One of the best books on stand up magic as far as tricks go is Jim Steinmeyer’s The Conjuring Anthology. It’s full of mostly stand up style magic, there are other things in there as well, like stage illusions. This book is a tremendous resource.
Recently I was making a bunch of videos for a client and needed some inspiration. I was flipping through this book and there’s trick that uses confetti in it that’s caught my eye in the past. Essentially loose confetti turns into a full sheet of tissue paper.
I went out, got the stuff to build the prop and got two work on it.
The first thing that I noticed was that this trick is a great lead in to the torn and restored tissue. If you put the two tricks together you’ve got a 3-4 minute routine that takes up virtually no space in your case, or could easily be made in a hotel room.
I’m glad that the project I was working on had me go back and flip though that book. I also think that if I had played with that trick at another point in my life I may not have had the same results as I did.
A little bit ago I was helping out a friend set up a Drive Thru Zoo and stuck around to hang out during the actual event. It was a lot of fun, and people are really excited to have things to do (even if they had to stay in their cars). This is a good sign for when in person shows come back.
While I was there, the performer in me started to think about how to engage people, instead of them just reading the signs. What I did was look up some basic facts about the animals and write out a rough routine to engage and educate the audience.
For example here’s what I was doing when people got to the emu:
Me: This is Louie the emu. He’s the oldest living emu in the USA, can you guess how old he is? Car: 17 years Me: 273 years old Car: what… Me: no, he’s 27 Car: *laughs* Me: Emu’s live to be 15-20 years old in the wild
Me: He’s an omnivore, that means he eats plants, animals and tacos. Car: *laughs*
Me: Can you guess where he comes from? Car: Africa… Me: An egg. He comes from an egg. Car: *laughs* Me: The emu’s egg is green and sorta looks like a giant avocado.
Me: Louie can run up to 30 miles per hour, do you know what that is in kilometres? Without looking at your speedometer Car: *laughs* I didn’t think to look there. 40 kilometres? Me: Close, it’s 50.
What I did was come up with a conversational series of jokes, that makes the car full of people think and laugh while delivering jokes. It was fun writing this kind of stuff for the animals. It’s a bit different than writing jokes for a magic show, but it’s good to get outside your “box” every now and then.
Years ago when I was a teenager, I attended the Desert Magic Seminar in Las Vegas. One of the lecturers was Gary Oulette and he was talking about magic for TV and how they did The World’s Greatest Magic series. A few things about that lecture have stuck with me, the main one being why to use shiny mylar strips as a backdrop!
He talked about using stingers and adding little twinkles when the magic effect happens. I’ve also noticed that on Master’s of Illusion they do that as well. I think it really does add to the experience.
I’ve been messing with adding little twinkles to my videos when the magic happens. I’ve found a few that I’m using, but I think I need to keep searching as I’m not 100% happy with them. I do feel that they add to the video and are worth the time to search them out and add them in.
In the past I think I’ve written about this, however there are a few instances recently that got me thinking about using face masks and hand sanitizer in magic routines. First of all, it’s no longer the elephant in the room that needs to be addressed. It was in March and April, but not now.
If you’re shoehorning in a mask to your show to try to be topical, it’s lazy creativity. Simply swapping out a silk or a drink coaster for a face mask and having not other context to it, then you’re fooling yourself into thinking you’re being topical. I think an audience can feel when someone changes a prop for no reason other than to try to make it topical.
If you’re doing a bit with a mask that actually has purpose or a point of view, I’m 100% for that. For example if you linked the ear loops of a mask, that’s using the property of the mask, you aren’t simply finding a place to substitute a mask into your show.
Personally I’d love to see a mask bit by an anti-masker, I think that would be very interesting. Using the mask and magic to show how masks don’t work would match well with and having things pass thru the mask. Of course you could do the opposite and show how the mask protects the wearer by not letting things through doing some indestructible type tricks with the mask. However thing like that take actual thinking and work to do well. It’s not easy to do, which is why you don’t see much of it.
This week Jennifer Wensrich drops by the Odd and Offbeat studios to chat with Matt and Louie. We chat about how she became the Director of Smooth Operations at the Moisture Festival and what it takes to put on the festival every year!
We also get into her background in dance and learn a little bit about sailing!
Right now I’m working on finishing up some videos for a client and I’m just over halfway finished. I had and idea for a little routine, I wanted to essentially do the Sucker Silk To Egg, but take it a bit further. If you’ve seen the lecture that I do for magicians, that’s the message of the lecture, take your magic a step further!
I remembered reading in a Karrell Fox book about a method for the Silk To Egg that he called Super Simple Silk-2-Egg. The was a great method for the Silk To Egg that got rid of the gimmicked egg, which then eliminated the switch of the real egg and the fake egg.
My next challenge was to figure out what direction further I wanted to take the trick. My original idea was to turn the silk to the egg, do the fake explanation and peel off the sticker. The ending would be the silk was then actually inside the egg! The problem with this is that the silk would really need to be signed and that doesn’t really work for a pre-recorded video.
With my original idea not going to work for this specific gig (but I may work on it for other shows), I kept thinking. Then I remembered a book I picked up in a discount magic bin for about a dollar. The book was Hatching by Nefesch, which is a signed coin in egg. This is an interesting effect as the coin is actually inside the egg with all off the egg goop when you crack the egg open.
The sequence of the routine was now starting to take shape. A coin will turn into a handkerchief, which then turns into an egg. At that point I’ll do the “sucker explanation”, and when it’s time to crack open the egg, the coin will come out of it.
It’s not the most amazing magic routine out there, but it definately taking the Silk To Egg to another place (not sure if it’s a good place).
A couple of weeks ago I attended KIDabra’s online convention and it was a ton of fun. One of their events a late night balloon jam. I’ve never been to any balloon jam, but then I don’t do balloons. I stopped doing them a long time ago, and when I did it was one balloon animals.
It was a lot of fun to see what balloon people are doing. It’s light years ahead of what they were doing when I decided I wasn’t going to do balloons anymore.
It was very interesting to hear them talk about the business and its challenges. It was good to get out of my comfort zone (magic) and do something I was unfamiliar with. I’d recommend trying new things, I’m not going to start doing balloons, but it was fun.
Currently I’m working on making a bunch of video content for a group and I got to make a fun prop. In the video I’m talking about nachos, and needed a sight gag, so I made this:
For the gag which lasts less than 10 seconds, I probably spent too much time building it, however it was fun and it’s a fun prop!
The actual build is pretty simple:
The hardest part was driving around town to find the striker. There’s a specific type of lighter that has a striker that can be removed. Once I had source that, I had to figure out how to attach it to either my hand or the jalapeno. I was going to 3d print something, but then tried stabbing it into the pepper and it worked perfectly! Sometimes the simplest way to do things is the best.
Lately I’ve been busy creating digital content for events. This is different from virtual or live stream shows. I’m creating tricks and routines specifically for their groups and they are using them to promote their online events. It’s fun, and very much a different mindset than performing.
Here’s a practice video for one of these videos:
Ultimately we didn’t use the final trick, however this is a good example of having fairly well rounded knowledge of magic techniques comes in handy. Personally I never thought I’d be doing any illusions at this point in my career, but know a little bit about them has come in pretty handy lately!
Looks like I’m back on another encore edition of The CW’s Masters of Illusion tomorrow (9/11/20) night!
The trick that I do in this episode was my opener for corporate and theater shows for a long time. The trick does a good job of setting the audience up for what they are going to see for the next 45 – 60 minutes. It tells them that what they are about to see isn’t a traditional magic show. It also established me as a “talker” and that the show is going to be joke based, but not your typical magician-y jokes.
This trick has gotten me a ton of work whenever I use it at showcases, it quickly becomes the talk of the event!