Egg Bag

Discuss your favorite platform magic and illusions.

Postby Carl Mercurio » 07/17/02 09:05 PM

Is it just me, or is the egg bag a crushing bore no matter who performs it?
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Postby Guest » 07/17/02 09:15 PM

I am not a huge egg bag fan myself, but Jeff Hobson's routine was laugh out loud funny.

Postby Brian Morton » 07/17/02 09:19 PM

Either you're doing your best to troll -- or you've NEVER seen Jeff Hobson's egg bag routine.

Granted, the style of the act (a flaming gay man doing the egg bag) doesn't appeal to everyone ... but it is UPROARIOUSLY funny.

The egg bag is what could be considered a "perfect trick." Inherent humor. Lots of vanishes, appearances, etc. Audience participation. Historical precedent.

Only reason i'm not doing it yet is because I haven't found the right presentation to do it justice. Too good a trick to butcher.

Maybe you just ain't looking at it right.

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Postby Larry Horowitz » 07/18/02 12:01 AM

Ditto, everything Brian just said.
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Postby Carl Mercurio » 07/18/02 06:33 AM

Never saw Hobson, so I'm now looking forward to standing corrected.
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 07/18/02 07:04 AM

Originally posted by Carl Mercurio:
Is it just me, or is the egg bag a crushing bore no matter who performs it?
I saw Johnny Thompson do it not too long ago, and it was great. Jeff Hobson's is also great -- he did it on one of the WGM specials, if I'm not mistaken. So, maybe it's just you. ;)

I think the problem is that it's easy to get carried away with it. If there's too many vanishes & reappearances, yeah, it'll turn into a crushing bore. Johnny stressed in his lecture that he keeps it very short. He did it once or twice, then the volunteer did it once. That's all that's needed. I believe Hobson's routine is similarly structured.

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Postby Guest » 07/18/02 07:26 AM

Thompson is a master with the Mailin bag and anyone that wants to do it would benefit from at least watching the egg bag video to learn that routine and listen to the advice that Johnny provides. Tom Ogden does one of the funniest egg bag routines I have ever seen which is far better than Hobson's which I personally think is in poor taste. (Not open for debate, I don't particualrly care for Jazz Dance either, it doesn't mean it is not a valid or good art, just that I don;t like it). I feel that if you have to mock, parody or belittle ANY group of people, then it makes you the lesser person. Jeff, as a straight person doing a parodyu of a stereotypical gay man is just not funny. He might as well make fun of a physically challenged person or a mentally challenged person. If that were the case I do not think you would be finding it as funny either.

PSIncerely Yours,
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Postby Oliver Corpuz » 07/18/02 07:27 AM

David Ben also does a wonderfully entertaining Egg Bag routine. It was part of his "The Conjurer" show. I saw David do it when he lectured at Magic, Inc. a few years ago. And Jay Marshall has a hilarious egg bag routine too. I saw both routines done on children, and their looks of astonishment were priceless.


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Postby Guest » 07/18/02 09:09 AM

The Egg Bag is a Classic piece of magic and I've seen many, many extremely entertaining routines over the years. It is a performer's piece, of course, and good performers get a good responce.
Some of my personal favorites: Jeff Hobson, Johnny Thompson, John Carney, Charlie Miller, Dick Oslund, Tom Ogden, David Ben, and Jay Marshall.

Postby Guest » 07/18/02 09:23 AM

To Paul,
I value your right to express your opinion, and Jeff Hobson's portrayal of a gay character has been debated at great length.
The most interesting thing, to me, was that lots of magicians, thinking that Jeff was actually gay were very supportive when he first started doing this. They felt very "tolerant" in allowing a gay person to celebrate their alternate life style as part of their act. However, when it became known that Jeff is not actually gay, some of the same people became very critical of Jeff, saying many of the same things that you said in your post. My question is this? What difference does it make? A lay audience that sees Jeff does not know whether he's gay or not. And, in fact, whether he really is or not is not their business, or yours, or mine. I just happen to have known Jeff for many years when I lived back in Michigan and know that he's straight.
But, I do have a VERY different opinion about one thing. I think he's absolutely hilarious! And, I think that if you will listen to the laughter he gets from audiences, whether they're magicians or lay people, that you'll have to agree. It's your right to feel that they shouldn't be laughing, I suppose, but I just don't happen to share your views, and can, and have, traveled quite a ways to see Jeff perform.

Postby Bob Klase » 07/18/02 09:33 AM

Danny Tong has a good egg bag routine too.
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Postby Carl Mercurio » 07/18/02 09:44 AM

I think the problem with the egg bag is that ultimately, it's "I mash, I pound, I twist, I squeeze and see the egg is gone. O.K., now it's back." There's something about it that's like watching paint dry. Maybe it has to do with this propensity among egg-baggers to prove over and over through varying degrees of bag mutilation that the egg is gone. If it's gone, it's gone. The more proving, the more I think "o.k., it's in there I just can't see where," and the more dull it gets.
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Postby Guest » 07/18/02 09:57 AM

To Carl,
This kind of criticism could be raised against almost any feat of magic. The illusion, which certainly can be successfully created, is that an egg disappears and reappears. That same plot applies to many magic effects. The good egg bag routines DO NOT overemphasize the bag. The egg does not always appear to vanish while in the bag, nor does it always reappear in the Bag. (I'll cite specific examples of this, if you need it.) The bag, like most of our magic equipment is only a prop. The performer makes the egg disappear, not the bag, and whether or not that's boring is totally up to the performer himself and the way he presents the effect.
For the sake of generating discussion, let me say that I don't think there's ANY magic trick that is boring. There are, however, lots of boring magicians.
Perhaps the best evidence I can give in the demonstration of the Knight's Tour. Since about half of the average audience even knows how the knight moves, and since the effect is so repetitive, this seems to be a great candidate for a performance piece which will put audiences to sleep. And yet, I've seen Peter Reveen do it and the audience was with him all the way and the response was incredible. I understand that Ricky Jay is also wowing audiences in NYC with his performance of the Knight's Tour in his current show.

Postby Carl Mercurio » 07/18/02 10:13 AM

Again, it may just be that I haven't seen one of the good routines yet. And I agree with you, and as Simon Lovell always says, there are no boring tricks, just boring magicians.
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Postby Andrew Martin Portala » 07/18/02 01:35 PM

This is about Hobson.
Robert Reed( Mike Brady) was gay and playing a straight guy.
So why can't Hobson play a gay guy?

A magician is an actor playing a part of magician. It's acting.

BTW The Egg Bag is a great trick,it's acting that sells it.
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Postby Curtis Kam » 07/18/02 02:48 PM

Six words:

Tom Mullica ("Whah, Whah...")

Alan Wakeling
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Postby Earle Oakes » 07/18/02 03:59 PM

Carl Mercurio,

Your take on the egg bag is perceptive
and right on target. I wish I had thought to post "crushing bore". The trick is just that, not the performer.

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Postby Dustin Stinett » 07/18/02 04:51 PM

I like to point out that in Hobson's act, the sexuality of his character is actually ambiguous. At one point, he says to the audience (after a moment that makes it appear that he's gay); “I'm not, I'm not.” Then, after a short beat, he continues; “I was, I was…and [to a man in the audience] I could be again for you.”

The point is that he's portraying a character; a well developed character at that. The “is he or isn't he?” conflict of the character allows for many laughs. I've had the good fortune of seeing Hobson do this act live twice and of course on the WGM special. There's no doubt in my mind that a few of the laughs are a result of those audience members who are made uncomfortable by his character. That's the price Hobson pays for his choice of character, but I'm quite certain he's aware of that and, since the majority of the audience ends up enjoying his turn, it's a price he's willing to pay. It's also worth noting that the gay people I know who have seen his act find it to be drop-dead hysterical and not all offensive.

Speaking of Hobson, where/what is he doing these days now that he's no longer working with Kalin?

To the actual subject of this thread: Having seen the wonderfully entertaining egg bag routines of Hobson, Ogden, Thompson and others, I can say that I am in the camp that feels that it's the performer who is boring, not the trick.

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Postby Guest » 07/18/02 04:55 PM

Just stopped back in to say that I can't believe that if left the name of Glen Heywood off the list of performers that do or did very entertaining egg bags. His was one of the best.

Postby Richard Kaufman » 07/18/02 05:04 PM

As has been pointed out, Johnny Thompson does a wonderful egg bag routine, as does John Carney. The Thompson routine is essentially Charlie Miller's. It does, if not presented properly, seem like a puzzle. When presented properly, however, it is a great mystery.
The funniest egg bag routine ever? Tom Mullica's done silently to the Mills Brothers' rendition of Duke Ellington's "Caravan," ending with a full bottle of beer from the bag. Everyone who saw it was screaming with laughter and was also mystified. There were definitely no bored people in the room.
Want to read a great routine for the Egg Bag? Go to Bruce Elliott's "Classic Secrets of Magic" and read they Roy Benson routine.
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Postby Bill Duncan » 07/18/02 06:20 PM

If Tom Mullica's routine is the best there is then I'll have to agree with Carl.

I've not seen Jeff Hobsen or Johnny Thompson do the Egg Bag but I can assume both get a reaction equal to their other material.

Which is why I think Carl may be right. Mullica's Egg Bag routine is funny and will fool you if you don't know what's coming at the end but it's not any funnier or stronger than much of his other material so I have to assume it's (all) Mullica and not the trick that's entertaining.

If the Egg Bag were a great trick in and of itself then there wouldn't be so many terrible Egg Bag routines out there.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 07/18/02 06:33 PM

Most magic is not good "in and of itself." If presented plainly, most methods are quite obvious: there are two women; there's a secret pocket in the bag where the egg is hidden; you really don't put that card into the center of the deck.
It's the performer who makes the difference. I have to assume Bill Duncan is not a Mullica fan, or never saw Mullica at his peak at the Tom-Foolery bar (and not a videotaped represenation of it). Of course, he may not be to Bill's taste.
Good tricks remain in repertoires, bad tricks die. Good tricks are those that allow a good performer to add enough to them to make them individual and unique, like "Linking Rings," "Cups and Balls," "Egg Bag." These are the classics.
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Postby Guest » 07/18/02 07:17 PM

There is no such thing as a magic trick "in and of itself." Magic is a performing art. Props are only inaninate object that lie there and do nothing. Only a performer can take the prop and turn it into a trick or a routine. Without a performer, magic does not exist.

Postby Bill Duncan » 07/18/02 07:29 PM

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
It's the performer who makes the difference. I have to assume Bill Duncan is not a Mullica fan, or never saw Mullica at his peak at the Tom-Foolery bar...
Of course it's the performer, but doesn't that make the point that the trick isn't the thing that's "great"?

As for Mr. Mullica you're both wrong and right. I'm a very big fan but never got to Ga. in time to see the Tom-Foolery. Just seeing the words "Whah, Whah" in Curtis' post made me grin.

I'd also suggest that there are a number of tricks, such as Coins Across, The Miser's Dream, The Hydrostatic Glass and Card Warp that are, to a degree, entertaining, if done with only enough skill to conceal the method. Money that moves or appears from nowhere, water that defies gravity and cards that turn inside out have a cerebral appeal in and of themselves. The Egg Bag is not such a trick.

Perhaps it's considered a "great trick" because it's bland enough that it can only be performed by someone with REAL presentational skills? All the names mentioned in connection with this trick are consummate entertainers and, to use an old saw, could entertain by reading from the telephone book. Can someone name a poor performer who's act is better (in the eyes of a lay audience) because he performs the Egg Bag?

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we used to have a number of street performers, some of whom weren't very good. After watching them, I've heard laymen say things like:
"He wasn't very good but wasn't that trick where he pushed the needle through the balloon amazing?"

I can't imagine anyone saying that about the same level of performer doing an Egg Bag routine.
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Postby Doug Brewer » 07/18/02 10:00 PM

Ditto Curtis Cam: Tom Mullica's routine is perfect (I think) for our short attention-span audiences. The egg appears, it vanishes, it appears, production, kicker production, with audience participation. This is the routine I use, but without the beer bottle production (I use something else). This should be validation enough: It's one of my wife's favorite stand-up tricks (go figure). To her it's such a "clean" routine, with nary a bit of sleight of hand (so she thinks)and she thinks it's hilarious. I don't think anyone should be too quick to bash this classic piece of magic. While the Miller routine is more a "performance piece" and runs a bit long for my taste, I still liked watching Thompson perform it.

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Postby Ruben Padilla » 07/18/02 10:05 PM

Mike Brady was gay?
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Postby Pete Biro » 07/18/02 11:55 PM

It ain't the trick it's the magician is soooo true...

One could take the Egg Bag, the Linking Rings, Cups and Balls, cut and restored rope and make a solid living with them... if he/she is a talented performer.

These are tricks that have lived throughout time.

The so-called Malini (Charlie Miller, Harry Riser, Persi Diaconis developed) egg bag, can and will fool many magicians.

If you saw those mentioned by other posts "perform" it, you know it is a tool, a vehicle, with many opportunities for "bits of business."

I use a couple to help and combine a mock wedding ceremony, a nurses experiences and a Hindu Fakir "I am the Fakir and you are the Fakee" in my handling... it is not quite as outrageous as Hobson or Millica, but it FITS MY STYLE.

Being taught by the orinators of the bag didn't hurt either.

Anyway, if you have seen it done poorly, don't knock the bag, knock the operator of same.

:eek: :eek: :eek:
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Postby Pete Biro » 07/18/02 11:56 PM

Millica? Geezus, I need some rest! :p
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Postby Guest » 07/20/02 07:44 PM

Let's not forget Rick Johnson and Frank Garcia. Both were masterful with the Egg Bag!

Postby Richard Kaufman » 07/20/02 07:46 PM

I never saw Frank do the Egg Bag. What kind of routine was it?
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Postby Guest » 07/20/02 08:23 PM

I greatly enjoy Billy McCombs "egg" bag routine. He does use a filled shot glass instead of an egg.
Steven's put out an egg bag video a while back with Mullica, Thompson, Miller, McComb and Lewis. All similar BUT all different.....yeah what I said.

Postby Rene Clement » 07/21/02 06:36 AM

You posted elsewhere that you attended the Mostly Magic Redux show at the SAM convention. I was there at the second performance and Eric Decamps brought the house down with his version of the Malini egg bag. Then, his finale where the bag vanishes and unexpectedly reappears "killed" the crowd.

Carl, :) Maybe you still had those tears in your eyes from the Iman presentation that you missed this :D .
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Postby Rafael Benatar » 07/21/02 08:03 AM

Johnny Thompson created quite a stir with the egg bag at the Madrid club. That was, I think, around 1988, and we are still talking about it.
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Postby Guest » 07/21/02 08:05 AM


Frank used the Malini Egg Bag for starters. His routine was very much similar to the one performed by Rick Johnson. His presentation was outstanding. Back in my NYC camping days while I was sometimes performing at Mostly Magic, I wanted to include some stand up stuff to perform there Frank spent hours going over the finer details of his routine with me...sadly, I never performed it and I no longer can find my notes on it! BTW, has anyone here ever seen Denny Haney perform the Egg of the best to be seen!

Postby Guest » 07/23/02 03:20 AM

Gotta agree with Carl, up to a point.
The trick doesn't so much end as stop!
It's like the linking rings: You link one, then two -- okay, the audience accepts that; why continue and link all the rings?
In the egg bag, the egg vanishes and reappears; okay, once is enough -- why continue until the audience is begging for mercy?
Now, the important part has been overlooked (and I've raised this issue several times before in various places):
Why eggs?
Who carries eggs in a bag?
There is absolutely NO justification for using eggs.
In fact, it's downright silly!
For an alternative, check out this month's Linking Ring magazine for my Showtime column in which I have a routine called the Golf Bag; it's an egg bag (a) using golf balls instead of eggs, and for a reason; and (b) it has a climax, rather than just petering out.
(My routine uses the Don Alan handling from Bruce Elliott's brilliant book, Classic Secrets of Magic -- unfortunately, no longer in print.)
Sorry, but I've seen many top "names" do the egg bag and never once did I see it done well.
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Postby Randy DiMarco » 07/23/02 07:20 AM

The reason for using eggs is that they are fragile. If you hide an egg in a bag and then twist and stomp and otherwise manipulate the bag to show it empty the fragility of the egg and the fact that it comes back out whole reenforces the idea that the egg could not have possibly been in the bag and therefore must have vanished. Bob White has a very nice Egg Bag routine.
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Postby Matthew Field » 07/23/02 09:26 AM

I guess this is what makes horse races, Carl.

I love the egg bag -- Mullica's is my favorite, with the glass and beer bottle production as a knock-'em-on-their-ass finish. But I've seen Jamy Swiss do a great routine, David Ben, Johnny Thompson, Martin Lewis, Billy McComb and many others. I've seen many audiences watch it with great concentration, sometimes with great laughs. I've seen it done with the magician surrounded in extreme close-up (spectators just inches away).

No finish? When the spectator finds the egg in the bag after she's examined it and while she's holding it -- Jeez! What could be stronger than that?

Can it be "killed" by a poor performer? You betcha. Watch the average performance of the Color Changing Handkerchief. Yeccch. Then watch Billy McComb do it and kill with it.

"Can you see the pale white egg in the inky depths of the bag?" There are few patter lines I love more in magic.

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Postby Andrew Martin Portala » 07/23/02 09:31 AM

Also...Eggs are funny.
Egg on face,ect....... :D
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Postby Guest » 07/23/02 10:55 AM

The Tom Mullica Egg bag routine in and of itself is brilliant. Just brilliant. If you taught that routine to Joe Blow III with the Mills Bros. swinging in the background it would be a good trick.

Tom Mullica the man, I believe is a gift to all of us from the guy upstairs himself. I would pay big money to watch Tom Mullica paint a house for forty five minutes. I know it would wind up being a laugh riot. The fellow is a genius.

In my opinion, the combination of the two together in this routine makes it the most entertaining two minutes fifty-five seconds of magic I have ever seen.

My two cents-



Postby Guest » 07/23/02 12:49 PM

I'm hearing a lot of people complaining about the egg bag as a routine, but did you ever as a layperson? I just did a parlor show Saturday evening, and the egg bag routine was one of the things they kept making remarks about. Now, I'll be the first to admit: the performer has to be entertaining, but if he is, then you have to "see through the eyes of a layperson". If they are entertained, then who cares what we think about it.
Just my 2 cents worth.


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