Sign up Latest Topics Chat
 
 
 


Reply
  Author   Comment  
Bill Guinee

Inner Circle
Registered:
Posts: 132
Reply with quote  #1 
One of my greatest magical challenges right now is the problem of having just too much magic. Let me explain. 1) I am aiming to try to work a restaurant gig soon. 2) I have been trying to get a trick up to performance level once a week and then performing it in various locales. At this point, I have more than double the number of tricks I will need for the gig. 3) to actually learn a trick (which for me includes mirror and video work, mastering of sleights, writing and editing a script, rehearsal, and so forth) for me is a slow process. The new trick every week thing has been a breakneck pace for me.  Consequently, given #1, I am reducing my magic days to once a month, and redirecting my energies to scouting restaurants. 4) I am both obsessed with magic and retired, so I can spend lots of time on it. 5) I love learning (was a college professor. 6) I have an awful lot of books on magic (thousands of possible tricks I am sure). 7) These factors together can lead to a serious life imbalance.

So, my question is what methods do you use to limit the magic you are exploring and use your time most efficiently? Do you limit how many books you are reading at once? Do you have ways of deciding which tricks to learn?

John Mendoza recommended in one of his books that you read through all of the "Effects:" sections of your books and make a list of tricks you wanted to go back to and actually read and then make a shortlist from that. Frankly, that would be a huge amount of work with my collection - even starting with "Greater Magic" (if I progressed historically) would be huge. I do have some principles and prejudices that I use: nothing that requires much table space, nothing that lasts more than about five minutes, no threads, rubber bands, lapping, or sleeving, only quick resets, etc.

But, how do you limit your magic? All of us have limited time - how do you strategize to make the best of it?
0
RayJ

Avatar / Picture

Honored Member
Registered:
Posts: 1,402
Reply with quote  #2 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Guinee
One of my greatest magical challenges right now is the problem of having just too much magic. Let me explain. 1) I am aiming to try to work a restaurant gig soon. 2) I have been trying to get a trick up to performance level once a week and then performing it in various locales. At this point, I have more than double the number of tricks I will need for the gig. 3) to actually learn a trick (which for me includes mirror and video work, mastering of sleights, writing and editing a script, rehearsal, and so forth) for me is a slow process. The new trick every week thing has been a breakneck pace for me.  Consequently, given #1, I am reducing my magic days to once a month, and redirecting my energies to scouting restaurants. 4) I am both obsessed with magic and retired, so I can spend lots of time on it. 5) I love learning (was a college professor. 6) I have an awful lot of books on magic (thousands of possible tricks I am sure). 7) These factors together can lead to a serious life imbalance.

So, my question is what methods do you use to limit the magic you are exploring and use your time most efficiently? Do you limit how many books you are reading at once? Do you have ways of deciding which tricks to learn?

John Mendoza recommended in one of his books that you read through all of the "Effects:" sections of your books and make a list of tricks you wanted to go back to and actually read and then make a shortlist from that. Frankly, that would be a huge amount of work with my collection - even starting with "Greater Magic" (if I progressed historically) would be huge. I do have some principles and prejudices that I use: nothing that requires much table space, nothing that lasts more than about five minutes, no threads, rubber bands, lapping, or sleeving, only quick resets, etc.

But, how do you limit your magic? All of us have limited time - how do you strategize to make the best of it?


Bill, this is in reality a much larger question than "limiting magic".  Great topic!

Some scattershot reactions.  First, you say "nothing that lasts more than 5 minutes".  Do you mean an individual effect?  If so, I think that is way too long for restaurant work.  Even if you can do it off to the side at at table.  I would think 2 minutes would even be long for many tricks.  I don't see holding attention for 5 minutes at a table in a busy, noisy restaurant. 

Instead, I would think a 5 minute ROUTINE might be in order and consist of three tricks.  An opener (strong enough to establish yourself and gain interest)  a middle trick (or two) that serve as a bridge and further your relationship with the spectators and finally a strong closer.  The routines can be connected in some fashion or not depending on your style and repertoire.  

I always tried to organize tricks in some logical manner such as opening with a card effect, moving into Matrix or something that uses cards and coins, then a coin-only effect and finally back to cards (card in wallet for example).

The way it is laid out, the props never completely leave sight, so to speak.  To me, the worst thing is to do a card trick, go to sponge balls, back to cards, then to finger rings then back to cards.  No flow.

You probably want to have a couple of tricks in reserve so that you can either 1.  add to the performance if the situation warrants and they are demanding, or 2.  Mix up your tricks so that adjacent tables don't see too much repetition.  In some restaurants that is a real problem.

I also see wisdom in using stuff that is on the tables.  Strong magic with ordinary objects just increases the impossibility IMHO.

BTW, if you haven't, you should check out Dan Fleshman's work on restaurant magic.  I believe he has a brand new video that is going to be available through Reel Magic.  Danny is one of the best.
0
RayJ

Avatar / Picture

Honored Member
Registered:
Posts: 1,402
Reply with quote  #3 
Before I forget...

There are some restaurant chains that are notorious for long waits.  In my area that would be Texas Roadhouse.  Being able to do walk-around to the folks waiting might be an option.  It keeps their mind off of waiting at least for a little while.
Also, if the situation warrants, maybe there is a way that you could have a small table off to the side and draw spectators over to witness your act.  I worked at a place called Magic Castle Pizza where they had a separate area with a table and had close-up workers taking turns there throughout the night.  Made 5 minute routines such as cups and balls possible and effective.
0
Bill Guinee

Inner Circle
Registered:
Posts: 132
Reply with quote  #4 
I see that my post was not very clear. I think that I have a pretty good understanding of what kind of Magic to use in a restaurant and how to routine it. But, I suspect that you are not advising that, once having the necessary routines, one stop learning anything new. So, my question really revolves around how one continues to grow and learn in Magic once the minimum levels are met. Also, how do you avoid being overwhelmed by the endless books and tricks? What is your system for planning your ongoing learning (in my parlance, writing your own magical syllabus?
0
RayJ

Avatar / Picture

Honored Member
Registered:
Posts: 1,402
Reply with quote  #5 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Guinee
I see that my post was not very clear. I think that I have a pretty good understanding of what kind of Magic to use in a restaurant and how to routine it. But, I suspect that you are not advising that, once having the necessary routines, one stop learning anything new. So, my question really revolves around how one continues to grow and learn in Magic once the minimum levels are met. Also, how do you avoid being overwhelmed by the endless books and tricks? What is your system for planning your ongoing learning (in my parlance, writing your own magical syllabus?


You are right, I totally took it in another direction.  So here's my take.  I think many of the magicians that perform for the public have a set that really doesn't change that much year over year or even decade over decade.  They will do the same basic set and perhaps add a few tricks here and there to freshen things up.

But, for their magician friends, sessioning and maybe performances for and to magicians, lectures and what-not, they have a different repertoire.  So for that purpose they learn new stuff.  Many of those tricks are interesting to other magi but would be totally wasted on the general public.

I don't buy much "new" stuff these days.  I will invest if it looks like something that I really want to learn but as it is I have more books and videos than I could use in two lifetimes.


0
Socrates

Avatar / Picture

Inner Circle
Registered:
Posts: 678
Reply with quote  #6 
Hi Bill,

RayJ has already mentioned that most professionals have a limited repertoire which they perform and tweak over repeated performances.  In Jeff McBride's Magician 24/7 lecture notes he says:

"The best magicians do the most shows.  Look at Copperfield's schedule, or any Las Vegas headliner, and you will see that they do multiple shows every day, many days of the week, for years on end.  Shows teach us the lessons we need to evolve our magic to a higher level of excellence.   How many shows do you do each day?  Is there any way you can make more magic for people in the 'spare time' you have during the day?  Even by creating or contriving situations to do close-up magic during the day, you can hone your magic skills, and sharpen your scripting and audience management techniques.

The bottom line is:  The more time you spend DOING magic the better you will get at PERFORMING magic"  - Magician 24/7 Lecture Notes page 3    

The plus side of this approach is the more time you are out performing the less time you are spent at home reading your books.  Taking this route is also a great way of advertising yourself as a magician which can lead to more bookings.  For many years I performed something for someone everyday and picked up plenty of experience and gigs, think of it as an apprenticeship - it's like swimming, you can read as much as you like about the theory, you can even practice the strokes and the breathing techniques, but you'll never learn to swim until you get in the water [smile]

Apparently Dai Vernon began with one book, The Expert At The Card Table, but he'd read this book so many times that he knew every word.  These days we have so many books available to us that we jump from one to the next, I sometimes think it an advantage to have only one book and just get out there and perform.  Using Harry's Magic Book alone I have taken complete beginners and got them up and working (paid gigs) in less than three months... with the correct guidance, and confidence it is possible to continually evolve using the most basic of tricks.

Deciding which tricks to learn is based on your personality, and the theme of your show.  If you don't have a congruent theme then it is difficult to create an act, and without an act you will find it difficult to book shows.  It's all about knowing yourself, we are all unique so therefore our magic acts should reflect this fact. 

"Know thyself" - Thales

Most magic books fail to address this issue.  A lot of magic is generic.  Over the years I have travelled to many locations, and have seen many magicians performing the same old tricks.  All over the world you will find signed cards stuck to ceilings, you will hear magicians repeating Don Alan's script for the Ultra-mental deck, and find many a card appearing in a magicians wallet.  Mentalists are no different, many folk are performing the same effects, utilizing the same scripts... "I use my five senses to create the illusion of a sixth".

Think about your identity, I believe you studied and taught Anthropology, perhaps you could use this in your presentations.  Can you incorporate your hobbies into your act. Think about what you want your magic to say, do you want to make people laugh, astonish them, make them think about the world in a different way, or do you just want to do tricks - anything can work, but once you know yourself and what your aims are it will be a lot easier to select tricks, and decide which books to read.

If you decide to work using regular items, then you needn't look at gimmicks... any tricks with gimmicks or gaffs will be out.  Maybe you like rope tricks more than anything else, or coins, or magic with numbers.  Once you know what you like it makes life easier.

Eugene Burger once told me you only need six tricks to work a venue.  Since then I've decided it is better to understand six principles, for these principles will allow you to improvise endless magic.  My advice is to take the tricks you like and work with them. 

If you only knew one card trick, and performed it numerous times everyday for various people, you'd be 100% better off than if you sat at home reading about different tricks.  You already have enough tricks to last you a lifetime - what you need now is the experience of performing those tricks over and over, and over in the real world, with real people.

"We learn by doing" - Aristotle

Hope this helps you out a little.

Soc
0
Senor Fabuloso

Inner Circle
Registered:
Posts: 258
Reply with quote  #7 
Suggestion Bill

Try telling a personal story with your magic. A story has a beginning, middle and end. Restaurant magic is like walkaround in as much as you will usually, do the same effects over and over again. Buy telling a story with your magic, you will limit yourself to that which you want to share and how you want to share it.

"Greetings, my name is Senor Fabuloso, and while you wait for your food to be served I'l like to share with you an interesting thing that happened to me while in a restaurant just like this one."

With an opening line such as this you immediately establish rapport and synchronicity with the patrons. They know who you are and wait to hear the story of the restaurant you were in and what happened?

Of course you only approach a table who has asked for the resident magician, to perform. In my case the "table tent" lets them know to ask the wait staff for me to come over, if in fact they want something?

The story is yours and doesn't have to start with a restaurant experience. It can be anything that matches your skill set and persona. I simply mention mine as and example.

Good luck with the gig and may it bring YOU as much joy, as your audience.

__________________
"If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." ( A lesson from childhood often missed or ignored.) Your opinion, may be met with one of equal disdain?
0
Previous Topic | Next Topic
Print
Reply

Quick Navigation:

Easily create a Forum Website with Website Toolbox.