"Kick"ing them when they're down

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.

Postby Guest » 11/23/02 02:45 PM

In another thread Jonathan Townsend wrote:
Adding a 'kicker' to a working effect diminishes the effect. Adding one or more 'kickers' to a poorly presented effect is just about like kicking a dead horse. Maybe that's why they are called 'kickers'. In general,why bother?
When I read this I thought "What a great idea for a topic!" so I created one.

While I generally hate making allusions to attacking an audience ("I killed 'em" or "This will knock them off their feet") I think this is an appropriate time.

"The Greatest" revolutionized boxing by using a kicker philosophy. He realized that it's very difficult to hit someone so hard that it knocks them out but that if you hit them less hard, but many many times, so quickly they can't process each impact, that it will have the same ultimate effect.

Isn't that what "kicker" endings attempt to do? Overwhelm the senses and overload the critial thinking processes of the audience so that they simply give up trying to determine what you did and accept the effect?

I find that sometimes a kicker can serve tell the audience that he effect is over. Many tricks in magic simply repeat the same effect over and over again. A kicker, if it's thematically valid, can serve as a nice coda.

But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. :D
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Postby Guest » 11/23/02 03:06 PM

Originally posted by Bill Duncan:
...overwhelm the senses and overload the critial thinking processes of the audience so that they simply give up trying to determine what you did and accept the effect...
Here we agree. Having an audience follow and accept a story-effect at face value is the goal here.

If you wish to overload your audience's cognitive abilities, which include the ability to follow a story, 'kickers' will work. They will resond the the 'kickers'.

Where we might not agree is about the utility of doing a good performance that stands on its own, and adding 'kicker' endings.

I hold that by adding 'kickers' to a good performance, one diminishes the the basic effect performed and risks losing it completely as the audience is experiencing overload.

Likewise I hold that 'kickers' do not help a poor performance.

Good routining can have all kinds of plot twists. All I am concerned with is that good work not be lost or buried under non sequitor surprises.

How do you decide what to make the ending of a routine for it to be satisfying?
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Postby Guest » 11/23/02 03:37 PM

I'm not sure how I decide what to add but I can tell you when I think it's appropriate.

Anytime a trick has no clear ending it's ripe for a kicker. I don't generally think strong tricks, like Triumph, need or benefit from kickers unless they're thematically valid and extend the ideas presented in the script.

Here's an example of how I'd add a color changing deck ending to a Triumph routine. I'd frame the effect as a challenge card location saying that to make it harder they'll merely think of a card (peek force) and then to make it even harder I'll shuffle the cards face up into face down.
Then the selection is found.
Then the deck is spread face up to reveal the triumph effect with a line like "finding card was easy, fixing the mess was hard."

Then after a pause, a conspiritorial aside: "Would you like to know how I found the card so easily?"

"I used a marked deck!"
The "blue" pack is spread to reveal red backs with VERY LARGE black markings.

Solves the color blindness question too!
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Postby Guest » 11/23/02 03:58 PM

Originally posted by Bill Duncan:
I'm not sure [b]how I decide what to add but I can tell you when I think it's appropriate.[/b]
I have been wondering about the coin assembly plot. Some folks do a sudden reverse travel, others produce a giant coin. I know there is something that needs to be built up in the effect and don't know where to look.

What do you do?
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Postby Guest » 11/23/02 04:14 PM

Mike Rogers shared the view that "kickers" were generally a bad idea. I have mixed feelings. With proper routining and patter, what may have been intended as a kicker can become the next effect. For example, instead of saying "And look the kings have now become aces.." you might pause long enough that the primary effect is over and then say, "I'm going to need the four aces for my next item..." make your magic pass and show that the kings have become the aces...

This is one way in which the kicker doesn't overshadow the effect.

Here's a question: Are the loads in cups and balls a kicker?? I asked Mike Rogers about this but I can't remember his response (sorry, I'm getting old!). It's certainly true that the loads overshadow whatever went down before. I'm sure that a layperson, when asked what happened, would respond something like "..these little balls kept jumping from cup to cup and then suddenly they were big."

Another way a kicker can be integrated into a routine is through a theme. It's easy to integrate a color changing deck into a routine in which some cards are caused to change color one by one. This leads up to the big change of the entire deck. I think it's possible to take kickers that tend to seem unconnected to the preceding effect and connect them through well thought out presentation.

This is an excellent topic and I look forward to reading more ideas on this important subject.

Mike
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 11/23/02 05:49 PM

Good point, Mike: of course the final loads in Cups and Balls are a "kicker" ending.
I actually loathe the term "kicker."
You can say whatever you want, but having watched Derek Dingle perform many of his routines with multiple climaxes, I can tell you that it was truly like watching someone get hit in the head repeatedly. BAM BAM BAM. The jaws of people in the audience would just drop. They were too stunned to applaude.
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Postby Guest » 11/23/02 06:14 PM

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
...hit in the head repeatedly. BAM BAM BAM. The jaws of people in the audience would just drop. They were too stunned to applaude.
Rich et al,

One question is: Would it have mattered if he did a whole card trick before the kickers, or just cut to someones named card? I.E. if one uses kickers, does it matter what the starting trick was?
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 11/23/02 08:05 PM

Yes, I do think it matters. For example, you wouldn't do a trick with multiple climaxes as your first, or even second, card trick.
In the case of a trick where three things happen, the final one of which is that the back of the entire deck changes color, that would have to be the final trick. The audience, in the case of a color-changing deck, really has to believe the deck is, say, red before it changes to blue. Otherwise there's no point. It's like a play or movie where you have only the first and last ten minutes and nothing inbetween.
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Postby Guest » 11/23/02 08:23 PM

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
Yes, I do think it matters. ...
Are we trying to use kickers to signal to the audience that we are about done with the show?

Since some folks prefer cards, let's try building a simple example that's worth discussing instead of debating the habits we call classics.

What if in performing a signed card to wallet, the pen used was tabled, and after the revelation of the card, it was then pointed out that the pen is now a pencil?

What if the signed card that comes out of the wallet is shown to have a different colored back than the deck?

What if the cardcase was now the same color as the changed card?

Sorry about the shift of media here, I'm a coinman at heart...
Okay, then how about a 'winged silver' with four quarters, where when the last coin has vanished from the left hand, the right hand opens to show a silver dollar instead of the expected four quarters? would that be a kicker?
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Postby Guest » 11/23/02 09:19 PM

Okay, then how about a 'winged silver' with four quarters, where when the last coin has vanished from the left hand, the right hand opens to show a silver dollar instead of the expected four quarters? would that be a kicker?

Jonathan,

Actually, I have been doing just that (the above mentioned effect)for close to 30 years now. It plays quite well for a lay audience. The point being is...there is nothing wrong with "kicker" endings providing there is a logic behind it.

Mike
PS: I agree with Richard...I don't care for the term "kicker effect"...multiple climax sounds much better!
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Postby Guest » 11/23/02 09:43 PM

I believe a kicker is different to a multiple climax. I multiple climax is several effects at once. A kicker is a new effect placed at the end that makes you rethink what you THOUGHT you knew up the events and condititions of the effect.

I like to think of it like a movie. We introduce a character (the magician) the character has an experience that is conflicted (the effect is set up) the conflict is resolved (the trick has a finale).

However, a good magicians (professionals in particular) do not want to leave everything wrapped up neatly. Take 'Law and Order': The trials on the TV show are always resolved in some way BUT we are always left an ethical or dramatic twist at the end for us to think about.

To me, a kicker is that twist. E.g. I ask a spectator to name a card which I offer to magically turn face up. (conflict) That card turns face up in the deck. (resolution) That card has an odd coloured back. (twist).
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Postby Guest » 11/23/02 10:48 PM

I believe a kicker is different to a multiple climax.

Normally, they are one and the same...a kicker usually follows a normal climax making it a multiple climax.

Mike
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Postby Guest » 11/23/02 11:42 PM

Originally posted by Bill Duncan:
David Roth (via RK in COINMAGIC) opines that if you produce a jumbo coin you may as well not do the proceeding effect
I believe it counterproductive to diminish an effect with a finale of unrelated productions.
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Postby Guest » 11/24/02 12:04 AM

Originally posted by Jonathan Townsend:
I have been wondering about the coin assembly plot.
[snipage]
What do you do?
Well, hoping not to sound too snotty but... I don't do a coin assembly. I haven't been able to find any way to make an audience care about it.

That being said, I have always liked Paul Harris' idea of "The Giant Killer Coin" as a motivation for the coins scurrying about. I even toyed with the idea of using SBA dollars and an Ike dollar in a battle of the sexes theme with a jumbo Ike dollar ending. But I'm feeling much better now.
;)

David Roth (via RK in COINMAGIC) opines that if you produce a jumbo coin you may as well not do the proceeding effect

The real question is why do a trick that takes the audiences eyes as far from yours as possible? Isn't that fighting against the personal contact that all good performers seek?
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Postby Guest » 11/24/02 12:22 AM

Originally posted by Jonathan Townsend:
Okay, then how about a 'winged silver' with four quarters, where when the last coin has vanished from the left hand, the right hand opens to show a silver dollar instead of the expected four quarters?
Like Mr. Gallo, I've experimented with this sort of ending but in a much less technially demanding way.

I do a "two in the hand, one in the pocket" routine using four quarters. Twenty-five, fifty, seventy-five cents in the hand... and a quarter in the pocket. Eventually the four coins become two quarters and one half dollar. Still a dollar but with an unexpected difference.

The "reason" this happens is that after having asked a waitress for change for a dollar I explain that the coins try to remain in a group because they used to be a dollar together. It's offered as an example of "conceptual art".
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Postby Guest » 11/24/02 12:46 AM

Originally posted by Bill Duncan:
...the coins try to remain in a group because they used to be a dollar together. It's offered as an example of "conceptual art".
Okay, how about tearing a dollar bill in four and having them become quarters. Doing the coin assembly under another two dollar bills. Then having a silver dollar appear when all together.

then all three blend into a five dollar bill due to compound magical interest.

Would this be straight ahead plot, kickers or perhaps multiple climaxes?

yeah, who can spell at 3am?
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Postby Guest » 11/24/02 01:08 AM

Originally posted by Nicholas J. Johnson:
...resolved in some way BUT we are always left an ethical or dramatic twist... at the end for us to think about.
This approach has a lot going for it. Routining effects where each is dramaticly complete has a drawback in the perspective of the larger show. There is a loss of momentum when the response to one effect has registered and the next is started.

If the 'twist at the end' leads to the next effect the show moves ahead and the critical issues are in hand.

Nicholas, would you share an example of this? Anyone else doing this kind of routining?
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Postby Lance Pierce » 11/24/02 07:59 AM

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language presents as one of the definitions of kicker: A sudden, surprising turn of events or ending; a twist.

When I looked at this, though, I realized that it describes every single effect in every single one of our routines, so a definition for magicians would have to be formed to our particular circumstance.

For me, a kicker is an event that takes the existing momentum from a previous climax and ratchets it up a notch or two gives it a kick. This means that kickers not only have to be timed properly (because doing one too soon will probably interfere with the momentum and doing one too late will probably leave the kicker hanging in mid-air), but be of a certain quality or nature in order to be effective. I dont think there are any hard lines that tell us what these qualities and natures are, although we can almost always tell if a kicker works well or works poorly at least, when we get it in front of audiences and gauge what happens.

One thing to take note of is that an event can be a kicker, or it can be something else altogether. For example, if we do a Triumph routine and after the cards have righted themselves we lift up half the deck at the inner end, reach in, and pull out a red handkerchief, we have a kicker (although admittedly a poor one, it being so non-thematic and all). But if we do the Triumph effect, wait, and then say that for our next effect, we need a handkerchiefand THEN we pull it out of the middle of the deck, what we have is not a kicker, but a segue. In this example, its all in the when, so we see that many times whether an effect works has little to do with the effect itself, but with how we do it, how we frame it, and what context we put it in.

Im not sure that we add kickers to overwhelm the senses and overload the critical thinking processes of the audience so that they simply give up trying to determine what you did and accept the effect. The reason for my hesitation is because if we havent been able to lead the audience into suspending their disbelief before we get halfway through the main body of the effect, then the piece isnt working anyway. The time to get them on our side isnt after the routine is over, and I dont think kickers will always do that for us. I think we add kickers to take the impact of a good effect and make it great or a great effect and make it greater. Kickers seem to be best done when they augment the main routine, not overwhelm it.

And perhaps thats part of the key. A kicker thats so out of context (like pulling a handkerchief out of a deck) doesnt help; it only confuses. Kickers have to help (and yes, here Im only stating the very obvious). At the very least, well-paced and well-placed kickers serve to signal the definite end of that particular piece an event that not even the performer himself would try to follow, and one that doesnt necessarily leave the audience overloaded, but definitely and unexpectedly satisfied.

Cheers,

Lance
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Postby Terry » 11/24/02 08:04 AM

You can say whatever you want, but having watched Derek Dingle perform many of his routines with multiple climaxes, I can tell you that it was truly like watching someone get hit in the head repeatedly. BAM BAM BAM.
Richard, did the successive endings build on the previous ones? Or did each "climax" take the audience down different paths?

One would think "kickers" should build on the preceeding "ending" and not include things coming out of left field that add confusion such as Bill's addition of a color change to Vernon's Triumph. Triumph stands as a classic of righting a face up/down mess and locating a card. Adding the color change doesn't improve the main effect, if anything it weakens it.
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Postby Guest » 11/24/02 01:52 PM

Can we agree that kicker is a TYPE of multiple climax where the magician, after apparently concluding the effect, throws a twist or different idea into the plot that still links back to the conditions of the effect.

I would suggest that the final load in a cups and balls routine is usually (but not always) a kicker.
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Postby Guest » 11/24/02 02:33 PM

At the very least, well-paced and well-placed kickers serve to signal the definite end of that particular piece –

Two effects that come to mind...coins across and an ace assembly. Let's face the facts, by the time the last coin goes across...or the last ace assembles to the leader packet...well who is really being fooled. At this point the effect is anti-climatic! Therefore, I think it is safe to say that a kicker is well needed here!!!

Mike
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Postby Guest » 11/24/02 05:05 PM

Interesting thread... Have to put the kid to bed, but wanted to get this out first...

In my opinion, a good "kicker" should be an additional tag (or coda) to a routine that wraps up loose ends, answers a question that the audience may have later, or can be used as a bridge or segue to the next piece.

For example: In my professional work, I use Mark Lefler's Reversi (a 4 coin, 2 card matrix with a return to original positions, Collected Almanac, page xiv) all the time.

I perform it because not only is it very visual, but beautiful in its economic use of methodology (challenging, but sometimes I like to perform things that bring me joy in the doing). I finish the effect, letting the return of the coins ring in the air, and my relaxed, open pose indicates that the piece is concluded. Rather than allowing the momentum to grind to a complete stop I bridge the gap between pieces with the following:

As a "kicker," I relate that some people believe that I use another coin (and let's face it, if they didn't think of it then, they would later), I state that they're right, but it is much bigger and doesn't really help. Now the coins I use are Walking Liberty Halves, and the jumbo coin I produce is a Penny which I use in other routines (most notably one that was printed in Magic, May 2002). I never mention the fact that the value doesn't match, it is left as something for them to respond to later.

The jumbo is then used in another piece later and serves as a coaster until it is needed again... Thus it serves to punctuate the finish, walk them away from an internal dialogue concerning method by "answering" the question in a way that satisfies on some level, yet also introduces new questions and then springs us forward into the next piece.

One of my favorite ways of evaluating performers (magic & other) is how they slide from engineered moment to moment (trick to trick or in acting, beat to beat)... Often, it is how a performer handles these gaps that can make or break a performance...

Back later,

ajp
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 11/24/02 06:03 PM

Originally posted by Bill Duncan:
Isn't that what "kicker" endings attempt to do? Overwhelm the senses and overload the critial thinking processes of the audience so that they simply give up trying to determine what you did and accept the effect?
Yup, and that's exactly why I don't like them.

Remember Vernon? "Confusion is not magic." If you're trying to overwhelm their sense and overload thier critical thinking processes, you are, in essence, attempting to confuse them. And, I think the spectators will recognize that, so that instead of saying "Wow...that's magic." they'll say, "Wow...he's been tricking us all along."

Of course, this leads to a discussion of character choices. Do you want to be seen as a "trickster" or a "magician?" You can't be both, I don't think. Derek Dingle definitely gives off the "trickster" personality. In fact, since I just finished reading Jamy Ian Swiss's recent book, Shattering Illusions, I'm going to give a little quote from it (p 248-249):

Derek Dingle ... appeared on Tom Snyder's late-night talk show. Snyder posed a question to the group, essentially asking, "What does the term magician mean in 1977?" In striking contrast to Doug Henning's response (which I will leave the reader to "wonder" about), Derek explained ... "I am not a magician, I am a manipulator!"

Derek's choice of material (including all the kickers) reflects this character choice. On the other hand, someone like Eugene Burger, who has described himself as "the worker of wonders" (Swiss, p. 250), will practically never use a kicker ending. Perhaps the only thing that I can think of that may be seen as a kicker in his work is the climax to his sponge ball routine (the production of 24 balls), but even that is the real climax to the trick, not something added on after a previous climax. So, I think the use of kickers is really a character choice -- though I'd have a hard time calling someone who uses them a "magician" as opposed to a "trickster."

I find that sometimes a kicker can serve tell the audience that he effect is over. Many tricks in magic simply repeat the same effect over and over again. A kicker, if it's thematically valid, can serve as a nice coda.
I agree -- one example Eugene Burger's sponge ball routine, which I mentioned above. Another would be a full deck Oil & Water after doing it with just a small packet, such as Rene Lavand or John Carney do.

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Postby Guest » 11/25/02 12:43 AM

Originally posted by Jim Maloney:
In striking contrast to Doug Henning's response
Odd you should bring Doug Henning into this. His presentations were for the most part straight ahead with few twists like '...bump in the night'

We had occasion to discuss this subject. As best I recall, his position was that the performer is there to entertain and bring the audience opportunites to feel a childlike sense of wonder.

I looked back at the rationalizations given for kickers in this and the triumph thread and found some ideas to mull. I suspect we have some more central issues to discuss. The ones that come to mind are:
1) managing audience expectation
2) routining repitition

These are critical to presenting an effect, finding a suitable dramatic climax and segues into the next effects.

For some reason the tale from the 1001 nights about ants taking grain one kernal at a time comes to mind here. What are your thoughts?
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 11/25/02 07:31 PM

Originally posted by Jonathan Townsend:
Odd you should bring Doug Henning into this. His presentations were for the most part straight ahead with few twists like '...bump in the night'

We had occasion to discuss this subject. As best I recall, his position was that the performer is there to entertain and bring the audience opportunites to feel a childlike sense of wonder.
What's odd about it? I think Doug's choice of material, like Derek's, supports his character choice. The straightforward presentations, and the lack of kickers, shows that he's going for a different reaction -- that of a sense of child-like wonder. (And, by the way, those were Jamy's words in the first post, not my own...just to be clear.)

For some reason the tale from the 1001 nights about ants taking grain one kernal at a time comes to mind here. What are your thoughts?
I'm not familiar with the story (or maybe I am, and I'm just blanking out on it) -- could you give a brief summary?

-Jim
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Postby Guest » 11/25/02 08:40 PM

[b]For some reason the tale from the 1001 nights about ants taking grain one kernal at a time comes to mind here. What are your thoughts?
I'm not familiar with the story (or maybe I am, and I'm just blanking out on it) -- could you give a brief summary?[/b]
This comes in context of a discussion of Routining Repitition and Audience expectations. The story is in the 1001 Nights. This is the story that bored the Sultan to sleep. It is an example of repitition in story telling taken to absurdity. A trick that she knew she could only use once.

With this in mind we can try to avoid the tedium of a new coins across with fifty coins or perhaps a trick with twenty selected cards.

Now on to the topic at hand. Jim suggests above that kickers may be a method to come across as 'clever' or as a 'trickster' type character.

I recall the Kaps Chinese Coin production as itself clever, yet not implying anything about the character of the magician.

Let's drop out the examples of character reinforcements and see if we can refine some examples where routines seem to do better with a surprise ending or even a sequence of surprises.

The Kaps trick and Dereck Dingle's Rollover Aces seem good examples of this. The cups and balls may be a good trick to discuss.

Let's agree at the start that we are examining much that has become habit for us.

So when is a climax production not a crutch or non-sequitor?
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Postby NCMarsh » 11/25/02 10:06 PM

I think the cups and balls is a fascinating example...and probably a great place to start as, having survived for so long, it must be able to offer some principles about how good magic is structured...

Though the production of the final loads truly is the only climax to the routine, it seems related to the question of kickers because some could argue that when fruit, or chicks, or any other incongrous object is produced from the cups, it is no more, or less, logical than producing a giant coin at the end of a coin assembly, and perhaps the incongrous loads could be argued to be less logical than a instant reversal following a matrix...

The issue seems to be something like: In what way do the final loads make sense as a climax to the routine? Is this ending more logical than, say, pulling a handkerchief from a deck? Why?

It seems to me that somehow the entire routine is about things entering or leaving the cups unbeknowst to the audience...and that the ability to produce really big things from the cups is in some way perfectly consistent with what preceded it...but i'm not sure exactly how...

Any other thoughts on this? If we can specifically articulate what it is that allows the ending to the cups to make sense, will this give us a criterion for understanding how, or when, to apply "kickers" in other pieces?

Is the cups and balls a piece for "tricksters," rather than wonder-workers, because of the arguably incongrous ending? Why would a sudden visual surprise (a kind of magical joke I suppose) not be used by someone who really was evoking wonder?

regards,
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Postby Guest » 11/25/02 10:20 PM

Originally posted by Jonathan Townsend:
So when is a climax production not a crutch or non-sequitor?
Great questions. But I guess I think that because I don't have answers for all of 'em. ;)

Certainly when the climax is the trick and what goes before simply prelude. As in the example I cited above for "two in the hand".

The one I'm not sure about is is it a crutch to add a climax ending to routines like Coins Across or Matrix? And if so what does that say about the effects?

On a related note are tricks made up of repetition of the same effect by their nature weaker than one effect tricks?

And where the heck is Tom Stone? Tom?
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Postby Guest » 11/25/02 10:34 PM

Originally posted by Nathan Coe Marsh:
...Though the production of the final loads truly is the only climax to the routine...
When I first saw the cups and balls I thought it looked like a three shell game adaptation crossed with "two in the hand, one in the pocket". The props suggested a routining like a setup for guessing which cup a ball was under, and putting a ball away and having it join the others under the cup.

I also liked the theme of the balls, cups and wand sometimes passing through the cup(s).

If a routine started with one ball, then introduced two more balls from the pocket later... and finished with the Vernon triple vanish with the wand spin that opens his cups routine, (all three on top of cups -> vanish and appear under their cups) would this routine work as having a satisfying climax?
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Postby Guest » 11/25/02 11:29 PM

Let me add to what Lance submitted regarding definitions.

The words "kick" and "kicker," their hard "k"-sounds aside, are explosive words. One feels their physical forcefulness, their secondary, sudden impacts.

There are so many ways to go...

...One relates a fascinating story and then says, "...and here's the kicker!" One plays a game of poker; the bets are in. Then a player pauses and "kicks" in, raising the ante.

...A "kicker" is a follow-up thrill, a chop-block to the brain...

A "kick" is a charge.

A "kicker" recharges.

Too many "kickers" cause the enchantments to "kick off."

Some "kickers" serve to kick-start listless spectators.

Cockney kiddies (at birthday parties)require "kicking up a dido."

...Dingle of course was King of the Kickers, the godfather of kick-ass climaxes, doubling up the double-whammy.

As for me, after six months in rehab, I "kicked" the habit of adding "kickers" in 1981. Yet some nights I still dream of "Color Triumphant," reliving the first time it "kicked my butt," feeling the warm rush of cognitive dissonance as it filled the void between my ears.

I still walk with a slight limp.

Onward...
gingerly...
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Postby NCMarsh » 11/25/02 11:31 PM

My gut says no...not sure what the full account is...but i'll give it a shot

over the past couple millenia I'm certain that literally THOUSANDS of individual phases have been created for the cups and balls...With the exception of those phases that function only as openings (ball productions etc.), all of these sequences are interchangeable...one magician might perform the "shower of balls" followed by the "classic gathering in the middle" followed by the "Two-none-Two" sequence (i'm using Micheal Ammar's titles here), another magician might reverse the order completely and neither routine would seem any more or less natural in its structure than the other...

One could simply perform body sequences, in any random order, one after the other, and the decision to end on one sequence or another would be entirely random...

That is to say that there is no natural neccesity for one body sequence to occur at one point in the routine...which tells us that there is no natural build between the sequences...if there is no build between the sequences, then they are not building towards any particular body sequence which would be a natural ending -- but are rather setting up for the real ending which is the final production...

A satisfying ending, a natural ending, is somehow pointed to by what preceded it...there is a causal link between the occurences so that when we see the ending, even if we didn't expect it, it makes sense that the routine ended HERE and not at some other point...there is nothing arbitrary about the ending of a routine that satisfies...

regards,
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Postby Guest » 11/29/02 02:47 PM

I think there is some confusion about the difference between a multiple climax and a kicker.

Multiple climaxes are when a series of strong effects builds to a conclusion, with the final effect signaling the end of the routine or the performance and demanding audience applause.

The audience will likely want to applaud each successive climax thinking that it is the end of the trick and this can be either encouraged or suppressed by the performer.

He can take the applause each time, either waiting for it to subside before going on to the next, or continuing on during the applause to increase the audiences reaction.

In the latter case, the multiple climaxes are very similar to a "kicker," but not quite. The ultimate climax is usually reached with a definitive motion or statement signaling that the routine is over.

A kicker is an effect added after the obvious conclusion of the routine. It is used simply as a "parting" surprise to kick the applause into higher gear.

In the conclusion of Johnny Ace Palmer's close-up routine for example, the production of a dove is treated as a climax, and the audience is encouraged to applaud as if it is the end of the show. As they are applauding, he splits the dove as a kicker to bring them to their feet.

It is possible to see this as a multiple climax, but what makes it a kicker is the way it is used. The performer signals the end of the routine or performance, and accepts applause, and then adds something during the applause to ratchet it up a notch.

I think that this is the main distinction between a "multiple climax" and a "kicker." Multiple climaxes precede the definite and satisfying "conclusion" of a routine, and a kicker follows that as a way of boosting the overall reaction to the routine.

Multiple climaxes should have a logical connection to the preceding routine, but a kicker can be any effect that spikes the applause. Multiple climaxes usually are only limited by the "immutable law" of three, but it is more difficult to do more than one "kicker," since the effect of additional unrelated surprises is that applause is muted, the audience will become observant instead of reactive because they want to wait and see what happens next.

The problem with many so-called "kickers" is that they are really anti-climatic effects. They are climaxes that are used to "signal" the end of the routine, but are not as "strong" as the preceding climax, thus bringing the response down instead of up.

The magician should never ask for applause for the kicker. It is a parting gift or surprise, almost as if in response to the applause.
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Postby Guest » 11/29/02 04:28 PM

Originally posted by Whit Haydn:
...The magician should never ask for applause for the kicker. It is a parting gift or surprise, almost as if in response to the applause.
Thanks Whit. The term used in the performing arts for this kind of thing is 'encore'.

I believe we could benefit from using well established terms from the theatrical arts in our discussions.
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Postby NCMarsh » 11/29/02 08:05 PM

An encore, at least in my understanding of the term, is a complete piece performed, originally at the request of the audience, after the last scheduled piece of the evening...originally as a repetition of a stellar piece in the performance (hence the word "encore," french for "again")...
I don't think the word fits well with what is intended by our term "kicker"

regards,
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Postby Guest » 11/29/02 08:13 PM

Originally posted by Nathan Coe Marsh:
An encore, at least in my understanding of the term, is a complete piece performed, originally at the request of the audience, after the last scheduled piece of the evening...
I was giving the 'performer' credit for having some awareness of the basics. Treated as such, the color change of the deck in 'Color Triumphant' is quite an encore. The effect of finding the card and righting the deck is over at that point, and the audience should be reacting...
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Postby Guest » 11/29/02 08:34 PM

An encore is a apecific thing, an audience callback by applause for the performer to do another number.

A kicker is really something different--something that the performer does intentionally to build or "kick" the final applause during his acknowledgement of that applause:

A dancer might do an extra turn and kick during his bow, or a juggler roll his hat up his arm and onto his head. In stage magic, the magician might produce a cane or a bouquet of flowers.

In close-up magic, the word is used differently (and I think usually inappropriately) so often, that I am not sure what it means. Since we have terms for anti-climax and multiple climax, kicker should be reserved for this little flourish or surprise that comes after the conclusion of the routine. It is performed during the final applause for the purpose of building the response.

But this is just my opinion, not based on any authority. I am just trying to relate to other theatrical usages. We don't seem to have a commonly accepted terminology for close-up magic. Terms like "effect" are used in different ways in Maskelyne & Devant than they are in Fitzkee, and different again in other writers. It sure would be good to have a common lexicon for close-up magic.
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Postby Guest » 11/29/02 08:47 PM

Originally posted by Whit Haydn:
...A magician might produce a cane or a bouquet of flowers.
Agreed Whit,

After straightening out the deck and finding the selection, the magician receives applause.

As an encore, he waves his hands over the deck and it changes color.

How's this by you?
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Postby Guest » 11/29/02 08:56 PM

Jonathon:

That would be a "kicker" in my opinion, because of the way it is used. But maybe too subtle to be a great one.

It may require a little too much thinking on the audience's part, thus bringing down rather than increasing the response. That particular effect might better be a multiple climax, letting the audience applause die down a bit, and then refocusing their attention for the new climax.

A good kicker should be a surprise, but one that does not require the audience to think too much.

Perhaps the color changing deck should be the conclusion of the routine, the cards are picked up with an air of finality, and during the audience response and performer's acknowledgement, the cards are thrown into the air and disappear. That would be more like how I see a "kicker."
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Postby Guest » 11/29/02 09:06 PM

Originally posted by Whit Haydn:
...Perhaps the color changing deck should be the conclusion of the routine...
Okay, let's go with this. All here know Derek's Color Triumphant effect and method...

What would it take to make the color change of the deck into a nice 'encore' ?

What would it take to make it the climax of the trick?

What would it take to make it a 'kicker'? ( let's not get too excited about this option )

We are talking about presentation at this point. I have a suggestion for the first: Magician takes out an empty card case for the other colored deck. Puts original card case away. then waves hands over deck and shows now matches new card case. puts away.

What are your thoughts?
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Postby Guest » 11/29/02 09:13 PM

An encore is almost always different material, that will not be perceived by audiences as an extension of a piece.

For eaxmple, might finish with a Card to Wallet routine and follow that up with a Rubber Band Encore (if requested).

I agree with Whit, kickers are most frequently used (and abused) to extend a routine, most often in a legitimate and logical way. Properly used, they punctuate the routine somehow and may occasionally create a bridge to another piece.

Another way to look at it: Audiences may request an encore. A kicker is something they get whether they want it or not.

ajp
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