People…Not Props

Not too long ago I was watching a virtual magic show, and the performer picked me as an assistant from the audience. It’s always awkward when someone picks me to help, as I never know how they want me to act. I usually err on the side of being more reserved when chosen as a helper from the audience.

One thing that I found interesting was how much I felt like a prop as a helper at this specific show. I was pretty much told to do things and make basic choices. It felt like I was talked at, not talked to. I know that a show is different from chatting with someone at dinner. It just felt really strange.

Now this has me thinking about how I interact with people within my show. I’m going to try to talk to people. What I mean by that is not having a deep conversation, but actually listen to them. Many times we ask people things like, “why did you say the number 7?” and they give us an answer, then we just move along. The answer they give us doesn’t always need a response, but frequently there’s something to say, even a sincere “thank you“.

Offensive Magic Routine…

Yesterday in a Facebook group Ray Franklyn posted this trick, which I find the whole presentation hook of the name Fu Ling Yu to be demeaning to Asians (full disclosure, I’m asian). It’s a joke that may have worked in 1945, but not now.

The BIG issue I have is that it’s not an original joke and doesn’t have a point of view. He’s making fun of a group of people for the sole purpose of making fun of them. And he’s put zero thought into why he does it. The Fu Ling Yu joke is older than me. He’s doing it because he saw someone else do it. That’s not art, that’s being lazy. Just because it was socially acceptable to do it 60 years ago doesn’t make it OK now. If he used the Fu Ling Yu joke to illustrate some larger point of view, I probably wouldn’t have an issue with it.

Do I think Ray Franklyn is racist? No, I don’t think that was his intention.
Do I think the trick that he choose to do was? Yes

As a creative exercise, I took the same routine and just changed the ethnicity of the magician.

Exact same routine. The only difference is that mine has a point of view and I had to delete my browser history after searching for those images.

Of the two videos on this post:
-One is art and has a point of view
-One is lazy, demeaning garbage

Please think about what you put out into the world, and if someone calls you on it, don’t just say, “I’ve been doing it that way for years…” Do a little soul searching and think about if what you’re doing hasn’t aged out.

Adding a Line…

Recently I got to try out the “Free Picture of Beer” gag on a couple of different people. It got the desired laugh, so that’s good.

I also got to try to follow up trick where the full pitcher of beer becomes empty. I’m using the Out to Lunch principle to do the switch. The first time, they didn’t really notice the change. I think this is because they looked at the card and it registered in their brain as just a pitcher of beer, not a FULL pitcher of beer. It’s like showing someone a two of spades, but the spades are red. The average person won’t notice it’s the wrong color until you point it out to them.

The second time I added a little line which made the trick work much better. Once I got the laugh, I asked them, “what kind of beer do you think that is?” This question makes their brain actually process what they are looking at. That made the change at the end a lot more amazing!

I’m glad I got to try out the trick, and glad that I noticed what I needed to change!

Even More Ring On Rubber Band

Last week I started working on a routine for the Ring on Rubber Band trick. I learned that my initial opening line didn’t play how I wanted it to. I added in a line at the beginning that’s was in a routine I used to do in the show, but don’t do anymore. It kinda works as an opening line, however it really doesn’t answer the “why am I showing you this” question.


I’ve performed this trick across America, including it’s minor outlying territories, Guam, Puerto Rico and Canada. The ring represents the 18 years I’ve been married and the a rubber band which memorializes the one time I bought broccoli just to let it rot in the crisper”

Show ring and rubber band. The rubber band is around your left index and thumb. Point to the sides of the rubber band as you say:

“This rubber band has two sides, just like congress…the Senate and the deep state. And this ring also has two sides, a left and a my wife is always right side.”

“The ring will go through each side of the rubber band defying the restraining order I got from the laws of physics.”

Push the ring through the first side of the rubber band

“Through one side, that’s the easy side. It’s the bunny slope of the rubber band. The second side is the most difficult, it’s the Mount Everest of Magic. Three men have died trying this next part, but they all had preexisting conditions…and latex allergies.”

Push the ring through the second side of the rubber band.

“Like Coachella, we’ll take it off one band at a time.”

Pull the ring off the rubber band one side at a time.

“and that’s how I wrote my wedding off on my taxes!”


I also added in a joke about the ring having sides which is a tag on the first joke. The routine is starting to take shape. The current sequence of moves I’m doing makes the routine feel more like filler to me, than a solid, good routine. It’s still lacking a punctuation on the ending.

Cutting a Joke…

Last night I popped into a virtual magic club meeting and got to try out the Ring on Rubber Band routine that I’ve been working on. I was kinda surprised at the reaction the opening joke got. Here’s the opening joke:

“This is the most expensive trick I do. The rubber band cost me 37 cents, but the ring cost me half of everything I own.

The reaction was an “oooh” and not a laugh. I think the problem is the background that I’m projecting onto the line is different from what the audience is projecting. The audience I think is assuming that I’m getting divorced or am divorced and it’s not a good split. What I’m saying is in the state I live in, because I’m married, my wife automatically owns half of everything that I own.

Is the joke worth trying to save?

Probably not. There’s a lot of background info that I would need to provide, or I’d have to figure out a tag or follow up joke to explain better that I’m still happily married.

I think I’m going to try to come up with a new opening line…

More Ring on Rubber Band…

Continuing the last few days work on to the hopefully have a working Ring on Rubber Band trick, I’ve tweaked some of the jokes a little bit. I changed some of the punchlines and streamlined the script to tighten it up.


“This is the most expensive trick I do. The rubber band cost me 37 cents, but the ring cost me half of everything I own. The ring represents the 18 years I’ve been married and the a rubber band which memorializes the one time I bought broccoli just to let it rot in the crisper”

Show ring and rubber band. The rubber band is around your left index and thumb. Point to the sides of the rubber band as you say:

“This rubber band has two sides, just like congress…the Senate and the deep state.”

“The ring will go through each side of the rubber band defying the restraining order I got from the laws of physics.”


Push the ring through the first side of the rubber band

“Through one side, that’s the easy side. It’s the bunny slope of the rubber band. The second side is the most difficult, it’s the Mount Everest of Magic. Three men have died trying this next part, but they all had preexisting conditions…and latex allergies.”

Push the ring through the second side of the rubber band.

“Like Coachella, we’ll take it off one band at a time.”

Pull the ring off the rubber band one side at a time.

“and that’s how I wrote my wedding off on my taxes!”


The script is a bit better. I’m not happy with the the “Coachella” line between the on and off phases. Right now that’s a place holder for something better.

The hard thing about right now with COVID restrictions is that I can’t just go out to a bar and try it out and get feedback from real people. The trying and tweaking phase is much clunkier and time consuming.

Routining The Writing…

The last couple of days I’ve been writing about putting together a script for the Ring on Rubber Band trick that I’ve been working on. Yesterday I wrote a bunch of jokes, and today I’m going to try to put them together in some sort of a logical way.


“This is the most expensive trick I do. The rubber band cost me 37 cents, but the ring cost me half of everything I own. The ring represents the 18 years I’ve been married and the a rubber band which memorializes the one time I bought broccoli

Show ring and rubber band. The rubber band is around your left index and thumb. Point to the sides of the rubber band as you say:

“This rubber band has two sides, just like congress…a left side and tea party”

“I will push the ring through each side of the rubber band defying the restraining order from the laws of physics.”


Push the ring through the first side of the rubber band

“Through one side…that’s the easy side. It’s the bunny slope of the rubber band. The second side is the double black diamond. Three men have died trying this next part, but they all had preexisting conditions… and latex allergies.”

Push the ring through the second side of the rubber band.

Pull the ring off the rubber band one side at a time.

“and that’s how I wrote my wedding off on my taxes!”


Alright the routine looks like more of a routine now, and not a bunch of random jokes. The routine now runs about a minute. That’s way better than the 12-15 seconds before I started writing for it.

The jokes still need some tweaking. The congress joke needs a better punchline, and the double black diamond needs a better word/name in its place. I also need something in between the the two penetration phases, where the ring is over both sides of the rubber band, but before I pull it off.