After a day, I’m starting to settle into the swing of things with the World of Wonder side show. It’s very different from how I’m used to performing as the whole show, or in a 15 minute chunk. The two acts that are about three minutes are outside my normal comfort zone. My show uses a lot of personality, and for it to work, I need you audience to like me, which can take time.
When I’m in variety shows and they want two shorter bits, I normally try to get them to do one longer chunk as if the audience doesn’t like me initially it gives me some time to try to win them over. With two short pieces that are separated in a show, if they don’t like me after the first one, it’s really hard to get them to like me at the second spot.
For my two acts during this run, I picked one thing that has a lot action and applause points, but also sells me a little bit. The second spot is uses a lot of attitude and hype, which works as a second spot, but not as a first. For the second one to work, you need to like me a little bit.
I think the two acts this week are finding their place…
This week I’m performing as an act in the World of Wonders Sideshow. One of the challenges for me is keeping my acts short. They have the 10 act format and each act is in the ballpark of about 3 minutes. Normally when I perform, I try to get as much time as possible out of a routine That’s the key to being a solo act that does a full show.
I’m working on cutting down a lot of the personality bits, it’s hard to figure out what jokes/bits to cut to keep the routine in the 10 act format.
I’m fighting the urge to simply do the bits as I normally do them and have them run 5 minutes. There was a time when I was younger where I wouldn’t have cut down the bits. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized you have to be a team player, but more than that, this is taking me out of my comfort zone. Maybe I could learn that a 5 minute bit in my show, is really an amazing 3 minute bit and I’ve diluted it by stretching it to 5 or 6 minutes.
I’m enjoying stepping out of my normal box and taking some risks!
Today I start my run with World of Wonders side show in Minot, North Dakota! I’m performing with them from July 23rd to July 31st, 2021.
This is going to be a change from how I normally perform. Usually I am the fully show, where in this show, I’m doing two short bits that are separated (not back to back). This is a different style of performing than what I’m used to, there’s less time to get people to like you, it’s more about the trick than the person presenting the trick.
The two bits I’m doing are the Hoop and Cup balancing act and my Spoon Stunt. One thing I learned hosting a stage at a fair last week is that the spoon plays a lot better when it’s not the first thing you see me do. You need to like me a little bit and it will play a lot better.
I’m very excited to see how my two acts play over the next nine days!
Today was a fun day for the incoming mail, I had three different vanishing birdcages show up! The first is an birdcage from India, this one has the side bars made at a 90 degree angle difference from how most are made. It could have been made left handed??
This cage vanishes fine, it’s just got a lot of rough edges, that you’ll have to spend sometime filing down.
The second cage that came is an older “martin style” that once belonged to Bryce Chambers (inventor of the Bryce’s screen illusion). It’s damaged and ad an attempt at repair at some point.
The notches in the corner posts are interesting. They appear to have been put there by the manufacturer. The do make the cage a bit more sleek when collapsed, but it appears (to my eye) to be a negligible amount.
The third cage is an Owens Challenge Vanishing Cage. This one, I’m hoping to have be my new working cage. My current working cage is one that was given to me as a teenager, and it has missing bars.
This cage looks great, however it’s pretty stiff. It’s going to need some breaking in. I put in on a pull and it vanished way better than I thought it would have with how stiff it is. I’ll keep working with it and it should loosen up!
It’s been a very unusual summer performing season for me. After having last year off, I’m only doing two library gigs, one was virtual that already happened and today I’m doing my only in person one. This one is booked through an agency instead of direct. I think in my career I’ve only done one other library that was through an agency.
When I was contacted the agent asked if I could do a show based on the library’s theme. I told the agent that I wasn’t doing a themed summer reading show this year as I’m not doing enough to make it worth it. I suggested I do my reading assembly show, the agent then countered with, just do your regular show and say themes slogan a couple of times. I told him to pitch the reading show, and the library booked that show.
The problem with people who come in and do their normal show and just say a slogan in it, they devalue all the people who put time into creating a custom show. The librarian will think that is what every magician does, when there are some people out there doing some really cool, custom shows for them.
I do understand that sometimes you gotta go in and take the cash, but that’s a one off thing. Don’t make a habit of doing it!
Last week I was hosting a stage at a fair. One of the things that I was doing on stage while the band set up was relearning to do my spoon routine. This routine ends with me sticking a giant spoon to my face. I took this routine out of the show about 2 1/2 years ago, and I’m playing with putting it back into the show.
At this particular fair, I wasn’t expecting to be stage hosting, I thought I was going to be doing roving magic. I had the spoon act and lots of old video of me doing it with me to relearn it at night back at the airBnB.
The first time I put it on the stage, it was a disaster…well not that bad, but it wasn’t good. There were soo many little things that I had forgotten to do or say. However after struggling through the act once, I quickly remembered a lot of the logistical things. Then through out the day, lines started coming back to me. Finally at night when I was back at the house and I got to watch video of it, it all started coming together.
I still have a lot of lines to learn, and some confidence to build up!
I recently ended up with about two dozen decks of bicycle cards that are the old stock of Cincinnati made playing cards! I just started using one of the packs of cards as my “pocket deck” at the fair I’m performing at. This is the deck that’s always in my pocket when I’m around the fair, and if someone recognizes me as a magician, it’s the pack I’ll use to show them an impromptu card trick. It’s not the pack I use when I perform, for that I use the normal bikes that are currently available. I just throw away the deck after each show.
What’s great about these cards old stock cards is that they way they are cut, they faro really easily. Anyone starting out right now that was trying to learn to faro shuffle with the new stock cards is going to have a hell of a time!
There’s a lot of physical differences between the new stock and the old stock. One that just hit me is the finish is a little bit different. I wonder if you put an old stock into a deck of new stock cards if it would work as a slick card? Or if not a slick card, some other sort of subtle locator? Unfortunately I don’t have a normal deck with me right now, so I can’t try it out for a few days.
I’m not a “card snob”, however it’s amazing how much easier it is to use a good deck of cards for pretty much any sleight of hand.
Recently I did a short run of smaller summer camp shows. These are for kids ages 4 to about 11 and due to the current COVID rules, they happened outdoors. In the past I always did them inside as it eliminates distractions, however I’d rather do the do with the slightly harder conditions than not do the gig right now.
During my first one about halfway through the 40 minute show it started raining! I’d know what to do and was waiting for cues for the people who worked there as to whether I should wrap it up. I got no signal from them, so the plowed through in very light rain for the remaining twenty minutes! They kids seemed to not care.
During these shows I dress casually. The main reason is that when I look like what the younger kids normally see, it’s easier to not have them be scared of me. Another reason is that being out and doing multiple shows in one day will tear up a more formal costume, especially when you don’t have a place to change out of your costume between shows. The final reason is that my character isn’t a magician, but a dad who can do some cool stuff, so it fits.
One of the tricks I’ve been doing a lot lately is my “Free Pitcher of Beer” trick that’s based on the out to lunch magic trick principle. I’m packing for a show and realized I didn’t have any thick rubberbands to hold the cards together. I quickly made a 3d model of a business card holder and printed it out!
His holder has a little recess in it to hold the half card. The half card is actually taped in place, so it can’t come out. In the traditional method, friction holds it in place.
We’ll see how well this actually plays out for real people tomorrow!
The other day after the magic garage sale and we went out to jam at a local bar, we were talking about coin tricks. I brought up the Perpetual Motion Coin Myth from Paul Harris’s books. This is a coin flourish where you hold a coin sideways between two other coins and get the center coin to spin.
I’ve never seen or met anyone who could do it, but we started playing with it and now I’ve done it and seen it done!
That got me thinking, the next branch of magic is going to beCOINISTRY! That would be fancy flourishes with coins! Start practicing now!