Yes, I'm cheesed off...
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Okay, I've been letting this slide by to some extent, but after today I've had enough.
Most performers spend years developing their shows, and a lifetime perfecting it. They try to craft routines into "signature effects", pieces that people will associate with them and them alone.
Here in Australia Phil Cass is known as 'The Guy Who Cuts The Tie', and though Phil didn't invent that particular routine, he made it his own and out of respect no other Australian professional magician would do that particular trick - especially if they were working the corporate market as Phil does.
Same goes for Raymond Crowe with his Hand Shadows, and now his Dancing Jacket routine.
Back in the 1980's I started doing what I call 'The Arms' or 'The Great Whammo' where a volunteer wears a funny jacket and does the magic ala what is now marketed by Kevin James as 'Instant Magician' (you can see it on this video clip).
Until a few years ago I was the only one doing this routine in the Australian corporate market, and it continues to be the hilarious finale to our show. Then I got a call from an agent who said "Hey, I just saw Matt Hollywood doing your jacket routine."
The other trick I've developed into my signature effect is 'Soda Resurrection' (now marketed as 'Healed & Sealed'). I first started performing this in 1997 and you can read the whole saga HERE and watch part of the routine which climaxes in 'Healed & Sealed' here.
A lot of people have recognised and complimented me (and Sue-Anne) on the work we've put into making this trick the show-stopper that it is today.
In a nutshell, what I'm saying is that it's taken me over ten years to hone 'Soda Resurrection' (and twice that on 'The Arms') into tight, funny signature pieces that have generated a lot of shows for us and made our reputations both here in Australia and overseas.
Last year I spoke to Matt Hollywood when I found out he had added both 'Healed & Sealed' and 'Instant Magician' to his show.
In true magician-speak, Matt explained that his versions of each trick were "completely different" to mine. Of course, to an audience describing each effect, they are identical.
Why did he add the tricks to his show when he knew they were the signature pieces of another magician competing for the same jobs in the same Australian corporate market? Good business? Bad business? Lack of respect?
I spoke to Matt at length about how annoyed I was that, with all the other routines in magic available to him, he should take those two pieces. Yes, 'Healed & Sealed' is a marketed effect, and 'The Arms' is an old bit (as are the Cut Tie and the Hand Shadows). But he knew they were features of the Ellis & Webster show... why not make his act as different as possible?
He replied that, out of respect, he wouldn't do 'Healed & Sealed' at corporate shows in Melbourne, and a week later he did it on several national TV spots.
He also broke his word to me because, as I discovered today, he has continued to do it in Melbourne at corporate shows.
We got to our Golf Club show today and the client said they had Matt Hollywood last year. The only tricks he remembered were "the can trick" and "the funny jacket".
That meant they had seen the entire second half of our show last year.
Thanks a bunch Matt.
Luckily, we were able to improvise and change a lot of material around, but why should we have to change an act that's taken 10-20 years of work because someone decides the best place to find new magic is from other people's shows.
I phoned Matt at 1pm this afternoon and, after his voice-promised he'd call me back in no more than one or two hours, I left a message telling him how disappointed I was that he'd broken his word to me and asking him to call me.
He hasn't called.
(By the way Matt, chatting to the guests after, they figured out how the can trick they saw last year worked. If you insist on doing it, either practise more or start wearing a mask!)
So, am I out of line calling Matt on this, or is it open season and we should all just add Hand Shadows and Cut and Restored Tie into our acts as well?