weekend I was booked I went over great. I found that doing magic in a banquet is a lot different than doing it in a night club when there is a cover charge.

So I went home and worked out a stand up act that was a lot of visible close up magic. Close up was my strongest strength and went back and did the last 2 shows the next night and I went over great. This gave me the basic structure of the way that I like to work today.

My stage show is very informal and I use a lot of people out of the audience - like I do with my close up magic. My dad was great in using the audience helpers. He could get two people out of the audience - use them and get great laughs without embarrassing them of making fun of them. Then send them back into the audience - then get two different people up and so on.

He did almost a whole show like that.

I like to work using one member - a different person for about three different tricks. Then I work with two or four and I call that a committee - and use them for several tricks that are done together and make up a whole routine.

I mentioned in another thread when the subject came up about John Scarne and how the audience and the helpers were an important part of some magicians shows. And without that conversation going back and forth between the magician and the helpers - the magic can come off as a little bland.

And how I call this kind of magic as situation comedy magic. Having the helper come up and help and act in a situation comedy that unfolds on the stage. As they take part in the magicians show and do a trick with the magician.

And how the laughs come from the gags, bits of business and the situation rather than making fun of the helper. Who most likely has friends in the audience that are his friends and not the performers friends.

I think that I like watching the situation comedy magic act the best when it is done by a person - like my Dad and Jack Pyle did it. I also think that magic has the advantage over most other forms of show business just because it is easy to make the audience a part of the show.

Just my opinion
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Postby Glenn Bishop » 11/12/09 09:36 AM

Another thing that I have found that is very cool about steady work in restaurants is - that I find if I work steady it opens the door to new and different ideas.

Quite a number of years ago - I was doing a four ace trick - a lose the aces and then find them again and I had an audience member want to shuffle the deck of cards. With many lose the aces find them routines the aces are controlled and then produced one at a time.

This put me on a quest and I was challenged to figure out a way that the aces could be put into a deck of cards - then have the audience helper shuffle the deck - then somehow get them under control and produce them one at a time. The first method I worked out was with my slant on the Stevens cull that I published on my first DVD (Glenn Bishop Cuts The Aces).

Then I worked out a way to do it with the Triumph cull and then still later on I worked out a routine that I use once often when I am doing close up sitting down. With this routine I can take a new - unopened deck of cards. Have an audience member open it and remove the advertising cards and jokers etc.

Then have them shuffle the deck and then I do a routine I call another look at Scarne's aces. And go into a challenge cutting to the high card routine - where I cut the aces from this (new)shuffled deck.

And an audience member can shuffle the deck between each cut. And the goal at the end of the routine is to cut the aces from a shuffled - new deck of cards.

The interesting thing about this kind of a routine is that in my opinion - it is not a magic trick. It is a show of skill - a show of card control - not really magic in my opinion. I think that the difference in this kind of routine and a magic card routine is that this has the effect of a show of skill rather than the effect of magic.

However in my opinion like card fans - turnover spreads and other flourishes in card magic. These things can be part of the overall entertainment - and in my opinion help fill in the breaks between the effects of magic. As in my opinion they can be quite entertaining.

And in my opinion entertainment is the overall package that is sold to the client and the audience in the way of selling an entertainment service.

Just my opinion.
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Postby mrgoat » 11/12/09 10:11 AM

James Munton wrote: I do a similar thing if someone wants to shuffle the cards. I smile and say, "You know why I can't let you do that? The trick wouldn't work!" It gets a laugh and removes any sense of challenge. It also shows that I don't take myself too seriously.


Or you let them shuffle and do a different trick.
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Postby El Mystico » 11/12/09 11:17 AM

Glenn Bishop wrote:I was lucky to have invented an ending for the shell game that took off. A lot of magicians do it. This was the feature closing trick when I was performing at Houdini's pub. I fooled Ed Marlo and later on Eddie Fields - Ben Tallman - Jack Pyle - My Dad and a lot of others with that pea in the shot glass ending.


Am I reading this right? That you invented the ending where a shot glass is placed over the shell and pea, and still the pea vanishes?
If so, a lot of magicans owe you a big 'thank you'.
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Postby Glenn Bishop » 11/12/09 11:41 AM

Glenn Bishop wrote:I was lucky to have invented an ending for the shell game that took off. A lot of magicians do it. This was the feature closing trick when I was performing at Houdini's pub. I fooled Ed Marlo and later on Eddie Fields - Ben Tallman - Jack Pyle - My Dad and a lot of others with that pea in the shot glass ending.


El Mystico wrote:
Am I reading this right? That you invented the ending where a shot glass is placed over the shell and pea, and still the pea vanishes?
If so, a lot of magicans owe you a big 'thank you'.


Nope - I would say that your not reading this right but that would just be my opinion. My ending I worked out in the late 60s early 70s. I think that is before a lot of shell game books and routines were published.

Oh yes I forgot - Just my opinion.
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Postby Glenn Bishop » 11/12/09 11:54 AM

One of the reasons I like the show of skill as well as the show of magic and the magic effect - in a close up show - is that it shows the audience in a way that the performer has spent the time to learn his craft.

The think I liked about Jack Pyle and the way he performed was that he did magic - plus poker and bridge routines. After watching Jack Pyle the audience had the opinion that he had complete control of the deck of cards at all times. That is that if an audience member got into a poker game with Jack Pyle - the image was - that Jack Pyle could win - or deal the winning hand to his partner - because it seemed that he would have complete control of the game - because he had complete control of the deck.

That in my opinion is what Scarne had in the story in the book "The Odds Against Me". Challenging the racket bosses to a game of cutting to the high card? With their deck of cards. With an unopened - new deck of cards? Then the racket bosses booked Scarne back several times just to do this one ace cutting routine?

I think that this story makes Scarne - like Jack Pyle did in his close up work look like he had complete control of the deck of cards.

That is why I like performing close up magic in a restaurant situation. And at formal close up shows. Because often doing magic for real people can be a challenge - and with that challenge - it can be an opportunity to expand and work out a new idea that came about by a unique situation - that happened while I was performing close up magic.

Just my opinion.
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Postby mrgoat » 11/12/09 12:01 PM

Glenn Bishop wrote:Nope - I would say that your not reading this right but that would just be my opinion. My ending I worked out in the late 60s early 70s. I think that is before a lot of shell game books and routines were published.


Sorry, it is your opinion that you didn't invent the shot glass idea, or your opinion that El Mystico read it wrong when you said that you invented the shot glass idea?

Your opinion is needed in this matter!
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Postby Glenn Bishop » 11/12/09 12:07 PM

I suggest that you find a copy of my Shell game routine - or a copy of my book on the shell game - or one of the two DVDs I put the shell game on and watch it.

Because the ending has been published. I may have the routine on video at my web site. In the 60s this was a very unique way to end the shell game. Also in my opinion in the 60s less people were doing it.

http://www.mrhypnotist.org/video/shellg ... ishops.wmv

Just my opinion.
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Postby mrgoat » 11/12/09 12:10 PM

Glenn Bishop wrote:I suggest that you find a copy of my Shell game routine - or a copy of my book on the shell game - or one of the two DVDs I put the shell game on and watch it.

Because the ending has been published. I may have the routine on video at my web site. In the 60s this was a very unique way to end the shell game. Also in my opinion in the 60s less people were doing it.

Just my opinion.


Can't you just tell me if you invented the move of putting the shot glass on the shell? Are you going to make me buy your book to find out?

That, in my opinion, is a bit mean.

:(
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Postby Glenn Bishop » 11/12/09 12:14 PM

Sorry - the books on the shell game are out of print. And I do not sell DVDs on the web or by mail order.

http://www.mrhypnotist.org/video/shellg ... ishops.wmv

This conversation about the sell game is now closed!

Just my opinion.
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Postby mrgoat » 11/12/09 12:24 PM

Sorry Mr Bishop, I am getting really confused.

You claimed you invented the shotglass ending for the shellgame, I ask if that's true, then you tell me to buy the books & DVDs with it in if I want to find out who invented it, then you tell me I can't buy them???

I just wondered if you invented the move:

"I... invented an ending for the shell game that took off. A lot of magicians do it... that pea in the shot glass ending."

Will you tell me?
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Postby Glenn Bishop » 11/12/09 12:53 PM

One of the more interesting things that I like that happens when I am performing in a restaurant - as a steady gig is - that the magic and the performer change and evolve over time.

When I started as a restaurant magician at Houdini's pub and before that the Beer garden at Old Chicago Amusement Park. Was that my closing trick was the shell game. Then that changed and I cut my close up mat in half and because the Mat shrunk I started to close with the chop cup.

When working Houdini's and Mr. Cs Magic Lounge later a lot of the close up magicians were doing a cup and ball chop cup so I switched the closing magic trick to be the cups and balls - the Jim Ryan Routine.

However - because I do one or two sponge tricks from time to time this routine the cups and balls changed. Then I cut it down because in my opinion the routine I was doing was to long. So I kept in the best parts that got the most audience reaction.

Then I had a chop dice cup made and started to do the chop cup with dice as an opening trick - to draw them in - look at the cup so the magic - changed and evolved over many years.

I think that having the opportunity to perform magic - over time gives magic that professional touch.

Just my opinion.
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Postby El Mystico » 11/12/09 01:29 PM

OK, now i'm home I can check my library and offer a bit of clarification.

Ganson's The Art of Close Up Magic was originally published in 1968. It contains the Modern Shell Game which includes the popular 'glass over the shell' ending. Ganson says the routine had been put out "some time ago" by the Unique Magic Studio.

Which seems to pre-date Glenn's late 60s early 70s.

So Glenn's ending must have been something different. But from watcvhing his video, it isnt clear to me how his ending is differernt, but I'm probably missing something.
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Postby Mark.Lewis » 11/12/09 01:36 PM

I have been doing that glass thing for years and years. I can't swear to it but I probably got it from Jack Chanin's "Hello Sucker" book where I learned the 3 shell game in the first place.And that book was written way before the Ganson one was.

If Glenn invented that move then I certainly owe him a debt of gratitude. Even if it was published before he was born it still doesn't mean he didn't invent it. There is such a thing as independent invention after all. Great minds think alike. That sort of thing anyway.

I wouldn't know. I haven't invented very much. The only thing that I create is trouble.
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Postby Glenn Bishop » 11/12/09 01:36 PM

El Mystico wrote:Which seems to pre-date Glenn's late 60s early 70s.

So Glenn's ending must have been something different. But from watcvhing his video, it isnt clear to me how his ending is differernt, but I'm probably missing something.

Sorry - my ending is different - and I am not willing to play the pre-date game. Or split hairs or argue of why my ending is different and have this turn into another long thread of me talking to magicians that are in my opinion just trying to jerk my chain.

So as I said above the conversation on the sell game ending is over!

And that is just my opinion.
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Postby Glenn Bishop » 11/12/09 01:37 PM

Mark.Lewis wrote:I have been doing that glass thing for years and years. I can't swear to it but I probably got it from Jack Chanin's "Hello Sucker" book where I learned the 3 shell game in the first place.

If Glenn invented that move then I certainly owe him a debt of gratitude. Even if it was published before he was born it still doesn't mean he didn't invent it. There is such a thing as independent invention after all. Great minds think alike. That sort of thing anyway.

I wouldn't know. I haven't invented very much. The only thing that I create is trouble.


Thanks Mark and thanks for the great advice on hecklers.
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Postby Glenn Bishop » 11/12/09 03:21 PM

For me when I am booked to perform close up magic - I like to work with a table. I don't like to as the audience members to be a table. That is when standing - doing magic at a cocktail party and the magician has the audience members hold out their hands and hold the props.

That works for some - and that is great if it works for them. But me I like to work with a table - put down the close up mat and do magic.

I like having the table as sort of a performing stage. I have met quite a few magicians that do parties and they do just card magic. I love card magic but that is not the only thing that I want to do if I am booked at a party.

I remember one of the Chicago magic bars that gave me a job quite a while ago - and one of the magicians said that he was glad that I did what he called "bar magic". Cups and balls - shell game - stack of coins etc. Because many of the magicians that were working there did cards. And in his opinion over an evening - and five or more magicians working the place just doing card magic.

I think the audience might get tired of "just cards" for a whole evening if five or more magicians are just doing card magic.

So he considered that me doing "bar magic" was a change of pace the audience might like.

When I started out as wanting to be a close up magician. I wanted to do good card magic like Jack Pyle and good strong commercial magic like Don Alan. And I tried for a good balance between the two different styles of magic. If I were to compare both Don Alan and Jack Pyle. Don Alan did great commercial magic and did some card magic - and between magic done with loads that he became famous for. He also did the rising cards - and other card magic using a trick deck.

However I remember a card stab in a bag he did almost as a stand up item. I remember Don Alan doing close up for a whole meeting room or a banquet. People pulled up chairs and he did a formal close up show for them - as a single performance.

He used to do walk around at cocktail parties - but later on in life he sat down and did magic at a table.

Jack Pyle did walk around also - but later on in life did magic as a close up sit down magician at a table. He used a single deck of cards and after watching him perform many times in my life. When he did close up his only prop was a card to wallet.

I would say that Don Alan in my opinion worked toward magic and surprise equaled entertainment.

I would say that Jack Pyle worked toward magic - surprise - skill equaled entertainment.

As far as pleasing the audience I would say that they were both great. As they had repeat customers and made a living doing magic for about a lifetime.

One of my early goals or challenges that I took up was to try to strike a balance between the way that both these masters did magic and entertained audiences.

My dad said one time many years ago - I reached that goal.

Just my opinion.
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Postby Glenn Bishop » 11/13/09 10:59 AM

I wanted to talk about the sit down magicians that used to perform in Chicago. Jack Pyle used to sit when he did magic. He had a blue table cloth that he put over the table. Jack used to use his lap when card switching when he would switch a poker hand. And he also did an Ed Marlo card change where the magician puts a card face up on the table - waves both hands over it and the card changed to the selected card.

Don Alan was a sit down magician at the table. So was Jim Ryan and Terry Veckey.

Me I rarely sit down at the table. In some situations I can see that sitting down with them can be a way of bringing the audience in - just because the magician is sitting with them.

Since I work restaurants as a market. I never liked having to get a chair - then join the party at the table. I did not think that it was a good idea to bring a chair with me from table to table.

Slydini said in a book somewhere were the magician should be a general and set up the right performing situations. If he was asked to perform - he set the stage - having the host provide the table and a table cloth.

I loved this advice for the formal close up show and use it by letting the host provide a table - and set the stage. And I would agree that in a formal close up show this kind of staging does make the magic go over - being presented as a show.

However when working a restaurant - that is most often going from table to table. So in order to do this I stand when I do magic. I pick a spot to put my close up mat down. I also find that when I stand I am more visible to the whole room. I like doing a trick where I am visible so several other tables can see that something interesting is going on over here. Then when I get a strong audience reaction - it can help sell me to other tables - before I get to them.

I also use the springing of the cards from hand to hand flourish as a way to advertise to other tables - that it is magic night - and there is a magician in the room. The thing I like about the card springing flourish from hand to hand is, that it makes an unusual noise and it flashy at the same time.

This quick flourish while I am doing card magic at a table I use to advertise myself to other tables - before I get there.

I think that the card springing flourish is a very cool thing.

Just my opinion.
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Postby Glenn Bishop » 11/13/09 05:35 PM

And.... If I may add...

That the few times I sit down with customers in a restaurant situation is when - it is later on in the evening - and the restaurant rush or busy time is over.

And there is a table of people that came in just to see me do magic - and they want me to come back to the table and do a second set. This second set depending on the people - how busy the place is - and my mood. Could be a full set or just one or two tricks as a final stunt.

Often when I do this second set I may pull out of my magic bag of tricks something special. Like the cards to envelop - Out of this world - something really strong often that may require some sort of prep - that I just don't have the time to do when the place is busy.

Because I may pull up a chair when it is not busy later on in the evening. This opens the door to perhaps do some table riffle shuffle work - with a longer poker deal. And perhaps ending the set with three card monte.

I find the jog shuffle work - culls and stacks better and easier to do when I am standing.

And the riffle shuffle work better when I am sitting. So doing a spectator shuffles the deck - challenge cutting to the aces routine - I save that kind of material for these special occasions when I have the time to sit down with them.

I have found that in some situations that this kind of after show can bring the customers back.

Just my opinion.
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Postby mrgoat » 11/13/09 06:40 PM

Glenn, you can get a blog easily and for free at www.wordpress.com
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Postby Mark.Lewis » 11/13/09 11:16 PM

Although this is a trifle off topic I wish to inform Glenn that an airport in Toronto has just been named after his father.
There. That should get him all excited.
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Postby Glenn Bishop » 11/13/09 11:52 PM

Thanks Mark - Now I am all excited.

I have not been to Canada for quite a few years. I find that the older I get the less that I want to go anywhere.

Back on topic - Mark have you ever performed close up magic in a restaurant as a steady gig? I am interested to know what you did and how you used what you did as a way of generating business.

Thanks in advance.
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Postby Mark.Lewis » 11/14/09 12:19 AM

I have to confess that I highly suspect that the airport Billy Bishop is not the magician Billy Bishop. Still you don't have to tell anyone that. I also seem to remember that there was a famous Billy Bishop in the war. I can't remember why he was famous. Maybe it is that Billy Bishop that ia the airport Billy Bishop. Methinks he might have been an airforce pilot in the war so perhaps that is the connection.

As for restaurant magic I was the second magician in the United Kingdom to ever work a restaurant doing close up magic. The first was Mick Chardo who seems quite unknown nowadays. In those days professional close up magic was not known in Britain which was a great shame since it was the only kind of magic I was any good at in those days.

I haven't done a lot of restaurant magic since then. I am afraid that I find the money somewhat pitiful even though I recognise the advantages of steady work and the potential for future private engagements. I would have loved to do it when I was young and enthusiastic about close up magic but the opportunity just wasn't available. Nowadays I just don't have the interest in butting into people's conversations and doing magic for little money.

I still do strolling magic at times but not in restaurants. I think I lost my enthusiasm for strolling magic when I performed at an important booking in Ireland. When the sponge balls landed in the American Ambassador's soup I started to wonder if I was cut out for it.

I also noticed that when I did a few restaurants in the past the restaurant always went broke within a few weeks. I used to think that I had something to do with but then I realised that it happened all the time to other magicians too. I swear that magicians are a curse to restaurants. They always seem to go belly up after a magician has worked there. It may be a sign that they are so desperate for business that as a last ditch effort they bring a magician in and they are going to go bust anyway.

Lots of restaurant magicians now are going to say I am talking nonsense. Well-keep a tab on the restaurants you work and see how many of them go kaput not long after you have performed there.

I am afraid therefore that I am not the person to advise on how to get into restaurants. I was never much good at business. Ask Munton on another thread. I am afraid he is no longer allowed to engage in conversation when I am around. He is however very good at business matters and marketing so he is the one to ask if you want to make money out of it.
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Postby Glenn Bishop » 11/14/09 10:56 AM

Mark I think that the Billy Bishop you are talking about - and this is only from memory - is a WW1 war hero. That was an ace that was from Canada.

My Dad was from the USA and in WW2 and was a photo recon that flew a P38 lightning and was stationed in the Philippines. My dad did magic when he was on leave in Australia. He used it to make friends and get free drinks in those days.

I don't think that my dad was the Billy Bishop the airport was named for...

Speaking as a restaurant magician. I found your post interesting. For me the biggest problem in the restaurant business for a magician is the change the comes from time.

Back when I started out - there were people that owned restaurants. And it was very easy to go in and talk to the owners and pitch the idea of having magic. Nowadays there are more corporate chains - and it is harder to get past the corporate red tape - when looking for a job.

Back when I started - it was a lot easier to find work. I was also younger. Today it is harder - and I am slowing down with age.

Thanks for posting Mark.

Just my opinion.
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Postby Mark.Lewis » 11/14/09 11:23 AM

YOU are slowing down with age? What about me? I am 65 years old and nearly dead. Mind you I am still working and earning a living. Of course I have many skills. Useful when you can hardly stand.
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Postby Mark Collier » 11/14/09 02:00 PM

Mark.Lewis wrote:Well-keep a tab on the restaurants you work and see how many of them go kaput not long after you have performed there.


I've been working at The Palace Grill in Santa Barbara, Ca for almost 14 years. It is privately owned, in fact, the restaurant was sold to new owners about 5 years ago and I stayed on. Business is good.

Before that, I worked at another privately owned restaurant in Santa Barbara for over 5 years. They were going strong when I chose to leave.
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