Fun Lecture!!

Last night’s lecture was a blast, it looks like we had 119 magicians attend the zoom meeting! Thanks to Drew Cardella to letting me talk to the group that he hosts every Wednesday.

One of the more fun things about the lecture was towards the end I showed something that was new that I’m working on. It was my Take Out Box production and you can read my previous posts about it by clicking here. That turned into an impromptu jam session with some great ideas. And some ideas that I had thought of and discarded for one reason or another that I’m going to revisit.

During that jam session on the take out production box a well known magician said I should release it soon “before it gets out there and someone else does“. While I agree with why I should release it soon, honestly I don’t like the idea of putting out things before they are ready. It’s a sad state of magic where someone would hear about the idea and rush to beat me to market, however that’s the nature of the business world. I’ve always said magicians need to play business like it’s a real business, that means protecting things with patents, copyright, etc. So it’s really my fault if someone gets ahead of me on putting the Take Out Box Production on the market.


Triumphant Flip Off

I’ve been facinated by using the old card revelation where you drop the deck on the table and the top card flips to reveal a selected card as a way to correct the deck for a triumph style effect.

Here’s a video demo of one that I’ve been doing lately:

About a month ago I wrote up a quick outline of the working of the effect:

One of the challenges was figuring out how to do Daryl’s Triumph Display with the deck in the condition that the deck is in for my routine. It’s basically the same as Daryl’s except the final two blocks of cards are hand hand and you rotate your hands palm up to show the face up and face down blocks.

I’m glad I figured out how to do the final display, it just took sitting around and playing until I worked it out, and the solution was soo simple!


Old School Road Act Tip…

Every year I spend most of the summer out on the road performing around the united states. Like most people I use my cell phone as my GPS (my car doesn’t have a built in GPS) and because of that, I keep 15 year old Garmin GPS unit in the glove compartment of my car.

It’s been years since I needed to use it, however it can be a life saver if you’re in the middle of nowhere and have no cell signal. Sometimes where the gig is has no cell service or sometimes you’ve accidently done something with your phone and reset your maps apps.

You can get these used for about $20 on eBay, and it’s a handy thing to keep in the car. The few times I’ve needed it, really helped me out! Stay safe out there!


Bad Shows…

One thing I can’t stand are magicians who say they always “kill” at their shows. I’m sure there are people that do crush is from the audience’s perspective all the time, but did they honestly and artistically think they did their best every show?

I’ve done shows where at the end I get a standing ovation, and think to myself, “really, that show wasn’t that good”. I’m not saying the audience is wrong to show their appreciation, I’m saying the performer should honestly look at each show. Could you as a performer have done better?

Personally I learn more about doing bad shows that I do from crushing it. You learn or try to learn why things that normally work didn’t. Was it you, was it the audience, was it the situation or a combination of all of them? Then you need to figure out how to make it not happen again, or at least reduce the risk or amount of reasons why the show was bad.

I’m not saying you should go out and do bad show intentionally as a learning tool…but you can learn things by going to an open mic at taking drastic risks with your show. Sometimes something you think would turn off an audience connects…sometimes it doesn’t.

Take some risks…it’s art, not brain surgery.

Event Promo Videos…

Frequently I’m asked to make little promo videos for events that I’m performing. Here’s one a made for a gig a few days ago:

They wanted me to thank the sponsors and to do a quick trick. One of my “go to tricks” for situations like that are flap cards for a quick color change. I do the first change in the glass (which as far as I know I’m the first to do) which I think adds to the impossibility of it changing. Then the second is just the toss change.

Having a quick and visual trick you can do for things like this helpful. Also essentially having a formula for doing videos for events, so you’re not reinventing the wheel every time. I just grab my glass and card and I’m good to go!


Nightmare Alley…

nightmare alley

Last night my wife and I went out to see the movie Nightmare Alley. It’s about a guy that ends up working in a sideshow and learns to be a mentalist, who ends up making it fairly big, but then gets involved in some shifty stuff and his success ends up crashing down.

It’s interesting what you focus on when you see things in your industry portrayed in movies. The little thing that drove me nuts was in the sideshow scenes, the banners weren’t tied right, or well. When I worked with the sideshow last summer, I would have had to retie them all if I did them! It’s a small detail, and hardly anyone would fixate on that.

The other thing was the mentalist’s name in the movie was Stanton Carlisle, who is a mentalist and I have a couple of his books. I did a little bit of research and it looks like he insists that’s his name, and he didn’t take it from the book Nightmare Alley. Stanton would have been about 20 when the book came out.

Oh, here’s the trailer for the movie:

We had a good time at the movie, check it out!


Some Documentation…

Back at the end of October I had won some of Al Koran‘s ashes from the Ken Klosterman auction that Potter and Potter did. About a month ago they arrived,. I got a display, a sealed deck of Al Koran cards and a vial with some of his ashes.

al Koran's ashes

Recently I got a shipping notice from Potter and Potter and I had to wait a few days for the mysterious package to arrive. It was documentation from Ted Lesley about him giving Ken some of the ashes and a little bit about the story behind it!

This letter wasn’t part of auction’s listing, but it was very cool of Potter and Potter to send it to me when the letter turned up!


My Eyes Hurt…

Oh man, someone sent me a video a Rich Freeman performing at a sweet 16 party. The guests seem to enjoy what he’s doing…but the video is unwatchable:

Here’s the thing, I’m not trying to crap on the guy, but he made the video publicly available and out there. There are a lot of things wrong with this video.
After the title screen, he opens with an immediate transition. That transition then ends with him yelling at a kid about toilet paper with no context. The constant shapes that appear in the video make it impossible to see anything that’s going on. Outside of his control, you have a kid sitting behind him the whole show that looks bored as hell.

I’m not sure of the purpose of this video. Is it to try to get him work, or for social media content? It’s listed on the video section of his website, so I’m guessing it’s promo to get him work. Whenever you put a video on your site, you need to think about what it’s purpose is. Is it a fun video or is it to get people to book you? If it’s fun, it belongs on your social media. If it ends up taking off and getting millions of views, then you might want to move it your main site.

Upload videos with a purpose…and make them watchable!


Handheld Mics…

When I was first starting out performing in comedy clubs in the early 2000’s I had to use a wired handheld microphone. As I progress through my career, I switched to a wireless headset. I’m now playing with going back to being able to do my show with a wired handheld microphone. The main reason is that it’s logistically easy. I don’t need to travel with my own gear, and it also makes trying out new stuff and open mic’s much easier.

I’m performing all month doing three shows a day at a fair, and aside from working on some new material, I’m also trying to relearn to use a handheld microphone. My preshow right now is a stand up set of jokes, which runs about 7 minutes, and I’m now doing that all with the handheld mic. I’m still wearing my headset during this, but using the handheld.

I picked up Michael Kent’s video Microphone Management For Magicians and it’s a great resource! There’s a lot of good info on the video and totally worth the $49.95!

Right now my goal is every day to move the handheld one bit further into the show. Right now, I have my preshow stand up set, my two new “preshow” tricks and then first actual trick in the show all done with the handheld. The next routine is really three tricks in one routine. I was dreading figuring out how to add the handheld microphone to it as parts of it are pretty physical. Then it hit me, I need to look at it as three tricks, not one routine. Once I broke it down that way, it’s much easier to start figuring out how to do it with a handheld microphone.

Shure sm58s

I was chatting with the sound engineer at my stage about what microphone to get and he suggested the Shure SM58S. This is the version of the Shure SM58, but it has an on/off switch which is something I want. Right now if I’m jumping back and forth between the headset and the handheld, I need that switch so that I’m not being picked up by both mics.

If you’ve never used a handheld, I suggest you learn how, it’ll be helpful the one time your headset dies right before showtime.