In a facebook group someone asked for advice on how to deal with preteen hecklers. Now, I’ve written in the past about how advice on the internet is pretty much always crap advice. Well here’s a good example. Here’s Pete’s suggestion and my reply:
Objectifying a pre-teen girl without their permission is wrong. This is also misguided, as the girl may not be the one causing the problem. Another issue is that preteen’s probably don’t know what misdirection is, so they won’t get the joke.
He tries to defend it by saying he’s not in the USA, and where he lives it’s culturally OK. That may be, but that doesn’t make it right. There’s a place in the USA (Massachusetts) where it’s legally OK for an adult to marry a twelve year old, but that doesn’t make it right.
Then he goes onto personally attack me:
I respond with a couple bullet points of my resume and Pete says that he’s never heard of me. This is very interesting because he just made a lot of statements about my show. How could you make the above statement if you know nothing about me?
So which is it Pete, do you know about me or not?
When I asked him to explain his statement, the confirmed he had no idea who I am. That’s when I asked him:
He then says he never made any statements about my show. That’s when I quoted his statement about me copying other people and then here’s the exchange that followed:
FYI: he lives in the UK, which has libel laws that are much more strict than in the USA.
His only response to me asking why he felt the need to make up stuff about me was to try to bully me.
This is the problem with trying to crowdsource advice on the internet. You can get advice that’s not very good. Then the people giving that poor advice aren’t exactly people you’d want to take advice from.
The bigger point is that we all should try to be better. Things that were OK in the past may not be OK now. Look at it this way, if you don’t objectify women in your show, no one is going to see the show and say, “I didn’t like how the magician chose to not comment on that preteen’s look, I’m not going to hire them for my event.” However there are people who will see the show and chose not to book you because of how you objectified a child.
Many years ago I bought a trick in a bin of discount magic that was a change of a spoon to a fork. When I opened the package, I thought it was garbage, and as written in the instructions, it really was garbage. Then I started presenting this as a transposition between and fork and a spoon and it played much better. It’s a real fooler for audiences.
This trick has basically lived in my preshow for years, but never made it up into the main show. It was missing something. I ran the trick through a workshop group I’m in and they all thought it needed a surprise ended. They were pulling for a spork, which is funny, but I think it lacks visual contrast from a spoon or fork as an ending.
Here’s what I came up with yesterday:
I do like the surprise of the knife. Now the routine needs to be fleshed out a bit more and performed for an audience a bit and we’ll see if it goes anywhere…
One thing I hate when performing is forgetting or mispronouncing an act’s name if I have to introduce them. Recently a show I was performing on had an performer whose stage name wasn’t the name I knew them by, and the stage name was unusual.
To make it easy, I put a cheat sheet on my table:
You’ll notice the name is spelled out phonetically. That helps me read it at a glance. It really makes a difference, rather than seeing how they spell it and trying to figure it out.
After one of my shows yesterday at the fair I’m performing at, I had a guy tell me something interesting after the show. He was a caterer and has worked with a lot of local performers, so he’s seen some magicians, and told me that. The caterer told me that my product wasn’t a magic show, it was my personality.
I 100% agree with his assessment and that’s the goal with the show. It’s not about the tricks, while they are important and I select them to hopefully move the story of my personality forward. What I’m selling is how I work, not what I work with.
Some magicians live on the the tricks that they do and that’s an easier route than trying to live on your personality. One of the hard things is when people don’t like your show, that directly means they don’t like you. Where if you do an effect driven show, if they don’t like the show they don’t like the tricks.
Reflecting back on performing with World of Wonders last week, it really got me out of my comfort zone. Performing in a three minute context isn’t something I really do anymore. When I was starting out I built my show at comedy open mics in 3-5 minute chunks, however it’s been a while since I’ve worked in that format.
The big thing for me is that it’s gotten me to edit. I was cutting out things that really didn’t need to be there. Also when you’re doing a routine as a stand alone bit, you’ll notice what’s a strong joke or bit and what felt like it was a good joke, but it’s just your momentum from the whole show that helps you get a laugh.
I’ve also written some new jokes and come up with some new bits for the routines I was doing.
I’m really glad I did this, it’s not my normal thing. I learned a lot!
One of the fun things work this week with World of Wonders this week is that I’m part of cast of performers. That means my duties are more than just my act. I’ve got a small part in another act. I pop my head through the curtain and say a couple of lines. This is something I’ve never really had to do before, aside from performing with my daughter.
In the middle of the run, I had another performer have an idea for my spoon act. This idea would use a second person to introduce my giant spoon. The idea took off! Backstage we then started riffing and before I knew it, it was a fairly fleshed out bit!
This is something that I can’t normally do in my spoon act, however I also don’t know that I’ll be doing the spoon act much longer as part of it probably isn’t very good for my health.
The important thing is even though I don’t know the future of the spoon act (I took it out of my show about 3 years ago), I’m still working on it. It’s got a brief life in the show for 9 days, but I still want it to grow!
Last night we recorded the whole show at the World of Wonders side show. Then later that night as a cast we sat down and reviewed it. It was really helpful and while I think I contributed a lot of notes for everyone else, I probably had the most notes for myself.
One of my notes for myself had to do with a joke, something that I had been working on taking out of the show, and adding a new joke. The reason I was taking it out was that it stopped playing as well as it had used to. The joke may simply have aged outof being funny.
For context, in the routine, I’m sticking spoons to my arm. Here’s the original line:
“…I had to surgically implant magnets into my arm. I’m awesome at the airport, I always get the extra pat down”
It’s not the strongest bit, but when it was written, the TSA was in the news a lot with how they were hand screening people. At the time, it was topical and while still relevant, it’s not something that’s at the forefront of people’s minds.
A couple of weeks ago, I worked on writing a new joke to take it’s place with my friend Eric Haines (who is an amazing performer). Here’s the new joke:
“…I had to surgically implant magnets into my arm. The bonus is if I ever get lost, my arm always points north!”
That’s a decent joke, and gets a laugh. The problem was I got greedy and would tell them together to try and get two laughs, instead of simply replacing the joke.
“…I had to surgically implant magnets into my arm. I’m awesome at the airport, I always get the extra pat down. The bonus is if I ever get lost, my arm always points north!”
I think the first punchline didn’t hit hard enough, so the second one was starting off in a hole. By removing the old joke and simply doing the new one, it make the new punchline play stronger. It also tightened up the act!
The other day after the magic garage sale and we went out to jam at a local bar, we were talking about coin tricks. I brought up the Perpetual Motion Coin Myth from Paul Harris’s books. This is a coin flourish where you hold a coin sideways between two other coins and get the center coin to spin.
I’ve never seen or met anyone who could do it, but we started playing with it and now I’ve done it and seen it done!
That got me thinking, the next branch of magic is going to beCOINISTRY! That would be fancy flourishes with coins! Start practicing now!
It’s been a while since I’ve performed a show at a retirement community. I just did one and they’ve been trying to get me in for a couple of years and our schedules finally lined up and then COVID happened. As restrictions in my state have been fluctuating, we’ve been trying to schedule and it finally happened!
When I did the show, there still was one COVID compliance thing I had to do, and that was wear a mask the whole show. That makes doing the show very challenging, but I managed to make my way through it. I always forget how much facial expression I use until I make the face and realized no one can see it under the mask!
June has been a month of learning how to do the show within remaining COVID restrictions and I’m hoping that with the west coast basically being reopened by the end of the month, I won’t need to use these skills I’ve been building anymore!
Yesterday’s post I wrote about someone looking for interactive coin magic. Seeing their post, I created an original trick that would fit their requirements. It’s a coin trick, it’s interactive, in that everyone could follow along from home and it has a magical payout. It’s a “touch the screen” type effect, but the magic ending takes it beyond a math puzzle.
here’s how the effect plays, you have three pieces of paper, one has coins written on it, one credit and the final bills:
Someone touches one of the pieces of paper. They spell the word on it, jumping one space per letter.
You tell the you know they aren’t on the word “Bills” so you eliminate that one and throw that piece of paper away.
Now they spell money (starting on the word they ended on), jumping one space per letter.
You tell them you know they aren’t on the Credit, that means they picked the Coins! You then pick up the paper with coins written on it, light it on fire and produce coins!
In my head this coin production would look like this Tommy Wonder picture:
There you go and original, interactive magic trick that had a magical payoff!
While I personally don’t like the the “touch the screen” type effects, I do think that knowing them and understanding how they work make you a more well rounded magician. It’s just another tool in your toolbox that will help you solve a problem.