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 Post subject: Penn and Teller fool us.
PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 2011 3:10 pm 
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I know this is a uk tv show but I imagine anyone in the magic community has heard about and seen some of it. I've been watching it the last couple of weeks and I have really enjoyed it mostly but I hav a grievance or two.

I just want to start by saying that all the acts that come on are well thought out and entertaining in their own way. Certainly some acts are better than others but these guys are, for the most part, good performers. I'd also like to add that any time I get to watch Penn and Teller perform I'm always amazed and amused. Teller perfromed his misers dream in the last show and it's one of the most beautiful pieces of art and magic it's ever been my privliage to witness.

Now to the grind. While the acts are all good it feels to me like most of them aren't even trying to fool P&T, in fact it really feels like most are after a free plug. Penn said himself to one performer (magic's current world champion no less) "this show isn't called amaze us it's called fool us." And while he was being nice about it I couldn't help but think somewhere beneath that he's actually getting a little annoyed with the lack of creativity coming from what is meant to be the best Europe has to offer.

Look I'm not saying it's meant to be easy and most of the slight of hand is really slick but even though I don't always catch the move I know what the move was when the effect is done and I'm nowhere near the standard of those two. Then there's guys waving obvious gimmiks (trick dice for example) and leaving them to be examined. It feels like most of the acts have missed the point.

Anyone else get this or am I on my own here?


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 Post subject: Re: Penn and Teller fool us.
PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 2011 3:45 pm 
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arkham666 wrote:
I know this is a uk tv show but I imagine anyone in the magic community has heard about and seen some of it. I've been watching it the last couple of weeks and I have really enjoyed it mostly but I hav a grievance or two.

I just want to start by saying that all the acts that come on are well thought out and entertaining in their own way. Certainly some acts are better than others but these guys are, for the most part, good performers. I'd also like to add that any time I get to watch Penn and Teller perform I'm always amazed and amused. Teller perfromed his misers dream in the last show and it's one of the most beautiful pieces of art and magic it's ever been my privliage to witness.

Now to the grind. While the acts are all good it feels to me like most of them aren't even trying to fool P&T, in fact it really feels like most are after a free plug. Penn said himself to one performer (magic's current world champion no less) "this show isn't called amaze us it's called fool us." And while he was being nice about it I couldn't help but think somewhere beneath that he's actually getting a little annoyed with the lack of creativity coming from what is meant to be the best Europe has to offer.

Look I'm not saying it's meant to be easy and most of the slight of hand is really slick but even though I don't always catch the move I know what the move was when the effect is done and I'm nowhere near the standard of those two. Then there's guys waving obvious gimmiks (trick dice for example) and leaving them to be examined. It feels like most of the acts have missed the point.

Anyone else get this or am I on my own here?


I LOVE this show. I saw the Pilot episode when it came out, then saw Penn and Teller live when they came to Orlando. I was so excited to hear that they were making more episodes.

I agree I thought Soma, to be frank, was an idiot. He seemed uber cocky and I think that he just assumed that since he was a World Champion, that P&T would be fooled. I'm glad to see that not every show someone makes it through, because then it would feel rigged to me.

As for some of the gimmicks use, I think some of these magicians are hoping that either A) P&T will look over them because they are so basic they would think that the performer was an idiot to use them or B) Think that in order to be busted by P&T they need to be super specific (like if they used a coin gimmick, they think that P&T have to name the exact gimmick rather than "coin gimmick")

It is interesting to see what people do for P&T. I've also been amazed that two of the effects that fooled them were marketed items. I know that for me personally I've been trying to think of what type of effect I would do if I ever met P&T lol


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 Post subject: Re: Penn and Teller fool us.
PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:53 pm 
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I really love the show and, while I see some of your points, I'd have to say that on the whole, TV magic in the UK is just at such a higher standard than TV magic in the US. As for "Fooling P&T?" There is something that I think you have missed in your criticism. That something is who Penn & Teller are and where their specialty lies. Of the episodes I have seen, so far they have been fooled by two mentalists and two card guys. The Irony is that at least two of the effects that fooled them are marketed effects. Basically, what has had the best chance of getting past the boys are effects in an area beyond their specialty.

Quick example. Ben Earl vs. Daniel Madison. I had to watch Daniel Madison's performance two or three times before the light bulb went off in my head and I thought "Oh! Of course!" When I saw Ben Earl's, though a brilliant performance and well beyond my meager capabilities, I knew exactly what he did right off the bat. The only difference between my two assessments was how rusty I was on the techniques they used. When I saw Ben Earl I just happened to be in a phase where I was studying shuffling work. When I saw Daniel Madison perform it had been a while since I had been through some of his books and had momentarily forgotten how courageous he was with a move that was critical to the performance. Never the less, if say... Jason England was the judge, neither would have gotten through.

I'll go on record now and venture a guess that no stage illusionist will fool Penn and Teller since Teller is widely regarded as one of the most clever stage creators out there today.


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 Post subject: Re: Penn and Teller fool us.
PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 2011 5:37 am 
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eostresh wrote:
I really love the show and, while I see some of your points, I'd have to say that on the whole, TV magic in the UK is just at such a higher standard than TV magic in the US. As for "Fooling P&T?" There is something that I think you have missed in your criticism. That something is who Penn & Teller are and where their specialty lies. Of the episodes I have seen, so far they have been fooled by two mentalists and two card guys. The Irony is that at least two of the effects that fooled them are marketed effects. Basically, what has had the best chance of getting past the boys are effects in an area beyond their specialty.

Quick example. Ben Earl vs. Daniel Madison. I had to watch Daniel Madison's performance two or three times before the light bulb went off in my head and I thought "Oh! Of course!" When I saw Ben Earl's, though a brilliant performance and well beyond my meager capabilities, I knew exactly what he did right off the bat. The only difference between my two assessments was how rusty I was on the techniques they used. When I saw Ben Earl I just happened to be in a phase where I was studying shuffling work. When I saw Daniel Madison perform it had been a while since I had been through some of his books and had momentarily forgotten how courageous he was with a move that was critical to the performance. Never the less, if say... Jason England was the judge, neither would have gotten through.

I'll go on record now and venture a guess that no stage illusionist will fool Penn and Teller since Teller is widely regarded as one of the most clever stage creators out there today.


Which brings to a point that Peter came up with on facebook. Why would they even bother? That is to say if a stage illusionist is going to go on this show why would they bother unless they really had something that no one had ever seen before. Young and strange and their metamorphesis/transported man trick. How is a double act really going to produce anything that those two don't already know about.

You are right that an act which doesn't fit their normal performance criteria will stand a better chance of fooling them and the people going on the show the must realise this. So why aren't they bringing something that no one's ever seen before?

As I said at the start of my original post I'm not trashing these acts, they're all really good in their own way it just doesn't feel like they actually went out with the intention of fooling P&T and rather just wanted some TV air time.


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 Post subject: Re: Penn and Teller fool us.
PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 2011 8:44 am 
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arkham666 wrote:
Which brings to a point that Peter came up with on facebook. Why would they even bother? That is to say if a stage illusionist is going to go on this show why would they bother unless they really had something that no one had ever seen before. Young and strange and their metamorphesis/transported man trick. How is a double act really going to produce anything that those two don't already know about.

First off...I'm not sure they are not trying to "fool" them. The stage acts have been admittedly weak....let me rephrase that. Strong performances but weak methodology. But think about the fact that most of those stage acts have been from relatively young performers. Young folks have a tendency to delude themselves. From a perspective of marketing the show those acts are important because it keeps a good level of variety in a show. So even though a stage show is doubtful to get through there is good reason to assume the producers of the show want them there and at least an understandable reason why the magicians themselves may have overestimated their act and underestimated Penn and Teller.
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You are right that an act which doesn't fit their normal performance criteria will stand a better chance of fooling them and the people going on the show the must realise this. So why aren't they bringing something that no one's ever seen before?

In regards to the closeup and mentalism, I think they are...at least trying...to fool them in earnest. I don't have enough experience in mentalism to give any good examples but again, back to my discussion of Daniel Madison and Ben Earl, I'm pretty sure both set out to "fool." I say that after having studied both. I feel pretty confident in saying that neither of those guys performed their "best" stuff. If they were just on the show to entertain the laymen, get some TV time, and grow their businesses, they each could have picked effects that play much bigger and seem more amazing to a lay audience. Instead they each relied magician fooling material. The kind of esoteric stuff that lots of guys talk about but few actually practice.


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As I said at the start of my original post I'm not trashing these acts, they're all really good in their own way it just doesn't feel like they actually went out with the intention of fooling P&T and rather just wanted some TV air time.

Yeah I know you are not trying to trash the acts and I understand where you are coming from. I just sort of "half" agree about whether they are earnestly trying to fool Pen and Teller. Realistically I don't think any stage magician really has a chance but I can understand, given the age of who I have seen so far, why some think that their twist on the ol' sub trunk routine might be good enough to fool. I can also understand why the show producers want some stage magic in the show. Finally, I can understand why Penn and Teller would be pleased with the show format and submissions. After all, if someone wins P&T are flying them out to Vegas to open their show. Do you really think P&T would want a stage routine to open for them? I'm sure they are pleased as punch that they are getting mentalists and card magicians since that kind of stuff won't really step on their own show.

P.S. If you were referring to Peter Turner then I'd add that I'm positive some of his effects would fool them. I bet Penn and Teller still use a center tear!


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 Post subject: Re: Penn and Teller fool us.
PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2011 1:27 pm 
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It's a fair argument all around and I'm sure from the perspective of a lay audience they can't tell if something is a trick that's really going to fool Penn and Teller or not.

Still if it were me I'd be coming out all guns blazing. I'd have been racking my brain day and night for something they'd never think of before I got there and if a better idea came to me an hour before my set I'd use that instead. Otherwise it'd feel like a wasted opportunity.

A show like this can only be helping the magic scene in general. The magicians who turn up on shows like Britains got talent are largely amatures with little idea of how to actually perform magic and get shot down quickly. The major exception of course is David Penn who was stunning. But a show like this which show cases some real magic talent in an environment where they can really shine is only going to make us look good in the long run and really it's about dam time someone did.

Yes I was referring to Peter Turner and he's actually looking into applying assuming they run a second season.

So what do you think of the effects that got through? Any theories? (of course the the marketed ones shouldn't be discussed and we should talk in code here.)


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 Post subject: Re: Penn and Teller fool us.
PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2011 3:16 pm 
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I think to fool P&T it would have to be well scripted (to the point of natural perfection and I am not talking about general patter).

I think the one thing that is important is to ask P&T to choose two audience members and only work with one of them, perform a quick test where it fails with one subject and hits with the next and I'm not talking about general colour or stichk style questioning but something that will help you determine which sub is going to be the most work able (like the seated trust your instincts force, without claiming they will get a feeling).

Use an impossible presentation and apply a massive time delay, maybe a minute while you patter with other subject (the one you wont be using) but pretending you are going to use them and then at last minute send them to there seat and ask for a round of applause and proceed with the subject thats still on stage.

I have a routine called Blind Sight, which I have kept under wraps and not shared (selfish I know) ;) .

I agree with Arkham, a lot have seen it as free publicity and whats with the amount of any card at any number routines??

Tellers misers dream was fantastic and clean, I also agree with Arkham with the boxed stage routines why bother Teller designs and builds them :shock:

Will let you all know how I get on when I have perfected routine!


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 Post subject: Re: Penn and Teller fool us.
PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2011 8:53 pm 
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Let us know if and when that happens Peter. Honestly I think you could floor them with "Mind Plant" after having seen some of the performances that have gotten through.


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 Post subject: Re: Penn and Teller fool us.
PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 5:32 am 
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I was kind of hoping to have a principle people would remember me for and I think I am happy to let 'Mind Plant' be it, I am glad I got it out there before anyone else thought of it!.

Just had 'Devious Realities' finished by Luke Jermay, got a nice response and also both the books are now in possesion of Docc hillford :)

I am releasing a book sometime next year collaberating with Chris Rawlings (a fantastic mind) which we are going to aim to release like a modern 13 steps (with more steps and newer principles) that include dual reality, peeks, psychological forces, predictions for headlines (that are so clean the mentalist is hands off), ways to make subjects switch envelopes for you without even knowing they have (eraticating the need for deck swaps or billet swaps as they do it for you), number feats, guessing names or info out of peoples heads without them writing anything down at all, a full chapter on drawing duplications, paranormal and mediumistic stunts (all while claiming you are not psychic), a chapter on scripting and the power of words and much MUCH more!

The holy grail for the modern mentalist!


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 Post subject: Re: Penn and Teller fool us.
PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 1:52 pm 
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quit using my threads to plug your products lol.


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 Post subject: Re: Penn and Teller fool us.
PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2011 1:13 pm 
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Piff the Magic Dragon has been my favorite so far. His signed card transformation made me think at first "I want to do that" but then I realized I would never be able to present it nearly as well as he could. Never seen a dragon that entertaining.


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 Post subject: Re: Penn and Teller fool us.
PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 5:26 am 
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arkham666 wrote:
quit using my threads to plug your products lol.


A guys got to make a living ;)


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 Post subject: Re: Penn and Teller fool us.
PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 11:17 am 
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tiggerkim wrote:
Piff the Magic Dragon has been my favorite so far. His signed card transformation made me think at first "I want to do that" but then I realized I would never be able to present it nearly as well as he could. Never seen a dragon that entertaining.



He was really funny. The look on his face when he walked onto the stage just had me in stitches. It's a convincing effect from a lay stand point as she freely chooses a card and handles it through the signing so however the gimmik works it's obviously very examinable at the start.

And frankly you're just being defeatist. You won't present is like Piff at all I hope. After all that's his act, his presentation etc you will make it your own and it will be just as entertaining in its own way.


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 Post subject: Re: Penn and Teller fool us.
PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 4:00 pm 
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I just want to say congratulations to Daniel Kramer. Mate what you did on that show took massive balls and the praise you got is of the highest kind. Well deserved and stay the path you've got a great future ahead of you.

Tonights show much better than last weeks it really felt like everyone involved was trying to pull out something special and catch the big guys off guard. Richard Bellers put on a great show and was very clever by putting P&T in the effect and destroying their objectivity. I had a similar idea myself actually but didn't have a trick in mind to attach it too. Plus I didn't apply lol oh well.


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 Post subject: Re: Penn and Teller fool us.
PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2011 9:57 pm 
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arkham666 wrote:
...And frankly you're just being defeatist. You won't present is like Piff at all I hope. After all that's his act, his presentation etc you will make it your own and it will be just as entertaining in its own way.

I was saying I could never present that effect as well as he could, and to present it in a lesser manor would be a crime against my audience. So until I could present it in a way that fits me and is in the realm of as good as he presented it, I won't even bother with the physical mechanics.

On a slightly related point, Daniel Kramer and Richard Bellers both took massive risks, and I think we'll be hearing more of them in the future.


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