Today’s topics are: Remembering… the guillotine (an anecdote with lots of interruptions); a marketing idea (photo-postcard); News from Helder Guimaraes; practical advice for downloads.
These are The Magic Memories 118, gone online Sunday, April 2nd, 2023, at 0:07h sharp.
All The Magic Memories from 2021, 2022, including the Magic Advent Calendar from 2020 can be found HERE.
Remembering… the Guillotine
As I’m wading through the estate which a deceased friend left me, trying to sort out what can still be used, and donated to our club, I keep running into memories, not only of the life of my friend, but also of the many tricks and props I’ve come across in the past fifty (!) years of my involvement with magic. I had almost forgotten my fascination with all those things I consider trivial today… but they were part of my magical apprenticeship and education, if you will, and as such more important than I thought.
One of the props that made me smile and reminded me of an amusing happening was the guillotine depicted above. This is a model created and sold by Tenyo years ago. Although it functions admirably well, with little risk of really cutting off one’s finger (see below!), it is not a good one, and a good example why psychology comes before design, mechanical working, handling and presentation. I’ll explain:
The Tenyo guillotine misses the essential second hole below the large hole. In the presentation you first show that the guillotine works and its blade is “sharp”. For this you introduce an object that represents a finger into the “Work Hole” (a small carrot), as well as a “checking-prop” into the “Check Hole” (e.g., a cigarette). The blade is then pushed down with force, cutting both through the carrot and the cigarette, proving in an “Action of Explicit Conviction” (Sharing Secrets, p. 16) that the guillotine works as it is supposed to. And of course this is where the situation comedy starts… (no explanation needed).
When the climax occurs, and the guillotine magically “penetrates” the spectator’s finger, leaving it unharmed (symbolism of invulnerability – s. Sharing Secrets, p. 110 “Symbolism”), the blade must cut the cigarette in the “Check Hole”, this being an “Action of Implicit Conviction” that proves the blade is sharp after all and works. Without this, the piece remains a demonstration of a mechanical curiosity.
Bottom line: A trick that doesn’t consider the psychological construction of a trick, and only its technical and dramatic construction, may be surprising, even entertaining, but will never be magical in the sense of evoking the emotion of wonder.
Anyway, back to the anecdote I was going to tell you: I was booked by a private bank in Liechtenstein (info about this micro-state HERE), maybe it is the bank you have your money in 🙂 The event was the Xmas Party for the employees of this small private bank, as far as I can remember less than twenty people, all seated around one large table, and taking place in the country’s best restaurant inside a castle.
Upon my arrival the organizer informed me that they would have a six course dinner, and that they would like me to do a short interval with magical entertainment between each course, total 5 mini-shows. Good for me, my specialty!
Of course I was prepared, because before any show, I call the responsible person for the event, and I run through the evening with them in our mind… but that’s another conversation we’ll have to leave for some other time (still, I mention it because occasionally I have professional friends who complain about the conditions of their performance, whereupon I always wonder how this can be, as it is a professional imperative to foresee such things – and it is really very easy provided you talk to your client before the event, regardless of how many agencies are in-between…).
OK, back to the story. First course has been enjoyed, I wait for the table to be cleared, drinks being served, and get the maître d’ to withdraw his staff for the duration of my short performance (again, I have seen colleagues who start before, and then wonder why they’re not receiving full attention…). After having been announced by the CEO (no less!), who first explained how successful their bank business has been during the year, and that they had to do quite a bit of “magic” to achieve this, and this is why they have hired a professional magician tonight, to see if he can, “…teach us a few tricks. Please welcome Mr. Roberto Giobbi!”
I come on, thank and greet, perform some kind of visual opener (can’t remember what, as this is over twenty years ago…), and then, for my first audience participation piece, address a gentleman sitting near me. Immediately a big uproar, loud laughs, applause, cheers… I mean, I had no idea what was going on.
I had not said anything funny, I had not done anything (neither funny nor else). However, with the stoicism of the consummate professional I carried on as if nothing had happened, but made a mental note to ask the organizer in the break what had happened there, as I was sure it was some kind of inside-joke that I simply didn’t get.
Briefly, I finished the trick to kind applause, and let the restaurant staff discharge their duties… they served the second course.
And so it went until the end, to the satisfaction of the customer and his invited guests. After this show they booked me back two years later, being of course the most sincere way of saying, “We liked what you did.”
Oh, yes, lest I forget… the punchline: In a break I asked the organizer about that incredible reaction when I picked an assistant. She laughed and almost fell over, but finally told me that last year they had also booked a magician, a young one and apparently not so experienced, she pointed out.
One of his tricks was the “Guillotine Trick”, as she called it, where a spectator has to put his arm into the guillotine. Well, to cut this short – forgive the pun – the poor chap must have forgotten to activate the mechanism before letting the spectator put his arm into the “Work Hole”. When – after apparently endless jokes – he eventually slammed down the blade, the spectator was seriously injured and had to see a doctor after the show. Apparently he had the arm in a sling for a while, and of course his colleagues at work kept picking on hin and making jokes about it. So, when I chose exactly that one spectator, it all came back again!
Yes, very funny, I agree!
And, of course, I’m full-circle back at the guillotine I started with, proving that although I keep side-tracking all of the time, I never forget the point I want to make 🙂
A Marketing Idea
Recently my young friend Kevin Stieger sent me a physical postcard through the mail, reminding me of a lovely dinner we had in a one-star Michelin restaurant in nearby Alsatia, France: Living in Basel where Switzerland, Germany and France meet, I have access to the gastronomy of three regions!
The front of the card depicts the five courses we had in a restaurant- all except the dessert with lobster from Brittany (homard bleu de Bretagne, arguably the best) – and on the back it has a personalized stamp (Jimmy, the cat, taking a rest after practicing the Takagi Rope Routine I have been doing now for over 30 Years to open my professional performance), and there is plenty of space for a personal message (the photo only shows the upper right corner of the back of the card with the stamp).
How about taking five or so photos from you performing for a client, maybe at the table or else, arranging them as per above, and then sending it to your client after the show, or on his or her birthday as a memento/reminder?
In Switzerland the post office offers to print and send one such postcard per day for free. You can simply upload your photos into their predefined form, and they do the rest. If you want to send more than one, you’ll have to pay a fee.
Isn’t that a lovely idea, and so simple? I remember that when our son Miro went to a trip to Australia, he had the post office send us a photo-postcard almost every day with a photo documenting his travel. This probably works only to an address in Switzerland, but very probably every country has a similar service for its own country.
To see how this works in Switzerland (text in English), CLICK HERE.
If you like, using that service, you should be able to send me a postcard of you doing something, since my address is in Switzerland (send to: Roberto Giobbi, Schlossbergstr. 5, 4132 Muttenz, Switzerland).
Secret Language and Inside Story by Helder Guimaraes
You’re probably aware of this, but just to make sure: My good friend Helder Guimareaes has a very well made new project up called “Inside Story”. It deals with how to come up with your own presentations, and he illustrates this in much detail with some of his own creations, which are all quite wonderful, as you’ve come to expect from this over-talented young man.
As you know from my own writings and several blogs I’ve devoted to the subject, how to come up with one’s own presentations is a topic I’m very fond of, and I not only have a lecture on this, but also a full-day workshop. (No, there is neither a set of lecture notes nor a video documenting that…).
To learn more about Helder’s project, CLICK HERE.
If you bought a download…
Occasionally I receive an email from customers who can no longer find the download-link to a video they bought. I apologize, but this is due to a technicality that is of no interest to anyone, so I’ll save you the explanation.
However, as I clearly write in the description of each download on my webshop, IF YOU BUY A DOWNLOAD, please, do not just stream-view it, do download it on your computer, and if you think you are going to watch it again (I hope you do, as almost all my videos are made just for that!), then you should make a backup on an external hard disk, or on a USB-stick, and to a cloud service. I use Dropbox.
This is recommendable not just for my videos, of course, but for all you want to keep. You never know how long a particular site remains online.
I’m flattered that many out there seem to think that I’m at the head of a huge operation, possibly because my Card College books are so famous and widely translated, and that I’m a wealthy man with lots of employees. Actually, it’s only me, a small (but oh my…) one-man and one-woman (Barbara) micro-business. So, if I die, or a cyber-attack sets lose, or, or , or… your download-links will be gone, too, very fast, I assume…
THEREFORE: Do not rely on your links staying in your account, download the videos and SAVE them on your own devices.
End of lecture 🙂
Wish you all a very successful week!