Building For Others…

One of the things I love it helping other performers make their visions of tricks become a reality. A couple of months ago my friend Todd Gardner called me with an idea. Todd is a strongman and there’s a stunt they do called levering (you’ll see it in the video below). He wanted a prop to punctuate the stunt and to add a laugh.

I think it worked out pretty well.

As far as a build, I sketched it out when we were on the phone. It’s not a really complex prop, it was just attached a bell to a headband. I 3D printed the connector and had it print around the headband.

one of the great things about building props for other people is that it helps me grow as a builder and creator!

-Louie

Try It Yourself…Then Ask For Help…

Last night I was at a sports bar watching hockey and in between periods I popped into the social media and in a group for children’s performers I saw this post:

magic show kid jokes

For fun I wrote 10 of them…I wasn’t doing anything, it was between periods of the hockey game. It wasn’t hard, you just needed to find things that have an “ah”sound or sound similar to that and you’re off!

You’ll notice that I put a little note at the end of my list. The reason I did was that I think one of the problems with magicians is that they try to get people to give them the answer to a problem before they try to solve it first. In my list I put in the work…so should you. It’s not hard, I literally spent 10 minutes coming up with my list.

“sure, it’s easy for you because you’re creative” would be someone’s excuse for not trying. I’m no more creative than anyone else. I just sat down and did the work. I actually farmed out most of the work to an online rhyming dictionary.

Do the work, then show your work when you ask for help. Seeing that people have put in some sort of effort makes a huge difference in the quality of help you get.

-Louie

The Artist’s Way – Week Two…

I’m still going through the book The Artist’s Way, which is a book about being more creative. It’s a 12 week program that has a lot of writing you need to do. I’m just starting week two, and I’ll say, I’m getting more than I expected to get out of it.

For me, the big thing is the morning writing you do each day. It’s just putting a pen to paper and writing for three pages. It’s a free writing scenario, you write whatever’s on your mind. I’ve had a couple of great ideas come out of the writing. It’s also giving me more depth as a person on and off stage as it’s making me explore some internal things that I might not really have looked at.

One of the ideas that came out of the daily writing is a trick with a jar of candy. The jar is full, then I produce candy and when you look back at the jar, it’s now half full. You then put the candy you just made appear back into the jar and it’s full again. The method is solid, and practical. I wouldn’t really have this trick it if it wasn’t for the daily morning writing. I still need to make the trick…but it wouldn’t exist on paper at least without the morning writing!

Anything that gets you to write is good.

Challenges Extracting Silver…

I’ve been working on this Silver Extraction coin trick style routine at the fair this week. I’ve learned a lot. First of all, I think the more complex method I’ve come up with to switch the coins, has some advantages over simply doing a shuttle pass. A shuttle pass is a solid method for doing the trick, however the advantage of my complex method is that I can hold the coin more openly after the switch.

One of the problems I’ve encountered working on this is getting the shell to stick to the magnet on the lighter. The solution was simple, I added a second magnet to the lighter and some more shim steel to the shell coin.

Having more magnets and more steel to grab solved the problem. The lighter really firmly attaches to the coin.

Another thing that I’ve learned about the trick is that I need to call attention to the three layer of the coin. Most people have noticed the layers, but never really thought about them. The trick has been getting great responses from the people at the fair this week. I really like how strange the trick is.

Tighten It Up!

This week I’m performing as an act in the World of Wonders Sideshow. One of the challenges for me is keeping my acts short. They have the 10 act format and each act is in the ballpark of about 3 minutes. Normally when I perform, I try to get as much time as possible out of a routine That’s the key to being a solo act that does a full show.

I’m working on cutting down a lot of the personality bits, it’s hard to figure out what jokes/bits to cut to keep the routine in the 10 act format.

I’m fighting the urge to simply do the bits as I normally do them and have them run 5 minutes. There was a time when I was younger where I wouldn’t have cut down the bits. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized you have to be a team player, but more than that, this is taking me out of my comfort zone. Maybe I could learn that a 5 minute bit in my show, is really an amazing 3 minute bit and I’ve diluted it by stretching it to 5 or 6 minutes.

I’m enjoying stepping out of my normal box and taking some risks!

Tarbell System…

My day got exciting, through a unexpected exchange the other day, I ended up with and original Tarbell System (Tarbell Course in Magic)!

This is a first edition (5th printing) of the Tarbell System. The key about how I ended up with this is simply talking to people and being open to the wacky things that they ask!

I’m a HUGE fan of the Tarbell Course, I even had some shirts made a long time ago:

Stinger Music

Today I was messing around with adding stinger music to trick that didn’t get the final reaction I wanted. Stinger music is a short, usually upbeat musical tag that’s used to punctuate the end of a trick. I was really surprised at the effect it had on the trick. It took the trick from a mild response (much less than I thought it deserved) to a good response.

The two places I put it, one in a magic trick and one in a mentalism trick worked out great. The mentalism trick was where I think it really needs it, the effect is there, but it lingers in the audience’s heads. I need something to snap it out of their heads, and this may be the way.

Now for me the trick is to make it make sense. I don’t want to just blast music at the end of the trick. I think there needs to be music leading up to the stinger. This isn’t much of a problem, I just need to find music with lyrics that I can talk over.

I’m hoping to add a little bit more theatrical / production elements to the show. I’m trying to “level up” my show a little bit.

Even More Key of Fate…

A few weeks ago I wrote about working on Luca Vulpe’s Key of Fate, you can read about it in these posts:

http://www.magicshow.tips/magic-show-tips/reimagining-the-key-of-fate/

http://www.magicshow.tips/magic-show-tips/more-key-of-fate/

The big change to the initial changes I made is that originally I was using four keys with three spectators, with the idea that I none of them would win, and then I’m surprised when one of them wins. I’m now doing it with three keys and three spectators, so that one of them is going to win, and two lose. I think knowing that one is guaranteed to be a winner, and it’s a game takes some of the sting out of the two that don’t win.

The other change is the prize. I’m forcing the prize as a bar of soap. This prize is something funny, easy to travel with or acquire in any city and for some reason the kids who have won it seem to be excited about it!

I just ordered a box of hotel soap:

It’s pretty cheap, coming in at less than 50 cents per bar. I bought a box of fifty, so I’m kinda committed to doing this routine fifty times, unless it really starts falling flat with audiences.

Reverse Three Card Monte

About six month ago I came across a principle that would allow me to do a reverse three card monte, or I guess it’s technically a divination effect. I rip off three corners of a playing card, so two have indexes and one doesn’t. They are mixed up by a spectator with my back turned and I always know where the odd one is (non index corner). It’s a good puzzle, but not a good trick. It’s missing a lot, mostly an ending. I think it’s a good 3 am magic trick at a magician’s convention.

Here’s me doing it for another magician:

I’m not sure what I want to do with this. I’ve put some energy into trying to make it more than “you mix them and I tell you which one it is“, however I’m thinking that might be what it’s destined to be.

Persistence…

I just scored a big win yesterday! The clip that I use on the end of my personal take up reel that I use for the vanishing birdcage is something that was on a pull that was given to me more than 25 years ago! I’ve been trying to find another one for about 15 years and really haven’t had any luck.

The first challenge was figuring out what the clip was called. Trying to call manufacturers or distributers to ask for it is really hard if you don’t know what to ask for. And usually the guy that answers the phone doesn’t know their parts well enough for my description.

Once I managed to figure out what it was call, then next step was finding them. I found one on ebay, and after getting it, it was too big. This was an achievement, and I’ve confirmed someone is still making them, just not in the size I need. More hunting and phone calls followed and I learned the manufacturer still listed them their catalog in the smaller size I needed, but no distributor or retailer would special order them for me…not even when I offered to fill the minimum wholesale order and they could just tack a fee on top of that.

I continued to push forward trying to work directly with the manufacturer in Europe, but they only deal with people in certain industries, and magic isn’t one of them. This was a dead end, but I was still occasionally email the manufacturer, distributors, and retailers and get the same response.

That leads me to a few months ago when I noticed that the manufacturer had recently opened a warehouse in the USA! Unfortunately there was no phone number on their website, just a contact form. I sent a bunch over the last months and finally got a call back from them! It was a new salesman that was hired on and he happened to see my email and was intrigued by me using it for a magic trick.

After some chatting, he found a workaround to sell them to me as I’m not in an industry that they supply stuff to. Oh, then there was the problem that while the clip in the size I needed was listed in the catalog, they don’t make them any more. He talked to some people in the warehouse and they found a box of them. it was far less than their minimum order, but if I took them all he’d sell them to me…and of course I said YES!

So I’m now owner of a box of clip I use for the vanishing birdcage.

The moral of the story is to keep pushing ahead. When you are working on a trick, or trying to build a prop and you hit a wall, keep pushing forward*. Sure, you can put the project on the back burner for a bit, but you will usually eventually come up with the solution.

*Sometimes there are projects that after some point need to be abandoned.