What is the purpose of close-up magic?

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Joe Mckay
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What is the purpose of close-up magic?

Postby Joe Mckay » July 27th, 2020, 7:42 pm

I have been focusing on some ideas for a close-up act. I felt I should tackle that first before moving on to a parlour act since it is a lot easier to find 1-5 people to perform for versus the 20+ people needed in a parlour situation.

I always think of art in terms of communicating a vision or an idea. So that is what I have been working on. How can I make a trick be the vehicle for an interesting idea or an intriguing insight into me as a person?

Now that is one vision for close-up magic.

Another vision is that promoted by Jay Sankey. He sees close-up magic as a way to "connect" with the spectator. So it is about creating a space where you share a moment in time with the spectator in a way that is compelling and - in some sense - authentic.

I have a lot of respect for Jay Sankey since he is a superb creator, has a ton of performing experience and has a stand-up comedy background. I also find him to be a fun performer of magic and I feel like he has honed his approach to be as effective as possible when performing for laypeople.

As such I wanted to consider that approach some more. Jay says his approach to magic has evolvedto the point that he almost feels like the tricks get in the way of the interaction he wants to have with the spectator. He contrasts with his first 15-20 years of performing where he was focused instead on the delivery of the trick.

To put this in non-magic terms it is a bit like how you can sometimes be surprised by your interaction with a salesperson who is so charismatic and charming that it is a pleasure to do business with them. In the same way - Jay Sankey wants to create the experience of magic as fun and as interactive as possible so that the service on offer (the magic) is made as enjoyable as possible.

This approach to magic reminds me of why I feel learning stand-up comedy is the single most effective way to improve your magic. I have heard Jay Sankey (I think?) and David Acer (definitely) say the same thing. Since that is all about working out how to connect with audiences and creating a character who is fun to watch.

I would be curious to hear what others think? I know some magicians think that the purpose of close-up magic is simply to show the strongest magic that you can. Some magicians think that is enough. Whereas others want to add sommethign else to the experience. So for those who see magic as being about more than simply creating a feeling of astonishment - I wonder which of the two approaches above are the best ones to pursue?

The first approach offers the tantalising prospect that you can script your way to success with enough thought and preparation. Whereas the second approach really is about getting as much flight time as possible (something that Penn & Teller advocate) and then honing your people skills to make the interaction as fun as possible.

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: What is the purpose of close-up magic?

Postby Richard Kaufman » July 27th, 2020, 9:20 pm

The purpose is to mystify, entertain, and delight. It's pretty simple.
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Re: What is the purpose of close-up magic?

Postby Chris Randal2 » July 28th, 2020, 1:36 am

Freestyle magic !!!! Like the best Don Alan, Brian Gillis, and currently Garrett Thomas.

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Re: What is the purpose of close-up magic?

Postby Jeffrey Cowan » July 28th, 2020, 1:56 am

Watch video of Goshman or Del Ray working for a live audience. You'll know.
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Re: What is the purpose of close-up magic?

Postby Andy Galloway » July 28th, 2020, 10:18 am

In chapter one of the Collected Works Of Alex Elmsley Volume One, Alex gives excellent advice on the performance of close-up magic which is worth studying.

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Re: What is the purpose of close-up magic?

Postby MagicbyAlfred » July 28th, 2020, 10:46 am

In my opinion, there is no purpose of close-up magic in and of itself. But rather it is the purpose of each individual performer that matters. So I would reframe the question as, "What is my purpose in performing close up magic?" If you could imagine a group of people for whom you have just performed talking about you and your magic (without you being present), what kind of things would you most like them to be saying about you? Then gear your presentation towards achieving that. For example, "The Magic was Absolutely Amazing, he blew my mind," "He was so funny and entertaining, we laughed so hard and had so much fun," "He was charming, gracious and polite," "He got everyone involved," etc. My personal ideal is that they would be saying all of those things about me.

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Re: What is the purpose of close-up magic?

Postby Leo Garet » July 28th, 2020, 11:35 am

Richard Kaufman wrote:The purpose is to mystify, entertain, and delight. It's pretty simple.


Agree with that and would add: to Have Fun.

If we're not having fun, what's the point.

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Re: What is the purpose of close-up magic?

Postby Paco Nagata » July 30th, 2020, 10:14 pm

Joe, if you mean the purpose of close-up magic in relation to stage magic, I think that the principal purpose is to show magic as close as possible. Not only physically but also psichologically.
Close-up magic lets spectators to be IN TOUCH with the magic; they can interact with the magician's stuff as well as the magician itself.

The inconvenient is that you can't show close-up magic to a very big audience, unless you use cameras and screens.
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Bill Duncan
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Re: What is the purpose of close-up magic?

Postby Bill Duncan » July 30th, 2020, 11:52 pm

MagicbyAlfred wrote:In my opinion, there is no purpose of close-up magic in and of itself. But rather it is the purpose of each individual performer that matters. So I would reframe the question as, "What is my purpose in performing close up magic?"


Finally, something we can agree on.

I like to think of what sales and marking folks call the Elevator Pitch. A short phrase that tells your customer what you have to offer. You've probably heard films pitched as "like driving Miss Daisy, but with zombies."

What's your elevator pitch? How to you sum up your approach to magic in a one or two sentences? What is the through line of your persona? Are you The Charming Cheat?

How would you describe Mac King in a sentence? Darwin Ortiz?

Penn and Teller are “a couple of eccentric guys who have learned to do a few cool things.”

Why magic and not sculpture or watercolor? For me it was because magic offered a way to say what I wanted to say that was easier than painting or pottery. Because how do you make a pot that asks people to question their personal reality?

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Re: What is the purpose of close-up magic?

Postby Philippe Noël » July 31st, 2020, 4:37 am

Darwin Ortiz writes in Strong Magic that "you must create an illusion of impossibility." and that is to my mind the main purpose of magic.
Watch Earl Nelson perform, he is not funny but laypeople find him very magical and he really is.

Joe Lyons
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Re: What is the purpose of close-up magic?

Postby Joe Lyons » July 31st, 2020, 9:22 am

Bill Duncan wrote: Because how do you make a pot that asks people to question their personal reality?



Image

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: What is the purpose of close-up magic?

Postby Richard Kaufman » July 31st, 2020, 12:09 pm

You only need an elevator pitch if you are performing as a particular character, and that is entirely unnecessary for most magicians.
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Re: What is the purpose of close-up magic?

Postby Leo Garet » July 31st, 2020, 1:34 pm

Bill Duncan wrote:Why magic and not sculpture or watercolor? For me it was because magic offered a way to say what I wanted to say that was easier than painting or pottery. Because how do you make a pot that asks people to question their personal reality?


Was it really that easy? I can't paint, but I didn't choose Magic. It chose me. As did Music.

From time to time I've called myself "The Magician Who Fools Himself."

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Re: What is the purpose of close-up magic?

Postby MagicbyAlfred » July 31st, 2020, 3:00 pm

Bill Duncan Wrote: "...a pot that asks people to question their personal reality."

Gosh Bill, that sounds like it could be an elevator pitch for one of those "medicinal" dispensaries out in California or Oregon.

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Re: What is the purpose of close-up magic?

Postby Bill Duncan » August 1st, 2020, 12:39 am

Richard Kaufman wrote:You only need an elevator pitch if you are performing as a particular character, and that is entirely unnecessary for most magicians.


Agreed. But the exercise can still make you a better performer. And that's worth the time, no?

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Re: What is the purpose of close-up magic?

Postby Bill Duncan » August 1st, 2020, 12:41 am

MagicbyAlfred wrote:Bill Duncan Wrote: "...a pot that asks people to question their personal reality."

Gosh Bill, that sounds like it could be an elevator pitch for one of those "medicinal" dispensaries out in California or Oregon.


OK. That's funny.

And Joe Lyons, thank you for that image. If I could have done that I probably wouldn't be here.

Leo, you have REALLY nailed the pitch.

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Re: What is the purpose of close-up magic?

Postby Philippe Noël » August 2nd, 2020, 9:19 am

To perform what appears to be impossibilities at very close range.


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