40 Years of thoughts on Close Up Magic in 200 Words. Don’t You Love Blogs!
There is a curious need for many close up workers to use very complex means to achieve their end results. I guess when you have spent hours working on a move you want to use it, curiously enough it often confuses the direct line of a trick. The shortest distance between two spots is a straight line, or in this instance it is from the set up to the reveal of a trick.
One of my favorite demonstrations of this approach was the way Ron Wilson performed the Chop Cup. He didn’t spend 5 minutes making a spectator choose where the ball was in the pocket or under the cup. He did one ‘pocket or cup’ moment and then BANG, BANG, he did the double production that is the real reason for the routine. You were really shocked by the speed and surprise of the routine, end of story!
Last week I watched John Carney performing a chop cup style routine which worked in a different way. His routine was quite a bit more complex but had some wonderful surprise along the way. A vanish of the glass used in the routine, the production of an orange and finally a mind blowing production of a coconut. While his set up was a lot longer than Ron’s routine, his low key selling of the build up, was charming and never crossed over into being an ‘I fooled you’ situation. As in the rest of his show, John did nothing without a reason and his style of performance gave much more of a feeling of someone talking to themself and letting the audience listen in. I saw more than a little of the patented McComb style of performance in his vocal pattern. That is meant as a very high compliment.
I was a great fan of the ‘Jazz’ approach to close up magic as initially proposed by Dai Vernon and beautifully articulated by Daryl in his first book. The ability to choose the right move for the right trick at the right moment does indeed give you the freedom to take your work to a different level, however the consistency of your style must remain the same. It’s nice to have a dozen, forces, double lifts and card controls at your command but if you can develop a truly convincing method of achieving these moves then you can achieve a seamless continuity that is psychologically very powerful. Hey, if you can perform a classic force well, a good card control and Dai Vernon’s push over double lift, you can do enough eye popping magic to keep an audience amazed for hours!
My late, friend Bobby Dee was almost unknown to magicians, but he made between $5000 and $7500 a night for his walk around magic and pretty much all he did was variations on the classic force. Ah, but the variations, the ‘outs’ and his personality made him a star in this genre. When he worked a banquet hall he was the center of attention not just at the table he was working but throughout the entire banquet room. Bobby was without doubt the most amazing close up performer I have ever witnessed, and I have seen the best of many generations. Not the greatest magician but the most effective close up performer.
…….Then there is handling cards during a stand up show! A very different story indeed and one I have become more and more familiar with since I left the close up phase of my performing behind. I will get into that in another blog!
This rather more scholarly blog is dedicated to S.P. Lodge, The very singular magician and mentalist who always gives me a hard time about seaming to take magic much less seriously than I do.