A couple of weeks ago I got to work with John Park who does the Funny Waiter Show. It’s a great theme for a juggling act. All of his props and tricks are waiter themed.
John is a very strong performer and keep the show going. He’s been a street performer for probably as long as I’ve been alive. He’s always working on his show, even thought right now it’s a great show, he’s always trying to make it better.
His show is a great example of adding a theme to your show to tie it together. A “funny waiter” is easy to theme, you don’t need pe0ple to get on board with a strange character or concept for the them. It also doesn’t feel like something that’s for kids. What I mean by that, is the character is an adult feeling character, it doesn’t feel like it’s geared for kids like a train conductor.
If you get a chance to see his show, you’ll learn a lot by watching it!
Last week I worked with an 1880’s Frontier Show. The description made it look like it was one of the shows where the kids from the audience get dressed up and they do a show. Usually these types of shows are circus themed and the kids do the circus acts. This one was frontier themed. They have a very limited amount of the kids being dressed up, and they have one kid do the bit alone. Which is strange as the kids alone really lack direction and don’t know what to do.
Their set up looks great and had activities for the kids to do all day. The show lacked a lot. It was all done to a track and they performers lip sync’d the show. This took any sense of spontaneity out of the show. That’s the fun thing with kids, funny and unplanned things can happen. Most of the show was the people who run the show performing. It was pretty sad, I don’t want to see someone lip sync a song, I want to see them sing the song, that’s why you got to live entertainment!
They had a ventriloquist (I think that was the intention) tell a story that was all to a recorded track.
The picture above pretty much sums up the energy level of the show. If they simply switched to doing all the songs, and talking live the show would instantly get better!
Here’s what I learned form watching this show. People go to live shows to see people exhibit their talents…and to see them do it live. People don’t want to see you mouth along to a prerecorded track. They want the experience of something happening now!
This week the Moisture Festival Podcast is joined by the magician to the stars, Jay Alexander!
The talk about Jay’s beginning as the doorman at a rock club, his relative that was a vaudeville strongman, living on a boat and owning his own magic theater! This is a great episode, where you’ll learn about Jay’s amazing life!
I’ve been working on this Silver Extraction coin trick style routine at the fair this week. I’ve learned a lot. First of all, I think the more complex method I’ve come up with to switch the coins, has some advantages over simply doing a shuttle pass. A shuttle pass is a solid method for doing the trick, however the advantage of my complex method is that I can hold the coin more openly after the switch.
One of the problems I’ve encountered working on this is getting the shell to stick to the magnet on the lighter. The solution was simple, I added a second magnet to the lighter and some more shim steel to the shell coin.
Having more magnets and more steel to grab solved the problem. The lighter really firmly attaches to the coin.
Another thing that I’ve learned about the trick is that I need to call attention to the three layer of the coin. Most people have noticed the layers, but never really thought about them. The trick has been getting great responses from the people at the fair this week. I really like how strange the trick is.
Many years ago when I was working at Market Magic Shop, I used to demo and sell a trick called Silver Extraction. The effect is you take a half dollar and it ends up turning into a blob of silver and a clear coin. Then at some point someone made a coin that was just the copper center of a half dollar. I don’t know what the routine was, but I’m going to assume it was a similar effect.
I always thought it would be great paired with the blob of silver that came with the Johnson Silver Extraction. Unfortunately they stopped making the Silver Extraction a long time ago, so that was something I never did. Well, recently I came across one of the blobs of silver and bought it.
Now that I have the two of them, I can try it out!
A couple of weeks ago I was performing at a fair and another act mentioned she was going through a book called The Artist’s Way. This is a book about how to be more creative. It’s more than a book, it’s a series of things you need to do and it’s broken down by week. It doesn’t feel like a lot work, but it is. There’s a lot of writing that needs to happen. I’m not afraid of writing, so it’s not as daunting as it may be for me. If you’re someone who really hasn’t done much writing, it may be a little bit of a challenge.
I’m only on day three, and the book gives you things to do by the week, so I’m on week 1. The first week seems to be identifying the things that are holding you back, and while I did know some of the things that I’ve brought up in my writing, there were a couple of surprises as well.
This book has a pretty hippy vibe. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I guess that writing style may turn some people off. So far, I’m down with this book, but it’s a twelve week thing, so we’ll see how I feel by the end (assuming I make it to the end).
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…
Last week I had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Ed Kabotie. Ed plays music and talks about Native American issues.
What Ed does is talk about something like how the reservation has arsenic in the water from the mining companies, then sings a song about it. The education of the stats before the song and the passion he tell and sings with really brings home the point. The amount of people after his show that would come up to him and tell him the didn’t know about all of these things was amazing!
I wish I could do what Ed does.
I do a comedy magic show, and in the past there’s been some social commentary in it, but with how polarized we’ve become in America, it’s hard to put something in right now without people getting very offended that you don’t think like them. I think I may need to look at other things that are important to me, but less political and try to figure out a way to work that into the show.
I’m out there making people laugh, Ed is out there trying to educate the world!
One thing I was working on over the weekend at the fair was freezing and holding for applause and for the effect to sink in longer. This can be hard to do, just standing still and waiting for the audience to do something.
I need to be better about this at the end of the effect and after telling a joke. Letting the effect or punchline marinade with the audience for a little bit. I’ve noticed the difference between the first day of this fair and the last day in the amount of applause and laughs I’m getting.
Doing this can be hard if you have a dead crowd, as you’re standing and waiting for very little audience response. One thing I’ve notice is that it builds throughout the show.
Whenever I’m performing at a venue and there are other shows or performers I always try to watch them. You can learn soo much from watching other acts. One of the shows that I saw recently was the Jet Pack Circus.
This show used the water jets to propel performers in the air. Their set up looked great and the show has great curb appeal. What I mean by that is that it looks like something you would want to watch, or would want to book.
I personally wasn’t the the biggest fan of the content of the show. Yes, the jet packs are interesting for about 5 minutes. After you see the first person go up, it’s all a variation on them going into the air. For example the first performer goes with the jet pack shooting from a board they are standing on (see above pic), then the second performer went up in a seated position (see pic below).
Once they were in the air then went around in circles in pool. It was pretty repetitive. The show was short, at about 20 minutes and around the 18 min mark they finally gave us something new when a performer did a flip.
Their ending was a performing went up holding an American Flag. It wasn’t a big patriotic production like how Ringling used to end their circus. There was no patriotic music, just someone holding the flag and waving.
One thing I remember from an old magic book was they was to get a good round of applause at the end of the show is to end with the production of a flag. That’s essentially what they did. I think this is lazy, they didn’t have a finale, so they waved a flag. I dislike it when any performer leans on the flag to try to get applause.
Honestly, for my taste it was a lot of “Look at these jet packs we bought” and less of a “Jet Pack Circus“. This show would have been better as an act within a larger water show, not as a stand alone show.
I also understand that these water jet packs are fairly new technology and performers are trying to figure out how to use them. I hope they come up with something cool!