A few days ago a few of us Seattle magicians went out to see Justin Willman‘s show at the Moore Theatre. Justin does an amazing show that’s super smart how it’s done. From his opening effect that’s a “sucker” effect, but not really done like a traditional sucker effect. It really gets everyone in the audience on his side.
Justin’s show is a great example of how you don’t need a lot of props to fill a theater. Sure he does use video projection, however it doesn’t feel like he’s using the projection to make small things play big. His use of the projector enhances what he’s already doing. There were no close up tricks that needed the projector AND he only used it few times for close ups and they felt fun when he used it.
He did have the show on the projector behind him, and his is kinda the standard thing now. Micheal Carbonaro also does it that way as well. It just makes the show play better in the back.
One of the tricks that Justin does is a “roulette” with a borrowed cellphone and a hammer. The beauty of this trick is how it connects with the audience. Our lives are in our phones. At it’s core, the trick is a Key R Rect or 7 Keys to Baldplate, but after seeing this, why would anyone do it with keys. There’s literally no attachment with keys.
That’s where Justin shines, he’s great at finding relatable hooks for everything in the show. He’s also great at creating places for real interactions with people and then finding the comedy in those places.
If he’s playing in your area, this show is a great example of how to play a theater with a parlor size act!
Yesterday I started work on the current batch of Applause Please 2. This is the prop used for my “object in lightbulb” routines. The base and outer shell of the applause sign are made by Brian overat Magic Crafter and look amazing!
Yesterday I added the switch and lightbulb holder to the bases.
I also made all of the electronic parts and added the remote controls.
Today I’ll be adding the electronics to the boxes and packing everything up. Hopefully I can get all of my preorders out in the mail tomorrow!
I only have one left if you want to order the Applause Please 2 from me, however four of these are going to Hocus-Pocus.com, so they’ll have them in a few days.
One of my preferred ways of booking gigs is through showcases. A showcase is where you do a sample of your show in front of people that book entertainment. These exist for pretty much every market that uses entertainment regularly.
What I like about this is that I get to let my show do the selling. If my show is good, I get booked. My calendar has nothing to do with how good I write ad copy or can layout a brochure.
There are downsides to booking gigs through showcases. Normally I have to travel to them, so there’s plane, car and hotel costs. Then there’s usually a fee associated with showcasing (not always) and that’s not cheap! Also the caliber of entertainment is usually fairly high, so you need to be able to deliver a good, short version of your show. Another challenge is that you could have a bad show, and it’s no fault of yours. Like the audio or lights could be bad, or someone in the audience has a heart attack right before you start or you could just be off that night.
This isn’t a good way for beginners to get work, there’s no do overs, you have to crush it every time!
One of the rough things about being creative is people taking your work and calling it their own. This recently happened (in a non magic context) when I posted this picture that I took on social media:
Then someone took the picture and passed it off as their own:
No little photo credit or even tagging me. Sure if he gave me a photo credit, it would takeaway the idea that this was his idea…but you know what, it’s not his idea, it’s mine! Since I know this person, simply asking me if they could use the picture would have been a nice courtesy.
On the surface this appears to be a stupid little picture and it is. But there was a bit of hard work to get there. First of all someone had to have the idea of putting shrimp where it didn’t belong. Here are the three previous ideas before I got to the coffee (which is the best image):
FYI, I’ve also learned that I’m not the first person to do the Corona bottle when someone posted it in the comments of the picture of the shrimp in the coffee, and honestly I’d be surprised if I was the first person to do the coffee.
Above is the full uncropped image. Next I had to blur the background and crop it to get to the final image.
While it’s not a ton of work, it’s still my energy, both creative and physical…I’m the one who put in the work. There were steps to get to the final image, it didn’t just appear like magic out of nowhere. This is the exact same thing as stealing a joke from my show. I try to be creative all the time, and it really sucks when someone passes my work off as their own.
The moral of the story is don’t steal other people’s creativity.
I do a routine that I call my “choices” routine. This started as an invisible deck sort of routine, and methodwise moved to the Al Koran Five Star Miracle. Essentially the effect is a card is picked and it matches a prediction in an envelope.
Previously I used a red jumbo deck and a red card in the prediction envelope. Recently as I was getting to the reveal of the prediction and said, “…if this card is the same as yours…” and someone from the audience said, “it won’t there’s only one five of diamonds in the deck“.
They were right, I wasn’t selling that the prediction was from another deck. However, I think it’s wasted energy to tell that’s it’s from anther deck. To save time explaining, I found some blue backed jumbo cards and I’m not using a different colored deck for the prediction card.
This slight change isn’t a very big change. Probably only one person in fifty shows would have the same thought that the prediction couldn’t be the same as the selected card. However of 1 in 50 mentions it, probably 1 in 20 thinks it. By changing the back color, that makes the effect a little bit more clear, with virtually no extra work on my end during the show.
The takeaway from this is listen to your audience!
On this episode we welcome in bounce juggler Audrey Greaves. We discuss how she discovered the circus and how her parents figured out how to get her involved in it at a young age.
She explains to us what bounce juggling is and how she decided that was something she wanted to devote her time on. We discuss what you do when you mess up on stage and how her performance at the Moisture Festival Gala went. A really fun conversation with an amazing bounce juggler!
When I was in Mexico there were a lot of “ambient” street shows. Those are shows like a guitar player that you walk by, maybe watch for a song, and then move along. There were very few “circle” street shows that were longer presentations that built a crowd.
There’s a lot that goes into a circle show, like getting people to stop, uniting those people into an audience and getting them to commit to watching the whole thing.
One of the few circle shows that I saw in Mexico City was a dance/acrobalance group.
The challenge with the spot that they picked was that right in front of their performing area was a road. I understand that they needed a larger footprint for their show, so they were pretty limited to locations and they fit in this one.
The active street meant they could build maybe one row between them and the street. Then the second row of people would be across the street. I’m going to bet you’re not surprised that no one really watched from across the street.
Ultimately with the challenges of this location, they only managed to pull a handful of people into their crowd.
They were doing some cool stunts, but this is a good example of where soo much more goes into street performing than simply having a good show!