Joe Mckay wrote:Does the cups penetrating each other really fool people?
I have always doubted that.
I don't think it really fools (at least most) people. But I don't think it was ever seriously intended as a fooler, but more as a playful gag. The question then becomes, is it something that adds something to the routine, if not mystification, then at least in terms of entertainment value, in the eyes of laymen? Now, if a performer has been doing the move all along as part of his/her routine, and getting a great or even good reaction, whether it's "oohs and ahhs," "Wows," "Oh my Gods," or even laughter, then it is working on some level, and is arguably a plus. Nothing succeeds like success. However, if there are lukewarm, stone-faced, or even negative reactions, such as the one Al received from the sophisticated lady, why would one want to keep doing it? Just because Vernon and Miller and pretty much everyone else did it, or does it? It's great to have heroes, but not so great to be a clone. I have been as guilty of it as anyone. It was Eugene Burger who really made me start thinking about it when I read The Performance of Close-Up Magic
Oftentimes, I think we, as magicians (and I am generalizing here) have a tendency to do certain things or use certain lines (often corny ones) simply because we've seen magicians we admire doing it, or even because everyone else is. That can be a bad thing, IMHO, because it's not fair to ourselves, and it can be stifling to our own creativity and individuality. Nor is it giving the best of ourselves to our audiences. Other magicians can be quite helpful in terms of helping us advance as magicians, as Bob White was to Bill with the cups, and Bill was to me, but our audiences - they
are our best teachers in terms of what is and what is not truly making an impact. Their reactions are the true barometer of how we're doing as performers
Check out this video, particularly at 1:10. Watch how the cup through cup gag falls completely flat, the way a bad joke does for a comedian, and notice the comment the magician then makes in the wake of the complete and utter non-reaction he receives.