It’s been over four months since the government essentially shut down the performing arts industry. It’s open in a very limited capacity right now in the USA. Last week was the last week I was able to claim the federal PUA in addition to my state unemployment benefits. Here’s a little video I made about it:
As far as a production goes, it’s a fairly understated shotglass production. The tube it’s produced from is about half the size of the shotglass. However as far as scale goes, it’s pretty small on the screen and the magic isn’t as strong as it could be…but the message is solid.
The whole virtual magic show is changing what you can do in your shows. Tricks that really weren’t practical to set up in a venue now make sense. Tricks with bad angles now have a place to be performed deceptively.
A few years ago they Stewart Semple came out with the Black 2.0 paint. This is a flat black paint. It doesn’t have a lot of use in a live magic show because it doesn’t trap light like a velvet does, but it turns out it works pretty well in videos.
Here’s a trick that uses Black 2.0:
I think I wrote this trick up in Vanish Magazine a couple of years ago. It uses the 2d of the screen you are watching on to hide the 3d of the “black hole”. I like the idea of switching a flat object for something that’s round and using that space to hold a production.
I really like the idea of hiding the production in plain sight.
I’m working on a trick right now where an object changes either from something small to something large. In the routine there are multiple phases of it changing, which make me wonder which way is better, from large to small or from small to large? It also changes shape, so that adds a another factor to this If it was simply one change in size and not shape, it’s definitely be from small to large as that has more impact.
It got me thinking about Quick Change Acts, as the act moves along the dresses tend to get shorter and shorter. However most do have some variation and usually the final dress is a gown. When watching these acts on TV my family will always comment on the shrinking of the dress during the act, so it’s something that’s noticed. Not that it’s a bad thing, because I think it adds impact to the final change.
For my trick, I think I’m going from small to large as the final change the object only changes in size. So it’s got a finale feel to it.
One of the first routines that I really thought out and wrote a script for was my Card to Mouth Routine. I published it a few years ago in Vanish Magazine and I’ve taught it in my lectures for a long time.
Vanish Magazine just put out a collection of the second year of their magazine and my trick is in one of their promo pics for the book!
This is a fun routine and while Card to Mouth might not be a trick that’s currently socially acceptable to do, it’s still worth looking at how I put a frame around the card to mouth premise.
Back when I first really started performing when I was about 21 years old and got to the point that I needed headshots, the digital thing was just becoming common. People were amazed that I had an email address, just to put this into context. At that time you sent off the negative of your pic to a place that then made you hundreds of physical 8×10’s and the cost was hundreds of dollars.
At that time many performers didn’t really get new pics taken until you ran out of the old ones because they were soo expensive to get done. Because of that they guy whose picture was on the comedy club’s ad for the show that weekend didn’t look anything like the comedian who was performing. The headshots were sometimes 10-20 years old!
Now let’s fast forward to a common problem in more modern times with no one using physical headshots anymore. What’s happening now is that someone books a show, you send them promo and they end up using a picture they found on the internet. It’s usually a old, low-res picture that’s not very flattering instead of the current, professional high-res picture you send them.
I just finished dealing with a scenario with this. Someone I work for frequently has been using this headshot of me. The thing is that picture is about 20 years old, and I’m about 20 years old in the picture. I send them new pictures every year, but this remains the picture that’s been used.
Finally, yesterday after being on the phone with them, I think I convinced them to delete that picture from their files and it really hasn’t been relevant in over a decade. I think my problem is that while I have been sending them new promo every year, I never specifically asked them to stop using that picture.
When I used to travel frequently one of the things that I did to keep myself busy was invent magic tricks. I has some guidelines, the main one was to use things found in my hotel room. Here’s one from a few years ago:
One thing I really like about this trick is the visual of pulling the bill through the straw. Once I had the idea of the sideways penetration, then I had to figure out a method. I can’t find any notes I wrote for this trick and honestly I’m not 100% sure how I did it. I have an idea of how I probably did it as there are only a few ways you can slide a bill through as straw.
Doing these hotel room videos were a fun creative challenge because you are really limited prop wise with what you can do.
Tonight there’s an encore presentation of an episode of Masters of Illusion on that I appeared on. It was a lot of fun and I recorded a few routines for them, we’ll see if any others make it on this season.
I’ve worked in TV before, and this particular show was a ton of fun! The hang out that goes on at the hotel before and after your taping day was a blast.
One of the things that I’m doing to stay creative is hosting a live, virtual variety show. I co-host it with a friend of mine and we have to write about 10 mins of new material each show. That’s helping keep me sharp, however the shows can be stressful, a lot can go wrong!
At our show last week, right after we introduced an act, our internet dropped. It completely cut off. That put us in a strange spot, as we do the show over zoom, so the act was still going. We ended up running the rest of the show using my cellphone as a hotspot. This was less than idea. However while we were getting that set up, we had to deal with what to do the the act that was performing.
Luckily the acts we book are all pros, and have dealt with having to fill time before. While one of us was setting up the phone as a hotspot, the other was calling the act that was performing live. We explained the situation, and he did more material while we moved internet connections.
We had the worst case scenario, losing internet happen. This wasn’t just a slow connection, the hard wired internet was gone! It was very stressful! Having acts that are pros, really helped it flow and not be a total train wreck.
I ordered the book right way and have been doing one trick in it at my shows (virtual and in person) this summer. That trick is his Silk in Peach, where the effect is a signed silk reappears inside of a peach. It took some playing to come up with a fun routine, and I think it’s a perfect trick for in-person, no contact, socially distant magic shows.
My solution to having something signed when you can’t get 6 feet from someone and they can’t touch any props is that I ask them to name an animal. I then draw the animal on the silk and write their name. Pretty simple. The production from the peach is visually amazing and that quickly made this trick the “meat” of my summer show.
A while ago I picked up a used copy of Howard Hamburg’s D Lecture notes. One of the things the mentions in it was that Dai Vernon didn’t like was kicker endings. Vernon’s thinking was here’s the trick I’m showing you, and now here’s something completely different that doesn’t make sense…ta-dah!
Now let’s fast forward to a magic video that was posted in a facebook magic group recently. Watch this:
Did he get your card?
He didn’t find mine.
Now let me tell you what’s wrong with the video of the trick:
First of all, he didn’t find my card! If you tell me to pick a card and don’t find it, I don’t care what else happens, it’s going feel unresolved.
Next, the switch out of the pocket is sloppy. It may work in a in-person context where you are talking to people, but not in a video with zero presentation.
Finally the reveal of the fan of cards changing is just bad magic. When the hand holding 4 cards drops out of frame multiple times and for an extended period of time right before you reveal the change, it’s just not good magic.
Add these up and it’s a bad presentation of a trick.
This trick needs a presentation that’s not a promise that will be unfulfilled (unless you get lucky). Also, t he performer needs to be aware that their need to keep their props in frame. It doesn’t matter if you don’t need to drop out of frame or not, it detracts from the magic. Or if you do need to move out of frame, try to hide it and don’t to it immediately before the reveal.