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How to present a magic trick very badly November 9, 2010

Posted by mattlee in Forums, Ramblings.
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Some of the most unqualified, turgid and downright idiotic advice on presentation I have ever seen can be found here: http://forums.ellusionist.com/showthread.php?90123-Your-patter-sucks.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all well and fine with meaning/beauty/art in magic, however I do seriously think sometimes it goes overboard to the point of insulting the audience.

I noticed Derren Brown’s name is thrown around that particular thread in reference to his statements in his fantastic ‘Absolute Magic.’ (In my opinion, the best magic book to this century)

If one actually read the book you’d find a section where the affable Mr. Brown explains why he does not like his ‘Matsu’ presentation of Oil and Water and instead favors the ‘this is a trick’ type patter (which he presents in ‘Devils Picturebook’) Essentially, that’s what I’m trying to say.

Sometimes a trick is JUST A TRICK. Trying to sell it as anything more makes you look like a pretentious douche bag.


Failure inspires. March 7, 2009

Posted by mattlee in Forums, Ramblings.
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A recent thread about failures and success at the SMC forums inspired me to meditate on my own performance experiences.

I have come to realise that I have learnt more from my screwups than from my success.  The adrenaline high from a good show is but a transient feeling that begs the question – How do I do this again? How do I have good shows consistently?

I truly, truly think that this is the hallmark of a good performer.

Death to the Double Undercut August 16, 2008

Posted by mattlee in Card Magic, Flourishing, Forums, Ramblings.
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Finally a new post.  I haven’t updated this blog for almost a month, and I’m told that’s a bad thing. Ah well.

Theory11’s recent 1on1 by Joe Paschall caused a minor furor on the forums.  Entitled ‘Death to the Double Undercut’ it’s basically a double undercut executed under the cover of a flourish – i.e you can transfer a card/cards from the top to the bottom of the deck and vice versa, all while executing what appears to be a pendulum cut.

Understandably,  some of the members took offense to being sold a modified double undersut for $5USD. While I understand the sentiment, I don’t think his move is entirely useless. Let me explain:

About a year and a half ago I came up with a ‘move’ (I use the word pretty loosely here) that combines Oz Pearlman’s Rub-Dub-C cut with a double undercut. It has since replaced my double undercut on some occasions. I never considered my idea to be original, I was 110% sure that it had been done before and published.  Still I took a measure of pride that Joe (a magician I do respect on some level) had the same idea as me, which is that if you’re going to flourish, at least make the flourish do something useful.

Here’s an example of a flashy ace production where the move is perfect. Note that if you are not a magician and are not familiar with magic jargon, the following will probably be unintelligible to you.

Ace Production
1. Remove 4 aces from the pack and display them. Remember to make a big deal of the fact that there are no other aces/duplicates in the deck. This provides motivation.
2. Insert them back, and perform your favorite multiple shift. If you don’t have one yet may I suggest the Arthur Buckley Shift.
3. Get a break under 2 cards and perform DttDUC.
4. Now you’re going to do that old trick where you take the deck in the right hand and apply pressure on the top and bottom cards and throw the deck to the other hand leaving the top and bottom cards behind in the right hand.  I’m not sure what the name of the move is, but I first learnt it from watching Michael Ammar.  Anyway, you will do this twice, once from right to left hand, and once from left hand to table. This should leave you with the 4 Aces. Performed correctly, the audience should have no idea where they came from.

Here, replacing the DttDUC (Death to the Double Undercut) with the standard DUC is possible, but the trick will loose at least half its flashiness, and probably won’t flow as smoothly.

Of course the question now is whether the DttDUC is worth $2.95USD (T11 has since revised their price in response to complaints). I suggest instead taking the idea and figuring out something similar. You get to exercise your brain and you’ll end up a better magician for it.

Responding to Stupidity July 14, 2008

Posted by mattlee in Forums.
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The theory11 forums have always been for me a good source of entertainment. Meaningful conversation there tends to be somewhat rare.

However, on occasion I do come across one or two posts that are so superhumanly stupid that I have no choice but to respond. Its similar to the way flies are attracted to shit, but healthier.

Here’s a gem which I came across –  I’m posting the offending thread in question just in case it gets deleted:

BrianationX said:
The least talented magicians are the ones that do comedy. These magicians have figured out that they can use the least amount of magic skill and incorporate it with their magic.

Does Michael Jordan have to tell jokes while shooting baskets,does tiger woods have to put together a one hour show hitting golf balls on a spectators mouth while cracking jokes from a stupid joke book to entertain the audience?

All I want is to perform the skill Ive spend as much as time working on as Coby Brian spend on Basket ball without having to justified it with mindless unrelated MOUTHGARBAGE.

But still I bet some peoplewould rather see a guy performing the old toy raccoon routine or a classic comedic sponge and balls rather than some guy like me performing all sorts of sleights that took me months of practice rather than a day and it would fly right under their noses.Comedic magicians are in fact the most common out there,Why? because it is the easiest form of magic,it takes no skill only to memorize a script and buy some props and gags.Comedic magicians are something you can associate with a clown,In fact im going to refer to them as clowns for now on.

These clowns ruin the way a magician is thought of, Mr. can you please perform the eggs from mouth,or raccoon puppet,or magical snow.The answers is of course no, I tell them I suffle a deck of cards and while doing so i can locate every single card in the deck and they say, so you cant make a bunny appear? I do my ShowOff or Hynotic routine and they dont understand what happened,but its ok because they don’t know any better. If people would make a better attempt at understanding then magicians wouldn’t resort to mouth garbage to get reactions.

See also flourishes,laymen don’t understand them, but the more they see them the better the understanding,and also appreciate them.

Magic is not about telling jokes and making people laugh,is performing.

And like I said before the most powerfull reaction to a performance is when thery are silence and awestruck motionless not when they are laughing and cheering

make no mistake about it.

No disrespect for all those Comedic Magicians Out There.

And my response:
Gentleman, I think we’ve misunderstood the thread starter.

Our dear friend holds himself in such high esteem and scoffs the magicians who actually manage to entertain lay people because he sincerely believes that comedy is easy. In his own words:

“..it takes no skill only to memorize a script and buy some props and gags..”

Furthermore, since he thinks of himself as a sleight-of-hand god, when a magic effect falls flat, it must be the layman’s fault! Yes that’s it! Those stupid goons don’t understand good magic!

“..All I want is to perform the skill Ive spend as much as time working on as Coby Brian spend on Basket ball..”

“I do my ShowOff or Hynotic routine and they don’t understand what happened,but its ok because they don’t know any better.”

Yes! We need to educate the lay people! Then, and only then will they appreciate magic! Youtube exposure is a good thing after all!

“If people would make a better attempt at understanding then magicians wouldn’t resort to mouth garbage to get reactions.

See also flourishes,laymen don’t understand them,but the more they see them the better the understanding,and also appreciate them.”

Gentleman, let’s all just laugh long and hard at this sad excuse for a magician. There’s no way we can convince him – everything that can be said already has:

We’ve already mentioned that ‘mouth garbage’ is used to disarm the audience, to misdirect. We have said that comedy is not easy, it is blood sweat and tears. In some ways it is one of the hardest forms of magic simply because GOOD comedy magic is VERY VERY difficult to get right.

The only thing I can add to this conversation, is that dear Mr. I’m-too-damm-good-for-comedy-magic apparently likes to blame the audience when they can’t understand his performance. I’d like to point out to those of you who are reading this (if it hasn’t already occurred to you), that this type of thinking is responsible quite a lot of bad magic. You might want to avoid it. Just a thought.

So, what shall we do fellow theory11 forum members? We can combat stupidity whenever it rears its ugly head, but only to a point.

The best remedy for the sheer arrogance displayed by this pitiful fellow is to grab a deck of cards, go out and really amaze someone today. And if their opinion of magic has been previously colored by our dear friend and ‘magicians’ like him, they will now know what magic can really be.