Page 1 of 1

One Man's View: Brad Henderson LIVE ACT

Posted: March 22nd, 2019, 10:07 pm
by erdnasephile
I've been enthusiastic about the recent works by Caveney, Thompson, Close, and Tamariz because I feel they teach performance pearls sprung from decades of experience that I can actually use no matter what specific tricks I want to work up for my own use.

Accordingly, when this project came across my screen, I was intrigued and curious. Intrigued, because I knew that Mr. Henderson is, simply put, a worker with many decades of experience. Curious, because I've never met the man other than interacting with him electronically. I wondered how his on-line personality translates into his performance personality. So, despite my bibliophilia, I took the plunge and I'm sure glad I did!

What I liked:
1. Extreme Practicality: I hate junk that people sell you that they've clearly only done for themselves or their friends. I don't want to waste my hard earned on pipe dreams. Watching the performance section of this video dispelled that potential concern instantly. Every routine in this project has the solid feel and heft that speaks of the long, painful process of creating a professional magic routine that Caveney writes about. Even better is the explanation section where Mr. Henderson talks about the what's and why's about the routines that make them applicable to virtually every performing situation. For example, at one point during the copper silver routine, he talks about how he learned to handle the work from either side in either hand, standing or sitting, tall or short, and why he needed to do so. He explains the physical technique he developed to get people to close their hand around a coin naturally. He also walks you through some the construction mistakes he made in the past with routines and how they evolved. These aren't things you figure out in a basement but rather it's evidence that this stuff is adamantium proof. Should you choose to learn one of these routines, you can be rest assured that at the end, you'll have something you can use for the rest of your life. Frankly, Mr. Henderson reminds me a lot of Bob White in his approach to his magic, which is great.

2. Level of Detail: Someone has written before that one of the differences between a magic tyro and a pro is in the number of decisions that they make. If I might be so bold, I would like to suggest an obvious corollary: tyros focus on trivialities, pros focus on the important. Tyros worry about what cards they are using, whether the dates on the coins match, and the scary slit in the envelope. Consequently, they make the unimportant important. Mr. Henderson is exactly the opposite. He is an enormously detailed thinker. What keeps this from being an exercise in futility is that he has a well-thought out reason for pretty much everything he does. From why he leans a particular way during a coin pass to why a particular effect is where it is in the show, why he doesn't use colored ink in the diary trick, to why he opens with a pretty atypical's all there and more (he even talks a little psychobiology!). He also spends a lot of time discussing what can go wrong with each routine, and how to deal with them when they do, but most importantly, what are the checks to keep them from happening in the first place. (Wonderful!) Seeing how things are constructed both methodologically and theatrically really helps. I've already adopted a stratagem he shares with regards to his false transfers to solve a problem in a completely unrelated routine. Even better, I didn't just borrow the tips he gave, but rather they inspired me to a better (but related) solution for my particular instance. I love this sort of thing because it doesn't just instruct me, but it also makes me grow my own abilities to problem solve. Finally, the crediting is impeccable and the active listener will have many new literature roads to take if they so choose.

3. The Performer and Person: I was pleasantly surprised by Mr. Henderson's performance style. I really had no idea what to expect since I've not seen him before, but I found him to be delightful as a performer. Although he has what some might feel to be a forbidding look (sort of a Texan Eugene), he was able to immediately put his audience at ease, with some self-deprecating humor and wit. He consistently comes across as respectful to his audience (I especially like his Farmer-like approach to his "My Least Favorite Trick" routine), yet willing to playfully challenge them as well. He does it all without falling into the "superior intellect" stereotype. Clearly, this is a guy who has done what we're all supposed to do: look in that mirror and figure out who you are and what parts of you do you want to emphasize when sharing with your audience. His closing line (which I'm not going to share here) perfectly encapsulates what I'm trying to inelegantly say. When it comes to the explanation section, what comes across most is passion: passion for his art, his act, but also for YOUR magic--he really wants to equip you and share his wisdom with the listener. He manages to do this without being dogmatic or pedantic, which was a very nice surprise. The video was FUN to watch and learn from.

4. Structural Considerations: This is largely a two camera production, but the video is clear and you can see (and hear) what you need. I also really like the audience of apparently normal people with normal, natural reactions. It's only a personal preference, but for me, they were more enjoyable than other less-clothed video audiences I've seen. I also like having the entire act to watch up front. Mr. Henderson works from notes during the explanation, which is very smart. In some instructional videos I've seen, the performer appears to be literally winging it. Even if they aren't, it's clear sometimes that the actual explanations were only superficially thought out. I appreciate it when the explanation is as well constructed as the performance.

What I didn't like quite as much:
1. Really the only thing that I didn't fancy was his chop cup presentation. The handling and construction is solid. I just felt that the control-premise came across just a tad more snarky (to me) than the rest of the set. HOWEVER, by that point, he and the audience already had a relationship and they clearly didn't take offense and knew it was all in good fun. Even at that, this is just a personal preference and a tiny one at that: YMMV.

I really loved this video and it was well worth my time and money. I found it extraordinarily well thought out, immediately applicable, and utterly inspirational. Every time I rewatch it, I get something out of it. You've probably noticed that I haven't listed any favorite effects---that's because Mr. Henderson and I are completely different in personality and there is no way his presentations would work for me. In fact, I really don't want to do any of these routines for now---and that's TERRIFIC. By studying what he's done, instead of trying to learn his routines, it frees me from the video pitfall and temptation of "Monkey See. Monkey Do." It's an amazingly freeing feeling for me: I've got a whole new boatload of tools (and a tool belt) to work out my own stuff. If you have a similar mindset, I predict that you'll really like this video too!

Disclaimer: I've got no financial interest in this project, nor am I buddies with Mr. Henderson. I spent my own money for it, and I'm not writing to solicit product or social media views. I'm just a serious amateur who likes to give kudos to products that are helping me be a better magician.

Re: One Man's View: Brad Henderson LIVE ACT

Posted: March 22nd, 2019, 10:53 pm
by Brad Jeffers
Is it mostly coin stuff, or is Mr. Henderson also a cardman?

Re: One Man's View: Brad Henderson LIVE ACT

Posted: March 22nd, 2019, 11:18 pm
by erdnasephile
Brad Jeffers wrote:Is it mostly coin stuff, or is Mr. Henderson also a cardman?

He does both: Triumph, copper/silver, cards (diary trick), gadabout coins, bunnies, chop cup, rope (not explained)--classic plots, but personalized and full of very clever touches.

Re: One Man's View: Brad Henderson LIVE ACT

Posted: March 22nd, 2019, 11:36 pm
by James
Brad Jeffers wrote:Is it mostly coin stuff, or is Mr. Henderson also a cardman?

LOL! I see what you did there. :lol:

Re: One Man's View: Brad Henderson LIVE ACT

Posted: March 23rd, 2019, 4:22 am
by Brad Henderson
Thank you so much for the very kind words. There are, however, two credits that I botched. First, the author of the book Influence is ROBERT Cialdini, not james. Second, I tried to find the credit for the dealing subtlety in the birthday diary which I use. I went back to the source from which I learned it (bascom’s Magick magazine) and found it in a trick attributed to Max Maven under his pen name. I could have sworn it was credited to a different person, in fact I thought the trick had two names on it’s by line. But I couldn’t find anything other than it’s use in a aforementioned Maven/Goldstein trick.

I stopped looking too soon. The credit belongs to Ray Goulet, and I have Ryan Matney, to thank for having credited it correctly. (The correct credit is in Magick, but I couldn’t remember the trick which had it.)

It kills me that I got this wrong as it’s a great idea and while I wouldn’t have been surprised if Max had come up with it, I did want to give proper credit where credit was due.

Also, for those who have the lecture, I submitted a PDF of the ‘script’ I used for the opening theory section of the explanation portion. I think video is a terrible media for teaching theory as it doesn’t allow for someone to pause, consider, return and reevaluate easily. So I wanted to provide a printed resource for those interested in doing just that.

It should appear as a button on the purchasers download menu (along with learn, discuss, etc).

Thanks again for the very kind review and it means a lot to me to know that the ideas helped you make choices which you feel directly improved your own work. That’s exactly and entirely what I hoped to accomplish in this endeavor. Thanks so much for letting me know that.

Re: One Man's View: Brad Henderson LIVE ACT

Posted: March 23rd, 2019, 12:45 pm
by Richard Kaufman
Brad, you're lucky Ray Goulet is deceased! :)

That's a joke, son.

Re: One Man's View: Brad Henderson LIVE ACT

Posted: March 23rd, 2019, 6:42 pm
by Max Maven
Brad, I have not yet had the chance to watch your video. But, I assume you’re talking about the dealing force used to arrive at two cards. If so, the credit belongs to Al Leech. I came up with applications, some of which I published. Once I determined that it was Ray Goulet had added a valuable subtlety to the procedure, of course I added his name. You’ll find that expanded credit in, among other places, Prism.

Re: One Man's View: Brad Henderson LIVE ACT

Posted: March 23rd, 2019, 7:47 pm
by Brad Henderson
Hi, Max. I am referring specifically to the subtlety. I learned it from an entry in Magick that was attributed to Ray. When I went back to find it, I couldn’t (and didn’t recall the name associated with it.). I found one of your pieces in that magazine using it and while it didn’t seem to be the trick I remembered learning it from, it was all I was able to find going through the indices as I did.

Re: One Man's View: Brad Henderson LIVE ACT

Posted: March 24th, 2019, 2:06 am
by Bill Mullins
Max Maven wrote: I assume you’re talking about the dealing force used to arrive at two cards. If so, the credit belongs to Al Leech.

In Prism, you mention Leech's Cardmanship (1959). It looks like the same procedure, to force the four aces, appears in Hen Fetsch's "Ace Discovery", in his 1956 Impromptu Card Routine. It's not as straightforward as when it is used for two cards, but this looks at least like a direct precursor.

Re: One Man's View: Brad Henderson LIVE ACT

Posted: March 25th, 2019, 4:00 am
by Max Maven
Thanks, Bill.

Actually, if you go to the site and search for “re-deal force” you’ll find, in addition to the Fetsch credit (just added), a 1954 version by Bill Simon, and two precursors by Dr. Reed Rockwood, published in 1923.

In fact, I’d forgotten that the person who found the Rockwood citations was... me.