Sometimes you get an idea stuck in your head. For me it’s the title of a magic trick, and it’s not a good title either. The title is “Corkage Fee“. For me that just leads to something involving money and a cork. My original idea was a cork turning into dollar bills. The second idea was a cork that disappeared when rolled into a dollar bill. I came up with a barely working version of the second idea.
I started playing with a third idea for a trick using a cork and a coin:
While not the best idea, I think it may have some uses for Instagram type videos.
Yesterday in a Facebook group Ray Franklyn posted this trick, which I find the whole presentation hook of the name Fu Ling Yu to be demeaning to Asians (full disclosure, I’m asian). It’s a joke that may have worked in 1945, but not now.
The BIG issue I have is that it’s not an original joke and doesn’t have a point of view. He’s making fun of a group of people for the sole purpose of making fun of them. And he’s put zero thought into why he does it. The Fu Ling Yu joke is older than me. He’s doing it because he saw someone else do it. That’s not art, that’s being lazy. Just because it was socially acceptable to do it 60 years ago doesn’t make it OK now. If he used the Fu Ling Yu joke to illustrate some larger point of view, I probably wouldn’t have an issue with it.
Do I think Ray Franklyn is racist? No, I don’t think that was his intention. Do I think the trick that he choose to do was? Yes
As a creative exercise, I took the same routine and just changed the ethnicity of the magician.
Exact same routine. The only difference is that mine has a point of view and I had to delete my browser history after searching for those images.
Of the two videos on this post: -One is art and has a point of view -One is lazy, demeaning garbage
Please think about what you put out into the world, and if someone calls you on it, don’t just say, “I’ve been doing it that way for years…” Do a little soul searching and think about if what you’re doing hasn’t aged out.
Last night Matt Disero posted a video of him performing on a TV show in the early 1990’s. His comments on his set about 25 years later are great and very insightful. Basically he says it’s horrible.
Here it is, you be the judge:
What I like the is commitment to the atomic lightbulb. It’s a lot of props to lug around to light up a lightbulb, but it’s way better than just rubbing it on your sleeve and lighting it up!
I think most performers who create their own material and look back on what they were doing when they were young will have a similar impression to their show as Matt did. It’s because we’re growing and evolving and the person performing isn’t the person you are now. That’s a good thing.
Yesterday I wrote about an idea of doing a matrix with pickles on the bun of a hamburger. I made some mock up bun shapes out of cardboard and gimmicked some pickles and worked out the trick.
Here’s it in its proof concept video:
Obviously it’s still got a long way to go. Figuring out a way to make the bun rigid will be my next challenge. I also need to buy or make some fake pickles that are all uniform in shape. Those are the next two challenges (that I’m aware of).
Normally I don’t watch a lot of TV, especially live TV, so I don’t see a lot of commercials. I just saw a Therabreath commercial that came out in June that has a magicians in it. Here’s the commercial:
What I like about this and the current trend with magicians in commercials or TV shows is that they are using actual magic tricks. It’s way better than doing a quick cut and then showing someone pull out bunny out of a hat. I think most people can tell the difference between CGI or a camera trick and someone actually doing it.
Also I think it’s worth looking at how that 15 second commercial frames the magic. It’s just the “punchline” not the “set up“, we really don’t see the whole trick. We don’t need to see the guy show the card on both sides before it floats, we just need to see it float. Now think of how you can apply that to your promo video.
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.
On Monday night I was a guest on the IBM’s facebook live where I played some online games with Billy Hsueh and Amy Nichols. Before the game, I did a cocktail demo. You can watch it here:
There’s a couple of magic tricks in the demo. I like using a loaded cloth to produce a bottle that’s not loaded in the cloth, then producing the bottle in the cloth and finally producing a third bottle, that’s not in the cloth. All three bottles use different methods, and it’s a fun little sequence.
After having done a few of these demos I’m starting to have little tricks that I like and keep falling back on. I think it’s good to have my “go to” tricks, but I still need to be creating new stuff for them.
It’s been a while since I just spent a good chunk of the day practicing for fun, not for something that’s intended to be in the show. Way back at the beginning of February I had an idea for a coin trick. I played with it a bit back in August, you can read the post and watch a practice video here.
Here’s what the routine looked like yesterday:
It looks way better than the video from August. Honestly I haven’t put too much time into it between February and August and between August and yesterday. It was fun to really spend the day trying to work out the sequence and make it happen!
It’s interesting the little magic fads that pop up on Instagram or other social media. Usually it’s a trick that’s cheap or easy to make, that’s really visually and easy to do. One that was going around recently was a floating pen by Rodrigo Romano:
It’s looks good, but it’s much inferior version of The NEW Incredible Floating Pen by Patrick Snowden and Kyle Elder. Their version can actually be done easily in the real world, where Romano’s version is basically for video.
Seeing all of these people float pens on their social media makes me wonder why you’d want to do that?
What I mean, is why would you also float a pen and not something else?
There are plenty of other pen like objects you could make something else float. I made up a version of the trick using a chicken wing and a dish of ranch dressing:
The two props make sense together, unlike a pen and a folded up playing card. For me, I think this is better social media content than floating a pen like everyone else. It visually it looks a lot different. The chicken wing and dish look like a different trick than the floating pen. Also for me, where my “brand” is doing less common things, it fits what I do much better!
How can you take the more “standard” tricks you do and make them visually different?