Paper balls over the head

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mrgoat
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Paper balls over the head

Postby mrgoat » June 7th, 2012, 9:46 am

So, I'm working on adding this to my stand up act. (The premise of my act is a "Drunk Test", testing how drunk the audience are. I work mainly comedy clubs).

So, clearly balls over the head would sit in that sort of thing really well.

I've got the Slydini book, and am watching lots of different performances on the web, and I have two questions.

a) How can you make sure the speccy is not being made a fool of

b) How many times is the 'right' number of times to make one tissue vanish, before you do the big ball/box as a climax/ending to the effect

I've got a draft script (not sure about the intimate/tissue joke, but we'll see).

Any comments, thoughts, feedback or criticism of the script gratefully received.

Damian

BALLS OVER THE HEAD

OK, I'm going to do another test to see how drunk you are and I need one volunteer to help me on stage. A huge round of applause as this lady comes up and joins me on stage.

What's your name?

Sarah

OK Sarah, we're going to do something that is a little more intimate now. I'm going to do some magic just for you. Everyone else in the audience is going to see how this works, but they won't call out and ruin it for you. This is going to be your little moment of magic Sarah, and if you are drunk enough, you're not going to see how it works. You're going to, just for a moment, think you've seen some real magic. This lot here, they'll all see. But you will think you're witnessing a miracle. And what better to demonstrate a miracle than some tissues. See, I told you it was an intimate piece of magic

Now, all you need to do Sarah, is keep one eye on this hand, and one eye on this hand and your other eye on the ball of tissue. Now watch closely. 1..2..3 and blow for me Sarah. And the ball disappears completely.

I'll give you a fighting chance. I'll explain what happens, when I put the ball in this hand, I sometimes just pretend to do it. You concentrate on this hand so you don't see the moment the ball vanishes. Watch, 123 and it's gone.

One more time Sarah, you ready? Don't feel bad because you can't see how it works, no one could. It's magic, remember?

OK, one more time, 123 and it's gone.

OK, you're clearly struggling with this because you are oh so very drunk, beautiful and charming, but off your face. So I will make one really big ball. Really big. So big I cannot even hide it in one hand. After this time, the audience are all going to go crazy applauding you for being such a wonderful helper and you will go back to your seat feeling like you just saw real magic. Ready1.23 and a HUGE round of applause as Sarah returns to her seat.

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Re: Paper balls over the head

Postby Magic Fred » June 7th, 2012, 11:18 am

I wouldn't' say from the top that the rest of the audience are going to see how it works. Rather some suggestion that it will be obvious to anyone who is not drunk as a skunk.

The laughter in the audience then implies that she is the only one rat-arsed...

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Re: Paper balls over the head

Postby Jonathan Townsend » June 7th, 2012, 11:19 am

possible snippit of introduction to set up volunteer as comittee: People like closeup magic... but the problem with closeup magic is that folks more than a few feet away can't see the tricks too well.

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Re: Paper balls over the head

Postby mrgoat » June 7th, 2012, 11:23 am

Great additions, thank you gentleman, I agree with both of those.

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Re: Paper balls over the head

Postby Denis Behr » June 7th, 2012, 11:52 am

I really dislike this "1..2..3" countdown in many versions of "Paper Balls over the Head". (Same thing for the "in which hand is it?"-confusion.)

I realize that it makes the timing easier, but it is not as magical as Slydini's handling: A paper ball is placed in the hand and it vanishes. No jerky movements or arm waving is visible to the spectator. It's pure slow-motion magic. Those handwaving handlings feels more like "Hehe... nice party trick. I gotta try this." while Slydini's handling feels like "Wow... It's still amazing that he doesn't see it."

Also, Slydini's breast pocket phases are so good! Nobody seems to do them.

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Re: Paper balls over the head

Postby mrgoat » June 7th, 2012, 11:54 am

Denis Behr wrote:I really dislike this "1..2..3" countdown in many versions of "Paper Balls over the Head". (Same thing for the "in which hand is it?"-confusion.)

I realize that it makes the timing easier, but it is not as magical as Slydini's handling: A paper ball is placed in the hand and it vanishes. No jerky movements or arm waving is visible to the spectator. It's pure slow-motion magic. Those handwaving handlings feels more like "Hehe... nice party trick. I gotta try this." while Slydini's handling feels like "Wow... It's still amazing that he doesn't see it."

Also, Slydini's breast pocket phases are so good! Nobody seems to do them.


I'd not thought of that. Thank you for sharing. Makes perfect sense.

I've gone back to the original text in The Magic Of Slydini and more... and what you say in relation to that makes perfect sense. (There is also a tip about not picking a spec with glasses on because the might catch the reflection of the ball being tossed. Love that sort of detail).

I'd love to do the breast pocket phases, but sadly most people at a comedy club are in jeans and a tshirt...

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Re: Paper balls over the head

Postby Doc Dixon » June 7th, 2012, 11:57 am

Regarding, "How can you make sure the speccy is not being made a fool of"

FWIW, here's why I don't do the trick.
Slydini was a short, frail looking man with a thick accent who spoke softly. Regardless of what man he brought up for the trick, Slydini couldn't look like a bully.
I'm 6'3" and not frail looking and not soft spoken. it changes the interaction completely.

BTW, check your email. Just sent you something that might help.

Doc

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Re: Paper balls over the head

Postby mrgoat » June 7th, 2012, 12:10 pm

Thanks for the email Doc, you're a gent

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Re: Paper balls over the head

Postby Q. Kumber » June 7th, 2012, 12:42 pm

I have never done this professionally but if I did, I would not use a woman. Females on stage are very aware they are being looked at and judged by both men and women, especially women. Also be aware that a woman with a skirt will be self-conscious about sitting facing the audience.

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Re: Paper balls over the head

Postby mrgoat » June 7th, 2012, 12:45 pm

Q. Kumber wrote:I have never done this professionally but if I did, I would not use a woman. Females on stage are very aware they are being looked at and judged by both men and women, especially women. Also be aware that a woman with a skirt will be self-conscious about sitting facing the audience.


Indeed. I reread the original text and it is very specific about that point. Script has been redrafted!

Thanks though Mr Kumber

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Re: Paper balls over the head

Postby Richard Kaufman » June 7th, 2012, 1:09 pm

Damian, it's most important to try and glean every important point you can from Slydini's own instruction and presentation (both in print and I'm sure you can see it on YouTube).

Important things to remember: Slydini was short (but not always frail as suggested above). He didn't have to bend over much to do the trick. If you are taller (and pretty much everyone is) you have to bend over much farther--something to take into account.

Also, when Slydini would do the trick, you would sometimes see the spectator's head go back slightly at what you might perceive is a wrong moment and you would immediately assume that the spectator saw the ball go over his head. NOT TRUE. After watching Tony do this many times, I realized that the spectator was still fooled (not just acting fooled).

But, most importantly: you are not Slydini. Others have taken this trick and done amazing things with it, like Pat Hazell and Presto. Here is a link to the video of Presto doing this on YouTube with spongeballs. It's absolutely amazing how he took Slydini's routine and made it entirely his own. It's a masterpiece:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIgZs21y ... ure=relmfu
Note that the spectator is STANDING, not sitting, and Presto is also standing. Note that the spectator is TALLER than Presto.
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Re: Paper balls over the head

Postby El Mystico » June 7th, 2012, 1:18 pm

I'd add - when you watch Slydini, watch his head.

And - don't assume 'yeah, I can do that'. What he did with his body, he worked at. It has to become automatic.

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Re: Paper balls over the head

Postby Jeff Eline » June 7th, 2012, 1:44 pm

One of the important points of Slydini's routine is what he did with the left hand as the right hand was up. It's actually difficult to watch the left hand because your eyes want to watch the ball/paper flying over the specs head.

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Re: Paper balls over the head

Postby Brad Henderson » June 7th, 2012, 7:18 pm

Slydini didn't really toss the ball. It was a combination of standing and the hand moving - giving momentum to the ball that caused it to soar. Also, he doesn't "ramp up" before the toss as many magicians do - breaking the wrist with repeated "I'm going to place it here" type of taps before doing the business. That is to be avoided. (Dennis pointed this out as well). Also, immediately after the toss, he would wiggle his left hand a little (the non tossing hand). This would have the effect of directing the spectators attention to that hand.

(The above communicated to me by Cellini, Bill Wisch as well as others who took lessons with Slydini. I believe the gist is also echoed in the book. There is a video from him performing at Tannen's convention where you can see this quite clearly.)

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Re: Paper balls over the head

Postby Jeffrey Cowan » June 7th, 2012, 8:54 pm

Steve Spill does the best version of the trick I've seen in modern times. Watch him if you can (not sure if it's on his performance video).

Also, I used to do the breast pocket phase when opportunity presented itself. The others are right; it's fabulous. Just don't "go to the well" too much and use cancelling as much as possible to keep the spectator off-balance during those phases.
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Re: Paper balls over the head

Postby John M. Dale » June 7th, 2012, 10:56 pm

Thanx for the recommendation, Jeffrey. I haven't laughed that hard in a while.

Here's a link. Steve's version is an excellent example of taking an effect and making it fit their persona.

JMD

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Re: Paper balls over the head

Postby Mike Remington » June 8th, 2012, 1:36 am

I saw Tony Clark lecture on this earlier this year. Despite referring to it several times in the lecture (before doing it) as the paper balls over the head, the spectator did not see what was going on. He had a lot of good advice on this like avoding the 1, 2, 3 and good spectator selection and management. He has a DVD devoted to this one effect which should be worth checking out.

Both Tony Clark and the Fulves book talk about reasons to select a male spectator. Basically, the approach involves a considerable amount of touching the spectator to control and misdirect them. Also, both the breast pocket phase and more modern versions of that involve leaving the balls on the spectator's chest. While this may be appropriate behavior in your day job, it is better not to do this with a woman as part of a magic performance.
Last edited by Mike Remington on June 8th, 2012, 1:38 am, edited 0 times in total.
Reason: Added last sentence before someone else made the obvious comment on this.

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Re: Paper balls over the head

Postby Richard Kaufman » June 8th, 2012, 3:33 am

I can think of a really funny joke for Men in Black III right about now.
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Re: Paper balls over the head

Postby mrgoat » June 8th, 2012, 6:29 am

Thanks for all the responses guys. I love this forum. Thank you all for the contributions.

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Re: Paper balls over the head

Postby Pete Biro » June 8th, 2012, 11:43 am

Thanks for the SPILL link. I did it with a coke bottle once. And another time tossed stuff out an open window from a third floor hotel room. Like cups and saucers after the bread rolls.

Look see if you can find a clip of Armando Lucero.
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Re: Paper balls over the head

Postby Jonathan Townsend » June 8th, 2012, 12:35 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:I can think of a really funny joke for Men in Black III right about now.


Related to the bowling scene?

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Re: Paper balls over the head

Postby Ross Welford » June 11th, 2012, 5:51 am

I don't suppose, Damian, that Paul Daniels is much to your taste. However, he has an interesting variation on the trick:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RgRCOLwIJAQ

I saw him do it live aeons ago, before I knew how the electric chairs worked, and thought it was the funniest thing I had ever seen. In fact, I still admire anyone who can pull off a good electric chairs, and combining it with PBOTH is at any rate original.

Two interesting things here: when the guy first jumps up, he must notice the paper balls on the ground, yet PD still does the trick (although maybe by this stage he is just playing along?) Also there's a weird edit at 3.43.

Good luck with developing your routine. I keep intending to do it myself, but it seems you need a lot of balls. As it were.

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Re: Paper balls over the head

Postby mrgoat » June 11th, 2012, 9:44 am

Ross Welford wrote:I don't suppose, Damian, that Paul Daniels is much to your taste. However, he has an interesting variation on the trick:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RgRCOLwIJAQ

I saw him do it live aeons ago, before I knew how the electric chairs worked, and thought it was the funniest thing I had ever seen. In fact, I still admire anyone who can pull off a good electric chairs, and combining it with PBOTH is at any rate original.

Two interesting things here: when the guy first jumps up, he must notice the paper balls on the ground, yet PD still does the trick (although maybe by this stage he is just playing along?) Also there's a weird edit at 3.43.

Good luck with developing your routine. I keep intending to do it myself, but it seems you need a lot of balls. As it were.


Paul Daniels was great, and I too saw him do the electric chairs live when I was about 16, had no idea how it worked. Was gloriously funny.

No way I'd risk Electric Chairs period. Let alone in a room full of drunk people at a comedy club!

I tried it out my very early days routine at a club last night. One guy in the house was a private investigator, so I just used that as a hook. "I need a volunteer who is very observant. Possibly trained in observing things. Is there, by any chance, a private investigator in the house?". He was much taller than me, and it worked really well.

Watching back the video, I have got a LONG way to go with it. But it was fun to do and went down well.

Thanks again for all the really useful responses.


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