Sometimes where you perform outdoors you’ll have issues with the weather. One night it rained most of the day, and that killed attendance for the shows right after it stopped raining. There was literally no people on the fairgrounds to pull to make an audience, so we used the time as practice time.
The juggler at the fair and I used that down time to work on some lasso tricks:
And since we both had lassos, I was able to try doing two lassos at the same time!
We could have called the show and not performed, however we both got in some fun practice time! I always try to look for spots in my day when I can get in a little bit of practice and a rained out show was a great spot!
this is the beginning of my fair season and I was going through and fixing, cleaning and upgrading props. One of the props in my show is a bowl that holds a ball of yarn. I use a plastic bowl instead of glass because it travels better and is much lighter!
Over time the bowl has really gotten beaten up and it was time to replace it.
I probably hung onto the old bowl for too long, but I liked it because it’s half the height of any plastic bowl that I’ve been able to find. Sometimes you don’t realize how bad things look until you see them next to a new one!
This morning I’m heading out to AZ for my first fair gig of the year. When I do fairs, I try to work on new material. I’ll be doing something like 15 stage shows, plus I can do as much close up as I want in between shows.
The presentation is based on a old myth that was popular during the WWII era myth that Asians can tell time by looking at a cats eyes. I had some posters made of my cat and someone is going to try to guess the time and that’s the time on the clock.
I’m hoping the idea of having a cat and talking about my cat will suck people into the trick. I’m not sure how it’ll play, but I have five full days of shows to try to figure it out!!
Something I try to do in my show is have my show visually different from most other magic shows. Right now I’m closing my show with my Straight Suit comedy escape routine. The headline band at the fair was Midland and they were at my show yesterday.
Doing an unconventional show like mine is a much harder way to go than simply taking a standard path with standard tricks like most magician. However I feel taking a nontraditional road is worth the extra effort.
Not too long ago I wrote about simply having a description of your show on a schedule being more effective at putting butts in seats than your name. Here’s the daily sign on the stage that I’m performing at for a 12 day contract:
My show’s name is the only one that has any description of what it is. It’s the only one where if someone sees the sign, they are going to go out of their way to see (if they want to see a magic show). The other two acts with no description probably won’t make it on people’s mental schedules.
Sure having just your name is great for your ego, but it doesn’t help with crowds. I’d rather have “magic show” than “Louie Foxx”.
The name that I gave my show is, “Louie Foxx’s One Man Side Show“, however usually either Louie Foxx or One Man Side Show made it on the sign. It was my agent’s idea to call the show The Magic of Louie Foxx for the fair/festival industry. It’s really made a difference in my starting crowds!
Somedays I get to a gig and see that it’s really set up for my show to struggle. Here’s the set up at a recent fair:
The hay bales are probably 35-40 feet way from the stage, and in full sun. Due to the direction the stage faced, there really wasn’t much I could do about the sun, but I could work on the hay bales. I drug most of them closer to the stage:
Closing the gap to the audience really helped me connect. It also stopped people from using the area in front of the stage as a walkway through the fairgrounds. I always do what I can to give my show the best possible conditions based on the situation.
After doing the peeling off the face of the face card, leaving only the index on the cards many, many times at the fair, I wondered how it would play with an index card. In Alan Wong’s Card Sticker pack, most of the cards are index cards, so I figured I should try to use them. I stuck one onto a blank face card
It took a few tries to get them lined up correctly, however the nice thing is the Card Sticker’s adhesive is very forgiving! The plan is to simply force this card and at the end, peel off the face.
I don’t think this is really a “trick”, just a fun after moment. I’ll give it a try today at the fair and see how it goes! -Louie
Show business is funny. In less 24 hours you can go from performing outdoors in the full sun (I’m not complaining, I love outdoor gigs):
To performing indoors at a really cool theater!
While both shows are similar, there are things that I do indoors that I don’t do outdoors and things I do outdoors that I don’t do indoors. There are reasons for that, the audiences are different. Inside I can take a little bit of time with things, so I can do some slower tricks. Outdoors everything is a bit quicker and I’m a little more aggressive when I perform.
I enjoy indoors and outdoor performing, and both have their own sets of advantages and disadvantages. As a performer you need to learn what material of yours works in each situation. -Louie
One thing that magicians frequently complain about is having a generic “magician” on a post and not their name. Here’s a 20 year old poster advertising a fair that I came across:
Look at the listing, at the bottom they list acts by name. There are specific titles and generic ones. For example, Scott Land Marionettes is the name of his show, so the full title ends up on the poster. Then there’s the generic Face Painter. Both of those titles tell the person going to the fair what will be there. A generic face painter may not do good for the face painter’s ego, but it is probably more exciting to a ticket buyer than “Shelby Winters”, unless that’s a prominent person from the community.
Let’s take a closer look at the listing, I circled an act:
I circled Grinn & Barrett, I know what what this act is and know the two people in the act, but 99% of the people going to the fair have no idea what it is. In that place a generic “comedy juggler” or “juggling show” would have gotten more people excited about than the name of the act.
This is something I’ve changed recently with my show. I used to bill it at fairs as Louie Foxx’s One Man Side Show, which is still the name of the show, but I don’t use that at events like fairs or festivals. It doesn’t really tell the audience what they are going to see. I’m now using The Magic of Louie Foxx and since I made that change, I’m seeing bigger starting audiences at my shows. This is nice, as I don’t have to build as hard as I did in the past.
Take a peek at how you’re being advertised in a program and think about if you didn’t know who you are and what you do, would you go see the show? Personally I’d rather be listed as a generic “magic show” in a program than just “Louie Foxx”.
I think I was scrolling through facebook and I came across this video on the props that another magician uses for strolling at a fair:
There’s a lot of stuff in this that I disagree with, but the first thing is what he says he wears. He says his costume (whatever you wear while performing is a costume) is a t shirt and cargo shorts. I’m someone who is pretty dressed down compared to most magicians, but I don’t think I would perform in a Tshirt and shorts.
The other thing that I don’t agree with is how much material the he’s taking. I should say that I don’t agree with it “for me”. You really don’t need that many props, you’re doing roving, not a formal 22 minute magic castle close up set.
Here’s the props for my roving set:
That’s a 20 minute set if I wanted to do it as a long chunk, however I normally wouldn’t do it that way. Normally I’d do it as a 5-10 minute set. There’s a lot of variety in what you see there. Obviously there’s a lot that I can do with the deck of cards, then there’s the linking pins and finally the wallet. The wallet is a card to wallet, but inside it I have my Splitting Image trick, and a bunch of business cards that I can do mentalism with.
That’s the core set, then if I’m working on something new, I will add that to my those props. The whole works will fit into my two front pockets. Just because you have a ton of pocket space, it doesn’t mean you need to fill them with tricks!