Bullet Catch

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Postby Guest » 09/13/04 10:30 AM

I have a client that is a huge Penn & Teller fan. He wants to see a bullet catch done first hand. So much so that he is willing to pay over and above my fee for the effect. My question is just how viable is this effect in todays world? Obviously schools are out and with violence in the workplace, corporate events would seem inappropriate. Then there are state and municipal laws dealing with fire arms. Shipping vs luggage to venues. Is this an effect that is on then outs, or am I being overly P.C. about it.
Your thoughts are appreciated.
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Postby Carl Mercurio » 09/13/04 10:56 AM

That's a tough question. People always react to things differently. I'd ask the client what the audience will be like and make sure he and you are comfortable with the situdation. That said, pulling off this trick the right way is no easy task. Maybe your client should just go to Vegas and see P&T, who do it by far the best I've ever seen.
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Postby Bill Duncan » 09/13/04 11:02 AM

I think that the P&T routine works because you believe that Penn would risk his life for such a stunt and because of who Penn and Teller are perceived to be by their audiences.

I don't think that's the case with most performers of the trick.
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Postby Carl Mercurio » 09/13/04 11:07 AM

That's a great point Bill. The method is also brilliantly executed. I have to admit it fooled the s*** out of me. If it wasn't explained to me I'd probably still be wondering. Just a great piece of theater, which I think is right to Bill's point.
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Postby Bill Duncan » 09/13/04 11:12 AM

I've never liked the trick and I can take or leave Penn and Teller...

But I like their work on this piece very much. It's second only to the Rose in my opinion.

That being said, I still fools me. I have no idea how it's done, nor to I care to know. And THAT is pretty much the yardstick by which I judge all magic and illusions. If I want to see it again, and I don't care how it's done... then it's done right.
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 09/13/04 11:21 AM

I should point out for the sake of completeness that the method P&T use is Banachek's. They have, of course, reworked it to fit their characters and performance style (and it does...like a glove). The core method behind it, though, is Banachek's.

-Jim
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 09/13/04 11:29 AM

Going back to the original question, I think it's really a matter of getting a sense of how the client feels about the particular effect. If, like P&T, it becomes a feature of your act, people will likely be hiring you with the full knowledge that you perform this effect. Until that point, you may wish to mention the effect in your conversations with potential clients -- not necessarily asking permission, but rather letting them know that it is in your act.

For the specific client in question, it seems as if he's more than happy to see you do this effect. Just be aware that he's going to be comparing your performance to P&T's. To me, that'd be a good reason NOT to do it. Not so much because I don't think I would be able to live up to that kind of standard (I know for a fact I wouldn't), but rather that I'd prefer to do my own material, my way.

-Jim
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Postby Carl Mercurio » 09/13/04 11:34 AM

There's so many entertaining touches to it...the laser site on the gun, the signed bullet, the line in the middle of the stage they won't cross, those ridiculous googles Penn wears, the piece of glass, the vest....

By the way Jim, I'm lecturing tonight south of you at SAM 161 in Green Brook at the Willows. At least I think that's south of you...!

Carl
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 09/13/04 12:19 PM

Yes -- everything about P&T's version is fantastic. Like Bill, it continues to fool the crap out of me. Great work from all involved.

And yes, Green Brook IS south of me -- although it's just slightly north of where I work (Edison). Unfortunately I can't stop by tonight. I would like to catch your lecture at some point, though, so keep me updated of any other appearances in the area!

-Jim
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Postby Guest » 09/13/04 12:25 PM

The audience is a corporate banquet at a large hotel. Ive been doing this every Halloween for 22 years now. Its an odd relationship. They always want to see the same old act every year, but on rare occasions, they request something new and I try to oblige. The client saw P&T somewhere and got the idea there. Ive been more than clear that there is no way can duplicate their bullet catch. Still, under certain parameters, he wants to see it performed.
I assisted another magician in a bullet catch many years ago. Although I never cared for the effect, it DID get a huge response from the audience. Ive been looking at Bullet Catch Undone. Says it is 100% safe. Anyone know of a review of this? I dunno. Might be a one time use and ebay it.
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Postby Carl Mercurio » 09/13/04 01:18 PM

You know, on such short notice, to take on an undertaking such as this one seems to be extraordinarily difficult. I don't know your style, but you might try to work out some comedy bit.

Announce to the audience that you're going to do the effect and tell how the CEO requested it because he saw P&T, etc. Then say that because HE requested it, HE is going to be the one to catch the damn bullet.

"He offered me extra money to do this, you know, but even I'm not that stupid," you say.

Sit the guy in a chair and make him wear the goggles and vest and helmet Penn puts on. Have a bowl of apples and a toy bow and arrow to the side and make up some long-winded history:

"You know, this whole trick started when William Tell shot an apple off his son's head. He used apples like this, and a bow and arrow like this. It was a magician who took the whole thing to the next level by catching the arrow in his mouth. After the invention of gunpowder...Of course, none of this is actually true. I'm just prolonging the amount of time Mr. CEO has to sit here looking stupid."

Finally, fire the gun. Nothing happens. Have CEO select an apple from the bowl. Signed bullet is in the apple.

God, I'm good!!!
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Postby Pepka » 09/13/04 01:46 PM

I'm also on the P&T bullet catch bandwagon. It's great! A few years ago, someone tipped me to a method, involving a dart gun. I've never perfomed it and probably never will. But this seems like a great method. I don't know if this is marketed or not. Ask around, if it isn't email me if you're interested in it.
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Postby Guest » 09/13/04 05:15 PM

LOL!

Thanks Carl. Yes, there isnt ample time to prepare at all. I made no promises. I inherited the props from the aforementioned endeavor, but it would still make for a hurried and probably less than desirable part of the show. Thats why I was asking about a "packaged" routine such as Bullet Catch Outdone, where one could concentrate on routining a presentation.

BTW, Ill be taking pre-orders for the William Tell Bullet to Apple trick. $1200 - free shipping.

(Hmmmon second thoughtsince we ARE dealing with firearmsnevermind)
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Postby Guest » 09/13/04 08:02 PM

It is correctly criticized, those who buy/learn(?) a trick one day and then perform it the next.

Most well-performed effects take a good deal of practice, and trial and error,(guess what an error doing this will buy you)and yet this is something to "go in" the act, in 6 weeks?

A escape/lock consultant told me, too often the first time he has seen an "escape artist" perform a milk can or torture cell, for the first time, filled with water, was also the first time they performed it, in front of a real audience!
(No wonder the body count, for escape and other death-flirting stunts, keeps rising.)

A lot of catalog magic, is supposed to be "safe" and "foolproof", and yet with only a few weeks work, the results would not be recommended...and yet a bullet catch is to be hurried upon, (with a "sure fire" method!) at the bequest of a CEO?
(Yes, the premise/persona of the performers is a big factor, but are those in YOUR audience who might not like to see guns, much less fired at someone?!)

Only you can answer these questions for yourself. I hope you have the right answers.
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Postby Guest » 09/13/04 08:30 PM

but are those in YOUR audience who might not like to see guns, much less fired at someone?!)

Hence the reason for my post. I have no real expectations of performing this in time for this banquet, and the CEO knows it. I havent even really researched the availability of routined effects for sale. I was just wondering what venues still exist for the traditional bullet catch trick.

Q. What are the most common last words of a redneck?
A. Hey yallwatch this!

No, no, no. You wont be reading about this country boy getting shot on stage.
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Postby Dan Trommater » 09/13/04 08:57 PM

Carl Mercurio,

Excellent.

Dan
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