Making a Set List…

Frequently I’m amazed when newer performers mention they have a 60 minute show. That’s a long time to do a show, I’m calling BS on a lot of them. They may have 60 mins of material, but usually it’s not a 60 minute show. I’ve got tons of material and have been been in magic a long time, but barely have a 60 min show.

What’s the difference between material and a show? Material is what you can do, but a show has texture and flow.

So, how do you put together a show? I start by writing out a set list, a list of tricks and how long they run. After the name of the trick, I write how long the routine runs and an “A” or and “S”. The “A” means someone from the audience helps me onstage and the “S” means that it’s done solo, with just me onstage. Sure there are tricks where I’m the only one onstage, but I use someone from the audience who stays seated, I consider those tricks to be solo tricks.

First I arrange it set list of the routines that I want to do. Here’s an example of what a short show set list would look like:

  • cup – 2 mins – S
  • hoop – 3 mins – S
  • Card to Pocket – 5 mins – A
  • Whip -6 mins – A
  • Straight Suit- 6 mins – A /S (This uses someone on stage, but they return to their seat about halfway thru the routine)

The next thing I do is try to arrange them into an order that alternates solo and audience. Here’s what the revised list would might look like:

  • cup – 2 mins – S
  • Card to Pocket – 5 mins – A
  • hoop – 3 mins – S
  • Whip -6 mins – A
  • Straight Suit- 6 mins – A /S

Next I look at the type of trick, luckily this particular set let isn’t super magic heavy, it’s more skill demonstrations which makes the next part easier. The goal is to no have two of the same type of effect next to each other. So if I had a “Bill To Lemon” in the list, I’d try to not put it next to “Card To Pocket” as both are teleportation type tricks.

Personally I have no problem putting things with similar props next to each other. For example I could put Card to Pocket and Tossed Out Deck next to each other. The effects are different and they both add different textures to the show.

That’s a general outline of how I put together a set list for a show. There are other factors that come into play. For example some tricks work better deeper into the show once the audience gets to know you, and so me tricks are openers or closers. In the set list above my two routines that use the audience are the Card To Pocket and the Whip routine. In theory I could swap the two tricks positions, however the whip is a big build up and it works better when the audience knows me. The card to pocket has a lot more magic that happens and works better for an audience that’s just getting to know me. Other considerations is how messy a trick is, or if it needs to be preset.

Once you have your set list, you can start to work on the flow of the show. You can then reveal things about yourself, add in call backs or put in something to tie it all together to start creating a show.

Tossed Out Invisible Deck

In the show yesterday I tried out my new idea for the invisible deck. You can read about the idea here. In a nutshell, the idea is to have multiple cards named and all of them are reversed in the deck. I don’t know if for the audience this is a better trick than the … Continue reading “Tossed Out Invisible Deck”

In the show yesterday I tried out my new idea for the invisible deck. You can read about the idea here. In a nutshell, the idea is to have multiple cards named and all of them are reversed in the deck. I don’t know if for the audience this is a better trick than the standard invisible deck with only one card, for me it’s an interesting challenge.


I did the trick once yesterday and it went well. All the named cards were reversed in the pack and the people in the audience seemed to not know how the trick worked. This is an important part of a new idea…having it actually work for an audience, now the next step is going to be tweaking the gimmick.

Roughing stick by vanishing in for card magic
image from www.VanishingIncMagic.com

I’m roughing the cards with a Roughing Stick that Vanishing Inc puts out. It works well, but I need to play around with how I apply it to the cards. Right now I’m doing it in the middle of the length of the card. I think I’m going to make another deck where it goes across the middle of the short edge of the deck and see how that works.

The cool thing about the Roughing Stick, is that it’s easy to apply, so I fairly quickly try it in different configurations and see what works best for me. I’m also thinking I need to use two different cards stocks for the trick. I’ll be doing some playing this week!



Ideas and Action

Whenever I get an idea, my goal is to try to get a working version of it as quickly as possible. For me, this is a way to see if the idea has something going for it. There could be a weakness in effect, or method. Knowing that there is early on before a ton … Continue reading “Ideas and Action”

Whenever I get an idea, my goal is to try to get a working version of it as quickly as possible. For me, this is a way to see if the idea has something going for it. There could be a weakness in effect, or method. Knowing that there is early on before a ton of time has been devoted to it is very helpful.


Recently I had an idea pop into my head for a trick. I’m calling this trick “Invisible Tossed Out Deck”. Basically it’s a tossed out deck premise where three people end up thinking of cards. However instead of tossing a physical deck into the audience, it will be an imaginary one. The payoff will be that the thought of cards are in your deck upside down.


It only took a minute to source the necessary props for the routine.

Tossed out invisible deck

I quickly realized that there’s a problem if I construct the deck like a normal Invisible Deck. I’ll need a cull or displacement for each card I’m revealing. Luckily yesterday I was setting in construction traffic and sat for an hour not moving. I started to play with methods for concealing cards in the spread and came up with a couple of methods.


Later today I’ll give the trick a try during my preshow and see how it goes!

Work It Out…

One of the things I do when I buy a magic book, is that I try to work through everything that’s reasonable to work through.  What I mean by that is that I I’m not going to build an illusion if it’s in the book, but I will build simpler project. I try work through … Continue reading “Work It Out…”

One of the things I do when I buy a magic book, is that I try to work through everything that’s reasonable to work through.  What I mean by that is that I I’m not going to build an illusion if it’s in the book, but I will build simpler project. I try work through every trick that doesn’t require a crazy gimmick I don’t have.


I think this makes me a better magic creator and performer.  It allows me to improvise much better as I’ve already done something a few times, it makes it easier to recreate when the moment occurs.  It also makes you look at props differently.

When I travel, I try to make little videos of magic tricks with things found in my hotel room, or in today’s case my state room as I’m performing on a cruise ship this week.  This morning when I was brushing my teeth, I noticed the cups in the bathroom were big enough to hold a deck of cards.  That then led me to thinking about the trick Everywhere and Nowhere by Hofzinser that uses a glass to isolate a deck of cards.  That led me to wondering if a “flap card” would work in a glass.  Turns out a flap card works great in a glass, and I like the isolation that the glass adds to the change of the card. 




Now it’s got me thinking about how I can use this in a show. In a cabaret show, or a stage show where you have video projection, it would be a great reveal for a tossed out deck.  You start with one card in glass as your prediction.   The three cards are selected and the prediction changes to three different cards.  If they saw their card they sit down.  This moves the flap card from essentially a close up trick to something bigger. 

Maybe I’ll start to write a tossed out deck routine using the flap card as the premise/ending.

Getting It Out Of Your System…

There are ton of magic tricks, or ideas that have been in my head for years. I haven’t done them, or built them because I know they won’t fit my performing style, or because I don’t have a method that’s any good. Every now and then I try to make these tricks happen at least … Continue reading “Getting It Out Of Your System…”

There are ton of magic tricks, or ideas that have been in my head for years. I haven’t done them, or built them because I know they won’t fit my performing style, or because I don’t have a method that’s any good. Every now and then I try to make these tricks happen at least once to get them out of my brain.


One trick that had been in my head forever was doing a Multiplying Billiard Ball routine. Eventually I put together a routine and did it on a tour of over 90 shows. By the end of the tour the routine was really good, however I also decided that I don’t want to do that trick in my main show.


Then there are times when I begrudgingly put together a routine simply to get an idea out of my head and I end up liking the trick. A good example is my version of the “tossed out deck”. I hate the trick, however ended up coming up with a good routine and method that’s staying in my show.


If you have an idea, make it a reality, even if it’s a bad one. It will make you a better magician and performer…or at least clear up room in your brain for a new idea!

Do Something Different

I just got back from a conference in Montana that was full of people that book acts.  There were a ton of magician’s there, all trying to get booked.   So how did I make myself stand out?   Simple, I do fairly unique tricks…well, to put it better I do tricks that have unique … Continue reading “Do Something Different”

I just got back from a conference in Montana that was full of people that book acts.  There were a ton of magician’s there, all trying to get booked.

 

So how did I make myself stand out?

 

Simple, I do fairly unique tricks…well, to put it better I do tricks that have unique visuals.  This gives the feeling of a unique trick.   For example my “Tossed Out Deck” uses an original method which allows me to know who picked what card, however at it’s core it’s still a tossed out deck.  Then I use an original way to reveal the cards, and like magic, I have a trick that no one else is doing.

 

You don’t need to completely create a trick.  In my “Tossed Out Deck” I started with the standard frame work and then started changing things.  This is also an easy way to create new tricks.  Take a standard trick, change the method, then change the presentation.  The nice thing about this is I can now do my version of this trick in a show where someone does the classic version and it won’t feel like a duplicated trick.

 

Louie