Jordan, one of the frequent visitors of this blog, sent me his comment on yesterday’s post How to Close the Show Softly.
Hi Sir Leodini,
Thanks for the nice tips you got there. I remember watching on TV once a magician closed his act with a torn and restored newspaper but instead of just restoring the newspaper out of it suddenly came a banner that says Thank You to the audience.
Jordan’s message reminds me of a topic I had been wanting to write about for quite a while now. Funny I keep forgetting it. Today allow me to launch myself into a short discourse of it.
It’s a small issue about magic performances. I have observed some Filipino magicians have unwittingly allowed it to encumber their shows. It’s such a small issue that it may appear like I’m nitpicking. However, if a Pinoy magician allows small issues to accrete, these will ultimately affect the quality of his show over the long time.
I’m talking about being literal. It is a legitimate humor tool. Filipino entertainers, not only magicians, can put it to good use in their performances.
For example, if you are performing a comedy version of the Head Twister and you play in the background Chubby Checker’s The Twist, then you are using a literal presentation for humorous effect. It’s not the best way to add humor to your act, but being literal in this instance is appropriate, if not suitable.
When I perform my straitjacket escape, I initially make feints and false starts. At the same time, my sound-man plays Engelbert Humperdinck’s Please Release Me in the background. This literal musical scoring always gets a laugh. It also sets the light-hearted mood of the escape.
When I bring out a yellow box and ask the children in the audience, “What’s the color of the yellow box?”, or when I describe a girl by saying, “Notice children, her long hair is long”, I am being literal. I am being facetious, too. My purpose is to elicit laughter, or a least a smile from the audience. In most cases, I succeed. Parents usually laugh when I drop these lines, although these funny comments just sail way over the children’s heads.
When a clown ends his act by magically unfolding a 36-inch silk handkerchief emblazoned with “THE END”, I don’t have any issues with that. The clown is just being consistent with his humorous character.
However, when I see a Filipino magician who, before the close of his show, has been doing nothing but serious magic—you know, doves from nowhere, elegant costume, beautiful music, artistic poses—suddenly unfurls a banner that says ‘THE END” to signify the conclusion of his act, then I go into into a paroxysm of artistic rage. If the “THE END” banner shows a stenciled drawing of a rabbit, committing hara kiri usually crosses my mind.
Why Pinoy magicians, if they have no intention to be funny, would magically produce a “THE END” banner at the end of their act is beyond me. Why they couldn’t just strike an applause pose or slink away into the wings puzzles me no end. Unfolding the “THE END” banner is being literally literal in a literal sense. (Okay, there are three literals in that sentence. That’s because I’m literally incensed writing about topics on being literal.)
Yes, movie people used the literal “THE END” in 1950 films, notably the The Ten Commandments, but hey, not anymore. Today’s movies just end where the story ends, followed by the closing billboard and credits. Even most cartoon shows no longer use the literal “THE END”, except Porky Pig’s version That’s All Folks. But then, they are cartoon, not magic, shows.
A Pinoy magician can end his shows in many artistic, funny, elegant and unique ways other than unfurling the “THE END” banner. He doesn’t have to buy a 36-inch silk handkerchief to end his show with something memorable.
My unsolicited advice: throw away the “THE END” banner and be a smart and creative Filipino magician.
Sorry, I couldn’t help it.