Ben Earl's "Less is More"

Discuss the latest news and rumors in the magic world.
User avatar
Matthew Field
Posts: 2822
Joined: January 18th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Slydini
Location: Hastings, England, UK

Ben Earl's "Less is More"

Postby Matthew Field » September 5th, 2015, 12:59 pm

The fourth installment of Benjamin Earl's "Less is More" limited edition series arrived today, and I think it is noteworthy. It's titled "Less is More Bonus" for the record.

This is not a review (I don't often review products I've paid for), but here are a few commens about the new book and the series.

The idea of "Less is More" is spelled out (again) in this last installment -- how much can one simplify what he does in the performance of an effect while exhibiting apparent skill and chaos, a la Lennart Green. In this book Ben deals with a great variation of the Jay Ose Cut, his Any Card Game Control variant, a Tabled Chaos Control, an effect called Back Room Demo, a Less is More Gambling Demonstration, and the piece de resistance, his fabulous No-Motion Four Aces.

I'm reviewing this to the extent that I can say I love this book, and the whole series, which I expect he'll put out as a book at some point. And, yes, I'll purchase that as well.

Most important, to me, is Ben's questioning what the point is of a magician demonstrating skill. I'll quote Ben: "In my opinion this kaleidoscope of dexterity is born from ego and nievity; it's a chance for the performer to promote his technical ability and gratify his technical fetishism, rather than genuinely focusing on the experience of the uninformed observer. I am not making any value judgments . . ." Ben also explores what is meant by "simplicity."

This is a book, and a series, for the experienced performer who wants to explore improving the impact of what he performs. The standard moves are often just named, not explained, and explanations are often terse, with preliminaries left to the performer's choice (do you pre-set the deck, or cull, or what?).

So, not a review, but I love Ben Earl's insights and am very glad to have been able to obtain the four booklets (almost 90 pages total) of "Less is More."

Matt Field

MagicbyAlfred
Posts: 1186
Joined: June 7th, 2015, 12:48 pm
Favorite Magician: Bill Malone
Location: Myrtle Beach, SC

Re: Ben Earl's "Less is More"

Postby MagicbyAlfred » September 5th, 2015, 1:38 pm

I am generally in agreement with the concept of "less is more." Complicated, convoluted routines are not fun for the spectator and are not entertaining. Like Vernon said, "confusion is not magic." IMO, in order to entertain people with magic (that's the object isnt it?) it is vital for one to learn and develop who he or she is as an artist and performer, consistent with one's unique personality, manifest that in a real, natural and relaxed manner, and not try to imitate anyone else, because it will ring hollow to the spectator every time.

This being said, I would agree that while a plethora of showy flourishes for the sake of showing off technical prowess is not desirable, I like to exhibit a tasteful amount of well-placed flourishes in performing. This is not for my own ego or self-aggrandizement, but for the enjoyment of the audience - and they do enjoy it and they react very positively. Just a few examples, among many, would include the coin roll after you have produced a coin, the spread and turnover flourish as a prelude to a card routine or in between card effects (they love that!), Charlier cut, one-handed riffle shuffle), pressure fan, spinning a wand or pen when using those items, etc. I believe flourishes (again, within context) can be a beautiful and artful component of and enhance an overall artful performance.

I will look forward to studying Ben's materials.
Last edited by MagicbyAlfred on September 5th, 2015, 1:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Leonard Hevia
Posts: 1911
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Dai Vernon, Frank Garcia, Slydini, Houdini,
Location: Gaithersburg, Md.

Re: Ben Earl's "Less is More"

Postby Leonard Hevia » September 5th, 2015, 1:39 pm

Thank you for the insights Matt. Something to look forward to if Earl publishes all four booklets into one tome. I'm intrigued by his No Motion Aces. Vernon was advocating simplification long ago. "Technical fetishism" pretty much encapsulates the matter: So and so has an incredible one handed bottom deal. Yeah.

mr_goat
Posts: 158
Joined: May 22nd, 2015, 11:04 am
Favorite Magician: Glenn Bishop

Re: Ben Earl's "Less is More"

Postby mr_goat » September 7th, 2015, 6:57 am

MagicbyAlfred wrote:
This being said, I would agree that while a plethora of showy flourishes for the sake of showing off technical prowess is not desirable, I like to exhibit a tasteful amount of well-placed flourishes in performing. This is not for my own ego or self-aggrandizement, but for the enjoyment of the audience - and they do enjoy it and they react very positively. Just a few examples, among many, would include the coin roll after you have produced a coin, the spread and turnover flourish as a prelude to a card routine or in between card effects (they love that!), Charlier cut, one-handed riffle shuffle), pressure fan, spinning a wand or pen when using those items, etc. I believe flourishes (again, within context) can be a beautiful and artful component of and enhance an overall artful performance.


And you're more than entitled to that opinion. As a contrasting thought though...*your* audience will see, rightly, that you are "clever with your hands" and then any magic you do can be explained because you've demonstrated you are "clever with your hands". I prefer to entirely hide any physical skill I have and then the audience isn't given that "out" in their reasoning about how what they just witnessed was achieved. But, it's a rich, wide world and if you are happy with what you are doing, wonderful. Just doesn't work for me. Especially things like coin rolls, one handed cuts etc.
Last edited by mr_goat on September 7th, 2015, 9:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
Yes, it is mrgoat, I just can't log in with old account.

User avatar
Q. Kumber
Posts: 1648
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Manchester, England

Re: Ben Earl's "Less is More"

Postby Q. Kumber » September 7th, 2015, 8:17 am

Fortunately I've never had a problem hiding my technical skill…as I don't have any! Saves a lot of worry.

performer
Posts: 3300
Joined: August 7th, 2015, 10:35 pm

Re: Ben Earl's "Less is More"

Postby performer » September 7th, 2015, 8:41 am

I have seen Quentin performing close up magic. He has a little more skill than he pretends. He certainly is no whizz kid at sleight of hand but then you don't have to be if you select your material carefully.

I am firmly of the "art that hides art" school. I have considerable technical ability but I will not hesitate to use easier methods if there are any available that acheive the same ends just as efficiently.

I agree with Alfred that you can use flourishes provided it is done in an intelligent manner. There are advantages and disadvantages when using flourishes and I have covered this in my "Wit and Wisdom" e-book.

However, to cut to the meat of the thing the main advantage of flourishes is that laymen LOVE them! That is not an advantage to be sneezed at. However, to counter that they do have the big disadvantage that they can dilute the effect of the magic and it becomes obvious that the results you are getting are as a result of sleight of hand. That is why it can be quite a wise policy to include strong self working tricks in your repertoire if you are using flourishes.

I believe there is a middle ground. Sometimes you need salt on a meal to add flavour. However, if you put on too much salt you can get high blood pressure. In other words you can have too much of a good thing.

As an aside Vernon was reputed to be dead against flourishes. However, I have seen many a photograph of him with a bloody great big giant fan. One of the most spectacular flourishes I do is the Notis Cascade. Where did I learn it? Dai Vernon of course! Whose hands were in the photographs of the book I learned it from? Dai Vernon!


Return to “Buzz”