Performing with restrictions…

I’m still figuring out how to navigate the COVID restrictions on my show this week. The audiences are out and out to have fun, so that’s a good thing!

One thing I’ve noticed is that this fair’s policy is that the people attending wear masks. As you can see in picture about half of the people are wearing masks.

I think moving forward after the mask mandates end, when doing close up, I’m going to still wear a mask. I’ll wear it for when I approach the group and ask if they’re a “mask or no mask group”.

Still Masking Up…

This week performing at the fair, we’re not required to wear masks when we’re performing. That’s great, however I found for my roving magic, people were more receptive when I was wearing a mask. I think it shows respect for them as people that walking up unmasked and assuming they are OK with that doesn’t.

One thing I’ve noticed when performing with a mask is that my whole face is still animated. You can’t see much of it, but I think it adds to the overall energy when I perform. That and it will be automatic to do in the future when I’m not wearing a mask.

Figuring it out…

This week I’m performing at a fair and it’s a fairly challenging experience. The crowd is fairly far from the stage and the seating is socially distant. It’s challenging to get them to unite as a crowd. Hopefully I’ll have it figured out by the end of the run.

The other challenge is that I can’t use people on stage. It’s a no contact show. This is fine, but has some problems. The big one being the audience is masked, so talking to them is difficult. It’s hard to tell who says something, and it’s hard to understand what they are saying. Indoors in a theater where there is less ambient noise, it’s much easier. This is something I didn’t anticipate (I should have).

I’m working out how make my show more successful this week, hopefully I’ll only need it this week. It looks like most COVID restrictions on the west coast are going to be lifted in about a week. Too late for this fair…

Back on the Road…

After about 19 months, I’m back out on the road performing at state and county fairs across the USA. This week I’m at the San Mateo County Fair in San Mateo, California. Having a wide scope of what my work is this week made me pack pretty much everything!

My “road tip” is that I never leave my show in my car at the hotel overnight. This is the stuff that I need to do my show, and if I don’t have it, I can’t do my show. Yes, I can do a show with things from the local walmart, but that’s not the show that was hired, or the show that I want to do.

Lugging all your gear to your room adds 10 mins to your day, but it’s way better than getting your car broken into and you losing your show!

Freedom of the Seize…

The other day my buddy Matt Disero posted on his Facebook about a Stewart James trick that he thought was overlooked by magicians. I’m a huge Stewart James fan, and dug out the book and read the trick. It’s on page 120 of Stewart James In Print: The First Fifty Years

In the introduction to the trick it says that it’s not a good trick for non-magicians, but a fooler for magicians. I think whoever wrote that intro was correct, well for how the trick was written up. It’s a very interesting principle, here’s the effect:

Someone picks a card and puts it face up on top of the deck. The cards are cut to bury the card. You then take the cards behind your back tell them the card above the face up card.

It’s very clever, and I think it has a use in a longer routine. As a stand alone, I’m not sure how I feel about it…

Another Alexa Trick…

Awhile ago on this blog I mentioned I was working on a trick that used an Amazon Alexa / Echo device. The goal of the trick was essentially a self working trick that someone could do without me, just following some instructions and having an Alexa in their room.

Here’s the final trick:

When I was putting this together, it I was pretty lucky. I put the hats above on note cards. I needed to force the party hat and the four hats I randomly wrote down and the order that I randomly laid them out worked for the math! I still needed to figure out the second count (hat), and once I realized I just needed an odd number, it was a piece of cake!

Have fun with this trick!

Summer Costume…

When I perform at fairs outdoors, I don’t wear pants, I wear shorts. They are part of my “costume” and look that I’m going for. The shorts that I wear are actually pants that I’ve cut into shorts. There are a couple reasons I do this, the main one is that they fit differently and hang on my body differently than most shorts do.

In the past I’ve always taken them to my local tailor and had them do the conversion. However their shop closed about six month ago, so I couldn’t take them to my normal person. I decided to try to remember what I learned in 8th grade home economics class and do it myself. I spent about 45 mins cutting and hemming two pairs of pants and they turned out pretty well, but hemming pants isn’t a very difficult project.

Many magicians are surprised when they hear I wear shorts in my show. They think it’s not part of a costume, or what a magician should look like. They are entitled to their opinion, but they are part of a coordinated look, I’m not just throwing on shorts. They may not like that look, but it fits with what I want the audience to see when they see me onstage.

Mr Smiley gets a hat

With COVID restrictions loosening up, we were able to get in a little magic jam session!

One of the things that we were playing with was some little hats that I found that are being sold as novelty thumb warmers. We combined it with Jonathan Friedman’s Mr Smiley Face trick and here’s the result:

It’s a fun little trick. It’s not the best trick in the world, but a fun little thing.

Back on the Road…

When I was first starting out performing and I had a gig, that would literally eat up my whole day. From packing for it, to travel and performing, even for a local gig. Then as I got more confident in my show, it got much faster, I knew everything was in my case, and didn’t need to double check anything. I was also a lot more confident and had more experience as a performer, so that if a prop was missing or whatever, I could still make it happen.

I’m heading out to my first fair contract in about 18 months and it’s an out of town 10 day contract. Another challenge on top of not having performed at a fair in a year and a half is the scope of work I’m doing. I’m pretty much doing whatever they want me to do. I know I’m doing some stage shows, stage MCing and some roving. Once again, this wouldn’t have been an issue in 2019, but it’s a lot of stuff to figure out how to pack.

So why not do it how I did it a couple of summers ago?

Well, every summer I work on a lot of new material at fairs, so the packing of the show will be different than it was before. Also I’m not sure the level of contact, or social distancing that people will be comfortable with. One of my routines a couple summers ago was an 8 minute bit where someone fed me marshmallows, and that’s something I probably can’t do for a little while. Sure I could get someone on stage and ask them to do it, and they probably would…but I’m worried it would be “cringy” for people watching it. I don’t want that.

I’m going to spend a day stressing out on how I’m going to pack the show, then hopefully the next contract will be much easier!!!

In Person and Virtual Shows This Week…

This week I’ll be doing some virtual bits for the Kids’ Entertainer Fest! I think you still can register, and this is a solid line up.

During the day this week I’ll also be performing at the San Mateo County Fair in San Mateo, CA. If you’re in the area, swing by and say hi!