Leaping to a National Act

Many years ago, when I made the leap from a local/regional performer to a more national performer it took some deliberate steps. One of the main things that I did was try to do more big things that were noteworthy on a national scale I did things that were of interest to bookers who booked out of town acts.

One of the first things that I did was look at acts that were doing what I wanted to do and see what was on most or all of their resumes. These are things like America’s Got Talent, and Guinness World Records. Both of those were things that I went out and did and put on my resume simply because I saw that those were things that national acts had.

Do you need them?


However it when you’re getting into a new or bigger pool, it helps to have the same equipment that everyone else has. Not just credits, but same level of promo.

The other thing I did (and still do) is that I do something of national level of interested each month. This can vary from writing an article in an international magazine, to publishing my 150th trick, or whatever. The only thing it needs to do is boost my status above Larry the Great or whatever local act they may book. I feel it’s important to justify why they’re bringing you in from out of town instead of hiring locally for a fraction of the price.

So to work more nationally, what are you doing to boost your status…but more importantly, who are you telling this to?


Do You Have an Online Calendar?

I was just updating my online calendar and it reminded me of one of the things I really don’t like on performer’s websites and it’s most of their online calendars. I’d say about half of the entertainer’s websites that I visit have calendars that are out of date…and very out of date, by years!

First of all, I don’t think you need a calendar, especially if you do mostly private shows. For someone like me where more than half of my shows are open to the public, I keep an online calendar. I will sometimes take it down if there’s not much on it, like at the end of the busy season, and before booking season for those busy season shows. If there’s not much to post, I will take that page offline.

If you do have an online calendar and the most recent show is from 2017, it makes me as a booker wonder how much you’re working or if you’re still actively performing. Personally I delete dates after about a month of when they happen. I go through once a month and delete the previous month and add new dates. Try updating it monthly, if you can’t keep it updated, you should consider deleting it. No one really needs to know where you were on a specific date five years ago.


Road Hack – Extra Room Security

Sometimes when travelling you end up in sketchy hotels. Sometimes this is by choice when you just need a cheap/close place to crash and sometimes there’s only one place in town. Recently I had a sketchy hotel in a sketchy part of town. Normally I travel with a little door lock that I can add to the door for extra security, but took it out of my bag and forgot to put it back in. This is the temporary solution:

It’s not much, but better than nothing! Stay safe out there!


Poof Too!

A few weeks ago I performed in a show called Poof Too! in Hermosa Beach, CA. This is show with stage magicians and one close up magician. I was the MC in the show and had a performance spot in the show.

David Zirbel, Simone Turkington, Mark Furey, Shawn McMaster and Alexander Great & Pamela

It was great performing with David Zirbel, Simone Turkington, Mark Furey, Shawn McMaster and Alexander Great & Pamela! Everyone was super professional and great to deal with as an MC and fun to hang out with! When I was approached to be in this show by Dennis Forel, the first thing I asked was “is it a fun show”, not how much does it pay. Personally a fun show is more important to me than money (don’t get me wrong, I still gotta pay the bills).

I’d been doing comedy gigs before this one and in a comedy club I have a lot of gear. However a show where the illusionist is packing up crates of huge illusions, and I just wheel my case out, I feel like I have nothing!

Packing up a magic show

I love performing with other magic acts. One thing I did years ago (close to two decades ago) was to start to work on a show that I can do when I’m sharing the stage with other magicians and not have to really worry about duplication. Sure there will always be things that no matter how different they will seem the same to an audience. A rope trick will usually feel like almost any other rope trick no matter how different it is. For me, just trying to have unique or less common tricks in the show makes my show much more versatile.


Magic show set up!

My show last week had a pretty simple set up, but I’m still packing a lot more stuff than I need.

I’m trying to have less “emergency” material. Sure having a trick or two in the case is a good idea, but having an extra 20-30 minutes of material is overkill for a show where I’m not really expected to do that much extra time as there are other acts on the bill and I wouldn’t be asked to fill their time if something happened to them. I may be asked to do a show in someone else’s time slot, but that doesn’t require me to have new or different material than my show would normally have.

The lighter I can travel, or the less cluttered my stage set up is, the better!


Getting Free Advice!

One of the great things about performing at fairs is working with other performers. Last week I got to work with three other magicians at the event!

Magicians at the Yuma County Fair

Between Glen, Rafael and Terry they gave me some great ideas for my show! When you work with other magicians, don’t look at them as competition, they’re a great resource. For example with the thumb tie routine I’m working on, Glen gave me an idea to change the moment when I link arms with the spectator. The first time I did it as he suggested, it got a GASP from the audience!

I’m always willing to listen to what other magicians say! I don’t always agree with what they say, but willing to listen.


Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women

I’m trying to be better about reading books and doing less scrolling though things on my phone. On my recent trip to Japan, I read Ricky Jay‘s book Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women.

It’s a great historical read about some colorful acts and personalities! If you’re into the history of variety acts, it’s worth a read. You can get copies of this book pretty cheap online.


Getting Paid to Work on my Show!

Last week I was working with a buddy and one of my creative partners at a fair in Arizona. It’s always great when I do a gig with him because we work on our shows while at the gig!

He hadn’t see me do my linking pin / thumb tie routine before and with his help the routine made a huge leap forward!

If you don’t have a brainstorm group or someone to bounce ideas off, you’re missing out of growing your show quickly. I highly recommend hanging out with other performers that you like or trust and getting their input on your show!


Preshow’ing your show

One of the great things about performing at fairs is getting to see all of the other acts at the fairgrounds! You can learn a lot from watching other acts!

One of the huge lessons is watching everyone’s preshow audience build/warm up. The different act have different goals with their starting audience. Some want as many people as possible and some want to select their audience and try to get the people who aren’t into what they do to leave. Neither approach is right or wrong, but which ever way you do it, it should be intentional!

Tomorrow my week starts with performing at the Moisture Festival in Seattle. This is a variety arts festival and the shows are in a theater, so I don’t get to try to select my audience. I get to perform for whoever bought a ticket. This festival is a blast, so it’ll be fun!


Uncle Otis

Last week I got to perform with Cousin Otis!

cousin otis

We’ve met and chatted in person before but never really hung out or worked together until now! His street show is great and it’s always a pleasant surprise when someone lives up to what you’ve hear about them! There are soo many acts I’ve heard about and the show is just OK. But Cousin Otis has a great show that the audiences loved!

You can learn a lot by watching his show. He does a good job of “billboarding” the big trick that’s the finale of the street show. AND all of the other tricks are good.

If you get the chance to check him out, do it!