Last week I saw a lot of concerts and one thing that I noticed is all of the performers got right into what they do. No lengthy intros, just BAM right into it!
Sadly soo many magicians don’t do get into it right away. Their opening lines are way too long and don’t do anything. If there’s a laugh, or character building, that’s great and acceptable. Unfortunately magicians like to talk for 3 mins about quantum whatever that they really have no knowledge about before they get to the trick. When you walk onstage you need to give the audience something. Your opening lines are a good spot for giving the audience a fake science talk. It doesn’t establish you at all, sure it may justify the trick, but there’s time for that…and that’s deeper in the show, not your opener.
I don’t believe you need to open with a “flash opener”, but something a little bit quicker than a 20 minute bill in lemon routine. A good option that’s not a flash trick is opening with some stand up comedy about yourself or the venue gives the audience something (a laugh).
Sometimes it feels like I’m perpetually cleaning out my office. This time I found a super rare Kraft’s Famous Magic Kit. This is a punch out magic kit that was created by Harlan Tarbell!
From what I’ve heard (mostly from Richard Kaufman) is that there are two versions of this punch out kit. The 1936 version for Morton’s Salt which has Tarbell’s name on the cover and the version that I have from 1938 for Kraft which doesn’t have Tarbell’s name anywhere on it.
I suspect that the Kraft version is a bit more rare than the Morton version as I’ve found many instances of that one being sold, but I can’t find a single mention of the Kraft version. I’m guessing since it lacked Tarbell’s name, less people saved them.
When I was up in Quebec City for FISM, I was chatting with Chris Hanowell about names for a trick. We thought “Regicide” would be a great title for a magic trick, and Chris is working on it. A few weeks later I had an idea for a trick called “American Regicide” and finally got around to making a test version:
I have a better idea for how to make the gimmick that animates it that will eliminate hand movement. It’s something that I need to 3d print, so it’ll have to wait until I’m home for longer than a day or two for me to design, print, tweak and reprint.
The dismantling of my Virtual Magic Show is continuing. Today I took apart the spinning shelf that held all of my props for the show.
As the show progressed, I simply rotated the shelf counter clockwise to get to the next set of props. From an efficiency standpoint, it was great! It was also nice to glace at the holders, and if there was an empty one, then a prop wasn’t set for the show or was missing!
I’m getting rid of the board, and keeping all the holders. If I need to recreate this, it won’t be hard to do.
If you’ve read this blog, you’ll know that I’ve learned a lot about protecting the magic that I sell and that I’ve been very successful in keeping knock offs of my magic products off of sites like ebay and aliexpress.
I think this is something that all magicians should read, it not only covers the different types of intellectual property (IP), but how it applies specifically to magicians. Hopefully it will inform idiot magicians who don’t know about IP from commenting in social media groups with factually inaccurate information about IP.
My favorite is when a magician says a trick is protected as a “trade secret”. Sure it can be, but if I’m not a party to the trade secret agreement and can figure it out, I’m (legally) free to use it. Trade secrets only apply to those who have signed the agreement.
If you’re a creator, I hope if gives you a base for where to start to protect an idea for a trick and the different processes for doing it. For example, I personally don’t want to patent a trick due to time and expense. I choose to copyright the art and instructions. That allows me to remove knock offs from popular sites because they are using my text and art. Most of the people knocking off don’t want to spend the time it takes to write ad copy and create art, so it narrows down the amount of knock offs out there.
If someone uses my idea and creates their own art, text and ad copy they are legally free to do make my product. Sure, I’d rather they don’t, but I’ve accepted that’s how it is based on what I was willing to do to protect my products.
I’m always amazed at how many magicians have taken the basic step of registering the text and art of their instructions and ad copy. It’s less than $100 and easy to do online.
I’m always thinking about how to use video screens to make the show play bigger. It’s technology that 10 years ago really wasn’t within the grasp of the average magician, but now for less than $1,000 you can have a compete set up…even less if you already have a laptop computer!
One of the things about the Micheal Buble show that I was recently at, was that the screens weren’t just for making him bigger. There were three screens and sometimes there was a “set piece” like a the moon above. Sometimes it was a close up of a band member or the audience in the middle with Buble on the sides or vice versa.
This is something that doing a couple seasons on Masters of Illusion taught me, that the background adds a lot. In their tech sheet they ask if there’s something you want as your background. Something simple like adding a picture of a workshop when you’re doing a bit about inventing a trick, or a picture of your wife when you’re doing a routine about your wife adds a lot of production value to your show, and that’s just still images.
Last night my wife and I went to see Michael Buble, and that guy works his butt off onstage. He did just over two hours with no opening act, and the two hours flew by!
One huge thing to note is that it wasn’t all music. In between each song the told jokes. It was a mini stand up set that usually introduced the next song or was about the city we were in. Telling jokes between routines is a great way to add personality and time in your magic show. I used to do this more, and need to get back to doing more of it.
Basic math says if you do eight tricks in your show, and if you can add 2 minutes of jokes between those eight routines, you’ve added 12 minutes to your show without having to carry any extra props. That would turn a 45 in show into almost an hour!
Somedays I get to a gig and see that it’s really set up for my show to struggle. Here’s the set up at a recent fair:
The hay bales are probably 35-40 feet way from the stage, and in full sun. Due to the direction the stage faced, there really wasn’t much I could do about the sun, but I could work on the hay bales. I drug most of them closer to the stage:
Closing the gap to the audience really helped me connect. It also stopped people from using the area in front of the stage as a walkway through the fairgrounds. I always do what I can to give my show the best possible conditions based on the situation.
Okay, so I tried the Auto Spring Fan Card Revelation with misdirection to flip the fan over. The idea is that they don’t see me turn the fan over, their attention is elsewhere, and when they look back all of the cards have changed.
Here’s sort of what it looks like (it doesn’t work on camera as it’s an open move that’s covered by misdirection):
The reaction it gets has a delay while people notice it at staggered times, so it’s not at punchy as openly flipping the fan over. Reaction wise, it’s say it’s about the same either way, but flipping it covered by misdirection is a stronger magic trick. What’s nice is that it can be done either way and you can choose at the last minute how you are going to do the revelation, you aren’t really locked into one way or the other.