Get on Penn and Teller Fool Us with Michael Close
February 22nd, 2018
card magic, cardistry, magic, Michael close, penn and teller, performance, theory, tv
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We’ve been trying to get Michael Close on the show for a long time. You know him from his Workers project, his book Paradigm Shift and his work as a consulting producer on Fool Us. Michael was raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana and in that small town there was a magic shop. A guy named Dick Stoner ran that shop for many years. When Michael was about five years old he got a Sneaky Pete Magic Set. Eventually he realized that buying magic books was much more affordable than buying individual tricks. Michael says that Dick Stoner was a huge influence on his performance style and remains so to this day.
Michael continued working as an amateur magician but it was while attending music school that everything changed. He heard from a friend that legendary magician Harry Riser had recently moved from Chicago to Indiana. Michael went to visit him and he his life was forever changed.
“We hung out for years.” Michael says. “He became my mentor.”
Michael worked as performing musician for several years. But he returned to magic in the early 1990’s. He started to work at a small magic club in a suburb of Indianapolis. His time at that club generated much of the material that later found it’s way into the Workers books which he released between 1990 and 1996. Later in the at decade he moved to Las Vegas and worked at Houdini’s Lounge where he performed magic and played the piano. He started working the lecture circuit and performed for many years.
Michael thinks that many magicians will perform a trick without having any idea what the effect is. That’s because they too often jam several effects together into an incomprehensible mish-mash. While working as a consulting producer on Fool Us he has seen dozens of submitted tricks that lack any coherence. Magicians need to script out their performance in his view. The first thing the Fool Us teams asks prospective magicians is for their script.
If you want to try and get on to Fool Us Michael has some simple advice. First, you need an interesting effect. Second, you need an interesting presentation. You should ask yourself what is the five seconds of my effect that could be used as a promo? What will make people really sit up and take notice? A live audience is a captive audience. It’s difficult for them to get up and leave. But that’s not the case with a TV audience. They can leave in an instant. If you’re act is front loaded with patter or procedure you have to jettison that. Get to the effect right away. An interesting look or persona will help you to grab attention as well.
Michael has just released two new e-books called The Paradigm Shift. The books are named after a move he developed that is detailed in the book. A pass is usually accomplished using you fingers. But in the Paradigm Shift everything is done using other body parts. The book combines text, pictures and video that you can download in a PDF format.
What do you want to tell our audience?
The magicians of the world need to realize that when they see a trick on TV it’s not yours. If it’s not for sale it’s not for you.
Who should we have on the podcast?
What do you want to ask our audience?
Ask yourself why should anyone care? If you can’t answer that questions you need to rethink your act.
What was your favourite part of the episode?
Tyler liked hearing about how a trick needs to have a clear beginning middle or end.
Jonah enjoyed Michael’s direction of how to create an act using scripting.
Michael says the most important thing to understand what your definition of magic is.