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Stevie Ray

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I have been watching the promotions for MasterClass for well over a year now… Learn comedy from Steve Martin or Judd Apatow, learn screenwriting from Aaron Sorkin, acting from Helen Mirren, filmmaking from Martin Scorsese, writing from several notable authors and then some.

It was Monday’s announcement of a Penn & Teller master class in magic that convinced me to part with $180 for the year.

If Penn & Teller are selling… I’m buying.

I am 4 lessons in with P&T. Like everything they do, the production value is outstanding and the content is rich. Before he became a full-time performer, Teller was a schoolteacher… It shows.

The program is designed for all skill levels and is laced with guru-like attention to theory throughout.

I’ve also checked out the introductory videos from Scorsese, Helen Mirren and Steve Martin. I have to say, $180 for 12 months of access and the ability to download each lesson is an outstanding value.

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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #2 
Interesting. It does look like fun. And I would tend to agree that with the amount of material available, a one-year subscription could go a long way. Of course one could just go with the P&T classes for $90. Please keep us posted on how you rate the remainder of the P&T episodes.

https://www.masterclass.com/classes/penn-and-teller-teach-the-art-of-magic

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ianmcrawford

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Reply with quote  #3 
At the risk of being a contrarian,  I think there are are other more valuable opportunities out there.  You could take Skype lessons with Michael Close, P&T's chief consultant and someone who Penn describes as the best closeup magician in the world. (I have and they are mind blowing).  Or buy dinner for a trusted magician and pick his brain.  Just saying' 
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Stevie Ray

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I say do it all!

I had the great fortune of finding a top-flight mentor when I returned to the hobby in my late 20s. He turned me into a pro. I’m pretty sure I bought dinner the first night and I paid for a lesson. The return on that investment is incalculable.

The Workers have more than paid for themselves.

And, as expected, Penn & Teller have exceeded my expectations.They are acting as both Medeci and Michelangelo in this current renaissance. They have an ethical, commonsense, erudite take on the fundamentals. Any performer, at any skill level can benefit from these lessons. How often do we hear athletes, coaches, actors or writers emphasizing the fundamentals?

For $180, I not only get a seat with Penn & Teller. I’ll spend a few hours listening to Martin Scorsese talk about filmmaking… Watching Helen Mirren discuss acting… Having Stephen Curry teach me to shoot an outside jumper. There’s more than enough to keep me occupied for a year and the curriculum continues to grow.

The production quality is exactly what you’d expect for professionals of this caliber.
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MagikDon

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Reply with quote  #5 
I am curious as to how long each lesson is? Looks like an interesting thing to check out.
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Stevie Ray

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Reply with quote  #6 
The lessons average to 13 minutes, there are at least 12 chapters and there are several bonus chapters.
One might not learn any new tricks but the analysis, the theory the dos and don’ts, the what and the why are sublime.

While they don’t going to detail on every hold out and mechanism for “silverfish,” an intermediate to advanced magician certainly could incorporate similar principles into a parlor or stage act.

Teller’s character is quite often so devilish, one forgets how beautiful his magic can be.

While not taught in detail, enough information is given and there is a very good performance video of the duo doing their famous cups and balls reveal. When they make the switch from red to transparent cups, They mark and there is a presentation with a flurry of moves that literally explains what’s going on, yet baffles the mind at the same time.

One need not perform as a duo in order to exploit the best visuals, surprises and humor in this routine.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m about halfway through the program… I will definitely watch the chapters on theory as well as the performances again… It’s always wonderful to see Johnny Thompson filled with joy... and with so much amazing content available over the next 12 months in other disciplines, I sure feel like I’m getting my money’s worth.
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Harrisgagnon

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Reply with quote  #7 
I saw this as well! I thought it was really interesting. Glad to hear some about it. 
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Tom G

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Reply with quote  #8 
I took it to be a beginners course by the write up.  So please keep us posted on the rest of it.
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DJ

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Reply with quote  #9 
Xavior Spade just published a video on YouTube giving his thoughts on Penn and Teller participating in the Masterclass and how it relates to magicians giving tutorials on YouTube.  I thought it was an interesting listen given his perspective. I posted it here since this thread deals specifically with Penn and Teller's Masterclass but also because the discussion about YouTube magicians and magic exposure always seems to come up nowadays.  Might be worth making another thread to see who agrees or disagrees so as not to take away from Stevie Ray and his purpose of this thread?  Link below...     




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MagikDon

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Reply with quote  #10 
DJ.....I agree that it deserves a discussion on another thread. I see Xavior's point. How is P&T doing the Masterclass  different than going to a web magic store and buying an effect? You still have to pay for the information. Or is it because they are advertising to the general public?  Or is it because...…… [crazy]

Now YouTube...…..


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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #11 
Seriously? There's a world of difference between the product P&T are selling and YouTube videos. I don't have the time to watch Xavier Spade's video at the moment, but to compare Masterclass with run-of-the-mill YouTube vids is silly. Now, there are excellent videos on YouTube, filmed by knowledgeable magicians, that are both fun and instructive. I'd count Spade's vids among those. But those, too, are different than some amateur, filming in his bedroom on his smartphone camera with poor lighting, and bungling both trick and explanation. Surly no one would argue that?

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Stevie Ray

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Reply with quote  #12 
I believe Magic is currently undergoing a renaissance. That doesn’t mean everything that’s happening in magic is good but there is a lot of good stuff happening. I feel Penn & Teller have done more to popularize magic than any other performers in history… They simply have greater numbers.

Fortunately, they have a keen and highly evolved approach to entertainment.

The sleights and secrets examined in the course are fundamental, They can be found for free on YouTube or the public library.

I began my own discovery of “witchcraft” at the library. I know many great young magicians who sheepishly admit they started with YouTube. I can only imagine my curious eight-year-old self being able to watch and re-watch performances from Fool Us. So many of the acts are just brilliant. For the curious who desire to entertain, Penn’s summary of he and his partner’s experience during the presentation is the richest part of the show.

In their master class, the first slight taught is the French drop. While the revelation of this particular slight may anger ear-coin pulling uncles across the country… the F-drop is used to illustrate the foundational principles of sleights and misdirection.

There is quite a bit of theory laced throughout. I suppose the observer would have to possess a desire to understand more than just the secrets, should they choose to sit through the entire program.

I watched about a minute and a half of Xavier… That was all I needed. I just don’t think there’s anything to see here.

I was left wondering, once again, why there is such a hue and cry over exposure… And so little constructive criticism of the kleptomania our secret society inspires. It’s my contention that magicians who steal are a far greater threat to the craft than those who expose.
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Bill Guinee

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Reply with quote  #13 
I see a couple of significant problems in Xavior Spade's argument. 1) he is using a logical fallacy called an "appeal to authority." The notion is that if someone you consider authoritative does or believes something that that is an argument in favor of it. (he actually assumes it is a conclusive and final argument) 2) he is assuming that "for fee" instruction in magic is equivalent to free and open to the public where the learner invests nothing. 3) He is assuming that if Penn and Teller can teach magic, then it is OK for a bungling amateur who got the box with his new magic trick in the mail ten minutes ago (and hasn't even finished reading the instructions) to go online and "REVEAL" the trick to the public. 4) He assumes that everyone teaching magic online is doing so only to enhance the art and provide valuable information to the public - that nobody is doing it just to show off and be able to boast that they know the trick.

If YouTube was full of well-practiced real magicians teaching fundamental approaches, techniques, and the philosophy of performance, I would have no trouble with it. But, I must admit getting annoyed when something I have worked with, practiced, rehearsed, and honed gets revealed by someone who can't do a competent performance solely to enhance his ego.

A Hint: I never never use the name of the trick in my performance unless I am performing for magicians. E.g. If i am doing "Twisting the Aces," I never use the word twisting or twist. I don't want to make it easier to search for on Youtube.
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Stevie Ray

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Reply with quote  #14 
PROF. HIGGINS. Have you no morals, man?

DOOLITTLE [unabashed] Cant afford them, Governor. Neither could you if you was as poor as me.

I had an afterthought. This exchange from George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion illustrates another point and a steady undercurrent in the P&T Masterclass... ethical behavior.

These guys took their passion mixed it with Irreverence, creativity, a love of the arts and an unceasing desire to entertain. They started young and their induvidual character traits certainly matured.

Their perspective on ethical boundaries, in an art where lying is required, is so important. It’s not that they can now afford their stance, Rather, they have evolved to reach a high ground few will ever see... This is a pinnacle that oftentimes separates a man from his morality… In the case of these two unique performers, it is my belief theirs has only been strengthened.
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John Cowne

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Reply with quote  #15 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Guinee
I see a couple of significant problems in Xavior Spade's argument. 1) he is using a logical fallacy called an "appeal to authority." The notion is that if someone you consider authoritative does or believes something that that is an argument in favor of it. (he actually assumes it is a conclusive and final argument) 2) he is assuming that "for fee" instruction in magic is equivalent to free and open to the public where the learner invests nothing. 3) He is assuming that if Penn and Teller can teach magic, then it is OK for a bungling amateur who got the box with his new magic trick in the mail ten minutes ago (and hasn't even finished reading the instructions) to go online and "REVEAL" the trick to the public. 4) He assumes that everyone teaching magic online is doing so only to enhance the art and provide valuable information to the public - that nobody is doing it just to show off and be able to boast that they know the trick.

If YouTube was full of well-practiced real magicians teaching fundamental approaches, techniques, and the philosophy of performance, I would have no trouble with it. But, I must admit getting annoyed when something I have worked with, practiced, rehearsed, and honed gets revealed by someone who can't do a competent performance solely to enhance his ego.

A Hint: I never never use the name of the trick in my performance unless I am performing for magicians. E.g. If i am doing "Twisting the Aces," I never use the word twisting or twist. I don't want to make it easier to search for on Youtube.
I really like the way you break down the argument, Bill. I try to spot ‘logical fallacies’ wherever they occur, and I think you’ve done some helpful analysis for me to think about. One of the values of that is that I -occasionally- spot it when I’m halfway through saying something that’s a LF. But... I was wondering if Xavior would agree with your point 3, that he’s happy with the ‘amateur bungler’ doing reveals. I think that might be an example of ‘poisoning the well’. If not, I’m happy to be corrected. I found your closing hint very helpful. My focus is kids magic, and trying to think through captivating entry points within my routines stretches my creativity...to ‘think like a magician’ AND like a 5 year old😊.
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