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  1. #1
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    Sucker Effects

    So I've decided to not do any sort of sucker effect. Firstly a sucker effect where the magician appears to fail just can't be made to mesh well with my performing character. But the main problem I have with sucker effects is that whenever I try one the spectator is always "Aww, nope my card was actually X better luck next time" before I even begin to attempt to 'fix' the mistake.
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  2. #2
    mallow81's Avatar :: Elite Member
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    Sucker effects have their place. While I don't do them, I do have a few routines in which I "make mistakes" and can't find their card. However if someone says "better luck next time" I reply with "did you think that was the end?"

    While you don't have to do sucker effects, don't remove all routines in which you "make mistakes". They can be fun, and more than not increase the impossibility of the effect (if you play it right).
    "It's fun to do the impossible" -Walt Disney

  3. #3
    RealityOne's Avatar :: Moderator
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    I don't think you have the definition of sucker effects correct. Generally, sucker effects are effects where the audience is led to believe something that isn't true. A common theme in sucker effects is make the audience think they know the method but then end in a way that disproves that method (sucka!). Another theme is effects where the audience thinks something and then is proven wrong (a monte type routine).

    What you are referring to is the "magician in trouble" plot. First off, never use that plot as a first effect. You need to establish your credibility in the eyes of the audience first. Also, you can play the oops off as "wouldn't it be impressive if the top card was your card? Yeah, it would be but that never works." Then turn it over and show a different card. "Here is where the magic begins... "and then do the change. That might work better with your character and gives the audience a similar experience of building excitement (that would be cool), let down (it never works and the reveal) and then a second build up (here is where the magic begins) and the finale (reveal of the correct card).

    ~ David
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  4. #4
    Jason.Michael's Avatar :: Moderator
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    First off, never use that plot as a first effect.
    I respect your advice, but this point is not always true....at least for me.

    Personally, I have successfully used a "magician in trouble" theme for an opening effect. But only in very specific situations where I am positive I have control. It's really a technique for casual situations. Obviously, you don't want to start off with this and actually lose control...because you'll come out looking pretty bad. However, I've found that sometimes, the more they doubt me, the better this can work.

    I use a simple color change. In this example, I've had people be interested in and maybe doubt my skills to start. When I come out successful in the end, my credibility goes way up. For me, I believe the key to making this work is to really emphasize that I was in complete control the entire time...that I knew exactly what I was going on.

    In the right place at the right time, this will, in my opinion, work very well to establish credibility.

  5. #5
    Craig Browning's Avatar :: Elite Member
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    Sorry but R1 is correct as to what a "Sucker" routine is about, what you describe is an entirely different beastie though there are some parallels. For an example the McCombical Prediction or the Don Wayne's "Top 10" routines do show the magician a bit frustrated in that the participant makes a selection that's "impossible" . . . they some how find the only ___ in a collection of all alike cards (which match the prediction he'd shown to the audience before hand), which is where the gag comes in and the audience believes they are in the know. . . it is what makes the routine funny, such as Paper Wads Over the Shoulder. It might seem a failure on the surface, but in the end there is a magical solution.

    The majority of actual Sucker Gags belong to the kiddie magic world though there are some cross overs as well as grand illusions like Backstage with the Magician, the Henning Cane Cabinet or my own Run-Around Sue routine.

    What you describe falls closer in with Slap-Stick gags and self-depredation; you take a hit to encourage a brief sense of pity from the audience only to come out triumphant; Charlie Chaplin and Jerry Lewis both made fortunes by taking this line of the victim.

    I fear that the loss of Brick & Mortar shops and the failings of magic groups like the IBM and SAM when it comes to guiding those new to this craft have resulted in a whole bunch of muddled concepts and perspectives. You might notice my frequent rants about people that do hand tricks calling themselves "Illusionists" -- for well over 100 year that title applied exclusively to those that presented grand illusions, the result is miscommunication. Same here, you are confusing concepts and terms as well as the sense of association when it comes to the idea of a Sucker gag.

    There is another cousin tied to this niche and that's the Betchya -- challenges that the mage can do but others can't. This category ranges from feats of general physics (the old bit of how a young lady can pick up a chair but a brute cannot, for an example) to proving that a handkerchief has 7 corners, balancing an egg on end, the Kellar Tie, etc.

    No, this does not include RAZZLES such as Monte type effects (Pea & Shell, 3 Cards, etc.) any hustle that has a gamblers theme built into it and in fact, are used as a street hustle.

    Bottom Line Is that your are talking about something in which you do suck the audience in, which is probably why you associate it with being a Sucker gag, but in truth, it is an entirely different plot. They are kindred concepts but not the same and technically speaking the approach you describe is the more theatrical and creative -- a greater challenge because of the acting it requires from you/the performer.




    r

  6. #6
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    First of all, hello to Ellusionist, this is my first post! Long-time lurker here. Now on the the topic at hand...

    I actually think using the "magician in trouble" plot in a first effect can work pretty well sometimes, but only in situations when you are doing 2-3 effects at the most.

    For example, let's say you do a poker routine. I sometimes do one where I patter about controlling a good hand - but not too good - to myself, so that I can be 99% sure to win and also make sure others bet during the round. I suggest that a 4 of a kind, low values along the lines of a 2 or 3, is a good one to control to myself, as it does not seem too implausible and does not arouse too much suspicion of cheating, etc. Having shuffled the cards a few times, I deal out a hand to the spectator and myself. They get the hand I was alluding to. Nevermind the patter I use, but they end up thinking that I'm in trouble - because they have the cards I was so confidently asserting that I would receive in this demonstration. This puts the spectator in a position where they think they know more than I do. Without going into the details, I end by displaying faux disappointment at their hand, showing them the royal flush that I have, and then the rest of the deck in new order (faro anyone?).

    What I think this does is it raises tension for the spectator - they get a sense of being "in the know". When that sense is taken away, they are flabbergasted, and with the kicker ending, they are floored. At this point, I would like to think that I have A) claimed some sort of skill, then B) caused the spectator to call into question that skill, then C) established that the skill was far beyond what they imagined.

    So what does this mean for the next effect? Well, for me, it means that I have proven dominance over a deck of cards, at least in terms of shuffling, cutting, and so on and so forth. If I do another effect, I would have to exceed my demonstrated abilities - so I would do something along the lines of Stigmata. Maybe I am being vague here, but what I believe this achieves is that I claim to have a skill that is very corporeal and understandable ("he's really good at sleight of hand"), and using the "magician in trouble" plot, floor the spectator. I then move on to further "top myself" by switching from something plausible to something seemingly surreal. The first effect has essentially set the stage for an evolving demonstration of skills that are at first understandable, and at the final moment of Stigmata, incomprehensible.

    Hopefully my verbose entry to this discussion isn't too obstructive. If y'all need clarification, my bad, I'm probably not being clear here. It's late in Denver.


    PS - Stigmata is hands down one of my favorites in this mini-routine I do, but I sometimes try to switch in Triumph, although I think the overall impression is lost.... thoughts?

    Did somebody say Wonder?

  7. #7
    RealityOne's Avatar :: Moderator
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    What I typed about not performing a magician in trouble routine first didn't exactly convey what I was thinking. A better way to put it is not to perform that type of routine unless you have established credibility with your audience. If you are performing for people who know you are a magician (either by seeing you perform before or by you being introduced as a magician) then you have credibility. In iherduliekmagic's case, he estabilshes that he has skill by dealing the low hand to the spectator, so that builds credibility and makes the mistake more believable. Also, it makes the audience interested to show him what their hand is. If you just walk up to someone and perform a magician in trouble routine without establishing credibility (especially if you are under 16), they may just think you suck.
    ~ David
    Perception of reality is a selection of reality which results in a distortion of reality.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by RealityOne View Post
    If you just walk up to someone and perform a magician in trouble routine without establishing credibility (especially if you are under 16), they may just think you suck.
    Fair point - agreed.

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