I’m home now from a taping of a TV show in Burbank and sometimes there are moments when I reflect on where my dopy little show has taken me. The picture below was taken as I was about to leave my dressing room at the studio at the end of the day.
After having not really done the show in a year, to having done a few cool shows right out of the gate as things open up. It’s amazing where my stupid little ideas packed into that Pelican 1615 case have taken me. I think it’s important to look at what you’ve done with your art and why you do it. I do it to show people my ideas, and to see cool places. As a kid who never went anywhere, my show has taken me all across North America!
In Seattle we have the legendary Moisture Festival, which is the largest and longest running variety arts festival in the world. You may see the posts about the podcast that I cohost on this blog as well. Previously you had to attend the festival in person, but his year they are doing a virtual festival.
Each show is different and it’ll be a ton of fun! Here’s the line up:
April 1st: Ron W. Bailey, Manuela Horn, Georgetown Orbits, Roxana Küwen, Mathieu Bolillo, Charly Castors, Christine Lavin, Alex Feldman, Della Moustachella, Leah V. Jones, Avner the Eccentric, Frank Olivier, Bill Robison, Paul Morocco & Olé
April 2nd: Kevin Joyce, Doc Sprinsock & the SANCApators, Pam Severns, Hilary Chaplain, Gazzo, Carla Ulbrich, Benedikt Negro, Al Simmons, Circus Luminescence, Jody Poth, TAQUEET$!, Tempo Turn, Tom Noddy, Mik Kuhlman, Esther de Monteflores
April 3rd: Lindsay Benner, Naked Truth, Jack and Jeri Kalvan, Kenny Raskin, Junior Cesar, Steve Owens, Stevie Coyle, Martin Mall, Miss Ekaterina, Al Simmons, PJ Perry
April 4th: Caela Bailey, Fremont Philharmonic Orchestra, Wang Hong, Unique Derique, Ropeworks Interactive Jump Rope, Mr P.P., Amy G, Sylvia Rose, Mat Plendl, Uncle Bonsai, Michael Paul, Duo Rose, Godfrey Daniels
Yesterday I mentioned that I’m out of town performing. I had to fly to this gig and it’s been a while since I’ve had to fly. Here’s the gear I use to fly:
The Pelican Air 1615 carries my show props, then the suitcase holds my costumes, non show clothes and other personal items. The particular gig I’m out for right now required me to go from the airport to the hotel and quarantine for two days. Then I have to go direct from the hotel to the gig…in addition to passing several COVID tests over the course of about a week.
This has presented some unusual challenges. Normally I would buy a few of the “grocery store” props once I got to the city I’m performing in. That’s not an option for this gig due to the quarantine. I had carry onto the plane some items that are semi fragile.
One of the hard things was travelling with bananas that I intend to use several days later was finding green bananas (that would be nice and yellow in three days). I ended up having to go to a restaurant supply place and had to buy a box of green bananas!
I could have had the production provide the bananas, however in the past when I’ve had them provided for me, they always give me the worst bananas. Same with the crackers…I rarely get exactly what I ask for. The trick is pretty specific to what I need. For example, I use unsalted crackers as they are easier to write on than salted crackers. I’m just trying to eliminate a headache before it happens.
Yesterday I was back home briefly before flying to Los Angeles to record a few routines for a TV show. While I was packing up to fly, I learned that the speaker stand that I’ve been using in my virtual shows as my table base didn’t fit into my case, it was about 3 inches too long! I switched to using a speaker stand early into doing virtual shows because I was able to raise it higher than a traditional magician’s table. That made it easier to frame my face and table in the same camera shot. You can read more about that here:
The solution was pretty simple, I unscrewed the attachment at the top, then cut off a few inches with my Dremel. Also if you don’t have a Dremel or similar tool, you should get one, they are super handy!
While I was out there I also noticed the smaller bar that moves up and down didn’t need to be as long as it was, so I chopped it in half. That will reduce weight for future trips if I fly with this again. Ideally I’ll just use a speaker stand provided by the venue.
Luckily it was a simple solution to shorten the speaker stand. I’ve always said that being a professional magician is 90% problem solving!
In a few months I’ll be doing some bits for the Kids Entertainer Fest which is a virtual online convention for family performers
I was asked to create some “filler” material and will be popping on throughout the convention to show and teach some quick tricks and stunts. I didn’t want to rehash old things that already exist. My goal is to create new things or some interesting twists on old tricks.
One of the things I started playing with making a troublewit out of a dollar bill:
If you don’t know, a troublewit is traditionally a giant sheet of paper that’s folded up to and twisted to make different shapes. Here’s Jay Marshall doing it:
The challenge from scaling down something that big to something very tiny is that it limits what you can do with it. The advantage of it being soo small is that it will allow me to do the magical kicker that I’m planning on doing with it, which is at the end revealing the one dollar bill has changed to a one hundred dollar bill!
While I was on the road last week I ran the production for my buddy’s in person show. I’ve been running the production for his virtual show, so I know his show well. I can’t imaging having to run tech for a show I’ve never seen off of a cue sheet!
One of the cool things about doing virtual shows is that it’s taken a bit of the mystery out of using production elements in my show. Typically I’m a one person operation, so one of the challenges for me was how to use video projection.
Here’s what I did the other night:
The ATEM mini camera switcher that I’ve recently added to my virtual shows, I used for the camera feed in my in person show the other night.
I simply used the Fade To Black (FTB) button on the right to turn the video projection on or off. This was on the floor and luckily due to the placement of the button, it was easy to tap with my toe!
This allowed me to add the camera and be able to easily control it without adding a laptop and running the Media Star software to the mix. I’m not opposed to using a laptop as part of my show production…but this is a lot smaller and more convenient for smaller shows.
The other day a magician I know texted me asking me if I could put him into one of my virtual shows so he could do 5 or 10 mins. Here’s a little bit of backstory, the magician is a good in person magician, but hadn’t done any virtual performing. It’s the lack of experience on the virtual stage that made me have to say no.
Unfortunately doing virtual shows isn’t as simple as turning on a camera and performing. There’s a lot of things you need to figure out at it’s most basic level where it’s just your laptop cam and some magic. Having a choppy show that kinda bumbled through the zoom was acceptable in March – June of 2020 when everyone was figuring this out and we were converting in person gigs to virtual gigs. We’re now in a world where we’re selling virtual gigs and you need to have a show that’s barely treading water while learning to navigate the virtual stage.
The silver lining to virtual shows it’s that it’s easer than ever to get your flight time on stage. There are virtual open mics you can do and you aren’t limited to what you can drive to, these happen at different times and time zones around the world. You could probably perform 3-5 times (or more) a day! That’s tons of chances to learn how to perform virtually. That’s in addition to just getting some friend to informally hop on zoom and you do a few tricks for them.
Basically what I’m saying is you haven’t performed virtually, you need to bang out a few free shows to figure out how it all works and how your show fits onto the screen.
One of the “quarantine” trick I’ve been working on for the last year is the trick with the Polaroids that disappear and reappear under and envelope. A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I removed one of the pictures, so now it only uses three which really streamlines the trick. I also altered it so it’s not just the same vanish and reproduction three times. Finally I figured out how to make one of them appear face up under the envelope.
Here’s a video of me working on it:
It’s crazy the changes this trick has made in the almost a year since I started working on it. It started out as Goshman’s Cards Thru Newspaper, but now I can say it’s completely it’s own thing. There’s really nothing left of that routine in what I’m doing now…except the under the envelope switch, which isn’t unique to his routine.
When people say to make a routine your own, I think this is kinda what they mean…
I’m beginning to become an old man yelling at the kids to get off my lawn, but instead I’m yelling at magicians to stop crowdsourcing content on a Facebook groups. The people who do it are usually pretty lazy, and rarely reveal their work first or at all.
This was recently posted:
First of all, anyone who has a remotely original line isn’t going to give it up. But also the original poster didn’t give any context, he’s just trying to build a Milton Berle joke book in the thread. Unfortunately when you ask a garbage question you get garbage answers:
The person who posted the two jokes (?) isn’t the person who wrote them. That person essentially stole two jokes they’ve heard a magician say, then offered the stolen jokes to other magicians. First of all, neither is very funny and the first thing is kind of an @sshole thing to say to someone. It’s a very late 1980’s to early 1990’s stereotypical type thing a magician would say. It’s not modern, but more so it really doesn’t move most magician’s characters forward and that’s the bigger problem, most magicians don’t know who they are on stage, and how using sh*tty lines lines like this doesn’t move the ball forward for them.
It’s also this thinking that’s the reason why people think all magicians all tell the same jokes and do the same tricks. It’s because soo many do the same regurgitated crap. Go out and actually work on your show. Don’t know how? I wrote a post about it recently and you can read it here