Close-up Magic on Letterman

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Postby Roberto » 05/18/10 01:41 AM

I just watched the first installment of Close-Up Magic Week on the Late Show with David Letterman. While I'm sure Jason Randal is a fine magician, I have to say I was not impressed with his performance tonight on the Letterman show. Mr. Randal seemed a bit nervous and quite uneasy.

I trust that the upcoming performers of Close-Up Magic week will be great (Ammar, Carney, & Palmer). Letterman's a funny guy. I love how he pokes fun at some of the obvious things magicians tend to over do. Anyone else watch tonight's show? What did you think?


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Postby flynn » 05/18/10 02:40 AM

Watched it just now as well. He didn't seem comfortable and pretty nervous to the point it affected his patter and timing of his handling. I was hoping he woulda done a color change when asked if he could do that Wow change again without the sleeve.
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Postby Travis » 05/18/10 11:33 AM

Anybody catch the show?
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Postby Roberto » 05/18/10 02:23 PM

Hey, I can't recall the name of the second effect Mr. Randal did last night. I remember stopping in one of the magic shops here in NYC some time ago and the guy behind the counter gave me a demo of this effect but for the life of me I can't recall its name. Anyone know? Also, Mr. Randal's closing effect, was this Bannon's Royal Scam?


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Postby Mike Rozek » 05/18/10 02:51 PM

I'm sure Jason is a wonderful person, and I know that Letterman was a less-than-ideal audience for his magic, but he just didn't seem prepared. His handling (of both the cards and Letterman) was universally awkward.
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Postby Mike Rozek » 05/18/10 03:35 PM

All right...Just watched it again with fresh eyes, and I'm changing my opinion in my previous post. I was wrong. Letterman just wasn't a good audience last night. Jason was working with the situation presented and managed to get through it regardless. Returning to the moving of the mug bit was a great way to get the attention focused back to the presentation.
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Postby Joe Pecore » 05/18/10 04:12 PM

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Postby Seuss » 05/18/10 04:33 PM

He was treating him slightly Kamarr-ish

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8iYTVcCvTUs
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Postby Magic Newswire » 05/18/10 04:56 PM

This is Jason's 7th appearance on Letterman. I posted links to his previous appearances in the original thread in "Buzz" if anyone is interested in comparing them: www.bit.ly/boWOTr
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Postby Seuss » 05/18/10 06:19 PM

For clarity I meant Dave was being hard on Jason. Not at all comparing Jason to Kamarr
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Postby Frank Starsinic » 05/18/10 07:19 PM

Roberto wrote: I love how he pokes fun at some of the obvious things magicians tend to over do. Anyone else watch tonight's show? What did you think?
Roberto


That's a good lesson for any of us to learn. Why not poke fun. Maybe that will get "us" to change and as individuals, be more original.

The wallet trick was so confusing I had no idea what was going on. When the odd-backed cards were shown, it might as well have been a birthday cake out of his shoe. I have no idea what the plot was.
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Postby Magic Newswire » 05/18/10 08:09 PM

Did anyone notice the other magician on Letterman who seemed a bit "Lost?" www.bit.ly/brZiw0
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Postby flynn » 05/18/10 10:55 PM

Letterman's the type that will be all over you when showing any kind of incompetence so you gotta really be on your game with whatever it is you do not just magic. Like you become a target to get clowned through out the interview. You gotta be like Penn and Teller they do well on Letterman. I'm gonna be watching now just to see how everybody else the rest of the week handle them selves.
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Postby KHC » 05/18/10 11:40 PM

First of all, I am quite surprised that Letterman is actually having such a week, as it is my understanding that he doesn't really care for magic.

Ok, I will first preface by saying I am a mere hobbyist so who am I to say...I caught the 1st night with Jason Randall, and boy was he nervous. Granted, Letterman is not your ideal magic audience, but being the 1st guy on so called, "Close up Magic Week" was not a good choice. To my surprise, he has been on 5 other times and he was still that nervous. I'm sure Mr. Randall is a fine walk around/corporate magician, but he did not come across well in my opinion. I am hopeful the others (Carney, J. Ace, S. Cohen and Ammar)can handle "Letterman, the spectator"...its certainly not like showing Johnny Carson a trick.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 05/18/10 11:59 PM

Letterman is always a pain in the ass to magicians--he never just shuts up and lets you do your act. He's constantly interrupting because he becomes insecure if he's suddenly no longer the center of attention for more than five seconds.
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Postby Seuss » 05/19/10 12:12 AM

Carney kept him in line... though that overhead camera had some unfortunately timed shots.
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Postby Magic Newswire » 05/19/10 12:15 AM

I thought that Carney did a very nice job in spite of the challenges of unexpected camera angles and such. Even Dave seemed to enjoy it and didn't get in the way too much.

And, to top it off, apparently the newly crowned Miss USA is looking for a studly magician boyfriend!
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Postby flynn » 05/19/10 12:23 AM

Letterman hasn't come on yet over here on the west coast so haven't seen Carney on yet. But I did get to watch the other six times Randall was on Letterman and he did great considering its on national T.V. His first appearance was good I thought. I'm thinking maybe he wasn't feeling well last night because he's way different the other times he was on. I liked his presentaions for twisting the aces, hot rod and his collectors.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 05/19/10 01:01 AM

He did HOT ROD?

No.

Really?
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Postby The Magic Apple » 05/19/10 01:15 AM

That guy Randall was HORRBILE. Are you serious...WOW!? He performed WOW!? It is a good trick but out of out the 1000's and 1000's of effect he did that one? And some trick with sticky tape and aces. Looks like he learned it just before he performed it..."uhhh can I do it with 7 cards...uhhh...yeah...I think I can...WTF...?!!

Yeah, blame Letterman for the magician being nervous, it is always the audience's fault.


Give me a break.
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Postby Magic Newswire » 05/19/10 01:29 AM

Jason did perform Hot Rod on one of his other appearances on the show, not on this one. In fact, when we were recording the most recent podcasts with Shawn Farquhar, Cameron Ramsay mentioned that he had just seen a promo for magic week and that he had seen Hot Rod in the clip. Randal refers to it as the "Black Stick Trick" and you can see it in Clip #6 as listed in the links above.

Richard Kaufman wrote:He did HOT ROD?

No.

Really?
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Postby erdnasephile » 05/19/10 02:06 AM

Richard Kaufman wrote:He did HOT ROD?

No.

Really?


Actually, it was Jumping Gems.

A Hot Rod stick was used as a kicker finish.
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Postby Doug Brewer » 05/19/10 02:28 AM

Hey Frank - actually the cake out of the shoe can be quite funny. I think even Carney does some version. I would have preferred that . . .

To be completely honest, I think prop magic (like WOW, or Hot Rod) are nice effects if the crowd already knows you and knows you aren't a hack. I have tons of repeat customers at the bar and this kind of thing is perfect. Unusual props, kind of fun eye candy, but jeez, not on national TV (IMO).
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Postby rkosby » 05/19/10 02:38 AM

I just watched the Jason Randall clip on the CBS web site. Given the above comments, CBS must have cut out something because it looked to me like David Letterman was being a good audience.

His comment about a mistake not being really made and his question about the card holder having optical properties seemed natural given Jason's presentation.

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Postby Magic Newswire » 05/19/10 02:46 AM

Ray,
I watched it live and have it recorded. Only his intro as he came out was cut. Otherwise, you saw what was broadcasted.

ernasephile,
Actually, you are correct. Thanks for the correction.
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Postby flynn » 05/19/10 02:47 AM

Oh yeah ok. My bad I thought all them jumping gems and the hot rods were all hot rod tricks. Anyways I think Randall's pretty good live in person judging from his previous appearances. Maybe just not on live t.v. everytime. I still think something was up like he was ill or something on his mind maybe that just threw him out of wack.

Carney did good but it looked like he had camera nerves also. His handling wasn't the smoothest. Maybe it was the overhead cam. His flow was affected a little when the overhead came on.
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Postby KHC » 05/19/10 02:54 AM

So Rich, what gives...who got Letterman to do a close up magic week...I'm puzzled, as it obvious he does not enjoy it.

Admittedly, I was being kind, being that I was 1st to post on what I saw...Randall did stink up close up magic a bit. There are many close up magicians out there that are way better, and this guy gets on Letterman 6 times...and in the company of Carney, Cohen, J. Ace and Ammar, all some of the best in my opinion. Boy, I had a hard time watching him fumble with the double sided tape, his uneasiness handling the H-wallet...on and on. Bring back the days of Dingle doing the rollover aces. I will bet my 1st born (he's 25 and still living at home...that's why the bet) that the rest of the week will be spectacular.
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Postby NCMarsh » 05/19/10 03:22 AM

Reading these comments, I was expecting to be p*ssed at Letterman; I have had it hammered into my head that every show is a collaboration and the host is responsible knowing when to shine, and knowing when to let the act shine.

I'm also a huge believer that rhythm is critical to performance, and hate rhythm killers.

So I was ready to hate Dave, and cheer for our hero in the lion den.

Then I watched the clip.

I only had the chance to see the Wow clip, I thought Letterman was hilarious (the "when I make a mistake I'm not in control" line was beautiful). His banter was dead on and -- with all due respect to an admirable showing on Randall's part -- was the most entertaining part of the segment.

Well played.

I should add that I am not playing couch quarterback -- when I first started performing publicly I ran into a celebrity comedian in a walkaround situation and he ate me alive...he took total control of the performance and pulled the focus at all the wrong moments -- and I bombed for that group...it was much, much uglier than the Randall segment...so what's above has nothing to do with playing smug superior (I can feel the condescension drip from some of the posts above, and I would be very interested to see their sets for Letterman...Good for Jason to get the gig, and to be invited back over and over again...props)

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Postby mrgoat » 05/19/10 05:00 AM

I fail to understand the argument Mr Marsh, and others make. Namely, unless you have been on TV you cannot criticise someone on TV.

How many critics in the media do what they critique? None over here in the UK I can think of. The best theatre critic has never trained as an actor. The best restaurant critic isn't a chef.

Why do some people think that in order to criticise, one must be of the same professional standard/have the same experience as the person one is criticising?

It seems peculiarly linked to magic. Along with the old classic "Well if you don't like x on TV it is just because you are jealous".

Can anyone explain why some folk feel like this?
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Postby MaxNY » 05/19/10 07:52 AM

Carney on Letterman was great! Randall has too many dramatic pauses, too many sucker endings, and eggs Letterman on. Carney was wonderful the way he stuck to a routine and didn't let Letterman challenge the outcome.
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Postby NCMarsh » 05/19/10 10:20 AM

I fail to understand the argument Mr Marsh, and others make. Namely, unless you have been on TV you cannot criticise someone on TV.


Odd, I've heard that argument in the past and agree with you about it. I certainly don't think you need to be on TV to criticize what you see; and have no idea why my name is being attached to it here.

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Postby Jim Maloney » 05/19/10 10:30 AM

Nathan,
I suspect it came from this comment of yours:

(I can feel the condescension drip from some of the posts above, and I would be very interested to see their sets for Letterman...Good for Jason to get the gig, and to be invited back over and over again...props)


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Postby Travis » 05/19/10 10:45 AM

Dodd, is the intro all they cut? When I watched the CBS clip, I only saw the WOW routine and not the other one people are mentioning.
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Postby Doc Eason » 05/19/10 12:38 PM

A point worth mentioning here...performing magic in this context is tough. Randall and Carney both walked out, shook hands, sat down and "ok, magic boy, do a trick." Neither of them engaged Letterman on any level before awkwardly segueing into magic. Carney certainly scored higher than Randall but both had to charge into the magic part without establishing a character.

I have heard from some people that the some punters seemed to like Jason better than John. That is astounding to me but that fact pretty much shouts out that "It's certainly not all about the magic." unfortunately the amount of time allotted and the format doesn't really lend itself to "Hi what's your name and where are you from' kind of interaction.

So unfortunately magic (and how it is perceived) suffers as a consequence.

BTW, Letterman is not the bad guy here. He is an astute observer who asks obvious questions that are probably in the minds of most of our more polite spectators. He hasn't been combative or rude at all so far this week. "Can I ask a question? Can you do it without the sleeve?" " Do you want me to help or should I just sit back?" He is funny and extremely quick with comments. And he is the king of his domain.. so stepping into the ring with him requires quick responses.

It ain't about the magic, friends.
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Postby Travis » 05/19/10 01:29 PM

Just saw John's segment. He was great. I thought he and Dave had a good rapport. John's reactions, in my opinion, were funny and perfectly in keeping with his character.
I thought it was wonderful that he chose to perform a routine, as opposed to a series of disconnected tricks; the mark of a true magician and a real pro.

The camera angles were unfortunate a couple of times but, that said, the friend I watched it with didn't see the orange or coconut load, even on the second viewing, which just goes to show how powerful proper misdirection can be, even through the lens of the unblinking camera.

Kudos, John!
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Postby NCMarsh » 05/19/10 01:29 PM

Just saw the Carney clip. I know of John's work only through his writing and very old performance footage, and was interested to see how it would translate into the micro attention span world of late night TV.

I was impressed!

He was genuine, charming, on-the-ball...he actually talked to Letterman instead of at Letterman....he gave Letterman the slack to play, while still keeping the show moving (with Randall, it was like a kid learning to drive a stick shift, the show would start and stop...start and stop...every time Letterman made a comment)

My one thought, is that there are some beautiful "moments" (the bits with the tips of the wand), that are fantastic and play very well...but could have been cut for this venue...the whole piece felt a little long in the context of the medium...and I think a tighter set may have had more impact

On a magic level: what a great lesson in construction! The distance between the load of the Orange, and the production of the Orange (even with the flash, I wouldn't be surprised if the load took in a lot of folks at home...because of the elapsed time before the production)...

and how cool to see Bob Read ideas live on and continue to grow!

N.

P.S. Jim, I see where a casual reading of the quoted sentence could lead you to think that. Being interested in seeing the critic perform in the situation he is discussing, however, is different from saying that you can't be a critic without being on TV.
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Postby Jim Maloney » 05/19/10 02:30 PM

I agree with Nathan's assessment of Carney's performance (you can see it on YouTube). He was much more engaged with Letterman than Randal was. It seemed that John handled the back and forth banter much better than Jason did. And yes, excellent magic.

The orange thing was regrettable because I'm fairly certain it wasn't apparent to the studio audience or Letterman. Had they not been using the overhead camera at that point, I don't think anybody would have seen anything.

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Postby David Alexander » 05/19/10 02:44 PM

I've seen Jason do his stuff on Letterman and was interested to see John Carney.

Frankly, given the circumstances, I thought John did a good job. Understand that when close-up magicians were on the Carson show Johnny had a table in front of the curtain and he and his guests left the desk and sofa and went over and sat in the magician's performing area. John was both a magician and a fan of good magic and no performer ever had to worry about him butting into the act or making untoward comments. You could shine on the The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson

Working Letterman you dont have that surety. At heart he is a horses behind and loves scoring points off people who come out. Carney came out and had to perform sort of side saddle turning to the side to work off of Lettermans desk. Letterman had to clear away stuff before John could perform which made it look like the performance was an afterthought and that no one had prepared for it which I see as a form of disrespect to the performer. How difficult would it have been to bring out a table, a table cloth, and a few chairs, inviting Miss USA to join Dave and John at the table?

John also had to bite his tongue and tread lightly when Letterman started making comments as he moved through his routine. Letterman well knows the need for rhythm and pace in delivery and seemed happy to interrupt John as he tried to establish a smooth pace.

Cher nails Letterman with the truth at about 3:30 the first time she was on the show. See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBgDHhmSrAo
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Postby mrgoat » 05/19/10 03:09 PM

NCMarsh wrote:P.S. Jim, I see where a casual reading of the quoted sentence could lead you to think that. Being interested in seeing the critic perform in the situation he is discussing, however, is different from saying that you can't be a critic without being on TV.


Jim totally guessed correctly. And to be honest, seems like you are saying the same thing here. Unless I have a set on Letterman then anything I say is invalid?

"I'd like to see you try..."

Seems like you are just being a tad more polite about it, is all...

But if I am wrong, I can only apologise. (and yes, it is giSe ;))
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 05/19/10 03:11 PM

Just started watching the clip and the thing I noticed immediately is that Letterman is seated at a much higher level than the guest, immediately putting the guest at a disadvantage from the point of the viewer at home simply because Letterman ALWAYS dominates the frame.
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