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Jason Ladanye

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Reply with quote  #1 

New blog is up! Find out more about how your character influences your material.

https://www.cardmagicbyjason.com/your-character/

Have you ever changed a routine to fit your character? 


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Mike Powers

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Hi Jason,

 Thanks for that excellent blog! It definitely is the basis of a productive thread too.

You are getting at an important lesson I learned when Eugene Burger was helping me develop a new show. At one point he said, “This a good place for the audience to get to know who you are.” That was a real revelation for me. It had never occurred to me to do that. Now, when I’m working on a show, I always keep this idea in mind.

Coincidentally I am presently working on a new show and, in fact, have paid attention to Eugene’s (and your) advice. Around one quarter into a 30-minute show, I pause to tell the audience that my straight gig in “real life” was teaching physics. I tell them that my last job was as Professor of Physics at Holy Cross College in South Bend IN. So now the audience sees me not just as a magician but as someone who has deep knowledge of how the universe works and is probably fairly intelligent.

I then offer to show how I used magic on the first day of class to create interest in the liberal arts students I was teaching. The applause cue at the end of some magic is “Any questions?” Which is perfect for the teacher persona. Also, the tricks have an underlying science theme.

Now I’m curious to see how others have used this concept.

Mike

 

 

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arthur stead

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Also, don’t forget about that moment when you can reach an audience at a deeper emotional level.  The placement of that particular effect or routine is as critical as “when to let them know who you are.”  Here are some excerpts of a rather lengthy article I wrote about it some time ago:

 Connecting with your audiences is crucial.  And in my opinion, a proven way to strive for that is to perform a routine that captures people's hearts.  There is an old saying that goes: "People may not remember what you said or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel."  Just imagine how much more memorable your presentations will be if you can touch the audience on a deeper level. 

 Much has been written on how to routine a show.  You usually start with a warm-up, then perform a "knock-out" opener.  Follow with effects which involve the audience as a whole, as well as routines with individual audience volunteers.  You'll save your solo "killer" routine for second-to-last, and finish with a big finale.  But where do you put that emotional routine (the one people will remember you for)? 

 In my music career I've been blessed to work at the very highest level, performing with major recording stars in all sorts of venues.  From clubs to theaters, TV broadcasts, stadiums, casinos and open-air shows for anything from 1,000 to 120,000 people. 

 Whether it was with Peter Frampton, The Mamas And The Papas, John Waite or Ace Frehley, we always thought long and hard about the content of our program.  Song placement is vitally important in a live performance.  Just think about it: if the momentum drops, you lose the audience's focus.  No matter how big or famous your personality, if there is a lull or awkward moment of any kind, it becomes very, very hard to recapture an audience.

 So how do you structure a show?  Obviously, you start with a bang; playing something upbeat and familiar to the audience.  The most famous songs are reserved for near the end and the encores.  But where do you put that emotionally-laden power ballad?  

 For example, with The Mamas And The Papas (for whom I was musical director and pianist), the most familiar hit songs were "Monday Monday" and "California Dreaming."  But we also had to make room for "Dedicated To The One I Love."  A beautiful ballad like that affects people emotionally.  But it also brings the tempo down, and thus calms the audience's mood.  In essence, you break down the excitement of the show to insert an inspiring moment.  This allows you to touch people's emotions.  Then you gradually create excitement again, building to a rousing climax with your most memorable songs.  For lack of a better expression, let's call this technique our "bring 'em down, build 'em up" moment. 

 I have found that in a music concert, the right place for this type of ballad is about 3/4 of the way through the show.  And this relates to magic or clown performances in exactly the same way.  The right place for that emotion-filled, inspiring skit or routine is about 3/4 of the way through your presentation. 

 You may ask, "Why do I need an emotional skit or routine?"  Because that is what people will remember forever.  There's nothing worse than seeing a magician do a series of store-bought tricks, one after the other, with no thought for how to involve the audience.  Sad to say, I've seen some pretty well-known magicians happily performing their tricks, totally unaware that they weren't connecting with their audience.  Clients have actually told me afterwards they will not invite such a performer back. 

 So, just to recap, you start your show with a strong routine.  Keep the momentum up with other interesting pieces.  When you're about 3/4 of the way through, you'll perform your inspirational skit.  This is our "bring 'em down" moment, because this routine changes the pace of the show.  After giving the audience that "warm and fuzzy" experience, you then re-build the excitement ("build 'em up"), and finish with your final, most impressive routine.

 To lead back to Mike’s comments, you may even consider merging the “letting them know who you are” moment with the “touching them emotionally” moment.  How powerful would that be?

 


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Gerald Deutsch

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Reply with quote  #4 

Perverse Magic and Sucker Tricks

 

Sucker tricks are well known. They include the Breakaway Wand and Fan, the Die Box, the Torn and Restored Napkin, the “Light-Heavy” Box, the Silk to Egg, etc, etc. What I’ve always hated about all of these is that they can embarrass a spectator in front of friends. I say something about “sucker tricks” on the Perverse Magic thread of the Genii Forum in describing my routine for “The World’s Fastest Card Trick” (see September 1, 2004):

 

“let me say something about sucker tricks

When I met my wife, Linda, she did not like magic and the reason was that when she was a little girl, she was called up to assist a magician and he made of fool out of her with his breakaway wand and fan, blaming her and embarrassing her in front of the laughing audience.

Perverse magic lets the magician be the brunt of the sucker situation. The wand and fan break is against the magician not the spectator.”

 

Having the magician, the brunt of the “sucker gag” can be used effectively in many of the above effects. For example, in the Silk To Egg effect, after showing the hollow egg shell the magician can explain that he is holding it over a dish because he has to act “as if” it was a real egg to further the illusion but unlike a real egg, he doesn’t have to worry about it breaking and making a mess--- and then he squeezes the egg and to his amazement – and the audiences’ it has somehow become a real egg.

 

That’s how I use my personality and my Perverse Magic presentation to change “sucker tricks” so that “the joke” is on me and I don’t make a fool out of an audience member.

 



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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #5 
Lots of great thinking in this thread. Keep 'em coming!

Mike
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fredreisz

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Reply with quote  #6 
I have an interest in trying to create some magic experiences for adults which probe deeper into the experiences of the depth occasions of life, including death. The show has a theological-religious bent. I have created a show for adults that combines magic and story telling. I call it "MYSTORIES: MY STORIES, MYSTERIES.  So there is an interesting flow to the show I also include some comedy. The magic complements the stories.

I am a theologian so the show reflects my passions. When I was originally creating the show I asked on a forum for magicians whether people thought I could include something on breast cancer. Almost everyone advised that I stay away from that EXCEPT Eugene Poinc. Bless his departed soul. He encouraged me. That part of the show has become one of the most meaningful portions for many women and some men in my audiences.

It is a bit difficult to find venues for this show, but I have had enough "successful" experiences with it that it motivates my continuing and also piling up material for a second edition.

Peace...Fred  (Reisz)
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JohnnyNewYork

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Reply with quote  #7 
Hello Forum Members!  Thanks Jason for posting a great thread and for all of the very insightful responses!  I happen to hear a recent interview with Shawn Farquhar which might have some bearing on this topic.  He mentioned that he performed for several years on cruise ships without having much impact on his audiences.  On one cruise, he apparently had to extend his show another hour and was FORCED to "stall" for time.  During this time he simply revealed to the audience much more information and stories about HIMSELF -- his personal life, his background, what attracted him to being a magician, etc.  The result:  in the following years he had MANY return patrons who not only remembered his magic but HIM as well, and this greatly influenced his approach to magic in the future.  In his mind that approach became a KEY factor for his success.  I think our friends here on the Forum like Rudy, Harry Lorayne, Mike Powers (just to mention a few) clearly, consistently, and "naturally" convey this type of personal warmth, not only in their performances but in their conversations and posts with others.  Thanks again to everyone who has posted here -- I'm sure we will all benefit from reading this thread -- I know I have!  johnny
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Socrates

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Reply with quote  #8 
"Knowing your character makes everything much easier! When I started out, I spent more time developing the ‘Diva’ than anything else. How does she think, what does she want? How does she speak, how does she move, what does she believe, what does she care about?
When I got to McBride’s Mystery School and performed my work in progress, I honestly couldn’t do any magic at all but I had a whole act because I’d worked on my character. Knowing your character is the most important foundation of creating a magic act and the key to putting your own spin on magic classics" - Romany, Diva of Magic
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #9 
The subject of character is an interesting one.  We all have them, whether we realize it or not.  Sometimes our character is remarkably different from our "true" persona and sometimes it is pretty much the same.  I have argued that all of us, when performing are different from when we're not.  A bit of self evaluation is in order to be able to discern who we are and who we want to be.  Studying video of yourself performing is crucial.  Asking for feedback is another helpful component.

To get the most out of your character, in addition to tricks and props, you need to look at wardrobe too.  For example, I read where Rocco Silano owns more than a dozen tailored Armani suit coats.  Obviously he wants to project a certain style.  
The wardrobe should reflect the character you wish to portray, or at least not detract from it.  I would include jewelry into the mix.  If you are going to go, then go all the way.  A "suave deceiver" wears a slim dress watch, not a G-Shock.

Another thing to consider in your choice of effects is how they jibe with your character.  Imagine Martin Nash pulling a couple of sponge bunnies out after performing a Second Deal demonstration.  I would go even further and say the choice of props should also be considered.  Take cups and balls for example.  For some characters, coffee mugs would work better than shiny copper ones.  For others, with the right motivation, the lowly Adams plastic cups might do the trick.

Once you are truly "at home" with your character, many choices become second nature.  You see or read a trick and immediately know if it is worth a second look.  You see a new prop and instantly begin to imagine the possibilities.
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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #10 
Good points RayJ. I think the starting point is answering the question "How do I want the audience to perceive me." That leads to choice of character. And that leads to choice of material, props etc. that help project that character and not contradict it.

M
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