I think it’s time we need to accept the fact that most kids that know a card trick no longer do the 21 card trick. This is mostly due to YouTube tutorials, and that’s great, that’s one place where YouTube “exposure” has moved magic forward. There’s a lot more variety in what’s kids do now!
The trick above, wasn’t a really good trick. It was a very clunky verbal magician’s choice style force to make me think of a face card, then a very clunky physical magician’s choice force to make me select a card. For a kid that only does one trick, it’s a fine gateway trick to your second trick and they’re actively involved in making the trick work, not just doing math.
A few weeks ago someone had asked in a magician’s social media group about how to practice equivoque, and I used to do a card trick that was inspired by something I saw Bob Sheets do. Basically you are forcing a pile, it’s not too crazy. I haven’t done it in many, many years, but I made a quick video to help that person out.
It’s fun to do and a great way to practice making the decisions feel like actual decisions. Go out and give it a try!
I’m always reading on social media that people are upset that their name isn’t on programs and instead a generic “magic show” is used. Honestly, given the choice between just my name or just what I do, I’d rather have just “magic show” on the schedule. It’s going to put more butts in seats than my name with now context.
Last week I was performing at a fair and they used just my name on the schedule, with no context, not one knows what I do.
I took a dry erase marker and added some context to my name.
There’s not really a way to definitely tell if it made a difference. My first show of the day before I added it, I had no audience 15 mins before showtime and had to talk it up. The other three shows had people sitting in chairs waiting for the show when I started my talk up. My non-scientific test tells me it made a difference.
My advice is to get over your ego and put butts in the seat.
Yesterday I took a quick break from performing on the fair circuit and did a senior show. This was a “monthly activity” for seniors at a retirement community. Most of these places need entertainment and host multiple entertainers a month to perform at things like monthly birthdays, holidays, etc.
If you’d like more info on performing senior shows check out my book How To Perform For Seniors which teaches you how to market and perform shows at these communities.
My current 40-45 minute show fits into the black case, which is briefcase sized.
The yellow case is my audio gear.
The show was put together to visually fill a little bit of space and not look like I’m just using flat handheld props that were selected because they easily fit into a briefcase.
The nice thing about this show is that it can be done using people from the audience, and it can also be done “no contact”, so no one from the audience joins me on the stage or handles any props.
Aside from any COVID restrictions, the no contact option is handy as sometimes you’ll have a less mobile group and it’s not easy to have people join you on stage. Having them interact from their seats is good, however if you physically go to them in the back row, a lot of the audience can’t see what’s happening. When you talk to them from the stage and the magic still happens onstage the whole audience can see what’s going on.
In this episode we triangulate positions and welcome to the podcast Michael Trautman via zoom. We learn about how he gave up his pursuit of a law degree to become a clown and how that decision led him to perform all over the world.
We discuss the creative process, how to create content with a group and how he approaches coming up with new material. We also learn what a disco clown is. A great conversation with one of the great performers and teachers the variety world has to offer. We also learn what a disco clown is. A great conversation with one of the great performers and teachers the variety world has to offer.
Right now I’m out performing on the fair circuit for most of the summer. If you perform at fairs, at some point you’ll be asked to host a contest or two. When I do them, I have a playlist of music and sound effects for contests. It takes it up a level from just someone saying “go” to start the contest. I try to turn them into events.
I also have jokes that I’ve written for the contests and I add a lot of energy to them. Usually when I host one, they have me do a lot more. I turn a 10 minute contest, into a 30+ minute show. These are also fun for me to do because it breaks up the monotony of doing my show multiple times a day for months!
When I’m performing in any industry, I try to notice things that I get asked to do and try to come up with ways to make them better than simply being an announcer. I think of it as building up skills, then eventually I can justify charging for it, or including it within my scope of work.
Curt Carlyle is one of the premiere comedy jugglers in the Pacific Northwest. He joins us in the clown basement in Portland and discusses all the things that led him to choose juggling as a job.
He tells us about his early days performing with a partner, how their comedy act of stripping down to speedos opened the door to a plethora of performances in the circus world. We discuss his affinity for tall bikes and what he is excited about moving forward. A great conversation with a fantastic act.
I’m always on the look out for fun photo ops when I do my show. One of the things I do is the shell game, and whenever I see police officers, I always try to get them to play it.
With everyone now having a camera in their pocket, it’s super easy to get these pics. You just need to be alert and looking for opportunities. Right now is a good time to get pics of you doing tricks for Santa or elves.
When you start looking for photo ops, you’ll see them everywhere.
When I first got started doing promo videos for my show many years ago, I used the camera’s mic for the audio. That’s a horrible way to do it, it just doesn’t sound good at all. I just picked up a Zoom recorder that the mic line runs through so you get the audio straight from the mic you’re using.
It gives you better audio, that’s way more listenable than just using the audio off of the camera’s mic. Here’s a little video I made comparing the two, the camera’s mic and then direct from the onstage mic:
The nice thing is that the recorder isn’t very big, so it’s easy to travel with and once it’s set to the mic, those levels shouldn’t really change, so I can just plug it in and go!
The last couple of days at the fair I’ve been doing my trick that uses a giant foam hand as part of my preshow. It’s a counting trick that uses math. While I honestly don’t think these types of tricks are really amazing to an audience, they are fun little things. Anyone who puts a second of thought into the trick will come to the conclusion that it’s just a sequence that has you end up at the same spot all of the time.
Here’s my running the routine…also a quick note, the audience isn’t mic’d and the camera is in the way back at the sound booth, so you really can’t hear the audience:
I think the foam hand makes it more visual and look like something is happening onstage. You lose the “propless” advantage of using just your fingers, but you gain it playing a bit bigger with the prop. The foam hands, don’t weigh anything and pack down, so they don’t take up more room in your case.
The addition of the foam hand with just the pointer finger out adds a bit of a punctuation to the trick. The reveal of the finger is the ta-dah moment of the trick, which I think the previous versions I’ve seen lacked.