Do Something Different

I just got back from a conference in Montana that was full of people that book acts.  There were a ton of magician’s there, all trying to get booked.   So how did I make myself stand out?   Simple, I do fairly unique tricks…well, to put it better I do tricks that have unique … Continue reading “Do Something Different”

I just got back from a conference in Montana that was full of people that book acts.  There were a ton of magician’s there, all trying to get booked.

 

So how did I make myself stand out?

 

Simple, I do fairly unique tricks…well, to put it better I do tricks that have unique visuals.  This gives the feeling of a unique trick.   For example my “Tossed Out Deck” uses an original method which allows me to know who picked what card, however at it’s core it’s still a tossed out deck.  Then I use an original way to reveal the cards, and like magic, I have a trick that no one else is doing.

 

You don’t need to completely create a trick.  In my “Tossed Out Deck” I started with the standard frame work and then started changing things.  This is also an easy way to create new tricks.  Take a standard trick, change the method, then change the presentation.  The nice thing about this is I can now do my version of this trick in a show where someone does the classic version and it won’t feel like a duplicated trick.

 

Louie

Bad Advice…

On the internet I see magicians giving other magicians some of the worst advice ever.  It’s also interesting when you look at the websites/promo of the people giving the advice, they really aren’t performers you should be taking advice from.   One of my favorite pieces of bad advice to beginners is “learn 7 tricks”.  The … Continue reading “Bad Advice…”

On the internet I see magicians giving other magicians some of the worst advice ever.  It’s also interesting when you look at the websites/promo of the people giving the advice, they really aren’t performers you should be taking advice from.

 

One of my favorite pieces of bad advice to beginners is “learn 7 tricks”.  The idea behind the advice is good, and that’s to spend time to understand the tricks that you do.  However the messenger in the form of only learning 7 tricks is very misleading.  How do you pick the 7 tricks, if that’s all you can learn?  If we all picked 7 tricks when we got started we’d all be doing pretty much the same shows and there would be no innovation.

 

The saying about learning 7 tricks came out of vaudeville, the story goes:  A kid meets the magician after the show and tells him he knows 150 different tricks.  The magician tells the kid he knows 7 tricks, but knows them inside and out.

 

The main problem with the story to be advice for a modern magician is that it came out of vaudeville.  Most of the magicians were doing an act, not a show.  Their were doing 5-15 minutes, not a modernn 45-60 minutes.  In 15 minutes you could do less than 7 tricks and you didn’t have things like TV or the internet burning your material.   Look at any modern show and just within that show count the number of tricks…it’s going to be more than seven.

 

The other thing is that if you only learn 7 tricks and that’s all you spend your time on, then you aren’t a student of magic.  Personally I learn all I can about magic, I love it and if I could only spend my time on 7 tricks I’d quit and do something else.

 

The moral of this post is 99% of advice you are given by other magicians sucks.

 

Recommended reading:  Allow Me To Give You Some Really Awful Advice by Jim Steinmeyer

 

 

I Saved the Show!

Last night I did a corporate gig that I wrote a post about packing for a couple of days ago (Click here to read the post).  The gist of the post was that I had a feeling the venue for the gig that I was flying to wouldn’t have a PA, so I packed my … Continue reading “I Saved the Show!”

Last night I did a corporate gig that I wrote a post about packing for a couple of days ago (Click here to read the post).  The gist of the post was that I had a feeling the venue for the gig that I was flying to wouldn’t have a PA, so I packed my street show PA just in case.

 

Much to my surprise the venue had a PA and a sound board!   Then I plugged my audio into it and learned that the sound board didn’t work.  The venue’s PA only had one XLR input and I need 3 channels.  So I used my street show PA as a mixer and monitor:

Roland Street Cube EX

Please take note that the jumble of wires on the floor is mostly the venue’s cords, not mine.  I simply ran the audio out from my Roland Street Cube EX into the XLR input in the venue’s sound system and I was good to go!

 

One thing I’ve learned as a full time performer is your ability to be problem solver will make your very valuable to your clients.  The booker of the event was in the room when  I was trying to figure out why the sound board wasn’t working, and when had the audio up and running.  She complimented me on my ability to find a solution.

 

So the moral of the story is be a problem solver!

 

Louie

Flying With Your Magic Show

When I travel I like to meet with magicians in the city I’m performing in.  I love jamming magic tricks and hanging out with other magicians.  When I meet up with magicians I frequently get asked about flying with you show.   There are a few schools of thought with this:   Create a show … Continue reading “Flying With Your Magic Show”

When I travel I like to meet with magicians in the city I’m performing in.  I love jamming magic tricks and hanging out with other magicians.  When I meet up with magicians I frequently get asked about flying with you show.

 

There are a few schools of thought with this:

 

  • Create a show that fits in your carry on luggage:  I have mixed feelings on this.  If you are designing a show simply because they take up a small space, are you fulfilling your artistic vision?  I’ve seen very few of these “carry on” shows that I felt really played big.

 

  • Check the luggage with your show props: This is what I do.  I carry on essential props, and things that are valuable (like microphones).  This allows me to have a show that fills the stage and my vision for the show much better.

    If you are checking your show, a great resource is the TSA’s “Ask TSA” facebook page.

    magic show

 

  • Ship the show ahead:  This is probably the best option.  However it does require you to have two show set ups. One that can be in transit and another you are using while the first is en route to it’s destination. The bonus of this is if this shipment gets delayed, you can always take the show that wasn’t shipped.

All of the options have their pluses and minuses, and there isn’t a choice that’s 100% the best for every situation.

 

I know I’m taking a little bit of risk by checking the “meat” of my show, however that’s a risk I’m willing to take.  I’m also able to locally source a show.  For example I have a 25 min stand up set I can do with a deck of cards.  It’s not what I want my show to be, but if my luggage gets lost, I can do it.   Add a piece of rope, scissors, markers and a pad of paper  and I’ve got a 35-40 min show that I can do with locally sourced props.

What it all really comes down to is the level of risk you are willing to take.  There’s no right or wrong answer.

Louie

Custom Built Props…

We live in a very exciting time to be a magician. Right now it’s super easy to get custom made props cheaply.   This means your show doesn’t have to look exactly like someone else’s.  For example the Evaporation trick…don’t want it in orange Sunny D?  Easy, I can make it in almost any other bottle … Continue reading “Custom Built Props…”

We live in a very exciting time to be a magician. Right now it’s super easy to get custom made props cheaply.   This means your show doesn’t have to look exactly like someone else’s.  For example the Evaporation trick…don’t want it in orange Sunny D?  Easy, I can make it in almost any other bottle for not much more than the stock version.

 

Click here for details on custom Evaporation bottles

 

This goes with pretty much any prop, you can print out decals on your home inkjet printer and add them to props.  Then you could customize off the shelf props that use generic product names to have “brand names”.

 

Here’s an example from my show. I do a soap bubble act and all of the props were made from “found materials”, thing that I repurposed to use as props.  The props don’t remotely match is color or general look.  I spend about 45 minutes one day designing them to print on my 3d printer.

 

bubble magic

 

I printed them out and got a set of props that not only looks better than what I was using before, but works better than what I was using before.  If you don’t have a 3d printer, there are plenty of services that will print out your projects for you, there are even libraries that have 3d printers you can use!

 

Basically in 2018, there’s no real reason to have props that are cobbled together (unless that’s the look you are going for).

 

Louie

National Magic Day…

Today is Halloween and also National Magic Day, it’s also my least favorite day to do magic shows.   The main reason for this is costumes.  If you read my post from yesterday (click here to read it) then you know I don’t wear a “costume” upon request.  If my show worked better with me dressed … Continue reading “National Magic Day…”

Today is Halloween and also National Magic Day, it’s also my least favorite day to do magic shows.   The main reason for this is costumes.  If you read my post from yesterday (click here to read it) then you know I don’t wear a “costume” upon request.  If my show worked better with me dressed as Dracula, I’d do it year round.

 

However, I’m not talking about my costume, but costumes people wear.  People act strange when you put them in costumes.

 

First of all if you are performing for people wearing masks, it makes it very hard for them to see…or talk.  you can’t hear them laugh, they have tunnel vision and can’t hear people around them laugh. So they are in their own little world. It makes it very hard to unite the crowd if they are all in their own little world.

 

Next, people tend to try to act out their character.   This makes doing a show rough, because it’s hard to connect with someone pretending to be Catwoman.  That also creates a situation that’s hard for the audience to relate to.

 

All of that said, I have one gig today, it’s an afternoon gig.  For me this is key, kids are still in “daytime mode” and the adults shouldn’t be drunk.  This is my preferred type of show today.

Louie

Special Requests at a Gig…

When you’ve been performing long enough, you will get requests for things outside of your normal show. These can be simple things like “can you use the CEO in a trick” to more complex things like can you write a whole show on a specific  theme/topic.   I’m not going to really talk about the … Continue reading “Special Requests at a Gig…”

When you’ve been performing long enough, you will get requests for things outside of your normal show. These can be simple things like “can you use the CEO in a trick” to more complex things like can you write a whole show on a specific  theme/topic.

 

I’m not going to really talk about the writing a whole show, as that’s really a specialized thing and either you do it or you don’t.  I don’t.

 

I’m going to talk about smaller requests.  Recently I had an request at a corporate gig where they asked me to make a small gift appear and give it to someone.  I could do that, however I talked them out of it.

 

Why?

 

 

Simple, the gift will have more meaning from someone the recipient knows than from me.  I could make the gift appear while doing a trick with the event organizer, then present it to the recipient, which would have a lot more meaning.  However that ends up being the end of the show, I don’t want to follow that.

 

I want the show to end strong, not on something I really have no control over.  If the person who is helping me with the trick where the gift appears is a clunker on stage, then it drags my ending down.

 

The way I see it, for a corporate gig I’m hired to do the show I’ve done a thousand times (and my pricing reflects that), not to do a something I’ve never done before.  I just don’t get enough of these requests to make it worthwhile to having as a part of my show.

 

Probably the number one request I get has to do with costuming.   The organizer will call and say, “our event is yellow themed, can you wear all yellow?”  My response is to explain to them that, “I wear certain things because it makes things more visible, so if I use a yellow handkerchief in the show, you won’t be able to see it if I wear yellow.”  However I ‘ll gladly wear it, if they provide the clothes (the must meet certain requirements like pocket space, etc), the tailoring, and I must have them a month before the gig so that I can practice in them.  Also there additional practice time is billable, and if something doesn’t work with the provided clothes (like yellow on yellow) then we can either drop it from the show (shortening the show) or they can pay for a new prop in a different color.

I’ve never had anyone agree to the paragraph above, however if they did, I would gladly make it work. I think that people who aren’t performers don’t realize how much effort goes into something as simple as wearing a different pair of pants.  If a pocket is too narrow, or the cut wrong, I can’t sneak something into or out of my pocket smoothly.  Then I may stumble on it, drop it and people think I’m not a good magician, when the reality is that it’s not me, it’s the costume.

 

So the moral of this post is:  Do your show the best you can!

Louie

 

Magician’s Love a Deal…

A week or two ago magicians started noticing that the Walgreens Drug Stores in the USA stared selling Jumbo Bicycle Decks of cards.  They also started buying a ton of them when they were on sale as a “buy one get one free” deal.   Then came the realization that the cards were the new … Continue reading “Magician’s Love a Deal…”

A week or two ago magicians started noticing that the Walgreens Drug Stores in the USA stared selling Jumbo Bicycle Decks of cards.  They also started buying a ton of them when they were on sale as a “buy one get one free” deal.

 

Then came the realization that the cards were the new thinner stock jumbo cards.  By “new” I mean the stock they changed to a decade ago.  This thinner stock is harder to use than the old stock which was at least twice as thick as the new stock.  The same magicians that were hoarding the cards were complaining about how they were useless.

 

These cards have tons of ways to use them.

 

  • Practice with them and you’ll be able to handle them like the old stock. I’ve been using the new stock for years.
  • Make a “double deck” where you essentially have two decks in one.
  • Make a pop eyed popper deck
  • Think outside the box.  The advantage of the thinner stock is you can make some interesting gimmicks without having to “split” the cards.  Here’s one of the things that I made:

 

This is a flap card and my design was based on FLAP by Hondo.  In the future I want to make a card that has two changes, so shows a total of three cards if you include the card it starts one.  My plan would be to use this for a reveal of the cards for the classic “Tossed Out Deck” trick.

Oh, I’m starting a newsletter with some tricks, tips, etc. You can sign up for it below:

 

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Make the Best of the Situation…

Last night I performed a show at an outdoor Halloween event.  It was a beautiful day out until I started to drive to the show, when it started dumping rain.  Luckily they managed to get a large tent over the stage by the time I got there.  Unluckily the stage was put where water pooled, … Continue reading “Make the Best of the Situation…”

Last night I performed a show at an outdoor Halloween event.  It was a beautiful day out until I started to drive to the show, when it started dumping rain.  Luckily they managed to get a large tent over the stage by the time I got there.  Unluckily the stage was put where water pooled, so the ground had about an inch of standing water.  Oh and as a bonus the tent was leaky, and somehow the leak always managed to follow where I put my case, so all of my gear got wet…and the show hadn’t even started!

 

I know many acts that when their gear got wet would have called it a day and pack up. Here’s my thinking, it’s already wet, so let’s do the show.  We managed to fill up the tent, I don’t know if people wanted to see my show or they just wanted to be a bit dryer?

 

magic show

 

When doing gigs like this, one of the first things you need to do is address the “elephant in the room” which was we’re all soaked and standing in a pond.  So I made a joke about people sitting in front…Oh, I forgot to mention that there were no chairs, so the audience was standing (not ideal for a show).

 

By addressing these things I won the audience over and we had a blast.  However I think if I went up and did my show normally, it wouldn’t have played as well.  When something happens and you just ignore it, the audience senses you aren’t confident with what’s going on.  When you call it out, it makes you more relatable and gets them on your side quicker.

 

Louie

The Curse of the Opening Act…

Recently I did a gig where I MC’d a bar comedy show.  Normally I’m the feature or headline act.  It was fun, however as the first act, it’s really had to “crush it”.  There are a few reasons for this.   First, as host, it’s not your show.  It’s your show, but it’s not your … Continue reading “The Curse of the Opening Act…”

Recently I did a gig where I MC’d a bar comedy show.  Normally I’m the feature or headline act.  It was fun, however as the first act, it’s really had to “crush it”.  There are a few reasons for this.

 

First, as host, it’s not your show.  It’s your show, but it’s not your show.  Second, the audience is COLD and you need to really get them to switch from hang out mode to show mode.  This is made harder by the fact that the room doesn’t change into show mode (i.e. lights don’t dim, etc).  The final thing is that everyone is still eating, so it’s harder to get them to laugh with food in their mouths.

 

Add the normal first act in a bar show challenges to the place having a PA set up horribly and the stage in the darkest spot of the room.  All of this made it a challenging room.

 

I opened with a verbal bit that’s goal it to unite the room, it did it OK, then moved on. This is one of those gigs where as the first act you really have to just keep moving forward until they finish their dinner.  That’s what I did.  And about minute 11 of 15 I finally got them warmed up and they were a great audience for the next two acts.

I guess the lesson here is don’t bail on your audience, always give it 100%.  Eventually they’ll come around…

 

Louie