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!
One of the coolest things about performing in your home is that you know what’s within reach in your space. For me it allows me to all sorts of gags or surprise productions of items that naturally came up during the show. For example last week at the Mostly Magic Virtual Open Mic someone commented on how large my “nuts” were. They were referring to the walnuts used in my shell game. I knew I had the giant metal nuts within arm’s reach, so I grabbed them and had a fun sight gag.
Then last night I was a guest on a show and the need to bring out an artificial fist presented itself and I had one within reach. Of course I grabbed it.
It something that’s happening in the moment, and it also makes the audience wonder what you have nearby off camera. I’m not necessarily saying having a ton of props around just for gags, but knowing what you have in your space is a huge advantage!
A couple of nights ago I performed at the Mostly Magicians Virtual Open Mic. It was a lot of fun and Ryan Kane is a great host for it. It’s an open mic, so a great place to work things out.
I was second to last in the show, and I brought two tricks, one that was pretty solid and one that I was working on. Unfortunately I only got to do one trick which wasn’t the one I was working on as I ran out of time.
It wasn’t a total loss as far as working on material goes. I did something I haven’t done in while…wrote some jokes about the other acts. When I MC in person shows I would write jokes about the acts and use them in the transition between acts. I didn’t plan on doing this, it’s something I just did.
One of the interesting things about doing jokes about things happening NOW instead of prepared material is that the audience is aware of that. Your joke doesn’t need to be the best joke, they will give you a lot of leeway. They can instantly relate to your joke, you don’t need to set up a backstory. I think any of the jokes I told, if you took out of context of the show would fall flat…even if you described the act before the joke.
The first half of my show was a stand up set about the show. It was fun, and good to flex that creative muscle.
One of the things that I love about magic jams is having people improve on your ideas. I had an idea of doing a trick with a hamburger. I’d make 4 pickles disappear and one at a time, they’d reappear under the bun. I mentioned that and the idea quickly grew to “what if you did a matrix with pickles under the bun“.
That idea is way better than what my idea started out as. I’m super lucky to have the magic jam partners that I do have. Today I started playing with the idea. I cut some circle of cardboard to be the hamburger and some cardboard to be the pickles.
I kinda got the sequence worked out, but the trick still needs some work. Mostly it needs to be built into an actual hamburger. This is something that would be better for a social media video than a live show. It’s fun to do, and I can’t wait to actually record it!
Ever since I was a teenager I’ve been fascinated Don Alan doing his giant nut production. What’s cool about a giant nut, is that it’s a simple object, there’s not much to it. It’s basically a big chunk of metal that you make appear.
Here’s Don doing the nut production:
Now let’s fast forward to a few days ago, a non magician friend of mine posted a picture of a couple of giant nuts he saw at his parent’s antique shop. I gave them a call, made a deal, then drove 90 mins each way to pick them up!
These things are massive! They also need some love, so today I started cleaning them up. Here’s a side by side comparison of one that that’s in the process of being cleaned and the other that hasn’t:
I’ve got an idea for the routine that I will do. It’s going to be a transposition of different colored metal nuts from under a hat. Then a walnut will appear and inside that walnut will be a signed silk (that was used earlier in the show) and end with the production of the giant nut. We’ll see if that works out, but it’s my idea for now.
It always amazes me that some of the magic tricks that I create end up featured in other magician’s shows. Recently someone posted a picture that their kid drew of them doing a virtual magic show.
The trick that the kid decided to feature was my Snake Wand Surprise! This is a gag that has a magical production of a dozen spring snakes at the end. It’s a lot of fun to do, and something that had sat in a notebook for years before I finally made one. Then a few years after I had started using it myself, I started selling them and it was an instant hit!
I just want to say “THANKS” to any magician that uses anything I’ve invented!
Sometimes it feels like I’m perpetually cleaning my office. Yesterday I came across the DVD The Zarrow Shuffle by Herb Zarrow. I watched the very beginning and realized that I learned to do this wrong. What I’m doing looks fine, but they first way the Herb demonstrates looks way better!
When I learned to do the shuffle, it was in the context of the trick Triumph. For the Zarrow Shuffle, I slip cut one card. I used that method for other tricks as a false shuffle. If you slip cut a block, it’s soo much more deceptive than with a single card. Also Herb’s way of jogging the cards is much more deceptive than pushing them out with your index fingers.
I’m glad I came across this, but now I’ve got a challenge ahead of me. I’ve got to undo 25+ years of the way that I’ve been doing it. The changes are fairly minor, so hopefully it won’t be too much of a pain.
Recently I did this unlearning and relearning process with how I get a card injogged. I figured out a way when I was a kid by reading something wrong and it worked for me. However I relearned to do it Jerry Andrus‘s way because it looks better.
Don’t be afraid to unlearn thing if there’s a new (to you) way of doing it that looks or works better than what you were doing before. I know it’s a pain to spend time basically learning to do something you can already do, but I think it’s the little things like that that make someone an artist.
Recently I was hanging out with a friend on Zoom and he did Goshman’s Cards Thru Newspaper. This is a fantastic trick and I think a really good trick for Zoom due to the static camera angle. It makes everything easy to see and laid out well (unless you’re watching from a cellphone, like I was).
Exploring trick that aren’t right for a live show for your virtual show is one of the very fun things about right now. Personally I’m doing things I’ve never really been able to do before, it’s great!
The switch of tables from my smaller table top to a larger one that’s mounted on a speaker stand is done. First I added the new, larger dice holder and today I put the servante on it. I 3d printed some brackets to hold the wire frame of the servante to the table.
Here’s how it looks from the floor looking up:
Finally here’s what it looks like from where I stand behind the table:
In my live, in person show, I don’t do any performing on the table top. It’s simply a place to set things. However for virtual shows, action happens on the table top. I really love having a servante and it kinda makes me want to put a topit in all of my coats for when we get back to in person shows. It’s super handy!
One of the things I’m always doing it trying to improve what I currently do. Right now in my virtual show I do a modified version of my Cee-Lo trick, which is a cup and dice routine. This ends with the production of two large dice. The large dice are 1 1/4 inches on each side. To give you some perspective, the picture below is one of the jumbo dice next to a regular die.
The reason that the trick uses 1 1/4 inch dice is that for a live, in person show, it makes the loading procedure work. The cup will hold two 1 1/2 inch dice, but the method where the spectator loads the cup for you doesn’t work well with a larger die.
I was cleaning up and found the old set of 1 1/2 inch dice I tried using for Cee-Lo. It hit me, since I’ve changed my loading procedure for virtual shows, and there are no spectators to handle the props, why not move to the larger size dice. To give you an idea of visually how much bigger they are, the pictures below are a 1 1/2 inch die next to a regular die and a 1 1/4 inch die.
That extra quarter inch makes it look massive! The nice thing about how I load the cups for live virtual shows is that the size of the die doesn’t really matter. I’m getting a little more visual impact for no extra work! I’m a fan of that.