Test Firing the Cannon!

Over the last couple of days I designed and built a tiny cannon that will shoot out a flea in a flea circus. I picked up some flash paper and finally got to try it out and it worked! It’s always a good feeling when something translates from your head to a physical prop easily.

If you’re not 3d printing props, you are really missing out. Basically within 3 hours of chatting about making a flea cannon I had one in my hand. The video below has a little overview on the 3d printing process as well as a demo of the flea cannon.

If you don’t have a 3d printer, you are really missing out!

Tiny Cannon…

Yesterday’s post I wrote about making a cannon for my flea circus. The existing, public domain design wasn’t what I wanted, so I built my own from the ground up. Here’s what I printed:

I still need to clean up the edges and there’s some tweaks to the design, but I think it looks fine and hopefully it will be functional. I don’t have any flash paper, so I can’t try it until later today when I can drive to Market Magic Shop and pick some up.

Fingers crossed it will work!

Building a Better Cannon

The other day I was chatting with another performer who is building a flea circus and I mentioned I’ve 3d printed a couple. Right now there’s a small cannon 3d file on the internet that some people are using for their flea circus’s, however in my opinion it’s pretty big:

One of the reasons for its size is that it holds a party popper inside of it. Also it wasn’t designed for a flea circus. Because of this, it’s not going to scale down smaller if you still want it to shoot out the party popper.

Personally I don’t need it to shoot the party popper, so designed a cannon to shoot out flash paper.

This will be printed in two parts, that’s so that I don’t have to deal with supports in the print. This will speed up the printing process, and I’ll just glue the two together.

To give you an idea of size, the light blue base is about 1.5 inches in diameter. It’s printing right now, so we’ll see how it turns out!

Three Card Monte…

The Ultimate Gaffed Deck

One of the things that I do every now and then is get a deck of gaffed cards and try to figure out tricks to do with the different trick cards. I don’t read/watch the instructions, that makes this a fun creativity exercise. Right now in my office I have a deck of the Ultimate Gaff Deck that I bought because I was playing around with a four ace trick and needed some double backers.

This pack is sitting on my desk and I opened it this morning and the first thing that I noticed is that there is a set of cards for a three card monte using double ended cards. I took the cards out, set them on the table, then immediately thought, “why do all the monte routines that use these cards have them flat?”

Three card monte

When you see this trick done in movies or for real on the street, the cards are always bent.

Three Card Monte

The only reason that I can think of is that having them bent changes the handling a little bit. If you think about the time that these gimmicked three card monte routines started getting popular with Unconquered Card by Mike Rogers and Micheal Skinner’s Ulitmate 3 Card Monte, I bet writing up a routine with them bent would have been rough and made the routines harder to sell.

You can hide the gimmicks just fine with the cards bent.

Gimmicked Three Card Monte

I’m planning on playing with them today and see if I can come up with a short routine with them.

3D Chop Cup Routine

One of the Facebook groups that I belong to is a Magician’s 3D Printing group. It’s an interesting group, a few people in it are making some cool stuff. Recently someone asked if anyone had made a chop cup before. I mentioned that I had and made stack of nested cups as a final load for it.

I no longer have the set of cups, but here’s an idea of what they looked like:

nested cups and balls final production

This set was 100% inspired by Gary Ouellet‘s column Fulminations in Genii Magazine where he had a series of nested cups as the ending for a cups and balls routine. This led to my Russian Shell Game trick, which is a Three Shell Game that ends with a ton of shells on the table.

The fun thing about the time we live in, is with a little bit of tinkering around, you can make virtually any prop you’ve ever wanted with 3d printer!

A Gag Saves the Show!!

Right now some of the only live, in person performing that’s available to do are masked, no contact, socially distant, small group magic shows. These are magic shows for kids. The big challenge with these shows is wearing a mask when performing for younger children (ages 3-5).

One thing that I’ve added to the show is a prop that I built for a show a couple of summers ago, but the routine never played well. The prop that I build are Remote Control Chattering Teeth!

I started out using them as a warm up, which is right out of David Ginn’s book Comedy Warm Ups for Children’s Shows. However, I quickly moved the routine deeper into the show, and it’s not a warm up, but part of a full routine that I was working on.

The teeth are now used in the Silk to Peach routine, and that routine has built out into a 7 minute routine full of laughs! I’m glad I dug the teeth out again and started using them!

Using a Set list!

One thing I love to do is talk magic and share what I know about it. Last week I got to do an online lecture for the Vancouver Magic Circle and it was a ton of fun! My lecture isn’t just about the tricks, while I do teach some interesting tricks, it’s about how I created them and how you can create your own tricks.

Here’s a side view of the lecture, I’ve got my main working table on right side of the picture and then the table that holds my props that aren’t currently being used. The prop table is out of the camera’s view.

You’ll also notice that taped to the light are some pieces of paper. One is for a trick that I teach and the other are my lecture notes. Here’s what I planned to cover in the lecture:

We got to pretty much everything I had planned! When I lecture of do a show, I always use a hand written (in sharpie) set list. It really helps keep me on track and from forgetting things. Using a set list also helps me during the show make decisions about skipping bits and reminding me of new jokes or bits to try out.

If you don’t use a set let, you should try one out!

Vanishing Birdcage For Younger Kids…

Not too long ago I was doing a virtual show for a summer camp. They wanted me to do one live show and that show would then be shown to the other classes. That’s fine, however they gave me the youngest group first. Normally I’d recommend doing one of the older groups first, but given the current state of shows, I can’t be too picky.

Once I knew I was going to be performing for the youngest kids, I figured I’d play a bit more. I’ve been wanting to figure out how to present the Vanishing Birdcage for younger kids, and looked at this as a chance to work on that. I really didn’t have anything preplanned, aside from the vanish.

I put the whole thing together as I did it. The hand towel I normally use to wipe my sweat, and just grabbed it and produced the bird from it. Then playing with asking what it ate, and manipulating it a bit like a spring puppet. I’m glad I got just over 3 minutes out of it, without really planning anything.

Hopefully if I sit down and do some writing I’ll be able to get 4 mins out of it! It’s fun to be using my Take Up Reel in shows right now!

It’s Not Strange…

One of the most important things you can do right now is watch other performer’s virtual shows. You can learn a ton about doing these shows by watching them. You may see stuff you dislike and it’s a reminder for you not to do it and you may see things you like and you can try to recreate those elements.

The other day I watched a performer’s first public virtual show. One of the things he did was talk about how “weird” watching a show virtually is. From the performer’s view, it’s very strange and not like what we’re used to. From the audience point of view, it’s not that strange as they are used to consuming entertainment through their computers or TV.

Personally I firmly believe in addressing the elephant in the room, however at this point it’s only strange for the performer. Unless you have a joke, trick or point of view, in my opinion, it’s now best to skip it. In March and April I think mentioning it was appropriate, but now we’ve all had zoom meetings, zoom school, we’re all familiar with it.

Also going forward, if you’re a performer and you’re not an expert on using Zoom, you need to be. Kids have been using it for school for three months, PTA meetings have been happening over it for the same amount to time. You can’t be fumbling though it anymore.

New Book Day!

Today I’m starting to read Paul Romhany’s book Stand Up Magic. He’s my editor over at Vanish Magazine, and I’ve been a fan of the stuff that he puts out before I started writing for Vanish. It’s all solid real world stuff.

I’m one trick into it so far after reading the introduction, etc and he does a great job explaining it. It’s a number prediction and not only goes into the work in great detail, but also covers variations and afterthought on the routine.

What I like about the first trick is that it’s clearly put together by someone who is actually out there working. It’s got a solid method. One thing I’ve learned to be able to spot in books and DVD’s are methods by people who aren’t out there working all the time. The may be great for a one off show (which isn’t a bad thing), but aren’t solid if you’re out on the road performing all the time.

I’m excited to read more of this book!