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 Post subject: Patter
PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2005 12:17 pm 
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Hey! If you would like to post your patter for kids effects, post it/them here!

Thanks,

Austin


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2005 3:34 pm 
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WHY? The patter should be YOURS not anyone else's Each of us has to fit his own personality and that of the character you protray.

Sorry, don't steal other's stuff, write your own.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2005 9:27 pm 
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Ok, sorry. I didn't know. :(

Austin


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2005 12:12 pm 
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A magician's most valuable asset is his patter. This is what personalizes a trick to make it your own. For many of my effects, the patter has developed over several YEARS. I have developed this patter for paying audiences, not to give away for free.

I do not say this to be offensive. It is just a reality. You will also find a similar attitude in many magic shops. The demonstrators behind the counter will gladly describe the effect and demonstrate it for you. But seldom will they provide their own unique patter to go along with it. At most, you might get some of the basic patter that comes with the instructions. Then it's up to you to go out and develop your own patter to fit your own style.

Personally, I thinks it is a mistake to copy anyone elses patter. Ethical issues aside, someone else's patter will seldom fit into your own personality and manner of performing. It will look and feel contrived. Covnersely, if you develop patter of your own, you will have an artistic creation you can truly call your own.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2005 5:04 pm 
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I have to disagree here.

First, though, I do agree that you should never steal someone else's patter without permission.


Second, develop your own style, and choose patter that fits.


However....

Many magicians provide patter for sale. Some, like Ron Bauer and Whit Haydn (famous magicians, both) believe explicitly that you can best learn how perform great magic by choosing classic effects, or at least great ones, and by actually using and memorizing professionally developed patter, moves, and the underlying magical philosophy of performance that come with them. In fact, both argue that you probably will not develop your own full potential until you receive training on exactly how great magicians do what they do--and that means doing exactly what they do. Sir Richard Burton and Sir Lawrence Olivier played Hamlet. They both found it acceptable to use the exact patter written by Shakespeare. Yet, no one would accuse Burton or Olivier of not being his or her own person.

Now, some patter works better than others. Here is a good choice. Buy Whit Haydn's Comedy Four Ring routine and memorize the patter. It is straight forward, can be played as if you were a slightly foolish, and pompous (but not ridiculous) teacher. The comedy comes through in the routine. Mr. Haydn will be pleased if you learn it exactly like he uses it and learn to perform it competently and for the pleasure of your audience. He provides video of parts of his routine performed live over the last 30 years, and you can see how he brings humor to different spectators using exactly the same lines. You know what? They work for me too. I have used it on the street, exactly as written.

This does not mean you should not write your own patter, eventually. In some cases, you may not be able to find patter better than you could write. Most tricks you buy do not come with good patter. But do not underestimate the importance in learning why a great routine is great. The notion that you can take a great routine and make it yours by simply changing the patter, for no good reason, is arrogance.

If you are going to throw out the patter for a classic effect, then why not just throw out the whole trick and make up your own?

But then again, there is a reason classics are classics.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2005 8:52 pm 
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I develope patter through-out many performances of the trick..
Example: one of my first tricks i ever learned was ACR from BTP. I started outwith basically Oz's patter, not the exact lines but somewhat the same. Then changed lines added lines not on paper or like thought about well if i said this or this... it just happend. It kind of evolves.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2005 10:57 pm 
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Let me elaborate. When we newer magicians write patter, we usually hit it from two broad angles. One is the expository angle. This is where you just say what you are doing. I think this is both the easiest and safest patter to write. But even here, there are dangers. Done incorrectly, it can be deadly boring, confusing, or both. The second is the storyline. This is very tempting for newer magicians because it seems to give your routines some gravity. But proper story writing for routines is hard without some deep writing skills and good theatrical training. Done poorly it can look silly. One on one, it can be OK and cute. It is harder to tell stories, without adequate training, for larger groups. (I used to tell a female assistant, when I performed Red Hot Mamma, that the cards were guys, and the one she picked was blushing. Cute for one or two, but try this in front of 15, and it looks silly. And this is just an example of a slight variation of the normal plot.)

But beyond just the words is the whole structure of the effect. The words should guide the spectators down an intellectual path to the final effect. But it is the structure of the routine that makes the path. On the Cafe we had a debate over whether we should ever repeat an effect. The stock answer is no, we should never repeat an effect.

You should go a read that thread and read Whit Haydn's responses. He clearly argued, not only is it acceptable to repeat effect (using different methods,) but it is often necessary to strengthen a trick. Magic, he says, should lead the spectators to the horns of a dilemma. You want to destroy any naturally ocurring tendancy to try to figure out how you did it. They should end up saying, "It can't be magic, but there is no other explanation." Here is an example of a spectator’s response to a trick. "I thought I saw you put that card in the middle, but it ended up on top. Maybe you did not really put it in the middle. There, I solved it. Dumb trick." Recognize this? It is a one-phase Ambitious card routine. Are you going to follow the rule not to repeat? Of course not. You will go to phase two and even more clearly put the card into the center and make it go back on top. "Well, maybe you did a card switch," they think. So you do phase three, and let them see the signed card go into the middle. Still back on top. Now the spectator is tottering so you go in for the kill. You bend the card, you put it into the middle, and it still comes back to the top. "It can't be magic, but there is no other explanation." So where does patter fall into this? Well, it could be expository. Keep in mind though; you are intellectually killing the spectator. You can write patter that makes you look great and the spec look like an idiot. Ever see that? It can happen without even trying. Or you could write patter that softens the bitter pill, make it enjoyable, and make them love you. Think it is easy? It is not. One big complaint that I hear is that magicians come off like egotistical jacka**es. But study Whit Haydn's routines, Chicago Surprise (which includes essays on what I am, poorly, trying to say here,) Mongolian Pop Knot, and the Comedy Four Ring Routine and learn how patter can be used to make the audience love your magic and you, even as you fool them. In his ring routine, the helper fails three times to get two rings apart, but since the magician never notices it, he is filled with effusive praise, hugs, and leads rounds of applause for that helper, who leaves the stage the hero. At best the magician comes off as nice; at worse, he comes off as a buffoon—but a buffoon with a twinkle in his eyes that say, “We all know I was joking and we are all having great fun.”

My cups routine is mostly expository with built in impromptu lines for things that happen. Although I am new to street magic, I have taught for twenty years, I give sermons, and teach three-day workshops. I have some skill with groups and hecklers. I can anticipate things that might happen, where confusion might reign, or where boredom might set in. But even so, my patter develops from my experience and I modify it everyday. But it is good that I had as a basis a routine and patter that had been used on the street for twenty years. I change the patter, but I pay attention to what I am changing. The original patter was designed to facilitate a certain flow to the routine. If I just start changing the patter, or even worse, just do it on my own with no experience, I end up with an illogical and less than effective routine.

Write your own patter, if you want, but try to base it on the way classic routines were done. BTW, don’t think a demo video on any website provides professional patter. Change that at will.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2005 8:49 am 
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Chris,

I respect your opinions but, in this case, we don't see eye to eye. I have Whit Hayden's routine and it is perhaps one of the best 4 ring routines I have ever seen. A large part of that is because of his ability to understand and manage and audience through the effective use of body language, timing and patter.

But, just because the patter is good, is no reason to copy it. Copying someone else's patter is a crutch that turns the performer into nothing more than a poor imitation of the original artist.

Often, I have seen magicians perform someone else's routine exactly like it was set out on the video, complete with each and every little off-color joke. Their technical movements may have been excellent, but there was nothing of the performer in the routine itself.

We are supposed to be actors playing the role of magicians, but in doing so, we must define and create the character of the magician - not blindly imitate those who have come before us. Otherwise, where is the art?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2005 8:50 am 
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Chris,

I respect your opinions but, in this case, we don't see eye to eye. I have Whit Hayden's routine and it is perhaps one of the best 4 ring routines I have ever seen. A large part of that is because of his ability to understand and manage and audience through the effective use of body language, timing and patter.

But, just because the patter is good, is no reason to copy it. Copying someone else's patter is a crutch that turns the performer into nothing more than a poor imitation of the original artist.

Often, I have seen magicians perform someone else's routine exactly like it was set out on the video, complete with each and every little off-color joke. Their technical movements may have been excellent, but there was nothing of the performer in the routine itself.

We are supposed to be actors playing the role of magicians, but in doing so, we must define and create the character of the magician - not blindly imitate those who have come before us. Otherwise, where is the art?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2005 9:57 am 
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You mention actors. If I performed Hamlet, I would bomb. But I would bomb not because I used someone else’s words, but because I do not have theatrical training. If Olivier recites the exact same words, he turns them into a work of art--even though thousands of others have recited the same words.

I agree that many magicians do routines poorly that they have seen on video, but I have also seen magicians do their own stuff that was lousy too. The idea that someone, who can't do the exact Haydn patter in this routine with any skill, would improve with their own patter is wishful thinking. Writing your own words down does not automatically lead to a better magical performance. It more than likely leads to something worse. Just because it is "yours" does not change that, and seems to ignore the evidence to the contrary. Most actors make a part their's and yet it was written by someone else. Few great actors are successful at script writing. Of course, magic is more improvisational. Often patter is just an outline, so you know what happens next. Knowing the basic patter well allows you to improvise at any point and then return to the trick where you left off. Also, some patter we see on videos is not appropriate for copy. It is too tied to the improvisational moment, or the magician is not presenting his actual working patter. Plus, developing timing is a different matter. Using the patter (your’s or their’s) is just the start of making the routine your own. But you don't develop timing by writing your own material. Timing is tied to the words,--when you speak and when you pause. Good writers will build that into the selected vocabulary they use, and the way the lines are written. Do you believe that a complete newbie knows how to write jokes or any kind of theatrical script? Do they even understand the philosophical foundations of magic well enough? If they are naturally funny, then yes, maybe they can get away with part of it. But some dull loser doing some lame Sankey joke would do just as bad or worse with there own jokes and patter. I suggest that except in rare cases not to copy jokes. I don't tell jokes well, so I avoid patter that is tries to be too funny. I will do Haydn's routine because there are few, if any, jokes. I do improvise with my audience a lot, but I have learned to do this over years of teaching and giving speeches and talks. I do not tell jokes though.

If you saw me doing the Haydn routine, you would say, “Not very great.” But I solve that problem by closely studying his presentation and words, not trying to write my own the first day.

I do agree though, that if you are going to make it big, you do eventually, maybe within a year or two of studying a classic routine, write your own patter. This is true of any art, such as music. But there is a place in music for the competent cover band, playing weddings and dances and playing other people’s music. In fact there are more of them then the ones we hear on the top forty stations. Same with magic. There is a place for the top dogs. But there is also a place for the ones who present Triumph with the Ammar patter competently for a restaurant patron. I doubt that the layperson is saying, “Gosh, I can’t believe that he is doing that Ammar routine.”

When I do the Four Ring Routine I use his exact patter, particularly at the beginning, where much of the introductory humor happens. I watched his dozen or so examples from the DVD of this part of the routine and have studies his pauses, pacing, reactions, etc. Haydn knows exactly what he is doing at each point. It looks like improvisation, but it is not. He knows what to do when the spec does not notice the hole and what to do if they do. It is all planned. And I can approximate what he does. I can get the audience to smile and laugh. I mention this routine for two reasons. First, t is easy to follow the patter and get strong reactions. Since you ignore what is happening with your helper, except to tell them how wonderful they are doing every minute or so, it allows you to just follow the script and still get great laughs. Second, Mr. Haydn does not mind if I use the patter. He wants me to use the patter, if it means I present his routine competently. It is hard to imagine I could do better.

Now in my cups routine, I have done this longer and I wrote my own patter. I do not use more than one or two of Gazzo’s jokes. I did base my patter on Gazzo’s, but not so much the words but how to use words to keep a good flow and rhythm to the routine. Even here I have changed some to fit me. But I have performed this routine for nearly a year, and I practice the whole thing at least 10 to 20 times a week. Also, Gazzo does not present a fully developed routine, although much of it is there.

Other routines I use only as a base. I do not try to imitate Bill Malone, but some of his stuff I do. But I try to adapt it to my personality.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2005 11:21 am 
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Holy cow Austinwaldo, I bet you didn't see this type of thread coming!

I totally agree with Chrisrkline.

I must agree that it is o.k. to get patter from others. As long as you are not just blatantly stealing someones act, or "signature line" of sorts. Every performer starts from somewhere, and every performer is inspired by other performers.

I am mostly a clown that does magic, but I know in clown circles that it is socially acceptable to "steal" a joke, gag, or patter. But a good rule of thumb is if you "steal" something, make it your own. Change the punchline, incorporate it into a trick or gag in a different way than the original. Make it your own. And only "steal" stuff that would fit your personality or character. It is very rare that you will be performing the same joke for the same kid who saw it before from the person you stole it from. So I think a thread like this is o.k.

I have done magic for years, but as a clown. And I have always taught, if you like something about another clown, take it, and mold it to yourself. And give proper credit when you need to. Performing is like cooking a soup, you take a lot of different flavors (jokes, gags patter) and put them together. Some other people are pulling from the same "flavors" but everyone is different, so each "soup" will have it's own distinct flavor. Some are good and some are bad, all depends on how well you put them together.

Like I said I am a clown and I am kind of new to the magician community, I really hope this no-sharing-of-material attitude is not prevelant.

Anyway, I will brainstorm on some good kid patter and post later. Always glad to share!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2005 12:00 pm 
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I have never said "no sharing of materials." What I do say is make the patter fit YOUR character. Paddy The Clown and Doc Paddy (my 2 characters) both can do the same magic trick, however, the patter will be totally different for each character.

Paddy The Clown is just that, a clown that bungles his way into things. Miracles happen to Paddy and he just goes on. Doc, on the other hand, is a medicine show pitch man, so all the wonderous things that happen are a result of the Doc Paddy's Ancient Irish Pain killer that he sells. Same effects, different ways of handling it and different patter.

That is the same thing that I think Chris is saying. Put YOUR personality into the patter.
Peter


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2005 12:40 pm 
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I think it is better to ultimately come up with your own good patter. The key word is good. Until you have studied magic for a long time or have worked for a long time in front of spectators, you are mistaken to think that you can write it better than a professional script writer. The key here is professional script writer.

A lot of marketed effects come with a bare bones patter that you need to flesh out or you will look silly. Also, you should not try to be Bill Malone dressed like David Blaine. You should not try to be Kreskin dressed like Bobo the Clown.

Structuring an effect is harder than we give credit sometimes, and it is smart to look to experts to see how they do the effects. But do not steal someones effect or patter unless you have permission, and if you use someones script, make sure it fits who you are.

But we put too much preassure on new magicians to be "original" before they have had time to learn magical theory.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2005 12:57 pm 
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True, you shouldn't steal material if you don't have permission.
That would be just poor taste.
But we aren't talking about whole acts here, we are just talking about patter. And if someone is stealing a whole act, that would just be obviously a bad choice.
But patter, I believe is considered by a lot of performers to be one-liners or a basic structured statement to lead the conversation or act in one direction. Yes some stuff is original, and should not be stolen without permission but I think your average performer would tweak or change the patter to fit themselves.
If not, then they probably a poor performer to begin with and that shines through everytime. And before you know it, you don't see them working anymore.

Plus, a thread like this, I think people who want to offer advice/patter would. It's not like this stuff is being stolen via an online forum.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2005 3:33 pm 
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WOW! Thanks a ton! I'll try to write my own patter...

Austin Waldo


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