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Buffalo McKinley

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Reply with quote  #1 
Hello,

Some of you know that I'm a former stand-up comedian.  One of the challenges I encountered after writing and performing stand-up for a while was a I started losing perspective, the audience's perspective, on what's funny.

To this day, I hate obvious, easy jokes, but after a performing for years, I was so immersed in stand-up that I had a difficult time writing material....material that wouldn't necessarily make me laugh, but would make the audience laugh.  It's a homerun if it's hilarious to both of us, but when you do stand-up for a long time, you become a lot more discerning and analytical....at least I did.

I'm experiencing something similar with magic.  I was watching a video of a magician performing and I wasn't impressed with the bottle that kept reappearing under a tube.  It's just a few bottle shells.

I immediately recognized that this was not an issue with the performance or the trick.  The audience clearly loved the trick and was fooled.  The issue was with me...my perspective.

I love magic tricks that blow me away, but have I reached a point where I'm probably missing some outstanding magic, because I'm losing the audience's perspective?

It seems so.

I prefer performing challenging, mind-blowing tricks.

How do you keep your perspective in check so you can deliver on some first-rate magic for your audiences?

Thanks!

-Buffalo
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Magic Harry

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Reply with quote  #2 
RayJ had , I thought, was a perfect answer in another post about Nomonica (spelling?).
The audience doesn't know what to expect just put yourself in their place. Do you think they will enjoy it from their point of view.
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #3 
Harry, thanks for that, but there is a lot that goes into an issue like this.  The more you know about something the more sophisticated your opinion.  Sort of like the somewhat tongue-in-cheek definition of an expert as a person who knows more and more about less and less.  But it is pretty accurate, I think.  Taken to its extreme, of course means that a person will eventually know all there is to know about nothing, but let's not go there!

So as a stand-up comedian himself, Buffalo is in position to judge comedians in a manner I will never understand.  I've seen comedy and of course have told jokes, but I still cannot relate.

When you substitute magic for comedy, you get the same effect.  Your experience weighs on how you perceive magic.  Both yours and that of others.  Some magicians will often make a comment like "I stopped trying to figure it out and just sat back and enjoyed it."  Personally, I find that extremely hard to do.  I'm not saying they don't or can't, but it has to be difficult.  You can relax and try not to focus on technique and such but you can never be a layperson again.  You just can't.

And I don't think it is necessary.  What you do is realize that as an experienced magician you will always look at things more critically.  What fools most may not fool you.  So build up your effects, combine them into routines and get out there and perform.  The audience will be the judge.  If you get strong reactions, you're on the right track.  If you don't, try to analyze why you don't and either scrap the effect or improve it.  This is where recording your performance helps.  You can watch the audience and see how they are reacting.   You might be surprised at how they go crazy over stuff you thought was weak and how they don't react as favorably to stuff you thought would kill.

In many instances what turns magicians on puts typical people to sleep.  Remember the lesson learned from the sponge bunnies?  

Every magician needs someone who can be honest with  them and give constructive feedback.  Sometimes that is a spouse.  Sometimes a buddy, whether they are a magician or not.  If you are fortunate, you already have someone in that role.  Someone who will be candid and not pander to your ego.






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Buffalo McKinley

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Reply with quote  #4 
Very helpful!  Thanks, Ray!!!

Refresh my memory on the sponge bunnies, please.

Thanks,

Buffalo
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #5 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Buffalo McKinley
Very helpful!  Thanks, Ray!!!

Refresh my memory on the sponge bunnies, please.

Thanks,

Buffalo


Just that many a magician has practiced difficult routines only to find the strongest reaction comes from a simple routine like sponge bunnies. Not disparaging the bunnies or those that perform them.
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Buffalo McKinley

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Reply with quote  #6 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayJ


Just that many a magician has practiced difficult routines only to find the strongest reaction comes from a simple routine like sponge bunnies. Not disparaging the bunnies or those that perform them.


Got it.

When I did stand-up, it was disturbing watching comedians get a great reaction from recycled jokes, obvious jokes or what are called "d*ck jokes".

I never wanted to be one of those comedians, so I guess it comes down to principles...the rules you choose for yourself.  What types of tricks you will and will not do.

I admire Harry Lorayne's rule to work only with borrowed decks.  No one forced him to make that choice.  He imposed a rule for himself that elevated his magic to where he wanted it to be, even if a less challenging approach may have yielded a similar audience reaction.  While that's not a choice that suits my approach, I respect and admire his principles.

So, how do magicians choose tricks?  Does it start with your principles?

Thanks,

Buffalo
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Robin Dawes

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Reply with quote  #7 
I agree with Ray that you can't go back to being a layperson.  But it is possible to remember and recapture the feeling of being a layperson.

In my other life I teach computer science to university students.  I've been at it for 37 years and I have taught the same courses and the same material over and over and over.  I frequently get comments on the annual feedback forms along the lines of "Professor Dawes seems to be able to anticipate the questions I want to ask before I can even raise my hand".  That's gratifying because before each lecture, part of my prep is to go over the material (which is in the form of a script that I rewrite each year, to keep it relevant) and force myself to remember/imagine the experience of seeing or hearing it for the first time.  I ask myself "What would confuse me about this if I had never seen it before?"  Then I prepare answers for those questions and incorporate them into the script.   I'll be honest, this is a hell of a lot of work - but it's worth it.

So how do you recreate the feeling of not knowing something that you know extremely well?   It's actually not that hard.  I find that I can wilfully and deliberately pretend that I don't know things ... and I believe that we all do this every day.  It's just a matter of consciously choosing what to "temporarily forget".  I can also create an internal feeling of confusion:  there are infinitely many things that are utterly puzzling to me - things like "How does a sewing machine link the top and bottom threads together?" or "Why didn't the Navii in Avatar have six limbs?"  So I can generate a feeling of confusion pretty easily ... and then pivot the confusion to the lecture I am planning, while remembering what it was like to see the material for the first time.

So this works for magic too.  We can't be laymen again, but we can remember what it was like to see the Multiplying Bottles for the first time.  We can simulate not knowing about shells.  We can recall the astonishment of the last time we were truly blown away by a magician, and we can attach that feeling to the Multiplying Bottles.

I've told the story before of my magic mentor, Al Pearson.  I remember him performing in a school cafeteria - he was performing the venerable Pom-Pom Stick - a trick he had performed a zillion times.  His eyes never left the audience - as they laughed and cheered, Al's face lit up with joy.  He was seeing the magic again through their eyes.  It's the best magical lesson he ever taught me. 
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John Cowne

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Reply with quote  #8 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Buffalo McKinley
Hello,

How do you keep your perspective in check so you can deliver on some first-rate magic for your audiences?

Thanks!

-Buffalo

My thought is to think of the rawest experience of wonder from an audience’s Perspective. I am amazed at how a very young child shows utter joy and amazement at ‘peek-a-boo’. Developmentally, there is nothing anyone can do that can elicit a more wondrous - magical- response for that age-group. Yet there are very few things you could do that would appear more inane/ridiculous for an older person seeing you do it ‘out of that context’ (ie without an 8 month kid around). So my perspective check relies solely on the response I see/hear in my target audience. Don’t know if that scratches wear your itching, Bill, but it works for me.
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Paco Nagata

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Reply with quote  #9 
There are great thoughts in this thread about the problem of losing perspective.
Let me add a little remark about it:

A magician usually waits for the spectator's reaction after an effect. If you do it every time (waiting for reactions) you may lost some perspective. However, if you sometimes don't just wait for the reaction, but act as if you were part of the audience, you would keep connected to your audiences emotions.
When I say to act as if you were part of the audience, I mean to surprise yourself with the effect by comments like:
"I got it!" "Hey, it (finally) worked!"
"Hey, it's amazing, I'm a magician!"

So, I mean to try not always wait for the reaction, but sometimes to "feel" it in order to joint the spectators' illusion.
That way I think it would be easier to keep the spectator's perspective.


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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #10 
"You know I became a magician to find out how I do this."

Tommy Wonder

From his 'Ambitious Card' performance to the L&L audience.  
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Paco Nagata

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Reply with quote  #11 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayJ
"You know I became a magician to find out how I do this."

Tommy Wonder

From his 'Ambitious Card' performance to the L&L audience.  

Excelent quoted, Ray!
That's the proper line of a genius.


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"The Passion of an Amateur Card Magician" https://bit.ly/2lXdO2O
"La pasion de un cartómago aficionado" https://bit.ly/2kkjpjn
Latest erratum corrections and improvements update, 16/06/2020
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