Torn Corner…

Personally I dislike using a torn corner to identify a card or bill. It’s very clunky compared to having is signed and you lose the punch of the item reappearing and having it immediately identifiable.

Ok, that’s out of the way, now I’m doing to explain why I’m playing with a trick with a torn corner.

A long time ago when Gaeton Bloom’s Intersessor trick came out, I thought it would lend itself to a trick in Tarbell where a card jumps out of the deck when the end is riffled. I never did it because $50 to play with an idea that I would probably never use was a bit steep. Recently I found a super deal on a used Intersessor gimmick and bought it.

Here’s me trying out the idea before my show and my comments on it:

I think I’m going to switch it up and use a corner switch or a scored duplicate card instead of the Intersessor gimmick. That will solve having to ditch the gimmick. With scored card or corner switch, it will allow me to use a bigger tear which will let me do a bigger tear and get a bigger jump of the card.

Interesting Observation…

After one of my shows yesterday at the fair I’m performing at, I had a guy tell me something interesting after the show. He was a caterer and has worked with a lot of local performers, so he’s seen some magicians, and told me that. The caterer told me that my product wasn’t a magic show, it was my personality.

I 100% agree with his assessment and that’s the goal with the show. It’s not about the tricks, while they are important and I select them to hopefully move the story of my personality forward. What I’m selling is how I work, not what I work with.

Some magicians live on the the tricks that they do and that’s an easier route than trying to live on your personality. One of the hard things is when people don’t like your show, that directly means they don’t like you. Where if you do an effect driven show, if they don’t like the show they don’t like the tricks.

It’s up to you what your art is…

Unqualified Answers…

In the past I’ve written blog posts about how the facebook groups are bad places to get advice. The exception to this is when it’s a curated group of people where you know everyone. Recently in a group someone was asking about where to find some fuse to make a fake stick of dynamite. I’m not sure why you would want that, however that’s a different conversation.

In the comments of the facebook group, someone added this comment:

This is horrible advice. First of all, that doesn’t make flash string. Soaking cotton in lighter fluid makes a wick. It will burn, but not like flash paper. What will happen is the cotton string will light on fire until the lighter fluid burns off, then the string will burn, leaving a lot of residue. It also won’t happen in a flash, it burn like a wick with very little fuel, because that’s what it is.

Be careful out there when you ask for advice on the internet!

A Step Backwards…

This week I’m performing on a stage inside a tent. It’s a nice tent and it solves a lot of outdoor performing problems, it gives the audience shade and cuts down on wind.

The first couple of days of the week I was performing at the front edge of the stage. The shows were doing alright, but I realized I was losing people on the side bleachers. It was a consistent loss of people from specific positions in the audience, so it was something that probably wasn’t my show. To try to fix this I watched another performer’s show from one of those positions and figured out why I was losing them.

You’ll notice there are two poles at the front of the stage and when I was playing too far forward, they people couldn’t see the show. Then there was a smaller problem that when playing too far forward it was hard for some people to see my face as they were almost behind me.

The solution was simple, I just moved my show two steps backwards. Once I did that the change in the show was dramatic! I kept the audience in the spots where I was losing them AND the side were more enthusiastic about the show!

Tear-able Solution…

Restarting to do a trick that’s been almost two years since I used to do has some fun little challenges. One of the things that the trick needs is a double walled envelope. I went out and bought some envelopes and gimmicked them:

Double walled envelope

The first show I realized quickly that these particular envelopes were made differently than I was used to. They start loaded with and item behind the wall and I put something in front of the wall during the show. During the first show I used it in yesterday, I couldn’t get the front compartment open! It was too flush with the front side of the envelope.

The solution was pretty easy, a quick little tear and I was good to go! That little scallop I ripped out allowed me to access the front compartment easily.

Double walled envelope

The routine that I use this for the audience never sees that side of the envelope until it’s sealed, so it’s not issue having a tear that big.

I frequently tell people that creating and performing magic is 90% problem solving!


This week I’m performing at a 9 day fair and it’s been a little while since I’ve done my full stage show, so I’ve had a few little road bumps. The biggest one is that I’m not doing my cracker card trick. It’s a fun trick with some twists and turns and it’s an unusual trick.

The problem is the cracker packaging I need to do the trick doesn’t appear to be made anymore. I need to load a cracker into a cracker wrapper and seal it, and all of the packing that I’ve found recently don’t work for the resealing part, and are super tight making the loading really difficult without damaging the cracker.

After much searching, this cracker finally popped up. The packaging looks looser that what I’ve been able to get recently. While that solves one of the issues, it doesn’t solve the other. The placement of the seam on the packaging is in the middle, and that won’t work for the resealing of the cracker package.

I’ve got an idea of how to make it work, however you can’t just order one or two crackers to try out the idea. I need to order a box of 500 of them and after shipping I’m about $50 into crackers! The trick is worth the gamble, let’s hope it works when they show up on Thursday!

The Moisture Festival Podcast – Stevie Coyle

The Moisture Festival Podcast hits the road and is joined in Berkeley California by Stevie Coyle.

Stevie tells us about his childhood path to become a priest and how he ran away to join the Royal Lichtenstein Circus instead. We learn all about his eclectic career that involved things like a trained cat act, announcing whale shows at a marine park, fixing alarm clocks, playing in successful bands and now running his own high end guitar store. A really great interview with lots of laughs, great stories and even some of Stevie’s original tunes. We know you will love it.  

No Production Show…

At yesterday’s day camp show where I didn’t have music or a microphone, I initially had a bit a “what did I get myself into” moment. I started the show and the kids were really rowdy, lots of chatter and random screaming. The group was 3-12 years old, with the majority in the 3-5 year old range. That meant most of the kids had no concept of magic, or how to behave during a show.

I opened with a warm up, and did the rules bit that I do for school assemblies. It tells them my behavior expectations in a funny way. Once I did that and then my first trick, it really snapped them to attention. 15 years ago when I was a kid, I really would have struggled with this. I would have thrown energy at the kids, instead of keeping more calm (but still have energy). Starting out calm, like I’m the captain of a ship, really brought them to me…instead of me going to them.

The other thing that having no production in the show made me do was work a bit slower and be comfortable holding for laughs or reactions without any “audio spew” in the background. Holding and waiting for a reaction for me is one of the most nerve wracking things in performing.

Acoustic Set…

Today I’ve got a show for a day camp, but it’s slightly unusual. Right now all of my props are in Montana, but I’m a home in Seattle. This isn’t a lost luggage situation, it’s intentional. The show is for about 20 kids, so I don’t need sound and I left my PA and mics with my show.

It’s always strange doing the show without music. Over the years, I have developed a lot of bits that use music in my show and figured out that many of my bits play much better with music. I do have a PA here, but really don’t need to lug it out for this gig. Also it’s a fun little challenge to perform with less production elements. It makes you work a little bit harder to connect with the audience.

I’m a big fan of getting out of your comfort zone as a performer every now and then.

Five Card Surprise…

Here’s another packet trick that I got from a collection of magic that I’m revising. Today it’s Five Card Surprise, and there was not creator listed on the packaging. It’s sort of like an illogical princess card trick.

Here’s the video of me doing it the original way as written, then doing a revised version for a real audience:

This trick suffers from trying to make it easy to do. What I mean by that is the card selection is you simply telling them what card to take. I think it not being a choice weakens the trick a lot. The simple addition of a force of the card (any force) greatly improves the trick.