Awhile ago I was visiting Steve Dobson and someone (sorry I can’t remember who) showed me a little trick with cork. You put the cork under a cup and when you lifted it, it was standing up on end. It’s a clever little trick that I learned is Sol Stone’s Abraviagra.
You can watch Sol do it here:
Sol’s version is great, while his presentation is a bit dated, don’t let that turn you off. This is a great impromptu trick. I’ve used it a bunch and and it’s great.
I was recently working on some videos for a client thought about the cork trick. I needed to get a bit more time out of it, and wanted a bit more build to the routine. I don’t think it would hit as hard if you’re not there watching it in person.
Here’s what I came up with:
The trick progresses from fully covered, to partially covered, to just under a clear glass, and then there’s the kicker at the end. My method is a bit more complex than Sol’s method is. Mine was designed for a video, so it didn’t need to be practical. It’s super gimmicked!
I think the trick came out well and while it won’t be moving into my show anytime soon, it was fun to do and it’s something that’ll be in my “back pocket” if I need it.
A couple of years ago while in New Orleans I got to sit down with Aye Jaye and chat about his book, The Golden Rule of Schmoozing. We talked about giving people things, and initially I didn’t know I was doing it, but I was. I always have a trick or gag ready. I never force it on people, but if the situation is right, I do it.
That brings me to this gag that I thought up not too long ago:
I was at the store and got carded because I was buying some alcohol. I remembered a gag that was taught to me by Tom Mullica where you glue a clown nose on your ID. I thought it’d be a topical gag and found some paper and cut one out and stuck it to my ID. Now I’m giving away a laugh, and expecting zero in return.
Just giving out a smile. That’s all. It’s a great feeling, and something that I think people need right now. Also I think it’s one of the better COVID gags out there right now, because the laugh is on the situation, not on the virus.
The last ten years a lot has changed in America, and your show should be changing to keep up. Right now I’m in a hotel and the 1980’s movie Overboard in on TV. This movie was remade in 2018, however I haven’t seen the movie. There must have been something there some production company felt the need to make it again.
There are a lot of old “bits” in the movie that aren’t really used anymore. In the beginning of the movie Goldie Hawn has amnesia, which is something that was in in every episode of a 1980’s sitcom and many movies of that time. It’s something that really isn’t an any modern shows. Of course at one point she faints, which is another dated movie bit.
What does this have to do with magic?
Simple, you need to look at your show, how does it fit in with where the USA is right now. Not too long ago I saw a video of a performer doing the break away wand. When it broke he said, “must have been made in china”. He mentioned that he got a complaint about the line. I told him the complaint was justified and it’s super insensitive.
Let’s pretend that I’m wrong, is the bit worth complaints, even if it’s not offensive? In the video the line didn’t really get a laugh, so it’s not a joke that I’d fight for.
When you look at your show, if you can’t justify a joke with a reason beyond, “it gets a laugh” if someone were to be offended by it, you should drop the joke. Now’s the time to go through your show before you get complaints.
Coming up on 7/16 at 5pm (pacific) Matt Baker and I will be hosting the third Odd and Offbeat Variety show. These are live variety shows that happen over Zoom. Each show features three acts, these are some of our amazing friends and this month’s show is going to be AMAZING!
Each performer will answer questions from the audience after perform their acts, then after the show we hang out a bit. It’s a lot of fun, and you should check it out!
After being in magic most of my life, I still love it. That’s not to say that I unconditionally love any trick, there are plenty of bad ones. For example I had this one come through my Facebook feed:
For a four ace production it’s pretty bad, and the payoff after all that procedure heavy shuffling doesn’t justify the time it took to get there. After all of that shuffling, at least give me a flash production of the four aces, don’t just take them off the top of the deck.
For a social media video, a better trick would be a couple of riffle shuffles and then a flash production, and you’d be at less than 30 seconds of video and it’d be a much stronger trick. For one minute to simply turn the top cards over, you’d need some novelty or cardistry type shuffling to make it interesting.
For the Polaroids to Envelope magic trick I’m working on, the last technical step is to clean up the handling. The initial handling had three Tenkai Vanishes, which is fine, but redundant. I also think that if you do the same false transfer over and over, you need a convincer to show both hands empty.
Here’s the tweaked handling:
One thing that I decided with showing both hands empty was that I didn’t want to make both hands being empty part of the vanish. I wanted to show both hands, just not show the dirty hand as a “moment” of the trick. In the video you’ll notice that I show both hands as I turn the envelope over.
The technical end is finished for now. The technical part is something that may evolve over time, and something that’s never completely done.
Yesterday I wrote about working on Albert Goshman’s Cards Thru Newspaper. Then I took out what I didn’t like, the newspapers and it left me with cards thru jumbo card. In the original effect the cards penetrated up through a newpaper that was laid out like a mat. In the reworked version of the trick, the cards disappear from my hand and reappear under a jumbo card.
My thinking was to have the four cards that disappear one at a time and reappear under the jumbo card be signed, or be blank cards with spectator’s signatures. With this change to each card being unique, I can’t use Goshman’s method that has a duplicate. I needed to figure out a new way get the cards there, or more specifically to do a switch or two.
I started working out a sequence that made sense. What I came up with, for the most part was identical to Albert Goshman’s routine, just without the newspaper and instead of the cards penetrating the newspaper, they teleport to under the card.
The video below wasn’t intended to be watched by anyone other than me. I’m posting it to show how I create. When working on a sequence, I’ll just turn the camera on and play around. The nice thing is that if something works, I can easily go back and find it. This was probably sequence number 43 of the evening. There’s not a lot you can see in the video, but enough for me to know what I did.
At this point, I’ve removed a prop, and reworked the method, so technically it’s an original trick. However it’s still a card trick right now, and I’m trying to not add card tricks to my show. I’ll talk about my solution to making it not a card trick tomorrow.
A few months ago festival artists Louie Foxx and Matt Baker started recording a podcast for the Moisture Festival featuring interviews with some of the festival’s performers, producers and people behind the scenes that help make the festival awesome!
We’re now just over a month into the “Shelter in Place” on the West Coast and it’s interesting to have seen the boom and bust of virtual shows. I hesitate to call it a bust, because there was no real way of making any significant money from them…initially.
The amount of people that were putting out daily content has slowed to a trickle. The amount of time it takes to do that is much more than I think most people thought it would. It’s more than just turning on a webcam and talking into it.
This video sums up the virtual magic show situation about a week or two into us all being stuck at home:
The nice thing right now is that we’ve hit a point where creativity is king! I think people are running out of tricks that they can do, or buy. People who can do a lot with a little are crushing it! However, that will start to slow down and people need to start making money. I’m noticing more and more “ticketed” virtual shows. I think this is the way to do it. Treat it like a live show, there’s as start time and an end time and the show is only available to watch then.
Probably the most magical trick you can do is turn a one dollar bill into a one hundred dollar bill and give it to someone to keep. That will have more impact that almost anything else you can do. That’s why bill change tricks are popular, everyone has an emotional investment in them.
The nice thing about the standard Hundred Dollar Bill Switch is in a live show the folding process takes time which is good. Now let’s move the trick to Instagram where you have up to 60 seconds…and the attention span of the audience is even less. By the time you set up the premise and start folding the bill, you’re losing people. That’s why visual magic is HUGE on social media.
Another factor to consider in social media videos is that the bill isn’t borrowed, so some of the impact is lost. It’s always more amazing if the magician took MY dollar and turned it into a hundred, than used HIS dollar and turned it into a hundred.
Personally I think setting up a premise is important for a quick trick. There are a couple of ways to do that. You can do it in the video, or you can do it in the text of the post.
Here’s a video of a quick bill change for social media:
In the video I set up the premise, which is that it’s a “challenge” a friend gave me. I take up the problem, and solve it. I also solve it in an unexpected way. There’s a story there, I’ll admit, it’s a weak story, but it tells a story in about 12 seconds.
Personally I think it’s important to tell that story. Based on the analytics of my videos, the ones that are just quick tricks without the storyline never get the same amount of views as the ones that do. Of course this is my own experience, and I’m sure there are people churning out eye candy and racking up some big numbers in views.