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Gerald Deutsch

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I do“Impromptu Close Up Magic” – that is I do magic often when unexpected – but only if I think the time is right.

 

Much of my magic is done at a dinner table while having a meal with someone.

 

This happened a few nights ago when my wife and I, traveling on Amtrak from Florida to New York found ourselves in the dining car seated opposite a very seasoned and well traveled woman.

 

The subject of hobbies came up and I just mentioned that I do magic as a hobby.

 

The woman then said that she likes up close magic rather than stage magic.

 

“You mean like this?” I said as I picked up a sugar packet and tossed it into the air  where it vanished.

 

She was, of course fooled and she seemed to love magic.

 

A few minutes later rolls were served and we chatted about other things.

 

“Hey, this looks weird,” I said as I picked up my roll.

 

With my hands clearly empty, I started to break apart the roll and there in the center was – a quarter.

 

“I don’t understand this!” I said as I put the quarter in my pocket as the woman was amazed knowing it was a magic effect.

 

That was all – I have learned that too often a magician doesn’t know when to stop

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Socrates

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Reply with quote  #2 
A french buddy of mine likes to perform the Balducci levitation at bus-stops, and other public places. He doesn't announce what he is going to do he just does it. He tells me it is pleasurable for him to see people's reactions.

He says "They do a double take and it adds a little bit of color to their day"
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MikeIkirt

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Socrates
A french buddy of mine likes to perform the Balducci levitation at bus-stops, and other public places. He doesn't announce what he is going to do he just does it. He tells me it is pleasurable for him to see people's reactions. He says "They do a double take and it adds a little bit of color to their day"


That's been my approach.  I don't stand at the bar and yell "OK, time for the magic show!"  I generally just put something into the conversation.  I do have a couple patrons that know that I (try to) perform magic, and they ask me every time they come in if I have anything new.
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Gerald Deutsch

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A magician – whether paid or not paid – that is hired for an event should have a routine that is planned where one effect logically follows another. In such cases one effect is probably not enough but the magician should have a planned routine that ends before he bores his audience.

 

There are times, however, that call for “Impromptu Close Up Magic” – that is, as I said above, magic done when unexpected – (but only if I think the time is right).

 

I was visiting a doctor and I had recently become his patient.  Our conversation went something like this:

 

“Doctor________I understand you used to practice at ___________hospital.”

 

“Why yes, I did.”

 

“I used to be a volunteer at that hospital. I did magic for the children every month.”

 

“You do magic?”

 

“Well, yes I do.”

 

“Show me something.”

 

“Give me your pen.”

 

“Here.”

 

“Hold out your hand.”

 

I held the pen between my thumb and fingers of my right hand and brought it over his open hand. My open left hand slapped the top of my right hand and a quarter fell into his hand.

 

The time was right – the trick was quick – and was enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #5 
Being ready before people even know you're a magician can lead to very magical moments, as in your example.

If someone I'm with tells another person that I'm a magician, I try to secretly get a coin ready for production. That way, if I'm asked to do a trick I don't have to look for a prop. The magic really seems organic.

It's the difference between "Hi. I'm a magician. Could I show you a trick? Cool." Then you produce a coin. OR - "Mike this is my friend Carla. (hands go into pockets to get coin palmed). Carla, Mike is a magician!" Carla says "That's cool. How long have you been doing that? Can you show me a trick...." BAM.

One is contrived. The other is organic.

Having an invisible thread loop on your wrist is great too. You can get set up and if asked to do "something" you can make a fork move. Or make a knife rotate while balanced on the ketchup bottle etc. The feeling of spontaneity magnifies the feeling of magic. 

Mike
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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #6 
The Evil One described this sort of organic performance in his report on the 5 Tricks in One Week Challenge thread. I took a similar approach for one of my challenge performances. Lots of fun, and something I intend to keep trying.

Gerald's description, along with Dan's in the above mentioned thread, make me want to work on my Striking Vanish and be prepared for ye olde coin from pen cap! Thing is, I always had trouble with the timing of that thing and more often than not ended up with the venerable fly coin illusion...
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Robert McGee

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Reply with quote  #7 
Martin Gardeners Impromptu Magic which is hard to find or Diamond Jim Tyler's Bamboozlers series which has similar material.
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Bmat

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Reply with quote  #8 
Haunted key.  it is attached to my key ring.  People often ask about it.  Boom! done. 
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Socrates

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Reply with quote  #9 
Michael Weber's book 'Lifesavers' is definitely worth a read... it's certainly gets the brain-cells firing and inspires you to think creatively about the subject.  

A lot of magicians, when asked, seem to be in a rush to perform.  Even the simplest of magic can get the most outrageous responses if you know how to build an atmosphere of expectation. If you give it up straight away, it's "easy come, easy go" as they say... remember people value the things they invest in; be that time, or money.  That's another reason it is worth reading a simple book on sales - I recently heard Daniel Garcia recommending the 'One Minute Salesperson' by Spencer Johnson. 

It's also worth suiting the magic to the person, or persons you're performing for.  That means learning a little more about the people, contemplating their responses and considering what piece of magic is most fitting to them and the situation. This is much more sensible than just busting out your 'Killer' effect, remember it's like Cinderella's shoe - one size does not fit all - so custom-fitting the magic is key. 

David Berglas has some great advice regarding performing magic and tricks:

When people ask what trick is important, I always say, "Only one - personality"

Consider how you would perform magic using only your personality ... are you still a magician minus your tricks and props?
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #10 
One of the very best things you can do impromptu when asked is a cup routine.  Grab any cup, a glass with a little weight is nice, but not necessary.  Then borrow a napkin.  Cover the cup in the standard fashion with the napkin, but make sure it is not folded up into the cup.  Fashion a couple of balls out of dollar bills.  Only let the audience know about one of them.  You can now do a "chop cup" routine without the gaff and instead of a large load at the end, make the cup disappear.  Obviously helpful if you are seated!

If you have access to loads such as a lemon, lime or apple, great, add that to the mix.

But the point is you can do a whole routine with appearances, vanishes and the final disappearance of the glass.  

You could up the ante by creating an impromptu chop cup by wearing a PK ring and having a steel shim you can wrap up into a dollar bill.  Then you can really blow their minds.  
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MagicTK

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Reply with quote  #11 
One impromptu thing I did many years ago was because I forgot my TT.  It was at a kid's birthday party, and I had grabbed my small blue silk... I couldn't find my TT...  So, I did some standard moves, and at one point a kid said, "I know how you do this! You have a..."  Then I pushed it in my hand and a moment later showed it vanished from my left hand and appeared in my right.  I very fairly handed him the silk, so he could see nothing.  He was quiet after that.  Now I love doing this TT-less move with a small square bar napkin.  Totally impromptu.  It plays well.  Sometimes I can drop it without them knowing and show it has truly vanished.

Ray, I really like those cup ideas.

Tom
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Chris Karim

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Reply with quote  #12 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Powers
...

Having an invisible thread loop on your wrist is great too. You can get set up and if asked to do "something" you can make a fork move. Or make a knife rotate while balanced on the ketchup bottle etc. The feeling of spontaneity magnifies the feeling of magic. 

Mike


Oh my gosh, having a loop on, or easily available, lends itself to SO MANY possibilities.  I've always got loops in a little self-made holder made out of business cards in my wallet.  However, I almost never carry a wallet these days (I have a phone case that carries enough to hold onto true essentials, commuter card, ID, and a single credit card).  So, I stash loops by storing them around drawer handles at work, home, even friends' houses at parties so I can grab another when one breaks.  This is such a good tool and falls into the Lifesavers discussion around impromptu versus improvised magic.

Ok, moving on from that (it was such a good tip from Mike), I perform with more of a mental flair these days, so drawing duplications are a standard fair.  Rubber band magic seems like a hit with my son and his friends (the under 10 crowd).  But these are generally outside of planned performances.  I just wrote in another thread but my son had a birthday party recently.  It was at Q-Zar (laser tag) and we were on the pizza and cake break.  Kids were getting restless so I just sort of "noticed something strange" and started pulling the rubber band through fingers, etc.  Total hit and distracted the kids until it was laser tag time again.

Speaking of that, the whole "noticing something strange" approach seems pretty common, probably because it is effective.  In the mentalism world, they call that a pattern interrupt but it's really just a good way to break into something different.

Finally, a great point by Gerald Deutsch, performers (of all types) often don't know when to stop.  Leave them wanting more, less is more, etc. are all great tips.

Really, really great conversations here, now I have to get back to work, lol.

Chris

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Senor Fabuloso

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Reply with quote  #13 
If I can be so bold to add but one other thing, to an already great thread. 

We are not trained monkeys. We decide what, how, when, and where we perform. We are under no obligation to perform, simply because we are performing artists. The challenge of "do something" is not only rude but just the lays way of getting something for nothing. Like the person who tries to get free legal advice from a lawyer or free medical advice from a doctor it's inappropriate.

Having said that, many of us enjoy displaying our craft and that's fine but we do it on our terms or not at all. While impromptu is of course the absolute identifier of a magician and his/her ability to perform, we are not trained monkeys.

One more thing while impromptu suggest unpreparedness, it's not at all the truth. Case in point, the torn and restored sugar packet uses our old friend the TT and so technically isn't impromptu but to our spectators would seem very much so. It's OK to be "set up" or more importantly prepared, when you want to perform impromptu.

Thank you.

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BlazeMagic

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Reply with quote  #14 
On one hand I think most lawyers will give free advice as far as what path people should take next (i.e. telling them your legal issue, and then they suggest either coming to their office to see if it's worth pursuing, or recommend another lawyer who handles those cases or such).
On the other, magicians naturally become performing monkeys when they have the chance, and I am guilty of it myself.

I think the more someone is starting out, the more useful it is to them, as any performance at all, paid or otherwise is a good way to learn and build showmanship. Someone who is performing 5 days a week on the other hand probably doesn't want to perform anymore unless they are being paid for it. Overall I don't think there's a single right or wrong answer, but I at least like to have at least one magic trick ready, just in case.
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Senor Fabuloso

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Reply with quote  #15 
BM

I didn't say that a lawyer wouldn't give out, free advise. What I said is, that it is RUDE to ask.

When first starting out that is exactly the worst time to just show tricks like a trained monkey. Your skill are less than stellar and you will appear to not know what your doing, because you don't. Even if you have put in some work and can do a trick or two well, you will still be nothing more than a TRICKSTER as you haven't yet learned how to make magic. This is one of the problems of newbies coming to the craft, thinking they're magicians because they can do a few tricks. A magician makes magic moments happen.

Read all you can on the subject of presentation. (that is where the real magic is) NOT IN TRICKS.

Practice the mechanics, till they become second nature or your fingers bleed, which ever comes first.

Film yourself and watch for that which shouldn't be seen.

Learn to write interesting patter and get comfortable, with others in social situations while speaking eloquently and with purpose.

Know yourself and bring your uniqueness, to your performances.

Put it all together and practice some more.

Then maybe? You will be ready to begin representing the long and prestigious craft, so many of us have worked hard, to gain respect for.  Even with 50 years under my belt, I work hard to not cheapen or sully, that which is regal and important. To do anything less, would be irresponsible and dishonor, all the greats who are and have been here, before me.


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BlazeMagic

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Reply with quote  #16 
I wasn't disagreeing with you, but rather I thought it was a good example to use, as with both I think there is a line where it isn't a problem, but we as magicians tend to cross it.

Such as, a while ago I was talking to a lawyer, and I mentioned that I was looking into registering a patent, and asked if he either handled them, or knew any lawyers who did.

And the other day when I was picking up my dry cleaning, the lady working there found out I did magic and wanted to hire me for a party, so I did a small magic trick for her while discussing my rates and what type of performance would be best for her party.

I believe both cases were fine as the line wasn't crossed. If on the other hand, I had pestered the lawyer to walk me through the pantenting process for free, that would have been extremely rude of me. And if I had decided to do a free 20 minute impromtu performance in the dry cleaners, that would have been very tacky.

If a 14 year old who had just gotten into magic was going around bothering people with free  performances though, I would find it far more understandable, as they may not be ready to charge people for shows, and those performances may be the only chance they are getting to develop their showmanship. It's still far from an ideal situation, but I see far more professional adult magicians who find ways to cheapen magic in their paid performances.
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Senor Fabuloso

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Reply with quote  #17 
Being professional is exactly what I'm talking about. Not working for money. Many so called "non professionals" are some of the most talented and regal representative of our craft. The hobbyist can be "professional" in his/her presentations and create magic moments.

The point is we do so when we want to, not when called upon like trained monkeys. Showing a prospective client something, is one of those moments when it's advantageous to demonstrate our abilities. But even then, the context should be that of a magic moment.

What we are selling is visceral experiences, outside the realm of reality but inspiring hope and the belief, that anything is possible. If we are successful, then we have made magic and ARE magicians. Anything less, is trickery and can be accomplished by even the most untalented hack.

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Reply with quote  #18 
Senor points the way to magic.  Superb advice he shares.  Contemplate his words for there is much to learn here.  Work toward becoming a magician, rather than a Trick-Monkey.  I often wonder if the term is related to "Monkey see, monkey do" - anyway to echo Senor's final paragraph I will leave you with the words of Derren Brown:

"You are not a juggler, nor a mere amuser of the middle classes: you are a magician. The main task of that wonderful job is to lift people out of themselves. You are a connection to a wonderous world, and if you forget that and just become a mingling trickster, then you are undercutting yourself and denying yourself the shiver of an unrivalled type of job satisfaction" [thumb]
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Harry Lorayne

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Reply with quote  #19 
         For decades when I see a rubber band that's not too thick, and if/when I feel like it - I pick it up saying "I'll show you a trick" - and I do my Snap!, which I published a LONG TIME AGO. "Oops; sorry, it broke. Wait; I'll restore it for you." I do. "Gotta' do some more practicing."  (And you guys gotta' start reading the good stuff!!)
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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #20 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry Lorayne
         For decades when I see a rubber band that's not too thick, and if/when I feel like it - I pick it up saying "I'll show you a trick" - and I do my Snap!, which I published a LONG TIME AGO. "Oops; sorry, it broke. Wait; I'll restore it for you." I do. "Gotta' do some more practicing."  (And you guys gotta' start reading the good stuff!!)


Harry, been doing that since learning Snap! way on way back when... one of the VHS tapes you did with Tannen's, if I'm not mistaken. A great, impromptu miracle - they just don't see it coming!

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