Requests! Answer this.

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.

Postby Guest » 12/29/04 09:43 PM

Thirty+ years ago I asked a large group of laymen "What do you want to see a close-up magician do?" I would like your input today, as a magician, what do you here from the general public as the most requested effect. We all have our "pet trick" which we believe is the best thing out there, and that's fine. But what are you requested to do? Asked to do, or in some cases demanded that you must be able to do. Thanks for any replies. Mike

Postby Brian Marks » 12/30/04 04:56 AM

alot of men want me to make their wives disappear. I guess magician rhymes with hit man for the mob.
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Postby Jim Morton » 12/30/04 09:58 AM

Most of the time people ask if I know whatever trick they saw on TV the night before.
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Postby Hank Miller » 01/03/05 04:41 AM

Most of the time...

"Can you get me another drink?" {They think your the waiter}

The standards:
  • Make my wife disappear,
  • Make me 20 pounds lighter,
  • Make me 15 years younger,
  • Make me a millionaire...
and the list goes on.

I don't think the average lay person knows what effect they want from a magician... only that they want to be entertained enough to forget their personal problems. Key word being... ENTERTAINED.
I am a Magic GOD - at least I think so! :p
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Postby Jerry Harrell » 01/03/05 07:01 AM

There is a great story in Stephen Minch's bio of Eddie Fields about a time when Fields was visiting with Eddie Fechter at the Forks Hotel.

A woman came into the bar and wanted to see some magic. Fechter obliged with a dice stack, several astonishing card tricks and an expert Cups and Balls.

The woman thanked him and said she came because she had seen a magician in Florida do a truly impossible trick and wondered if he, or anyone else, could duplicate it.

"A magician took a quarter, it was my husband's, and put it under a handkerchief. I know you won't believe this, but my husband held the quarter over a glass, dropped the coin into the glass and it just vanished! You are very clever," she said, "but I doubt even you could do the trick I saw. Can you?"

Fechter knew it was a rank beginner's trick requiring little skill and he did not have the necessary gimmick to perform it. Neither did any of the expert magicians at the bar. They all had to pass and the woman departed, convinced she had seen the only magician in the world who could do such an impossible trick.
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Postby Guest » 01/03/05 09:20 PM

Thanks Hank and Jerry. More of the same is what I'm looking for. Anyone else have a story? Someone wants to see the 25 cent trick and all you have are the $200 ones that they don't care about!

Postby mrgoat » 01/04/05 06:36 AM

Originally posted by mikemagic:
Thirty+ years ago I asked a large group of laymen "What do you want to see a close-up magician do?" I would like your input today, as a magician, what do you here from the general public as the most requested effect. We all have our "pet trick" which we believe is the best thing out there, and that's fine. But what are you requested to do? Asked to do, or in some cases demanded that you must be able to do. Thanks for any replies. Mike
It saddens me, but in all honesty the thing I get asked if I can do the most is 'levitate like david blaine'. And almost EVERY time I get asked, someone in the group will explain he just goes up on his tip toes.

I reply by saying when something is on television there are lots of possible ways to do something. However, (get prop out) when it's close up and you are just inches's much harder... (then go into a trick).

Don't want to be drawn into any 'is that really how he did it' discussion!

Sponge balls I would say are the second most popular request.
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Postby Guest » 01/04/05 11:01 AM

A layman once asked me: "If you're a real magician, I want you to stick your whole hand through your head, right here, in front of us all." Unfortunately, I didn't have the required gimmick.

Another time, a mean layman who knew just enough about magic to be dangerous asked: "If you're such a good magician, why don't you just hold your hand palm up and pull that scarf out of your hand that way?"

Once, a guy came into a bar where I was working and said: "Twenty-five years ago, I saw a magician who took a penny, stuck it into his fist, and when it came out the bottom, it was a dime. That was the greatest trick I ever saw."

So I quickly set the trick up with a palmed dime and a thumbtip and duplicated the trick. And there wasn't a whole lot of praise for me; he just kept raving about the guy 25 years ago. I think some people are in love with their memories. And now, 15 years later, he's probably raving about me, too.

Last night, while shooting my new DVD, I performed a trick where the spectator secretly wishes for something, and then later in the set, I tell her what she was wishing for. In this case, the 18-year-old girl was wishing for a new car. After we stopped shooting, she said: "Now if you can only make that car appear." Again, I didn't have the required gimmick on me. ;)

Postby Pepka » 01/04/05 02:17 PM

Smartass remarks like these are the one thing I really hate about performing magic. Everyone thinks it's original. For years I had referred to myself as a sleight-of-hand artist. Most people thought I was going to draw a picture of their hands. One GREAT comeback comes from my buddy Ron Geoffries. He has a hand counter, like used by people counting how many attendees get on the tilt-a-whirl. Every time someone asks "Hey, can you make the check dissappear?" he pulls it out as he laughs, then makes a disgusted look as he clicks the counter. I think this is funny as hell, and have been wanting to do this to spectators for years, but I don't think I have the grapefruits.
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Postby Guest » 01/04/05 07:36 PM

Lacanian psychoanalysis makes a distinction between "demand" and "desire". Very roughly, the former being the actual text of the request; the latter, the void that cannot be filled or satisfied (incessantly opening new demands). Darwin Ortiz says one should compose a list of the questions laypeople ask, and work the routines so that those questions are addressed before they are uttered. It might be of value to read laypeople's questions on the "desire" level, and work the routines around that. Or to peel off layers of meaning and find more basic symbols that could move a spectator in an unexpected way, hopefully also subtle. Mortality, existential solitude, the limits of language as organizer of the universe, are questions that could be addressed while performing magic (and mentalism, of course). Max Maven just did it in his "Thinking in Person" show, to great success. The subject includes comedy too, as the case of Woody Allen proves.

At any rate, a tack worth sailing.


Postby Guest » 01/04/05 11:40 PM

Federico, wonderful reply, but it doesn't answer the question. What are you asked to do? Read a mind, float a table, make a dime turn to a penny?

Postby Guest » 01/05/05 09:06 AM

Oh, one more thing.

Often, people ask me with a challenging tone: "What am I thinking right now?"

I reply: "You're thinking that there's no way I can read minds!"

Postby Guest » 01/06/05 12:52 PM

David Groves made a fine observation when he said that people are in love with their (magic) memories. What happens, I think, is that that past moment of astonishment becomes the first experience of satisfaction, which cannot be relived. Therefore, nothing that comes afterwards will be comparable. On the other hand, there might be a voluntary (although not conscious) effort to preserve the astonishment, the enigma. The fact that most laypeople make their requests in the form of jokes is not accidental. Freud explained how pleasure is derived from jokes by saying there is energy saved when the joke leaps from on associative chain to another, thus producing pleasure. Would readers ask writers if they can write a humorous story about their wives? Or singers to sing a song related to that? The immediate and forceful experience of the void that magic causes requires that, in order to talk about it, people find different linguistic tools. Also, "How did you do that?" does not refer to the actual method, but to the fact that magicians can conjure the nothingness so patently.


Postby Jon Allen » 01/07/05 06:58 PM

"Can you make my wife disappear?" is a popular request. The best response to this I heard was from Paul Daniels. Someone asked him the question to which he replied, "Just keep acting the way you are and she'll soon leave."

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Postby Disparity1 » 01/08/05 09:51 AM

Reading the stories by Jerry Harrell and David Groves about spectators requesting something they'd seen before made me wonder...

There are many occasions when spectators tell me about something they'd seen years ago that impressed them, and they almost always ask if either I know how it's done or if I can do it, too. Frequently, I am prepared or able to do it. I always decline.

Why would I want to make them think any old magician can do the thing that really impressed them so long ago? Wouldn't it help preserve how special that event was by leaving it alone? Wouldn't granting their request simply make it all seem a tad more generic?

Even if they just ask me if I know how it's done, I never indicate that I do. It seems more important to acknowledge to them that it must have been very impressive and "I wish I could have been there."

Slightly off topic, but just a thought...
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Postby cataquet » 01/08/05 01:05 PM

Disparity1's comments remind me of a story told to me by another magician. When he first started working, he used to do a PK effect with coins.

Years later, he was performing for a group of people in a restaurant. "Yeah, that's all okay, but the most amazing magic trick I ever saw was when ..." and proceeded to describe the effect exactly as my friend had performed it several years earlier. My friend then told the guy that HE was that performer and proceeded to repeat the effect for that person.

However, he missed the closing line. Wave your hand in front of the person's face and say "And tomorrow, you won't remember what I look like" ;)
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Postby Guest » 01/26/05 01:37 PM

(Still Slightly Off Subject... Sorry)
I agree... I never perform a trick that someone is raving about some past magician performing... There was a time when I did and the reactions always fall flat. "But he did it with out touching it... ect" ... I now just agree with them on how amazing that trick sounds. (If you can't beat em Join um)
On a side note I had someone come up to me 5 1/2 years after I stoped working at Olive Garden. I'm in the mall and someone comes up and is like HEY -(he scared the crap out of me) Aren't you the magician from Olive Garden, Yeah... Anyway He went on to describe the spoon bending I did and recalled that I set the spoon on the table and it proceeded to twist around and break on the table with out me touching it.
All I can say is I'd like to see that one myself... anyway I just agreed and gave him an updated business card.

Postby Guest » 01/26/05 02:26 PM

Oh Mike- in answer to your orig. question...
"Can you make a million bucks appear for me"
"Can you make my wife disappear"
"Can you levitate, like David Blane"
"Can you make my Bills disappear"
" Who's the greatest Magician"
"Can I take you to Vegas"

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