The comedy bar gig I did the other night had a pretty simple set list. It was some stand up comedy, then four tricks and it ran 22 mins. The set list was
Tape Measure Prediction
Hoop and Cup Balancing
This set list only uses one person from the audience onstage, and that’s for the whip act. This makes for a show that’s much punchier and doesn’t have the dead time of bringing people on and off stage.
The Tape Measure Prediction and the Choices Routine both use people from the audience, but they stay seated. If a persons only job onstage is to pick a card or something very basic like naming a number, I’ve been leaving them in their seats. This saves time if you only need someone to perform a basic task, and breakup up the constant flow of people coming and going from the stage.
Look at your show, are there routines where you don’t need the person physically onstage? Try using them from their seats!
One of the tricks that I’m trying to move out of my preshow and into the main body of my show is my version of Iain Bailey’s Measure For Measure trick. This is a tape measure prediction, you pull out the tape and someone says “stop” and there’s a giant arrow drawn on the back where they stopped. I totally reworked Iain’s gimmick so that it works way better for how I perform and the conditions that I perform in. You can read a little bit about it on this blog post.
The challenge I’ve had with it was getting the effect to really hit. It was getting an “meh” sort of reaction. What fixed it was that I added a phase to the beginning of the trick. This first phase I used a separate tape measure and the person from the audience says “stop”, but misses the prediction and it’s wrong. I tell them they will get it wrong the first time, but will get it right the second time. I think this really sets up what’s going to happen the second time and makes their brain processing the effect much faster.
I’ve managed to get a couple more laughs out of the routine as I’ve been working on it this summer. It’s slowly becoming a more fleshed out routine. I just need to do the work, which is writing, testing and editing.
A while ago I bought Measure for Measure by Iain Bailey which is a prediction using a tape measure. You pull out the tape and someone says stop and you’ve predicted where they say stop. Here’s the promo video for it:
I think it’s a great trick, but the method didn’t really work for me. There’s a move that needs to happen, and it’s not hard to do, but the move just didn’t work for me. I’m not saying it’s bad, because it’s not, it’s a great trick. The method didn’t work for me.
I ordered a few tape measures and got to playing around with altering Iain’s gimmick.
What I ended up with is a tape measure that starts legitimately closed, ends legitimately closed and is 100% self working, there’s no move. I also upped the width of the tape to the Stanley Fat Max tape measure, so it’ll play a little bit bigger. As a bonus, you can see the prediction retract with the tape as you close it.
Here’s a quick demo of what my solution looks like:
I want to be clear that I’m not knocking Iain’s release, it’s a great trick and I think it would work for most people out of the box. Also, the hard part of creating magic is the first 90%, from the initial idea to a finished product for how the creator wants it to work. The final 10% is easy, and my “improvement” was the easy part, since the idea and gimmick already existed.
Also when it comes to marketing magic, there are a lot of choices that have to be made. Sometimes a method won’t be the best, but more accessible to the majority of magicians, or something that may seem like a small, insignificant tweak will triple the cost per unit.
I’m heading out on the road in about a week, I’m excited to give my version of Measure for Measure a try in front of real audiences! -Louie
A few months ago I picked up the trick Measure for Measure by Iain Bailey on the used magic market. This is a tape measure prediction, where you pull the tape out and someone says stop and wherever they say stop, there’s a giant arrow on the back pointing to that spot.
What I like about the trick is there’s really no explanatory phase to it. You don’t need to set it up, you pull out the tape, they say stop, and the arrow is there. It’s really quick and direct.
Now what I don’t like is that the tape is really hard to manage once you get past a few feet. I think Iain in the video mentions he came up with the trick during the COVID shutdown, so I’m guessing he hasn’t really tried it outside of a virtual context before he released it. The big problem with the trick is that once you get past pulling out a few feet of the tape ruler, it gets very hard to manage. The tape gets floppy and makes the trick hard to present…especially from a technical angle, but also from a visual standpoint. It doesn’t look good with you struggling to hold a tape measure straight.
One solution is to have someone from the audience hold one end of the tape. That’s a decent solution, but it’s not always practical from a stage craft and technical end. My solution was to go to my trusty 3D printer and make a thing that will got onto the mic stand that I can put the tongue of the tape measure into. Here’s what it looks like on the computer:
And here’s what the initial print looks like:
I made it a little bit bigger than it needed to be, so to tighten the gaps, I put the furry side of velcro inside of the holes. I also noticed that the flat end where the tape measure will sit shouldn’t be flat on the top, but concave. I didn’t want print another one, so I hit it with a heat gun, then pressed the tape measure down on it to make it concave. Here’s what the final thing looks like:
That just slips onto a mic stand and I’m good to go.
It holds the end of the tape measure very securely and low, so the audience hopefully can’t really see the backside of it. As a bonus the action of putting it into the holder hides the secret move that needs to take place at the beginning of the trick.
I’ve always said that most of magic is problem solving. Making this little holder took me about 10 mins to design another 10 minutes to alter and solves the big problem with actually doing the trick!