It’s been a very unusual summer performing season for me. After having last year off, I’m only doing two library gigs, one was virtual that already happened and today I’m doing my only in person one. This one is booked through an agency instead of direct. I think in my career I’ve only done one other library that was through an agency.
When I was contacted the agent asked if I could do a show based on the library’s theme. I told the agent that I wasn’t doing a themed summer reading show this year as I’m not doing enough to make it worth it. I suggested I do my reading assembly show, the agent then countered with, just do your regular show and say themes slogan a couple of times. I told him to pitch the reading show, and the library booked that show.
The problem with people who come in and do their normal show and just say a slogan in it, they devalue all the people who put time into creating a custom show. The librarian will think that is what every magician does, when there are some people out there doing some really cool, custom shows for them.
I do understand that sometimes you gotta go in and take the cash, but that’s a one off thing. Don’t make a habit of doing it!
Last week I was hosting a stage at a fair. One of the things that I was doing on stage while the band set up was relearning to do my spoon routine. This routine ends with me sticking a giant spoon to my face. I took this routine out of the show about 2 1/2 years ago, and I’m playing with putting it back into the show.
At this particular fair, I wasn’t expecting to be stage hosting, I thought I was going to be doing roving magic. I had the spoon act and lots of old video of me doing it with me to relearn it at night back at the airBnB.
The first time I put it on the stage, it was a disaster…well not that bad, but it wasn’t good. There were soo many little things that I had forgotten to do or say. However after struggling through the act once, I quickly remembered a lot of the logistical things. Then through out the day, lines started coming back to me. Finally at night when I was back at the house and I got to watch video of it, it all started coming together.
I still have a lot of lines to learn, and some confidence to build up!
I recently ended up with about two dozen decks of bicycle cards that are the old stock of Cincinnati made playing cards! I just started using one of the packs of cards as my “pocket deck” at the fair I’m performing at. This is the deck that’s always in my pocket when I’m around the fair, and if someone recognizes me as a magician, it’s the pack I’ll use to show them an impromptu card trick. It’s not the pack I use when I perform, for that I use the normal bikes that are currently available. I just throw away the deck after each show.
What’s great about these cards old stock cards is that they way they are cut, they faro really easily. Anyone starting out right now that was trying to learn to faro shuffle with the new stock cards is going to have a hell of a time!
There’s a lot of physical differences between the new stock and the old stock. One that just hit me is the finish is a little bit different. I wonder if you put an old stock into a deck of new stock cards if it would work as a slick card? Or if not a slick card, some other sort of subtle locator? Unfortunately I don’t have a normal deck with me right now, so I can’t try it out for a few days.
I’m not a “card snob”, however it’s amazing how much easier it is to use a good deck of cards for pretty much any sleight of hand.
Recently I did a short run of smaller summer camp shows. These are for kids ages 4 to about 11 and due to the current COVID rules, they happened outdoors. In the past I always did them inside as it eliminates distractions, however I’d rather do the do with the slightly harder conditions than not do the gig right now.
During my first one about halfway through the 40 minute show it started raining! I’d know what to do and was waiting for cues for the people who worked there as to whether I should wrap it up. I got no signal from them, so the plowed through in very light rain for the remaining twenty minutes! They kids seemed to not care.
During these shows I dress casually. The main reason is that when I look like what the younger kids normally see, it’s easier to not have them be scared of me. Another reason is that being out and doing multiple shows in one day will tear up a more formal costume, especially when you don’t have a place to change out of your costume between shows. The final reason is that my character isn’t a magician, but a dad who can do some cool stuff, so it fits.
One of the tricks I’ve been doing a lot lately is my “Free Pitcher of Beer” trick that’s based on the out to lunch magic trick principle. I’m packing for a show and realized I didn’t have any thick rubberbands to hold the cards together. I quickly made a 3d model of a business card holder and printed it out!
His holder has a little recess in it to hold the half card. The half card is actually taped in place, so it can’t come out. In the traditional method, friction holds it in place.
We’ll see how well this actually plays out for real people tomorrow!
The other day after the magic garage sale and we went out to jam at a local bar, we were talking about coin tricks. I brought up the Perpetual Motion Coin Myth from Paul Harris’s books. This is a coin flourish where you hold a coin sideways between two other coins and get the center coin to spin.
I’ve never seen or met anyone who could do it, but we started playing with it and now I’ve done it and seen it done!
That got me thinking, the next branch of magic is going to beCOINISTRY! That would be fancy flourishes with coins! Start practicing now!
This week, the Moisture Festival Podcast hits the road and travels to Berkley California where they are joined by Scotty Meltzer and Katrine Spang-Hanssen of Comedy Industries.
In this episode, Matt and Louie get into the nuts and bolts of comedy and discuss how custom script writing was the tool that would allow Scotty and Katrine to carve out their 30 year career in the entertainment industry, how they select jokes to put in their show, and the best heckler story ever. This is a fun interview we know you will love.
When you’re out performing, I think it’s important to talk to people you meet. I’ve met some really cool people over the years, just by chit chatting with them. At a fair a recently I started chatting with the guy selling mystery bags. His name is Gene Haaheim, he’s an old pitch man. He pitched Svengali Decks a long time ago, and also the magic mouse.
We had a great time chatting about some of the older people in magic who used to work the pitch circuit! Gene also did a couple of good card tricks.
Go out and talk to people at your next gig, you’ll be amazed at who you run into!