Last week I was in New York City for Christmas. We went to check out some shows, one of them was Stomp NYC.
If you don’t know what Stomp is, it’s a show that’s percussion based and they use “everyday objects” for their instruments and there is no talking or singing.
There’s a lot to learn about performing from this show. For me the huge thing was relatability. The characters were relatable, but the bigger thing was all of the props were relatable. They were things we all see and touch almost every day in our lives. From things like a recycle bin, to a plastic chip bag, everyone has a point of reference for all of the props. This makes the show soo much more relatable than if it used some strange percussion instrument that was invented for and only exists in this show.
When you look at the props in your show, looking at relatability for your props is important. Keep in mind you don’t need to use things that exist in real life, that’s an artistic choice you are making. However when you do, I think they should be things that actually are when they look like, versus things that pretend to be something in real life. Once again this is an artistic choice An example of something pretending to be something real would be an illusion that’s painted to resemble a cardboard box. Everyone knows it’s not a cardboard box, they know it’s a stage prop.
If you look at my two appearances on Masters of Illusion last season, both use “everyday objects” that people have seen or interacted with before.
The first used a paper bag and some toy animals:
And the second used a inflatable dinosaur costume
The props in those two routines were much more relatable than had I used props that were created just for magic tricks. It gives them a simpler feeling than fancy props and that’s the vibe I’m going for. I’m an everyday guy, not someone solves problems with money. In the end it all boils down to your artistic choice for your show. I’ve made some very intentional choices, and while I don’t expect you to make the same choices, I do hope in my heart that whatever you choose to do, it’s intentional.
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.
In a few days on 10/23/20 at 8pm I’ll be performing on The CW’s Masters of Illusion television show. When I had the opportunity to pitch them some routines, I chose things that had some unique visuals. Tricks that weren’t just a card or coin trick, but offered something more.
One of the tricks that I pitched to the producers of the show was the card trick that I do with a dinosaur costume! It’s a very unique trick visually, and it’s just a fun routine.
Look at the picture above, look at my face inside the costume. I’m having a blast! That’s something that I think is important, even though no one can really see me, I’m performing as if they can see me. More importantly, I’m having fun! That fun is project to the audience, even though they can’t see me!
Whatever you do, have fun. Fun is the secret sauce that makes or breaks most performers.
Sometimes things pop up on my Facebook Memories and I forget how long ago they happened. I just had this picture show up:
This was from the debut of a new trick. Essentially it’s a card sword, but instead of using a sword, it uses an inflatable dinosaur costume! This picture was taken 3 years ago, it doesn’t feel like I started doing it that long ago. I created this trick for a library tour and did it over a hundred times that summer. Then the trick made it into my school assembly show, and I’ve even done it on TV!
This particular trick is a great example of taking an existing trick and altering it soo much that it’s no longer recognizable. I could do this trick in the same show that someone does a tradition card sword in without a feeling of duplication.
That’s my end goal, to be able to be in any show with other magicians and not have to worry about duplication. Sure a vanish is a vanish, but they don’t have to be done the same way.