Annual Close-up CompetitionMany members enjoy the art of close-up, especially using playing cards, in preference to other fields of magic and this was evident by the fact that six members competed in the 2005 close-up competition hosted by Andy Hart with timekeeping by George.
With six competitors and three groups of spectators seated apart around tables, each act performed their routines three times to a different audience. This is very much like the table-hopping set-up in the real world.
In marking the competition we were asked to award points for Presentation, Magical Content and Entertainment value but within these headings, there is so much to consider: the approach to the table, the choice of effects, the handling of assistants and also ensuring that everyone at the table is kept entertained for the duration of the act.
The competitors had to show their skills using different props and were only allowed, within the rules, to perform one card effect.
There was a wide range of skill and experience among the six competitors but well done to each of them for providing us with an entertaining evening.
First at our table was Ross who got off to a shaky start, perhaps it was nerves. He continued his act in his usual polite manner. Compared to the other acts, this first one was quite short as was the next competitor Guy who performed two quick effects.
Next at our table was Felix who performed a variety of effects with cards, coins and paper weaving a particularly mystic storyline into his presentation.
After our customary break for refreshments, not forgetting a good old gossip, we were entertained with a themed act performed by Mike Pettitt. Mike had obviously put a lot of thought into this act which consisted of a variety of effects with ropes and rings each one building on the previous one.
To follow this we had the magic of Matthew Parr. Matthew always tries to come up with something different and this time one of the features of his act was a mobile telephonic video link to reveal a chosen card.
Finally our table was visited by one of our newer members, Matthew Wainwright. It is very refreshing to see a new member entering competitions. It is one of the best ways for someone like Matthew to meet everyone in the club, and for all the members to get to know him. With his calm personality he performed his effects with a good variety of props and also achieved some truly magical miracles.
After a short break whilst the votes were counted, the winner was announced as Matthew Wainwright who is to be congratulated on winning the first competition he had ever entered at the SMC.
Thank you guys for an entertaining evening, I hope we were an appreciative audience.
Curry nightWe met at the White Hart for drinks and then onto the Indian restaurant on the high street for dinner. It was election night. Anyone who voted Tory (you know who you are) were keeping quiet.
Chris Nicholls gave away some of his best cabaret secrets. These generally involved putting toilet plungers on people’s heads. He gave a few handy tips on this: "it works best with bald people, because you can polish their heads."
At one point Mark Worgan asked Barry to name a card. Mark then revealed the same card to be on the top of the deck. Discussion followed about how this was done. Mark refused to say but theories divided up into 3 camps:
1. it was magic
2. it was a complete fluke and actually he had planned to do something else
3. he is in league with Satan
Mark was keeping schtum but most people agreed it was probably either 2 or 3.
Mark gave a short masterclass on coin magic. He also explained that he and Loki had failed to win the magic competition in Sweden because of some kind of international conspiracy. Also, the people who won it were rubbish.
Stuart magically made a bit of string transform itself into a watch. Beautifully done.
Matt Parr gave a demo of his new found pick-pocketing skills. He made up some nonsense about switching two cards in my hands, then wobbled my hands about for a rather long time and proceeded to nick my watch. Good job there were other people around who could see it, as I suspect Matt might have run off with it otherwise.
April Showers, It Never Rains But It Pours!I had a very good and exciting month in April. My months are usually busy but this was filled with two big dates for me plus my usual shows. I was invited via a recommendation from Paul Gordon, "thanks Paul," to appear on the BAFTA Award Winning show, The Paul O’Grady Show on ITV1.
The initial enquiry was to make Paul O’Grady appear and then disappear. This however was not very well thought out as he is the host of the show and was already on screen so how do you make someone appear who is already there?! Any way, we moved on and settled after much research on my behalf to three effects, The Comedy Funnel, Head Twister and Guillotine. There was a small addition to this in the form of a 5-year-old child who had been used on the series as a piece of cheap telly doing magic orientated bits. My input was to be the magician assisting the 5 year old - me the star playing second fiddle to a 5 year old! I agreed and went to the studios at Waterloo in London.
In brief, I had ten minutes of rehearsal, one minute with Paul O’Grady, and 5 with the little boy and then the rest setting the camera positions and sound checks. I was then whisked off to my dressing room and as I was taken, told it would be going out live. Live telly to 4.5 million people working three tricks, which have a time span usually done in 10 to12 minutes but for the television purposes in 2 and a half minutes and working with a 5 year old child and a presenter that had really only seen the effects rather than put any time into them. No pressure then?
There were two other guest before me, Stephanie Cole, the respected actress who is probably most famous for her time in, Tenko, the female prisoner of war camp in the 80’s and Mark Charnock from Emmerdale, better known as Marlon, the chef. Two very nice people by the way. My performance was the closing part of the show.
The rest is history really, it went well, the little boy was very good and Paul did the Head Twister very well considering he had such a small time with the prop. If you would like to see the segment of the show visit my web site, www.markworgan.co.uk and go to the media page. As for more offers, I sit by the phone as I write this in hope!
Then There Was SwedenSince my show started at the Komedia I have gained more of a magical profile and as a consequence was asked to go to Sweden and take part in a competition and also to lecture on behalf of the Swedish Magic Circle. I went with Alison and we had a very interesting experience.
If you have not been to Sweden, it is a country of few people, lots of water, mountains and moose and snow for large parts of the year including April! To cut a very long story short, we travelled on the Wednesday to Gothenburg where we stayed for two nights and enjoyed all that Gothenburg has to offer. Shops, cafes, trams and boats. It has some very interesting parts, but well hidden! On the Thursday I took part in the competition, which was a Magic Competition set in a Casino. When we got to the Casino we expected a separate area for the show away from the playing customers. Wrong. We performed on a small platform in front of a bar, surrounded by gaming machines all going full tilt. Lights flashing, coins dropping, people talking, music playing, cigarette smoke absolutely everywhere, a fog in fact. The judges were obviously Swedish, but only one spoke a small amount of English.
The other acts were from Norway and Sweden and I was the only English performer. My brief was to enter with comedy and magic, so I put together a programme to run for 12 minutes. This included my own Rope Routine with music to open, short hello and who I am speech, Comedy Funnel, translated for the Swedish audience and member who assisted and Torn to restored Newspaper to music to close, with a pebble from shoe mixed in somewhere. Not in the newspaper, the programme.
The other acts consisted a Guy from Sweden who did one trick, which was a chosen card from his mouth, which he did while kissing or pretending to kiss a male helper. He also produced a toy for grown ups, I will leave that to your imagination. A pickpocket, from Norway, a vent act from Norway and two young guys from Gothenburg who did again one trick. Their trick was basically a chosen card which had its corner torn off and given back to the helper. They then proceeded to tie one of themselves up around the head with sticking tape to blindfold the head. After what seemed an eternity the blindfold was taken off, in between times they were rolling around and trying to find the card. All very poor stuff and very childish really. When eventually the tape was removed the bound guy regurgitated the card from his mouth, yes two cards from mouth in one show of five acts, and it had a corner missing that matched the card chosen.
The winners were these two but, and I am not bitter honestly, the audience that was watching consisted of all their mates, they new the casino staff and also one of the judges….hmm! Oh and they were also from Gothenburg as well.
The next day we flew to Stockholm to get a connecting flight to Ostursund, where I was to lecture on the Saturday. In Ostursund we were met and taken to our hotel and treated very well. We went up a mountain where people were skiing, we went to a moose farm, Alison actually stroked one, 11 feet high this thing! Not Alison, the moose! We also went to see a frozen waterfall, very beautiful. The lakes were all still frozen as well so with bright blue skies and white snow and ice it was very nice in this part of Sweden. Then we chilled for half a day before I was taken to lecture in a beautiful club headquarters.
The SMC were looking for a new headquarters and this would be fantastic for us. A long way to go, but very good. It was a house, converted to a large ground floor area consisting of a fully equipped kitchen, toilets and usual cupboards etc. The main room was large and had a put up / put down stage together with full lighting and sound. The whole building was designed for the performance purposes and as a clubroom was brilliant. The lecture was very enjoyable, three hours without a break and they wanted more. Afterwards we were taken to a Chinese restaurant where we chose our raw food and watched it being cooked. On the whole, an enjoyable few days but absolutely shattering. Five flights, four hotels in five days, the joy of magic.
Forthcoming Events2nd June*
Lecture by Ian Keable
Lecture by Andrew Jeffery
Classic and Silent Night
With Mike PettittCompiled by: Gordon Burtenshaw