When I had gotten my wisdom teeth pulled a while ago, I kept the teeth that were removed. For years they’ve sat on my shelf doing nothing. Well I did donate one of them to a friend’s oddity museum, but other than that they just sit there.
While not the greatest trick, here’s something I did yesterday:
I had some black paper on my desk, then saw the teeth and decided that would be a good trick to do. I think I may reshoot it and put it out on social media at some point.
Coming up in a few days is the Odd and Offbeat Variety Show which is a live show that takes place over Zoom. Here’s a peek at what has happened in the past on this show and what to look forward to this week:
The show is on 7/16 at 5pm (pacific) and is $7 per household.
One of the biggest challenges right now with all of the Social Distancing is breaking in new material. Personally I tend to try to work out things on stage. I try them, I ad lib, I tweak and adjust. Right now some in-person venues are starting to open up and this is great and will make working on new material much easier.
Here’s an early version of a trick that I wrote about a month ago on this blog. It’s using “fishing” along with a physical prediction for the trick.
The big change that I made was that I’m pulling the card out of the envelope before the card is named. I’m taking a risk that the person can totally screw my ending by lying about the card that they saw. However the questions leading into the reveal makes it hard to lie, they just can’t make up a card at the last moment as they’ve already confirmed things about it. That’s not going to stop an asshole from just saying a different card, but it does make it harder.
There’s one trick that I’ve been fascinated by for decades and it’s the Himber Pail. Here’s a video of Richard Himber doing it on Don Alan’s Magic Ranch:
I love this trick, the effect is good and it’s got a ton of suprises and hits all of the beats! The problem is that the are hard to find and when the pop up at auctions, somehow I always miss bidding on them.
Then a few years ago, I set out to make a version of the trick. Here’s what I came up with:
The technical end of how it works is completely different than Himber’s method, but the effect is the same. Himber’s method is way more practical than mine. Also my method wasn’t 100% where his is.
This is a trick I revisit very now and then, and still have yet to come up with a practical way to do it. Himber’s method doesn’t scale down to a cup size very well. Eventually I’ll come up with a way…
Recently I finished a road trip around the USA and I stumbled upon two live music concerts. This really surprised me as I didn’t think live, public performances are something that would be happening right now. One was in Arizona and the other was in California. Since I wasn’t seeking out live entertainment and came across two shows, I’m assuming a lot more is happening.
The first one was in Arizona and it was in the corner of a restaurant’s outdoor patio. The band wasn’t wearing masks, but they were “socially distant” from the audience. There was no seating within about 12 feet of their performance area. This one felt like it was within the area’s health district’s guidelines.
The second was in California at a “pop up art installation“. This one all of the band except the singer had face masks, however there was no real distance to the audience and the audience’s seating had no space between the chairs. This one felt like it was done with no regard to what their local health department is recommending (I could be wrong).
In addition to these two concerts, I ran across about half a dozen street performers. This tells me that people are ready and want live, in person entertainment. Is the time right to go out and start doing shows?
I don’t know.
Personally I’m following what the health department says. If they say I can do a show for less than 10 people with them all 6 feet apart, then I’m good with that. If they say I can do 30 people in a small room or 500 people outdoors, then that works for me.
Is this the right way to do it?
For me it is, it may not be for you. I’m trusting my the health department and in theory they’re more informed than me. This may or may not be true. They also may have an agenda or be directed by someone who does.
A few days ago I finally finished volume one of the book Scripting Magic by Pete McCabe. I’ll admit it took me a lot longer to read it that a book normally takes, that’s because I had a lot of projects I was working on, not because it was a hard read. I was really glad I read this book and it’s something that I think more magicians should read.
For me the main take away was the importance of writing what you say down. You can learn a lot from writing it, but it also makes you review it. You can more easily spot places for jokes and just looking at the words makes it easier to write jokes.
I really liked the interviews and while the book goes a bit into the author’s process for writing scripts, I really wish it had more activities to do, more like a workbook. I get that that’s a hard thing to do because everyone has a different process and style. I would have liked a bit more “hands on” type activities.
Early on in the days of “shelter in place”, bookers who had magic shows scheduled were blindly switching to online shows. They didn’t really know what it would look like, they just needed another option. Now that we’re almost four months into having restrictions on large gatherings, people are starting to look into booking these, and not just converting existing bookings.
Because of the shift from converted shows already scheduled to scheduling new shows, I decided it was time to make a promo video for my virtual magic show. Here’s what the current version looks like:
I’m going to make another version, this was the first so that I have something to show potential bookers right now. As I compile more and more video, I’ll make another promo video.
Frequently something cool will happen to me and my wife will say, “how do things like that always happen to you?” The answer is simple, I’m present in life. I look at things, I talk to people and an generally aware of what’s happening around me.
Here’s an example of being present, I was at a history museum in New Mexico and saw this medical display. Can you spot the juggler’s prop that was put in there?
Here’s a closer loot at it:
It’s a diabolo! It even says it on the edge of it. How did it end up there? I’m guessing it belonged to a doctor and whoever was putting the display together just assumed it was medical.
Noticing this wasn’t a huge life changing thing, but it’s being aware of the things around you. When you are creating magic, or performing being aware of the situations around you can lead to some great discoveries!
For the last twenty years or so, I’ve tried to have a show that people don’t call “cute”. I want what I do to have some edge or be amazing, and not simply cute. However recently a show producer called something I did cute and I was excited for that comment! I was doing my new routine to my Polaroids to Envelope trick that I’ve written about on this blog.
What makes the trick “cute” is the story, it’s a personal story about my family. It’s a real, honest and true story. It’s also something outside of my comfort zone. I do joke based magic tricks, and while I do reveal personal things about my life, this is the first thing I’ve written that was more about the story than the jokes.
The show producer commented that she had a kid and the story was really relatable. Maybe it’s me getting older, but that comment really warmed my heart. Performing is about connecting with people. Usually I do that through fart jokes, but I did it through parenting this time. This routine took me out of my comfort zone and it paid off.
Is my show going to have a huge shift because of this one success? Nope. This trick does add some texture to my show and I will continue to explore writing like this in the future.
For some reason today I had the song Burn Down the Mission by Elton John stuck in my head. Here’s the funny thing, I’m not an Elton John fan and didn’t think I was familiar with the song. I found it on YouTube and it turns out I knew most of the words.
If you don’t know the song, here it it:
This is a song that relates to a lot of what’s going on right now in the USA. How does it relate to magic blog? Simple, the words have meaning, he’s telling a story and a very powerful story. When you do a magic trick that you bought or read in a book, are you giving it the same emotion that Elton John is?
Here’s an example of a cover version of the same song:
It’s a different story being told in this cover version of the song. It’s not a struggle of the poor versus the rich. It’s something else, something less powerful, and stripped of all of its meaning.
Before you say that Elton John’s version has more emotion because they are his words, remember that Bernie Taupin wrote the lyrics. That kinda makes Elton John doing a cover of Bernie’s song.
Now listen to Phil Collin’s version of the same song:
The Phil Collins version carries heavy emotion with it and I think is true to the songs lyrics. He cares about what he’s saying. Think about the words you are saying in you magic tricks, they don’t need to be a heavy with emotion, but they need to be true and honest.