What is your favorite opener?

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.

Postby Guest » 10/07/02 08:07 AM

Out of curiousity, what is the best opener to a show you have perfomed?
What do you like to see in an opening?
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Postby Pete Biro » 10/07/02 09:14 AM

I assume close up?

For me I like to borrow a penny and do a copper silver finishing with the giant penny in someone's hand.
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Postby Guest » 10/09/02 11:47 AM

I'd say 90% of the time, I'll do either Sponge Balls OR Pen Thru Bill...

Sponge always goes over big and is perfect as an ice breaker and the Pen Thru Bill is just plain visual!
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Postby Guest » 10/09/02 04:29 PM

How important is a "killer" opener?
Something thta just knocks thier socks off
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Postby Pete Biro » 10/09/02 09:38 PM

Why not "set up" a stooge... and remove his socks ala the shirt pull?

I used to have a buddy that all I had to do was give him a signal and he would go to the "gents" and set his T-shirt for a PULL... this was so strong it was scary.

He was great, no one ever thought it was a setup. Of course, we never did it for the same group twice.
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Postby EdAndres » 10/09/02 09:44 PM

I do have a question... Why does it have to be "killer"? How about amazing, wonderful, magical,mysterious. At a recent convention all I heard was "killer, this kills, this slays them, This punches them in the face slaps them around and spanks their a$$... ok I made up the last one... but come on now. Isn't *truly mesmerizing* more memorable than "KILLER!(dude)". I wonder how magic would be if my favorite magician's name was "Tommy KILLER".

Sorry for the off topic rant... Yes, use something killer.

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Postby Mike Powers » 10/10/02 05:04 AM

If what you showed your spectators didn't "ASTONISH" them, it wasn't MAGIC. You may have told a charming story with a magical theme which brought tears to their eyes or made them laugh. If so, you are a story teller or a comedian and this may greatly entertain people. But it's not MAGIC. It seems to me that by definition, magic must "astonish", create "wonder" etc. Terms like "killer" etc. simply refer to the degree of astonishment a certain piece of magic creates.
Just my opinion.

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Postby Sean Macfarlane » 10/10/02 05:51 AM

I like the idea of all of your routines being closers, everyone will hit them real hard and KILL them. Personally I like that term, it really gives me a good feeling.
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Postby sleightly » 10/10/02 05:55 AM

I believe that, fundamentally, a performance of magic must appear at some point or points to exhibit a contradiction of the laws of nature.

This will inspire a number of emotions, including "astonishment" and a "sense of wonder" but to try to limit the audience to only these emotions is to put style before substance.

Magic is a performance medium that uses the emotions above to hook the audience, and then can be used to explore other topics through its performance.

The performer who relys only on the "flash and sizzle" side of magic denies himself (or herself) the wonderful opportunity provided to begin a dialogue with the audience that explores the performer/audience relationship and how/why magic is important to have in each of our lives.

There are many ways to present magic. This can be through many styles such as preachy, dark, comedic, heavy, or informative. It can be influenced through theatrical techniques, considering how the material is presented: in or out of character, referring to/playing with the audience, or setting up a fourth wall between the performer and audience (where the audience become true spectators, almost voyeurs). We can incorporate technology (lighting, sound, media, special effects or the lack of all above) to reinforce the illusion presented (that of having special magical abilities or being affected by curious phenomena not necessarily under your control).

Without this personalization of magic, the audience learns little about us or our craft and once again attributes what we do to "tricks" that we likely buy at a "magic shop." The issue of who creates this stuff or how one develops material rarely, if ever, enters their minds unless we make a special effort to direct their thoughts along these lines.
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Postby Guest » 10/10/02 06:55 AM

I start my magic act often with showing my hands absolutely empty and then produce a big jumbo coin. I use sleeving to achieve this effect. Looks very magically and clean. I have found that sleeving is very great to do for laymen, you start clean and ends clean...
But its very easy to over use sleeving, its fun to do it.
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Postby Randy Sager » 10/10/02 08:53 AM

One of My most favorite items to open with is Michael Skinner's handling for Presto Chango.

I will use sponge balls as well at times or even the multiplying rabbits.
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Postby Tom Stone » 10/10/02 11:05 AM

Originally posted by Michael J:
Out of curiousity, what is the best opener to a show you have perfomed?
My favorite opener in close-up is to just sit down and talk with people.
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Postby Jon Allen » 10/11/02 02:07 AM

Opening a close-up set with a closer must be like going to an opera with a fat lady singing the first song!

I think the magic world is split into two camps: those that burst into a group and WOW them with a magical effect and those, like Tom Stone, who talk to the group first. I'm in the latter school of talking to the people and finding out about them first. I don't 'chat' as such but my introduction is geared towards getting reactions from them. This way, I find out if I am going to be accepted by the group, who are the loud and shy people and what the group dynamics are. I also know if it's going to be a really fun groupor a more sedate. More importantly, I let them find out about me before they see what I can do.

I wholly agree that the first trick neds to be a powerful magical effect. As we know, and it's especially true over here in the UK, people have amateur Uncle magician or have seen freinds and colleagues do litle tricks. We need to elevate ourselves above that from the start or we have lost the group.

For me, I will try and start with a bill switch, Coins Across or Double Back. I don't believe the routine has to be short sharp and 'in their face' but it does need to hold their attention and, for me, involve them fully. Prior to these effects, I will hand out my Destination Box which will then also be the climax of the set. I think it is good if a set can come full circle. It also says, "Yep, this is the last effect and the big finale" without me having to say so.

I was interested in Mike Powers' (Hi Mike) point: "Terms like "killer" etc. simply refer to the degree of astonishment a certain piece of magic creates". It made me wonder if someone can be 'slightly astonished' or 'fairly astonished' as opposed to 'totaly astonished'.

If someone is not totally astonished then have we failed?
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Postby Guest » 10/11/02 08:29 AM

I think its important to directly show them what is going to happen. An easy and visuell effect that all can see. I think the point is to do magic and entertain with the best possible effects that we can do. I have tried several openers and its always nice to start with some quick and stunning effects. If they like it, they will follow you for the rest of the show.
The opening effect should be choisen with care depending of your style. Personally and do like magic with a pretty fast tempo. I saw a magician some years ago and It took him almost 4 minutes before he did his opening effect. Because the long wait for the magic you will not be sure if its a magic show or something else.
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Postby Guest » 10/19/02 04:56 AM

I am thinking of opening a Christmas show with the lite flite, and a couple d lite effects I dreamed up to start out. Any body have any advice for this?
It is a kids show.
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Postby Ray Eden » 10/21/02 03:19 AM

If what you showed your spectators didn't "ASTONISH" them, it wasn't MAGIC. You may have told a charming story with a magical theme which brought tears to their eyes or made them laugh. If so, you are a story teller or a comedian and this may greatly entertain people. But it's not MAGIC. It seems to me that by definition, magic must "astonish", create "wonder" etc. Terms like "killer" etc. simply refer to the degree of astonishment a certain piece of magic creates.
Just my opinion.
Oh my . . . I couldn't disagree more! In fact, I just finished writing an article regarding this very issue for a Finnish Magic magazine. I'm not saying that my philosophy is gospel, but I've found that it adds immensely to the overall performance of MAGIC! It follows.

Ray Eden

*************************************************
My Philosophy of Magic
Part I: Making Magic Real
by Ray Eden

I once read a story about a mime whose goal was to bring an audience to tears by making the slightest movement of his thumb. Talk about a challenge! But he did it. He moved his thumb and the people wept. But was it really the movement of his thumb that brought this display of emotion? I think not. Rather it was the world that he had created in which his thumb became a living character. So, tears did not well up in the eyes of the audience because of the movement of the thumb, but because of who the thumb had become. This gentleman had created magic!

Reading this story created the same desire in me. How could I perform a trick in such a way that the audience was brought to tears? How could I get someone to care enough for my prop to show real emotion? How could I get someone to say that was beautiful instead of how did you do that? How could I create MAGIC!

(Note: I personally find the phrase how did you do that to be one of the least complimentary comments I can receive as a magician.)

In the world of magic today the moniker magician is given to too many performers who should be more aptly referred to as tricksters. A large majority of magic performances are not magic at all, but demonstrations of props containing no entertainment value, which can only be termed trickery at best. There is a big difference between doing a trick and doing magic. Doing a trick does not give the audience a feeling of wonder, but a feeling of being fooled. Performing magic will leave your audience with the feeling that they have witnessed something very special. And let me assure you that performing magic will be remembered by your audiences much more than doing tricks. And, perhaps even more important, your audience will remember you and be much more likely to hire you again or recommend you to others while the name of the trickster is long forgotten.

So how do we create magic?

First we must examine the intent of the performer. Is it truly the performers desire to entertain his audience, or is he more concerned with tricking them? I believe that the latter brings more entertainment value to the trickster than to his audience.

Second, it is extremely important to remember that we have engaged ourselves in a profession that is, by its very nature, antagonistic. It has been my experience that most people do not like to be fooled. To fool a person is to question their intelligence and power of reason. Two things which a properly performed magic trick will do. Because of this built-in antagonism, the performer must minimize this challenge that is thrust upon the audience and turn the effect into entertainment. People may not like to be fooled, but they do like to be entertained.

So how do we create magic and minimize the antagonism? The answer is simply presentation. However creating powerful presentations is not a simple process. It is actually one of the hardest, if not the hardest, aspect of the magical arts. Which explains why so many choose to eliminate presentation from their so called acts. And this lack of focus on presention is what creates the proliferation of what Eugene Burger has dubbed The Generic Magician. The Generic Magician is the performer who buys the prop, and merely does the effect as per the instructions. Or worse yet, the performer who creates his act by watching other performers, and doing the effect that he liked exactly as the person who he saw performing it did it.

So presentation is the key. But not only presentation but original presentation. Another word for presentation is conditioning, because your presentation conditions the spectators. In other words, conditioning creates the environment in which the audience can accept your magic as entertainment and not a challenge to their sensibilities. It allows them to forget about the worries and cares of real life, and draws them into your world. How is this difficult task achieved? By drawing upon yourself. From your own life experiences. What do you like that would be of interest to an audience? And then, how do you get those ideas across to the audience? Personally I achieve this by the use of mythology and storytelling. I tend to see my magic from the viewpoint of the bard, bringing distinction to the meaning of life via tales and magic. I want my magic to be about the story, not about the props that I use. My props are there only to move the story along, and the magic happens as the story is told. In doing this the antagonism is minimized because the audience is drawn into the story. As the magic happens it no longer becomes a threat but instead an intrinsic part of the story. It becomes necessary to the climax of the tale, and now acceptable to the audience. Because of the story, they can relax and suspend their disbelief.

Of course storytelling may not be the way for you. And this is the challenge, to find what is the way for you. This is nothing that I or anyone else can determine for you. You must take assessment of yourself and come to a decision as to how you will present your magic to your audiences.

But maybe storytelling is for you. If it is, why not try this exercise. I wont say that it will be simple, but it may be transforming. First, determine something that is of importance to you. Maybe it is sports, movies, television, history, religion, love or a cold winter night with the full moon hanging low on the horizon. Second, look through that drawer full of magic props that you never use. Can anything in the drawer be used to illustrate your interest in a magical way? Finally, develop a script to tell your story. Give your script a beginning, a middle and a climax. The beginning should hook your audience, and the middle should smoothly and interestingly lead the audience to the climax. The climax should be the storys dramatic end with the point of magic occuring at the climax that your effect creates. You may find that in the process of this exercise that you will create real magic: a transformation of yourself and your act.

Now you may be asking if I was ever able to bring a tear to the eye of my audiences as the mime had done. Im quite pleased to say that I have. For years I did the effect known as The Gypsy Thread in which a length of thread is cut into pieces and then restored. My solution to the challenge was to tell the story, from Finnish mythology, of Lemminkinens death and resurrection while presenting it. Never do I mention the thread. In fact, I dont even say that the thread is meant to represent Lemminkinen! The audience instinctively knows. But not only have I written a powerful script to accompany the effect, but I use music to set the mood. And NEVER have I heard, how did you do that after performing it. Rather I hear comments like, that was beautiful, I could feel Lemminkinens bones breaking everytime the thread was broken and my personal favorite, that was magic!

email: americanmagic@hotmail.com.

home page: www.geocities.com/americanmagic/
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Postby Ray Eden » 10/21/02 03:27 AM

Okay . . . I guess that I should post my favorite opener. For my close-up act I do Doc Eaton's "Screwed" (if I remember the name right). Basically a two in the hand one in the pocket that ends with two nuts threaded on a large bolt. It is presented as expository.

I am not a big fan of the "knock em dead" flash opening. I want the audience to get a chance to KNOW ME not my props. If I can "make" the audience like me from the onset of the act, then half of my battle is over.

It is also worthy of note that I am an American magician performing in Finland. A Finnish audience isn't going to "go for" the flash opening.

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Postby Guest » 10/21/02 06:54 AM

I think that the type of opener you use is dependant upon the character you portray during the performance. The quick,flashy openers fit some personality types better than others,but that doesn't mean they're intrinsically better. To me, the whole idea is to grab their attention and get them interested in you as quickly as possible. If you're able to do this with words alone that's fine too. My philosophy is to find what works best for me and go with it.
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Postby Guest » 10/21/02 08:23 AM

In re-thinking about this subject, I failed to mention Crazy Mans Handcuff's.

A stunning opener (or closer for that matter), with instantly recognizable props. You can't get much more impromptu than that!
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Postby Guest » 10/23/02 03:32 AM

I figure you have no more then 10-20 seconds to look like a magician, say something like a magician or do something before you risk losing them.

Walk up, produce a ball of flame from somwhere, introduce yourself then you can relax
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Postby ori ashkenazy » 10/24/02 03:14 PM

When I teach, one of the most important drills is for the student to come up with ways to introduce himself (his character for the performance) with magic - an opening effect that will leave the audience with a clear image of the performer's character and subsequently, his magical qualities and abilities.
Openers must be all about character, and must set a tone for the next piece.
The first contact is a strong moment and should be treated with much preparation. (much more than what we normaly spend on mastering the two handed shift)
So, we practice this by turning a few different effects into openers.

As far as performing, I love to open with effects that stem from necessity...(like all true magic)
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