In my virtual shows I started doing a card change with a flap card. I was isolating the card in a glass, then shaking the glass and the card changes to another card. I really like this, as it makes the change really impossible. The method is simple, it uses a flap card and the card it sitting at an angle. The weight of the card keeps the flap from flipping. Then simply shaking the glass allows the flap to flip for the change.
The other night I was watching a hockey game and playing around with using the flap card in the glass as a card transposition. Here’s what I came up with:
Here’s what the trick needs: It needs some scripting to call attention to just one of the cards. Mention that that jack of diamonds is in the glass, so that when it’s appears in your hand, they know something has happened. I think if you mention both cards, it gets confusing.
Last week when I was at a booking conference there were several acts that used the US National Anthem as part of their showcase. That inspired me to write this joke:
The joke has lead to a lot of thoughts on the use of the National Anthem and things like, “tributes to the troops” in the comments of the post. Here’s my thinking, if you honestly want to give a tribute, then do it from the heart, don’t do it the exact way everyone else does it…and don’t do it with the “Branson Formula” which is a hymn followed by a patriotic song (or vice versa), or as one guy did last week and combined the two into a single song called “Jesus, the ultimate veteran”.
Actually honor them, singing God Bless the USA doesn’t honor them. It doesn’t tell their story. Bring a vet onstage and interview them. Give all the active or retired duty military all of your merch for free. Do it from your heart, not from a formula that came out of someone else’s brain.
In my show I do a joke about a kid losing a glass eye during the show. I thought it would be funny to add a visual gag to the verbal joke. The gag works for when you’re doing a multi show type of gig, but it doesn’t work for single show. I ordered a glass eye, and now I have one in my prop case!
The gag works, and I’m glad I spent the $25 on a glass eye, however the gag can be better. Most people don’t know that a glass eye is basically flat, it’s just the front 1/4 of the eye. People think it’s a whole globe that would be a sphere. I think if I managed to find a good looking sphere, the gag would play better.
I guess there’s only one way to find out…track down a round glass eye!
Last night I was at a sports bar watching hockey and in between periods I popped into the social media and in a group for children’s performers I saw this post:
For fun I wrote 10 of them…I wasn’t doing anything, it was between periods of the hockey game. It wasn’t hard, you just needed to find things that have an “ah”sound or sound similar to that and you’re off!
You’ll notice that I put a little note at the end of my list. The reason I did was that I think one of the problems with magicians is that they try to get people to give them the answer to a problem before they try to solve it first. In my list I put in the work…so should you. It’s not hard, I literally spent 10 minutes coming up with my list.
“sure, it’s easy for you because you’re creative” would be someone’s excuse for not trying. I’m no more creative than anyone else. I just sat down and did the work. I actually farmed out most of the work to an online rhyming dictionary.
Do the work, then show your work when you ask for help. Seeing that people have put in some sort of effort makes a huge difference in the quality of help you get.
On New Year’s Day of 2020 I saw Darren Brown’s show on Broadway in New York. It was a great show and during the intermission the guy next to me was looking at the program and mentioned there were a lot people listed in the credits for a magic show.
Somehow that guy’s comment popped back into my head and got me thinking about who I would have to credit for my show. Looking at the tricks in the show, I’m trying to name the creator of the trick, move or principle that I’m using. For example, I use a classic force, and while Reginald Scot is not the inventor, he’s the oldest reference I could find for the move. For the technical end of things I’m calling the creators “magic consultants”. Then I have a column for “writers” and my criteria is if the line didn’t come out of my head, then it has to be credited to someone else. If I know who wrote the line, then their name is listed as a “writer”. If I don’t know who wrote a line or created a trick, then I’m going to list them as “unknown” and for each unknown I list, it will have a number after it. This also applies for moves/tricks/routines. For example, let’s say I use 2 stock lines and a trick who I don’t know the inventor of, then it would be “unknown (1)”, “unknown (2)” and “unknown (3)” listed in the appropriate categories.
Here’s what my credits look like:
Ralph W. Hull
When you read my list, you’ll notice that Jim Steinmeyer is listed as a writer, not magic consultant. This is because I use a gag from his egg bag routine, in a different context. I’m using the joke, not magic routine.
This was a fun thing to do, and made me think about who has contributed to my show!
I’m still working through using a handheld microphone in the show. There’s definitely a learning curve. I’m getting better at it, but it’s an uphill slog. I have a lot of points where I’m holding the mic in my hand, then put it in the stand for a moment, only to quickly remove it.
I really like how when I’m holding the mic in my hand, I’m a lot more expressive with my hands than when I’m wearing just a headset. I think holding the mic makes me more aware of what my hands are doing. It also puts a hand up near my face, so I can play more with motion that’s motivated.
As I get deeper into my show, I’m realizing that there’s going to be a lot of spaces where I’ll need to use the mic neck holder. That’s fine, I’ll need a joke to address it. Today I have to figure out how to do the reveal of the object in ball of yarn that’s the end of the longest routine in the show. I had to chunk this routine out into three bits to figure out the blocking, and today will be the third bit to figure out.
When I was first starting out performing in comedy clubs in the early 2000’s I had to use a wired handheld microphone. As I progress through my career, I switched to a wireless headset. I’m now playing with going back to being able to do my show with a wired handheld microphone. The main reason is that it’s logistically easy. I don’t need to travel with my own gear, and it also makes trying out new stuff and open mic’s much easier.
I’m performing all month doing three shows a day at a fair, and aside from working on some new material, I’m also trying to relearn to use a handheld microphone. My preshow right now is a stand up set of jokes, which runs about 7 minutes, and I’m now doing that all with the handheld mic. I’m still wearing my headset during this, but using the handheld.
Right now my goal is every day to move the handheld one bit further into the show. Right now, I have my preshow stand up set, my two new “preshow” tricks and then first actual trick in the show all done with the handheld. The next routine is really three tricks in one routine. I was dreading figuring out how to add the handheld microphone to it as parts of it are pretty physical. Then it hit me, I need to look at it as three tricks, not one routine. Once I broke it down that way, it’s much easier to start figuring out how to do it with a handheld microphone.
I was chatting with the sound engineer at my stage about what microphone to get and he suggested the Shure SM58S. This is the version of the Shure SM58, but it has an on/off switch which is something I want. Right now if I’m jumping back and forth between the headset and the handheld, I need that switch so that I’m not being picked up by both mics.
If you’ve never used a handheld, I suggest you learn how, it’ll be helpful the one time your headset dies right before showtime.
As I still keep working on my version of the Invisible Deck, I think I have the technical end worked out. The biggest challenge is the elimination process. I needed to figure out how to remove any confusion as to what side people are selecting. What I have settled on is having people point to a side of the room. If they point to my hands, I can’t tell which side they are pointing at. So having them point at the left or right wall clears that up.
Next up is figuring out the presentation. As I’ve been doing it, as the elimination process happens I’ve organically been saying, “that’s what I would have done”. I’m kinda using that as the base for the routine. Here’s what I wrote last night: “Whenever I leave the house, my wife tells me to make good choices. I’m gonna tell you, I only make the best choices! Like the time I made my own penicillin from sour cream…or when I knitted my own seatbelt…or the time I went to Wyoming.”
It’s a starting point. Maybe I could say say their “choices are better than the time I…” and then say something funny. I think I’m not at a point where I just need to write and try out the jokes.
One of the tricks I’m working on right now at the fair is my version of the Invisible Deck…Well my version of Vernet’s 52 B’wave. The effect is a selected card is in a second deck face up, has a different colored back and the rest of the deck is blank.
Because of my method for the trick, I know what the selected card it without looking at the face. Yesterday I said the name of the card without looking at it and someone in the audience called me on it. I played it off as saying I did look, and they must not have noticed. I need to do an exaggerated look at the front of the card. I also need to do a streamlined elimination of the cards. Right now I’m splitting the cards in half and eliminating half at each split. I need to figure out the least number of splits. Like maybe doing it with a 45 or 48 card deck instead of a 52 card deck make it go a little bit faster?
I’m figuring out the beats and how to make it play better with the audience. After the first reveal of the card upside down, I’m flipping the card they chose over, saying they aren’t an exact match, as that’s from a blue deck and I’m holding a red deck. I then flip the card in the red deck over to show it has has a red back. The change from just saying, “and it has a different colored back” to explaining why it would have a different colored back is giving me a stronger reaction.
I’m liking how this plays better than the traditional invisible deck where they simply name a card. It involves a lot of people from the audience, and they can see the cards that they are making a choice of. While it’s dirtier than the traditional invisible deck method/effect, it also eliminates the top explanations on how the tricks works:
1. Everyone picks the _____ 2. It was set up with the person in advance
While neither of those are how the traditional invisible deck works, you really can’t argue them.