Breaking in a New Routine…

Over the weekend my daughter and I had a booth at an arts fair. Sher was there selling her art, and I had my book C is for Conspiracy: The ABC’s of Conspiracy Theories for sale. I was also doing a little bit of magic every now and then.

magic at arts fair

The routine that I was working on while there was the new ending for my Cee-Lo dice trick where I make a giant metal nut appear under the cup and then an even bigger one appear under my hat!

I’m not doing any body loads for this routine, all of the production items come from my doctor’s bag that hangs on the back of my table.

Magic show prop case

After doing it a lot over the course of the day, I’m confident that the loads will work in a close up context. The plan is to use it in a half circle style show, so hopefully the loads will translate to that larger audience that’s further back. I head out on the road later this week and will get to try it out!


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.


Don’t Feel Stupid

During a show recently someone mentioned that they didn’t like a trick because they “felt stupid” because they didn’t know how the trick worked. Here’s what my reply was:

If you don’t know how a trick works, that means that I’m doing my job. I don’t understand how an airplane works, but I still clap for the pilot when we land!

I’ve started to work this into my show at the beginning with the rope trick I’ve been opening the show with. I think it’s an interesting thing to address in the show, that if someone doesn’t understand why a trick works, they aren’t dumb, it’s what’s supposed to happen and that’s totally OK.


Turing Rain into Lemonade

Sometimes where you perform outdoors you’ll have issues with the weather. One night it rained most of the day, and that killed attendance for the shows right after it stopped raining. There was literally no people on the fairgrounds to pull to make an audience, so we used the time as practice time.

The juggler at the fair and I used that down time to work on some lasso tricks:

Lasso tricks

And since we both had lassos, I was able to try doing two lassos at the same time!

Lasso tricks

We could have called the show and not performed, however we both got in some fun practice time! I always try to look for spots in my day when I can get in a little bit of practice and a rained out show was a great spot!


Keep it Unique!

Oh man, so I’ve written about how crowd sourcing advice on Facebook is pretty much a bad idea as everyone has an equal position to give their opinion. Now everyone’s opinion and “taste” is different and yes their opinion is valid, but you also need to know their background. Especially when getting advice about your show or the marketing of your show.

The other day Katrina Kroetch posted a picture on Facebook asking if it was a good promo pic. She got many people telling her it didn’t “scream magic” and that should should have a top hat, cards, or rabbit in the picture. That’s horrible advice, but before I tell you why, here’s the picture:

This is a fantastic picture, there’s a lot going on in it. Now Let me tell you why:

  • There is a story happening: She is doing something with the string/rope, but the cat is attacking it without her knowing. If I saw this pic in a program I’d think, is she a cat trainer…I don’t know, but I want to know more.
  • It’s not a generic magician picture: People won’t be bringing a mindset of the stereotypical magic show when they see this. If I saw this pic in the program, I’d expect a light hearted, fun show.

Now let me tell you why everyone that is telling her she needs to have a top hat, doves, or that the pic doesn’t “say magic” are wrong. No one goes and sees a magic show based solely on a picture with no context. They days of a venue having a sign in the window that says “now appearing” and just a headshot taped below it with a showtime are long gone. You’re marketing or advertisement will always have context with it now, it’s not 1990 and hasn’t been for two decades.

Personally I think if I saw just a pic of a guy holding a top hat in the window of a venue, I’d think it’s a children’s magic show and keep on walking. If I saw just Katrina’s pic I’d probably want more information. However, I like I said before in 2021 you’ll rarely encounter just a headshot without context.

The more unique pictures you use, the harder it is for someone to put their “box” of preconceived ideas about your artform around you.