Making a Set List…

Frequently I’m amazed when newer performers mention they have a 60 minute show. That’s a long time to do a show, I’m calling BS on a lot of them. They may have 60 mins of material, but usually it’s not a 60 minute show. I’ve got tons of material and have been been in magic a long time, but barely have a 60 min show.

What’s the difference between material and a show? Material is what you can do, but a show has texture and flow.

So, how do you put together a show? I start by writing out a set list, a list of tricks and how long they run. After the name of the trick, I write how long the routine runs and an “A” or and “S”. The “A” means someone from the audience helps me onstage and the “S” means that it’s done solo, with just me onstage. Sure there are tricks where I’m the only one onstage, but I use someone from the audience who stays seated, I consider those tricks to be solo tricks.

First I arrange it set list of the routines that I want to do. Here’s an example of what a short show set list would look like:

  • cup – 2 mins – S
  • hoop – 3 mins – S
  • Card to Pocket – 5 mins – A
  • Whip -6 mins – A
  • Straight Suit- 6 mins – A /S (This uses someone on stage, but they return to their seat about halfway thru the routine)

The next thing I do is try to arrange them into an order that alternates solo and audience. Here’s what the revised list would might look like:

  • cup – 2 mins – S
  • Card to Pocket – 5 mins – A
  • hoop – 3 mins – S
  • Whip -6 mins – A
  • Straight Suit- 6 mins – A /S

Next I look at the type of trick, luckily this particular set let isn’t super magic heavy, it’s more skill demonstrations which makes the next part easier. The goal is to no have two of the same type of effect next to each other. So if I had a “Bill To Lemon” in the list, I’d try to not put it next to “Card To Pocket” as both are teleportation type tricks.

Personally I have no problem putting things with similar props next to each other. For example I could put Card to Pocket and Tossed Out Deck next to each other. The effects are different and they both add different textures to the show.

That’s a general outline of how I put together a set list for a show. There are other factors that come into play. For example some tricks work better deeper into the show once the audience gets to know you, and so me tricks are openers or closers. In the set list above my two routines that use the audience are the Card To Pocket and the Whip routine. In theory I could swap the two tricks positions, however the whip is a big build up and it works better when the audience knows me. The card to pocket has a lot more magic that happens and works better for an audience that’s just getting to know me. Other considerations is how messy a trick is, or if it needs to be preset.

Once you have your set list, you can start to work on the flow of the show. You can then reveal things about yourself, add in call backs or put in something to tie it all together to start creating a show.

Premonition…

One of the card magic plots going around right now is a “Card To Pocket” that’s done in the style of Eddie Joeseph’s Premonition. Right now Max Maven’s Pocket Nightmare and the Other Brother’s Card To Pocket are just coming out. The trick is a card is selected, the cards are gone through and there … Continue reading “Premonition…”

One of the card magic plots going around right now is a “Card To Pocket” that’s done in the style of Eddie Joeseph’s Premonition. Right now Max Maven’s Pocket Nightmare and the Other Brother’s Card To Pocket are just coming out. The trick is a card is selected, the cards are gone through and there are only 51 cards, their card is missing. It’s then produced from your pocket.

Last night I was reading the book Concertos for Pasteboards and there’s a Card to Pocket by Roberto Giobbi called A Case For Premonition. This one uses one normal deck, which is a huge advantage for me than the two marketed ones. The disadvantage is that I need to deal the cards instead of letting a spectator go through the cards. Personally I think the condition of the audience dealing is a that impresses magicians more than non-magicians (in most cases).

After working through the one in the book, I did a couple of tweaks. There’s a moment where you need to spread through the cards to find selected card that had just disappeared. I didn’t like that, so in the dealing process I deal them a bit sloppy and side jog the card before the selected card, which lets me find it without spreading the cards. The other thing I changed was the need for a cull palm. Instead as I pick up the deck I do the pass that’s used in Bob Farmer’s Bammo Card Walloper to bring the card to the top and simply palm it.


I’m excited to try this out on real people to see how it plays. I think this will be one of the tricks that I do as part of an informal card set. I always like reading a trick and immediately know that if I change a couple of things it will work with my body vocabulary.

Plan B Set List…

Yesterday’s blog post had a back up show set list that I would easily fit in my carry on luggage on an airplane. The next step is going to be to put those tricks into a set list for the show. There are a couple of tricks that are similar in effect, so I’ll have … Continue reading “Plan B Set List…”

Yesterday’s blog post had a back up show set list that I would easily fit in my carry on luggage on an airplane. The next step is going to be to put those tricks into a set list for the show. There are a couple of tricks that are similar in effect, so I’ll have to make sure I don’t put those back to back.


Here’s the list of the tricks from yesterday:


-ACAAN
-Card to Pocket
-Card Memorization
-Blindfold drawing duplication
-Book Test
-Cue Card Confabulation
-Coin Under Watch
-Mismade bill
-Color Changing Hank
-Rubik’s Cube trick
-Torn and Restored Newspaper


Right now I know by looking at this list, I’m going to open with ACAAN and close with Torn and Restored Newspaper. ACAAN is an amazing trick, and there’s a decent amount of action right out of the gate, and it uses person, but they don’t have to be on stage…they could be, but don’t have to. I’ve used the Torn and Restored Newspaper as a closer in the past, so I know it will work there.


Right after ACAAN I’m going to do the Book Test, followed by the Rubik’s Cube Trick. These are both tricks I’ve done in that order in the past as warm up for my show at Fairs, and they are a great combo back to back.


Next I’m going to do Coin Under Watch. It uses a person from the audience, and while I coin trick, I can make it play big. After that I’ll do a solo piece, which will be the Color Changing Hank. This has a lot of action, and a lot of jokes.


Now we’re going to get into a mentalism block. I’m going to do the Blindfold followed by my Cue Card Confabulation. The Blindfold routine I do let’s me play with the person from the audience and it’s a longer piece that hits hard! The Cue Card Confabulation is my own creation and it’s just me on stage talking to people in the audience, and it’s joke will build off the strength of the Blindfold routine. The confabulation routine ends with a great surprise!


Next up I’ll do Card to Pocket, the set up to the Card Memorization, the Mismade Bill and then the final part of the Card Memorization. I’m going to use the time during the Mismade Bill for the two people who will help me with the Card Memorization to sort the cards. That will eliminate some dead time.


I’ll play the Card Memorization as the end of the show, and do the Torn and Restored Newspaper as the forced encore with a, “you want to see one more” line. Here’s the set list:


ACAAN
Book Test
Rubik’s Cube
Coin Under Watch
Color Changing Handkerchief
Blindfold
Cue Card Confabulation
Card To Pocket
Card Memorization part 1
Mismade Bill
Card Memorization part 2
Torn and Restored Newspaper


It’s a decent show, not the show I want to do, but it does look solid for an emergency show.