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posted by janrinok on Sunday March 30 2014, @07:41AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the now-you-see-it dept.

The Burnaby Kid writes:

Figured I'd toss this out there, since SN was asking for interesting story submissions. I'm a professional magician working abroad, and I've been indulging in this incredibly geeky performing art for almost two decades. One problem that happens a lot when it comes to magic is that the nature of secrecy means that we don't get open dialogue with the muggles we perform for, and that leads to us getting into this weird sort of insular and incestuous discussion with other magicians, which ends up warping our minds to the extent that we start doing moronic things like... oh, I don't know... referring to our audience members as "muggles". We get into some pretty weird debates, and I've been trying my best to argue for raising the bar, such as by suggesting that we need to be more sensitive about what you guys like, such as by making sure that if we pull out a deck of cards, we've got something to perform that can compete with Card Through Window. And yet... Maybe I've got it wrong? What DO you guys like? If you like watching magicians perform, what do you like about it? If you don't, why not?

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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by lx on Sunday March 30 2014, @08:13AM

    by lx (1915) on Sunday March 30 2014, @08:13AM (#23090)

    I am more entertained by a person walking up to a group armed with nothing but their wits (or so it seems) than a stage show with the big glittery boxes and the flash powder. Also not a fan of using animals as props.

    (and slightly off topic: I like this story. It's different from the standard fare for geek/tech websites but in a refreshingly good way.)

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by TheLink on Sunday March 30 2014, @10:09AM

      by TheLink (332) on Sunday March 30 2014, @10:09AM (#23106) Journal

      I quite like this one of Jason Latimer's: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJN1iMOfgAc [youtube.com]
      Very simple to "get" - some of those fancier tricks require the audience to pay attention first to realize the "magic", this one has the audience realize the magic and then start paying more attention ;). And yet still impressive.

      Then there's An Ha Lim who clearly has cards up his sleeves (and elsewhere from a few mistakes ;) ) but the sheer scale of it makes it still impressive to me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWG8QppPet8 [youtube.com] (second part is clearer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHjaRbTfHmQ [youtube.com] ). A deck or two up each sleeves is one thing. I wonder how long it takes to re-set everything up for practice...

      • (Score: 2) by Gaaark on Sunday March 30 2014, @12:51PM

        by Gaaark (41) Subscriber Badge on Sunday March 30 2014, @12:51PM (#23140) Journal

        Exactly this Jason Latimer guy is what is wrong with magic (didn't watch his whole youtube show... couldn't... he was too smug and not entertaining)

        He thought he was SO BIG, when he isn't. If he could solve the Quantum/Gravity problem while doing it, my opinion would change and he'd have a reason to be smug.

        But he is not that big. He can do a trick. Wooh!

        Meh.

        --
        --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by VLM on Sunday March 30 2014, @01:22PM

      by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Sunday March 30 2014, @01:22PM (#23144)

      "the standard fare for geek/tech websites"

      Street magic is a good way to meet people and eventually get dates for those of a vaguely technical persuasion, which makes this article kind of an antidote to the stereotypical tech-type-person complaining about the difficulty of meeting people.

      No idea what to say to that cutie at the bar? Walk up, pick up a quarter from the tip, make it disappear, make two quarters reappear, make a fiver appear and buy the cutie a drink, one way or another, you're about to get a whole lot of attention and find out very quickly what they think... If you're good enough to fool drunk people, which doesn't take much, you don't need to go up to people, they'll crowd around you once you start some street magic, at which point you take a break, have a drink with an interesting audience member, and then...

      Aside from improved reproductive potential, magic tricks work to break the ice at cons, professional/business meetings, as the start of a speech.

      Note that I'm not shy at all and this strategy works pretty well for me. I can imagine someone who is shy being even more petrified at the idea of screwing up the magic trick than not doing a magic trick at all, so maybe this would be a bad strategy for shy/anxious people. Then again you need to practice magic tricks extensively so as not to screw them up, so maybe rote muscle memory actually lowers anxiety relative to trying to ad lib lines. Someone else is going to have to weigh in on this. It probably helps if you think performance magic is fun; if you can't stand it I think the audience will catch on pretty quickly. I know if I think a trick sucks or is gimmicky the audience picks up on that, even if they are drunk or whatever. Then again if you ham up a failure of a trick into a big joke, if done well you'll get some laughs.

      • (Score: 1) by BasilBrush on Sunday March 30 2014, @05:51PM

        by BasilBrush (3994) on Sunday March 30 2014, @05:51PM (#23216)

        Ha, a social inadequate explaining his "pick up artist" technique. How amusing.

        He'll be letting us in on his best pick up lines next. :-)

        --
        Hurrah! Quoting works now!
    • (Score: 1) by riondluz on Monday March 31 2014, @03:41PM

      by riondluz (1444) on Monday March 31 2014, @03:41PM (#23616) Homepage

      Posting only because no one mention one of my favs:

      "ricky jay and his 52 assistants"

      http://videosift.com/video/Ricky-Jay-and-his-52-As sistants [videosift.com]

      --
      we pray for world peace and god gives us karaoke
  • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by TGV on Sunday March 30 2014, @08:43AM

    by TGV (2838) on Sunday March 30 2014, @08:43AM (#23094)

    Since when are magic tricks geeky? And calling your audience muggles, that is such a sign of misplaced superiority. I think you're confusing geeky with lack of social skills.

    • (Score: 0, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 30 2014, @08:56AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 30 2014, @08:56AM (#23095)

      I came onto the comments to say exactly this.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by lx on Sunday March 30 2014, @09:25AM

      by lx (1915) on Sunday March 30 2014, @09:25AM (#23100)

      Did you miss how the cringeworthy muggles remark was disarmed in the next sentence? I think that you're supposed to cringe at it. I certainly did.
      And yes magic tricks are a very geeky pursuit. Young Richard Feynman is the first example to come to my mind but there are many others.

      • (Score: 1) by TGV on Sunday March 30 2014, @10:41AM

        by TGV (2838) on Sunday March 30 2014, @10:41AM (#23112)

        Yes, that was a very odd attempt, but the incestuous bit did not help. Instead, it looked like a contrived justification for a sneer.

      • (Score: 1) by The Burnaby Kid on Tuesday April 01 2014, @01:14AM

        by The Burnaby Kid (3353) on Tuesday April 01 2014, @01:14AM (#23836)

        Heh heh, yeah, I was going for deliberately cringe-worthy. I personally hate it when magicians call audience-members "muggles" (the usual term is "laymen" and I hate that one as well) and I wanted to pass it along, really as an attempt to illustrate just how disconnected we can be from our audiences' mindsets.

        Sorry to anybody annoyed by it if that wasn't clear...

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by sjames on Sunday March 30 2014, @09:32AM

      by sjames (2882) on Sunday March 30 2014, @09:32AM (#23101) Journal

      I've heard IT people call users muggles.

      As for magic, At it's core, it is an understanding of the limitations of human perception. It may also involve a good understanding of physics. It can get really geeky.

    • (Score: 2) by Open4D on Sunday March 30 2014, @11:43AM

      by Open4D (371) Subscriber Badge on Sunday March 30 2014, @11:43AM (#23122) Journal

      And calling your audience muggles, that is such a sign of misplaced superiority.

      Personally I don't mind being described as a "muggle". And I don't consider its use of to be an indicator of a lack of social skills or an attitude of superiority. (Nor "cringe-worthy", as someone else suggested.) I just found it amusing. Not exactly ROTFLMAO, but raised a bit of a smile.

      Aren't you being over-sensitive?

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by coolgopher on Sunday March 30 2014, @09:10AM

    by coolgopher (1157) Subscriber Badge on Sunday March 30 2014, @09:10AM (#23096)

    Watching a magic show is a bit like debugging an "impossible" bug. Interesting, but also frustrating. The reward doesn't arrive until you've worked out just what the hell is going on. Personally I've found the "magic revealed" shows to be more entertaining, as I get both the "oh that cannot possibly happen" together with the "aaah, except if you set up the circumstances *just* like this" - much like sharing tales of "impossible" bugs with colleagues. But that's just me - in a world where sufficiently advanced technology appears as to be magic, I want in on the tech ;)

  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by That_Dude on Sunday March 30 2014, @09:45AM

    by That_Dude (2503) on Sunday March 30 2014, @09:45AM (#23103)

    Who doesn't love chainsaws?

    Mix in drones and who cares what goes wrong; either way, it's one hell of a show!

    It's the best of what audiences like - to be amazed and scared.

    • (Score: 2, Informative) by That_Dude on Sunday March 30 2014, @09:59AM

      by That_Dude (2503) on Sunday March 30 2014, @09:59AM (#23104)

      Disclaimer: Do not use real chainsaws with real blades.

    • (Score: 2) by lx on Sunday March 30 2014, @07:12PM

      by lx (1915) on Sunday March 30 2014, @07:12PM (#23238)

      Drones with chainsaws? I think I'll skip the live experience and watch that one on Youtube. Preferably from another continent.

      • (Score: 1) by That_Dude on Sunday March 30 2014, @08:09PM

        by That_Dude (2503) on Sunday March 30 2014, @08:09PM (#23257)

        Well, it sounded great when I was typing my little heart out. Now that I think about it, that idea is better suited to some low budget horror film. The sad part is that it would be so damn effective for crowd control.

  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by cosurgi on Sunday March 30 2014, @10:18AM

    by cosurgi (272) on Sunday March 30 2014, @10:18AM (#23107) Journal

    about magic shows starts, when first you show a trick, then explain how you did it.

    Then go on to the next trick.

    This way I could learn something new by watching your show, and maybe even entertain my kids later.

    --
    #
    #\ @ ? [adom.de] Colonize Mars [kozicki.pl]
    #
    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by cosurgi on Sunday March 30 2014, @10:28AM

      by cosurgi (272) on Sunday March 30 2014, @10:28AM (#23110) Journal

      In fact this is why I bought these books:

      Martin Gardner "Entertaining science experiments with everyday objects" [amazon.com]

      Jean Potter "Science in seconds for kids" [amazon.com]

      and few more similar ones in polish language.

      --
      #
      #\ @ ? [adom.de] Colonize Mars [kozicki.pl]
      #
    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 30 2014, @12:01PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 30 2014, @12:01PM (#23124)

      The fun ones are those where they show a trick, explain how it's done, then they do another similar trick but the explanation doesn't work for it :p

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by umafuckitt on Sunday March 30 2014, @01:46PM

      by umafuckitt (20) on Sunday March 30 2014, @01:46PM (#23151)

      That wouldn't work. I spent some time as a kid learning card magic. Learning that has taught me a bit about figuring out other illusions. When I watch magic now I don't figure out everything by any means, but I can figure out a good number of the tricks I see. TBH, whilst it's fun to try to work it out, every time I do it it ruins the excitement of the show. When you realise that a lot of the "clever" stuff you see is really just misdirection and simple tricks, then the "magic" is gone. Don't get me wrong, these guys are good and what they do is hard, but you'd still be disappointed if you knew how the effects were achieved.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by umafuckitt on Sunday March 30 2014, @04:01PM

        by umafuckitt (20) on Sunday March 30 2014, @04:01PM (#23177)

        Actually, this stuff is rather interesting so I'll lay out why I think magic tricks work in general without going into specifics of a particular trick.

        The magician has an effect they want to produce. e.g. You choose a card, you return it to the middle of the deck, the magician shuffles the deck, you name a number from 1 to 10, the magician counts that many cards down and your card is revealed at the spot you stated. The audience thinks they want to catch out the magician so they will ask themselves "how did he get my card into the position I stated?" They sit there and try to figure out how that was done. What clever trick did the magician use to get the card there? Is the deck "fake"? Once they're down that path, they're lost: they've been misdirected. The question they should actually be asking is "how did the magician make me think my card was where I said it would be?" In other words: how did the magician create the effect you saw? You have remember that what you thought you saw (the effect) isn't what really happened. So you have to forget about explaining what you thought you saw (because often what you thought you saw isn't possible) and start explaining how you may create something that looks like what you saw.

        That's the trick to magic: people ultimately want to be fooled and play along with the magician without realising it. They ask the wrong questions, because those questions are more fun. If you choose not play along, and accept that you've been hoodwinked, then you can start to figure out what the performer is really doing. But once you go down that path you're no longer a spectator at a performance because you've exposed the performance as a facade for simple trickery.

      • (Score: 1) by hendrikboom on Sunday March 30 2014, @04:04PM

        by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Sunday March 30 2014, @04:04PM (#23180) Homepage Journal

        Every time I've figured out how it's done or had it revealed to me afterward it has always increased my appreciation for the trick. I can watch it over and over again and have even more to appreciate. Like sunsets. People often say they don't want to know how the light is refracted by water droplets to form the many kinds of rainbow, but I always marvel at that as well as the sheer visual effect while I'm seeing one. Yay reality!

        -- hendrik

        • (Score: 2) by umafuckitt on Sunday March 30 2014, @04:24PM

          by umafuckitt (20) on Sunday March 30 2014, @04:24PM (#23187)

          I see where you're coming from, but I think these are different things. Knowing how refraction works adds an extra dimension to the prettiness of the rainbow. I agree it only serves to enhance what you already see. Knowing how a magic trick works tells you that you didn't see what you thought you saw. In other words: the effect isn't real and something else happened. That changes the essence of what you saw. For some people this will impact negatively. For others, like you, it may revel in the mechanics of it. Either way, however, knowing the mechanics of a magic trick completely changes how you view it because the mystification (which is why the effect has impact) is now gone and is replaced with something else.

          • (Score: 3, Insightful) by hatta on Sunday March 30 2014, @05:46PM

            by hatta (879) on Sunday March 30 2014, @05:46PM (#23214)

            Knowing how a magic trick works tells you that you didn't see what you thought you saw. In other words: the effect isn't real and something else happened.

            Knowing that it's a magic trick at all tells you the same thing. The enjoyment of a magic trick is not dependent on believing that it's real. We all know it's fake, by the simple fact that it's magic. That doesn't damage the wonder at all.

          • (Score: 2) by sjames on Monday March 31 2014, @12:49AM

            by sjames (2882) on Monday March 31 2014, @12:49AM (#23370) Journal

            The thing is, I already know that the lady didn't actually get cut in half and then put back together. Most of us (apparently not the nut that sued David Copperfield) know the magician doesn't actually have divine powers.

            I can then appreciate the skill of the trick, just how far the magician pushed his luck, the artfullness of the patter, etc.

            The best time I have had watching a show was me and several professional magicians watching a video tape.

      • (Score: 2) by kebes on Monday March 31 2014, @01:24PM

        by kebes (1505) on Monday March 31 2014, @01:24PM (#23547)
        I disagree. Of course I can only speak for myself, but I find magic much more interesting when I learn how it was done. I watch a trick, I'm suitably impressed. But I of course do not think that they actually did something supernatural. So I think about how it might have been done, and come up with some plausible theories. But it would be much more satisfying to then be told how the magician actually did it. If it confirmed my theory, then I would get the satisfaction of having got it right. If instead they did it in a totally different way, that would actually give me a new moment of wonderment, where I'd be impressed with how clever they were.

        The original question was asking the SN community for their opinion. I suspect many in this community would agree with me that learning the details of the trick make it more fun (many of the comments seem to be saying exactly that). Of course, we are geeks: we delight in figuring out how things work, in really understanding. It's quite possible that the public-at-large is, on average, more delighted by remaining ignorant. (Especially those who actually believe in the supernatural; in which case I would actually consider it an important piece of community-service to dispel them of their naive notions.)

        I disagree that things become less impressive when you know how they are done. There is nothing "magical" about an athlete performing, and yet it's very impressive (and actually, when you learn about all the prep they did to get to that point, it becomes more impressive). At a minimum, I think there is room in the world of stage magic for more 'revealing'. I know some performers, like Penn and Teller, have built acts on this basis, but in general magicians are still far too cagey and secretive. I think it would actually be very fun to have a show where a trick is performed, and then some people (audience members or other professional magicians) are asked to give theories about how it's done, and then they reveal how they actually did it. There's lots of room for innovative acts.

        The whole magician secrecy frankly strikes me as a little childish and patronizing. It also seems anachronistic: harkening to a time when magicians were really pretending that they were supernatural, where people oftentimes took the magic seriously, and where one couldn't just go on the Internet and read all about the basics of how magic tricks are done. I think the stage magic community would do well to re-examine whether their whole 'a magician never reveals his secrets' ethos is actually improving their acts, or if it's just standing in the way.
        • (Score: 2) by umafuckitt on Monday March 31 2014, @01:47PM

          by umafuckitt (20) on Monday March 31 2014, @01:47PM (#23558)

          I see what you're saying, I agree that it's a presentation style choice. One reason, perhaps, why magicians want to maintain the secrecy is because it allows them to repackage old tricks and wow people all over again. If the mechanism of more tricks was more widely known then it would be harder to produce a good act. The reason it would be harder is because people would realise that a lot of the time they are seeing the same underlying tricks presented in new ways. The focus would then become more on the mechanism than the presentation.

          • (Score: 2) by kebes on Monday March 31 2014, @02:05PM

            by kebes (1505) on Monday March 31 2014, @02:05PM (#23569)
            You're right, it's a valid concern. Ultimately stage magic relies on a few simple concepts, which are combined and reimagined in creative ways to make new tricks.

            The reason I doubt it would really be a big problem is that people largely self-select in terms of their knowledge. In reality, lots of information about how magic is done is already "out there" (available for perusal on the Internet if you're so inclined), yet most people don't bother. If magicians were less secretive, it wouldn't change much: most people wouldn't bother to study how magic is done, and would be impressed every time they saw a trick. Others would learn the behind-the-scene details; but those are the people who are more likely to be equally impressed by the mechanics as by the showmanship of the trick. So, little would be lost of the secrecy were abandoned. I view it as a net win because people interested in the mechanics then have more resources to learn from.

            Admittedly it's harder to apply my logic to a show itself. If you have a mixed audience, and then do a trick, and then reveal how the trick is done... you will have some audience members enjoying the reveal of the mechanics, and others disappointed that the mystery is gone. I nevertheless maintain that there is room within the genre of stage magic for shows that advertise that they will reveal how the tricks are done (let potential customers decide if they want to attend the show). For this to happen, of course, the community as a whole would have to get over their default-secrecy mandate...
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 30 2014, @12:06PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 30 2014, @12:06PM (#23126)

    I like it when the magicians make it rain.
    everything else is just cheap tricks *angry smiley*

  • (Score: 2) by Hyper on Sunday March 30 2014, @12:16PM

    by Hyper (1525) on Sunday March 30 2014, @12:16PM (#23129)

    Always good.. Never seen it done in person though

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Gaaark on Sunday March 30 2014, @12:35PM

    by Gaaark (41) Subscriber Badge on Sunday March 30 2014, @12:35PM (#23137) Journal

    Penn and Teller

    I find the thing I like most about magic is watching the Performances of this act... they entertain! Yes, they reveal the act some times, but I don't care (in fact that is what i like about them).... I care that they entertain: and inform... without the BS of 'oooh... watch what I can do. Aren't I amazing! I can do a card trick that you can't.... oooooh I am SO BIG!'.
    I call it BS because it's not 'magic', it's 'slight of hand/distraction'. Yes, it takes skill, but to me, I look at it and go 'meh'. I have been 'not entertained' by too many magicians who think they are DOGS own creation.)

    Show me how you do it and be DAMN entertaining! You got me riveted.

    That said, tell me how Teller does that 'snipping the shadow rose' thing and you'll have me riveted. Damn, that is good 'magic'.

    --
    --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by BasilBrush on Sunday March 30 2014, @05:47PM

      by BasilBrush (3994) on Sunday March 30 2014, @05:47PM (#23215)

      Typically Penn and Teller don't reveal the main trick. They come up with a bogus explanation for a simpler trick they do, and then perform the proper trick, for which the explanation won't work.

      The level of the simpler tricks is stuff that you could find in magic books in ordinary bookstores anyway.

      And they are far from the first to do that. There's the classic Chinese Sticks, where the magician pulls a string on the end of one stick, and the string on the end of the other stick retracts. They "explain" the trick by implying that the string runs down one stick, then across, then up the other. But of course that's not the real way it works, and soon the magician separates the sticks completely and performs the trick again.

      --
      Hurrah! Quoting works now!
      • (Score: 2) by Gaaark on Wednesday April 02 2014, @10:23PM

        by Gaaark (41) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday April 02 2014, @10:23PM (#25208) Journal

        But the fact of the matter is, THEY ENTERTAIN! I just find THEY are very good and very entertaining... on a level that I find beyond many magicians. They say "aren't we good" without the smug looks and "ooh aren't we BIG" act.

        Dunno... i just like those guys... Teller, who is a VERY good magician, and Penn who can run the patter exceedingly well.

        Good team.

        --
        --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by VLM on Sunday March 30 2014, @12:50PM

    by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Sunday March 30 2014, @12:50PM (#23139)

    "What DO you guys like? If you like watching magicians perform, what do you like about it? If you don't, why not?"

    Assuming you want an honest answer, attractive and severely underdressed member of the appropriate gender assistants. If you use a human assistant to distract the audience while you do something, at least do a good job of it.

    Aside from that I'm an amateur who plays with this kind of stuff as an interesting way to meet people at parties and similar, and what the pros really have going for them is smoothness. I can fumble and halfway drop a vanish/rattle box while trying to palm a quarter and although it might impress some drunks at a party, at least most of the time, I'm well aware that pros are much smoother and more practiced than I am and that is something I like watching. I'd rather see pocket change smoothly and effortlessly palmed and appeared/disappeared than some ridiculous "saw someone in half" stage stunt.

    Much like with computers or carpentry, what impresses a noob might or might not correlate well with what impresses a total muggle consumer off the street or a pro.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 30 2014, @01:47PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 30 2014, @01:47PM (#23152)

    I'll be perfectly blunt here: How about knock it off with the G*d damned secrecy all together and just start showing us how you (as a group) do things.

    Don't get me wrong, I like seeing magicians perform, but I HATE HATE HATE not being able to get some authoritative word on how their tricks actually work. And no, some random guess on some random yahoo forum does not quality. I mean step by step, with photos and examples.

    Last time I saw something like that was a series on youtube, and his "magic" was all easily-guessed stuff that depended on stage props and obvious things (like an apparatus big enough to hide thin assistants behind while they moved around to different places on the stage). After that I just gave up trying to learn anything more. Figured it was pointless.

    • (Score: 1) by BasilBrush on Sunday March 30 2014, @05:56PM

      by BasilBrush (3994) on Sunday March 30 2014, @05:56PM (#23217)

      The more tricks to which you are told the method, the more tricks will appear to you to be "easily-guessed stuff". Revealing a trick not only damages the future value of that trick, it diminishes the value of all tricks that have a similar method.

      --
      Hurrah! Quoting works now!
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by M. Baranczak on Sunday March 30 2014, @02:52PM

    by M. Baranczak (1673) on Sunday March 30 2014, @02:52PM (#23161)

    Realize that your first job is to entertain people, the magic is just a means to that end. Watch Steve Martin's "Flydini" act - the magic itself is total crap, but people are still clapping: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9xKU8eYCFk [youtube.com]

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by jmoschner on Sunday March 30 2014, @05:11PM

      by jmoschner (3296) on Sunday March 30 2014, @05:11PM (#23201)

      What DO you guys like?

      This is kind of analagous to asking what kind of comedy people like. Ther are many different kinds comedy and different people like differents types (some like satire and slapstick some like prop comedy, some like everything, etc.

      If you like watching magicians perform, what do you like about it? If you don't, why not?

      The problem most magicians make is that they focus on the illusions and not the performance. The magician must understand that they are a performer/showman first and an illusionist second. They may bill themselves as an illusionist as part of their branding and pr, but they are showmen.

      You need to know your style and then find, create, or buy tricks to fit that style. As an audience member I don't care what tricks the person is doing so long as they are entertaining me.

      For example Penn and Teller's act is driven not by their tricks, but by their personalities and delivery of those tricks. They create a narrative and weave the magic into that narrative.

      Chris Angel doesn't do anything new or exciting, but knows his audicene and caters to them. He knows that it is his style that separates him from other magicians. Angel has said that, "I stayed away from magicians when I was younger because I didn't want to think like them and wanted to create my own style."

      David Copperfield is the classic magician, most his shows are all style over substance. He does one maybe two big tricks with the rest filled with him putting his style on the same stuff everyone else does.

      To me, and I would guess others, a good magician isn't about what they are doing, but rather more about how they are doing it. Don't get me wrong, new tricks are good and keeping it fresh is nice, but I'd rather see a classic done well than something new done shitty (unless it is shitty on purpose, but then it is kinda being done good in a round about way). For example the classic chained up under water bit. For that to work for an audience, we need to have firt connected to the performer and have some reason to want to see them make it (or to want to see them drown). Once we are emotionally invested in the performer, then the trick has more meaning, more impact.

  • (Score: 1) by Techwolf on Sunday March 30 2014, @05:19PM

    by Techwolf (87) on Sunday March 30 2014, @05:19PM (#23205)

    What I would like to happen is to be part of a small group or just one on one with a close up magiation who doesn't mind sharing the trick and make it a challenge for the observers to figure out the trick.

  • (Score: 1) by Fnord666 on Sunday March 30 2014, @05:25PM

    by Fnord666 (652) Subscriber Badge on Sunday March 30 2014, @05:25PM (#23209) Homepage

    What I don't care for are illusions that depend on TV "tricks" or camera angles. I've performed both stage and closeup magic and while most depend on angles to a greater or lesser extent, I think a single POV illusion is disappointing.

    Knowing how an illusion is performed, and having possibly performed the same illusion myself, I feel like I can enjoy the showmanship, skill, and performance even more. When I know how an illusion is performed, know where the distraction will happen, know where to look and still be fooled is awesome.

    • (Score: 1) by BasilBrush on Sunday March 30 2014, @06:02PM

      by BasilBrush (3994) on Sunday March 30 2014, @06:02PM (#23219)

      Yeah. On UK TV there used to be an understanding between magicians and audiences that none of the magic was achieved with "camera tricks". I think David Nixon used to explicitly say so when he was the top TV magician, and others just followed. That doesn't seem to apply any more. And I think it was broken with the showing of David Blaine's Street Magic special.

      I guess there was never that understanding on US TV, as a lot of David Copperfield's TV illusions depended on camera tricks.

      --
      Hurrah! Quoting works now!
  • (Score: 1) by magwm on Sunday March 30 2014, @07:57PM

    by magwm (3783) on Sunday March 30 2014, @07:57PM (#23251) Homepage

    I'll bite.. I'm fascinated by all things "magic" and I hugely appreciate the enourmous amount of training that magicians endure to become professionals.

    however, I mostly only like the tricks and the handwork, and I'm almost instantly bored by the badly written badly performed stories and/or talk that accompany the show. I'd rather they would keep silent, really.

    I think that - regretfully as there is already so much to rehearse - much more attention should go to the text.

    but otherwise, it's AMAZING what people can do with their hands and tech.

    further, as gratifying as it is to finally understand "how" the trick is done, it also in the eyes of the beholder reduces the "magic" to "lots of exercise".. please don't reveal!

     

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 31 2014, @01:38AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 31 2014, @01:38AM (#23391)

    less show and more magic (I mean things that appears to be impossible).

    one thing that is important though is that you like the magician, that the person himself is nice so to speak. It must be possible that you could think of him as your friend. Not a trace of "a person that is there to get payed and impress you" should be sensed, but rather someone that likes what he do and want to share a magic moment.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 31 2014, @01:48AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 31 2014, @01:48AM (#23394)

    maybe maybe, if at all possible, please try make me not think "how did he do THAT?" but instead let me pretend for a short moment that there is magic?

  • (Score: 1) by Aiwendil on Monday March 31 2014, @10:04AM

    by Aiwendil (531) on Monday March 31 2014, @10:04AM (#23500) Journal

    What impresses me the most is a feeling how "How the did they do that?!" (the same as with the demoscene) - this single point is paramount (otherwise it isn't entertainment but simply distraction).

    Anyhow..
    What impresses me:
    *) Not being able to figure out the trick
    *) Tricks based on psychological bugs
    *) New tricks - they however only last exactly once

    What I only find annoying
    *) Tricks based on misdirection
    *) Assistants (best show I've ever seen was performed by a lone guy against the stark background of a concrete building, then again, he probably had pickpockets as assistants. Yes, I do enjoy streetshows)
    *) Nudity/flares/sparkles/lasers/smokemachines
    *) Slight of hand
    *) Mirrors (they only increase the processingtime of the visual data, nothing more or less)
    *) Grand gestures
    *) Falmboyant setups (if you are going to shoot someone with a crossbow just do it across the stage, do not bother with a target behind them, or putting them on a swing or whatever)
    *) Running around/moving boxes - this could with great advantage be replaced with a big sign stating "please wait while trick is being performed".

    Or to sum it all up - I want a show that stimulates/challenges my mind and not one that assults my senses. And yes, I do enjoy magic shows actually - but I find good shows to be increasingly hard to find (most ones degenerates into a show of fireworks/lasers/low-light - in effect saying that the trick will not survive being done in the middle of a warehouse with proper lighting)

  • (Score: 1) by The Burnaby Kid on Tuesday April 01 2014, @01:31AM

    by The Burnaby Kid (3353) on Tuesday April 01 2014, @01:31AM (#23842)

    Hey guys, thanks so much for the replies, and to the mods for allowing a rather offbeat story.

    To answer one big question...

    Having a show focused entirely on revealing tricks isn't feasible 99% of the time. Even Penn and Teller have a sizable number of routines in their act that they don't reveal/expose -- shadows, the bullet catch, the appearing goldfish, etc. I get how secrecy can be annoying, but honestly, the only way to properly understand how it doesn't work is to learn a trick, polish the living hell out of it, perform it for some people, and then have a mistake happen (flashing a technique, having somebody see something from a bad angle, having an audience member handle something that's gimmicked, etc.). The reaction is almost always disappointment on some level. There's a smart (and relatively unknown) magician knows as Lance Pierce who once said that magic was a game of catch-the-magician where the audience is disappointment when they win.

    Even performing and then teaching a trick is perilous. Somebody earlier in this discussion made the point all about effect. That's an important distinction, but as Derren Brown wrote, sometimes what's more important than the effect is the implied cause behind the effect. By way of example, you show that the number they randomly thought of is one that's sealed inside an envelope (effect) but the implication is that future sight is possible (cause). It's that cause that can really capture the imagination, and when you tip the method, you're basically saying it's all bunk. A lot of the time it's the adult version of telling people that there's no Santa Clause -- deep down they might know that to be true, but it doesn't usually make it fun to have somebody confirm it to be true.

    Now, that idea offered earlier about having a show where you do the trick and then field theories for how it might be done is fascinating. It'd be very difficult to do -- now it's almost got the dynamics of an interactive lecture than a magic show -- and for it to be profitable would require some marketing voodoo in a large market, but I wonder if it could work...?

    And again, sorry for the muggles joke. I hate the word, and I just put it in there to poke fun at magicians.