Woo hoo! The first batch of my Take Out Box has sold out at Hocus-Pocus and I’ve got a new batch of them on the way! Thanks to everyone who has ordered one!
If you don’t know what the Take Out Box is, here’s the video:
What I really like about this prop is that it’s like a classic production box that would have been put out by Abbott’s or Davenport’s, but it looks like something that actually exists in the current world…unlike those older boxes metal boxes, or the ones that have funky Chinese characters on them. However, if you’re into the Chinese characters, you could draw one on it and it would totally make sense on this prop!
Last night I went out to see the band The Interrupters and one thing I noticed was that they use a lot of things to tell the audience what they want them to do. This is something that in my show I try, but subtly. After watching this show, it made me realize that asking an audience to do something isn’t bad. It can be repetitive, but not necessarily bad.
Something like telling the audience how to respond when a trick happens is effective, because sometimes they don’t know how to respond. If you want people to clap along to a song, you need to tell them.
I need to reevaluate my show and look at places where I’m not getting the desired audience response and try to find spots where I can tell the audience what to do!
I’m always trying to expand my knowledge about magic and magic techniques. I just had four news books arrive!
These four books are on vary different things within magic! I think it’s important to be well rounded and know as much as you can about as much of magic as possible. It makes you better in an impromptu situation, and it makes you a better creator.
Knowledge is power and sometimes you can find a technique from a style that’s something you wouldn’t normally do, but can find a way to apply it to what you do!
Play is important! You should play with magic as a creative exercise. Learning from a book is good, but sometimes just fiddling around with a deck of cards or whatever with no purpose will lead to some fun things.
There’s not much to it. I discovered I could drop an outjogged, double card from the deck into my hand below it. Once I kinda figured out the technique, I needed to figure out what to do with it. That ended up my a slightly flourishy card change.
Will I ever seriously use this? No. Was it fun to figure out? Yes
The comedy bar gig I did the other night had a pretty simple set list. It was some stand up comedy, then four tricks and it ran 22 mins. The set list was
Tape Measure Prediction
Hoop and Cup Balancing
This set list only uses one person from the audience onstage, and that’s for the whip act. This makes for a show that’s much punchier and doesn’t have the dead time of bringing people on and off stage.
The Tape Measure Prediction and the Choices Routine both use people from the audience, but they stay seated. If a persons only job onstage is to pick a card or something very basic like naming a number, I’ve been leaving them in their seats. This saves time if you only need someone to perform a basic task, and breakup up the constant flow of people coming and going from the stage.
Look at your show, are there routines where you don’t need the person physically onstage? Try using them from their seats!
A couple of nights ago I performed in comedy show at a bar. I used to do a ton of these, but don’t do very many anymore. It’s also fun to work with the younger comics.
One of the things about these shows is that usually sound is limited, so I do the show with just a handheld mic, not a lapel or headset mic. I do use one of Nick Lewin’s Microphone Holders for tricks where I can’t use a mic stand and need both hands.
This particular bar had a lot of sound options, but I still used the handheld. I really do prefer a handheld mic as you can use it to gesture and emote. I also try to not use music in my show if I’m not doing a 45+ min headline set. The other night I was just doing a feature (middle) spot, so it was very low tech for me.
It’s fun to go out and flex my bar show muscle to make sure I can still do them!
One thing about performing outdoors is that the weather can make pulling a crowd very difficult. Last week at a fair, on Sunday it rained hard all day and attendance was really low during the day. I had the last show of the night and my show started an hour before the fair closed, so there was literally no one on the fairgrounds!
The picture above was taken from the stage about 5 minutes before my show’s start time. The challenge is what do you do? I probably could have called off the show and the fair would have been OK with that. Personally I will stand on stage and talk for however long my show is supposed to last. I can usually make something happen, but I wasn’t optimistic about a show happening.
Right after show start time I was on the mic working on jokes, and two people walked by and I started talking to them and got them to sit down and did some informal magic for them from the stage.
At this point with less than an hour left in the fair and a break in the rain, some other people started to venture out of the buildings, and about 15 mins into my show I actually had a crowd!
It wasn’t the biggest crowd I’ve ever had, but I did end up getting about 90% of people who walked by my show to join the crowd, so that’s HUGE!
The moral of this story is always work hard on stage and don’t “phone it in”.
When I was at FISM last summer a guy showed me a really cool stunt…it wasn’t really a magic trick. It was more like Paper Balls Over Head where the audience sees something and there was a bit of a payoff later. What happened was I sat in a chair and he had two coins. He clinked them together. You then closed your eyes and he clinked the coins and you pointed to where he was. You did this several times and the final time you heard the clink and pointed to where you heard the noise. Let’s say you pointed behind you, you opened your eyes and the guy was in front of you.
It was really cool and I’d never seen anything like it.
Yep, I found the principle for the trick that was written up in 1979! The version that I saw at FISM was definitely a more fleshed out version of the stunt, but it was fun to run into the trick in that book!
For years I’ve been interested in the book Body Magic by John Fisher. I like the idea of a book of tricks that just use your body, however the older edition when they popped up was priced usually at $100+ and I wasn’t that curious about the contents.
It was republished a while ago and I finally picked up a copy:
I’ve only flipped through the book and it’s not quite what I expected. There’s more than physical magic, there’s some things like mnemonics in there and some math stuff. I’m not saying that those are bad things, but expected it to be all physical, not mental stuff.
I’ll probably have a different opinion once I actually read it!
Over the past few months I’ve written about working on my Pitata Magic Time Hacker routine. One thing I noticed in a picture of it was that the gray hands on the white background don’t really pop visually onstage.
I took a black marker and colored in the hands on one of my clocks:
It really makes the hands easier to see and the clock play a few rows further back in the audience. The bigger issue that I think this trick is fighting visibility wise is glare off of the plastic clock face. I don’t think there’s really a reasonable solution, unless there’s an easily applied anti-reflective coating, but even then I don’t know how much that would actually help.