Video of Larry Jennings' Single Cup and Balls Routine

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Postby David Acer » 01/12/10 01:31 PM

First published in Charlie Miller's Magicana column in the May, 1970 issue of Genii:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ic9qpdN478
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Postby Ian Kendall » 01/12/10 02:33 PM

Reading through the comments is always good for a laugh, especially in this case...

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Postby flynn » 01/12/10 03:08 PM

In his Thoughts on Cards videos he does this routine with good attention grabbing patter and it fools. Oh yea the comments were indeed good for laughs.
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Postby erdnasephile » 01/12/10 03:58 PM

Larry Jennings was a brilliant magician; however, I think that this clip illustrates why most cup and ball routines fall flat on video--a static camera cannot be misdirected, and when subjected to this unblinking eye, the MO of this routine becomes apparent.

This comment should not be construed as a criticism of Mr. Jenning's routine (I hold his work in the highest esteem.) I just wish I could have seen the routine in person.
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Postby Gerhard Dutschke » 01/17/10 06:48 AM

The comments made me not laugh, rather sick. Why think people, when they watch a video, that they can do it much better? Where perform this folks? On youtube?
Perhaps I should laugh too but it's hard.
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Postby mrgoat » 01/17/10 09:05 AM

Youtube comments are genius fun. It's tragic how the kids REALLY think they are better. Bless them.

I like this one on Vernon's cups and balls:

"How the fuuck thit he get 2 big balls in the center cup ??? [censored] ey"
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 01/17/10 10:55 AM

Was there even one "hey those are good routine ideas" in the lot? Even one "great use of the cone and ball" sleight?
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Postby D. Andrus » 01/18/10 02:29 PM

Actually the best youtube comment was "I love how relaxed his right hand is" because it is real, valid sarcasm. Let's face it guys.....This was "Wide Open Larry" at his best.

The comments in here can be amusing as well....

"I think that this clip illustrates why most cup and ball routines fall flat on video--a static camera cannot be misdirected, and when subjected to this unblinking eye, the MO of this routine becomes apparent.

This comment should not be construed as a criticism of Mr. Jenning's routine (I hold his work in the highest esteem.) I just wish I could have seen the routine in person."

HUH?? Why would this routine look any different in person? Why can't Larry Jennings be criticized? There are people in this forum considered "in the know" who are aware of the story of when the "Wide Open Larry" comment originated....By the way, Vernon was present when it happened.

Everyone who "protects" the legacy of Larry Jennings often uses the old "you should have seen him in person" or "you should have seen him in person when he was younger."

Whatever makes you feel better......For me, I appreciate Jennings as a thinker, just not as a performer.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 01/18/10 02:34 PM

One does not need to misdirect a camera, just the person watching the screen. Getting one of those volunteers to smile or laugh or reach foward and down to pick up a prop would likely suffice to cover most of the work for a casual viewer.

The hank not coming from the breast pocket was a little bit surprising and suggested something that might be worth exploring in terms of putting the hank away in a side pocket but being taken out of the breast pocket each time. That and pondering how a combinatin of glorpy and chop cup would play where the ball is supposed to be the ghostly object that...
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Postby erdnasephile » 01/18/10 02:55 PM

D. Andrus wrote:Actually the best youtube comment was "I love how relaxed his right hand is" because it is real, valid sarcasm. Let's face it guys.....This was "Wide Open Larry" at his best.

The comments in here can be amusing as well....

"I think that this clip illustrates why most cup and ball routines fall flat on video--a static camera cannot be misdirected, and when subjected to this unblinking eye, the MO of this routine becomes apparent.

This comment should not be construed as a criticism of Mr. Jenning's routine (I hold his work in the highest esteem.) I just wish I could have seen the routine in person."

HUH?? Why would this routine look any different in person? Why can't Larry Jennings be criticized? There are people in this forum considered "in the know" who are aware of the story of when the "Wide Open Larry" comment originated....By the way, Vernon was present when it happened.

Everyone who "protects" the legacy of Larry Jennings often uses the old "you should have seen him in person" or "you should have seen him in person when he was younger."

Whatever makes you feel better......For me, I appreciate Jennings as a thinker, just not as a performer.


I never said that Mr. Jennings could not be criticized; however, as others (e.g., Michael Close) have noted, some performers are better in person than on video. In addition, some misdirection works better when the audience is close and is less effective when seen from a parlour-type vantage point on camera. Therefore, I prefer not to judge a performer based solely on a video presentation.

I never got a chance to see Mr. Jennings in person, only on video. From your comments, it sounds like you saw him in person and were clearly not impressed.

I was only expressing my desire to have had the chance to make that judgment myself.
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Postby mrgoat » 01/18/10 03:20 PM

Although I am not really a fan, Paul Daniels did a great bit where he managed to misdirect the camera beautifully. It is a rabbit from hat comedy routine. Too long to describe, but the climax is at one point a toy rabbit drives a (remote controlled) car off stage waving it's paw. When the audience look back, Daniels produces a real bunny from the hat.

If you see this live, and if your Uncle tells you "whatever happens, do not take your eyes off daniels during this" you will see him totally blatantly reach down, swop fake hat for one under table with live rabbit in and stand back up waiting for the audience to return to looking at him.

And he did that on TV for some big event and misdirected the camera, along with the entire audience. (Aside from any budding magicians whose Uncle has told them to not look at the cute remote controlled bunny in the magic car).
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/18/10 03:32 PM

Jennings card work was far superior to anything else he did. His coin work was good, not incredible, though his creativity with coins did produce some excellent routines. (His ability as a coin worker is in contrast to someone like Derek Dingle, who was the best coin worker next to Geoff Latta that I ever saw--both of whom were also among the top card workers.)

Jennings was indeed, on the many occassions I saw him work for people (when he wasn't drunk), a very good performer. He was warm and inviting, and his technique was outstanding. He was a superb magician, not just a technician. You don't have to tell jokes, dance like a clown, or give great dramatic readings to do excellent magic.

Jennings certainly wasn't "wide open" when he was standing performing for you (also standing) or small groups in this situation. When he performed while sitting in his later years (which I saw several times in Paris and various cities in Tokyo) he chose tricks that suited the situation so he didn't flash.

But sometimes he became infatuated with a bad sleight that he would insist on using, like the Pivot Palm, which almost always flashed when he did it (or he would fumble slightly). It was bizarre, since he certainly had half a dozen better ways to Bottom Palm cards, but he insisted on using that stupid sleight.

And, I will repeat this: the only way to get any sense of Jennings as a performer is to watch his set in the close-up room at the Castle that's on the Thoughts with Cards DVD. The now unavailable videos he made with Dominique Duvivier in Paris in 1995 are also pretty good. Everything else is terrible. He hated being in front of the camera and it wrecked his timing and performance. Anyone who knew Jennings, and saw him work regularly, knows how badly he comes off on video as opposed to his live work.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 01/18/10 03:39 PM

Seeing as how Jennings, along with Dingle and Latta, is no longer around - those who want to "protect" his reputation might want to see that some suitable clips are more easily available than those which show his work in less favorable circumstance.
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Postby D. Andrus » 01/18/10 11:52 PM

Richards comments really hit the nail on the head for me....especially when he mentioned the downfall of becoming infatuated with a sleight. I witnessed this first hand. There is always such a build up when you finally get to meet a magician with such a reputation preceding him....you want to be fooled. I actually thought that I was being tested by him when I witnessed the leaking of sleights. Being a first meeting, I went the polite route and did not mention what I saw....I am not so sure that taking such a route does any good for any performing magician....
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Postby flynn » 01/19/10 01:32 AM

I bet most of them fools that commented watched the video several times before they posted. If in front of an experienced magician, they would be misdirected and played with easy.

Patter and presentation is everything. I knew the working of the ACR and was still floored when I watched Tommy Wonder do his routine because of the build up he created. It was like watching a good game.

Also with Michael Ammar doing his simple 4 coin coins across in his beginner video for coins I was amazed though I knew pretty well all the basic sleights of holding out, false tranfers, etc. It was his patter that misdirected and fooled me with several coins going across.

Laymen have no chance at seeing whats going on no matter what most people are saying about LJ here or at youtube.
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Postby Ted M » 01/19/10 12:10 PM

That Jennings video has also had its voice track removed and replaced by music, thus negating any verbal attention management, not to mention any jokes or other verbal expressions of personality.

Videos on YouTube are going to be judged by the audience there first and foremost as videos. As a video, this one is not especially effective entertainment.

Magicians view this as a precious and rare recording of a live magic performance by an important magician, and are willing to project themselves into the frame, pretending that they have limited viewing angles and that they look where Jennings wants them to look.

It's a completely different viewing experience for these audiences.
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Postby Terry » 01/19/10 08:39 PM

Video is NOT the way to view any magician. Misdirection is meant to control the view of the spectator and the single eye camera doesn't lend itself to that.

Richard is very correct in relation to Mr. Jennings. My first Stevens convention (late 1980's) at the Tropicana gave me the opportunity to meet Mr. Jennings and watch him perform from across the table and standing next to him.

His performing style was extremely laid back and would lull you even before he got started. He literally fried everyone watching. It was worth the price of the convention, hotel and airfare.
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Postby Kent Gunn » 01/20/10 01:06 AM

Never got to see Larry Jennings live. The big L&L book on his magic is my favorite poorly written magic book. The guy came up with some awesome routines. I am a fan.

With that said, nowadays bad video clips are inexcusable. If you flash on a take, do another take. You can fool the camera. If you're not watching yourself in video to hone your presentations you're robbing yourself of a great tool to improve. If you can see tell-tale hitches, tells or flashes when you rewind:

You're a lousy magician.
You don't practice and rehearse enough.
You can't routine or pick tricks well enough for your skill level.

I thought the video of Jenning's routine was beautiful magic. If you caught hints or tells, ask yourself, "Does my magic look better?" I'll bet you cannot do the cup and balls nearly as well as Jennings could, dead drunk on his last day on earth.

I shot this video, of myself doing the cups and balls. I do not have Jennings charm, wit or ability with real people. I do practice to the point where I kill a hell of a lot of tells.

http://www.youtube.com/kentfgunn#p/u/9/t__UnSXmjvc

Jennings on a good day could out magic all but one or two on this board. He'd blow my crap into the next county.

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Postby Terry » 01/20/10 09:55 PM

Kent,

The Pierre Mayer VHS tapes are filmed from a really good camera angle that appears to be at chest height and front/center. These look to be from the late 70's/early 80's and Mr. Jennings does a fine job.

Part 1 has the Single Cup & Ball routine.
Part 2 has The Chop Cup routine.

Maybe these can be converted and re-released on DVD at some point.
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Postby Kent Gunn » 01/20/10 10:19 PM

Terry,

Don't think I've seen that footage. Know a kid who probably has them though. He was with Larry at the end and has a lot of Larry on VHS. I'll ask him if he'd let me take a look.

Thanks!

KG
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/20/10 10:29 PM

All the Pierre Mayer tapes belong to Stevens Magic, and they have already been released on DVD. The Chop Cup routine was removed from the DVD on which it should have appeared, with all the other material, and put instead on a "Chop Cup" DVD. While the camera work on the Mayer tapes is acceptable, there is still only one quiet spectator and one uncomfortable Jennings.

They were made around 1982 I believe.
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