In response to the criticism by "crimper", might I make a few points that other reviewers of the Restaurant Act were able to perceive without prompting.
The shoot for the Restaurant Act consisted of a dead audience of "magic veterans". Remarks by one of my "helpers" shows this clearly. I agree that the performace was indeed not up to scratch. The audience, who had watched two DAYS of magic and were practically numb was one reason. Another is the fact that the editor of that tape chose to use the SECOND take, not the first.
Another important point is that the tape was designed to ILLUSTRATE a restaurant act, not ENTERTAIN with one. Yes, I would have been happier if they had used the first take but the main point of the tape was still achieved.
Regarding my Chop Cup routine itself, I have heard your opinion expressed by other internet critics (all with pseudonyms, incidentally). It would be easy for me to get pissed off and start attacking you. I won't do that. You are entitled to your opinion and welcome to share it. Please read what follows in the spirit it is intended.
"Lean Chop" (the routine at the end of my act) was developed over several years. It's title refers to it's nature. It has been trimmed of all the fat until it is as direct and powerful as possible. It is also designed to be performed quickly, when necessary.The Don Alan elements (that I inherited by way of Paul Daniels' routine) were used because I liked the idea of beating them silly before hitting them with the climax.
There are many high points in this routine. The opening feint, and final appearance of the ball are both very, VERY strong. In fact the final appearance utilizes the empty cup (with ball secretly attached) principle very well. It allows me to show the cup empty in such a way that the appearance of the ball immediately after does not make the method obvious (lay people ARE able to deduce).
This final appearance of the ball, using the chop cup's power to the full, covers the first load very well indeed. The first load, then covers the second equally well.
I have good reason to defend this routine.
To begin with, I have developed and used it for over 12 years. I am proud of it because of it's SIMPLICITY. It is direct and effective and guarantees a strong finish. In the last month alone I have probaly performed that routine for over two thousand people (eight to ten tables of ten or more people per night for four weeks) and I know it's true value.
You, on the other hand, watched a tape. Furthermore, you watched that tape without making allowances for the problems that seem (to most people, at least) obvious.
This might hurt my feelings but more than that it disappoints me.
Here is a simple fact - magicians appreciate new and intriguing methods. Audiences appreciate strong, powerful effects. Everything on that tape is strong and powerful, routined for the tablehopping performer. That's what is advertised on the box.
Some magicians have dismissed my routine BECAUSE of it's simplicity, the very quality that makes it valuable to a working pro.
If we could have had a camera crew follow me around an event or restaurant gig we would have captured a good show - instead we included an ILLUSTRATION of the act, performed in a DIFFERENT environment to the one intended.
It is very difficult for a video producer to supply his performers with a live audience of people capable of acting naturally in front of the camera. As a result, the performer has to go out and face a group of people giving off a strangely muted energy - they are conscious of the environment.
When performing so called "commercial" magic this is especially difficult (everyone in my audience knew the sponge balls - most knew the cups and balls and at least one was well aware of the card to wallet - all effects that rely to some degree on an element of surprise).
Often, the best case scenario is a couple of audience members capable of acting well. A better solution is to lubricate the crowd with some alcohol prior to filming.
Usually, when faced with a more (lets say) sophisticated audience, I use material they haven't seen before or that bears repeated viewing. Pretty hard to do when filming a video of a commercial act using four accepted classics of magic.
So, whilst I appreciate you not liking the "challenge" approach, I must take issue with your appraisel of my routine, for which you paid about $25 but has earned me far more than that, thanks to the qualities listed above.
For the poor performance I WILL apologise - I only had two bites at the cherry and the porrer of the two was shown. For the handlings and construction I make no apologies what-so-ever.
PS - check John Bannon's book Impossibilia for an interesting Chop Cup routine. I will also feature two effects in a forthcoming book that use the chop cup in a very different manner (no balls or final loads).