The Moisture Festival Podcast – Scramble James

In this episode we hit the road to the Rose City (Portland) and interview the super positive Nate “Scramble” James from Circus Luminescence. Scramble is one half of the group and discusses how the group started from a chance encounter and also the successes and failures of the group throughout the years. He also talks to us about why they decided doing glow in the dark juggling was the way to go. A fun interview with one of the more unique juggling acts you will see at the Moisture Festival. 

Hanging with Jeff Martin

A couple of days ago I was at a showcase and saw my buddy Jeff Martin showcase. Jeff is a working magician and hypnotist.

I first met him years ago when I was performing at an Oktoberfest near where he lives. He came out to see another act I was working with, but stuck around for my show. We had a good time chatting cups and balls after my show.

If you don’t know Jeff, he’s an amazing sleight of hand guy and he won the Magic Castle’s Roving Olympics. We had a good time jamming a few cards tricks.

Here’s Jeff doing some coin work:

If Jeff is ever performing in your area, check him out…and tell him I say hi!

Trick with Canadian Money…

A couple of days ago I had a Facebook memory pop up that had a video I made while I was on tour in Canada about four years ago. While I travelled I used to do a videos of magic tricks in my hotel room. It’s been a while since I’ve made one, however I think this was a very interesting video as it uses Canadian money. If you’ve never played with them, they are plastic bills, that don’t easily fold and hold a crease, and most Canadian magicians dislike them. Here’s a cool trick I came up with using them:

What I think is really cool about this trick is that it takes advantage of the hologram and clear spot that’s in the Canadian bill. I don’t know how well this would play in Canada as there’s a discrepancy in the trick that virtually no one outside of Canada would notice.

I think this is a fun social media trick, but really wouldn’t make it into an in person show.


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!


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.


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.