Cris Johnson here with a new review.
Before I get into this week's review, a couple of housekkeeping notes and then a mini-rant...oh, heck, I'll do the rant first.:)
I had a day off this past monday and I saw a sign near my house advertising a magic show at our library. Since I'm in the beginning stages of planning an agency, I decided to go check the show out.
From a technical standpoint, the show was fine, but from a patter line standpoint, I won't even use the word 'script,' the show was awful ONLY because of the nasty..and I do mean NASTY...insult lines the guy used, directed at CHILDREN.
I tried finding the guy online and/or yellow pages as I wanted to VERY politely offer my thoughts. He was in his 60's, I'm in my 30's, so I can only imagine how it would've gone! Sadly, I couldn't find him anywhere.
Sad to say, this type of BAD performing is NOT unique in my experience. Therefore, I am changing next month's ezine. It was originally going to be about what Hollywood sequels can teach us about magic for repeat audiences. I'm still doing that article, but it's getting pushed back a month.
Instead, next month's main article will list some specific examples of this guy's insult lines without naming him by name), why they SUCK, my thoughts and speculation as to why magic has not advanced as much as it should from a scripting standpoint and more. I guarantee it will be a must read!
If you're not signed up, jump on the wagon now by sending me an email to: email@example.com. Sign ups for "Cause & Effects, the Ezine" is FREE!!
The second announcement: my newest book is READY! It's called "Cause & Effects Volume 2: Comedy Magic Routines That Will Make You Money!" It has 7 routines right out of my current 2010 set lists. There's my routine for the Arm Chopper - bar none, the funniest Arm Chopper routine ever! There's much more and at $24.95, it's a STEAL. The Hocus Pocus Web Team is crammed with work, but Paul assures me it will be up soon, so check back often!
On to the review...
This week, I take on Entity by Peter Loughran. It's available for $399.95 from Hocus Pocus. Here's the link: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/inc/product_detail.cfm?item=6071
EFFECT: Objects move without being touched - no threads, you're completely not attached to the gimmick and you can do this even across the room!
WHAT YOU GET: You receive the main props, a CD-ROM of video programming instructions and some written pages of routine ideas and a small carrying case.
QUALITY OF PROPS: Peter makes great stuff and this is no exception. The electronic prop comes with a nice carrying case with room for the remote control and even some additional small props, if you desire. Plus, the electronics were built & designed by Sean Bogunia, so you know you're getting quality.
QUALITY OF INSTRUCTION: Peter's instructional CDs are always of serviceable though not broadcast quality, but they're more than good enough. The written routines are decent, though this prop has so many possibilities that it's overwhelming. Right now, I use the prop in two of my shows - one for adults and one for elementary schools. Both age groups react VERY well.
AD COPY: Here's where some folks might have a problem. I'll admit, I've owned the prop for about two years and it's been a while since I read the ad copy...when I did today, I had the "uh-oh" reaction.
You see, I bought the prop initially for one very specific purpose in a very specific show. I talked to Peter on the phone and he really helped me make a good decision. For me, I use it for stage and parlor, in front of anywhere from 20-400 people.
If you're not experienced in performing parlor and stage, to me this means that unless you have an unruly audience, there's going to be a sort of 'barrier' between you and the audience. I mention 'unruly' because only the rudest of spectators will start poking around and grabbing things. Sure they may speak, but most seated shows do not encourage poking and prodding.
In the TV and film industry, people talk about the "invisible fourth wall," where psychologically people are just watching...At your next show, leave the stage and start walking toward people. Often, some people will be surprised! "Oh, the guy can move toward me!!"
What does all of this have to do with Entity's ad copy? In my opinion, a LOT. Peter talks about doing this close-up and table-hopping and how you are clean before and after the effect. I know the handling Peter is talking about, and in my opinion, most people would not want to use it. I'm not saying it won't work, just that I know how magicians think and I believe that at least 99% of the people who buy this with the idea of table-hopping in their head will not entertain the idea of using this in a table-hopping situation once they receive it.
Why? In a close-up situation, there is not a "4th wall" psychologically separateling people. I have done killer stage shows and then close-up afterwards where even the most polite corporate suits turn into Mr. Happy Hands, to quote Doc Dixon. It happens.
The handling for using Entity in a table-to-table such situation requires immense audience management skills. While you are clean before and after the effect using this odd handling, DURING the effect, if someone looks where they are not supposed to, you're screwed.
Compounding things is the clean-up: Right after the effect is over is when people are MOST likely to look where they can't and that's precisely where you must then secretly stash the device. I don't feel it's practical. Possible, yes, practical, no.
Next, Peter assures us that people can place the item down, watch it move, and then they can pick it up again. Here I respectfully disagree...because of the nature of the secret to the movement, most people will feel "something" intangible that will lead them to the secret. This is all despite the fact that there truly is nothing attached.
Now, all due respect to Peter as I LOOOVVEEE this effect..for stage. And parlor. In my opinion, his ad copy should have focused on the real strength of this effect. The first time I performed this for a paying client, I sat down in the audience with them and watched Entity do its thing on stage!
MY THOUGHTS ON THE EFFECT ITSELF: Continuing from the previous paragraph, this puppy shines from the stage or parlor. People can stare right at the item moving and they won't see anything...no threads, for real.
Entity can also move fairly large objects, depending on weight and performing conditions. It's pretty strong. Also, you can move things laying on their sides as well as upright. I started out using Entity to move a Styrofoam cup that was upright. After a while, I tried it sideways and now I always do it that way because after a lot of practice, I can get the cup to not only move sideways, but also twist & turn as it does so. It's REALLY neat!
The remote's range is quite good, meaning you can do this from across the stage. Very cool!
Also, the movement is something you can program for yourself, meaning you can have the object move...wait, move again, move all at once, etc. Variety is a good thing!
The only beef I have really with using this prop in my stage shows is the manner of securing the unit. Peter provides a way to place the unit secretly in place and then easily remove it again. This method for me at least only held it in place for a few seconds...and that was after I cleaned the heck out of my surface.
I switched to my own method: velcro! Now it works perfecty.
These minor short comings are not meant to convince you not to buy it. In fact, I highly recommend this product if you are a stage or parlor performer. It's reliable, looks great and is quiet.
MY RATING: I'm going to give this one of my "split reviews." As far as close-up. I would never use this. The unit is too big and the handling is too awkward for table hopping. I have no doubt Peter does it, as he created it, but for most of us, no way. Our expectations and comfort levels would probably prohibit us. Not to mention the amount of pocket space you'd use.:)
For stage or parlor, this is truly an AWESOME product.
With that, I only give this a 1 out of 10 for close-up and a rock-solid 9 for stage or parlor. I'd also strongly urge Peter to consider revamping his ad copy. But I still love it.:)
Questions? Comments? Review Requests? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next week...