Rocky the Raccoon

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.

Postby Guest » 03/31/02 10:36 PM


I am 13 years old and have been into magic for the last 6 or 7 years (i'm not sure exactly). I was recently booked to do three kids shows over the course of the summer and thought it might be fun to perform Rocky, however, I am in need of some good effects to perform with him besides finding a card and eating a quarter. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Postby Guest » 04/01/02 01:28 PM

I might suggest that:
1.) You don't call him Rocky.
2.) You don;t do anything that David Williamson does with his.
3.) Practice with the animal until he will act without you thinking about him. In other words you must handle it as a live animal and allow it to behave as a live animal. He must take on a life on it's on without you thinking about it doing anything, and then you must treat it as real. It is the only way for you to make it look effective.
4.)You might try such older books as "Puppetrix".
5.)The animal could find cards, produce coins, sniff out locations or sniff out suibtable volunteers.
6.) You could put him atop a lota bowl explaining that he will jump from the lota bowl into a big bowl you have at the opposite end of the table. "He has a bit of a problem but hopefully we won't have to deal with that today" (Then with a look of "oh no", take him off the lota bowl, dump it out and put him back). it becomes a running gag that the kids think is hillarious.

PSIncerely Yours,
Paul Alberstat

Postby Guest » 04/01/02 04:28 PM

Ok, thanks.

Postby Brad Jeffers » 04/01/02 05:00 PM

TrainingMagi, Take the bulb from a "squirting flower", palm it, and use it to make Rocky pee on the kids (or better yet, the parents). You will be delighted at the response this gets. Even if you've seen David Williamson, or anyone else do this, it doesn't matter ... do it anyway. You won't be stealing anything with this bit. It was old, when I was young.
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Postby Tom Stone » 04/01/02 06:53 PM

Originally posted by TrainingMagi:
and thought it might be fun to perform Rocky, however, I am in need of some good effects to perform with him besides finding a card and eating a quarter. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
I'm not sure if you will find the following helpful, but here's some thoughts on this subject.

The first question to think about sounds simple, but it is easy to forget.

What is the effect?

If you first can define that, what the illusion should be, then the other questions becomes more easy to handle.

If I had to perform Rocky, I would probably decide that the effect is that an inanimate object gets alive.
Then take away everything that makes the Raccoon less alive, and add things that makes him MORE alive.

That makes my choices a lot easier. What does living things do?
They eat, sleep and want to procreate. And they show emotions like love, hate, anger, joy, confusion, jealousy, stubborness, fear etc. etc.
When do these emotions turn up? In the interaction with someone else!

So, just try to get the Raccoon to show as many of those things and emotions as possible.

Now, just write down as many things you can think of, it doesn't have to be good. You'll take away the bad ideas later. Here's a start:

The raccoon is very afraid of the man to your left.
He is in love with the handbag of the woman to your right.
He wants to sleep each time you want to do cardtricks with him.
He gets mad and angry when you play with his food. Unfortunately, he thinks that your coins are food.
He gets jealous whenever you say something to the girl infront of you.
Etc. etc.

Write down 2-3 pages with ideas like that, and write down even the most silly ideas, as a silly idea might become a good one a few days later. Ideas are weird that way.

At the same time, try to find as many other stories and movies about inanimate things that gets alive, like: Pinoccio, Frankenstein, the Golem myth, Robot Sci-fi etc. etc. There might be ideas there that you can adapt and apply.

When you have collected a bunch of ideas, then you can select some of the best ones, perhaps 5-8 of them to begin with.
Now, consider these ideas to be threads that you will try to weave together. That is that you try to make it so each idea returns several times. As a quick example:
You place a small bag on your left side, and say that your little friend is sleeping there.
So you wake up the raccoon, and he sees the man on your left and becomes terrified. He hides inside your coat, and finds something in your pocket that he gets curious about. He tickles you as he sniffs around. You bring it out, and it's a deck of cards. He gets very sleepy when you ask him if you can do a cardtrick together, so he wants to return to the bag. Halfway to the bag, he sees the man on your left, and gets terrified again.
This time, in the hiding place in your coat, he discovers that he is hungry.. etc.

Try to return to the same ideas over and over, but in an unpredictable order. The tighter you weave the ideas, the better it will be.

Then finally, go through it all again. And remove the things that doesn't add to the illusion that he is alive, and replace it with ideas that will make him seem more alive.

And don't worry about finding tricks for him. After all, he's just an animal. But you can have him react to tricks that you perform, as that shows emotions.

I suggest that you also search out two books by a man named Keith Johnstone. The books are titled:
"Impro", and; "Impro for Storytellers".
The titles sounds a bit boring perhaps, but they are really funny to read, as they are stuffed with weird and comic examples of ideas that can be done on a stage.

I'm confident that you will be able to put together something that will top anything that David Williamson have done with that puppet.
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Postby John Pezzullo » 04/02/02 04:12 AM

Jon Racherbaumer posted the following back in February:

Tom Stone is in a class by himself.

I had the pleasure of spending a great deal of time with him at FISM in Portugal. To use a current buzz phrase, Tom perpetually "thinks outside of the box." He lets his mind take giant leaps of fancy. One afternoon we played the Trick Brain Game and I laughingly challenged him to create a routine use pineapples and hand grenades.

Guess what? He did it and the routine was brilliant.

The USA is just now catching up with him. He is one of our future Creative Thinkers.
Tom's reply regarding 'Rocky' illustrates what Jon was referring to in his February posting.
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Postby Guest » 04/02/02 07:02 AM

Let me second what you just posted about Tom. His post is not only one of the best that has been on here in a long time but should be read by everyone and then re-read. His suggestions are brilliant as his his reading recommendations. He suggested two books from Keith Johnstone (one of the best Professors I have ever had the pleasure of studying with and also the man that invented theatre sports. I learned more from him than anyone else in my years of study). It would do most magicians a service by having them read his books.

Tom is also a regular contributor to "Channel One" magazine - just another reason to read that.
PSIncerely Yours,
Paul Alberstat

Postby Matthew Field » 04/02/02 08:09 AM

I'd also like to chime in and give kudos to the Warpsmith himself, Tom Stone. His lecture notes are outstanding, and his reply to the Rocky query is right on target.

Matt Field
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Postby Guest » 04/02/02 04:25 PM

Oh my God. Thank you Tom Stone. What an amazing example of an excellent approach to any routine one is considering performing. Thank you for recalling two of Vernon's constant reminders; "What's the effect?" and "Magicians stop thinking too soon." Please, please keep contributing to the Forum!!!


Postby Guest » 04/04/02 05:21 PM

I do a fun comic bit for kids where I tell them to Rocky to sit up (I call him Barry The Balloon) The kids yell he doesn't sit up. They try different voices and he doesn't sit up.

When they do a giggly voice his head goes up. I tell them not to giggle anymore because he will get confused. They giggle, the head goes up. I put the head down and it pops ups again, setting off more and more giggles until the head is shooting up and down like a jackhammer. I then tell the kids he is tired and needs and drink. I do the old drinking bit and again tell the kids not to giggle. Of course they giggle, the head goes up and cup gets stuck on his head.

Its not magic but its fun.

I have postal tube that I have made into zig zag rocky that I use for adults with lots of animal smuggling jokes.

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