Informal Virtual Performing…

I’m trying to be more proactive about performing when I don’t have shows on the schedule. The last couple of weeks I’ve popped into some virtual magic open mics. When I do these open mics my set up is a lot simpler than when I do a more formal show.

The nice thing about performing in my kitchen is that I can put Post It Notes on the fridge to remind me of lines or things to do.

When I do more formal shows with the virtual studio set up, I have notes taped to my lights and camera. This is a great way to remember new lines, or names of people to thank. For in-person shows I put notes behind monitor speakers or inside my case.

Trying new material is something I live for, so it’s nice to have little things I can do to make it easier!
-Louie

Spoon and Fork Transposition

Every now and then I end up with a trick that I like, but it doesn’t have a place in the show. These tricks end up in the preshow section of my show until I either come up with a routine for them, or give up on trying to figure out a way to fit them in show. The spoon and fork transposition is something that’s a great trick, but stayed in the preshow part of the show for years.

I finally fleshed out the routine a little bit, so it was more than a quick trick. It’ s a two phase routine, with an ending. Recently I tried it at a virtual magic open mic and it went well:

One thing I didn’t think about was the “hips gag”, I don’t think it played virtually. One of the problems was I was sitting, which I really should have realized before I started. Sometimes little things slip, that end up being a much larger problem that you’d think they would be. At least I now know for future gigs!

-Louie

Trying Take Out…

One of the cool things about virtual performing is that if you have something you want to try, there are a ton of opportunities to do it…and you don’t need to leave you house! Yesterday I popped into Kevin Peel’s Open Mic Magic Show on Zoom. The nice thing about this show is that it’s UK based, so showtime is noon in Seattle!

I was looking to try out the Take Out Production Box for an audience, here’s the first attempt at doing the trick:

I think it works, I do need to do some writing to come up with something to say, or some jokes. For a video I like the “travel hack” premise, however for a live show, I think it may need some more meat. I could be wrong…

-Louie

Firing Up the Studio…

Once again last night I was back in the office getting ready for some virtual shows. Everyone thought virtual magic shows would go away once in person shows started up again, however they are still here.

One thing I don’t like about how I do my shows is that it’s not very mobile. What I mean by that is that it wouldn’t be easy to travel with my current virtual show and set up if I wanted to do one while I was on the road.

That should be something that I work on, essentially a “briefcase show” but for virtual. The trick part shouldn’t be a problem, it’s the lights and stands that will be tricky to figure out how to pack small and light.

-Louie

Virtual KAX 2022

I’m excited to be a presenter at the 2022 KAX conference! KAX is for family performers and is geared towards all sorts of variety acts: magic, juggling, puppetry, storytelling, etc

This will be my second year as a speaker at KAX. Last year I did a talk about shadowgraphy. This year I’m going to be doing a talk that I’ve wanted to do for the fair industry, and that’s on how to improve your show.

The talk will cover how to watch your show, how to write notes for your show, and how to implement those notes. I honestly don’t think a lot of people know how to actively work on their show. It’s work, and it’s not fun work, but the payoff is huge and can yield results very quickly!

I was looking at the schedule and there’s a ton of great speakers! You can get more info and register at: https://www.kidabra.org

-Louie

Bigfoot Sightings…

This summer I’m doing a few virtual shows that will be cryptid themed. I’m starting the brainstorming process and I remember seeing Bigfoot Finger Feet. These are little bigfoot feet that go on your fingers. They would work great with a virtual show because you can zoom in on them and make them play big on the screen.

The idea that I came up with that I liked was to have five cards (actually blank drink coasters) with the names of different bigfoot sighting locations. I could show each card and talk about and/or show video of the sighting. I would use the feet to walk over the cards as I talked about the sightings. Then they would pick one. I’d pour water over all of the cards “to make fresh mud for the tracks” and when I do that, bigfoot footprints would appear on the selected location’s card!

From a method standpoint there’s a lot of ways I could force the location. I could use: Quinta, Hotrod Force, Math Number Forces, etc. Then for the reveal, simply using a hydrophobic spray and an stencil would do the trick.

I think using the video element of the sightings adds a lot of production elements to the trick that wouldn’t be in a typical in person library show. The nice thing is the investment for this trick will be about $20 and with showing the short video clips, I can probably get 4-5 mins out of it.

-Louie

Bigfoot…

Yesterday I finished making a video for the version of Interactive that I want to do. Interactive is a “touch the screen” type of effect, that doesn’t use counting. You can read my previous blog post about it here.

The version I’m working on uses bigfoot images over the background of the Pacific Northwest. In the end the audience will end up on the same bigfoot image and all of the other ones will fade away.

With touch the screen type tricks, something that I’ve learned in virtual shows, you need something physical to end the trick. Something that adds another layer more that you just pushing play on a graphic, or reading some instructions. For me, the physical thing I’m using is a cast of a bigfoot foot print. On the back of it will be the location of where it was taken, which will match the location of the bigfoot that everyone ended up on.

The reveal of the location at the end is a bonus effect. You aren’t doing anything extra to get the final reveal. If anyone thought about it, and you knew everyone was going to end up on the same bigfoot image, then of course you would have known what that location would be. However, in the moment people don’t think like that.

Is this the bonus effect the strongest effect?

Probably not, but in the moment it does strengthen the touch the screen effect.

-Louie

Interactive…

The other day I picked up Interactive by Danny Orleans and Mike O’Donnell as it’s on Sale for 25% off right now. Interactive is a “touch the screen” type trick, however it gets it right. There’s no counting or spelling, which ups the odds of you getting everyone to end up on the right place at the end of the trick.

I got the pro version as it comes with the some tutorials and templates to make you own custom versions. I think the pro version is the way to go, it saved me a ton of time making a custom version. Sure, I could have figured out how to make my own custom version from the basic version, but in time saved, it saved me money.

I’m doing a few library shows in 2022 that are cryptid themed, so I made a custom version of the trick using bigfoot. I’m hoping with the talk up, the trick and the extro that I can get about 3 minutes out of it. I see this as something that I can fairly easily customize for themed virtual events and live ones if they have projection. If you know me, you know I dislike doing tricks that are themed to events…however this is relatively painless and I’m not compromising (much) what I’m willing to do.

-Louie

Back At Virtual Again…

I thought I was done with the virtual shows, but last night I was back at it! Doing this show as a nice change of pace from the three shows a day I’m doing at a state fair all month.

This was a corporate gig that was for the employees and their families. This was a fun group! One thing I’ve noticed with virtual shows is the time really flies by, compared to a live show. I think that with an in person show, time travels soo much slower. I think it’s because I’ve done it in person soo much that I have to think less. With the virtual I’m constantly on my toes.

wheel of dinner

In my virtual show my daughter usually runs the production end of the show and in it I normally do a prediction that she helps me out with, but unfortunately she wasn’t available last night. So I had to had to do it all solo. Running the production part is easy, but doing the prediction was going to be a bit of a challenge. Normally the prediction we do is my “Wheel of dinner”. I was going to modify it to a “wheel of costumes” as the client wanted some Halloween themed tricks. The problem was how I was going to accomplish the trick. With the wheel there are 20 options and it doesn’t force. There are ways to force from the wheel, but I really like just spinning it. It feels random.

It hit me, a while ago I had bought Manifest by Danny Weiser, which is a prediction on a luggage tag and never used it. I hung the luggage tag in the background, and during the course of a trick, I asked someone what they were going to be for Halloween. Then at the end of the trick, I did the reveal of the prediction. It played really well. I like a prediction, where the prediction is not the routine, but a bonus…especially because I takes a lot of the heat off of the method!

-Louie

Give Me Five…

The picture below is from back in 2017, I had an idea to use a foam hand for a trick.

foam hand magic trick

The idea was inspired by a math based trick in a Jim Steinmeyer book. The problem I faced in the trick was giving clear instructions. I tabled the trick shortly after I started doing it in 2017. Then shortly before the pandemic hit in 2020, I reread in Gary Oulette‘s book of his columns in Genii magazine called Fulminations about the challenges David Copperfield had to get through when giving instructions for his “touch the TV screen” tricks. The instructions had to be clear, even for the biggest idiot.

Then the pandemic hit and I started playing with some tricks that used counting on a hand, and went out and remade my foam hand. I never used the foam hand in a show, because in a virtual show my hand plays big.

Right now I’m cleaning up and downsizing the props I have, and I came across the giant foam hand. It’s sort of gimmicked, or at least altered so that I can bend the fingers down and they stay down. In a couple of days I head to Arizona for a month long gig and I think I’m going to take the hand with me and try to figure out the routine.

One thing I think it lacked was an ending. It needs a good way to reveal that they are all touching the same finger. When I made the last foam hand, I also bought a foam hand that just has the pointer finger up. The challenge was how to reveal this. I was playing with it and essentially found a pull the giant hand off my hand to reveal my hand is holding a giant foam hand with just the index finger up!

Now I have a moment to punctuate the reveal of everyone on the same finger.

It’s still got a challenge. Am I going to do the trick looking at the audience or not? Traditionally in this type of trick you don’t look at the audience, however I’m not sure I want to do that. You lose a lot of control by not looking AND you can’t keep an eye on people doing the procedure.

I think I can solve this by having my instructions fixed. By “fixed” I mean something that I can’t change. It could be a recording, like in the Banana Bandana style of trick. I really don’t like performing to a recorded track, it takes away a lot of what makes a live show fun. I think I may make a flap card, that has a five on one side. You turn it over and it has a three on the back side. Then when you turn it over again, the five has changed to a one. That gives the audience something interesting during the boring counting procedure. I also think going from five to three to one, makes the counting easier as it’s getting simpler each time.

I’ll have some playing to do, but luckily I’ll have a monthlong venue to try them out!