Let There Be Light!

When you’re doing virtual shows, a lot goes into them. More than just the tricks. Someone recently posted their “promo video” for virtual shows. There are some good elements to this, like the people reacting, then some bad elements, like everything else.

Here’s the video:

The big problem with the video is the guy’s lighting is horrible! Yes, I understand that some of the effects he’s doing require special lighting, but he’s not even doing that right, you can light the effect correctly and make it not look like you’re performing in a closet.

Here’s a screenshot from the above video:

Does that look like something you’d pay money to watch?

Not me.

Does that mean it’s a bad show?

Not necessarily.

Right now we all need to learn about lighting, video production, etc and we all need to learn the basics about all of it.

Is It Worth It?

Your opening is important, and that hasn’t changed with shows moving over to Zoom. Recently I was performing on variety show that took place on zoom and one of the acts opened with a “frozen screen gag” where it looked like his screen was frozen, but he was really just holding up a picture of himself in front of the camera. I guess, it’s funny, it’s not a particularly clever gag (Mario’s card gag with a frozen screen is way better and very clever).

Here’s the problem with the gag, if you do it and you’re really having technical difficulties it’s not good. Most of the issue’s I’ve noticed with zoom variety shows are right out of the gate when you first pop on screen. Doing a technical difficulty gag at that point is rough if you are actually having technical difficulty. The act I worked didn’t have their audio on, and the guy running the tech had no way to give that info to the act.

It was awkward.

Had the act not done the frozen screen bit, it would have gotten resolved much quicker. Just imagine if he did have tech problems with audio (which was real) and if he had planned to do the frozen screen gag later in the show, but then pulled that out, it would have played 10 times better and been super funny.

Your opening is soo important, it’s a risk vs reward thing. Is the risk of doing a frozen screen gag before you’re aware that you aren’t having tech problems worth the reward of a laugh or two?

I don’t know.

It’s an artistic choice the performer has to make. Every trick is a risk vs reward scenario.

Feeling Like A Non-Magician!

Sometimes there are moments when as a magician, you get to feel like someone who isn’t a magician. I was having a magic jam with a couple of other magicians and Jonathan Friedman did this:

Magic can be cheesy! Check out my man Louie Foxx’s reaction! That’s pure cheese!!!

Posted by Jonathan Friedman on Monday, August 24, 2020

What you see me expressing is complete surprise of the trick. It was great. He gave me all the clues in the set up as to what the pay off would be, but I didn’t see it coming. It worked out like a great joke.

How can you get that level of surprise from your audience and still have the trick make sense?

Impromptu Zoom Magic!

About a month ago I added a new trick to Zoom that’s been doing really well. It’s an interactive trick, where someone thinks of someone in the Zoom room and I tell them who they are thinking of. It’s a pretty good trick because it’s so customized and uses what’s happening now. It’s “propless mentalism” in a zoom room!

What I do is make a progressive anagram for the first names of the people in the Zoom room and have someone think of a person. I then go through the flow chart and tell them who they are thinking of! It can be instantly repeated, and if people join later, you can simply add their names. It’s great!

One of the advantages of doing it people’s first names in a zoom room is the person thinking of the name is looking right at the name. That makes if very difficult for them to misspell it!

Give it a try, you’ll like it!

Virtual MCing!

Today, you can check me out doing some virtual stage hosting for the Coconino County Fair on their facebook page! I’ll be introducing their bands and doing some magic tricks.

When I was a teenager I remember in all of the Karrell Fox boxs there being tons of magic tricks that he used to introduce act. Things like a piece of rope ends up shaped like an acts name, or the chalk magically writes the acts name on a chalkboard. I remember thinking how that was very dated feeling. What I mean by that, is that it doesn’t (to me) feel modern in a live variety show.

Now that I’m doing some of this virtual hosting, things like that kinda make sense. In a virtual video, the trick can happen, then the bands video starts. There’s not lag between me leaving the stage, and the band walking on and getting ready. I’ve gone back and reread a lot of Karrell’s stuff and while the props need to be modernized, the ideas are solid!

Corn Dog Idea

Yesterday I posted about making a corndog out of urethane. Later I made one out of foam, and prefer it to the urethane. I think the foam works better with the texture of a corndog.

I started playing around with the foam corndog and it handles better than the urethane one. Here’s what I came up with:

The video isn’t what I made it for, but it makes for a decent social media video.

Prop Making…

This week I’m MCing a virtual event, well really just doing introductions for bands at an event. It’s three bands, and all I really need to do is read the words that the event producer gave me, however I want to add a little something. One of the things that I want to do is make a corndog appear and disappear. As far as I know, no one makes a vanishing corn dog.

I started out to fabricate a corn dog. The first step is to make a silicone mold of a corn dog. The first surprise was that a corndog floated in the silicone, so I had to hold it down with some toothpicks. Once the silicone mold had cured, I pulled out the real corndog and used urethane to make the fake corndog.

I added some pigment to the urethane, the color, isn’t exactly right, but I’m going to give it a little bit of paint and I’ll be good to go. I only need this for one show, so the paint doesn’t need to last.

I’m excited to do record this! We’ll see how it turns out!

First Full Show…

I just had my first full in person show in over six months! I’ve done shorter shows, but this was the first full one. It’s the most nervous I’ve been in a long time, I knew it was nerves, and I didn’t let them get the best of me.

The shorter show’s I’ve been doing were designed specifically for a 20 min set and didn’t have any of my normal full show material in it. I did a couple of run through’s of the show, it was amazing how much of the show came back immediately.

I was also surprised at what I forgot to do once the show started. I do a nest of boxes, and what comes out of it is something from the beginning of the show. I forgot to do the bit that allows me to get the item. At the end of the show, when I started to do the boxes, I realized I didn’t have anything to come out of them. I took the did a quick card trick and the signed card came out of the nest of boxes.

It was fun to be in front of an audience again!

Christian Swenson – The Moisture Festival Podcast

Physical movement virtuoso Christian Swenson joins Matt and Louie in the Moisture Festival Podcast Studio. They talk about his early life studying dance, his interest in movement and how that led him to create his unique style of performance called “Human Jazz.”

They cover the variety of performance masters Christian has studied under and how he came to perform at the Moisture Festival. If you love Christian’s work, you will love hearing how it all began.