Covering the Spot…

One thing that I’m always looking for a games (legit or not) that I can play with people when I’m doing roving magic. For longer gigs, or events when it’s slow when I’m scheduled to rove, being able play a game is a great way to create energy beyond my roving magic set.

Cover the Spot carnival game

Recently I picked up Cover The Spot by Ian Kendall. This is the classic carnival game of the same name. The nice thing about this version over the traditional carnival game is that it’s simply 6 disks and not a large board with 5 disks. It’s portability is a huge plus for me!

The instructions are clear and Ian gives strategies for for different scenarios that may come up. This isn’t a “self working” thing, it will take some work to learn to do it correctly and consistently, but that’s a good thing. If it was easy to do, it’d be easy for your audience to do. Don’t misinterpret what I mean by it not being easy to do, it’s easy to do…once you practice a little bit. It’s not hard to do.

Unfortunately it’ll be a couple of weeks before I can get to try it for an audience, but I’m excited for when I get to try!

Video Showcasing…

I’m home now from a booking conference I was at earlier in the week. One of the things that happens at these are video showcases. These are up to three minute videos that play usually in between the live act showcases. There were a couple of good video showcases and a lot of bad ones.

The number one thing about a video showcase is to use still images sparingly and use them with purpose. One of the showcases I watched was of a musician who does a roving act and he does a lot of audience engagement and pulls around a wagon that looks really cool. His video was all still images with him singing a song played over. It didn’t really give any context to what he does or how a buyer would use it.

The next worst thing is to play a video of you playing a gig. One person played a video him that had bits of several songs, but they were all at the same venue. It was visually boring. At least have several venues…and record them from the soundboard, they audio will turn out much nicer and easier to listen to.

Another thing is that news footage is great…but trim out all the stuff that’s not you! One act had a nice news clip, but they kept in the intro of the two newscasters bantering about the weather or whatever at the beginning, essentially wasting the buyers time for 15 seconds. Then they left in the extro of the two newscasters banters about what was coming up next, once again wasting the buyers time.

The final thing is you don’t need to use the full 3 minutes (or whatever the max is) for your video. If you can tell the buyers what you need in 75 seconds, great…you don’t need to bore them with redundant info for the remaining time. Trimming out the fat is key!

Those are some tips if you are putting together a video showcase or making a sizzle reel!


Give It Up For the Troops…

Last week when I was at a booking conference there were several acts that used the US National Anthem as part of their showcase. That inspired me to write this joke:

The joke has lead to a lot of thoughts on the use of the National Anthem and things like, “tributes to the troops” in the comments of the post. Here’s my thinking, if you honestly want to give a tribute, then do it from the heart, don’t do it the exact way everyone else does it…and don’t do it with the “Branson Formula” which is a hymn followed by a patriotic song (or vice versa), or as one guy did last week and combined the two into a single song called “Jesus, the ultimate veteran”.

Actually honor them, singing God Bless the USA doesn’t honor them. It doesn’t tell their story. Bring a vet onstage and interview them. Give all the active or retired duty military all of your merch for free. Do it from your heart, not from a formula that came out of someone else’s brain.


Magic Jam on the Road…

Last week I was selling my show at a booking conference, and got involved in a little impromptu magic jam! It was Cecil Lewis, Jeff Martin, Dan Paulus and me.

When you’re on the road, you need to take time to do things that fill your soul. This is one of the things that keeps me moving, I love jamming with other magicians!


Naypes by Roberto Mansilla

A couple of weeks Matt Disero mentioned the book Naypes by Roberto Mansilla on his Facebook page. His post got me curious about the book, so I picked up a copy of it. It’s a book of card magic for parlor or stage shows. I cracked it open on the plane yesterday.

In the beginning Roberto does a good job of defining what parlor and stage magic is and the difference between the two. He also talks about four techniques to make cards play to a larger audience.

I’ve read a few tricks into it and I like the approach to Out of This World, and the routine for Card in Envelope. I’ll probably finish reading it on the flight home in a few days. I’ll keep you posted with what I think…


The Moisture Festival Podcast – Robert Strong

The Moisture Festival releases its last interview from the Berkley sessions and we are pleased to welcome in Robert Strong. Robert is a magician, comedian, idea guy and doer of awesome things.

We learn about how he found out that he is related to Harry Houdini, his encounters with Robin Williams and cold calling famous comedians for a show he produced. Robert discusses performances at TED making the creator of Siri appear and how he has parlayed his magic skills into a career that has lasted over three decades. A great glimpse into the mind of one of the most creative and hardest working people in show business. 

Getting Better Audio…

When I first got started doing promo videos for my show many years ago, I used the camera’s mic for the audio. That’s a horrible way to do it, it just doesn’t sound good at all. I just picked up a Zoom recorder that the mic line runs through so you get the audio straight from the mic you’re using.

It gives you better audio, that’s way more listenable than just using the audio off of the camera’s mic. Here’s a little video I made comparing the two, the camera’s mic and then direct from the onstage mic:

The nice thing is that the recorder isn’t very big, so it’s easy to travel with and once it’s set to the mic, those levels shouldn’t really change, so I can just plug it in and go!

Committing to the Cage…

When I was driving home from Abbott’s Magic Get Together, I stopped and visited a magician in Minnesota to talk about the vanishing birdcage. He was thinking of adding it to his show.

His fear was the cage hanging up on his sleeve. The thing with the cage vanish is that people think it’s easy, until they start to work with it and then realize how hard of a trick it is to do. The first thing you do is try to eliminate anything that will snag on your sleeve. The second thing you do is use proper technique for the vanish. That’s putting a lot of tension on the pull and making the “hand tunnel” correctly.

Here’s me vanishing the cage at the fair yesterday:

Once you’ve gotten the snags removed and the technique down, the last thing you have to do is commit to the vanish. When you make the cage disappear you don’t do it timidly, you vanish it like it’s going to go up your sleeve. Committing to the vanish is where I think a lot of people have trouble. They’re worried about it not going up the sleeve, so the don’t pull as hard as they should.

Eye-Balling the Problem…

In my show I do a joke about a kid losing a glass eye during the show. I thought it would be funny to add a visual gag to the verbal joke. The gag works for when you’re doing a multi show type of gig, but it doesn’t work for single show. I ordered a glass eye, and now I have one in my prop case!

The gag works, and I’m glad I spent the $25 on a glass eye, however the gag can be better. Most people don’t know that a glass eye is basically flat, it’s just the front 1/4 of the eye. People think it’s a whole globe that would be a sphere. I think if I managed to find a good looking sphere, the gag would play better.

I guess there’s only one way to find out…track down a round glass eye!


Al Koran…

A couple of weeks ago at Potter and Potter‘s Ken Klosterman auction I managed to win one item. It was Al Koran…well some of his ashes and a sealed deck of his cards along with a display.

If you don’t know much about him, here he is on the Ed Sullivan show:

Al invented Ring Flite and the Medallion, both tricks I’ve done a version of during my career!