For a while I’ve been dinking around with a coins to glass routine. Here’s an early version of it:
The problem with the early version of the trick is that it needs some specific lighting. That’s not a problem for virtual venues, but I’m hoping this is something that could transition to my in person shows via video projection or in a some specific cabaret settings.
A couple of weeks ago I did it at the Mostly Magicians Virtual Open Mic and got some great feedback that had me start to explore ways to do the trick that relied a lot less on the lighting. I remembered going to a Tom Stone lecture a few years ago and some of the things he talked about helped me solve the problem.
Here’s what I the current version of the trick looks like:
Would this version hold up to repeated viewings as a stand alone social media video?
Probably not, but that’s not the intention. It’s for live performances, whether it’s in person or virtual and I think it fits the bill. The nice thing is that now I’m working on a trick that has a bigger life than just a virtual show!
In a continuing effort to use my virtual performing space wisely, I added a little bit more to the shelf below my working surface.
The four ball holders on the left are new, along with the coil holder. This also eliminates a couple of body loads that would have been in my in person show. There are still a few prop holders that need to be added, however it’s just a matter of time to design and print them.
The in person show went well, and it’s good to have a full show under my belt! It was sold out at just over 200 people and it was a fundraiser for a venue that had been closed due to the pandemic.
I’m glad I spent the time working on my show and relearning it at home, versus on stage. There were a few moments where I hadn’t foreseen how things would play out socially distant and needed the brain power freed up by having some muscle memory of the show.
Everyone says “it’s like riding a bicycle” and it sort of is, but I was still remember bits each time I practiced!
It’s kinda strange getting back to work. I’ve been practicing all week and got into the city I’m performing in last night and spent the night practicing. Today’s agenda is more practicing. Luckily this hotel has some space to set up the show.
Running the show as much as I have the last week is really helping my lines come back to me more automatically.
I think that’s one of the things that separates more seasoned performers from newer ones is that they know their show soo well they don’t need to think. That frees up brain computing space to deal with ad libs, paying attention to what’s happening in the room or fixing any problems that arise.
People love to crowd source information on the internet. The problem is that you don’t know the quality of the information you are getting back. Recently someone posted a picture of a prop they had acquired, but didn’t know what it did. It was a dice cup with a hole in the back, four dice and a jumbo die.
The misinformation starts when people don’t know what they are talking about start it tell the person what the cup is for. Here’s the first couple of responses:
Then a couple of people took the dice stacking suggesting a bit further and said you could look through the hole to see the number on the top die. Let’s start with that idea of using it to see the number on the top of the top die. Learning to stack the dice is hard…once you can do that, knowing what number is on top of the stack without a gimmicked cup is VERY EASY. It makes no sense to make the stacking aspect harder without make knowing the number uppermost easier.
Now let’s look at the props. You have regular game dice, where any marketed dice stacking set would come with casino dice which are the standard for people who stack dice. In the picture below, the casino die is on the right.
Yes, I’m aware you can stack game dice, however it’s much harder than on casino dice due to their size, rounded edges, and lack of consistent 90 degree angles. I learned to dice stack with a drinking glass and game dice, so I know it can be done, I also know who much easier it got when I had proper tools.
Next if you look at the cup, it tapers and is not straight sided. Some people stack with dice like this, however most people use straight sided dice cups. On it’s own the tapered cup wouldn’t say it’s not for dice stacking, but then you look at the height of the cup in relation to the dice. Once you get them in the up and ready to stack, they have a long way to fall, which is where you will give you trouble.
Looking at the whole picture, the style of dice and style of cup, I’m 99% sure it’s not for dice stacking. I’m leaving 1% as it’s some strange homemade prop that was never marketed.
I made a quick replica of the props shown and here’s the style of routine that I think the props are for:
The internet is a great way to crowd source answers, but the problem is that it’s hard know the quality of those answers.
Now that my state is opening up for live entertainment, it looks like Andy Gross will be performing in my area. If you don’t remember who he is, a couple of years ago he was performing at a college and was accused of sexually harassing a student on stage. At the time it made huge national news.
He crossed the line in my opinion when he said, “…I got a free feel out of it“. Well, he crossed the line before that with the routine he did. He basically stole the routine David Copperfield who did it in the 1990’s with the Cardiographic trick on one of his TV specials. Also if you look at his promo pic in the ad for the show, it’s not the only trick he’s swiped from DavidCopperfield.
Why was it OK for Copperfield to do it and not Andy Gross? The main thing is where the world is/was when it was done. Copperfield did it in the mid 1990’s about 25 years ago. The world was a very different place back then. That doesn’t make it right, but it does make it socially acceptable. Just like 25 years ago you could smoke in a park on a bench while your kids are playing at the playground. It wasn’t right 25 years ago, but it was socially acceptable. I remember when I was in high school in the mid 1990’s there were schools with their proms being cancelled because an interracial couple or a gay couple was going to attend and rather than let them go, they simply cancelled the whole thing…and the community supported them. It wasn’t right then, however it was socially acceptable. This is also part of the plot of the Netflix Movie The Prom.
You have to be able to change with the times. Unfortunately most performers don’t reassess their shows to look for things that have hit their expiration date…which Andy Gross clearly hadn’t done.
Here’s my conundrum. I’m curious what he does in his show…but I also don’t want to support him. I don’t want to support people who swipe material.
Last night I performed at a hybrid in person / virtual show. The in person aspect of it was interesting as it was a socially distant, outdoor event in tents…oh, the show took place at the tail end of a snowstorm, so it was cold out! I was performing indoors with a an open roll up door in front of me. I could see one table, the rest were in tents watching on a projection screen which was showing what was on the zoom feed.
It was a very interesting experience. The camera was over my left shoulder and the audience in front of me. The challenge was where to play to. I chose to mostly play to the camera as that’s where the majority of the audience’s viewpoint was from. It’s very strange to no play to the only group of humans you can see. I didn’t ignore the one table I could see, but did most of my talking to the camera.
Going forward, I think ticketed, in person shows are going to have to do this hybrid approach to make any money if they physical audience has to be socially distant. How you will approach this scenario is something to start thinking about now…
It’s kinda strange practicing my show. I used to practice new stuff, or when there was a change to existing material, didn’t really run the whole show. I need to right now as it’s been 11 months since I’ve done my full main show. I’m doing a short 10-15 min act in a comedy show tonight, then I’ve got a full 45-60 min show coming up in a couple of days.
It’s interesting the more I practice/rehearse, the more comes back to me. Each time I’ll say a line I wasn’t saying before. This is good, my muscle memory is coming back. Watching old videos of the show is good, however sometimes there are lines that you didn’t say in that recorded show for one reason or another. Also I’m remembering bits that I had stopping doing for some reason, and not sure why.
Besides shaking off the cobwebs, I’m trying to figure out how to do the show that meets the COVID safe requirements, which are different everywhere.
In this episode we welcome Seattle folk legend Jim Page to the Moisture Festival Podcast studio. Here, we talk about Jim’s lobbying efforts to legalize busking in Seattle, as well as his adventure organizing the first Busker Fest at Pike Place Market. Jim also brings his guitar and plays us a few songs.
A great interview with one of the most influential Seattle musicians of our time.