comedic improvisation and magic

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Postby Brian Marks » 11/17/02 03:07 PM

When doing tricks for people I feel my training in comedic improv is helpful but more is possible. I like being able to audience members into a trick, listening to what they are saying and agreeing with it, heighting spectator/magician rlationships. Anyone else experiment with this stuff?
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 11/17/02 05:09 PM

Originally posted by Brian Marks:
I like being able to audience members into a trick, listening to what they are saying...?
It looks like you are missing a word or so from the first part of the quote. I would insert the word 'engage' there. what did you have in mind?
The second part of your statement seems like a description of what some call 'rapport'.

There is much written on these topics. What works for one person may be akward for another.

Comedy is also an amazing source of patter and misdirection. If you get them to think for a moment, you have that moment to do what you need.
Mundus vult decipi
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Postby Brian Marks » 11/17/02 05:38 PM

Jonathan

Your right I did mean engage.

When Im talking about comedic improv, I am not quite refering to jokes and using jokes for misdirection. I am talking comedy in a broader sense of the word. Jokes obviously get people to relax for a second and not pay attention as much. There are many standard gags in magic to cover that. There are very few amateurs who move out of the area of just tricks.
Comedic improv and I guess in reality its just improv is the process of creating a scene from nothing. Imagine two actors. They must create a relationship that they agree on, a location that they agree on, and a conflict that they agree on. There must be an emotional involvement in this scene. The actor must agree on everything the other actor says even if it is stark opposite to something already mentioned in the scene in which case they must justify it.
Its the same in magic. When you pull out a deck of playing cards to show strangers magic, your audience draws certain assumptions different than those that magicians have. You must learn to forget these assumptions and work with what the audience is into. This is where agreement comes into magic. You agree with your spectators not with any preconceived notions that you as a magician have. You than build a "scene" with your audience. You include the audience in your act. When you call up a volunteer you must deal with him/her as they are. You be in the moment be able to work your written scipts around whats going on.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 11/17/02 06:28 PM

Originally posted by Brian Marks:
You then build a "scene" with your audience. You include the audience in your act. When you call up a volunteer you must deal with him/her as they are. You (must) be in the moment be able to work your written scipts around what's going on.
This reads well. The ability to find resources within dialog with the audience would benefit almost any close-up or club performer. I'm really curious about this approach to performing.

The term 'rapport' is apt for the basic mood and context management. Finding cues for prepared work would put this closer to a jazz performance than a standard routined act.

This is one thread I'm eager to follow. thanks.
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Postby Brian Marks » 11/17/02 10:13 PM

Its exactly like jazz. You reminded of something I wasn't thinkling of when I wrote this post. Jazzing with a memorized deck of playing cards is a perfect example of improvisation. 52 productions of any named card so he trick or set can go anywhere upon audience request of a certain card. Of coarse that could mean 52 different presentations are possible.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 11/17/02 10:43 PM

Originally posted by Brian Marks:
Its exactly like jazz.
It is unusual to encourage an audience to be talkative. When performing for more than a table full of people, the volume grows quickly. Likewise, it would seem a challenge to engage just a few people to converse.

How do you present yourself to an audience and encourage them to respond in conversation?
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Postby Brian Marks » 11/18/02 12:08 AM

Originally posted by Jonathan Townsend:
Originally posted by Brian Marks:
[b]Its exactly like jazz.
It is unusual to encourage an audience to be talkative. When performing for more than a table full of people, the volume grows quickly. Likewise, it would seem a challenge to engage just a few people to converse.

How do you present yourself to an audience and encourage them to respond in conversation?[/b]
I think thats a wrong premise. They already are talking to you. Its a matter of being able to pick up things that aren't being said. Its a matter of listening. Card tricks force you to have a card picked and memorized. This is an important interaction. It becomes obvious what the person's assumptions about you are. Things happen here that must be addressed by the performer. How was the card picked? Did they follow instructions? Are they trying to mess you up? Did they flash the card accidentally and other people in the audience notice this?These interactions can only be practised by performing.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 11/18/02 12:19 AM

Originally posted by Brian Marks:
...This is an important interaction. It becomes obvious what the person's assumptions about you are. Things happen here that must be addressed by the performer. How was the card picked? Did they follow instructions? Are they trying to mess you up? Did they flash the card accidentally and other people in the audience notice this? These interactions can only be practised by performing.
I agree that people show how they are feeling and how they feel about you by what they do when given the chance. Could you elaborate on the points you made above?

What assumptions might they be making about the performer? And how do you notice this?

...How the card was picked... what can you notice or play off of, and how?

Can you give an example of how you have responded to when/how someone did or did not follow instructions?

Many magicians treat their audience as an object which they 'kill' or 'hit em in the head, tie them in a knot, then get off'. You are suggesting something more personable. Can you give an example of what you do? Or perhaps an idea of what you imagine as being a good thing to try to do?
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Postby Brian Marks » 11/18/02 08:34 AM

What assumptions might they be making about the performer? And how do you notice this?

People assume every card trick is about finding a card they have selected. People have certain preconceived ideas as to how things will go. If you work in opposition to this, you end up fighting your spectator the whole time that things should go differently. If agree with it and somethingcompletely unexpected happens, there is a biger surprise.

...How the card was picked... what can you notice or play off of, and how?

Some people are easy and some people purposely go to the bottom card. There are other things that happen that aren't coming to mind.

Can you give an example of how you have responded to when/how someone did or did not follow instructions?

Many magicians treat their audience as an object which they 'kill' or 'hit em in the head, tie them in a knot, then get off'. You are suggesting something more personable. Can you give an example of what you do? Or perhaps an idea of what you imagine as being a good thing to try to do?[/QB][/QUOTE]

I am not suggessting 1 method of perforing. Certain audiences will be better to hit over the head and run and others, a more personable method will be necessary. Other audiences will require something completly different. I am suggesting a ability to pick up on this and adjust accordingly.
Your styke will change with the audience.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 11/18/02 09:05 PM

Originally posted by Brian Marks:
[QB]... Certain audiences will be better to ... QB]
How do you tell when the audience is tense or distracted? Or what about just one or two members?

Is it easier to just avoid the 'bad apples in the bunch' than modify ones routine to engage them?
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Postby Brian Marks » 11/18/02 09:36 PM

Originally posted by Jonathan Townsend:
Originally posted by Brian Marks:
[QB]... Certain audiences will be better to ... QB]
How do you tell when the audience is tense or distracted? Or what about just one or two members?

Is it easier to just avoid the 'bad apples in the bunch' than modify ones routine to engage them?
Body Language will probably be a dead giveaway. If there in one person who is tense, you can sense it. If your performing for 5 people and 1 person is tense or a bad apple you adjust to that. 4 people have agreed to watch the tricks with 1 person denying you. You must justify his by performing to the other 4. To continue to perform to someone who doesn't want to be there is pointless and creates a bad environment. You are denying the information given to you and you miss a tremedous gift. You perform for 1 person and ignore 4 doing it. If you bring 4 other on your side, this 5th person will either join the group or not. The 5th person's non involvement could become a game in certain situations.
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