Flexing an Old Muscle

A couple of nights ago I performed at the Mostly Magicians Virtual Open Mic. It was a lot of fun and Ryan Kane is a great host for it. It’s an open mic, so a great place to work things out.

I was second to last in the show, and I brought two tricks, one that was pretty solid and one that I was working on. Unfortunately I only got to do one trick which wasn’t the one I was working on as I ran out of time.

It wasn’t a total loss as far as working on material goes. I did something I haven’t done in while…wrote some jokes about the other acts. When I MC in person shows I would write jokes about the acts and use them in the transition between acts. I didn’t plan on doing this, it’s something I just did.

One of the interesting things about doing jokes about things happening NOW instead of prepared material is that the audience is aware of that. Your joke doesn’t need to be the best joke, they will give you a lot of leeway. They can instantly relate to your joke, you don’t need to set up a backstory. I think any of the jokes I told, if you took out of context of the show would fall flat…even if you described the act before the joke.

The first half of my show was a stand up set about the show. It was fun, and good to flex that creative muscle.

Revising a Script…

Today is an extension of yesterday’s post. I’m working on a script for my Polaroids to Envelope trick. I’ve build upon the yesterday’s script and fleshed out the hook a little bit more. Here’s the script as of this morning:

This is some of the most important stuff in the world to my wife and I. These are Polaroids of our pets and our daughter.

We have Talia who is a dog. She’s a Lhasa Apso which is means food vaccum.  Talia’s favorite things are belly rubs, long walks and playing call of duty…and we don’t even own an xbox.

Then there’s Taco Tuesday who is a cat.  He’s loves cheese, milk and pineapple on pizza.  Which is how you know he’s a rescue.

And finally we have loucy who is a rat, she loves bossing around the dog and cat. We’ve got a reverse Tom and Jerry situation.

Here’s a common day at the home, when I’m home…I turn on the vacuum turn on and Talia disappears!

Of course you’ll always find her in Ella’s Room…Her extremely messy room.

Then when the UPS guy knocks on the door, Taco Tuesday will won’t be found.

You’ll find him hours later buried under the blankets on Ella’s bed.  A bed that I asked ella to make two years ago.

Later in the day when I go to feed loucy, she’s totally gone!

Of course she hasn’t been there for hours, she’s been hanging out on Ellas desk…distracting her from doing home work.  Ella calls it “proRATstinating”

And that’s a normal day at home!

I need to go back and make a lot of the punchlines stronger. I also need to start doing the trick while saying the lines. That will help me rewrite what doesn’t flow naturally from my mouth. Still more work to be done, but the trick is making progress!

Look at Your Show

It’s the last day of January and I’m reflecting back on what I’ve learned so far in 2020. One thing is that you need to listen to your audience. I have two bits in the show that have gotten unexpected reactions that were unfavorable. Instead of the usual laugh the got a sort of “woah” … Continue reading “Look at Your Show”

It’s the last day of January and I’m reflecting back on what I’ve learned so far in 2020. One thing is that you need to listen to your audience. I have two bits in the show that have gotten unexpected reactions that were unfavorable. Instead of the usual laugh the got a sort of “woah” and pull back from the audience. Both of these bits got this reaction at different shows in very different venues.


There are a lot of performers who will brush off these reactions and attribute them to “snowflakes” in the audience. I think this is the wrong way to go. Personally I needed to try to analyze why the audience reacted the way that they did to see if they were over reacting, or if my jokes were becoming dated. The last thing I want to do is use a joke that was OK to say, but over the years society has moved on and the joke is no longer appropriate.


After looking at both of the jokes in my show, I’m keeping one without altering it. The other one, while I think is OK, I’m going to play around with rewriting it. The problem is that the joke gets misunderstood and that audience projected something that’s not in the joke into the joke. I also feel that the negative reaction I got had more to do with the specific situation of the show than it did with the joke.

Dead Spots…

One thing that I try to do in my show is eliminate dead spots. Places where nothing really interesting is happening. This is something that’s important to me, it gives the show a tight feel. Personally I really dislike it when nothing is happening in a show. Last week I saw went out to see … Continue reading “Dead Spots…”

One thing that I try to do in my show is eliminate dead spots. Places where nothing really interesting is happening. This is something that’s important to me, it gives the show a tight feel. Personally I really dislike it when nothing is happening in a show.


Last week I saw went out to see a show that was a bunch of side show acts. One thing I noticed was that in many of the acts there was a lot of dead time. For example someone did a strait jacket escape and during the locking in procedure, not much happened.

strait jacket escape

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if it’s your artistic choice to have spaces where nothing is going on. You could do it to build tension, or whatever. Whenever I find these dead spots, I try to add a joke, music or bit to fill the space. I think it really helps to move the show along.

Another Day, Another New Bit!

Today is the start of the fourth day of coming up with a new bit each day for the show. This is an ambitious goal, coming up with 13 new bits over the next two weeks. The value of doing a ton of shows in a short amount of time is creating material. Yesterday’s bit … Continue reading “Another Day, Another New Bit!”

Today is the start of the fourth day of coming up with a new bit each day for the show. This is an ambitious goal, coming up with 13 new bits over the next two weeks. The value of doing a ton of shows in a short amount of time is creating material.


Yesterday’s bit was my break apart fishing pole. It worked great, it’s a small moment in the longer bit, but a good moment. Right now the two parts are just held together with magnets. I think I’m going to switch the magnets out for large snaps. Snaps will hold better and the person can’t just stick it back on.


Today’s new bit is something simple, but I think it will help out with a struggle I’m having with part of a trick. In the trick I have someone draw a picture of me. The speed bump I’m hitting is people are worried the drawing has to be good. I’m going to have drawing in my case that’s a bad stick drawing. When the person is worried about being able to draw, I’ll show them the “drawing from the last show“. I could tag it with, “and the person that drew it was only four…ty years old“.


Hopefully the that will get a laugh and speed up that moment of the show.

Today is my first day of the two week fair that I’m performing at. In the next two weeks I’ll be doing 58 shows! I’ll be doing four shows a day, plus a couple of volunteer things. That’s going to give me a lot of chances to work on new material. If I set a … Continue reading “”

Today is my first day of the two week fair that I’m performing at. In the next two weeks I’ll be doing 58 shows! I’ll be doing four shows a day, plus a couple of volunteer things. That’s going to give me a lot of chances to work on new material. If I set a goal of coming up with one new joke or bit a day for my show, that will give me 14 new bits, that’s a lot.


Hopefully this goal isn’t too ambitious. That’s a lot of writing that will have to happen in a day that’s already pretty full. I think I’m going to do my best to record (either audio or video) every show. Unfortunately the stage I’m on isn’t the best set up for video recording my shows. Video is the best way to learn and critique your show.


There’s a lot to be learned through audio recording. One thing you’ll really notice are dead spots. These can be harder to spot when you watch your show on video as there may be an action happening that makes the dead spot less obvious. So there is a lot of different information that can be learned from just audio.


Let’s see how today goes…

More Crackers…

At the fair yesterday, I tried the cracker magic trick in my preshow. It went well, and the audience liked it. That said, there are a couple things that I need to improve on. The big one is writing a script, and the other prop management. For prop management, this will come with doing it. … Continue reading “More Crackers…”

At the fair yesterday, I tried the cracker magic trick in my preshow. It went well, and the audience liked it. That said, there are a couple things that I need to improve on. The big one is writing a script, and the other prop management.


For prop management, this will come with doing it. I had to dig around too much looking for the cracker or bowl, that’s mostly because I don’t know what I’m doing. There’s not a clear “flow” to the routine as far as what goes where.


For a script, I basically said something like:

I couldn’t find a store that sold a deck of cards in this town. I ended up having to buy something to try to make it work. So we’ll do a cracker trick! Pick a cracker, remember it, put it back and mix them up. Is that your cracker!!

How about you write your name on it, so we can tell it apart.

It goes into this bowl, we’ll cover it up and shake it to mix them. When I count to three you’ll toss the crackers into the air and I’ll reach out and catch one, it’ll be your cracker. If I can’t do that you win what’s inside this cup.

One…Two…Three!

Was that your cracker (show crushed cracker)?

Wait, there’s the cup…inside the cup is a cracker…read the name…Oh, that’s not your name.

We’ll make it disappear. All I need is some magic dust…and that makes it change into your name!!!

It’s a pretty bare bones script, not much going on. I’ll try to “punch it up” a little bit later today.

Sometimes New Things Hurt…

It’s been a while since I’ve really bombed at a show. Last night I got to remember what that feels like. I was doing a show in a comedy room, and I was only doing a 10 mins, however it was ten mins of new material. They put me as the show closer, no big … Continue reading “Sometimes New Things Hurt…”

It’s been a while since I’ve really bombed at a show. Last night I got to remember what that feels like. I was doing a show in a comedy room, and I was only doing a 10 mins, however it was ten mins of new material. They put me as the show closer, no big deal with my normal stuff, but with new stuff, I was already uneasy.


It was a long show, and by the time I got up the audience was tired. I’m not making excuses for myself, that just made it harder for me to pull them up. I didn’t bomb, but I wasn’t happy with the show. They audience was with me, but they the material I was doing didn’t have any jokes or premises, it was simply the trick. There was nothing for them to really engage with besides the trick.


Effect wise everything went well, but there’s soo much more than that. It’s encouraging that the tricks work and are deceptive, but I need to sit down and write some jokes, figure out some premises and make these routines better.

Pump The Breaks…

At my only show I did yesterday I really slowed down. The entire show I probably went 30% slower. I let the magic moments sink in and the jokes marinade with the audience. I’m really happy with the results and I’m going to keep the slowness going for all three shows I’m doing today. I … Continue reading “Pump The Breaks…”

At my only show I did yesterday I really slowed down. The entire show I probably went 30% slower. I let the magic moments sink in and the jokes marinade with the audience. I’m really happy with the results and I’m going to keep the slowness going for all three shows I’m doing today.


I understand why I go fast. It’s a fear of failure. It’s the fear of audiences not liking the tricks, or jokes not landing with the audience. How I deal with it is that I plow on to the next line. I recently watched a short little animated documentary on Doc Ellis. If you don’t know who he is, he’s the Major League Baseball pitcher that pitched a no hitter on LSD!


What doc was doing with drugs and alcohol was dealing with his fear of failure as a major league pitcher. I’m doing the same thing with speed. Moving from bit to bit and not giving them time to fail, but in the process they aren’t getting time to succeed!



Don’t Recycle…

A long time ago I had a friend give me some great advice. Do not recycle patter, jokes or bits used in a routine for use in a similar routine. An example is if I had two tricks that were too similar to be used in the same show, but are different tricks. An example … Continue reading “Don’t Recycle…”

A long time ago I had a friend give me some great advice. Do not recycle patter, jokes or bits used in a routine for use in a similar routine. An example is if I had two tricks that were too similar to be used in the same show, but are different tricks. An example would be a Benson Bowl and cups and balls, they are different tricks, but essentially the same trick.


It’s very easy to take a lot of your chop cup patter and use it in the cups and balls, or vice versa. Things like, a joke about the ball, or doing the bit where the cup is deeper on the inside than it is on the outside. Using these bits is a way to quickly build up the other routine.


The problem comes in where there are contracts where the booker wants two different shows. You cannot repeat a trick, or joke between the two shows. Now your A show and B show where you share jokes is useless. It would be better in the long run to create unique content for similar tricks.