Over the last few years I’ve started to really prefer the Sanada Gimmick over a thumb tip for stage use. I primarily use it for a bill switch and it allows me to not fold up the bill as small as with the a thumb tip. This makes it play a little bit bigger, but also I think looks more fair.
When I use something like a thumb tip or Sanada Gimmick, I try to stock up on them so that I always have them. I just had 10 arrive in the mail.
These are just for general use whenever I need them. Having access to a lot of them allows me to make some custom gimmicks with them like my tennis ball to confetti gimmick.
If there’s something you use, stock up on it, you never know when they’ll be temporarily or permanently unavailable.
When I did an overnight flight on Quantas Airline, they gave us little fabric cases with a couple of toiletry items. I thought the case might be useful as a holder for some prop, so I kept it. They measure about 6.5 x 4.5 inches, but about half an inch on the short side isn’t really usable due to where the snap closure is located.
The goal was to put together an emergency show that could be performed close up or for a stand up venue like a black box theater (up to 100 seats). Everything used in the show has to be contained within the fabric case, so you can’t borrow anything from the venue or audience like a cup or dollar bill. The reason for that is you can’t 100% guarantee someone will have a dollar bill for your to borrow, or that the venue will have a clear pint glass.
Another condition is you must be able to perform with a corded mic in a stand. If I needed to use a hands free mic holder, that will need to fit into the fabric case.
Any props you normally carry on your person are bonus, and don’t count towards this. For example, if you normally have a set of B’wave cards in your wallet, you would need to put another one in the fabric case if you wanted to do it in this show.
Here’s what I came up with:
The props are:
Jumbo Linking Pins
4 Sheets of Tissue Paper
Business Cards (that are blank on one side)
White 9 inch silk
And here’s the show list:
Everything on the list are tricks/routines that I currently do or have done in the past. There’s no learning curve for these, I can grab the prop and immediately do the trick. I chose to add the production coil and throw coil as things to add production value to the show, so it doesn’t feel like things were cobbled together. The also add texture to the show, it’s not all flat props.
When putting together the list I also had to factor in not duplicating effects. For example, if I did gypsy thread and torn and restored tissue paper, they are essentially the same trick.
The premise is that this is an emergency set up, so it’s a show I’m forced to do, not a show that I want to do. Artistically, this isn’t necessarily my current voice, but it’ll get me through the emergency situation.
A couple of days ago I wrote a couple of posts about a vanishing and reappearing match trick idea and method. It’s a decent idea for 20 or more years ago when matches were common. Bars don’t give away matches anymore and most smokers have lighters now and not matches, so it’s a trick that missed it’s time.
I wrote out a little script for the trick to try to make it relevant for our current time.
Here’s the routine:
Start with match box in left hand under cover of a handkerchief
“This is the most dangerous trick that I’ve ever done. It’s soo dangerous, I was kicked out of my third grade talent show for doing it when I was 13 years old!
More dangerous than running with scissors or putting honey on my chest to try to breast feed murder hornets…it’s playing with matches!”
Pull the handkerchief off your hand to show the matches.
“I thought I’d be the hottest act”
Strike match and put it into handkerchief covered fist (and into thumb tip)
“but my show went up in smoke”
Squeeze the tip to make a puff of smoke come out.
“Luckily the trick didn’t leave a mark on my permanent record”
Open handkerchief to show the match is gone and not damaged
“The crowd was fired up”
Reproduce the match from the handkerchief
“To this day I can still taste the excitement”
Put the match out on your tongue.
It’s got a little bit of a presentational hook and a couple of chuckles and justifies using the match. I don’t know if I’ll ever do it, but it was fun making the routine.
A long time ago I wrote an idea in a notebook, and it’s something I’ll never do, but even those ideas are important to write down. It needs a gimmick that I don’t have and have fallen out of fashion. A few weeks ago I was digging through the bins of broken and incomplete magic at Hocus-Pocus and found the needed gimmick to make the gimmick for my idea!
Here’s the trick (my idea is at the end):
I don’t think anyone has really used a match pull for a reproduction of the match after the vanish in a thumb tip. Usually they are used simply for the production of a lit match, then used to light flash paper/string in a stage manipulation act.
Unfortunately I think this trick is 50 years too late as magic with matches is really out of fashion with there being virtually no venues that allow smoking and with fire getting more and more difficult to insure. Had I thought of this in the 1970’s I would have a sure fire hit!
The other night I caught Phil Cass’s show. He’s been on my radar since the late 1990’s when Bob Sheets told me about Phil’s shell game VHS. Bob also showed me Phil’s handling of a making water go from one hand to the other.
Phil’s show was a packs small plays big sort of show and he was heavy on use of people from the audience. He does a great job of having multiple effects happening at the same time, so when they all start to wrap it, it feels much bigger and more triumphant and if he did them one at a time.
Phil is also the first person I’ve ever seen do the Electric Chair bit in person. Previously I’d only read about it or see it on video. It was fun to see it actually done and to see how it played for a real audience. It played well and something I’ve thought about incorporating, but had a feeling it’s not for me, and the nuts and bolts of how it actually plays onstage confirms that feeling.
Phil closed with the water that disappears from one hand and reappears in the other. It’s a very small trick, and plays pretty big! I’m glad I got to see the creator do it in person!
Last week I bought some rope on a whim and started playing with cut and restored rope in my show. I used to do this a long time ago when I was starting out in comedy clubs. Technically my routine was a mix of Steve Bedwell‘s and Michael Finney‘s routines. It worked well at the time and served its purpose, but I really haven’t done cut and restored rope in the show in a 15+ years.
I’m having fun with the trick, and pretty much doing it how I used to do it. However, for me to do it in the show, I need to contribute something to the trick. One thing I did today was start to come up with conditions for the routine. The first condition is that I want all of the cuts to happen with the middle of the rope sticking out of the hand and the ends dangling:
I think this is a much more natural and fairer looking way to hold the rope than the standard method where you switch the end for the middle.
Then with further writing I hit on another idea (from the past!)
Using a circle of rope instead of an extra length of rope will allow me to get two cuts without having to add any rope and both cuts can be done from the desired hand position!
The next challenge is figuring out how to get rid of the circle of rope once it’s been cut twice and is two pieces of rope. Once I solve that, I need to start doing some writing on what to say!
PS. You’ll notice I have drawing in my notebook. I’m using drawing more and more. I highly recommend getting the book Sketch Notes, it really helped me learn to add drawings.
The thumb tip began being used by magicians in the late 1800’s and it’s actual creator isn’t exactly know, there are two people that clam it’s use. Recently I was at a museum and they had some Egyptian finger and toe caps:
These are essentially thumb tips, but used for decoration, and not for magic. There’s a lot of stuff that exists in the real world, that magicians notice and start to use for magical purposes. I wonder if these could have been the inspiration for the thumb tip?
We’ll never know for sure, but they sure do look usable!
One thing that’s been life changing for my show is learning to use a 3D printer. Recently I was part of a panel that was talking about 3D printing for performers and I made a quick video tutorial that took you through the entire design process of making a holder for a thumb tip and dollar bill holder.
Here it is:
Hopefully this took some of the mystery out of 3D printing. Honestly I thought it would be much harder, until I got one and learned to do it!
I feel like I’ve put a lot of work into the table I’m using for virtual shows. I think it’s really made a difference in the flow of the show. It’s soo much more efficient use of space than how I was previously doing it.
Here’s one view of the shelf:
And here’s the shelf rotated 180 degrees:
The nice thing with having holders is that I can look down and immediately know if something isn’t there as it’s holder will be empty. There are two wild cards as far as set up goes, the rest of the props can stay set up all the time. Those are the Gypsy Yarn and the silk in apple/peach. Both of those routines I set up on the day of the show.
You’ll also notice some redundancies, like each trick that uses a pen has it’s own pen. This is because I don’t want to be searching around for a pen, and it makes sure I have a back up pen if one dries out.