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I hate going on TV.

Mar 11th 2013, 18:10


Joined: Mar 10th 2013, 15:17
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There was a time when I thought going on TV would be really cool. That time is long over. I have had several really bad experiences in TV. Oddly, the TV stations don't seem to agree. I get called back a couple of times a year to fill time on the morning talk shows in our area. Here is the problem I am struggeling with. The format of most of these appearances is such that they only allow a performer to do some silly 5 second production or an utterly trivial prediction effect. My performance style is built around longer peices and a more grandual approach to the audience. I feel stupid doing magic that is over in 5 seconds.
THe TV people seem utterly indifferent to the entertainment value of the performance and have no interest in things like blocking, lighting, or planning camera angles to make the piece look right. They seem focused on filling the time. If I look bad or if the magic looks bad, that's just my problem. They also seem convinced that it is some kind of an honor to be on TV.

Question. How does one start a conversation with a producer who calls and says we want you on the show. How do I communicate these issues and get them resolved? I am looking for an approach that will either help to alter the format of the appearances, or insight that will allow me to perform more interesting effects on the shows.

Why do I ask? I've just been asked back to promote a major performance. I am dreading the appearance. www.KentuckyMagicTheater.com
Mar 13th 2013, 14:22


Joined: May 11th 2012, 09:16
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When they call is definitely the time to get this set up in a way that will work for you. TV will NEVER want long form stuff...but you should be able to get them interested in at least a couple of minutes. Phrases like, "if you can manage just two minutes I will involve your host and make him the hero of the piece, show you two small effects as part of the piece, and totally blow your minds at the climax of it. But you need to make sure I will have the full two minutes, because that's already super-compressed, and if it goes shorter, you'll miss the climax.

Also: Make sure YOU write your introduction/ set up. If possible, have what they say as lead in be a part of the story your piece will tell. You might want to bill yourself to them as a story-teller magician, and not just magician...when they hear "magician" they expect something flashy or traditional and fast. A card is located in 30 seconds, a pan flashes and a dove appears...stuff that isn't really what you want to do. And make sure you get ALL the details and tech talked through before you show up at the studio. Most of the local stations with shows you might appear on aren't really geared for performance...they want a quick sound bite and different look for a minute or so, and a couple of phrases about you that they can use to tease the audience into staying tuned to see you. It is, of course, best if you insist on writing these teaser lines.

Hope this helps!
Mar 18th 2013, 18:10


Joined: Mar 10th 2013, 15:17
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SO, here is what I did this time. I explained that the show was best communicated visually and that the coolest visuals would be images directly from that show. I provided some TV quality stills that had been shot from previous performances and then talked with the TV guy while the control room did the images as a slide show. It filled the time and allowed me to say what I wanted. Only down side was at the end of the clip. The interviewer was obviously dissapointed that I did not actually ambush him with a trick after we had discussed that I would not. Clip ended with an odd energy. But I felt the show was better represented.I'm still studying on this problem in my work. Open to other thoughts.
Aug 25th 2014, 20:53


Joined: Apr 29th 2010, 15:37
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When performing on the television show it is essential that the studio place your B roll before you play any magic live for the host
I know this from personal experience when I was on the road with THE ILLUSIONISTS.

Many times we would go on the show and they would ask us to form magic for them and then they would run out of time for our segment. The home audience thought you were just a couple of guys doing small magic tricks. But I insisted on many shows that they played our film clips/sizzle reel of the shows highlights

I always insist now that the host rolls are commercial before we do any magic for them live in the studio this ensures that the home audience gets to see the real deal and not just a few tricks for the host they get an idea of what the show was really about

Of course that means having a highlights reel of the show that shows clips of the spectacular effects that you perform… And will actually show if the audience shows up to the theater they will expect that visual element that they saw on TV so make sure you deliver.
Aug 22nd 2016, 17:08


Joined: Aug 22nd 2016, 16:20
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It's okay, some of those specific cable TV shows are hard to get through, but I did see a perfect sit down at a table one before the internet.