The Close-up Contest is held in a superb auditorium seating about 300. Lush seating and great sight lines ( for those fortunate enough to get a seat ) If no seat - no problem. Fire safety isn't an issue in China - the venue and emergency exits were filled to capacity with people some literally sitting on the bannisters.
The pic above is about 60 minutes before show time - people already reserving their seats.
o far - the standard of close-up seems better than stage. Will be interesting to see how the trend develops.
Highlights & lowlights ...
1 - Simon Coronel - Micro - Australia
Well delivered, well executed act featuring coins, bills, torn & restored card as well as the dramatic production of a lady from atop the close-up table. A great way to get the contest rolling.
2 - Mago Larry - Parlour - Argentina
Audience handling clearly isn't practiced in Argentina nor is common courtesy amongst this magician. How about we find out our 2 spectators names before we go ahead and deliver electric shock therapy to them. Yes - cards across featuring electric stun chairs ( with poor Sue-Anne Webster being one of the unlucky victims ) Degrading to say the least. A convoluted 'mentalism' routine with countries which formed the background of a Taiwenese political protest mentioned earlier ;-)
3 - Christian Bierbrauer - Cards - Germany
A slick act featuring deck of cards from inside a balloon, named card discovered inside card box, fused card and magician killer -signed card discovered in envelope attached to the performer's back. Good response.
4 - Shunya Okuno - Micro - Japan
Unintended comedy is often the result of a non-English speaker performing in English. Coins from lighter, vanishing lighter, jumbo lighter, jumbo coins and appearing lighter fluid. Funny for sometimes the very wrong reasons.
5 - Mago Ernesto - Cards - Venezuela
An enthusiastic performer with color changing deck, card transpositions, torn & restored card and thought of card in glass. Some strong magic that kept the audience happy.
6 - Shohei Komoriya - Parlour - Japan
A baseball themed act with cups & baseballs, appearing bat, production of mini-baseballs, mitts & glove. Novelty value with potential although the baseball only cames to the fore midway through the act.
7 - Rune - Micro - Norway
Rune has the possessed look of a psycopath as he performed a silent act with background music. Creepy & confusing.
8 - Sito Qirong - Cards - China
Cups & balls - producing cups from cups from cups ending with a bizarre production of a mini-Mona Lisa and what looked to be a wedding proposal.
9 - Jeremy Pei - Parlour - Singapore
Energetic thumping music kicks off the start of a rope routine along with a combo cups & balls routine done with mini-linking rings ending with production of liquid inside the cup.
10 - Olmac - Cards - France
An audience favourite with highly visual card magic - 4 aces appear, disappear, pockets vanish, aces re-appear along with some stunning colour changes that look like pure magic.
11 - Satoru - Micro - Japan
The Energizer bunny on crack. Hyperactive - super enthusiastic and oddly endearing to the audience. A selected and discovered toothpick along with a 3 volunteer card revelation with the card names ending up on the souls of shoes, socks and feet.
12 - Jaque - Micro - Spain
A down & out gambler theme with coin productions, jury favourite (!) matrix routine, coins to poker chips, chips to dice, dice to ice and production of drink at the end.
12 competitors in total on day two for close-up. Some interesting acts and a lot more promise than stage.
As I spent the day watching contest acts, I didn't get a chance to see the other events - lectures by Jeff McBride, Henry Evans & Shoot Ogawa. Hopefully others can fill us in.
Despite the action-packed day, I still couldn't shake the feeling that something was missing. And then finally it hit me. Normally by this stage, the potential host cities for the next FISM are busy plying their trade, soliciting support and trying to win you over with their vision for a bigger, better, even more exciting FISM. With only one bid city for 2012 - competition is not exactly rife.
A wonder if this is a sign of things to come?