There are many points in my career where I look back and am amazed at where dopey ideas I’ve had for my show have taken me. That’s one of the secrets to my career, not being afraid to try things.
What’s your crazy idea?
What’s the next step to making it a reality?
One of the things I’ve learned is developing ideas is a series of peaks and valleys. Once you solve one problem, you are frequently then greeting with another problem. whoever can power through all all of the challenges wins.
I remember chatting with Brian from Creative Magic about the Change Cap that he put out. The Change Cap was a change bag built into a baseball cap. Brian told me that tons of magicians told him the idea of a change bag built into a hat was their idea. He would then ask if they ever made one, and no one had every successfully made one.
Having and idea and actually making the idea happen are frequently two very different things! Usually the idea is the easy part, making it a reality is the real work!
In a few days on 10/23/20 at 8pm I’ll be performing on The CW’s Masters of Illusion television show. When I had the opportunity to pitch them some routines, I chose things that had some unique visuals. Tricks that weren’t just a card or coin trick, but offered something more.
One of the tricks that I pitched to the producers of the show was the card trick that I do with a dinosaur costume! It’s a very unique trick visually, and it’s just a fun routine.
Look at the picture above, look at my face inside the costume. I’m having a blast! That’s something that I think is important, even though no one can really see me, I’m performing as if they can see me. More importantly, I’m having fun! That fun is project to the audience, even though they can’t see me!
Whatever you do, have fun. Fun is the secret sauce that makes or breaks most performers.
Way back in the pre-pandemic days when I had a new Idea I would go to an open mic and try it out. I’m not a huge fan of trying something out at a virtual open mic, as it’s hard to get the overall feeling if the idea is good. In front of a live audience you can get a vibe that there’s something there, even if the trick flops. It’s hard to get that from a virtual show.
A couple days ago I did the Boston Magic Lab to try out the Torn and Restored Postcard I’ve been working on. Here’s the tear and restore sequence:
After rewatching the video, there’s a lot that it needs. One thing it needs a magic moment for the restoration. Something like hitting it with a lighter, but not that as I don’t do fire. Another thing is needs is a good way to ditch the torn postcard.
The nice thing is that I can probably fix both of those. If I reach into my case to grab a lighter, I can ditch the torn postcard. Now that motivates the ditch and gives me the magic moment. I’ll need to find something other than fire.
A possibly solution is using Bizzaro’s Non-Toxic trick which is a vanish of glue. I pour the glue into the folded post card to “fix it”, open it and show the glue is gone and the post card restored. I’m not sure how I feel about mixing two effects at the same time, the vanish of glue and restoration of the card will happen at the same time.
I’ll need to play with it more. I think there’s something there…
The other night I watched Manoj Kaushal’s online show Trapped. A friend recommended it to me, and it’s been generating some buzz with magicians. Here’s the trailer for it:
First I want to say that I bought the cheaper tickets on Stellar Tickets. That means I was just watching the show, not in the Zoom room, so please factor that in during this review.
The best way to describe it is that it’s like an interactive version of one of the Saw Movies. It was live with prerecorded video elements of the “hostages”, etc. Manoj plays the bad guy and the audience has to beat him at a 7 games. Each time we win, a hostage lives and if we lose one game, they all die.
It’s a very interesting premise for a magic / mentalism show, and something were a live stream is the perfect venue for it. I don’t think it would play well in person. Manoj is definitely trying something unique, very different from any online magic / mentalism show I’ve seen.
My biggest dislike was that a lot of the tricks were too magic-y. He does a card trick, and talks about magic. I will say that up front he does mention he’s “a magician…but also has a dark side”. I think the card trick pulls away from the idea of these being games.
Also the odds of the games fluctuate a lot. I think from a statistical stand point the 1 in 52 for the card trick in the middle of the show is the most unlikely to win, then he follows that with something that’s like a 1 in 12. I would have liked to see the odds build get more unlikely as the show progressed.
All of the tricks are good and solid and most rely on a simple principle that’s gained a lot of popularity with the switch to online shows. The way we viewed him on screen did the best and most justified job of using the principle that I’ve seen.
There were a couple of loose ends that didn’t really get tied up, like when someone from the zoom room got kidnapped. I really would have liked for us to play for that person’s life, instead of not really mentioning it again. It’s not just me, in the comments several people asked, “what about john?“.
I paid $15 for the show and for that much, I feel like I got my money’s worth. I also love supporting someone who is trying something different. The show is presented more like an interactive movie than a magic / mentalism show. I’m curious what the general public will think. In the show I watched, I recognized at least half of the people from zoom as magicians. I wonder how many real people are buying tickets?
The problem with this is that the magician kinda thought about his background, but not enough. He’s got one curtain hung, but for $18 more, he could have bought a second one and had a full background.
The other fix is to crop your picture down. An example below is a screenshot of me at a zoom hangout:
The wider shot shows my office around the edges of my screen. I cropped it out of the outgoing video feed. Little things like that make what you’re doing look a lot more professional…or at least not unprofessional.
It’s kinda nice that my material was spread out during the season, I was on episode #2 and now episode #18. That’s about four months apart, which is better than two back to back episodes, then nothing for the the rest of the season.
I’ll post more about this appearance this when I have more info.
This week on the Moisture Festival Podcast we have award winning juggler and Cirque du Soleil performer Patrick McGuire! In this episode we chat about how he got into performing with Cirque du Soleil, learning from the legendary Michael Moschen, and juggling being a father and a professional juggler!
As promised in the podcast, here’s video of Patrick McGuire performing while taking his clothes :
The Impuzziblities books are great, I’m into my second one and recognize some of the stuff from Jim Steinmeyer‘s other books that I have. It hit me last night why I wouldn’t do most of the material in the books. It’s pretty simple, they are too procedure heavy. Most of the tricks like if you just did the formula you’d get the same results. Jim in beginning of one of the books mentions they are puzzles, so I’m not knocking him or the books for that.
What they tricks in the books need is a physical effect to stick the trick. That takes it out of being a puzzle. Yes, it’s cool when the whole audience has the same card, or is holding up the same hand, but it isn’t an amazing magic trick.
Here’s an example I thought of last night:
There’s a coin trick in one of the Impuzziblities books where you have a row of four coins (dime, penny, nickel and quarter) on the table. Through a bit of procedure a coin is picked. You eliminate one (the quarter) by putting it into your right fist, leaving three coins on the table, one of which is the coin they are thinking of. Then a little bit more procedure and they are thinking of a new coin. You put the remaining coins into your fist with the quarter. You then open your hand and all the coins had disappeared except for the coin they are thinking of, which is the nickel. Your hands are complete empty aside from the nickel.
As far as method for the coins is pretty simple. Use a 21 cent trick coin set and you’ll need to switch the quarter with one of the nickel shells with a Bobo Switch from Modern Coin Magic. You do the switch very early on in the trick , you have a ton of time to ditch the quarter. You will need to tweak the trick a little bit from how Steinmeyer wrote it to force the nickel instead of the penny. Or you could do it as written and end with a dime and penny set, using a click pass get rid of the nickel and quarter.
I think adding the physical trick to the verbal instructions moves the trick a bit more from the puzzle side to the magic side.
For years I’ve been a huge fan of Jim Steinmeyer, I love his books. I remember reading his Afghan Bands routine in the first Magic Magazine that I ever bought, and have been a fan ever since.
For some reason, I’ve never bought or read his Impuzzibilites books. They’ve been out forever.
I just picked up a full set of the nine books and I’m having a good time reading them. One of the things I love about Jim’s books is that the routines are fleshed out, it’s not just how to do the trick.
What’s cool about Jim’s books is that 99% of the material I will never do. A lot of his stuff is too procedure heavy for my style, however it all inspires me. I makes me want to be better.