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!
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 other night I watched Manoj Kaushal’s online show Trapped. A friend recommended it to me, and it’s been generating some buzz with magicians. Here’s the trailer for it:
First I want to say that I bought the cheaper tickets on Stellar Tickets. That means I was just watching the show, not in the Zoom room, so please factor that in during this review.
The best way to describe it is that it’s like an interactive version of one of the Saw Movies. It was live with prerecorded video elements of the “hostages”, etc. Manoj plays the bad guy and the audience has to beat him at a 7 games. Each time we win, a hostage lives and if we lose one game, they all die.
It’s a very interesting premise for a magic / mentalism show, and something were a live stream is the perfect venue for it. I don’t think it would play well in person. Manoj is definitely trying something unique, very different from any online magic / mentalism show I’ve seen.
My biggest dislike was that a lot of the tricks were too magic-y. He does a card trick, and talks about magic. I will say that up front he does mention he’s “a magician…but also has a dark side”. I think the card trick pulls away from the idea of these being games.
Also the odds of the games fluctuate a lot. I think from a statistical stand point the 1 in 52 for the card trick in the middle of the show is the most unlikely to win, then he follows that with something that’s like a 1 in 12. I would have liked to see the odds build get more unlikely as the show progressed.
All of the tricks are good and solid and most rely on a simple principle that’s gained a lot of popularity with the switch to online shows. The way we viewed him on screen did the best and most justified job of using the principle that I’ve seen.
There were a couple of loose ends that didn’t really get tied up, like when someone from the zoom room got kidnapped. I really would have liked for us to play for that person’s life, instead of not really mentioning it again. It’s not just me, in the comments several people asked, “what about john?“.
I paid $15 for the show and for that much, I feel like I got my money’s worth. I also love supporting someone who is trying something different. The show is presented more like an interactive movie than a magic / mentalism show. I’m curious what the general public will think. In the show I watched, I recognized at least half of the people from zoom as magicians. I wonder how many real people are buying tickets?
This week on the Moisture Festival Podcast we have award winning juggler and Cirque du Soleil performer Patrick McGuire! In this episode we chat about how he got into performing with Cirque du Soleil, learning from the legendary Michael Moschen, and juggling being a father and a professional juggler!
As promised in the podcast, here’s video of Patrick McGuire performing while taking his clothes :
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.
In yesterday’s blog post, I wrote about a torn and restored card I was playing with based on a method by Harry Anderson. I think Harry’s method is really clever, and his full routine takes the trick from a simple torn and restored card to an amazing finish!
Here’s me trying out my version for some magicians the other night:
What’s neat about the tweak I made to the Anderson version is that you are actually tearing up their card, but the restored card you give back is the original card! It would make a fun magic dealers ad:
No Duplicate Names
No Double Writing
You Actually Tear Up Their Card
The Card Can Be Given Away
Self Contained Gimmicked Card
No Latex Flaps
No Invisible Thread
I’m having a lot of fun with this torn and restored card. I wonder how it will play once we get back to live, in person shows.
In the past on this blog I’ve written about how I prefer physical instructions (DVD or whatever) to download/streaming instructions. While I still think something physical is very helpful for people to have, lately my mind has been changing.
I no longer have a DVD player in my computer, it’s been about 18 months since I’ve had one. I bought an external one for DVD’s. It’s a pain to watch anything. I think that DVD’s are going to go the way of VHS soon, and switching to download is the way going forward. I don’t have to like it, but I have to adjust with the times.
You may notice my products switching over to download instructions as I run out of DVD’s. I need to embrace the direction the world is moving.
A trick I’ve been using on Zoom is having someone think of someone’s name in the zoom room and then telling them who they are thinking of. What I like is that it’s “propless mentalism” and it feels impromptu.
Here’s what it looks like:
What I like is that you are changing the texture of your show when you do something like this. You are taking the focus off of a single screen and moving it to the gallery. During a trick like this, you get to watch everyone, and everyone watches waiting to see if they’re the one that the person is thinking of.
Moving the visual focus from you to the audience gives your show some texture. While something like this may not be for everyone, it’s something you should think about.
Last night I saw Helder Guimaraes‘s show The Present at The Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. Well, sort of, it was over Zoom. The show was really great, I loved it. Helder is the first person I’ve seen who really did the “you do as I do at home” type tricks and make they fun, exciting, and most importantly, not feel like a bunch of procedure.
When you buy your ticket they mail you a box a props to use during the show. What’s cool is it’s not just of a box with a deck of cards and some string in it. It’s a box where he very smartly uses the contents. I don’t want to ruin anything is someone has tickets and hasn’t seen the show, but you’ll quickly notice if you’re paying attention with a magician’s eye that there’s more to it than what it looks like.
I think there are a few more shows at The Geffen Playhouse. I think some have the option of just watching and not having the box mailed to you. If you can afford it, I’d recommend getting the box, you should still have a good time without the box.