Are magicians mostly universally disliked?

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Conrejour
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Are magicians mostly universally disliked?

Postby Conrejour » January 10th, 2019, 4:00 am

I came across an interesting piece regarding magicians being “ mostly reviled “ in an article by Karl Puschmann in the New Zealand Herald I would be interested to hear fellow magicians opinions on this .......


From the piece in question .....
Penn & Teller are no easy marks for show’s illusionist hopefuls.
For a group who have dedicated their lives to filling others with a childlike sense of awe and wonder, magicians are a mostly reviled lot. But what is it about them that we find so unsavoury?

Is it the shiny clothes? Maybe it's their bizarre predilection for sawing perfectly whole women in half? Or is it the inevitable pencil goatee that's barely scratching out a foul existence around their yammering mouths?

I don't know. But after thinking about magicians for far longer than any non-magician should, I think it all comes down to the fact that no one likes to be made a fool of. And that's exactly what the best magicians do.......


My own opinion is that magic and magicians come in for an awful amount of flak by the media in general and maybe this is because we see so many average and so so performances on the countless amount of tv talent shows which seem to be about nowadays.

Penn and Tellers show may balance things out again as the magic and magicians taking part are truly first class.
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jason156
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Re: Are magicians mostly universally disliked?

Postby jason156 » January 10th, 2019, 5:25 am

Do you have a link to this article, I would like to read it in it's entirety, but are you sure the piece wasn't meant to be mostly humorous? The only group of people I recall being universally disliked were lawyers/politicians.

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Re: Are magicians mostly universally disliked?

Postby Conrejour » January 10th, 2019, 6:13 am

jason156 wrote:Do you have a link to this article, I would like to read it in it's entirety, but are you sure the piece wasn't meant to be mostly humorous? The only group of people I recall being universally disliked were lawyers/politicians.



Sure , here’s the link.The author seems to like Penn and Teller in his kind of way but not magicians as a whole ........https://www.nzherald.co.nz/entertainmen ... d=11518449


He is not alone in this opinion which a quick perusal of the internet will verify here is anther lengthier piece in a similar vein....

https://thesciencepresenter.wordpress.c ... ate-magic/



Lawyers , politicians yes I agree I would also add clowns to that list :D
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Jack Shalom
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Re: Are magicians mostly universally disliked?

Postby Jack Shalom » January 10th, 2019, 7:59 am

It just seems like a hook to base his favorable review of Penn & Teller on. Nothing more. Kind of lazy.

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: Are magicians mostly universally disliked?

Postby Richard Kaufman » January 10th, 2019, 11:38 am

The "gotcha" way in which magic is sometimes presented is off-putting to many people.

People love magic if they're not made to feel foolish by the magician.
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Re: Are magicians mostly universally disliked?

Postby MagicbyAlfred » January 10th, 2019, 11:47 am

Richard Kaufman wrote:The "gotcha" way in which magic is sometimes presented is off-putting to many people.

People love magic if they're not made to feel foolish by the magician.


Completely agree. Being able to fool people without making a fool of them is an art in and of itself. It is widely overlooked - probably by the vast majority of magicians. It entails an understanding of human nature and basic psychology, and requires tact and diplomacy.

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Re: Are magicians mostly universally disliked?

Postby Conrejour » January 10th, 2019, 11:53 am

Richard Kaufman wrote:The "gotcha" way in which magic is sometimes presented is off-putting to many people.

People love magic if they're not made to feel foolish by the magician.



Yes a charming magician who presents magic as entertainment is nearly always liked .


I’ve found that men seem to love magic more than women and if given the choice women would much prefer a good palm reading :D
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Re: Are magicians mostly universally disliked?

Postby MagicbyAlfred » January 10th, 2019, 12:59 pm

Conrejour Wrote: "I’ve found that men seem to love magic more than women and if given the choice women would much prefer a good palm reading."

I was once engaged to perform at a Super Bowl party in Jupiter, Florida. At halftime, the men were primarily engrossed in a heated discussion about events in the first half and predictions of what was to come. Meanwhile, in an adjacent room, I was making my own predictions - except I was being paid for mine. Specifically, I was performing a pet routine where 4 cards are taken from the deck, one at a time, seemingly at random, or upon my whim. Each card, in turn, was then placed into the woman's hand, face-down, accompanied by my interpretation of it's meaning for her life, i.e. cold reading.

After all 4 seemingly indifferent cards were sitting in her hand, I pointed out that each card had a special meaning for her (she was intensely into this, by the way), but I then explained that the four cards, taken as a whole, also had their own special meaning. The cards were then turned over to reveal the 4 aces, with my tag line, that, "This is going to be your luckiest year ever!" Within minutes of performing this, I noticed a line of women that stretched out into the hallway (no men), waiting to have their fortunes read. Not one of them mentioned the astonishing 4-ace denouement; they were all, without exception, fixated on me "reading their fortune," as I had done for the woman who had obviously spread the word...

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Re: Are magicians mostly universally disliked?

Postby Conrejour » January 10th, 2019, 1:24 pm

MagicbyAlfred wrote:Conrejour Wrote: "I’ve found that men seem to love magic more than women and if given the choice women would much prefer a good palm reading."

I was once engaged to perform at a Super Bowl party in Jupiter, Florida. At halftime, the men were primarily engrossed in a heated discussion about events in the first half and predictions of what was to come. Meanwhile, in an adjacent room, I was making my own predictions - except I was being paid for mine. Specifically, I was performing a pet routine where 4 cards are taken from the deck, one at a time, seemingly at random, or upon my whim. Each card, in turn, was then placed into the woman's hand, face-down, accompanied by my interpretation of it's meaning for her life, i.e. cold reading.

After all 4 seemingly indifferent cards were sitting in her hand, I pointed out that each card had a special meaning for her (she was intensely into this, by the way), but I then explained that the four cards, taken as a whole, also had their own special meaning. The cards were then turned over to reveal the 4 aces, with my tag line, that, "This is going to be your luckiest year ever!" Within minutes of performing this, I noticed a line of women that stretched out into the hallway (no men), waiting to have their fortunes read. Not one of them mentioned the astonishing 4-ace denouement; they were all, without exception, fixated on me "reading their fortune," as I had done for the woman who had obviously spread the word...




Great story Alfred , I remember reading an article by Annemann where he stated that it didn’t matter who the magician was once someone says he’s a palm or tarot reader the magicians are fighting a lost cause with the women anyway.

Many years ago when I did a lot of palm / tarot readings I noted after a while not one man ever asked for a reading yet as you rightly state women would line up around the block to have their fortune told.
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Roger M.
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Re: Are magicians mostly universally disliked?

Postby Roger M. » January 10th, 2019, 1:33 pm

Unfortunately, you also have to take into account the tens of thousands of children's and restaurant magicians who may not regularly "wow" folks with their efforts.
Combine the above with the untold hundreds of thousands of amateur magicians performing under-rehearsed effects for family and friends at home.
And these are the magicians 99% of people actually ever see in a lifetime.

It's a relatively minuscule number of people that have seen (or ever will see) a truly professional magician.
If you don't live in New York or LA, if you don't travel to Las Vegas, or if you don't happen to catch David Copperfield on tour ... there's a good chance that you've never actually seen a truly world class magician.

Not to say there aren't local magicians who are excellent ... just to say most folks probably haven't seen them.

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Re: Are magicians mostly universally disliked?

Postby Anthony Vinson » January 10th, 2019, 4:56 pm

Roger makes good points. As did Richard earlier. Personally I have always thought that the seeming universal disdain for magicians in general had something to do with our insularity; we have secrets and refuse to share them upon request. This creates the illusion that we are smug and detached. After all, practically any guitarist asked, "How'd you do that?" would happily reply, "It was a standard progression in the Key of C. Would you like me to show you?" Ask a magician the same question and what do you get? Sarcasm or some inscrutable reply about having to commit murder upon revelation most likely. Yeah, that'd put people off.

Av

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Re: Are magicians mostly universally disliked?

Postby MagicbyAlfred » January 10th, 2019, 7:20 pm

Secrets are not the stock and trade of a guitarist, so what would they care about telling someone how it was done? If people ask me how something was done, I actually tell them that I am bound by the magicians code, which I swore to abide by when I was 6 years old and started out as a magician, and which prohibits 2 things, (1) disclosure of the secret and (2) repeating a trick for the same audience. Amazingly, virtually everyone I tell this to seems to take it seriously, and to understand and respect it.

But if a magician gives a sarcastic answer or even jokingly makes reference to having to kill the spectator who asked, then the magician more than deserves disdain. This goes to my point earlier, which has also been made by others here, respect, tact, diplomacy and good manners are hugely important in our relationship with the audience. I can't control how people feel about magicians in general, but I do have a lot of influence on how they feel about me. Remember the old adage: "If they like you, they will like your magic."

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Re: Are magicians mostly universally disliked?

Postby Conrejour » January 11th, 2019, 5:12 am

MagicbyAlfred wrote:Secrets are not the stock and trade of a guitarist, so what would they care about telling someone how it was done? If people ask me how something was done, I actually tell them that I am bound by the magicians code, which I swore to abide by when I was 6 years old and started out as a magician, and which prohibits 2 things, (1) disclosure of the secret and (2) repeating a trick for the same audience. Amazingly, virtually everyone I tell this to seems to take it seriously, and to understand and respect it.

But if a magician gives a sarcastic answer or even jokingly makes reference to having to kill the spectator who asked, then the magician more than deserves disdain. This goes to my point earlier, which has also been made by others here, respect, tact, diplomacy and good manners are hugely important in our relationship with the audience. I can't control how people feel about magicians in general, but I do have a lot of influence on how they feel about me. Remember the old adage: "If they like you, they will like your magic."



I remember many years ago my wife being picked on by a magician who while doing a card trick asked her “ Can you tell one card from another “ she replied yes “ ok , what’s the other ?” when he finished his show off four ace effect he said “ you’re probably wondering how I did that , well the answer is .....very well “

Since then she’s had a life long detestation of magicians clowns come a close second :D
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Anthony Vinson
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Re: Are magicians mostly universally disliked?

Postby Anthony Vinson » January 11th, 2019, 9:03 am

MagicbyAlfred wrote:Secrets are not the stock and trade of a guitarist, so what would they care about telling someone how it was done? If people ask me how something was done, I actually tell them that I am bound by the magicians code, which I swore to abide by when I was 6 years old and started out as a magician, and which prohibits 2 things, (1) disclosure of the secret and (2) repeating a trick for the same audience. Amazingly, virtually everyone I tell this to seems to take it seriously, and to understand and respect it.


Yes, and, I think you reiterate my point. I was not drawing a comparison between magicians and guitarists, but rather highlighting the difference between the two in regards to how they are perceived when asked to share their knowledge. I agree with you that most laypeople, when asking us how something is done, are satisfied and even respectful of our answers when those answers are sincere and not sarcastic. But how many of us have heard those stock, at least semi-sarcastic, responses tossed out like plastic beads at Mardi Gras? "Very well!" "I'd tell you but I would have to [fill in the blank]" "How much is it worth to you?" As you rightly note, those sorts of replies are certain to elicit defensive reactions in most cases. And while blaming those who deliver the lines is warranted, it is important, I think, to ask where they learned them, don't you think?

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Re: Are magicians mostly universally disliked?

Postby MagicbyAlfred » January 11th, 2019, 9:36 am

Yes, I agree with your points, AV. And I would add that equally, if not more important than asking them where they learned those lines and blaming them for using them, would be to ask them why they have decided to parrot them. As Socrates said, "The unexamined life is not worth living." (or was that Plato? I guess those guys were essentially one and the same).

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Re: Are magicians mostly universally disliked?

Postby Bill Marquardt » January 11th, 2019, 12:08 pm

There seems to be a lot of disdain toward magic and magicians on television going back at least fifty years. I remember a Patty Duke Show (yes, I am that old) where a girl called someone to come over and rescue her teenage party that had sunk to the level of "Marty doing his stupid magic tricks."

The Wolowitz character on The Big Bang Theory is constantly being derided for his childish magic hobby. For example:

"You always make fun of Howie's magic."

- "I never made fun of his magic."

"Well, you should because it's stupid."


There are a great many more examples from many shows.

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Re: Why are magicians mostly universally disliked?

Postby Brad Jeffers » January 11th, 2019, 4:24 pm


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Re: Are magicians mostly universally disliked?

Postby MagicbyAlfred » January 11th, 2019, 5:09 pm

The contemporary shows, however (e.g. Fool Us, America's Got Talent), have arguably improved the public image of magicians. And most of the magicians I have seen on these shows are personable and gracious, and do not engage in the corny weisenheimer sarcasm and insulting lines that have likely contributed significantly to the disdain of magicians. These shows, as well as movies such as Now You See Me and The Illusionist (the latter being one of my fave flicks ever), have brought magic more to the forefront in the public eye and are responsible for a real shot of adrenaline in stimulating peoples' interest in magic. I constantly have people asking me if I have seen Shin Lim and other performers on T.V., expressing their admiration for them, and asking what do I think of them.

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Re: Are magicians mostly universally disliked?

Postby pabloin us » January 13th, 2019, 10:54 am

I am personally more a spectator than a performer, and I enjoy magic since I was a kid, now I am 62. Like many of you I have seen few of the big names ex Copperfield and the non so big names, ex party magician. And while I enjoy most of all magician there are behaviors and other things that put me off and make me dislike a particular magician. This is my experience in hiring magician for children birthday or adult birthdays, watching local magician in schools or small theaters. Not the Copperfield, Penn&Teller shows.

Things that help with the dislike in no order
1) The tricks are good the theatrical presentation is lousy. As a performing art, music, costume, blocking, etc. are many times bad. The magician is not a performer, the music is an IPOD on a speaker not in full sync with the action, the lighting is poor or lacking, the moves are unnatural (not just the magic moves, the walking, balancing, etc.)
2) The props are cheap and lack maintenance, so you can see chips and rips and you can tell the prop was put together by an amateur in the back of his house. the Magic could be nice, the props make you feel you are watching a cheap act (This also happens in local children theatre). Also in some cases the Cases where the props are transported are old, wore out and some time rip or broken, the famous Dr's bags bought in a thrift store
3) Hygiene and clothing, many magicians with dirty nail, or bitten nails, costume missing buttons or the pants, shirt and vest are a mixed up of hand me down clothes, not necessarily clean. The shoes are black sneakers (it could be the guy is on his feet for a long time and want to be comfortable), however there are best option, just look at Teller red shoes as an example of a compromised shoe, there are cheaper alternatives.
4) Some routines are too long too cumbersome to keep the interest, maybe technically great but people lost attention. This is mostly card tricks. As an example, having born in Argentina I was able to watch Lavand twice in a small theatre in the beach city where I used to go. I love Lavand anything and everything, however my wife got bore very fast with the long story telling, and she was not the only one, you can tell that some of his routines were long for the audience (oil&water) the 3 burn crumbs and the poem, while others ex The Greek were lots of applause. The second time I saw him I went on my own, my wife did not have interest.
Linking rings (the big ones) is an example of sometimes being too long "this is a house" "this is an arrow", etc. C&B is another one that could drag too long if you are not careful.
5) Personality, few are very abrasive, some are harsh with the spectator ex. "you are a fool" some are too hype (I can not stand Sankey's personality in his DVDs or the way that Gazzo treats the public, in this case I would keep walking) I think some people negatively react to certain personalities and behaviors.

Not sure what is the root cause of the issue, but not realizing that magic is a performing act and not a demonstration of skills I think goes on top

Just my 2 cents from the spectator perspective.

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Re: Are magicians mostly universally disliked?

Postby MagicbyAlfred » January 13th, 2019, 3:09 pm

Pabloin us: i enjoyed reading your post and I agree with everything you wrote. How in the world can magicians expect to be loved (or at least liked) and respected by the people they perform for if they do not even take enough pride in themselves to dress well, exercise good grooming and hygiene, develop engaging (not long-winded, self-indulgent) presentations, use nice props with eye appeal, exhibit good manners, graciousness and respect for the audience (no insulting or corny lines) and utilize good showmanship and theatrics?

It seems to me that you may have a background in the theater, but if not, then you certainly have the sensibilities of a theatrical artist and a knowledge of the important difference between good and bad taste

Are you familiar with Darnel Fitzkee's book, Showmanship for Magicians? He makes several of the points that you have made. IMHO, reading that book would raise the consciousness and performance/theatrical abilities of any magician...

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Re: Are magicians mostly universally disliked?

Postby pabloin us » January 13th, 2019, 5:58 pm

Thank you ALfred, I have Friskee's books.

I don't recall if in the Wonder's book or somewhere else (Bauer's?) that I read that actors, have directors, stage managers, scripts, lighting specialist, costume managers, make up artist and so on (of course in several levels of importance or skills), but in general a magician does not (Copperfield, P&T, and few others do), because of the lacking of those professionals in some cases the magician is not aware of the need or if he does it himself he is not very skilled and failed.

Also I recalled Penn Jillet, telling that the suits they wear, I think they are Armani now, he said that they are not Suits, like you or I would buy, but costumes that looks like suits and in the 2 hours show, he changed the suit (costume) for the spectator he is still dressed the same but actually they are now wearing a suit that has different holdouts or breaks in the cloth that allow for passing things among them.

Anyway Magic is so nice to watch that the more the magician perfect their act the more people would enjoy it.


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