When I did an overnight flight on Quantas Airline, they gave us little fabric cases with a couple of toiletry items. I thought the case might be useful as a holder for some prop, so I kept it. They measure about 6.5 x 4.5 inches, but about half an inch on the short side isn’t really usable due to where the snap closure is located.
The goal was to put together an emergency show that could be performed close up or for a stand up venue like a black box theater (up to 100 seats). Everything used in the show has to be contained within the fabric case, so you can’t borrow anything from the venue or audience like a cup or dollar bill. The reason for that is you can’t 100% guarantee someone will have a dollar bill for your to borrow, or that the venue will have a clear pint glass.
Another condition is you must be able to perform with a corded mic in a stand. If I needed to use a hands free mic holder, that will need to fit into the fabric case.
Any props you normally carry on your person are bonus, and don’t count towards this. For example, if you normally have a set of B’wave cards in your wallet, you would need to put another one in the fabric case if you wanted to do it in this show.
Here’s what I came up with:
The props are:
Jumbo Linking Pins
4 Sheets of Tissue Paper
Business Cards (that are blank on one side)
White 9 inch silk
And here’s the show list:
Everything on the list are tricks/routines that I currently do or have done in the past. There’s no learning curve for these, I can grab the prop and immediately do the trick. I chose to add the production coil and throw coil as things to add production value to the show, so it doesn’t feel like things were cobbled together. The also add texture to the show, it’s not all flat props.
When putting together the list I also had to factor in not duplicating effects. For example, if I did gypsy thread and torn and restored tissue paper, they are essentially the same trick.
The premise is that this is an emergency set up, so it’s a show I’m forced to do, not a show that I want to do. Artistically, this isn’t necessarily my current voice, but it’ll get me through the emergency situation.
I’ve had the book The Riddle of Chung Ling Soo for probably 15 years and never read it. I finally took with me on a flight and read it on the plane!
I have a hard time believing it was a mass market book, and not just for magicians as it gets pretty nerdy in some areas. I did find it interesting that while Chung Ling Soo died during the bullet catch trick, the author mentioned that he wasn’t going to go into the theory of suicide. I think that’s an angle that needs to be explored for the sake of completeness.
It was a good, quick read and if you can find a copy of it, it’s a solid $10 buy.
One of the routines I’m working on for my school assembly tour next month is a ball manipulation sequence. It’s going to use sponge tennis balls. I’m choosing these because them fit the theme I’m going for AND they play very big. For the routine I need to steal two balls, one at a time. I don’t want to do pocket steals, and they look bad on stage, the work better close up.
Years ago when I used to do a multiplying balls, my routine had a body steal and I used this holder:
This one is great and it lays flat after you steal the ball. However stealing a sponge ball is a little different that stealing a ball that is solid. So to experiment, I bought several different styles of ball droppers to play with:
After trying them, I think the winner is the Sponge Ball Dropper!
This has a couple advantages over the other ball droppers, mainly that it’s designed to hold sponge, and not a solid ball. I like the release action being a squeeze and not a pulling motion. Also it completely hides the sponge ball when it’s in my coat, so if my coat opens, you don’t see a bunch of colorful balls pinned to the inside.
My worry about things that have moving parts is that if it breaks and needs repair while I’m on the road, it might not be easy to fix or get another one. I’ll probably travel with a couple of normal billiard ball droppers as back ups and hope I won’t need them.
One of the ways to add a bonus trick to a routine, is to introduce the prop you’re going to use for the routine as part of a prediction. In the school assembly show that I’m working on, I’m doing a routine with a tennis ball and will be using it as the reveal of a prediction, then going into the tennis ball routine.
The way I’m going to be doing this is using a trick called Prestige. This prop is visually similar to Tom Stone’s routine Of Dice and Men. It has 5 numbered options on cards and someone from the audience names one of the numbers and on the back of that is your force item.
I picked up the dry erase version of Prestige, I’m not sure this was the right version as I have a feeling I’m going to have to keep redrawing the pictures on the cards. I guess I could draw them in Sharpie and it won’t be an issue.
The trick comes with numbers that stick to the cards with magnets.
The magnet numbers are used for a bonus trick where all the numbers disappear except for the chosen number. I’m not doing that and having the numbers removable add bulk to the folded up packet and makes setting up a little bit harder.
I took some vinyl numbers and stuck them to the outside of the sleeves.
This has less stuff for me to break, or lose while I’m on the road and a good solution for the routine that I’ll be doing. We’ll see how this trick goes next month…
Every show that I do, I write out a set list. This helps me with packing, set up and general planning, like not having similar effects back to back in the show.
Here’s a recent set list for a 60 min corporate holiday show:
I also have notes as to who to thank during the show. By the end of the show, I’ll probably won’t remember the names of anyone helping me out without a note.
I’m always amazed when I work with people that don’t use set lists. But those are usually people who don’t really have a set show and just go up and “wing it” every time. Personally I know my show, but the are many different configurations of the show, I’m not always doing 60 mins for adults, the show length and audience make up changes.
Last week in Seattle, he had an ice storm where the city got covered in a sheet of ice from freezing rain. That gave me a day off to play around, no shows or emails to return. I used this time to get to some ideas that have been in notebooks for awhile.
Here’s a close up dancing hank style magic trick that I had a while ago:
The ending with the smoke in the jar was an idea I had for another trick that didn’t work out, but added something to this trick.
Is this trick better than a standard floating bill? I don’t know, it’s potentially more workable as there’s less issues with the IT being visible. It could work in a parlor type setting. It would take away my biggest issue with using IT and that’s dealing with lighting or having to cut the bit because you can’t make it work with the existing lighting.
I may play with this a bit more, as the jumping action for me works better with my performing persona that the bill floating.
-Louie PS I’m aware that this is essentially a smaller version of Sean Bogunia’s Extreme Dancing Hank, but with a different, but similar gimmick and a slight variation in method.
A couple of weeks ago Duane Duvall passed. Duane was a huge part of the Portland, OR magic scene. I didn’t know Duane super well, but had plenty of conversations with him over the years. His magic business card collection was amazing!
Here’s bit of Duane:
Thanks Duane for all you’ve done for Northwest magicians! -Louie
Here’s a little mentalism trick that’s Christmas themed!
Effect: You show five pictures of Christmas things and someone thinks of one of them. You read their mind and tell them what they’re thinking of.
This is simply a progressive anagram. Using the chart below you say letters, one at a time, and if the letter is in what they are thinking of, you move down the list and if it isn’t you move to the right.
The nice think about this list is that you can only get one NO answer before you know the work they’re thinking of.
Personally if I was to do this, I would have an index of the different options, and have a physical prediction, or something like a modified Six Outs by Blake Vogt with only five outs.
A few years ago I had a giant production fish in my show. Shortly after I got the fish, I was recording an episode of the Odd and Offbeat Podcast which I cohost with Matt Baker. We did a story about a fish market that put googly eyes on their fish to make them look fresher (you can listen to it here) and that gave me the idea to put googly eyes on the production fish. It made it look a thousand times better.
Right now I’m working on my show for a school assembly tour and I have a smaller production fish in the show. Here’s what the fish looks like when you order it from the magic shop:
And here’s what the fish looks like after adding the googly eyes:
The eye adds a lot to making the fish look real. It also adds a bit of dimension to the fish. Sometimes its small things that make a huge difference!