Derren Brown: Desert Island Discs

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Jack Shalom
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Derren Brown: Desert Island Discs

Postby Jack Shalom » June 7th, 2020, 10:30 pm


PickaCard
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Re: Derren Brown: Desert Island Discs

Postby PickaCard » June 8th, 2020, 4:33 pm

This is quite the endorsement for the hobby...

7. He never does tricks for people in real life

Derren says that as a young man his nervousness and shyness meant: “I would always have tricks in my pocket.” But he goes on to say: “It’s such a red herring in life, the desire to impress. It feels like that’s what you should be doing, but it’s the one thing you shouldn’t be doing in life because it’s the one thing people aren’t impressed by! It shoots itself in the foot, but for years that was my thing, I was always having to do a trick.”

And does he ever have the desire now, away from the stage and the cameras, to entertain with magic? “Now I’m the opposite. I never do tricks for people in real life, I find it really childish and silly and dishonest!”

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Re: Derren Brown: Desert Island Discs

Postby Topovich » July 6th, 2020, 10:13 am

PickaCard wrote:And does he ever have the desire now, away from the stage and the cameras, to entertain with magic? “Now I’m the opposite. I never do tricks for people in real life, I find it really childish and silly and dishonest!”

Whoa. That's quite a statement, especially coming from someone who built his career on the foundation of performing magic.

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Re: Derren Brown: Desert Island Discs

Postby Joe Mckay » July 6th, 2020, 11:33 am

I have always felt uncomfortable about performing for friends & family.

I was always searching for a reason other than "impressing" people. The sub-text of any magic trick (whether intentional or not) is that you are trying to impress somebody by doing something that is literally impressive.

I sometimes wonder if I am some kind of mega magic genius who quickly realised something that it took another genius like Derren Brown 25 years to realise. You may laugh - but I wouldn't rule out that possiblilty.

I can train any layperson and have them fooling other laypeople within a week. So it always felt like quite a mediocre achievement to me. A bit like an adult pumping up his ego by challenging 8 year old kids to an arm wrestle.

As such - I have no desire in "impressing" people. In fact I find it more amusing when people dislike me than when they like me. It is probably one of my aspie traits. I am a bit like Mark Lewis in that regard. As such - getting a reward like praise from a performance always felt like getting paid in the currency of a country that no longer exists. It has no value to me.

Things change when you put a bit of distance between yourself and the spectators, and put on something like an act or a show. Then I feel the dynamic changes. It is no longer about seeking approval from those you socialise with. Instead it becomes about presenting magic in a way that allows you to offer a point of view and mybe even create something approaching "art".

This realisation is what has got me interested in performing close-up magic.

Rather ironically.

I am now performing close-up so that I can then build up experience that will help me in parlour magic situations (and perhaps open doors to get those opportunities in the first place). As such - I am focused on creating strong presentations for my close-up magic since I want it to be something that is suitable for strangers as well. Also - by putting more of an emphasis on having funny or witty presentations - it removes some of the "heat" from the performance and as such it no longer feels like a cry for attention since you are offering the spectator something more than simply the feeling of being fooled. Which - to me - is as much of an achievement as beating a kid in an arm wrestle.

Anyway - communicating the point of view that you don't actually like the audience and have no interest in seeking praise from them is quite a powerful position to work from. It is one that Jerry Sadowitz works well to his advantage and he is the greatest performer of card magic in history. Ricky Jay had a healthy disdain for laypeople as well. As does Mark Lewis (albeit when he is pitching svengali decks).

As somebody who has been turned down by literally tens of thousands of women - I know from experience that people do not like that creepy feeling they get somebody is seeking something from a social interaction. It feels like manipulation and it is the least desirable trait you can have in the modern world. It reeks of being pathetic and insecure. It is worth acknowledging this before you next ask somebody to see a card trick. It is worth spending time working out an answer in your own head that will stop you from coming across this way.

This is also a topic that Andy over at The Jerx has tackled a lot as well. If Andy and Derren Brown (but of course - I repeat myself) are exploring this issue then it is probably an issue that more magicians need to take seriously.

The best advice Andy gave on this topic can be found in issue one of JAMM.

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Re: Derren Brown: Desert Island Discs

Postby Tom Moore » July 7th, 2020, 7:19 am

Topovich wrote:
PickaCard wrote:And does he ever have the desire now, away from the stage and the cameras, to entertain with magic? “Now I’m the opposite. I never do tricks for people in real life, I find it really childish and silly and dishonest!”

Whoa. That's quite a statement, especially coming from someone who built his career on the foundation of performing magic.


Derren's entire persona, the style of the material he presents and 20 years of PR and marketing have been focused on the idea that he is a master manipulator, someone who can make anyone do anything, bend people to his will, make people do things (like kill someone or just risk their own safety) that he wants them to do. Everything is about him being superior and manipulative. There's no way continuing those themes in to his private life and social circle is healthy for him or any of his friends; even if he performed totally out of character material it would either jar with what was expected of him or be perceived as some magnificent double bluff and that hippity-hop rabbits was just yet another way he's controlling his spectators minds.

It's very very sensible that he keeps magic out of his private life.
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Re: Derren Brown: Desert Island Discs

Postby erdnasephile » July 7th, 2020, 9:47 am

This is a touchy subject for many, so I'll try tread lightly.

For many, magic starts out as a psychological crutch, as Mr. Brown describes. However, as Mr. Maven has written, there are not a few who apparently never grow out of this stage. You've seen them: people that gleefully foist magic on the barely willing. I think if a hobby is the sole thing that is interesting about a person (or if they mistakenly feel that way) that seems kind of sad. (This observation is not limited to just magic hobbyists. Ever try talking to a runner?)

I not terribly surprised by Mr. Brown's stance, as I suspect this issue is also viewed very differently by many professionals. Imagine if you worked as a full-time auto mechanic and people you just met kept expecting you to run out to the parking lot to check out their engine to demonstrate your skills. That would get old very fast. Expecting that a pro load up with tricks any time they leave the house might make sense if they are looking to hustle jobs. However, in social settings, should we really expect them to have a desire to be the dancing bear? Should we not expect that they might also want to talk about things other than their day job?

I know that some folks feel very strongly in the other direction. I've read on GF that a "true" magician should be able and willing to perform at any time. Some love telling the story of Leipzig and how he put the same tricks in the same pockets every morning. Fine (and I realize there is a difference between being prepared to perform and actually performing). However, I would respectfully suggest that it should be that individual's choice, and ideally not one compelled by a maladaptive personality.

I guess when it comes down to it, I respect what Mr. Brown is saying because it is clearly the right choice for him.

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Re: Derren Brown: Desert Island Discs

Postby Leo Garet » July 7th, 2020, 10:37 am

Joe Mckay wrote:
As somebody who has been turned down by literally tens of thousands of women - ............... .


Really? I mean there’s persistence and, well, this.

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Re: Derren Brown: Desert Island Discs

Postby Leo Garet » July 7th, 2020, 10:42 am

Tom Moore wrote:
Derren's entire persona, the style of the material he presents and 20 years of PR and marketing have been focused on the idea that he is a master manipulator, someone who can make anyone do anything, bend people to his will, make people do things (like kill someone or just risk their own safety) that he wants them to do. Everything is about him being superior and manipulative. There's no way continuing those themes in to his private life and social circle is healthy for him or any of his friends; even if he performed totally out of character material it would either jar with what was expected of him or be perceived as some magnificent double bluff and that hippity-hop rabbits was just yet another way he's controlling his spectators minds.

It's very very sensible that he keeps magic out of his private life.


Well, it's nice to have everything explained, but what I find to be even more interesting is that Brown seems to have made a second career out sneering at Magic.

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Re: Derren Brown: Desert Island Discs

Postby MagicbyAlfred » July 7th, 2020, 11:59 am

Sometimes I think that things can be overthought and overanalyzed. I know I have been as guilty of it as anyone. But sometimes, a card trick is just a card trick, and like any magic trick, if presented well, can be a fun, entertaining, and enjoyable experience for both the magician and the spectator. I highly doubt that in most situations where we perform an unsolicited trick for a friend, family member, or even a stranger, they walk away with the impression that we are egomaniacs who are trying to impress them for our own self-gratification. There are admittedly a minority of people who don't like magic or are defensive towards magic (usually because they are the egotistical ones who can't stand being fooled or, in some cases, were put down by a wisenheimer magician). However, the overwhelming majority of people for whom I've done off the cuff tricks outside of a paid gig, have really liked it and have said so - oftentimes saying, "Thank you," or "You made my day!"

Now, Hippity-Hop Rabbits as a way of controlling spectators minds - that's something I hadn't thought of. And together with my amateur ventriloquism skills, I may start doing just that. I'm sure that Derren Brown would turn Green with envy!

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Re: Derren Brown: Desert Island Discs

Postby Tom Moore » July 7th, 2020, 12:24 pm

Leo Garet wrote:
Tom Moore wrote:
Derren's entire persona, the style of the material he presents and 20 years of PR and marketing have been focused on the idea that he is a master manipulator, someone who can make anyone do anything, bend people to his will, make people do things (like kill someone or just risk their own safety) that he wants them to do. Everything is about him being superior and manipulative. There's no way continuing those themes in to his private life and social circle is healthy for him or any of his friends; even if he performed totally out of character material it would either jar with what was expected of him or be perceived as some magnificent double bluff and that hippity-hop rabbits was just yet another way he's controlling his spectators minds.

It's very very sensible that he keeps magic out of his private life.


Well, it's nice to have everything explained, but what I find to be even more interesting is that Brown seems to have made a second career out sneering at Magic.


Derren Brown is not a magician though.
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Re: Derren Brown: Desert Island Discs

Postby Joe Mckay » July 7th, 2020, 1:07 pm

Leo Garet wrote:
Joe Mckay wrote:
As somebody who has been turned down by literally tens of thousands of women - ............... .


Really? I mean there’s persistence and, well, this.

haha - sorry - I think I have this bad habit of making jokes that only I get. I think it is an autism thing. I am too stuck inside my head.

I find failed PUAs who get turned down by thousands of women to be the funniest thing ever. So I wanted to ironically associate myself with that loser brand. I am not looking down on them since I think there is something heroically wonderful in repeatedly failing over and over and over again. It is that same spirit that put a man on the moon.

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Re: Derren Brown: Desert Island Discs

Postby Leo Garet » July 7th, 2020, 1:40 pm

Tom Moore wrote:
Derren Brown is not a magician though.


Of course he is, but such is his power he is able to persuade people that he is something else.

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Re: Derren Brown: Desert Island Discs

Postby Tom Moore » July 7th, 2020, 1:46 pm

That’s exactly the point - what people perceive him to be is /not/ a magician but actually some sort of psychology expert. Thus it’s folly to judge him within the criteria of how a magician should behave.

Uri Geller doesn’t do magic tricks for his friends either.
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Re: Derren Brown: Desert Island Discs

Postby PapaG » July 7th, 2020, 3:27 pm

Tom Moore wrote:That’s exactly the point - what people perceive him to be is /not/ a magician but actually some sort of psychology expert. Thus it’s folly to judge him within the criteria of how a magician should behave.

Uri Geller doesn’t do magic tricks for his friends either.


Forgive me if I'm wrong but isn't Derren's argument for not performing tricks for his friends not that it would be inconsistent with his performing persona but because the need for the sort of attention that doing tricks for your friends suggests is inherently naff.

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Re: Derren Brown: Desert Island Discs

Postby Richard Kaufman » July 7th, 2020, 3:41 pm

I don't think that either Geller or Brown feel any compulsion to do tricks for their friends.
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Re: Derren Brown: Desert Island Discs

Postby Leo Garet » July 8th, 2020, 12:06 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:I don't think that either Geller or Brown feel any compulsion to do tricks for their friends.


I think you’re right. I’m the same….And I suspect that the majority of magicians are like that. There are magic bores aplenty as we know and as we also know it often seems as if every magician we encounter is anxious to show their latest Widget Switch. But that’s only because (until recently) we’re often in the company of other magicians.

I can’t remember the last time I was socialising and somebody asked to see a trick. Unlike Geller and Brown I have no fame, so it doesn’t precede me. But some people are aware of my magic connections.

With that said, apparently at my brother’s wedding about a thousand years ago, apparently somebody produced a pack of cards and asked me to “do something”. And apparently I did. Apparently my “fame” had in this instance preceded me.

I say “apparently,” because I have no recollection of this at all. I remember the wedding and have a few photographs to prove I was there, if anybody ever doubted it and I needed an alibi. I also recall the divorce a few years later, but that’s another routine.

My other brother mentioned this to me at the back end of last year. He bumped into the chap who had asked me to “do something” and he was still (sort-of) in raptures about it all. He talked and talked about all sorts of things that he says I did. I must have been good back then. But as I say, no recollection.

Back at the plot and to repeat, I suspect that most magicians would prefer not to be prevailed upon, and mostly they aren’t.

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Re: Derren Brown: Desert Island Discs

Postby AJM » July 8th, 2020, 12:45 pm

I’d love to be prevailed upon by friends - I just don’t have any.

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Re: Derren Brown: Desert Island Discs

Postby MagicbyAlfred » July 8th, 2020, 8:58 pm

I never mind being "prevailed upon" by anyone, anywhere, anytime. I always have a deck of cards and coins with me, at the very minimum, and when someone asks, which is often when I am with friends and family, I always say yes. I guess I'm just one of those lunatics who loves to perform magic...


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