Performing the Possible

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.
cataquet
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Performing the Possible

Postby cataquet » June 1st, 2004, 4:23 am

I had an interesting reaction last night, and it got me thinking.

I performed my usual set and when it was over, I asked people what they thought. One person (who all throughout my performance kept saying "Do that again") had an interesting observation. He was most impressed by effects that looked impromptu. That is, he liked the effects that were within the realms of "simple manipulation". So, when I did my twisting the Aces, he was impressed. But then when I revealed that the Aces had different colored backs, he thought "Some preparation must have been involved. Maybe this trick is mechanical" So, the end result is that, for him, the value of that effect was somehow weakened. In other words, he liked magic that was "believable but not impossible".

This is an interesting reaction (and to be honest, the first time I have have encountered it). However, this view goes against the very core of the type of magic that I perform. That is, when I present magic, I want to make it look "impossible" and "beyond manipulation".

I also perform mentalism. In these performances, I am very careful to make it look believable. That is, I have always rationalised that a mentalist should appear to be actually doing the stuff. So, whatever he performs has to be within the realm of possibilities (and obviously not manipulative).

On the other hand, I have always thought that a magician should (appear to) do the impossible. However, am I somehow wrong?

So, let's have your thoughts. Should I ignore this view or cater to it?

Bye for now

Harold

Robin Dawes
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Re: Performing the Possible

Postby Robin Dawes » June 2nd, 2004, 8:59 am

Hi Harold

It was nice to meet you at FFFF, and I'm delighted to meet you again here (this is my first GF posting, woohoo!)

I suspect that your post will inspire a lot of comments about the Too-Perfect Theory, and I will leave a general discussion of that topic to others.

I agree quite strongly with the viewpoint expressed by your audience member, and I think this is a flaw in a lot of commercially marketed effects. Magicians do have a tendency to add on "kicker" endings which I think actually weaken the effect.

For example, there are a number of "pick a card" tricks on the market in which at the end of the effect, after the selection has been located or otherwise identified, it is revealed that the volunteer choose the only red card in the deck (or the only non-joker in the deck, etc.) To any audience member of average intelligence, this screams out "the trick always ends exactly this way, so you didn't have a free choice". In other words, the kicker ending supplies the method. There are exceptions to this principle - Blizzard comes to mind - but in the best of these exceptions the selection of the card is undeniably free.

Similarly, we sometimes see mental effects in which a prediction of the outcome turns out to have been pre-printed on something (I mean, mechanically printed in full colour). Well, it's pretty obvious that this glimpse into the future didn't really come to you in a dream last night, isn't it?

Now I'm not advocating that we should all throw away our Insurance Policies. But we should bear in mind that when the policy is unfolded to reveal that huge picture of their card, the volunteer will not be thinking "How did that image of my card appear inside that policy?" - they will be thinking "How did he make me choose that card?" The first question would relate to an impossibility (i.e. magic) - the second relates to method.

I agree with your philosophy that as magicians, we should appear to do the impossible. In fact, my favourite definition of what we do is that we make the possible look impossible. I think a useful distinction that can be made here is whether we (appear to) do impossible things, or whether we possess objects that (appear to) do impossible things.

To use the example you gave of the twisting effect in which the backs change colour at the end, I guess we could ask what impossibilities are being simulated. It is impossible for a card sandwiched between other cards to turn over - and yet it apparently does (and then it happens again, and again, and again). It is also impossible for the colour of the back of a card to change - but is this related to the twisting? I would say that it is a separate effect.

We can speculate on what might have made the colour-changing back effect more magical for the audience member you describe. Perhaps one could motivate the colour changes in the same way that Dominique Duvivier and Boris Wild have done - by touching the cards to objects of different colours, each one picks up a new colour on its back. It would still have the "same outcome every time" problem though. Another possibility would be to have the "original" aces - i.e. the ones that you were supposedly using during the twisting effect - reappear, perhaps in a deck that matches the new back colour of the aces in play. This changes the effect from "colour changing backs" to "transposition of cards" - which to my mind is more feasible to have been achieved by skill rather than advance preparation and objects which are not what they seem. It brings the magic back to you, and removes it from the props. This is a good thing, I think.

Sorry about rambling on a bit here - I haven't completely resolved these questions in my own mind yet, so I am thinking out loud to some extent.

All the best

Robin

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Matthew Field
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Re: Performing the Possible

Postby Matthew Field » June 2nd, 2004, 9:17 am

Harold -- Some of the spectators' reaction to the after-effect you performed to "Twisting" might have been a consequence of performing a "kicker." The kicker tends to diminish the preceeding effect and adds confusion to the mix.

In addition, any kicker that is "technicolor," that is, showing that the cards have odd colored cards, provides the spekky with a convenient "out."

And r emember that the most effective card magic you will ever do is when you borrow the spectator's own deck.

Matt Field

cataquet
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Re: Performing the Possible

Postby cataquet » June 2nd, 2004, 11:34 am

For the record, my twisting ths Aces was written up by Harry Lorayne in Apocalypse as MaxiTwist X. Interestingly, even though I wrote it up for Harry with the odd backed Aces, I think he wrote it up without the odd back kicker (so that you could do the routine with a straight deck). I think he put the odd back comments in Afterthoughts. In any case, you just need four odd backed Aces in your deck. I start routine by offering the spectator a choice of cards, and then almost as an afterthought, remove the Aces.

In the context of the routine, the odd backs make sense, and the spectators always react very strongly to that kicker. Moreover, I sometimes follow this routine with Peter Kane's "Blue Angels" (which requires odd backed Aces). If I have to use a borrowed deck (and want to perform this effect), I can do the same routine (except obviously there's no odd color kicker). If I want to do "Blue Angels", I will just have the spectators sign the back of the Aces (to create the odd backs).

So, there is a kind of "logic" for the odd backs, and I can pretty much do this impromptu.

[P.S. Robin, the pleasure at FFFF was all mine. Sorry we didn't have more time to talk]

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Re: Performing the Possible

Postby Jonathan Townsend » June 2nd, 2004, 12:54 pm

Originally posted by Harold Cataquet:
...So, there is a kind of "logic" for the odd backs...
The 'twisting' effect is topological. How do you progress to a change in the back design?
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

Scott Fridinger
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Re: Performing the Possible

Postby Scott Fridinger » June 2nd, 2004, 8:25 pm

I would agree that some people's "kickers" just end up being "foot in mouth" type effects, but I would like to comment on two things posted previously in this thread

1. Robin Dawes wrote:
"It would still have the "same outcome every time" problem though."

--I would have to say that most of the time the same people are not watching me do the same tricks ever, and if they are I resolve this by changing the cards out the night before, for instance with my Red Hot Momma, every night I stick another red card into the blue deck, so that if someone would happen to see it twice it is two completely different cards. I really don't think that most spectators ever think that has to be the same thing everytime, I feel this is a magicianism. Everytime I do Ambitious Card it is the exact same and will always be that way, why would a spectator not think that it would be the same if they see it again. This is not a problem, most spectators do not analyse this indepth. Most that think at all about how it is done always seem to say the same thing, "There was some trick involved""Or it is just some kind of (sleight of hand)** type of thingy" If they are good friends I say "Thanks Captain Obvious"

** Add your favorite layman term for sleight of hand.

2. Matthew Field wrote:
"And remember that the most effective card magic you will ever do is when you borrow the spectator's own deck."

--Does everyone know laymen who carry a deck of cards with them, or is it just me? The only people I know who do are other magicians, and most of those I know would be fooled by very little, rather more impressed with technique and presentation, so I don't know how valid this point is either in the real working world, bars, tablehopping, "street" magic, Parties, etc. It is easy to say, hey do you have a dollar, but are you going to walk up to someone on the street and say, hey do you have a deck of cards? No, ok we will use mine... And even if you think doing a paying party would seem more impressive by asking to burrow the "houses" cards how would that look? (I paid this guy, and he can't even bring his own cards?????)

Anyway, these are just my opinion and really don't mean much if you disagree, that's what these boards are for, to make you think, I may change my mind next year. I do feel that it isn't the types of kickers or themes in particular which fail, it is all in the way it is presented.

And of course, I have never made a cent doing magic, and may be completely wrong about most things here.

Regards,
Scott

cataquet
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Re: Performing the Possible

Postby cataquet » June 2nd, 2004, 10:14 pm

You're right, Jonathan, but let me explain. After the spectator picks a card (and signs it), the routine begins with the naming of the Aces. Sometimes, the storyline is the A-Team, and the names are BA Baracus, Hannibal, Face and Murdock. Somtimes, the storyline is the Teletubbies, and the Aces are Dipsy, LaLa, Tinkie Winkie, and Po... Anyway, I tell the spectator to remember the names of the Aces. I then go into the twisting phase ("Did you know that the A-Team were acrobats?").. At the end of the twisting phase, I say I am going to use one Ace to find the selected card, and I have the spectator hold on to the other three Aces. The Ace is then cut into the deck, and then the "ping-pong moment" begins: I spread the deck and reveal the four Aces face up with a face down card between them. But if the Aces are on the table, what's in the spec's hands? They are the three mates to the selection, and the face down card is the selection. "By the way, did you remember the names of the Aces? No? I have a hard time remembering which is which. That's why I wrote the names on the back of the cards."

However, please don't get hung up on this effect. I meant it to illustrate the point, not be the focus of attention (or the only reason for his objection).

Let me give you another example. You could do the Invisible Deck and the spectator could rationalise that there was manipulation. As you took out the deck and spread it, you somehow managed to turn one card over. I would argue that because it was possible, he would probably like that. So, using a gimmicked deck in this context, would go right by him. However, suppose you instead did the Brainwave Deck. Here's a case where a stranger card is revealed, and the effect clearly couldn't be done with a normal deck (and therefore required some advanced preparation). So, he would argue that this effect was too impossible.

Bye for now

Harold

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Re: Performing the Possible

Postby Guest » June 3rd, 2004, 12:11 am

If I can move a little bit away from the single effects and more to the impromtu part. I read in of my books that Dai Vernon asked "what kind of effect we would do if we are real magicians"? It is really hard for me to find effects which fits for this but I found out that some effects are really strong if the spectator tells "Hey produce a glass of beer for me!" if you are than prepared for a production of a drink or a bottle, than your are the magician!
I tryed to force the audience to tell what they like to see, but in a direction where I'm prepared.

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Re: Performing the Possible

Postby Edwin Corrie » June 3rd, 2004, 9:03 am

Hi again Harold - we must stop meeting like this...

Your spectator's reaction was quite curious, although in my albeit limited experience laypeople do sometimes seem to have very different perceptions of what we do. I would have thought that if the cards are isolated in your hands the whole time (and if it's a version of Maxi Twist they probably are) then the colour change ought to be quite magical and surprising.

Do you use completely contrasting backs or just red and blue Bicycles (or whatever)? I've seen some books recommend using cards with completely different back designs in this kind of routine, but to me that really would suggest that you've slipped in a card from another deck. If you change a red Bicycle back to a blue Bicycle back it seems more like it's only the colour has changed. Yellow or green Bicycles should be even more surprising because you don't normally get yellow or green decks (unless it's true, as Paul Hallas has pointed out, that these odd colours are more interesting to magicians than they are to laypeople).

Incidentally, your routine sounds interesting. Which issue of Apocalypse is it in?

Robin Dawes wrote:
Now I'm not advocating that we should all throw away our Insurance Policies. But we should bear in mind that when the policy is unfolded to reveal that huge picture of their card, the volunteer will not be thinking "How did that image of my card appear inside that policy?" - they will be thinking "How did he make me choose that card?"

I agree entirely. Yesterday I was off work and happened to see "Marco Tempest - Virtual Magician" on TV. He did some great stuff, but there was one trick where he had a prediction in a card case and then turned round to show a huge neon display (they were in Las Vegas) with the chosen card on it. For me, the prediction in the card case was quite strong, but the giant image was a bit too unbelievable, and as you say, you start to wonder how he made you choose that card.

There was a similar trick on Channel 5's Greatest Tricks in the Universe programme, where Tufty reveals a giant image of a chosen card in a corn field, like a crop circle. Obviously it was there already - unless of course the aliens theory is true. And in one of the Max Magic programmes an image of a selection appears on a pizza that someone has just ordered.

frankw wrote:
What kind of effect we would do if we are real magicians?

In the same programme Marco Tempest asked various people what they would most wish for. Since they were in Las Vegas they all said they wanted to win lots of money, so it was the perfect lead-in to a rather nice production of a handful of dollar bills. He also did things with poker chips, a blackjack hand and a poker hand, which again were exactly the sort of thing a "real" magician would do in the circumstances.

Grant McSorley
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Re: Performing the Possible

Postby Grant McSorley » June 3rd, 2004, 9:49 am

Hi Frank,
You should check out Pit Hartling's essay on inciting challenges in his book Card Fictions.

Grant

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Matthew Field
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Re: Performing the Possible

Postby Matthew Field » June 3rd, 2004, 10:05 am

Originally posted by Scott Fridinger:
Does everyone know laymen who carry a deck of cards with them, or is it just me?
No, laymen don't carry cards with them. But they often have a deck at their homes, and I was speaking as an amateur who performs magic at parties or while visiting in their residences.

Matt Field

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Re: Performing the Possible

Postby Guest » June 3rd, 2004, 11:15 am

Hi Grant,

Isn't this a small but great book!? Very interesting! Another real master of this kind is Bill Goldman!!!

cataquet
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Re: Performing the Possible

Postby cataquet » June 6th, 2004, 9:06 am

Hiya, Edwin! The writeup for Maxi-Twist is in the November 1995 issue of Apocalypse.

On the subject of what a magician would do if you could really do magic, a appearance or vanish is probably at the top of the list. Just think how many times you have heard "Can you make my wife (or the bill) disappear?"

Bye for now

Harold

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Re: Performing the Possible

Postby Jon Allen » June 6th, 2004, 4:08 pm

I recently had an experience involving a comparison of two effects. One as Gone Fishin' by Bill Goldman (Is he *paying* for these plugs!) and the other was Runes Klane's Coin and pen routine. After the RK routine, one woman said she could understand that one because it must be sleeves and quick hands.... but on the card transposition she had no idea how it was possible.

Laymen are able to spot something that looks 'clever' with sleight of hand but throw in a gimmick and they are completely dumbfounded.

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Re: Performing the Possible

Postby Jonathan Townsend » June 6th, 2004, 5:05 pm

Originally posted by Jon Allen:
...Laymen are able to spot something that looks 'clever' with sleight of hand but ...
Emphasize the looks clever and stop while ahead. People will accept any plausible explanation to the puzzle they can invent or are led to.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

cataquet
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Re: Performing the Possible

Postby cataquet » June 7th, 2004, 3:33 am

Oversimplifying the matter, there are audience members that like magic (and don't want to know how it's done) and audience members that need to know how it could be done. In this latter category, you have the problem that ANY explanation will work. So, it's all done with "sleight of hand" just becomes a catch-all for "possible" effects.

As soon as you do something "impossible", the accusations begin to fly: the card was forced, the deck is gimmicked, you switched decks or you're using a stooge. Most of the time, these "need to know" audience members stay quiet. But, as soon as they open their mouths, you're in trouble. Even though the method is completely impractical, and completely different to the method you are using, once that method has been voiced, you will get a few people who will say "Oh yeah. That's how he did it!"

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Re: Performing the Possible

Postby Guest » June 7th, 2004, 12:53 pm

Here's an example some people may find interesting:
I was performing at a bar once for a couple from out of town. I did a card to card case as follows:

I had a selection made, and used a pass to bring it to the top. Then I did a one-handed top palm as I set the deck down, loaded the card onto the case as I picked it up, did the double-flash show, then did the luff pull out.

That sounds like a lot of "clever stuff". At the end of the routine the woman said the following: "I know it couldn't have been sleight of hand because I as watching his hands!". To me this brings up a vital point: Technique can be disguised so as to be completely indetectible. There are several very abstract factors that effect this, but the bottom line is that if you're good enough, you can fool anyone.

cataquet
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Re: Performing the Possible

Postby cataquet » June 7th, 2004, 2:02 pm

Jakob, be careful with your claims of superiority. A spectator could easily have said "You used a duplicate card. It was in the card case the whole time."

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Re: Performing the Possible

Postby Guest » June 7th, 2004, 7:16 pm

Sorry if I sounded like I was coming off as superior; that's not the point of the post. The reason the routine worked as well as it did, I believe, was that I was really in a groove when I did it, and managed not to think about my technique at all, as well as getting my timing right. I do not consider myself to be a superior sleight of hand artist by any means; the disguise was in my attitude. Also, I believe the card had been signed for a previous ambitious routine. I'm not saying that I can replicate such results consistantly. I'm simply pointing out that we often eliminate parts of (or entire) effects and routines because we believe that they are by nature undeceptive. My goal was to suggest that we concentrate more on, or at least consider, timing and attitude as disguises for technique and effects that we would otherwise reject.

cataquet
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Re: Performing the Possible

Postby cataquet » June 8th, 2004, 4:34 am

Now I understand your point, Jakob. However, my attempted thread topic (there have been many tangents) is that the point that this spectator made was that he liked magic where the EFFECT looked impromptu and was possible via sleight of hand (we can ignore the ACTUAL method).

So, the woman in your example (with the signed card in the box) could have concluded that you managed to get the card in the box when she wasn't looking, and credited you with great skill. However, if that card had appeared on the other side of the room (in an aquarium in a sealed bottle!) that would be have been too impossible. So, although a great effect, the spectator would conclude that there are clearly other "bits" (co-conspirators, gimmicks, etc) at work.

I am not talking about whether spectators actually voice an opinion during the performance. Nor am I talking about the "too perfect" theory, although there is a relationship.

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Re: Performing the Possible

Postby Jonathan Townsend » June 8th, 2004, 5:26 am

Originally posted by Harold Cataquet:
...where the EFFECT looked impromptu and was possible via sleight of hand ...
And there is the trap.

It might be preferable for the thing to seem impossible and have no tells as to any method.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

cataquet
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Re: Performing the Possible

Postby cataquet » June 8th, 2004, 7:39 am

EXACTLY, Jonathan!! That's the dilemma.

On the one hand, you have the "do the possible" and allow the audience to go home with the satisfaction of "it's all done with sleight of hand" explanation. On the other hand, you have the "do the impossible" and have the audience go home with their Heath Robinson solutions. Moreover, in the former case, the magician gets the credit for the magic; in the latter case, the props get the credit! :eek:

Note that, in either instance, the ACTUAL method is irrelevant. Someone can just dismiss James Lewis's "Coins through Glass Table" as being done with a trick table, or credit you with great sleight of hand when you have just done the invisible deck.

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Re: Performing the Possible

Postby Ray Eden » June 8th, 2004, 9:29 am

Coming in late here, but I also agree that too much is too much. But sometimes there are ways around the 'too much'. I'm quite fond of performing Daryl's 'Chamelion Cards' which go through numerous face and color changes. I have found that the fact that I hand the cards out as 'keepsakes' after the routine really floors the audience since no gimmicks are used.

Ray Eden

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Re: Performing the Possible

Postby Guest » June 8th, 2004, 12:38 pm

A good tactic is to look at your own routines from the spec's viewpoint, and try to figure out what explanations they are likely to come up with, then find a way to shoot each of those down. Paul Harris' Illusion is a good example of this. The selection is seen between the two jacks up until the last second, then vanishes leaving no trace. If done well (and it is hard), the psectators have to believe that it was there. It is then revealed face up in the deck with a ribbon spread. The only explanation a spec is likely to go to is a dupe. Turn your spread, and you're left with a perfect piece of magical theater. Also note that even if they somehow latch onto the idea that you used a dupe (I've never had this happen), you still have the impact of the initial vanish.

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Re: Performing the Possible

Postby Scott Fridinger » June 8th, 2004, 4:00 pm

All Magic should seem impossible, or it wouldn't be magic....

This is what we need to have the Spec.'s believe.

And we need to finish strong and keep up the conversation/performance to not give them a chance to put their 2 cents in about how it is done.

We can not control what is said, or what analysis is done when we leave. There will always be those Specs. who think they know something, even if it was real magic.

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Re: Performing the Possible

Postby Michael Kamen » June 8th, 2004, 8:33 pm

Originally posted by Scott Fridinger:
. . . There will always be those Specs. who think they know something, even if it was real magic.
This seems to be a highly insightful remark. If you WERE a "real magician" is there any doubt that some, perhaps many, would look for a trick to discredit your "real magic?"

Can this kind of spectator behavior automatically be considered symptomatic of some failure of performance?
Michael Kamen

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Re: Performing the Possible

Postby Pete McCabe » June 8th, 2004, 11:34 pm

From a dramatic perspective, twisting the aces is an effective demonstration of magical powers because the power is demonstrated repeatedly, and so the spectator has a chance to watch more and more closely, eliminating possible other explanations. However if a color change is revealed at the end, all at once, the audience doesn't get a chance to eliminate possible explanations. So the shock value is very high, but the surprise can tend to mute the sense of impossibility, because they weren't on the lookout for that sort of thing.

That said, I think it is a very bad idea to consider an effect from the spectator's perspective and try to imagine what explanations they will come up with, then change the trick to eliminate those possibilities.

You will get a much better return, I am sure, if you direct your energy toward creating a presentation that is so compelling, the audience doesn't even think about method until after the performance. After the sensation of magic has subsided. At this point it doesn't matter what possible answers they come up with.

Watch Penn and Teller and listen to the people around you. Every now and then you'll hear someone asking "How did they do that" during the lull in between tricks. Mostly you hear it, when you do, at intermission. And the person being asked never has any idea, because they never even thought about it during the trick.

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Re: Performing the Possible

Postby mrgoat » June 9th, 2004, 6:25 am

Originally posted by Pete McCabe:
From a dramatic perspective, twisting the aces is an effective demonstration of magical powers because the power is demonstrated repeatedly, and so the spectator has a chance to watch more and more closely, eliminating possible other explanations.
I think I got it from my Uncle, but I do twisting the aces as a lesson. I start teaching them the 'twist' move. When they get it, I go on to do the effect as usual, except for the final ace. I do two elmsleys saying nothing happens when i try to do this. Then say 'but if i hand the cards to my brilliant new assistant...' hand them the cards and get them to do the final twist. The climax is in their hands - as it were.

I think that's a great way of presenting it. If it wasn't my Uncle is was probably Fred Robinson or Terry Guyatt's idea. Whoever thought of it, it's great. :)

Goatypoo

Edwin Corrie
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Re: Performing the Possible

Postby Edwin Corrie » June 10th, 2004, 12:50 am

Just a quick thank-you to Harold for the Apocalypse reference. I will look it up tonight.

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Re: Performing the Possible

Postby Pete McCabe » June 10th, 2004, 12:17 pm

Mr. Goat,

In Strong Magic, Darwin Ortiz describes his own climax, in which he shows the aces all face down then puts them in the card box. The last ace turns over inside the box.

These types of things are great examples of dramatizing the effect.

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Re: Performing the Possible

Postby Guest » June 10th, 2004, 7:35 pm

>>On the other hand, I have always thought that a
>>magician should (appear to) do the impossible.
>>However, am I somehow wrong?

Are you somehow wrong? Perhaps. Though perhaps not (there are different right answers for everyone.)

I just penned a 3 page essay on "Plausible Presentations" (this can be found in the latest revision of my "Connjuring" notes.)

Here's an excerpt:

It's possible to increase impact by decreasing impossibility. Likewise, you can make an effect more believable by revealing a (false) method. These thoughts may go against the grain (isn't magic supposed to be miraculously impossible?) But if you keep an open mind, you may find it's possible to break a few rules and come away with a stronger performance piece.

Instead of woofle dust and magic words , offer something your audience can relate to (and believe in.) For instance, when vanishing a coin, I never say "The coin has vanished into thin air!" Instead, I may proclaim to "shrink the coin until it's too small to see." Vanishing is impossible... Shrinking is plausible, but still amazing.

<snip>

The essay continues with a 1/2 dozen examples of how this theory can be applied (Scientific, Super-human, False Expose', Employing Other Arts Forms, etc.)

Sidenote:

Rick Johnson's "Too Perfect Theory" (Hierophant) and / or Juan Tamariz' theory of "False Solutions" (The Magic Way) have some interesting thoughts on the subject.

2 cents spent,
Doug Conn

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Re: Performing the Possible

Postby Bill Duncan » June 10th, 2004, 10:55 pm

Doug makes a good point. Try taking one of those tiny quarters (like the ones Roth uses in The Funnel) and jam it between your fingers at the root.

Them borrow a quarter, do a vanish and ditch the coin. Show the coin has "apparently" disappeared and then "expose" the secret by plucking the coin from the concealment and dropping it into their hands. Replace their quarter with one of "your own" as you don't want them in trouble with the feds.

The uniqueness of the tiny coin and the surreal nature of the explaination should overcome the worries about method. It's not just that it's more possible... It's also more interesting.

I think the problem is that audience members will always come up with a method if they feel a NEED to have an answer. With luck what I have to say, and the interaction I create will have made the "how" less important or interesting than the what.

Watch Tommy Wonder's performance of Magic Ranch on the Visions of Wonder video. No one seems to case HOW the egg appears out in the open. They're too interested in Dianna's reaction, her funny adlib and the looks on other people's faces.

Jonathan Townsend
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Re: Performing the Possible

Postby Jonathan Townsend » June 11th, 2004, 4:35 am

Originally posted by Bill Duncan:
Doug makes a good point. Try taking one of those tiny quarters (like the ones Roth uses in The Funnel) and jam it between your fingers at the root.

Them borrow a quarter, do a vanish and ditch the coin. Show the coin has "apparently" disappeared and then ...
Wait a sec. Why not just leave the tiny thing in your hand, and act as if it's too small for them to see, even though they can.

Then you could just proceed as if the coin were gone, and with noticeable guile dispose of the tiny thing...

sort of a Wild Wild Planet approach :eek: without using a full length raincoat.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

Guest

Re: Performing the Possible

Postby Guest » June 11th, 2004, 9:20 am

With luck what I have to say, and the interaction I create will have made the "how" less important or interesting than the what.
True... true...
Note: I'm not suggesting the "Plausible Presentation" approach should be used for every effect. But, if/when used I do think it will make other magical moments more powerful... (and less suspicious.)
I think the problem is that audience members will always come up with a method if they feel a NEED to have an answer.
In the forementioned essay, I also mention:

When your audience believes an effect to be "plausible" they won't spend energy trying to deduce a method.

Speaking of Tommy Wonder... On that same vid, take a look at the needle & thread trick. This is (basically) what I'm talking about. ("ask my mother... she knows." I LOVE that line.)

Another WONDERFUL example is in Bill Duncan's Spellbound routine (from "Tubthumping".)

Bill Duncan
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Re: Performing the Possible

Postby Bill Duncan » June 11th, 2004, 11:51 pm

That trick (or rather seeing TW perform it) taught me an important lesson.

Never doubt Tommy Wonder.

I had read the trick several times and decided it was a nice personality piece that he did to create a convivial atmosphere in intimate performances and not really a magical effect.

Never doubt Tommy Wonder.

cataquet
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Re: Performing the Possible

Postby cataquet » June 12th, 2004, 4:02 am

Bill and Doug make excellent points. For me, I had always associated those who viewed magic as a puzzle, as being those that NEEDED to have an explanation of the method.

Recently, I have discovered that there are those that need to have an explanation, because they half believe that magic exists. So, during a performance, they love the magic (and believe!). However, afterwards, they begin to have their doubts, and they really need confirmation that it was "just a trick". The guy that I mentioned in my opening statement was such a person.

Guest

Re: Performing the Possible

Postby Guest » June 12th, 2004, 8:47 am

I think the modern magician must accept that magic has changed; especially over the past five decades. As magic's population grows, so does the # of incompetent performers (and therefore, the # of speks that will no longer believe.) If we could ALL be believable (ala' T.Wonder) this wouldn't be an issue... Alas, the tide is turning the other direction. Like it or not: in this day/age most folks realise that magic is not "real."

How you choose to combat this issue is up to you (as I've said before; there are right answers for everyone.) It's an 'issue' that must be considered... to ignore it, is to be part of the problem.

My goal: To suspend disbelief during the performance & to deliver a nonconfrontational
persona (that, hopefully, will alleviate retrograde analysis.)


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