Way back in 2014 or 2015 the was a trend of shirts that were a play on the NWA graphic which said Straight Outta Compton, but instead of Compton they had different cities, like Straight Outta Miami. I wanted one that said “Straight Outta Tarbell” and one that said, “Straight Outta Erdnase“. I went out and had one of each for me made.
I happened to wear the shirt after a show in Canada while having a drink with the local magicians and my buddy Mike Norden took the picture below:
He posted it and it got shared around a bunch on social media, which eventually led to people asking me if I would sell them one of the shirts. I had a batch made and sold them all very quickly. However I didn’t and still don’t want to be in the T shirt business, so I haven’t had them in a long time. A magic convention asked me if they could use it on their T Shirt and of course I said yes, so that put more of them out there.
It’s been years since you could get one, then someone told me that Square Circle Printing has started making them. They said they were using my idea. First of all, while I think I’m the first person to do it, it’s a play on the NWA graphic and it’s not a huge creative leap to get to Tarbell. I think it’s a case of someone coming up with an idea that I already had independently. If I was still making these or had a garage full of them, I might be a bit upset. However that’s not the situation, so if you want one, hit up Square Circle Printing!
This brings me to how pretty much all of magic tricks have hit the market. I never has sold a magic trick with the intention of selling the trick. I’ve always made things that I wanted, the people start asking me if I’d sell them. So I end up making a batch of whatever it is.
Lately I’m getting more and more requests for hybrid events. These are live, in person shows, that also have a virtual component. I think we’re going to have more and more of these. Last week I did four school assemblies that were hybrid, with some of the kids in the room with me and some at home. I just hosted a charity auction that was a hybrid event:
Here’s what I’m noticing about these, you can’t easily stage it for both audiences. Most event planners think you can just plunk up a camera, and that’s not the case.
For example the event in the picture above, they had me set up for the camera, but didn’t think about the in person audience. First of all I’m sitting at a table on the opposite side of the room, so I’m losing connection with a huge chunk of the in person audience. The didn’t have a monitor, so I couldn’t see the gallery view of the virtual audience, so I didn’t have any connection with them.
The gig went well, it was a hosting gig, so it wasn’t a show and we ended up raising more money than the charity’s goal for the evening, so it was a success…but it could have been soo much better for both audiences!!!
As we move forward and out of the COVID pandemic and venues start to reopen and live, in person entertainment begins to come back, we’re going to have to follow some rules. There are tons of magicians that are saying, “I’ll never do a show with a mask on” or whatever, and that’s fine…it’s their personal choice. The venue’s don’t get a choice, they are given guidelines to follow by the state/county/city and must follow those. So your personal choice will affect your ability to perform.
I think that the fear of performing with a mask, or a no contact show comes from a place of laziness. Why wouldn’t you want to figure out how to do your show no contact? The answer you hear is, “My comedy comes from interacting with people”. Great! you can still do that without someone physically onstage…or onstage 6 feet from you. It just takes some work.
I’ve had to recently reblock my show so that couple things I still do with someone onstage can have the person six feet from me…and we both can be masked. I’ve had to reexamine my show and figure out how to make it work…but that’s something you should be doing every now and then anyway.
Last week I bought a vanishing birdcage on ebay (apparently I collect cages now?) from a seller that wasn’t a magician. I’ll talk a bit more about the cage in another post when I get a chance to do some research on it, but it’s a less common one. The seller included this Doug Henning autographed Playbill in the box that came with the cage:
I’m assuming the Max and Salli it’s signed to are Max and Salli Hapner. I’m not very familiar with their work, but remember seeing them on the cover of a couple of magic magazines, or mentioned in them. From my research this week, Max had a collection of Vanishing Birdcages, so it would make sense that the autograph coming with the cage would reinforce the idea that the autograph was to the Hapners.
It appears Max passed about 10 years ago, and I only found one video of him online, which is him doing The Multiplying Bottles for Stevens Magic Emporium:
One of the fun things about knowing some magic history is that I was immediately able to connect the name on the program to the magic act. One the cover of the Genii Magazine above they are doing their bubble appearance, which according some of the people I’ve talked to the last week was a really amazing trick!
A trick that I love and that has been in my roving magic show forever is ProMystic’s MD Mini. I don’t use the trick how it comes when you order it from them, I use it inside a different shell, and recently moved it up into a Rubik’s Cube. You can read about in this blog post from a few weeks ago.
Last week I was performing in person shows at a school doing one show a day for four days for a middle school age audience. These were my first shows doing this trick in the Rubik’s Cube shell and it played great! In these shows I’m going the trick in a platform show, not close up. There was a huge surprise that happened, it got twice the response that I thought it was going to get!
I got two reactions out of the revelation. The first is when I tell the person the color they picked, they react and the audience reacts to that. THEN the person takes the lid off the box and shows the color they picked and that confirmation of the color got a response. That second response really shouldn’t have surprised me because the whole point of the box was to have that moment of showing the audience the selected color clearly.
I’m glad the Rubik’s Cube shell and box is working out, it’s really they way to do the trick for a larger audience. In the past I sold the trick (and it played well) based on the spectator from the audience’s reaction. The nice thing about doing it with the larger cube is I can do this on stage with no contact and socially distant from the person from the audience who could stand on the opposite side of the stage!
Next week I’m performing at the Auburn Ave Theater and the other day I found out on the news there’s some changes about the show:
It’s kinda surreal to get texts about changes to my show from friends who saw a news article about it that used my picture!
Personally I don’t care if I’m performing for 25% or 50% capacity, I’m going to give the best show that I can under the conditions that I’m given. Sure it will be strange performing to a nearly empty venue with everyone spaced out, but we’ll have some fun regardless!
This week I’m doing a series of hybrid in person / virtual shows for a small school that has about 20 kids in each show. Yesterday’s group upper elementary school age and the rest of the week will be middle school aged kids. Doing the show, I was very chatting with the kids and the kids were very chatty with me, however I held them and no one logged off the zoom as this was an optional event. The principal was impressed that I held them all and kept the kids engaged the whole time.
Now…going forward for the next school that contacts me for a hybrid show, I think if I know it’s going to be a hybrid event, I may try have my daughter run the Zoom part of it. The experience the kids at home got wasn’t the best. They had an iPad in the back of the room, so it was just a blurry wide show of me 30 feet from it. Having a camera that could move (pivot) and zoom in and out would be a huge advantage. They also had a large projector screen with the Zoom screen on it, I think I would ideally have that behind me, so then I could use that screen to my advantage and do some close up stuff.
All of that would be the ideal way to do it. Unfortunately, that’s probably not how it would actually play out. How it would probably actually play out is this:
I’d ask them to log me into their Zoom room and they’d say they couldn’t due to privacy reasons.
I’d ask to have the screen behind me and they’d say no because of how the room has to be laid out for social distancing
I’d ask to plug my camera into the computer they are using for Zoom and it would crash it because their computer doesn’t have enough power to run an external camera.
Knowing my ideal hybrid situation now will hopefully get me at least one of the three. Now that I know what to ask for, it’ll be easier to get something!
The other night I was travelling with my family and flipping channels in the hotel room and saw myself on TV! It was very surprising to stumble upon myself on a rerun of Masters of Illusion.
The nice thing about these is whenever they air I get emails from people who have used me in the past saying they saw me on TV. This show has been a great way passively stay in front of people who want to book me!
You can watch my whole appearance above:
Now let’s chat about how magicians seem to feel about this show. Most magicians talk bad about it. The reality is that most of the magicians who talk bad about the show would take it in a heartbeat if they were offered. That same group of magicians don’t have what it takes from simply a material perspective to perform on this show.
The first thing to consider is that this show has been on TV for over 8 seasons, so it’s doing something right. The next and bigger thing to consider is that this show isn’t for magicians. What a magician wants to see on a TV magic show and what a non-magician wants to see is totally different.
Now let’s get to why this show is great, it’s fun to perform on TV. The whole experience is a good time. It’s great networking with other magicians at the studio and hotel. It’s gets my “art” out there for more people to see. On top of that there’s the marketing angle as a bonus!
I’m honored to take part in the 2021 International Brotherhood of Magicians convention this summer! I went to my first one when I was 18 years old in Minneapolis and got to see some amazing acts! The 2021 convention is going to be done virtually and they’ve got an amazing deal on the convention!