A time to share

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Magic Trunk

While at the David Ginn lecture, I met many clowns and a few magicians too. The clowns have an "Alley." I guess this is akin to a magic circle. Anyway, I was invited to attend one of their monthly get togethers. It was last night! We were going to go over balloon tying techniques and balloon animals. The meeting started at 6pm but because of traffic, I got there about 6:20. Seemed like most were a bit late. I didn't get any work done on balloon animal tying. Before I knew it it was 7pm and a magician was there to perform. I was excited to see what he had.
His name was Cary Durgin of BuddandDurgin.com. He opened with some nice rubber band magic, the crazy man's hand cuffs and broken and restored rubber band. Too me it was funny that he opened with the crazy man's hand cuffs because before he arrived, I was doing that very trick for some of the clowns. Weird... He went into a torn and restored card, ambitious card routine, did some sponge balls and a new trick called Wow! He did the hopping half and more. He had good chops and presence. It was nice to watch him and he was enjoyable.
I was asked after he left, how he did some things... but I wouldn't tell.
I was planning on teaching the crazy man's hand cuffs to the attendees anyway. There were about 16 people in attendance, seemed like a good turn out to me. I thought it would be a good trick for clowns to have in their repertoire as they usually must perform while standing and moving about!
A clown whose name is Sally was there and before the meeting asked me if I was a magician. I said, yes and she opened the trunk to her car and showed me a nice magicians case. She said it was given to her and asked if I might want it. Not wanting to offend her having just met her, I said certainly!
We took it inside and it was FULL of magic stuff. Old trinket magic stuff, plastic stuff, hankys, wow, all kinds of stuff.Broken stuff and stuff missing pieces, I recognized some of it, old plastic cups and balls. Linking rings and more... I recommended we open it up to everyone and anyone wanting stuff. It got pretty picked over. I ended up taking the case and all that was left. I'll go thru it and give most away. The case? Well, it will be a nice place to store my magical apparatus that I have at home for the time being!
It was hard to go through all the stuff in the case, going thru someones life and treasures, having to throw most all of it away... is that what life comes down too? I wish I would have had the opportunity to meet the owner of the case and magical stuff inside, to hear him tell his story and watch him work, ahh, I'm getting old myself! If that old trunk could talk!
Thanks Sally, that was nice of you!
Everyone had a good time, and I think I made some new friends!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why teach a bunch of clowns such a great trick?

Give them something easier to learn.....sponge ball vanish that turns into the that goofy red nose they wear!?

Don't give away secrets just becasue you can.

8:41 PM  
Blogger Timmy Jimmy said...

Why teach a bunch of clowns such a great trick?
Because clowns are in touch with so many people, especially children, what a great trick for clowns. What could be better? They can carry a few rubberbands on a wrist or in a pocket and entertain with that GREAT trick. That's why. As a magician, you or I cannot be all things to all people, nor can we be in all places. Many of these clowns work in hospitals, mostly childrens hospitals. Do You? Many magicians think clowning is beneath them, like we have some great thing to share, Anonymous, do you even perform? The crazy man's hand cuffs is a fantastic trick, I love performing it because of the astonishment on peoples faces, and it can be performed several times and surrounded. Maybe this is a good trick for clowns to use to elevate their craft.
BTW. I was planning on teaching it before the magician did it. Why? Because it is so great that having other professionals able to perform it simply spreads the joy!

1:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

CMH is not a great trick for children, especially young ones. It's hard for small children to follow....they don't understand it. Vanishing a red sponge ball is more visual for a small child and it relates to the clown's nose. The clown can get more "astonishment" from a red sponge ball that changes to their nose and then to a red balloon. Watch a small child's reaction to a coin vanish and reappearance.....a red sponge ball too. Much more appropriate for children than the CMH!

Your response is typical of a magician who does not think outside the box and is satisfied doing the same routines as other magicians.

Here's a challenge for you....create a routine with a sponge ball that relates to a clown's nose. Not a routine that Daryl, Gozzo or Ammar does....be creative...that does not mean simply changing the patter of another magician and doing THEIR routine!

Your response regarding whether I perform makes my exact point. Unlock YOUR mind and step outside all the other magicians who are doing all the other magician's routines!!

No, on second thought, stay the same as the others....it's much easier and safer!

8:45 AM  
Blogger Timmy Jimmy said...

Anonymous, you bring up some excellent points.
When does a marketed effect, not become usable by the purchaser?
Daryl, Ammar, Gazzo are all out there hawking themselves and their products. I've attended all three of these great magicians lectures. Gazzo's was a two day affair, he was selling his cups and balls for $250.00 and a pouch for $250.00 etc... If you attend one of their work shops, buy their product, do you have the right to use it?
I believe you do, they sold it to you. They sell dvd's of themselves teaching these tricks.

Mimicry is the first part of the equation, but as you point out, one needs to make it their own. This takes time and finding your own personality and performing style, which is all an ongoing process through walking thru the fire of performing.
I performed the CMH yesterday for two boys while at Les Schwab waiting for my truck to be checked out. They were 8 and 9 respectively. They loved it and their response was "Wow, Cool, do that again." Their grandmother thanked me several times for entertaining her kids. I did a couple of card tricks for them as well, and the hot rod. They followed the card tricks which were the twisting the aces and the biddle trick.
Magic is great, Carry on!

2:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Anonymous. Read this and rethink what you're doing:

A recent National Public Radio story reported on over 20 years of research by Cornell Psychology Professor David A. Dunning. This research indicates that people tend to have overly favorable and objectively indefensible views of their own abilities and talents. For example,
• A full 94% of college professors state that they do "above average" work, although it is statistically impossible for virtually everybody to be above average.
• A recent study of engineers asked if they were in the top 5% of engineers with their particular company. Over 40% of respondents said they were in the top 5%.
• Among elderly drivers evaluated for safety, those claiming to be above average drivers were four times more likely to be labeled unsafe as those more cautious about their own skill.

Why? According to Dunning, we want to avoid thinking threatening things about ourselves and so apply an unrealistic amount of positive spin to the evidence we get about ourselves.
To correct our tendencies towards unrealistic optimism, Dunning says we should regularly solicit honest feedback and vigorous critique. Research show that “Fresh eyes” (friends, acquaintances, supervisors and experts) are more clear sighted about our strengths and weaknesses than we are about ourselves.
• Performance by surgical residents on a standardized board exam was predicted with high accuracy by supervisors and peers, but predictions about one’s own performance had almost zero correlation; a resident’s ability to predict how he/she would do on the exam was terrible.

Once ready for a reality check, who should ask to evaluate our strengths and weaknesses? If we wish to be better magicians/performers/entertainers/artists, from whom can we learn specific, professional performance tools that can improve our individual routines as well as our entire performances?
1. A lay audience with little exposure to high quality magic, just out to have a good time?
2. Other magicians who frequently have difficulty comparing magic with other, more mainstream performing arts and popular entertainment?
3. Or, someone with a firsthand knowledge of magic, Broadway theatre, television and major motion pictures, who has advised and directed top magicians like Copperfield, McBride, Gertner, Malone, Sheets, to name just a few?

The choice is clear, and fortunately for magicians there is such an expert; actor/director/magician Bob Fitch. The next weeklong Bob Fitch Performance Workshop is tentatively scheduled for January 2-8 or 9, 2008. We have chosen this time period because it is usually quite slow for professional performers who frequently have their busiest season in December. The workshop requires a minimum of 8 participants and has a maximum of 10. For more information on past workshops, visit www.fitchmagic.com. For specific questions regarding the January 2008 workshop, or to express an interest in participating, please write Mark Phillips at mark@thinairproductions.com, or call 301-231-6933.

2:59 PM  
Blogger Timmy Jimmy said...

Hi Mark, thanks for posting on my blog.

I find it interesting that you would agree with anonymous and then push a sale.

I have been reading Our magic by Maskelyne and Devant, I have read Strong Magic by Darwin Ortiz...

I am presently reading Royal Road to Card Magic...

I am certain Bob Fitch would be able to enhance any magicians repertoire and performing ability, so would attending a McBride master class.

Not everyone has the time or money to attend these great magicians training facilities.

I have found through research that what you say is true regarding theatrical performance. But 1st one must learn the new sleight so well that they can concentrate on performing rather than thinking about what their hands need to be doing. It is a gradual, growing process, of which I am involved in.

It's not all about the "tricks," It's more about growing as an entertainer.

But this whole thread arose because I had the audacity to teach some clowns the Crazy Man's Hand Cuffs. Haha.. Clowns who really appreciated the effect and some who can use it to great advantage to become better magicians and to share the joy and love of their craft. I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Michael Ammar in May of 2004 at a workshop at Seattle Magic. I paid for the work shop and learned the effect from him and we worked on perfecting it at sessions at my friend and mentors home. (Tom Frank) Many at that work shop I'm sure did not learn the Crazy Man's Hand Cuffs because they are either too lazy, or it doesn't interest them. It is not difficult too learn but at first seems so. So, most will give up or believe that they cannot do it well enough to "fool" people.

We often forget how we felt the first time we saw an effect and the emotions or awe of the "Magic." Then when we learn the secret, we feel like, no one will buy this. MY point is that out of those clowns that I taught it too, there will be a couple who will take the time to really learn it and some who won't. I did not share it to aggrandize myself but rather to further the love and joy of our art.

3:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mark Phillips did not post on your Blog, it was forwarded to you.

Tom Frank doesn't do the Crazy Man Handcuffs, so not sure how you "perfected" it by his mentoring.

Got to support your love of magic though.....keep up the effort (and open your mind!)

Best wishes and good luck!

3:42 PM  
Blogger Timmy Jimmy said...

First, let me apologize to Mark Phillips for assuming he posted on this blog, It is confusing when one is dealing wiht Anonymous #1 and Anonymous #2. I thought erroneously that Anonynous #2 was posting his own words. My Bad. Thanks for clearing that up. Often in email and this type of print, setting, inflections and nuances are lost.
I never said Tom Frank performed the Crazy Man's Hand Cuffs. Although I know he can. I said we perfected it at a sesson at his home. Actually a police officer magican friend, who I will lovingly refer to as Anonymous #3, was kind enough to share his great insights on the effect. I have it all preserved on video.
You have told me "open my mind" twice now. I have to disagree with you as to who has the open mind and who doesn't.
It is you my magical friend, Anonymous #1 who needs to open your mind. Open it up to the possibility that a clown can do good magic and that a magician is no better or worse than a clown.
As you and Anonymous #2 point out, it is more about entertaining magic or being an entertainer.
Red Skelton was a fantastic clown, he didn't just entertain children, but what he did do, and he did it extremely well, was to bring out the child in everyone. This what I love about magic. Bringing awe and that childlike wonder back into peoples lives. The world has a way of beating people up, we as magicians or clowns, have the ability to bring into their lives a bit of fun, humor, and wonder. How great is that!?
Perhaps you and I can meet and have a fair exchange of ideas as two "open minded" individuals!? :)

6:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Interesting posts. Some good points and some not so good. But that's what makes a good debate.

I think the Crazy Man's Handcuffs is more appropriate for an older audience, especially if you do the last phase where the spectator holds the band. I wouldn't let a small kid hold the rubber band. Not doing the last phase is cheating the spectator. You're probably right about how many clowns would take the time to learn the trick. That's one reason why I would be hesitant to teach the trick.

We both know the Tom is more than capable of doing the trick, however I can't remember seeing him do any magic with rubber bands.

I like the idea about the red sponge ball. Making a red sponge ball appear off the end of the clowns nose sounds pretty good. A couple of vanishes and then producing another red ball (actually a balled up red balloon) and making an animal balloon that the kid keeps sounds like something that might be more memerable than the Crazy Man's Handcuffs.

Keep up the magic and let me know when you come up with an original effect after "opening your mind".

Oh, and open your wallet too and go to a large convention (WMS is April 27th, 2008 in Las Vegas). You can't afford not to!!


Anonymous #3

6:59 PM  
Blogger Timmy Jimmy said...

Anonomy #3,
Good ideas, a red sponge ball appearing on the end of a clowns nose is perfect. In fact David Ginn taught that very thing with a Rudolf The Red Nose Reindeer trick. Went over pretty good because Rudolf needed that red nose!
You are probably correct in that it would be more memorable, but maybe not... we have all heard stories about adults remembering some "great" trick from their youth, a coin trick, a card trick, maybe someday some adult will remember me doing the hot rod for them, or some weird melting rubber band trick, from their youth.
Honestly I thought because a clown might be pressed for space, that carrying two rubber bands would be perfect. If I was a clown, I would perform it, besides, when I perform for children, often times I am doing the magic for an onlooking adult, and that gives one the opportunity to perform the last phase in the adults hands, wonderfully involving them with their child. I do that often in the three phase hot rod routine I do. The last phase I have the parent choose a color and vanish the hot rod.
All my effects are original, they are original to the audience because they have never seen me perform it. Just kidding, I understand your point, and I am continually working to become more original and more relaxed.
By the way... I don't do sponge balls, they're for clowns! :)

2:05 AM  

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