America's Got Talent performance

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Brad Henderson
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Re: America's Got Talent performance

Postby Brad Henderson » June 7th, 2017, 2:02 pm

Bill Marquardt wrote:"That is the greatest close up magic I have ever seen in my life," said a judge. Either he was "fooled" (no, I don't like the word, either) or at least was entertained, as apparently were the rest of the audience. Unless, of course, the whole thing was a put on.


they wouldn't call it reality tv unless it was completely real - right? i mean the host and producers have no vested interest in generating a positive vicarious experience for the home viewer or would benefit from engagement in theatrical hyperbole.

right ?

Jack Shalom
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Re: America's Got Talent performance

Postby Jack Shalom » June 7th, 2017, 2:08 pm

Tom Moore wrote:He didn't fool them (in any magic sense) he dazzled them, wowed them, showed them something they'd never seen before but 10 seconds looking at the online public comments shows that he didn't fool them.


So which of those posts were correct, since many contradicted one another, or couldn't have been, based on the sequencing that actually occurred.

Look, there's always going to be a bunch of YouTube videos about anything. That doesn't mean it's a lousy effect. On the contrary, it just shows how interested and engaged people were. I still maintain that I have yet to see a plausible blow by blow account of what exactly the method was. Black Art, threads, holes in a table, video screen built into the table, foot pedals, sleight of hand...a proper reconstruction of what happened where and when would take expert knowledge I maintain.

The speculation so far in my opinion is on the level of "it was done with mirrors." They were plenty fooled.

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Re: America's Got Talent performance

Postby Brad Henderson » June 7th, 2017, 9:19 pm

fooling is the lowest of the bars.

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Re: America's Got Talent performance

Postby performer » June 8th, 2017, 6:59 am

"Fooling" is a horrible word anyway. It implies superiority in the magician and most magicians I know are pretty inferior. Mystify or baffle is a better word. It may not be the highest bar but I don't think it is the lowest either. It is actually pretty important when you think about it. If you merely entertain you may get by but the whole point of a magic trick is to mystify the people you are showing it to. I often preach that a trick is merely a peg to hang your personality on but the trouble is that you have to have a strong peg. So yes, you have to have a good trick that deceives.

I do believe in the dictum that Dunninger once came up with that "Nail Through Finger will suffice if you have some way of magnetising and hypnotising that audience". However it helps tremendously if you can baffle them with it too.

I once met a magician who fancied himself as Mr Personality and he came up with the daft idea that if you had such a personality it would not matter if people knew how all your tricks were done. That you could reveal them willy nilly but it wouldn't make the blindest bit of difference to the impact you had. Of course he was talking narcisistic rot. A great personality and entertaining presentations can cover up a multitude of sins but you really have to be able to do the trick properly, guard the secret, and be careful in your choice of material.

With regard to that last point magicians often argue among themselves the veracity of the phrase, "there is no such thing as a bad trick" implying that the personality and presentational skills of the performer can make a weak trick appear strong. And then you get the other side of the argument saying that the trick has to be strong in the first place. Quite frankly they are both wrong because they are asking the wrong question when they say, "Is there such a thing as a bad trick?". It isn't whether a trick is good or bad that matters. It is whether it suits you or not. A good trick for me might be an awful trick for you and vice versa.

With regard to Will Tsai he made a decision to create this effect for this one show only. It will probably never be done again. It was a business decision and quite frankly only one thing matters. Did it do him any good from a business and career point of view? It clearly did. So my opinion, your opinion or in fact the opinion of anyone not involved in that show does not matter one iota. It was put together to reach a certain objective. He succeeded in that objective so from his point of view that is all he needs to worry about. All the bleatings from people who did not share his objective shouldn't matter a toss to him. And it probably doesn't.

Jack Shalom
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Re: America's Got Talent performance

Postby Jack Shalom » June 8th, 2017, 7:23 am

Brad Henderson wrote:fooling is the lowest of the bars.


I agree with you, Brad, but I was specifically addressing that issue with regard to the statement that the performance led to disclosure of the method. With regard to the rest of the performance, I think Tom Stone has made really excellent points about the scripting and plotting.

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erdnasephile
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Re: America's Got Talent performance

Postby erdnasephile » June 8th, 2017, 9:18 am

Jack Shalom wrote:
Brad Henderson wrote:fooling is the lowest of the bars.


I agree with you, Brad, but I was specifically addressing that issue with regard to the statement that the performance led to disclosure of the method. With regard to the rest of the performance, I think Tom Stone has made really excellent points about the scripting and plotting.


I concur, but if I might please expand on this...

When I think about "fooling", I remember something I heard Michael Ammar speak about. He cited the famous quote from EATCT:

"It is very simple to place one or several cards in the palm and conceal them by partly closing and turning the palm downward, or inward; but it is entirely another matter to palm them from the deck in such a manner that the most critical observer would not even suspect, let alone detect, the action." [emphasis mine]

In a similar vein, albeit out of context, I would rather shoot for no suspicion of methods at all for my audiences. Therefore, if a portion of the lay audience is convinced a particular prop (in this case, the table) is the culprit, then it would not meet my personal definition of "fooling" those folks. (Whether that matters is another discussion entirely.)

The converse is true when I'm watching magic. If even a part of a performer's routine catches me out, then I consider myself fooled. So, I'd say that Mr. Tsai's performance did fool and surprise me.

Finally, in terms of visual magic, Darwin Ortiz has pointed out that it's most salient use is as an opener to get attention. (How many of us have started performances with a series of color changes?). This is precisely how Mr. Tsai has used the visual--as his opener.

I'm looking at Mr. Tsai's journey in AGT as one big show. Visual routines are sort of like potato chips: they make you want more, but most of us will want to eat something a bit more substantial in further courses. I've no doubt that Mr. Tsai realizes this and has planned different textures, themes, and beats for the audience in the upcoming weeks. However, as far as his first routine: for me it's "Mission Accomplished!"

PS: The point has been made several times that Mr. Tsai likely couldn't care less about what magicians think. Perhaps. However, I feel that I'm profiting greatly by listening to you smart folks discuss the issues raised; therefore, for me, it's immaterial whether or not Mr. Tsai is concerned about the conversation. This is a rather useful (and fun) thread, IMHO.

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Re: America's Got Talent performance

Postby Jonathan Townsend » June 8th, 2017, 9:48 am

Brad Henderson wrote:fooling is the lowest of the bars.


That bar, basic deception, remains a distinction between our craft and its brethren in the performing arts. At least till jugglers use mini-drones programmed to fly patterns. ;)

The word "fool"(ing) labels the writer/speaker more than their craft.

The performance may delight. Are the magical effects deceptive?
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

Brad Henderson
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Re: America's Got Talent performance

Postby Brad Henderson » June 8th, 2017, 10:35 am

fool can be both a critical bar to jump and still be the lowest

as magicians we must coney the sense of the impossible. but that just the bar to make what we do qualify as magic and not something else.

but that's akin to saying one needs a print of some type for there to be photography or paint for something to be a painting.

it is critical, essential even, but only the beginning.

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Re: America's Got Talent performance

Postby Tom Moore » June 9th, 2017, 3:09 am

Bill- at no point in any of the judges comments did they say he "fooled" them. They say how impressed they were, how spectacular and unusual and visual what they had just seen was but they never say the F word so I am confused why you keep asserting that they were?

As a more general note; a large chunk of my consulting work involves surveying and polling audiences to work out what they really think during a performance. I've had big name magicians in tears as we broke the news to them that things they were adamant were "fooling" an audience actually weren't - the audience gave a response and the performer interpreted that as validation of "being fooled" when actually the audience was aware of and reacting to technical skill and strong visual identities whilst being aware of the secret method.

Case in point- back palming. 99% of the time audiences aren't fooled in the slightest by stage card manipulation (sometimes because it's done badly, others because they're not idiots and can work it out instantly) yet magicians seem to think lay audiences are completely fooled by it. Audience responses to card manip are almost always actually a response to the technical skill and prowess rather than any sense of magical impossibility.
"Ingenious" - Ben Brantley: New York Times

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Re: America's Got Talent performance

Postby performer » June 9th, 2017, 7:40 am

Tom Moore wrote:B
Case in point- back palming. 99% of the time audiences aren't fooled in the slightest by stage card manipulation (sometimes because it's done badly, others because they're not idiots and can work it out instantly) yet magicians seem to think lay audiences are completely fooled by it. Audience responses to card manip are almost always actually a response to the technical skill and prowess rather than any sense of magical impossibility.



Oddly enough I heard years ago that when some magicians asked Channing Pollock what he did regarding card manipulations when he performed in night clubs where audience members were sometimes situated at bad angles and even behind the performers. Obviously they could see all the back palming etc;.

He replied, "The people in front of me will think it is magic and the people behind me will thing it is juggling so I win either way"

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Re: America's Got Talent performance

Postby performer » June 9th, 2017, 7:42 am

Oh, and I don't think audiences worked out how Cardini did his stuff surveys or no surveys.

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erdnasephile
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Re: America's Got Talent performance

Postby erdnasephile » June 9th, 2017, 8:40 am

Tom Moore wrote:As a more general note; a large chunk of my consulting work involves surveying and polling audiences to work out what they really think during a performance. I've had big name magicians in tears as we broke the news to them that things they were adamant were "fooling" an audience actually weren't - the audience gave a response and the performer interpreted that as validation of "being fooled" when actually the audience was aware of and reacting to technical skill and strong visual identities whilst being aware of the secret method.


Mr. Moore:

That is really interesting work--is there any type of magic in particular that more consistently fools laypeople in general? Or does that vary with the individual performer?

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Re: America's Got Talent performance

Postby Bill Marquardt » June 9th, 2017, 9:52 am

Tom Moore wrote:Bill- at no point in any of the judges comments did they say he "fooled" them. They say how impressed they were, how spectacular and unusual and visual what they had just seen was but they never say the F word so I am confused why you keep asserting that they were?


I assume you are referring to me. My use of the words "fool us" and "fooled them" were nothing more than a take on the title of Penn and Teller's TV show. I was attempting to express the idea that as far as the success of the performance goes, the performer was playing to the audience in the theatre and the judges, and was not necessarily concerned with trying to impress other magicians, who presumably would know exactly what was going on. Okay?

Furthermore, it would not surprise me in the least to discover that the judges' reactions were scripted, that the audience outtakes showing spectators gasping in awe were edited in, or that the standing ovation was encouraged by the show director. That's show biz, baby. Regardless, taken at face value, the reactions indicate that the audience was entertained and pleased with the performance. (And I said as such if you read my earlier comments carefully.)

Personally, I thought he went too far with the routine at the finale where the coins transmuted into flowers in open view in a perfectly symmetrical pattern. To ME, that screamed of mechanical trickery. But, Mr. Tsai was not trying to entertain ME, a magician, was he?

Perhaps my penchant for concise, sometimes terse writing, and my oblique references that I believe will be understood by readers, are to blame for my being misunderstood all too frequently. Maybe this uncharacteristically long diatribe will clarify my meaning in this case.

Let me add a side note here: My wife was watching a Youtube video of a Chinese magician (I believe it was actually Will Tsai) who dropped a coin into a drinking glass; the coin penetrated the bottom of the glass and fell into another glass below. Being a magician, I knew that this miracle was accomplished by use of a "magic ring" clearly visible on his middle finger. I own several of these rings. My wife, clearly impressed, (I won't say "fooled") asked me, "Why can't you do that?"

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Re: America's Got Talent performance

Postby Dave Le Fevre » June 9th, 2017, 10:21 am

Tom Moore wrote:I've had big name magicians in tears as we broke the news to them that things they were adamant were "fooling" an audience actually weren't

Some years ago, a well-known mentalist lectured at my magic club. He performed a numerical effect, and said that the method fooled everybody. The method had been obvious to me, and I said so.

I didn’t wish to say so in front of the whole meeting, but his statement had been made in front of the entire meeting and so I thought that the refutation of it should be likewise.

He replied that I’d worked it out only because of something that he’d said earlier, which was not in fact the case. Two other members later said to me that it had been obvious to them too.

Another club member said to me that it had been discourteous of me to reply publicly. And that gave me a dilemma – next time a lecturer makes a public claim which is wrong (not deliberately wrong, merely mistaken), should I reply publicly or individually?

Another lecturer screwed up an effect badly. At least, that was my perception at the time. Nobody said anything, so I didn’t. However, I’d bought his lecture notes and when I read them the next day, I found that he mentioned the visual discrepancy (which had been glaringly obvious to me) and said that nobody ever notices it. He’s someone I know, so I e-mailed him to let him know. All was amicable.

So yes, some people believe that this-flies-past-everybody and can’t/won’t accept that it doesn’t, whereas others can accept feedback.

(I tend to notice discrepancies in patterns. They jump out at me. Like the one in the Oil & Water effect in The Devil’s Picturebook.)

Thinking further about my previous post about Will Tsai’s performance, maybe a better comparison be a pianist versus someone playing a CD of some piano music. The that’s-a-clever-table reaction is similar to that’s-a-nice-CD, the skilled conjuror is similar to the skilled pianist. Don’t misunderstand me – I loved his performance, it was magical and beautiful. However, parts of it evoked the that’s-a-clever-table reaction.

I’m also not interested in whether he “fooled” the judges, the studio audience, the laymen who later watched his performance, or any conjurors who later watched his performance. Nor indeed whether he fooled me. I’m simply observing my reaction to his performance.

Dave

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Re: America's Got Talent performance

Postby Jonathan Townsend » June 9th, 2017, 10:46 am

Pretty, yes. Magical, yes. Deceptive... not sure.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: America's Got Talent performance

Postby Bill Mullins » June 9th, 2017, 11:58 am

performer wrote:Oddly enough I heard years ago that when some magicians asked Channing Pollock what he did regarding card manipulations when he performed in night clubs where audience members were sometimes situated at bad angles and even behind the performers. Obviously they could see all the back palming etc;.

He replied, "The people in front of me will think it is magic and the people behind me will thing it is juggling so I win either way"


Once I saw Lennart Green doing his Laser Deal routine. The room was crowded and there were spectators all around. He said something like, "those on the right get the show, those on the left get the lecture."

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Re: America's Got Talent performance

Postby MagicbyAlfred » June 9th, 2017, 12:50 pm

Good stories about Channing and Lennart. When working in the bar/restaurant, I often like to do a series of vanishes and reproductions with the Jumbo coin after it is produced at the end of Matrix or Silver, Copper, Brass. Some of the moves I picked up from a Gary Kurtz VHS years ago; others I either got from other magicians or came up with myself. I was conflicted for a while about doing this when, at times, there were people who were at a vantage point to see what was really happening (i.e. people who were behind or on the side of me, although not necessarily part of the group I was performing for). At a certain point, I said dang the torpedoes, because the people who were getting a gander of the work were typically highly amused and entertained by being let in on was happening "behind the scenes," and watching the reactions of those who were not in the know. I guess it came down to a personal cost-benefit analysis where I figured the magical mileage/reactions I was getting out of doing the sleights outweighed the occasional incidental exposure. If there are magicians who disapprove of this and wish to excoriate me for it, I will understand...

As a side note, for anyone that produces a jumbo coin, at least consider doing the bending of the coin illusion/gag. For some reason it really kills layman. I like to say, "Look, it's solid - solid rubber," as I bend it back and forth, and then hand it to them. It is a real hoot watching them try to bend it and seeing the looks on their faces.

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Re: America's Got Talent performance

Postby Jonathan Townsend » June 9th, 2017, 6:31 pm

Funny how apparently flexing the jumbo coin, which is more a gag than effect, gets a reaction.

When's the next time Will appears on AGT?
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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erdnasephile
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Re: America's Got Talent performance

Postby erdnasephile » June 9th, 2017, 10:05 pm

More food for thought Re: "Too Perfect"

In the classic "Magic with Faucett Ross", Mr. Ross relates an amusing story (pg. 160) entitled "Still Too Good" (recounted by Ken Krenzel in Genii April, 2007, pg 35) wherein Mr. Ross created a mystery so profound that an audience member just could not bring himself to believe it. I do not want to spoil the story by a clumsy retelling, so I'd refer you instead to the relevant Genii issue or even better, the original text.

What's pertinent to the present discussion is Mr. Ross' closing comment: "I remember an old timer once told me, 'Never make tricks look too marvellous (sic)'. Well, if that experience meant anything, the old timer must have been right!"

However, upon further review, I would argue that Mr. Ross' performance actually wasn't "too perfect". Rather, it was a great example of achieving Whit Hadyn's "horns of dilemma" situation (from his "The Chicago Surprise" manuscript).

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Re: America's Got Talent performance

Postby Joe Mckay » September 5th, 2018, 5:54 pm

Captain Disillusion (my favourite YouTuber) did a brilliant take down on Will Tsai's performance:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dSp_f0f9gE


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