Modern Mystic League
Blackburn & District  Society of Magicians
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October 2021

Member's Day: Room 101 Everything you hate about magic...
The theme of “Room 101” proved interesting at the MML on 10th October. Brian (Lead) who hosted the meeting explained how George Orwell had invented the concept of “Room 101” in his famous novel “1984” to signify a room which contained the thing you hate most, used for torture as part of a world controlled by “Big Brother”. The concept had later been taken up by the popular television programme where celebrities send things they do not like into “Room 101”.

An afternoon discussion then took place amongst the members about things to do with magic that they would like to consign to “Room 101”. The first topic suggested by Brian was forms of dress and the appearance of magicians. The general view was that this depends upon your intended audience but usually a smart appearance was required. Gone are the flowing robes and top hat and tails of yesteryear but the scruffy jeans, dirty shoes and t-shirts adopted by some performers were not popular.

Stock lines and making fun of the audience were next explored. There is a new book called “Out of Stock: A Magician’s Guide to Writing Your Own Lines” by Ryan Kane, an American professional magician, available on Amazon, which suggests you should remove all stock items from your material and try and write your own lines. Stock lines (“Stand here over the trapdoor”, “Put out your hand, no the clean one”, etc – you know the kind of thing) are easy to say without thinking to fill in dead spots during a performance.

Only magicians with the right sort of personality and delivery should try and make fun of the audience (Mel Mellers, Graham Jolley & John Archer came to mind as masters of the art) otherwise it is questionable. It is a case of having the skill and personality to carry your audience. It can be gravely embarrassing, if not worse, if you are not one of the few magicians who can pull this off.

Carl had brought along his “Cabinet of Canton” in the category of tricks you wish had never been invented. It is a spike through the arm illusion which is lethal! Other dangerous tricks were questionable such as “Smash N’ Stab” where magicians and audience members have been injured.

Even some classics of magic were discussed for “Room 101” such as the Linking Rings, Professor’s Nightmare and Snowstorm in China but the consensus was that these are good tricks for the public just over done for magicians. Brian mentioned the “Vanishing Bandana” which has now been done so many times but a clip of Donald’s act from a few years ago at the Thwaites Theatre showed how good this was along with his other comedy items including the Speed Camera and Cannon.

After a tea break and friendly chat Brian continued the theme by mentioning lines that spectators come out with such as “Can you make my wife disappear?”, “Do you have a proper job?” etc. How do you deal with them?

Certain genres of magic were next deal with. Anything geeky or suggesting self-harm was definitely consigned to “Room 101”. Animal acts are more questionable nowadays although we accept that most magicians care deeply for their doves, rabbits and other animals.

Were certain magicians over hyped? Undoubtedly but this is part of their publicity machine.
Online instructions or downloads for tricks are not as popular as printed instructions, books or DVDs. This is a sign of the times though and is unlikely to change.

Paul then showed a couple of tricks where the items supplied did not match the tricks as advertised. A trick with the four Aces was supplied with the four sixes (!) and another trick with the four Queens was sent with another four of a kind. Methinks the dealers were saving money by using up their decks. Some of the video trailers are way over the top with music and special effects. Misleading promotions were therefore firmly another candidate for “Room 101”.

During a quick break Roger was able to present Paul with the Les Brooks Shield for 2020, delayed as our AGM was on “Zoom” this year. Well done Paul. It will soon be time to think about voting for 2021.

Brian then concluded the afternoon by playing a recording of Paul Daniels on the BBC TV programme “Room 101” hosted by Paul Merton. Paul’s choices for consignment were the TV Show “Top Gear”, Synchronised Swimming, Cheese and the TV show “Changing Rooms”. Along the way Paul told some funny stories about cars, magic and an inflatable swimming aid as only he could and the programme concluded with a clip of Paul singing (!) on one of his early shows.

Many thanks to Brian for devising and presenting the theme and to Craig for the technical work and to all who attended for a fascinating and fun afternoon.

Roger Woods