Tweaking a Line…

Yesterday I posted about writing a line to try to solve a problem where I had a spot in the show where a kid would frequently shout something. I needed to add a line to tell the audience that the fruit I was using wasn’t real. The line I wrote was, “they’re not real, I got them from Ikea…So they’re made of particle board and Swedish meatballs”. That line didn’t get huge laughs, but seems to have solved the problem.

I tweaked the line a little bit to be, “they’re not real, I got them from Ikea…So they’re made of swedish meatballs and sawdust”. This new line is getting a laugh from the adults AND the kids. I think both particle board and swedish meatballs is too much for the kids here to understand. However they do know what sawdust is!

A little tweak like that upped my laughs per minute and solved the problem of how to address the fruit not being real.


Preemptive Line…

In the new school assembly show I do a trick with apples and oranges. It’s based on Jim Steinmeyer’s Apples and Oranges trick from his book Conjuring. The concept is the same, the the routine is completely different.

jim steinmeyer apples and oranges trick from conjuring

I’ve notice that about every 2-3 shows I have kid in the audience when I introduce the apples and oranges that will yell out, “they’re fake” and the kid is correct, they’re plastic. What puzzles me is that kid will fixate on the fact that they aren’t real and keep yelling out “they’re fake“, even after I agree with the kid that they aren’t real fruit.

I’ve tried different ways to deal with this, and yesterday I wrote the line, “they’re not real, I got them from Ikea…So they’re made of particle board and Swedish meatballs”. The goal is to address the issue before the kids says anything. I’ve done it at 2 shows and so far I haven’t had anyone yell out anything.

One challenge with this line is that I’m in North Dakota and there isn’t a Ikea for about 700 miles! The line gets a small laugh from the adults, and not much from the kids. this is better than nothing, however I think I need to write a better line…


Mentalism For Kids…

Years ago when I was a teenager I saw Lee Earle lecture and he briefly mentioned his thoughts on performing mentalism for kids. It was only a sentence and it fully stated his position. Lee said, “In order to have your mind read you must have a mind.” He’s not wrong, however it doesn’t mean you can’t do mentalism for kids. You need to frame it differently.

In the school assembly show I’m out doing right now on this tour, I have two mentalism tricks that I’m doing. After writing the show, I realized they are the exact same trick, luckily they are 30 mins apart in the show and are presented very differently. Both are essentially one out of five predictions, but they aren’t predictions. The kid(s) pick an unseen item that turns out to be different from the rest of the items. There’s no formal prediction, but it’s clearly obvious that they picked the outlier.

After doing the show for a week and a half, I think the first effect strengthens the second one. In the first one, it’s a surprise however the second time, I’ve very blatantly foreshadowed what’s going to happen. When I finally get around to the second reveal, it’s a huge release of tension when it confirms what they were thinking.

This isn’t my first time doing mentalism for kids. I used to do a routine that used a billet switch and peek that was essentially me reading someone’s mind, but framed as a game. The general presentation was that I was the worlds best 20 Questions player and could guess what they were thinking of in 5 guesses or less. I had them write down the item so that they couldn’t lie and change their mind. I also did this as an open preshow. I would do it while the classes were coming into the show, but I did it on mic so everyone was aware. This routine is written up in the book Performing Mentalism for Young Minds Vol 2.

Mentalism can play very strongly for kids, as long as it’s framed with a presentation that they can understand.


Topical Magic

One of the easiest ways to create magic is to put restrictions on whatever you are creating. Right now everyone on social media is complaining about egg prices. So the natural thing would be to create a trick with an egg. Here’s a quick and simple trick with an egg with the presentation hook of egg prices.

@louiefoxx Egg Buying Price Hack #eggprices #eggs #lifehack #louiefoxx #magictrick #magician #kitchenmagic #cholesterol #browneggs #whiteeggs #moneysavingtips ♬ original sound – Louie Foxx

The trick is simple and direct, it’s an egg color change, with a presentation hook of white eggs being cheaper than brown eggs. As far as I know, I’m the only one doing color changing eggs this way…


Emergency Show to the Rescue!

Week two of the school assembly tour starts today, I was off on Monday due to the holiday. This show was written for elementary school audiences and is a language and literacy themed show.

On Friday of last week, at my second show of the day was for a small school, so they invited all grades, kindergarten through 12th grade! That’s a huge swing of kids. When I learned of the age range, I went to my car and grabbed my emergency show prop bag.

I took out the deck of cards and did ACAAN as the warm up and won over the high school kids.

One cool thing that I noticed was that elementary school aged kids were who the show was written for, it mostly works for high school aged kids. There’s some silly stuff that wouldn’t get laughs if I was doing it just the high school kids, but the every trick got a good reaction from the older kids. That means the magic in the show is strong!

This is something I’ve always said that a lot of kid shows are missing…strong magic!


Practicing “think of a card” tricks

Recently I wrote a blog post about learning Marc Oberon’s Bang On which is a named card to wallet. I’m hoping it’s a solution to a trick so I can avoid using an invisible deck. The effect is that someone names a card and it’s in your wallet. It’s a pretty direct way of accomplishing the effect with no conditions, like limiting the selection.

One of the cool things about living now, is that tricks like this are easy to practice with Siri on your iPhone or with an Amazon Echo. You simply ask the smart assistant to name a playing card and they give you a random one. This allows you to react as if you’re actually doing the trick. It doesn’t give you a second of mental preparation while you think of a card.

It’s a much more “real world” way to practice tricks like this.

The Moisture Festival Podcast – Kiki Hood

This episode we’re joined by the multi talented Kiki Hood! You know Kiki from the Fremont Philharmonic Orchestra which is one of the Moisture Festival’s show bands.

This week Kiki tells us about locating rare books, how to super charge a kazoo and what a Panto is! This is a super fun interview that you’ll love!

Working on the Show

Today I’m starting day four of the doing the new school assembly show. The show is called Incredible Idioms and is at, language and literacy themed shows. This is very different from themed shows that I’ve done in the past. This one has a flow all the way through it. The way it’s written, I can’t easily swap out routines in the show. I really like the way it flows.

In the past with school assemblies, I’ve always had a section where I explain the rules for the audience. This show doesn’t have that, and so far the kids are behaving really well. I think I owe this to the scripting of the show and that there aren’t really any dead spots. There are slow spots, but not really any dead spots.

The warm up to the show is an alarm clock that I put a remote control into and it rings whenever I want it to. This prop is used as the warm up, a running gag and a trick in the show. The trick is that it vanished in a devil’s hank. In my test shows, that clock vanish really fell flat, and I felt that the audience knew the clock was in the hank. The first couple of days in the tour I really focused on making the vanish work for me. It turns out I wasn’t show the back of the hank after the vanish. Once I added showing the other side of the hank, the trick started to hit much harder.

That’s the fun of tours like the one I’m going, it gives you a lot of time to work out problems in the show.


Good Structure, Okay Routine…

There are two things that are surprising me about performing for kids on this tour. The first is the lack of rules that I have to go over and the second is that I’m not needing to coach applause. I don’t know if it’s me as a performer getting better, or if it’s them being used to watching TV shows where people applaud for variety acts.

I figured out that the first real magic trick in the show I do is a production of a tennis ball. If I display it and just freeze, they will clap. This is done with no coaching or bits that tell them how to respond. It’s kinda blowing my mind that they are doing it on their own.

I’m closing the show with the vanishing birdcage and I’m getting kids to jump up to their feet and clap…also without any coaching. I’m essentially getting partial standing ovations from kids at a school assembly. I will say that my routine for the vanishing birdcage is structured fairly well, with how it’s paced and with the music cues. Also unlike most vanishing cage routines, my has a reappearance. It’s just the bird that reappears, but it’s a release of the audience’s tension and gives them a moment where they know they are supposed to applaud. I will say it’s the structure of the routine and not the routine that is what’s getting the reactions. The routine is just okay.

I’m working on the routine this tour and it’s getting better, but still has a lot of work that needs to happen. Most of the new bits I’ve been trying have been falling flat. This is just a case of continuing to write and hopefully it will eventually stick.

This is the work.


Laughs Per Minute…

Last night I reviewed the video of the first show of this tour and calculated my laughs per minute. I came in at 1.57 laughs per minute or about three laughs every too minutes. Normally my goal is about 3.5 LPM’s, however this show has more content than my standard magic and comedy show.

I think my short term goal is going to be two Laughs Per Minute, but ideally getting this close to three LPM’s.

If you’re a comedy magician and don’t know your laughs per minute, you need to know them. I’m always amazed by how many comedy acts I talk to and when I ask what their LPM’s are, they either don’t know or say a crazy number like 10. To put it in perspective a stand up comic is in the ballpark of 4-6 LPM’s, maybe as high as 8. You need to know the actual number that you’re getting. Once you know this, it allows you to improve.

The way to figure out your LPM’s is to record your show and count the laughs. Then divide the length of your show in minutes by the number of laughs and you get your LPM’s.

Another metric is “reactions per minute”, so this is more than just a laugh. It could be applause, the audience going whoa or whatever. Having a metric allows you to set a goal.