Lend Me Your Pack--Victor Farelli

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Lend Me Your Pack--Victor Farelli

Postby performer » December 10th, 2015, 8:41 am

I have been amusing myself reading a very old book on card tricks published before the last war. It is a book by Victor Farelli who I became a fan of when he stated "anyone can raise a vulgar laugh". The title is "Lend Me Your Pack"

The book amuses me with quaint rules about treating ladies on stage, offering them a seat and NEVER picking them out in the audience to help. And NEVER in a drawing room should they be invited to help in the first place. All terribly amusing and even nowadays there is some logic to it. I know women who hate being asked to participate on stage and try to sit at the back of the room so a magician doesn't ask them to volunteer. If they volunteer on their own accord it is fine but they should never be picked out according to Farelli.

Anyway, the reason I am mentioning it is that in the interests of fairness I reluctantly have to admit that there is something in the book that supports a young card magician in one of his conversations with me. He believes in the extremely daft idea that the trick is just as important as the presentation. I think otherwise. I consider the trick to be 10 percent and the presentation 90 percent. However, when I am in a flexible mood which is very rare I might even give the trick 15% or if I am in a VERY good mood 25%.

Alas however there is something in the Farelli book which supports this young card magician and Erdnase fanatic.

Farelli says, "I agree with Mr Charles Waller who writes, ......"so we resort to a process which we naively describe as "making magic entertaining" Common sense would seem to suggest that if we succeed in "making magic magical" we will provide entertainment enough"

Farelli goes on to say "Humour should be used sparingly, like salt or pepper, and should NEVER be regarded as the most important part of the entertainment"

There. Views from the past anyway. This sort of thing amuses and intrigues me. I think I disagree with Charles Waller in the first paragraph and agree with Farelli in the second paragraph. Where close up magic is concerned anyway. I think the stage has different rules.

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Re: Lend Me Your Pack--Victor Farelli

Postby Jonathan Townsend » December 10th, 2015, 9:02 am

Not sure what he means by magical. I set my baseline or criteria based upon audience responses this way:

1) There needs to be clarity of magical effect. They need to know what magical effect happened. This is barely related to spoilery trick buildup of the tell/tell/tell format. A base understanding on their own terms. For example their coin is inside that bottle. The coin they held in their hand is now in my hand (and implicitly the coin in their hand is the one that they all saw in my hand). Hook, line and sinker. The effect as they believe it to be.

2) There needs to be a gap, empty, interior moment where they want to say "what happened" but also know darn well what happened, and in that silent beat they bounce back from an unspoken "how did you do that" to an off guarded "WTF" or "No way". The deer stunned in the headlights. a four F response barely held in check by social propriety.

3) The trick needs a dynamic with the audience where it winds up somewhere they can describe as a story and tell others... and better yet bring others over and enjoy watching them experience that story.

For me, cluttered procedure gets in the way of item (1). Similarly, cluttered patter or framing gets in the way of (2). Audiences demonstrate (3) with return engagements.

You'll know it's magic when you've got the deer stunned in the headlights. The entertainment part is kinda obvious when they bring their friends back or walk up to you years later to ask if you've got that prop they recall from a trick they recall.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: Lend Me Your Pack--Victor Farelli

Postby performer » December 10th, 2015, 9:09 am

I don't like cluttered procedure either. However, I am now overcome with curiosity about Charles Waller. I am going to see what I can find out about him.

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Re: Lend Me Your Pack--Victor Farelli

Postby performer » December 10th, 2015, 9:15 am

Aha! I might have known! It seems that Charles Waller was an amateur magician. That explains it.

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Re: Lend Me Your Pack--Victor Farelli

Postby Joe Mckay » December 10th, 2015, 1:03 pm

Charles Waller was an inventive creator from Australia. He published a few books in the 20s and 30s.

He was very creative - sort of the Paul Harris of his day. Well worth going through his books in search of creative inspiration.

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Re: Lend Me Your Pack--Victor Farelli

Postby MagicbyAlfred » December 10th, 2015, 1:05 pm

Fascinating topic. Performer wrote:

"I consider the trick to be 10 percent and the presentation 90 percent. However, when I am in a flexible mood which is very rare I might even give the trick 15% or if I am in a VERY good mood 25%."

I definitely agree as to how crucial presentation is, but I would add this caveat: All things being equal, in other words, when every trick or routine is performed entertainingly and with optimal presentation, the particular trick is still a powerful component in the impression left upon the spectators. For example I have been continually honing various pet routines over the years (and continue to do so), and I try to add comedy, emotional hooks, entertaining patter, human interest etc. to virtually all of them. However, there are inevitably certain routines (and this varies from entertainer to entertainer) that get a bigger reaction, and have spectators clamoring to ask you, "Please do such and such for so and so." Or they will tell you what their favorite(s) was/were. For me, this would include the chop cup and/or cups and balls wth a final load of three-four different fruits, the rising card in their hand, the invisible deck, the Floating Dollar, The Twins, and the Multiplying Rabbits. So if the entertainment level is a constant, the particular trick can be a significant variable in overall impact.

I guess another way of saying it is that a good or great entertainer can entertain and get a wonderful reaction even from the 21 card trick skillfully and entertainingly performed, but it simply won't be as powerful as the cups and balls skillfully and entertainingly performed by that same magician.

Of course, I would add one asterisk, and that is that obviously, skill, presentational abilities, and experience levels vary from magician to magician, so a particular magician might well be able to make the 21 card trick more entertaining and get a better reaction than another particular magician doing the cups and balls.

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Re: Lend Me Your Pack--Victor Farelli

Postby Jonathan Townsend » December 10th, 2015, 1:24 pm

MagicbyAlfred wrote:...
However, there are inevitably certain routines ... get a better reaction than another particular magician doing the cups and balls.


I disagree with the premise of "all other things being equal". And I suspect we agree about this as you added the qualifier about certain performers. Imagine someone doing that same routine an a dry deadpan "Bueler, Ferris Bueler" way and see what happens. :)

What a trick is, as far as audiences go, is the magical effect in context. that's what I mean when using the term "effect". Other things we call method and presentation... have corresponding terms in writing, directing, production design...

See Bosco vs Vernon on the cup/ball trick. Vernon went to cone/ball, walnuts and glass, Pops Krieger/Charlie Miller on the cups. Then look at Tommy Wonder... different approach. Nothing equal about them IMHO. No idea how Don Alan saying "and that's nuts" with that final load would have worked in context. But there's another guy.

A card winds up reversed in the pack. Effect. See Vernon's Triumph vs Joe Berg's Invisible Pack.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: Lend Me Your Pack--Victor Farelli

Postby MagicbyAlfred » December 10th, 2015, 1:41 pm

Jonathan, You may have interpreted what I said differently than I intended to communicate, and that may be my fault for not articulating it clearly. When I said, "all other things being equal," I wasn't referring to or comparing performers, but rather the tricks in the repertoire of one particular magician. So, what I meant was that a particular magician may be a really good entertainer and can present all his/her tricks/routines very entertainingly, but some tricks by that magician are still going to get a better reaction than other tricks.

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Re: Lend Me Your Pack--Victor Farelli

Postby Jonathan Townsend » December 10th, 2015, 1:54 pm

MagicbyAlfred wrote:...but some tricks by that magician are still going to get a better reaction than other tricks.


We're narrowing in on character/audience/magic dynamics. Do you consider it possible that, for audiences, once a character establishes themselves (costume/mannerisms/environment) and the pace of their show that items more "out of character" would be less useful?

*** just for old time's sake ***
Has anyone tried doing the Lucky speech from "Waiting" as proper rap with beatbox - the others on stage handling the beat/rhythm?
*** translated from French with a nod to Brecht/Weill ***
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: Lend Me Your Pack--Victor Farelli

Postby performer » December 10th, 2015, 2:28 pm

It isn't so much if a trick is good or bad. That is a red herring trap that many magicians fall into. It is whether a trick suits you or not. There are some seemingly excellent tricks which just do not fit the personality of a specific performer whereas there are some tricks that others would consider awful that would fit the same performer perfectly.

I have always taken the view that Dunninger espoused,

"Anything will do. Even nail through finger will suffice it you can find some way of magnetising and hypnotising that audience"

I suggest some of you start working on nail through finger immediately.

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Re: Lend Me Your Pack--Victor Farelli

Postby MagicbyAlfred » December 10th, 2015, 2:55 pm

Jonathan asked: "Do you consider it possible that, for audiences, once a character establishes themselves (costume/mannerisms/environment) and the pace of their show that items more "out of character" would be less useful?"

Absolutely. And, the reason why I say that? Well, I think Performer explains it quite well in his own comment: "...It is whether a trick suits you or not. There are some seemingly excellent tricks which just do not fit the personality of a specific performer whereas there are some tricks that others would consider awful that would fit the same performer perfectly."

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Re: Lend Me Your Pack--Victor Farelli

Postby Jonathan Townsend » December 10th, 2015, 2:59 pm

great - how can we get some early indications about whether or not a routine/trick would suit our character?
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: Lend Me Your Pack--Victor Farelli

Postby MagicbyAlfred » December 10th, 2015, 3:07 pm

Jonathan wrote: "great - how can we get some early indications about whether or not a routine/trick would suit our character?"

IMHO, two things primarily: (1) The reaction we get when we perform it for others is very telling; and (2) How it "feels" to us. Does it flow? Is it natural? Do we enjoy it? etc.

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Re: Lend Me Your Pack--Victor Farelli

Postby performer » December 10th, 2015, 3:31 pm

MagicbyAlfred wrote:Jonathan wrote: "great - how can we get some early indications about whether or not a routine/trick would suit our character?"

IMHO, two things primarily: (1) The reaction we get when we perform it for others is very telling; and (2) How it "feels" to us. Does it flow? Is it natural? Do we enjoy it? etc.


Yes. That is correct. And after a while that gut feeling happens even before you try the trick out. I can just look at a trick description nowadays and know instinctively if it is going to suit me or not.

Of course sometimes you can get a surprise. As the presentation section in Expert Card Technique states, you can often come across a trick which you think is going to get you great results but somehow, despite your best efforts it turns out to be a dud. Conversely, you can try something out which you expect to be getting lukewarm results and it turns out to be far better than first expected. The latter has happened to me more than the former. Somehow I know if a trick is going to work and I rarely pick duds. This is because many tricks follow a similar pattern and if I have already had success with that pattern the odds are strong that I will have the same success again.

For example if I use a sucker card trick and it goes well the odds are that another different sucker card trick will also go well. If I do a trick where a card changes and it works well then the odd are that if I do a completely different trick where a card changes I will get the same successful result.

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Re: Lend Me Your Pack--Victor Farelli

Postby MagicbyAlfred » December 11th, 2015, 3:38 am

Performer wrote:

"Yes. That is correct. And after a while that gut feeling happens even before you try the trick out. I can just look at a trick description nowadays and know instinctively if it is going to suit me or not. Of course sometimes you can get a surprise. As the presentation section in Expert Card Technique states, you can often come across a trick which you think is going to get you great results but somehow, despite your best efforts it turns out to be a dud. Conversely, you can try something out which you expect to be getting lukewarm results and it turns out to be far better than first expected. The latter has happened to me more than the former."

The above-described phenomenon points up the fact that what we anticipate, or are even relatively certain, will be the case is, by definition, a subjective evaluation. As such, it may well prove an inaccurate evaluation. The spectators' reactions are the one, true, objective criteria by which we can judge the strength and suitability of a trick(s) in our hands. And, we can be very surprised that they were blown away by a particular trick, but not by one we thought would kill them. This is where staying flexible and keeping an open mind can only continually strengthen our performances and the impact we have upon the audience in the performance of magic.

I think that another thing to bear in mind is that we live in a society where (a) branding of products establishing a familiarity with a product is conditioned into the consciousness of people, and (2) where stories are a captivating means of capturing interest and building drama (which is actually something that has has been true of humans since ancient times). As such, I find, for example, that a card trick "dressed up" as Juan Tamariz would put it, within the context of interesting story will garner a far greater reaction and be far more memorable than an incredible effect in isolation.

An example would be the performance of "The Gambler Versus Magician" which entails a captivating story with an emotional hook, as opposed to say, finding a selected card in an amazing way, or changing one card into another card without the dressing of a story or outside the context of something personally meaningful to a spectator. They remember the hook, and the story, by name, of "The Gambler Versus Magician" in which the magician emerges triumphant against the gambler to win the bet/challenge after seemingly failing, whereas they will soon forget another trick wherein, for example, you accomplish the feat of changing a card they "saw" placed down on the table into another card. This is a distinction that exceedingly experienced magicians, such as Harry Lorayne, intimately understand and exploit. And, of course, Vernon understood it very well, as shown by his admonition: "You must have an emotional hook.".

So, how we package, or "dress up" the trick is critical to the ultimate power, impact and memorability of that trick upon the audience. That explains why the story tricks I perform, such as The Gambler versus Magician, The Twins, or my routine featuring "The Drunk" who, after a card was selected and replaced, grabbed the cards out of my hand and shuffled them face up into face down, challenging me that, if I was "really any kind of a magician," I could find his card, After showing that the drunk hopelessly discombobulated the deck, some face up, some face down etc., there is then a triumphant denouement, wherein the cards are spread to reveal the selection face up among all face down cards, showing that the magician has met and overcome this gnarly challenge by the drunk. They remember this hook, and accordingly the following week, and the week after, they predictably come into the bar with their friends and ask for "The Gambler Versus Magician," or "The Twins," or "The Story of the Drunk," or whatever the case might be.

So, as one example among many, Triumph, presented in the implicit (and usual) context of "Look how clever I am; I just righted a deck shuffled face up and face down," while momentarily impressive to the onlookers and an aggrandizement to the ego of the magician, is relatively meaningless to the spectators, whereas within the context of the story of the drunk, it has real punch, impact and memorability.

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Re: Lend Me Your Pack--Victor Farelli

Postby performer » December 11th, 2015, 8:40 am

Another thing that is worth remembering is that a trick that did not suit you years ago might suit you now. That of course, is because your personality changes over the years to a degree.


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