Single Use Props…

Many times after shows magicians will comment on how much is must cost me to perform my show. I have several spots where I use props that I can’t reuse each show. Honestly, I don’t have too many props that are single use. Here are my consumable props for my day at the fair:

Each show I use a paper coil, kabuki streamer, bar of hotel soap and a banana. In addition to the picture I also give away some of my wristbands which I sell after the show. Every show costs me about five dollars to do. To me this isn’t a big deal and since I’m getting paid, it’s just the cost of doing business.

If spending $5 or $100 to do your show is what your vision as an artist is, then it’s money well spent!

Move the Monitors!

Normally when I perform on a stage, I have the monitors moved, so the front of the stage is clear. That gives me more real estate to perform on at the front of the stage and it also removes a physical barrier between the audience and me. Last week while performing at a fair I was watching the bands that I shared the stage with and realized how much better the stage looks without the monitors.

Here’s a band with the monitors on stage:

band on stage with monitors

I think audiences are used to seeing monitors onstage. However once you remove them, it looks soo much cleaner!

The two bands without monitors were using “in ears” monitors. I don’t think they are right for most magic acts but using them to eliminate the monitors for a band looks great. It also gives the performer a more powerful position onstage with no physical barriers between them and the audience.

If your stage has monitors, you can ask to have them moved…if you don’t need them.


Making it Rain!

Performing as many shows as I do around the country at all sorts of different venues you encounter a lot of things. I just had a new one, it was a gorgeous sunny morning, but it was raining onstage!

stage magic show in the rain
stage canopy

What had happened was it was really dewey this morning and moisture had collected on the underside of the stage’s canopy. The top edge of the canopy wasn’t pulled very tight, so it had little valleys the water could pool on and form droplets that fell down on me during during my show.

It was the strangest thing because the audience really couldn’t see this, so it was something that I had to deal with. I did mention it to the audience, so that they were aware of it. That was it didn’t look strange when I pulled out wet props!

magic show case

I did have to move things around to keep more water sensitive things dry. For example my notebooks (svenpads) I put another prop over to keep them dry.

This is a case of be ready for anything that can happen when performing. You never know what you’ll be walking into!


The Road to FISM

Yesterday was travel day to get to Quebec City for FISM. It’s been quite a journey, I bought tickets when they first when on sale, so I’ve had me ticket for around 4 years! This is a bucket list item for me, and I’m glad I get to attend!

There have been a lot of challenges just to physically get there. I was performing outside of Reno and booked a flight from Reno to Quebec City. That flight got cancelled and the airline moved my departure airport to Sacramento, about 3 hours drive. Then my flight got cancelled again and the only way to get to Quebec City was to drive almost 6 hours at night to San Francisco to get on a 6am flight yesterday!

I finished my shows Sunday and drove into the night and slept a few hours in my car at the airport. I got to the airport and I have a lounge pass, and when I went into the lounge for a cup of coffee, I noticed they had SHOWERS!

I was probably really stinky from doing three shows in the sun, then driving all night and sleeping in my my car. The shower refreshed me!

This is one of the little things that having a luxury like an airline’s lounge pass gets you. I was able to take a shower at the airport and now my travel day was way less depressing! If you travel by airplane frequently, I highly recommend getting a lounge pass. Do some research and figure out which one is best for you. I use the Alaska Plus lounge pass, as my home airport has three Alaska airlines lounges and I can usually use American Airlines lounges as well. they’re not cheap, but I get my value out of them with the amount I fly.

I missed the first day of FISM as it was my travel day, but I’m excited for today!

What’s in a Name…

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”.


Tape Measure Prediction…

One of the tricks that I’m trying to move out of my preshow and into the main body of my show is my version of Iain Bailey’s Measure For Measure trick. This is a tape measure prediction, you pull out the tape and someone says “stop” and there’s a giant arrow drawn on the back where they stopped. I totally reworked Iain’s gimmick so that it works way better for how I perform and the conditions that I perform in. You can read a little bit about it on this blog post.

The challenge I’ve had with it was getting the effect to really hit. It was getting an “meh” sort of reaction. What fixed it was that I added a phase to the beginning of the trick. This first phase I used a separate tape measure and the person from the audience says “stop”, but misses the prediction and it’s wrong. I tell them they will get it wrong the first time, but will get it right the second time. I think this really sets up what’s going to happen the second time and makes their brain processing the effect much faster.

I’ve managed to get a couple more laughs out of the routine as I’ve been working on it this summer. It’s slowly becoming a more fleshed out routine. I just need to do the work, which is writing, testing and editing.


Arrow Production…

I was hanging out with Chris Beason the other day and we were chatting about some tricks with a dollar bill.

One idea I had was that you mention that there are 13 arrows that the eagle is holding on the back of a dollar bill. You then do a double take and notice your bill has 14 arrows and is a misprint. You then pull a full size arrow out of the dollar bill!

It would be pretty easy to do, you’d need a gimmick like an appearing straw, but only about 24 inches long and glue an arrowhead to one end. Or cut the end to a point and paint it silver. It could be kept in a thumb tip, and possibly put a slit in the side of the tip to allow the arrow to be removed from it. The thumb tip is really only there to keep the arrow compress and easier to handle when rolled up.

While not the worlds greatest mystery, it would be a decent sight gag.


Always Mic Up!

Sometimes I don’t take my own advice and I regret it. I tell people always use a mic when doing a show for a group. Yesterday I did a summer day camp show for a smallish group and it was indoors. I intentionally didn’t pack my sound system as I didn’t think it was necessary. When I got there, they were a group that was all masked, so I did the show masked.

When you’re masked you lose a lot of the power of your voice when speaking to a group. Also you spend a lot of energy pushing your voice through the mask to project it out to the audience.

Today I have another summer day camp and I’m packing my sound system in case they are also a facility that still requires masking. I should have packed the sound system yesterday anyway and left it in the car if not needed. I was being lazy and it ended up being a bad idea.


R Rated Magic Shows…

R rated magic show

Last night I did a corporate gig, it was for managers of a chain restaurant. This group was younger and fairly rowdy. This isn’t a bad thing, I’ll take a rowdy audience over one that acts like they don’t want to be there any day. They kept trying to get me to go “dirty” in the show. In the past I’ve done a lot of comedy rooms and I have the ability to do that, however I don’t think it would have been appropriate for me to go there. This was still a corporate gig.

What I did was play along with them and I didn’t try to shut it down, I just wouldn’t go dirty. I did use a lot more innuendo than I normally would at a show, so it let them know I was playing, but had a line. It kept me present in the show and I really had to live in the moment, which is a good thing!

Most performers when they have an audience that wants to go dirty, they go along with them. Honestly, I think in 99% of these shows it’s a mistake. You can play, but you don’t have to get graphic or swear. You have to remember that while the loudest people in the audience are trying to guide you, not necessarily everyone wants to go that way. The two people who don’t want you to go dirty could be the owners of the company. That’s why I try to play it safe.


Fork Force Routine…

A couple of days ago I wrote a blog post about a way to force a fork. I’ve gotten a chance to try it out as a triple prediction (most of the time).

I start with the spoon, knife and fork laid out in position for the force. On the back of the fork I secretly drew an X with a sharpie and I have a folded up piece of paper in my hand (but don’t call attention to it) and a second piece of paper hidden.

They touch one and if they touch the fork, the trick is over, have them flip the fork and you reveal the X. If they touch the knife or spoon, you do the procedure to force the fork. For the reveal you open the paper in your hand to show it predicts the first and second objects they picked as well as the third item they didn’t pick.

For the papers you need two, and simply switch the visible paper for the hidden one if necessary to have the correct reveal.

The first challenge I had when doing the force was getting people to move properly. There was too much going on, and people would get going really fast and do a double jump. What I started doing was having me call out the letters slowly and not doing the next letter until the jump was complete. It’s a simple solution to an unforeseen problem.