For years I’ve been a huge fan of Richard Himber, he’s put out a lot of great, innovative magic. I’m not sure why I’ve never bought his book, however recently there have been a lot of them on the market, so the price got pretty low and I picked one up.
This honestly isn’t the best book. The first half is basically instructions sheets, it’s still interesting if you’re a Himber fan, but there’s not a lot you can do out of the book as they really don’t go into how the prop was made. One of the descriptions of what the prop went something like, “it’s like a duck pan with box of cards…” without pictures, it’s not much help. I think whoever worked on the book was a friend of his and not really a magician.
However, it is an interesting book if you’re into magic history and it is more magic knowledge going into my brain. It got me thinking, why did the Himber Ring and Himber Wallet get those names. Those aren’t the original names that those props were given?
One thing Himber knew was how to market his magic, they have reproductions of his ads and he sells it! His fame as a band leader really helped him with the style of selling he did, and it wouldn’t have really worked for most other people.
My verdict is that if you’re into Himber and can snag the book at about $40 you’ll enjoy it.
Last night I stumbled upon someone on Facebook writing about the episode of Masters of Illusion that I was recently. Basically the guy crapped on everyone that was on that episode. I was going to reply, but that really doesn’t do anything positive. Not that this post is going to be super positive.
Something I started doing a few years ago when someone craps on someone online is to research them. Not anything crazy, just check out their website and maybe watch their promo video. That tells you a lot about the person, and what filter they see the world in.
In this particular case, the person who wrote the post about the show isn’t my demographic based on their promo video. They were doing 1970’s style magic in an 1970’s way. There’s nothing wrong with that, however it’s not what I prefer to watch. He’s stuck in an older style of magic, and I think anything new or edgy probably isn’t his flavor. I can see that he’s stuck performing in a style of the magic he probably saw in his 20’s and never decided to grow. He does a Jimmy Hoffa joke in his promo video, Hoffa disappeared in 45 years ago, I had to google that…that’s how fresh the joke is!
If that’s his “art” cool. It’s not my “art”.
If you ever put anything out there into the world and someone doesn’t like it, before you get upset, look at the lens that they are looking at you through. It gives you a lot of perspective.
Last night I performed again appeared on The CW’s Masters of Illusion TV show. I was the opening act, which really surprised me as I’m not really a “flash act”, however the way they edited my act, I think it worked in that spot.
If you didn’t catch the performance, check it out here:
After watching the clip, the first thing I noticed is how much I give the stage to the guy on stage. He’s working it solo for a big chunk of the act. This is very high risk, high reward scenario for me. If the person the audience does something, like in this case where he had some sweet dance moves, it creates a sense of the audience watching a unique show that will never happen again. I really like this.
Here’s another example of taking a risk, where the kid delivered:
If the person does nothing, I have a plan for that. Honestly, the majority of the time they do something. Also in my show I don’t do these bits early in the show, I do them later when I can watch the audience, so I have a feel for who is more outgoing.
The trick is just an OK magic trick from a magical viewpoint. What the trick does have is spectacle and a huge sense of fun. I don’t think there’s really a way the magic trick can be better than me dancing with the guy in the dinosaur costume. It’s a trick that’s 99% energy. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, but if you do something like this, you need to recognize it for what it is.
There are many points in my career where I look back and am amazed at where dopey ideas I’ve had for my show have taken me. That’s one of the secrets to my career, not being afraid to try things.
What’s your crazy idea?
What’s the next step to making it a reality?
One of the things I’ve learned is developing ideas is a series of peaks and valleys. Once you solve one problem, you are frequently then greeting with another problem. whoever can power through all all of the challenges wins.
I remember chatting with Brian from Creative Magic about the Change Cap that he put out. The Change Cap was a change bag built into a baseball cap. Brian told me that tons of magicians told him the idea of a change bag built into a hat was their idea. He would then ask if they ever made one, and no one had every successfully made one.
Having and idea and actually making the idea happen are frequently two very different things! Usually the idea is the easy part, making it a reality is the real work!
In a few days on 10/23/20 at 8pm I’ll be performing on The CW’s Masters of Illusion television show. When I had the opportunity to pitch them some routines, I chose things that had some unique visuals. Tricks that weren’t just a card or coin trick, but offered something more.
One of the tricks that I pitched to the producers of the show was the card trick that I do with a dinosaur costume! It’s a very unique trick visually, and it’s just a fun routine.
Look at the picture above, look at my face inside the costume. I’m having a blast! That’s something that I think is important, even though no one can really see me, I’m performing as if they can see me. More importantly, I’m having fun! That fun is project to the audience, even though they can’t see me!
Whatever you do, have fun. Fun is the secret sauce that makes or breaks most performers.
Way back in the pre-pandemic days when I had a new Idea I would go to an open mic and try it out. I’m not a huge fan of trying something out at a virtual open mic, as it’s hard to get the overall feeling if the idea is good. In front of a live audience you can get a vibe that there’s something there, even if the trick flops. It’s hard to get that from a virtual show.
A couple days ago I did the Boston Magic Lab to try out the Torn and Restored Postcard I’ve been working on. Here’s the tear and restore sequence:
After rewatching the video, there’s a lot that it needs. One thing it needs a magic moment for the restoration. Something like hitting it with a lighter, but not that as I don’t do fire. Another thing is needs is a good way to ditch the torn postcard.
The nice thing is that I can probably fix both of those. If I reach into my case to grab a lighter, I can ditch the torn postcard. Now that motivates the ditch and gives me the magic moment. I’ll need to find something other than fire.
A possibly solution is using Bizzaro’s Non-Toxic trick which is a vanish of glue. I pour the glue into the folded post card to “fix it”, open it and show the glue is gone and the post card restored. I’m not sure how I feel about mixing two effects at the same time, the vanish of glue and restoration of the card will happen at the same time.
I’ll need to play with it more. I think there’s something there…
The Impuzziblities books are great, I’m into my second one and recognize some of the stuff from Jim Steinmeyer‘s other books that I have. It hit me last night why I wouldn’t do most of the material in the books. It’s pretty simple, they are too procedure heavy. Most of the tricks like if you just did the formula you’d get the same results. Jim in beginning of one of the books mentions they are puzzles, so I’m not knocking him or the books for that.
What they tricks in the books need is a physical effect to stick the trick. That takes it out of being a puzzle. Yes, it’s cool when the whole audience has the same card, or is holding up the same hand, but it isn’t an amazing magic trick.
Here’s an example I thought of last night:
There’s a coin trick in one of the Impuzziblities books where you have a row of four coins (dime, penny, nickel and quarter) on the table. Through a bit of procedure a coin is picked. You eliminate one (the quarter) by putting it into your right fist, leaving three coins on the table, one of which is the coin they are thinking of. Then a little bit more procedure and they are thinking of a new coin. You put the remaining coins into your fist with the quarter. You then open your hand and all the coins had disappeared except for the coin they are thinking of, which is the nickel. Your hands are complete empty aside from the nickel.
As far as method for the coins is pretty simple. Use a 21 cent trick coin set and you’ll need to switch the quarter with one of the nickel shells with a Bobo Switch from Modern Coin Magic. You do the switch very early on in the trick , you have a ton of time to ditch the quarter. You will need to tweak the trick a little bit from how Steinmeyer wrote it to force the nickel instead of the penny. Or you could do it as written and end with a dime and penny set, using a click pass get rid of the nickel and quarter.
I think adding the physical trick to the verbal instructions moves the trick a bit more from the puzzle side to the magic side.
For years I’ve been a huge fan of Jim Steinmeyer, I love his books. I remember reading his Afghan Bands routine in the first Magic Magazine that I ever bought, and have been a fan ever since.
For some reason, I’ve never bought or read his Impuzzibilites books. They’ve been out forever.
I just picked up a full set of the nine books and I’m having a good time reading them. One of the things I love about Jim’s books is that the routines are fleshed out, it’s not just how to do the trick.
What’s cool about Jim’s books is that 99% of the material I will never do. A lot of his stuff is too procedure heavy for my style, however it all inspires me. I makes me want to be better.
In my heart, I’m a card guy. I love watching good and bad card magic, and I love doing good and bad card magic. However, I’m at a point in my life where I also understand not everyone loves card tricks. With that in mind, many card tricks can be easily converted to things that don’t use cards. Of course you lose the convenience of being able to carry one prop (pack of cards) that you can use for multiple routines.
Recently I saw a virtual show and someone did the move from Paul Curry’s A Swindle of Sorts. This move is a false shuffle where the audience sort of decides how the cards are shuffled. The show I saw they used it for a sympathic cards effect. Here’s Michael Close doing a similar effect:
That got me thinking about what else could be used that aren’t cards. I’d seen Murray Hatfield of a version with envelopes, that I think ended up with his phone number, then inside the envelopes were words that formed a sentence. then it hit me, I don’t think the objects need to have uniform backs for this to work. That opens it up to things like gift cards or money.
Hopping on the idea of money, I wanted money that’s visually different, so bills from the USA are out. That got me thinking of using currency from a variety of countries. Turns out getting money from other countries that aren’t in circulation is really easy and they’re petty cheap on Amazon:
I ended going to a local coin shop to get mine. I bought 3 sets of 10 bills, so I have enough to do a matching trick, plus an extra set. I think I may buy a pack from amazon if the trick starts to go anywhere so that I can have more variation in my bills.