Putting the Fun in Functional

I was at a gig and another act forgot their stand for their cellphone. They needed a way to prop up their phone so they could see their timer. This was the solution that I came up with for them

cellphone stand

Sure I probably could have used a coffee cup or something like that, but this was way more fun! This actually helped the act stay in “in the moment” because it made them laugh whenever they looked at it. It made them have fun within their show.

It’s important to have fun on stage and sometimes little things will help put you in the moment.

Getting More Out of What You Already Have

One way to build a show is to get more time out of the props you already have. There is a limit to the payoff the the trick, like a 15 minute Professor’s Nightmare routine might be a bit much (but maybe not). It’s up to you to figure out what the maximum of any routine you do is.

I have a trick rope routine that I do in the show. By trick rope, it’s a lasso demonstration, not a rope trick. The whole thing runs about 3 minutes and is fairly basic, but has some laughs and a big applause ending. I’m working on adding a few more things to it to hopefully build it out a minute.

I’m working on adding some vertical loop tricks to the routine…but first I need to work on doing butterflies which is the basic skill for vertical loops.

The challenge with something like lasso tricks is that they are a high practice, low payout skill. People think that it’s easy based pretty much on cartoons and think you can do tricks with the rope that are basically impossible due to how gravity works. That said, people still like it.

The nice thing is that most magicians aren’t going to put in the time to learn to do lasso tricks, so it gives me something semi unique right off the bat! The side bonus with lasso is that it’s easy to travel with, and has no set up. I can grab it and do it!


Damn Good Advice

Way back in October my buddy Mickey O’Connor recommended the book Damn Good Advice. I ordered it on Amazon and read it on the a flight recently.

damn good advice (for people with talent) by george lois

This book is written by a graphic designer and the advice is really tailored to that industry, however a lot applies to being a performer. This book is an easy read and is broken down into 120 suggestions.

One of the take aways for me is to be willing to walk away from things that aren’t a good fit. For example, I don’t perform in costume for events. It’s not a hard rule and if it’s something simple like it’s a “red” themed event and I have something that fits no problem. However if it’s something like a superhero event and they want me to wear a cape, it’s a hard no…unless they’re will to pay a crap ton of money for me to wear it. My character doesn’t work in most costumes and I know that. By performing in a costume I’m doing a disservice to the client and myself. It’s a no win.

When someone brings in headline entertainment for their event, and asks them to change how they do things, it will effect the quality of the product. Sure you can practice and rehearse with the changes, but there’s no guarantee it will make the product as good as what is before the changes. Also it add a lot more time to practice and rehears, which adds cost and 99% of the time the buyer doesn’t want to pay more for a lesser product.

When you’re starting out as a performer it’s important to say YES to everything to gain experience. However as you become more experienced it’s OK to say NO.


Travelling with my Magic Show

When flying to gigs, I used to check my audio gear inside of my suitcase. Then one time TSA damages some stuff repacking it and I now always carry on my audio box. The box is kinda a pain to lug around, not just the airport, but hotel, or around the venue.

About a year ago I had an idea to put a strap on my audio case, so it can attach to the handle of my Pelican Air case. I finally got around putting a strap on it and it’s fantastic! I wish I would have done this a long time ago.

entertainer luggage

I simply riveted a piece of elastic onto it. Well, there’s a little bit more engineering than that. I put a rectangle piece of plastic under the roll of the elastic to even out force of the elastic being stretched. Without the plastic, the elastic would probably tear at the rivets.

entertainer luggage

It works great!

entertainer luggage

I’m glad I finally did this!


Air Tag Magic Trick!

A few weeks ago I was hanging out with some magicians before the Justin Willman show in Seattle. One of the props we were jamming with was an Apple Air Tag. Here’s one of the more visually interesting things:

@louiefoxx AirTag Hack! #airtag #appleairtag ♬ original sound – Louie Foxx

It’s an obvious trick to do with an AirTag, but the name lends itself to the trick. This is a trick I’ve wanted to do with an AirTag, but I stopped doing the muscle pass in 2020 and can’t do it anymore. Sure I could probably play with it for a week and relearn it, but I don’t really have a need for it anymore.

If you can muscle pass, this is a great and easy trick with a borrowed AirTag!


How to apply to a festival

In the past I’ve written about how to submit your act to a festival. I’m reviewing videos of acts submitted to one of the two variety arts festivals that I’m on the booking team of. Here are some of the most common mistakes, or things that annoy me as someone who reviews acts:

Have a video that’s at high definition. It doesn’t need to be 4k, but needs to be clear and easy to watch. Someone submitted a video that was 144p! It was unwatchable at such a low level of definition.

promo video

Your video is more that just what can be seen. Have good audio as well. The audio your camera pulls is usually bad, use an actual audio recorder to capture the audio. Also if your act uses music, I want to hear what you’ll use, don’t mute the video and play a different song that’s not used in the act. It just doesn’t look right.

Make your video publicly available so I don’t have to request it access to it. I have limited time to watch these and deadlines to when I have to submit my opinions on the acts. That day delay while I try to get access can lead to a NO from me just because I can’t watch your video. Also your video should be streaming, so not something that I have to download. I frequently watch these when I’m out of town performing and may not have the best internet, and downloading your video may not be possible.

For content of your video I want to see your act. I don’t want to see a 50 second introduction. It’s just a waste of my limited time. Have your video start with host saying your name and you starting…or better yet, just you starting. You don’t need to edit your existing video, you can simply send me a youtube link that starts at the 0:50 mark or whatever.

These things aren’t really hard to do, you just need to know to do them.


John Cassidy is a BEAST!

About a year ago I saw John Cassidy perform (you can read what I thought about his show here) and I got to chat with him the other day. He’s an amazing performer, but more than that, he’s like me, he’s passionate about magic.

john cassidy magic

There are very few comedy stage magicians that are also into sleight of hand. We BS’d a Juan Tamariz move and packet card switches, which was a ton of fun!

If you ever get a chance to see him perform, go do it!


Kidshow Magic Kompendium

David Ginn's Kidshow Magic Kompendium

While I’m stuck in the office for a few days while I have my COVID isolation, I decided to read a book that I haven’t read yet. The book I grabbed was David Ginn’s Kidshow Magic Kompendium and a little ambitious of a read at over 500 pages!

This book is does a great job of laying out what makes a good kid show trick! You get complete routines with most of the tricks as well. There aren’t necessarily complete descriptions to how the things work or how to build them as there are many dealer items and things that the average person couldn’t make at home. I don’t think this is a bad thing, but just something to be aware of.

If you want a solid foundation of kid show performing and props, this book is great! I’m about 200ish pages into the book and it’s a fun read. David gives you advice and stories from the past.

It looks like this book is $35 on GinnMagicShop.com and for that price it’s a steal if you’re getting into or want to learn more about kids magic!


The Show Doesn’t Have to Go On…

I got home a couple of days ago from a large booking conference. On my way home I got a text from a text from someone that I hung out with that they tested positive for COVID. I got home and had a negative test…but the next day I tested positive.

That means that I had some choices to make. I tested positive on a Thursday and had a holiday event on Saturday. According to the CDC guidelines, I would still be in isolation. My symptoms are pretty mild, so do I just bang out the show and do a no contact show?

My answer was to cancel the show…well have a friend of mine fill in for me. I could have done the show and gotten the cash, but it’s really not a good look doing a show when you’re sick.

People always praise Michael Jordan for playing in the “flu game” where he had a 103 temperature. Many years ago I’ve done the show very sick or physically hurt. One time I did a show right after I was in a car accident! I think times have changed and booker will look down on you if you do the show while visibly sick, especially if there are other options.

The show doesn’t have to go on.

For me the doing the right thing was more important than the cash.

PS: Having to cancel this gig was a blow to my plan of only working 3 Saturdays in December…but about an hour after I cancelled it I got an email from a gig that I had contacted me a while ago wanting to book for next Friday!

The Moisture Festival Podcast – Vivian Tam

On this episode of the Moisture Festival Podcast we welcome Ariel superstar Vivian Tam. We talk about her interest in circus at a young age, how she was able to mimic circus videos she got at the local library and how that led to a successful aerial career.

She tells us about going to stunt school, how she comes up with some of her routines and how much storage is needed to house all her equipment. A fantastic interview with one of the best aerial performers working today.