Himber Book…

For years I’ve been a huge fan of Richard Himber, he’s put out a lot of great, innovative magic. I’m not sure why I’ve never bought his book, however recently there have been a lot of them on the market, so the price got pretty low and I picked one up.

This honestly isn’t the best book. The first half is basically instructions sheets, it’s still interesting if you’re a Himber fan, but there’s not a lot you can do out of the book as they really don’t go into how the prop was made. One of the descriptions of what the prop went something like, “it’s like a duck pan with box of cards…” without pictures, it’s not much help. I think whoever worked on the book was a friend of his and not really a magician.

However, it is an interesting book if you’re into magic history and it is more magic knowledge going into my brain. It got me thinking, why did the Himber Ring and Himber Wallet get those names. Those aren’t the original names that those props were given?

One thing Himber knew was how to market his magic, they have reproductions of his ads and he sells it! His fame as a band leader really helped him with the style of selling he did, and it wouldn’t have really worked for most other people.

My verdict is that if you’re into Himber and can snag the book at about $40 you’ll enjoy it.

Bad Reviews…From Who?

Last night I stumbled upon someone on Facebook writing about the episode of Masters of Illusion that I was recently. Basically the guy crapped on everyone that was on that episode. I was going to reply, but that really doesn’t do anything positive. Not that this post is going to be super positive.

Something I started doing a few years ago when someone craps on someone online is to research them. Not anything crazy, just check out their website and maybe watch their promo video. That tells you a lot about the person, and what filter they see the world in.

In this particular case, the person who wrote the post about the show isn’t my demographic based on their promo video. They were doing 1970’s style magic in an 1970’s way. There’s nothing wrong with that, however it’s not what I prefer to watch. He’s stuck in an older style of magic, and I think anything new or edgy probably isn’t his flavor. I can see that he’s stuck performing in a style of the magic he probably saw in his 20’s and never decided to grow. He does a Jimmy Hoffa joke in his promo video, Hoffa disappeared in 45 years ago, I had to google that…that’s how fresh the joke is!

If that’s his “art” cool. It’s not my “art”.

If you ever put anything out there into the world and someone doesn’t like it, before you get upset, look at the lens that they are looking at you through. It gives you a lot of perspective.

No Names…

Many years ago I started adding rules to what I do in my show. Sometimes I break these rule, but when I do it’s intentional. Usually these come about by me seeing something I don’t like in someone else’s show and want to make sure I don’t do it in my show.

One of the rules I have is that I don’t use the names of other magicians in my show. There’s a simple reason for that, I don’t want people thinking of other shows they could be seeing. Why would I talk about David Blaine in my show, the audience will immediately compare me to him.

Also when you mention another magician, you run the risk of people not knowing who the person is. I recently watched a show where someone mentioned Jeff McBride and I’m guessing most of the people had no idea who Jeff is. That just confuses people, unless you then explain who the person is, which in most cases.

Not too long ago I was in a variety show and provided an introduction to an MC. They didn’t use what I provided and used a “stock joke” intro that went something like, “you’ve heard of David Copperfield, David Blaine, Doug Henning…well so has he…” This is a bad intro. First of all it’s selfish for the MC to not use the provided intro without asking me. Second, that joke doesn’t move the show forward or provide any info on the act they are about to see. The intro I provided does.

What you do in your show is up to you, but is it really necessary to mention Houdini’s name or are you just being lazy?

Watch Nick Lewin…

On the this weeks episode of Masters of Illusion, the act to watch in Nick Lewin do his Slow Motion Torn and Restored Newspaper. He’s the best act on the show. You can see the lifetime of work he’s put into it. You can watch is on The CW’s website.

Nick knows every beat of that trick. starts out with energy, establishes his character and the magic is strong.

Pay attention to how each joke moves the act forward. There are no jokes shoehorned in there. It all relates directly to him or the trick.

The appearance was just under 2 minutes, and I counted 9 laughs in those two minutes. That gives him 4.5 laughs per minute. That’s pretty solid, my goal is 4 LPM’s. You’ll notice he front loads the routine with jokes and then the final 25% is magic, and he doesn’t really mix the two.

I think everyone who wants to be a comedy magician can learn a lot by watching Nick’s appearance.

James Randi…

A few days ago The Amazing Randi passed. I remember as a teenager reading his books. I never expected to run into him. I was probably 20-ish years old and ran into him at a magic shops. We chatted a bit and ended up hanging out while he was in Seattle doing a TV show.

From the stories he told, he’s a guy that’s lived the life of twenty people. He’s pretty much seen and done it all. From touring with Alice Cooper to speaking at huge scientific conferences and he had great stories about them all!

He’s the first person that really turned me onto altering money for magic. Mentioned I should play with putting Scotch Guard on bills. I think I published the trick I came up with using Scotch Guard in a Linking Ring magazine.

From my limited experience hanging out with Randi, he was a cool guy who knew how live life!

Dino-Trick Breakdown…

Last night I performed again appeared on The CW’s Masters of Illusion TV show. I was the opening act, which really surprised me as I’m not really a “flash act”, however the way they edited my act, I think it worked in that spot.

If you didn’t catch the performance, check it out here:

After watching the clip, the first thing I noticed is how much I give the stage to the guy on stage. He’s working it solo for a big chunk of the act. This is very high risk, high reward scenario for me. If the person the audience does something, like in this case where he had some sweet dance moves, it creates a sense of the audience watching a unique show that will never happen again. I really like this.

Here’s another example of taking a risk, where the kid delivered:

If the person does nothing, I have a plan for that. Honestly, the majority of the time they do something. Also in my show I don’t do these bits early in the show, I do them later when I can watch the audience, so I have a feel for who is more outgoing.

The trick is just an OK magic trick from a magical viewpoint. What the trick does have is spectacle and a huge sense of fun. I don’t think there’s really a way the magic trick can be better than me dancing with the guy in the dinosaur costume. It’s a trick that’s 99% energy. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, but if you do something like this, you need to recognize it for what it is.


Sound System…

One of the things that’s always in the trunk of my cars is a sound system. Travelling with my own has saved soo many gigs. If the venue has one, I always prefer to use theirs, however there have been many times when I couldn’t plug my mic into theirs, or just needed mine to run music.

Recently I did a “socially distant” magic show and there were supposed to have a PA for me to use. When I got there and asked, they said they didn’t. This is a situation where having my own came in handy. I did have to laugh when they propped the door open with a PA system!

Get a small PA, it doesn’t need to be much. For years I travelled with a Kustom PA 50 in the trunk of my car. It’s got 3 channels and doesn’t take up much space.

I still have this speaker, however I switched to the Roland Street Cube EX, as it can run off batteries, as sometimes finding a plug can difficult. The bonus is the Roland Street Cube EX fits in the overhead compartment on an airplane!

Be Crazy…

There are many points in my career where I look back and am amazed at where dopey ideas I’ve had for my show have taken me. That’s one of the secrets to my career, not being afraid to try things.

What’s your crazy idea?

What’s the next step to making it a reality?

One of the things I’ve learned is developing ideas is a series of peaks and valleys. Once you solve one problem, you are frequently then greeting with another problem. whoever can power through all all of the challenges wins.

I remember chatting with Brian from Creative Magic about the Change Cap that he put out. The Change Cap was a change bag built into a baseball cap. Brian told me that tons of magicians told him the idea of a change bag built into a hat was their idea. He would then ask if they ever made one, and no one had every successfully made one.

Having and idea and actually making the idea happen are frequently two very different things! Usually the idea is the easy part, making it a reality is the real work!

You Gotta Have Fun!

In a few days on 10/23/20 at 8pm I’ll be performing on The CW’s Masters of Illusion television show. When I had the opportunity to pitch them some routines, I chose things that had some unique visuals. Tricks that weren’t just a card or coin trick, but offered something more.

One of the tricks that I pitched to the producers of the show was the card trick that I do with a dinosaur costume! It’s a very unique trick visually, and it’s just a fun routine.

Look at the picture above, look at my face inside the costume. I’m having a blast! That’s something that I think is important, even though no one can really see me, I’m performing as if they can see me. More importantly, I’m having fun! That fun is project to the audience, even though they can’t see me!

Whatever you do, have fun. Fun is the secret sauce that makes or breaks most performers.