Thursday, May 19, 2022

A flat minor...

Truer words...
 

 Today I am recovering from MAGIC Live here in Las Vegas. I only got about 20 minutes in the dealer's room to look around but I have seen some videos of random effects popping up. One such video got my usual reaction to the glut of the magic released nowadays... "So what?".

 There are so many "minor miracles" released into the magic marketplace disguised as this HUGE thing. Sure in the right hands, almost anything can be a show stopper but how often does that happen? I'm getting kind of sick of seeing mediocre wizardry touted as amazing magic when the effect is basically only good as disposable video fodder. 

Long gone are the days of performers putting in many, many hours to make sure an effect was as solid as it can be. This is not new of course, but it slowly seems to be now be the norm. Far too much is being released far too quick for a quick buck. I'm not saying everything I have ever released has been gold, but I at least gave it more than a week of gestation before putting it in people's hands.

I don't want magic that can't drink dammit!



Sunday, May 01, 2022

No respect I tell yah...

 Some of you might be too young to know, or remember, that there was a time in America where variety acts were well respected. There were TV shows that showcased their talent and didn't treat them like some second class citizen waiting to be exploited for clicks, views, or ratings.

Culture tends to be influenced by it's media. Clothing, hairstyles, and other trends come from what we consume. If the media doesn't respect the variety arts, then the general public doesn't tend to either.

Let's harken back to the days when programs like "The Ed Sullivan Show" would bring on people who spent YEARS perfecting a skill set and not for being "famous for nothing". 

 

This is George Carl. One of the great Vaudeville clowns. Did I say clowns? Yes... yes I did. We equate clowns to those who sport facepaint and bright costumes, but there is a whole other kind of clown that doesn't need all that "finery". The physical comedian, the slapstick connoisseur, the... well... clown.

George Carl was a master of many things (as one had to be back then) and created a lot of gags and bits of business that have since passed on into the acts of others, whether they know it or not. As performers we should know what came before to appreciate what we have (or don't have) now and carry on the traditions of entertaining an audience with whatever we have on hand, be it our coats, our arms, or just ourselves.

True comedy is timeless.

Thursday, April 07, 2022

First Timers...

 I often wonder what it would have been like the first time someone saw a Nielsen bottle or Fantasio candle used. Things we take for granted but would have BLOWN OUR DAMN MINDS the first time they appeared on a stage. 

Now imagine people seeing a trampoline for the first time.

Larry Griswold co-created the trampoline as we know it today and used it in his act. Can you imagine people going nuts for a trampoline or thinking "WTF is that thing?!". 

Innovation and creation has to start somewhere. The mother of invention and all that. Who knows, maybe one day you will create something that will blow people minds.

It could happen.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

FItzkee was right...

 Have you ever read "Showmanship For Magicians"? I don't blame you if not. Fitzkee can be a bit of a dense read. (Protip: Just skim the book and read the bolded and ALL CAPS text. It summarizes the important points and saves a LOT of time)

In the book he suggests that you watch other performers who are the top of their field. Not JUST magicians, but singers, comedians, actors, athletes, etc. See what they are doing and you are not.

With that in mind, I now want you to watch this video:

Observe his timing. Watch as things happen and he just keeps going like it's normal. He doesn't turn and mug to the audience. (He COULD if he was a different performer) He just plows through undaunted which makes it even funnier. It's these bits of business in the middle of exhibiting skill that makes the performance so good. Even if it's not your cup of whatever you drink, you cand and SHOULD still appreciate what goes into doing an act such as this and entertaining a theater full of people.

The internet is full of performances like these. Over the next few weeks, I will share some of them with you. 

Plan accordingly...


Wednesday, March 09, 2022

End of an Era...

 

While everyone is on social media talking about knowing Amazing Johnathan, let's talk about the man himself shall we?

For those who might not know, he recently passed away and it sent a shockwave through the Las Vegas magic world. Most know him for his stand up comedy and magic. A lucky bunch of us got to know him on a personal level. Unlike other celebrities in our profession who kind of hide away and keep to their own little inner cliques, AJ was very giving with his time and information. His circle of friends and family grew every year because he liked to have fun and do silly things with silly people. 

Since he left this mortal plane, many of us have been talking about his legacy and what he has left behind. His body of work was vast and while he has been stolen from by countless hacks, no one has ever really been able to follow in his footsteps. I think the reason for that is that no one could. He was a truly unique animal that came into the entertainment world at the right time and place. 

His biggest influence on the world of magic was that he gave permission to all of the rest of us who wanted to do something different. His material spoke to many of us and said, "It's ok to be weird and do outlandish things in the name of fun! Magic is a tool and doesn't have to the be the focus.". 

For all of us touched by his noodley appendage, I think it's our duty to keep that going and let future performers know it's ok to take the piss out of magic and be a little over the top, even when the world might not embrace it at first.

 The world is a little less Amazing now, but that's doesn't mean it has to stop...

 

 

 

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Social Distortion...

 Have you ever seen the magic documentary "Make Believe"?

If you can't come in first place...




For those who have not, it captures the magic convention competition scene in it's death throes. These kids were basically the last generation in the magic competition scene, at least in North America.

There was a time when acts "came up together" in the competition circuit. Imagine seeing Juliana Chen, Jason Byrne, Greg Frewin and James Dimmare all vying for a shiny paper weight to put on shelf that said they were "the best"TM.

These acts would see the others other perform, most would be friendly towards each other, and even offer words of advice and encouragement (at least from various reports I've heard). As they would get booked at gigs they might suggest some of these other acts for next year or to be on the same bill. It was, an albeit small, community with many of what we now know as top pros of their time.

I feel the camaraderie has moved overseas as other countries like Spain and Korea have taken to magic as a serious stage art.With conventions like FISM Asia, the competition is a little more stiff with some heavy innovations in what one can get away with in a manipulation act. There is also more emphasis on things like character and originality than we foster here in North America.

So what happened? Well, many of the prestigious competitions here are either gone or their luster has faded. Desert Magic Seminar and the Golden Lion Head's award (celebrating originality) are defunct. The international conventions such as SAM and IBM are often used as stepping stones to FISM but the performing level of the contestants has dropped over time due to the lack of opportunities to hone an act.

The internet is a bit to blame as well as is typically the case. While new info can be seen and shared instantly, you also don't have to wait a year to see your friends and the new stuff they've been working on. There is also a much bigger emphasis on being seen by as many people you can instead of crafting an act and skill set that will carry you across the globe.

As usual it's not one thing that kills an idea, it's a slow build of many factors. Until another "prestigious" opportunity arises that provides notoriety, (as well as monetary gain), it's going to be some time before we see another magic competition scene like the ones we had before.

F in the chat for magic competition.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Dying From Exposure...

Recently someone tagged me in a post of some asshat revealing one of my tricks on social media. This is not the first time it has happened and it won't be last because there are some who believe magic exposure is "The Future" (TM).

I suppose there is a teeny tiny part of me that is flattered something I created is good enough to steal. However, with the rampant exposure and theft on social media it got me thinking about the ratio of people creating magic vs those consuming it for clicks, views, and pennies.

In a previous post I talked about how it takes very little brain energy to steal from someone and put it online. It's the bottom rung on the entertainment ladder. These bottom rung feeders will just keep taking and never contribute. This will cause those who do create to keep more and more to themselves to keep it secret... keep it safe.

Sure there will always be people pumping mediocre magic into the marketplace because it's easy and most of it only looks good on camera anyway. I think that is the reason so much mentalism is being released because it's hard to "reveal" and can't really be done over social media. (And no one really cares)

So to those who attach themselves to the magic community like barnacles I say this: enjoy your ill gotten gains while you can you leeches. One day you will only have yourselves to steal from (more than you already are) and if you show up at a magic function and I steal something from you like your wallet or phone, don't act surprised as to why.

You started this...