Maya’s Bat Mitzvah

Yesterday I performed at a Bat Mitzvah, which is the Jewish ceremony/celebration of a girl becoming of age. It happens when she turns 12 years old and is always such a milestone for the family. I was very fortunate to be invited to perform for the family and their close friends.

It was a special treat to see Maya who is very talented herself, and to watch her enjoy the magic as much as she did. It was like 2 talents were combined. She sings. I try to sing… I’m not good at it though. So overall I had fun and the comments I received from the guests and family were very positive.

You can see the pictures that were taken of the show in the Galleries tab at the top of the page. Feel free to leave a comment and please check me out on facebook https://www.facebook.com/GregGelbMagician where you can see more pics and notifications of my upcoming appearances in and around Cape Town.

As always if you want to book me for a show – just drop me an email. And if you want to hear what people are saying please click the Reviews tab at the top.

Now go and use your own magic to brighten others’ day!

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Resident Magician at The Thirsty Scarecrow

Hi guys,

I have very exciting news. As of 2 weeks ago I am the resident magician at The Thirsty Scarecrow. I will be there every Sunday until the end of the year. So come along and partake in some awesome food and company and be amazed by some magic!

I must say I have been having such fun performing for the customers. The staff and management are supportive and the atmosphere is just homey. Not only do you get good food, great magic, but the view of the Mooiberge strawberry fields and mountain hills are to die for!

I’ll be performing every Sunday between 1 and 4pm.

Directions to the Thirsty Scarecrow from Cape Town are here:

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I was a layman last night… and I loved it!

Last night I went to the monthly Cape Magicians Circle where I was truly treated like a layman… and I LOVED it! I forgot how much fun it is have to pick up my jaw from the bottom of the floor. We were treated to a show by Stuart Lightbody. I first met Stuart when I was job-shadowing a good friend of mine, Jacques Le Sueur , because I knew I wanted to be a magician when I grew up. I was 17 and Stuart was a young lad. But from then, I already knew he had a special talent, and last night I was reminded why he is one of the best sleight-of-hand artists in South Africa.

I thoroughly enjoyed participating and even though some of the effects I knew how to do, the way in which he performed was just gorgeous. It reaffirmed my belief that no two tricks can be performed identically by two magicians who are passionate about their craft. He was so smooth and just executed every slight with such speed. You know, the key of making a sleight look so invisible isn’t about the quickness of the move, rather, performing it slowly will provide the audience with the notion that you are conjuring up miracles.

I enjoyed the feeling of being inspired and actually sitting there going: “How in the hell did he do that? I mean I know HOW, but how did he do it where I knew what to look for and didn’t even see it?!”

I enjoyed watching Stuart perform, and you too can enjoy this if you’re in Cape Town. He will be performing at the Fringe Festival from 25 Sept – 5 Oct. Go book now! You won’t regret it!

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Through a Murky Window, one is unsure of what they see : Clarity in our magic.

As magicians, our ultimate goal is to entertain (should this not be true to you reading this, might I suggest a change in profession/hobby). In order to be successful at this goal it is imperative that our audiences understand what our magic is all about. We need to make sure that each effect we do is received in the manner in which we delivered it. Yes, I am talking about clarity.

Clarity

Google defines clarity as “the quality of being coherent and intelligible.” Being clear in our instructions and the way in which we give over our magic is an integral part in our goal to entertain. The last thing we want is for our spectator(s) to watch a trick that you have spent hours practicing and a lot of time and effort in setting up, only to be disappointed because you never explained yourself clearly and therefore the spectator completely missed the climax and the warm-fuzzy feeling they would have gotten from witnessing the true magic that is you.

So what are some of the steps we should take in assuring clarity?

Before we get to the part of delivering your patter and trick effectively and clearly, we need to actually establish if our patter is clear and if the direction of the trick is clear.

Darwin Ortiz in his book Strong Magic discusses the idea of clarity. Strong MagicHe says “What is really essential for strong magic is not simplicity of effect, but clarity of effect.” (Ortiz, 30 ; 1994). Clarity does not equal simplicity. A simple transposition will not make sense if it is not clear. Similarly a floating piece of money that jumps around a card box, where the construction is very complex; the presentation needs to be clear in order for that effect to be understood.

Ortiz spends some time on the topic of clarity and I will summarise what he is saying and hopefully this will aid in our magic becoming clearer.

First, Ortiz suggests writing down all the tricks that you do and under each one, in 3 sentences or less write a summary of the effect. Actually grab a pen and paper and write them down. Go now please. Don’t worry, I’ll wait…

Now that you have written your effect summaries, perform each effect and then look back at the summary. You might find that you need to change a thing or two but ultimately you want to end up with the essence of the trick on that piece of paper.

The next step is looking at the summaries and making sure that when the spectator sees the effect, they are interpreting it how you want them to. There are only a few effects where without voice they can be understood only one way. Most tricks require patter. For example, you are doing an ambitious card routine; who is causing the card to come to the top? Is it the snap or magical move of the magician or is it a gesture from the spectator? Is it a word, a relevant time frame? A phrase? Do you get the idea?

The next bit is to look at your patter and see where the emphasis lies. Are you emphasising the important aspects of the effect? Where you put emphasis on shows what is important. In a pick-a-card trick, are you spending more time on the aspect of losing a card in the deck or on the aspect of finding it? Is the trick about finding the location of the card or making sure it’s superbly lost and can’t be found? Now go back to your patter and get rid of any action, word, phrase, or sentence that does not contribute to the essential effect that you are creating.

Patter informs the spectators what is about to happen; paints a story for the spectators to grab onto. The last thing we want is to burden our spectators by making them work, and what is the type of work that we hate doing? Mental work. If your patter is structured in such a way where the spectator has to actually think and you’re leading them down convoluted pathways, then they will get lost and your effect and hard work will be all for naught. It will also piss them off!

When it comes to designing our tricks, we want to make things as easy as possible not only for us but for our spectators. If we clutter our patter and tricks, it will not only cause confusion but it could also make the spectators upset for either paying for a magic show and instead not understanding a single part therefore ruining their evening/day; or wasting time and energy in trying to follow the magician’s stories.

I spent time working through this process and it was a huge eye-opener for me to see what clutter was surrounding the tricks I get paid to do. I hope you will gain as much benefit from the exercise as I have. Good luck!

 

 

 

Ortiz, D. (1994). Strong Magic. Ortiz Publications. United States of America.

 

 

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My Visit To The Magic Castle.

For years we have dreamed of going on holiday to America. “The dollar is too expensive”; “You possibly can’t afford to do this.” Well let me just put it out there for all: We did it, on our own, no help, our own initiative, and we saved every penny we took with us. Boy I am so proud of our trip. We had such an incredible time. Now, I’m not going to spend this post going through what we did from Day 1 to Day 14, but I will touch on a few experiences that have some magical touches.

Ever since getting into magic, I have heard about the Magic Castle, In Los Angeles and how it is a prestigious club where magicians perform. I’m fortunate enough to have quite an extensive digital library of Magic and a lot of the magicians seem to bring up the Castle and how it is an honour to perform there. So naturally I have wanted to check the place out, and I swore to myself that when I finally do get to the States I will go and visit the Castle. It’s like a tourist coming to Cape Town and not going up Table Mountain – unheard of. Little did I know tickets to L.A are so expensive, but that didn’t stop me and we made a whole trip out of it. We went to Disney, Universal Studios, Venice Beach, Santa Monica…. I digress. The Castle. Yes. So you need to be invited in order to go. I have a friend who performed there in December and he put me in touch with Tom Ogden who “hooked a brother up” and Lee-Ann; our host Rocky Solomon, and I went on the Sunday night to experience the Castle. That is exactly what it is, an experience. No two experiences will be the same. That is what is so awesome about it.

And Tom, who is a long-time member of the Castle and has performed there was an incredible host. You see, the website doesn’t really do justice to the Castle. The Castle is full of history. History that one can’t put on a website or in a blog post. It takes passion and love to take time to learn that the Castle is more than just a place for people to watch magic and Tom shared that side of the Castle to us. It really enhanced our evening. Thank you Tom.

You walk into the atrium where already the atmosphere is set for you: magic and mystery. The first bit of magic happened when I said the magic words to a wall full of books “Open sesame” wooooop, the door slides open. It felt eerie, yet welcoming. Everyone is dressed up so eloquently – suits, ties, dresses, and make-up. This pre-requisite for the Castle really puts forward how it takes the magic that is performed there: unique, high standards, special, and well-respected. We never ate at the restaurant due to the kosher food being incredibly expensive ($60+ per person per meal), so that meant we had to wait in longer lines in order to see the shows. Tom waited with us which made the wait so much quicker because that was when we really got to shmooze. We laughed and chatted about the Castle and Cape Town. Again, he is a character who I could see loves magic and loves what the Castle stands for.

The shows that we saw were just marvelous. I was fortunate enough to see 2 close-up shows, a ventriloquist, and 2 parlour shows. It is clear that the performers at the Castle are of a high caliber. Probably one of the best parts for me was seeing Irma in action… she is the ghost that plays the piano. Tom introduced us to her as his South African guests and she began to play our anthem. The people before us requested a song by 50 Cent, she played it, and she played it good. When you give her a tip “there’s a little something for you” she plays a happy tune. It was so awesome to watch. I wouldn’t mind a haunted piano in all honesty… as long as it doesn’t start freaking me out with theme songs from “Jaws”, “Psycho” and the like!

It was quite interesting to learn that pictures are not allowed to be taken in the Castle. Tom informed us that years ago it was permitted for photography, however because the lighting is so dim, the photos don’t turn out so well. The Castle is also a popular place for celebrities who just want some relaxed time with their loved ones and well you can imagine how relaxing it is for them if there are people crowding around and wanting pictures. All that being said, here are some pictures of the Castle taken by Star Foreman off the LA Weekly Slideshows. I hope you enjoy them, but please note that the pictures you see do not do it justice, and I highly suggest that you make sure when you’re next in L.A to go and check it out. It is a magical experience that you and whoever is privileged to go with you will not forget!

Stay tuned for more on our USA trip – Monday Night Magic in NYC is next!

Magic Castle, until we meet again…

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Performing The Right Effect(s) For Your Audiences

I went to a party 2 weeks ago and a magician was there. Okay so I felt a little resentment for the company who I know personally and support didn’t hire me but what can you do? Anyways, the magician is a guy who is well-known throughout Cape Town and I have attended many of his shows. Sadly he comes across as a one-trick pony because his shows are identical. That would be okay but if you’re the magician who is servicing a particular area (which he is), then it is obvious that 90% of any given audience in that particular area (such as the one I am talking about) would have seen the show.

So that already put a bad taste in my mouth. I love magic and I want magicians to succeed. But come on, if you know you’re famous and you know you have done an enormous amount of shows , then just change the show. Just change it. It’s not hard to mix things up a little, in fact it’s probably good for you as the magician to do that.

Well that’s not the point of my post. I want to discuss the importance of information and informing oneself before the show. What do I mean? It is important in my opinion to ask the following important questions before agreeing to do the show:

1. When is it?

Obviously this needs to be assessed in order to not double book oneself

2. How long is the show?

Again, obvious. One needs to be prepared with the right number of effects to perform that will cover the time.

3. How many people will attend?

It might decide whether the show is a stand-up or a close-up (especially if the person hiring you asks you to decide what is best).

4. Who is the audience?

This is important and this is what the post will be about.

 

This magician did magic that in my mind was irresponsible given the audience that was there. The above questions are obvious to ask from any magician especially someone as famous as this guy so I will not accept that he never knew his audience.

There are around 150 people of which a third or so were children under 11 years old. The kids were seated on the floor watching Mr Magician. He did a trick that I love, but for this audience was completely inappropriate. Children’s magic 101: Do not start a trick with the following: “Do not try this at home” because what will kids do? Exactly! Try this at home. Once I pulled a sponge ball out of my mouth in front of a child and someone warned me that they could possibly try that at home. Monkey see monkey do. Psychologically speaking children aren’t monkeys (lol) but they do copy adults. Any behaviourist will tell you that. It’s not what you say but what you do.

So this guy took a long balloon and proceeded to swallow it. How can you show that effect to children??

He ended off with an amazing effect. He looked at a wine glass, and it shattered all over the floor. What a way to end his show! Beautiful…. except…. There were 50 kids on the floor without shoes on…. Guess where the glass went? On the floor…. with the kids. There is a proverb that says: “There is a time and a place for everything under the sun” My friend, here is some advice for free: That ending was not done at the right time or place.”

As important as it is to end on a high note – one has to end on the note that is appropriate for the crowd, and in this case safe for the crowd.

I was not impressed. What are your thoughts?

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Magically launching Duvel Beer Tripel Hop

I was hired to perform last night at the Beerhouse on Long Street in Cape Town where the Belgian Beer Company launched Duvel Beer Tripel Hop. I arrived a few minutes early and was encouraged by the organisers of the event and the owner of the Beerhouse to warm up with some of the customers before the guests started to arrive. The tables that I did perform at loved the magic and they were just so welcoming of my presence. As I have mentioned in the previous post ,the table belongs to the people sitting there and it is their private space that I need permission to enter.

The Beerhouse on Long

The Beerhouse on Long

6pm arrived and off I went in my suit and purple tie to perform, “schvitzing” (Yiddish for “sweating”) already! I had 3 sets planned to do that night and I just chopped and changed and mixed and matched depending on my mood and depending on the group of people whom I was performing for.

It was so interesting because my opening effect for a lot of the magic was just burning a little bit of flash paper and producing a sponge ball – those balls I tell you, what a great, classic effect (#ThanksAlGoshman), obviously with the crude lines in, such as: “I’m gifted”, “cough” and “don’t squeeze them too hard, I feel that”, it went down really well. One must never underestimate the power of potentially an intro to an effect. Normally flash paper is used to introduce an object like a coin, ball, or silk and those are then used in the next effect. But just a little bit of paper really goes along way.

What was also interesting to note was that out of the 2 hours of constant performing, only one guy chose not to see the magic. The rest were so forthcoming and even the guests who towards the end of the night got a little tipsy (I use that word lightly because some guys got INCREDIBLY tipsy) enjoyed the magic even more. I am always wary about performing for drunk people because they can get quite rowdy and can unintentionally ruin the magic for others. But I also think it depends on the performer’s personality. The type of magic that I do is really relaxed and non-threatening, and I have a really open and friendly personality, so actually performing for those guys was really enjoyable for me. They even called me back for more magic, which is such a compliment.

Some of the effects that I did really got incredible reactions: the flash paper to sponge and into my sponge ball routine (spongey balls multiply in the spectators hand), flash paper to coin and into my coins to glass routine (Coins travel one at a time invisibly to an empty glass), ambitious card with a finale of their signed card landing up on a tag, ring leader (borrowed ring magically hopping on and off an examined piece of cord); and my invisible deck (spectator takes invisible deck of cards, picks a card and reverses it in the invisible pack, then in a normal deck of cards is produced and their thought-of card is the only one reversed in the pack).

Before I knew it, 8pm came and I had to bid farewell. I had such a great time performing for the guests and was so grateful for them allowing me to entertain them. They could have easily decided to say no and continue with their chats, but they were open and willing to see some magic. As important as it is to be thanked by the host for coming, it is equally as important to thank them and the audience for allowing you the opportunity to perform. So thank you to all who were there and all involved in getting me to the Beerhouse.

I look forward to many more opportunities to share my  magic.

Duvel-Tripel Hop

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