Close-up Magic on Letterman

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Steve Bryant
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Re: Close-up Magic on Letterman

Postby Steve Bryant » May 22nd, 2010, 9:38 am

All in all a great week for magic. Michael was the most relaxed of the five, so it was a pleasure to watch him throughout. And it was brilliant to actually incorporate the mug that had been in the way for others.

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Re: Close-up Magic on Letterman

Postby Jeremy Greystoke » May 22nd, 2010, 2:05 pm

AMCabral wrote:
P.T.Widdle wrote:During John Carney's performance, he said to Letterman, "Oh look, a celebrity - Crispin Glover!"

Why him, Mr. Carney? Kind of risky, given the legendary appearance of Glover on the show. Still, I liked it.


It's called a "reference". Hilarious for those who got itnone of whom apparently showed up to the taping.

-T


Well, that little encounter happened during Dave's NBC run, if I remember correctly, so it seemed like a callback for the very long-time Letterman viewers, like myself. And it had the desired effect...I laughed out loud at the reference.

Having heard about the conditions imposed on John by the situation, my respect for Mr. Carney (already incredibly high), has just zoomed through the stratosphere. His performance was amazing and inspiring.

Jeremy

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Re: Close-up Magic on Letterman

Postby Kent Gunn » May 22nd, 2010, 4:00 pm

It's funny.

We got to see five great performances on national television. Five high-profile close-up magicians were able to showcase magic for the entire world.

We carp and make small criticisms about Letterman or the performers.

I think all five did a goddamn great job under difficult circumstances with an active and intense man for their audience. I thought Letterman was a great foil for them. He was interested and obviously into the magic.

This is a time for celebration and congratulations. I've bumped into a couple of the five guys at magic conventions. I've never shared even two words with any of them.

To you five great magicians. Thank you for keeping me up late every night for a week! I loved all five performances. I doubt any of those who criticized you here or other places would have shown half as brightly. Jealousy and a lack of understanding about getting it done in the real world is all those folks have going for them.

Thank you Mssrs, Carney, Ammar, Palmer, Cohen and Randal. Thank you making me proud of my little hobby's greatest practitioners.


This week has been a high-water mark for close-up magic.

Goddammit I love this stuff!

KG

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Re: Close-up Magic on Letterman

Postby Richard Kaufman » May 22nd, 2010, 4:37 pm

Kent is right: it has been a high-water mark in the recent history of close-up magic. Let's hope something comes of it.
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Re: Close-up Magic on Letterman

Postby Jeffrey Korst » May 22nd, 2010, 4:55 pm

One nice touch no one's mentioned, yet. After John produced the coconut, he put it on the seat next to him--not into his bag of props. Great attention to detail.

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Re: Close-up Magic on Letterman

Postby Magic Newswire » May 22nd, 2010, 9:52 pm

I couldn't agree more. It has been a great week for close-up magic, and magic in general. I also agree with Richard and hope that something positive will come of several outstanding performances by some of the top performers in our art.

Don't forget that Steve will be joining us on This Week in Magic this Sunday Night. He'll be jopined by my regural co-hosts as well as Dan White, Jonathan Bayme & David Kaye. David worked closely with Steve. Dan and Jonathan worked with both Michael and Steve to prepare for this appearance.

To wrap our archiving of the event, we've posted the video or Michael's appearance last night. For those that missed it, or for those that want to watch them all over and over again, here it is:

Michael Ammar :: www.bit.ly/AmmarLN

The other performances are all available via these links:

Jason Randal: www.bit.ly/RandalLettermanJohn
John Carney: www.bit.ly/CarneyLN
Johnny Ace Palmer: www.bit.ly/JAPLateN
Steve Cohen: www.bit.ly/CohenLetterman

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Re: Close-up Magic on Letterman

Postby erdnasephile » May 22nd, 2010, 10:11 pm

I agree with Kent--best week for magic in a long time. Enjoyed every performance a great deal!

However, to claim that EVERY criticism is motivated by the jealousy of untalented, unknowledgable hacks is almost certainly not correct.

There seems to be a bit of a double standard at work. To wit: if we like or admire a particular magician, their flashing or fumbling is overlooked or explained away. If anyone posts something slightly negative about our heroes, we resort to ad hominem attacks on the poster's credibility, anonymity, or their purported lack of skill.

On the other hand, if we dislike the target of the criticism (or have never heard of them), watch out, boys--here it comes!

If you doubt this, please recall the unfounded grief Richard caught when he wrote a heartfelt (but honest) tribute to Frank Garcia. Moreover, if a great guy like Josh Jay gets busted by a despised Kathie Lee Gifford, we blame her for being a lousy audience. Conversely, if a Criss Angel or David Blaine has a subpar outing, people just can't wait to pile on.

Jay Evans wrote years ago about an incident where he was in a group surrounding a close-up legend who was demonstrating a rather noisy pass. After the demonstration, some of the other magicians began commenting that the ambience of the room would cover the noise, how laymen wouldn't notice, etc. Jay's point was that it didn't matter whether Robert Houdin or Joe Schmoe performed that pass--the bottom line was that the move was noisy and wouldn't fly past anyone with ears. Period.

My point is not that I agree with all of the criticism leveled in this thread, because I don't. I can certainly imagine and appreciate how difficult it is to perform under arduous conditions for millions of people. I'm also not advocating non-constructive, uninformed, or mean comments. As I said, I enjoyed all of the performances this week.

However, it is important to recognize what we can learn from each of these performers, both from the good aspects AND the suboptimal aspects of their performances. Ideally, we should be able to discuss these performances without making it about friends and enemies. Rational analysis should be about the performance, not the performer's worth as a human being.

I realize I'm probably just dreaming that we could ever reach that level of discourse. It is fair to say that perhaps such things should best be discussed privately so as not to embarrass the performer in question.

However, to marvel at invisible clothing helps no one--and certainly doesn't serve magic.

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Re: Close-up Magic on Letterman

Postby Kent Gunn » May 23rd, 2010, 12:13 am

E-File,

Never said anybody was perfect.

I don't think most people can learn from the solid performances of polished performers of the ilk on Letterman this week. I really think most amateurs are so disconnected from what makes up a solid performance they can only admire from afar.

I was lucky to live in Central Florida for many years. I spent all my shore tours teaching at a school in Orlando. The dinner theaters and theme parks there employed a large number of magicians.

At Seaworld we had James Sherill, Disney employed first Bev Bergeron then Jon Armstrong and Terry Ward. At King Henry's feast Hank Miller worked for seven straight years.

I saw on a monthly basis at the local magic meetings the huge disparity between guys making a living as full-time pros and pikers like me. I must have seen Hank and James' shows a hundred times. I never got any better. (Okay mostly my failings)

Analyzing the acts of professionals won't help tyros improve other than showing how pathetic their talents are. Improvement comes from getting up from the computer, thinking about how to improve and then incrementally improving.

Catching the flash of an orange, cawing about pulling a quarter from someone's ear or disparaging the use of a Masuda-made gaff you happen to own most certainly won't improve your act.

I don't think any of last weeks performers were perfect. All I gleaned from their performances was joy; the momentary joy of being a layman watching a fine magician.

I'm as snarky and mean-spirited as any man alive. I'll pick apart a performance or new trick as indelicately as possible. This isn't a time for snark.

I firmly believe the Letterman week of Close-up, I think will be remembered as fondly as Don Alan, Lance Burton or Jimmy Grippo's stints on Carson.

(What magician appeared the most on the Carson show? Hint he's Kent's favorite mentalist)

With Ellen favoring quite a few magicians nearly simultaneously with the Letterman run, our little pastime is in the public eye far more often than I can ever remember.

I don't have any friends among the performers. I think the only one who'd recognize me was recently alienated by me at Magic-Con. (Swearing while doing magic, bad Kent!)

I do think most of the posters on the Genii forum are armchair magicians at best. That's not a bad thing. I like my armchair a lot. If you genuinely think your performance would have been better or even in the same class as these five guys, you're a hell of a magician. I fully believe criticism to be of any value has to come from peers.

I'm not John Carney's peer. I couldn't carry Mike Ammar's topit. I highly suspect most of us on the Genii Forums are not good enough performers to offer any advice to those who were on the tube. Now pontificating about how Joe Magic's personality struck you as dated or how he framed the deck for some sleight just comes off to me as sour grapes.

If you have the stones to carp about the performances go right ahead. I didn't see perfection last week either. I saw so much good magic, fresh and live on TV, I need not wallow here anymore.

Close-up Magic is alive and well.

Who knew?

KG

PS E-file. This rant wasn't aimed at you, but at the universe in general. I get what you said and don't really disagree. I just want to bask for a bit. I swear my snarky side will return.
Last edited by Kent Gunn on May 23rd, 2010, 12:22 am, edited 0 times in total.
Reason: No more swearing on-line dammit . . .

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Re: Close-up Magic on Letterman

Postby Raleigh » May 23rd, 2010, 12:57 am

wow ! Mr. Ammar's cell phone in balloon looked great ! He has always been one of my personal favs . As mentioned before ..... all five are fantastic , congratulations guys !

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Re: Close-up Magic on Letterman

Postby Roberto » May 23rd, 2010, 2:14 am

I very much enjoyed Close Up Magic Week on the Letterman Show this past week. I think that for a large, national TV program like Letterman to bring on five close-up magicians and create the "Close Up Magic Week" theme tells me that magic is in a good state.

Hey, Letterman made a comment about people calling in requesting that Close Up Magic Week be extended. Do you guys think he was being facetious?


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Re: Close-up Magic on Letterman

Postby mrgoat » May 23rd, 2010, 5:24 am

Kent Gunn wrote:I fully believe criticism to be of any value has to come from peers.


Really? So if the leading theatre (yes, tre) critic of the NYTimes, or whatever paper, came to see your show they would have no place criticising it?

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Re: Close-up Magic on Letterman

Postby Travis » May 23rd, 2010, 5:34 am

Roberto,

Yes, he was being facetious. Friday's show was taped on monday, before any of the segments had aired.

Raleigh, the balloon trick is an effect by Daniel Garcia and Dan White at Theory11.

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Re: Close-up Magic on Letterman

Postby Tim Ellis » May 23rd, 2010, 9:52 am

I loved the vanish of the Cell Phone

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Re: Close-up Magic on Letterman

Postby Richard Kaufman » May 23rd, 2010, 10:23 am

Not having seen it, the balloon trick sounds like Sankey's Airtight done with a cellphone.
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Re: Close-up Magic on Letterman

Postby Scott M. » May 23rd, 2010, 10:33 am

Richard Kaufman wrote:Not having seen it, the balloon trick sounds like Sankey's Airtight done with a cellphone.


Very different. "Pressure" is impromptu.

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Re: Close-up Magic on Letterman

Postby Richard Kaufman » May 23rd, 2010, 11:25 am

That sounds interesting!
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Re: Close-up Magic on Letterman

Postby Magic Newswire » May 23rd, 2010, 1:29 pm

Dan White and Danny Garcia developed pressure. Dan worked with Michael prior to the appearance and they recorded a 10 minute video with Michael after the performance to talk about how the set worked. You can watch it here: www.bit.ly/AmmarT11

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Re: Close-up Magic on Letterman

Postby Roberto » May 23rd, 2010, 2:30 pm

That Pressure effect certainly is awesome. Talk about visual magic!

In my opinion, Carney was sensational! That routine he did was fantastic. Palmer was great! The baby chicks/cups and balls was beautiful! Ammar was super comfortable and did some wonderful magic. Cohen? Simply superb!

I watched the Cohen episode with a layman friend of mine who has little tolerance for magic. When I asked her what she thought after seeing Steve's performance she said, "I like the way he presented his magic. I really enjoyed it. Shes a tough cookie to please so to hear her say that was pretty cool for me.

I agree with what Richard stated in his previous post, that Cohen is probably the closest thing to Leipzig we have right now. I cant believe I have not seen his show at the Waldorf! Thats going to change!


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Re: Close-up Magic on Letterman

Postby amp » May 23rd, 2010, 3:17 pm

Marvyn points out that there are very few magicians making a living with close - up magic.
Marvyn talking to Vernon.
Genii
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Man,have we come a long way.

What a great week !!!!!!!!!!!


Jason Randal - You like him right away when he walks out. Great smile ! He has the charm that Vernon and Miller talked about. ( Dig out the old Genii's)
Jumping Gems, what a great trick for TV . Very Visual ! Quick .
Time is a big thing on TV. I know some of you B**** about it BUT watch the clip and listen to audience.
Also the only guy that did a card trick. A great one. Once again Very visual for TV. BTW Letterman help him really sell the trick. "I know you guys you force the cards" Great.

John Carney - WOW !! Like Richard said Great idea with the rubber band. Just Great. Simple items.

Johnny Ace Palmer - Awesome ! A lot of magic in a short a mount of time . Letterman's help was brilliant.

Steve Cohen - He fooled me !

Michael Ammar( He staring to look like Wllard the Wizard ...Hmm. ) ( or Frederick Eugene Powell) - Great magic FOR TV !! The sheer scarf though" Late Night " coffee cup. Man What a wonderful idea. Producers like that kind of magic.

The cell phone in the balloon ,an up to date item . Very visual for TV .

Coin in the hand , it was great to end with a good laugh.

Thank you guys !

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Re: Close-up Magic on Letterman

Postby side steal » May 23rd, 2010, 6:08 pm

OK...my two cents.

1. Everyone is complaining about the "conditions" of performance. Any working pro will tell you that the chance of having YOUR exact working conditions available for gigs is lucky at best. Can you imagine telling your clients how to rearrange his house,office,trade show space,etc for YOUR performance. Not in the real world. These performers were given conditions and they had to do the best they could...they were CHALLENGED and they did very, very well. Even though I am sure they knew that venue determines material, they wanted to perform their best piece on national TV and make it work. The chair that the performers sat in was out in front of the desk slightly..can you imagine doing your cups in balls IN FRONT of the cups and balls? Yes I know..the flashes. Tough angle...one of the few angles we think about...up above and to the left. Either they were not told of those camera angles or an editor should have cut out that angle. Again, real world conditions. Yes I also know that Letterman is not the ideal audience member...but once again it was real world conditions. I have come across MANY like him in my restaurant work. Lots of ways to deal with these kind of people. Being in HIS house on National TV is NOT EASY.

2. This was HUGE for Close-Up Magic. With the Vegas Box Style show taking some hits...this might be a great opportunity for close-up magic. It proved that it is presentable on National TV and you could sense the audience enjoyed it. We all bitch about not getting gigs...well I believe the door has been opened for us now, the opportunity presented itself...now what do WE do to walk through the open door?

3. It was nice to see MAGIC overshadow COMEDY for a change. For once I felt like a was watching a professional magician and not a comedian. There was solid sleight of hand magic throughout the performance without the comedy getting in the way. Vernon would have loved this.

4. What a wonderful MAGIC LECTURE/LESSON for us. Five prominent conjuror's on National TV for us to watch over and over again on YouTube and to learn. What would we do if we were on that show, what would we NOT do. Put yourself in that chair and how would YOU handle Dave and the angles? My lessons have been plentiful.

I am sure there is more but that is enough for now. I have so much more to think about.

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Re: Close-up Magic on Letterman

Postby amp » May 23rd, 2010, 8:23 pm

[quote="amp"]Marvyn points out that there are very few magicians making a living with close - up magic.
Marvyn talking to Vernon.
Genii
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Marvyn Roy sorry

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Re: Close-up Magic on Letterman

Postby P.T.Widdle » May 23rd, 2010, 9:02 pm

Jeremy Greystoke wrote:
AMCabral wrote:
P.T.Widdle wrote:During John Carney's performance, he said to Letterman, "Oh look, a celebrity - Crispin Glover!"

Why him, Mr. Carney? Kind of risky, given the legendary appearance of Glover on the show. Still, I liked it.


It's called a "reference". Hilarious for those who got itnone of whom apparently showed up to the taping.

-T


Well, that little encounter happened during Dave's NBC run, if I remember correctly, so it seemed like a callback for the very long-time Letterman viewers, like myself. And it had the desired effect...I laughed out loud at the reference.


Jeremy


Just to clarify, I was pointing out the riskiness of possibly offending Letterman with that reference, not the riskiness of the audience not getting it.

I also loved Close-Up week, and I admired all the performances.
But yes, I think it's OK to respectfully talk about them on this forum.

One other thing that I think might be OK to address?
All the performers were men. Just saying. Maybe it's a booking thing with availability and location, I don't know. But it might have been nice to have someone like say, Suzanne (I just learned about her for the first time thanks to Genii's great article). Seems like she could have delivered. And I would have loved to have shown the clip to a couple of tween girls who just finished taking an after school magic club.

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Re: Close-up Magic on Letterman

Postby Richard Kaufman » May 23rd, 2010, 9:47 pm

What's the reference to Crispin Glover about?
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Re: Close-up Magic on Letterman

Postby Kent Gunn » May 23rd, 2010, 9:50 pm


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Re: Close-up Magic on Letterman

Postby Bob Gerdes » May 23rd, 2010, 9:53 pm

[video:youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALapHYNSmoA[/video]

EDIT: Kent beat me to it.

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Re: Close-up Magic on Letterman

Postby Jim Martin » May 23rd, 2010, 10:18 pm

Scroll down to the 'Late Night appearance':

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crispin_Glover
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Re: Close-up Magic on Letterman

Postby Jim Martin » May 23rd, 2010, 11:18 pm

Crispin is one diversion, then there's Joaquin Phoenix's appearance, which stands alone:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2Mzp_1n ... re=channel
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Re: Close-up Magic on Letterman

Postby Magic Newswire » May 23rd, 2010, 11:59 pm

I just finished recording our chat with several of the people involved in this week of magic on Letterman. Steve Cohen is our guest, but we have another "Surprise visitor" who will offer some additional insights into the backstory of "Close-up Magic Week" and how it all came about. Stay tuned.

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Re: Close-up Magic on Letterman

Postby Doc Eason » May 24th, 2010, 2:31 am

Thanks Kent, for posting that link. The fact that Carney knew about that is amazing in itself. That is one of the most obscure references ever! but you can bet that sent DL and Paulback in time for just a moment. Brilliant John brilliant.
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Re: Close-up Magic on Letterman

Postby Paul Gordon » May 24th, 2010, 8:04 am

I just watched the shows/clips via YouTube. Fantastic stuff. More than the magic itself, I'm amazed how well all coped with the performing conditions as set by the normal circumstances and the show's producers. Bravo. Paul Gordon
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Re: Close-up Magic on Letterman

Postby Brandon Hall » May 24th, 2010, 1:58 pm

My 12 year old boy spent the weekend putting anything he could fit in his hand, inside a balloon. I can't wait to hear from the school today...
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Re: Close-up Magic on Letterman

Postby amp » May 24th, 2010, 10:59 pm

I'm just curious has anyone heard what laypersons have say about the week ?

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Re: Close-up Magic on Letterman

Postby Magic Newswire » May 25th, 2010, 12:22 am

To wrap up our coverage of Late Night with David Letterman's Close-up Magic week, we invited Steve Cohen to be our guest on the most recent episode of "This Week in Magic." In addition Jonathan Bayme and David Kaye are with us to discuss their involvement with the various performers featured this week. We also are joined by a Mystery Guest at the end of the podcast who also performed this week on Letterman. Enjoy!! www.bit.ly/TWiMCohen

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Re: Close-up Magic on Letterman

Postby Magic Newswire » May 27th, 2010, 12:59 pm

Just an FYI... Steve Cohen & Michael Ammar's Letterman's appearances will be rebroadcast next week on 6/1 & 6/2 : Here's the lineup from LateNite Line-ups: www.interbridge.com/lineups.html#LS

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Re: Close-up Magic on Letterman

Postby Eric Henning » May 27th, 2010, 6:39 pm

Thought the whole week was, overall, GOOD for magic, and raised awareness in the public at large.

Re: David Letterman being a hater. Here's something I haven't seen anywhere - apologies if someone else has mentioned it.

I don't get the feeling he hates magic. I think he hates crap magic and cheesy magicians. Like many intelligent people, when you bill yourself as a magician, he wants you to AMAZE him. And to be able to stand up to basic scrutiny. This is our future, folks; we need to step up our game.

It's his style and his job to gets laughs and he makes jokes every few seconds to get laughs. Remember, he started out as a stand-up comic.

And if you read a recently celebrated biography, you might just remember that in 1978, Letterman, then unknown, opened for two weeks in Vegas for...wait for it...DOUG HENNING.

Perhaps he's looking for someone who lives up to THAT standard?
Just a thought.

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Re: Close-up Magic on Letterman

Postby Richard Kaufman » May 27th, 2010, 7:20 pm

Letterman's behavior exceeded our expectations greatly in a good way.
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