Back in Time…

One thing in magic is that people get hung up on is who created what and that if they thought of it without outside influence, then no one else could have possibly had the same thought.

My Russian Shell Game routine was inspired by a magazine column that Gary Oulette wrote. His ending used stacks of cups as the final loads to a cups and balls routine. In the article he “reserved all manufacturing rights“, I’m assuming he did this thinking no one had thought of the idea before.

Recently I was looking for something else and came across Cups and Cups and Cups and balls by Geoffrey Robinson

It’s the exact same idea as Gary’s, but it Gary never had a set made. Geoffrey did and it appears he had to do some problem solving. If you notice the small holes in the top, they are there (I’m assuming) to keep them from sticking together from the suction created if they are too tightly nested.

At the end of the day, you can’t assume you are the first person to have an idea!

The Magic Garage!

Over the last few years I’ve heard about The Magic Garage in San Francisco. Last night I got to pop in and check it out! It was a very cool place, and a ton of fun!

The amount of magicians that came in and out while I was there was really amazing. Will, whose garage it is said “it’s not a magic club, but a magic community” and that’s really what it is, a community!

There was a nice blend of BSing and jamming, it was the perfect mix. I’m looking forward to my next time visit!

Don’t Do It…

One of the things that I hate as a reason for why people do certain magic tricks is that “it’s a classic for a reason” or “just because you know it doesn’t mean the audience has seen it before“. To me these are lame reasons to justify doing a magic trick.

I’m performing at a fair right now and the vendor at the back of the audience where I’m working has a magic coloring book that he’s using to entertain the kids of the people he’s trying to sell insurance to. He’s a nice guy and he’s using it for a solid reason. However if that was a trick I did in my show, no matter how great my routine was, if someone had been to his booth, my routine wouldn’t play as well.

This is one of the reasons why I try to do more unique tricks, so I don’t have to deal with situations like there…or being in variety shows because someone is doing something similar and that forces me to cut duplicate material.

Still Figuring it out…

This week is challenging with performing outdoors in a noisy environment for people who are far from the stage and masked. I can’t hear them, or if someone says something I can’t tell who is saying it. I can also have no one on stage. I’ve been working on no contact material for a while, but the not being able to hear people is really throwing me for a loop.

I’ve been leaning heavily on jokes to add length to my show. The nice thing is that they require no props and that I can do and tell them without needed to hear anyone. It’s almost like telling jokes on a zoom show…but you can’t see people laughing.

I’m remembering reading in Wise Guy, Harry Anderson‘s book about performing band breaks at concerts and not being able to use the audience onstage. That’s where he developed his mismash card, and the monarch monte.

I’ve got a couple more days of stage shows before I shift back to doing just roving. It’s fun trying to figure out how to work these shows…hopefully I won’t have to deal with this ever again.

Performing with restrictions…

I’m still figuring out how to navigate the COVID restrictions on my show this week. The audiences are out and out to have fun, so that’s a good thing!

One thing I’ve noticed is that this fair’s policy is that the people attending wear masks. As you can see in picture about half of the people are wearing masks.

I think moving forward after the mask mandates end, when doing close up, I’m going to still wear a mask. I’ll wear it for when I approach the group and ask if they’re a “mask or no mask group”.

Still Masking Up…

This week performing at the fair, we’re not required to wear masks when we’re performing. That’s great, however I found for my roving magic, people were more receptive when I was wearing a mask. I think it shows respect for them as people that walking up unmasked and assuming they are OK with that doesn’t.

One thing I’ve noticed when performing with a mask is that my whole face is still animated. You can’t see much of it, but I think it adds to the overall energy when I perform. That and it will be automatic to do in the future when I’m not wearing a mask.

Figuring it out…

This week I’m performing at a fair and it’s a fairly challenging experience. The crowd is fairly far from the stage and the seating is socially distant. It’s challenging to get them to unite as a crowd. Hopefully I’ll have it figured out by the end of the run.

The other challenge is that I can’t use people on stage. It’s a no contact show. This is fine, but has some problems. The big one being the audience is masked, so talking to them is difficult. It’s hard to tell who says something, and it’s hard to understand what they are saying. Indoors in a theater where there is less ambient noise, it’s much easier. This is something I didn’t anticipate (I should have).

I’m working out how make my show more successful this week, hopefully I’ll only need it this week. It looks like most COVID restrictions on the west coast are going to be lifted in about a week. Too late for this fair…

Back on the Road…

After about 19 months, I’m back out on the road performing at state and county fairs across the USA. This week I’m at the San Mateo County Fair in San Mateo, California. Having a wide scope of what my work is this week made me pack pretty much everything!

My “road tip” is that I never leave my show in my car at the hotel overnight. This is the stuff that I need to do my show, and if I don’t have it, I can’t do my show. Yes, I can do a show with things from the local walmart, but that’s not the show that was hired, or the show that I want to do.

Lugging all your gear to your room adds 10 mins to your day, but it’s way better than getting your car broken into and you losing your show!

Freedom of the Seize…

The other day my buddy Matt Disero posted on his Facebook about a Stewart James trick that he thought was overlooked by magicians. I’m a huge Stewart James fan, and dug out the book and read the trick. It’s on page 120 of Stewart James In Print: The First Fifty Years

In the introduction to the trick it says that it’s not a good trick for non-magicians, but a fooler for magicians. I think whoever wrote that intro was correct, well for how the trick was written up. It’s a very interesting principle, here’s the effect:

Someone picks a card and puts it face up on top of the deck. The cards are cut to bury the card. You then take the cards behind your back tell them the card above the face up card.

It’s very clever, and I think it has a use in a longer routine. As a stand alone, I’m not sure how I feel about it…

Another Alexa Trick…

Awhile ago on this blog I mentioned I was working on a trick that used an Amazon Alexa / Echo device. The goal of the trick was essentially a self working trick that someone could do without me, just following some instructions and having an Alexa in their room.

Here’s the final trick:

When I was putting this together, it I was pretty lucky. I put the hats above on note cards. I needed to force the party hat and the four hats I randomly wrote down and the order that I randomly laid them out worked for the math! I still needed to figure out the second count (hat), and once I realized I just needed an odd number, it was a piece of cake!

Have fun with this trick!