Last week I worked with an 1880’s Frontier Show. The description made it look like it was one of the shows where the kids from the audience get dressed up and they do a show. Usually these types of shows are circus themed and the kids do the circus acts. This one was frontier themed. They have a very limited amount of the kids being dressed up, and they have one kid do the bit alone. Which is strange as the kids alone really lack direction and don’t know what to do.
Their set up looks great and had activities for the kids to do all day. The show lacked a lot. It was all done to a track and they performers lip sync’d the show. This took any sense of spontaneity out of the show. That’s the fun thing with kids, funny and unplanned things can happen. Most of the show was the people who run the show performing. It was pretty sad, I don’t want to see someone lip sync a song, I want to see them sing the song, that’s why you got to live entertainment!
They had a ventriloquist (I think that was the intention) tell a story that was all to a recorded track.
The picture above pretty much sums up the energy level of the show. If they simply switched to doing all the songs, and talking live the show would instantly get better!
Here’s what I learned form watching this show. People go to live shows to see people exhibit their talents…and to see them do it live. People don’t want to see you mouth along to a prerecorded track. They want the experience of something happening now!
This week the Moisture Festival Podcast is joined by the magician to the stars, Jay Alexander!
The talk about Jay’s beginning as the doorman at a rock club, his relative that was a vaudeville strongman, living on a boat and owning his own magic theater! This is a great episode, where you’ll learn about Jay’s amazing life!
In a facebook group someone asked for advice on how to deal with preteen hecklers. Now, I’ve written in the past about how advice on the internet is pretty much always crap advice. Well here’s a good example. Here’s Pete’s suggestion and my reply:
Objectifying a pre-teen girl without their permission is wrong. This is also misguided, as the girl may not be the one causing the problem. Another issue is that preteen’s probably don’t know what misdirection is, so they won’t get the joke.
He tries to defend it by saying he’s not in the USA, and where he lives it’s culturally OK. That may be, but that doesn’t make it right. There’s a place in the USA (Massachusetts) where it’s legally OK for an adult to marry a twelve year old, but that doesn’t make it right.
Then he goes onto personally attack me:
I respond with a couple bullet points of my resume and Pete says that he’s never heard of me. This is very interesting because he just made a lot of statements about my show. How could you make the above statement if you know nothing about me?
So which is it Pete, do you know about me or not?
When I asked him to explain his statement, the confirmed he had no idea who I am. That’s when I asked him:
He then says he never made any statements about my show. That’s when I quoted his statement about me copying other people and then here’s the exchange that followed:
FYI: he lives in the UK, which has libel laws that are much more strict than in the USA.
His only response to me asking why he felt the need to make up stuff about me was to try to bully me.
This is the problem with trying to crowdsource advice on the internet. You can get advice that’s not very good. Then the people giving that poor advice aren’t exactly people you’d want to take advice from.
The bigger point is that we all should try to be better. Things that were OK in the past may not be OK now. Look at it this way, if you don’t objectify women in your show, no one is going to see the show and say, “I didn’t like how the magician chose to not comment on that preteen’s look, I’m not going to hire them for my event.” However there are people who will see the show and chose not to book you because of how you objectified a child.
I’ve been working on this Silver Extraction coin trick style routine at the fair this week. I’ve learned a lot. First of all, I think the more complex method I’ve come up with to switch the coins, has some advantages over simply doing a shuttle pass. A shuttle pass is a solid method for doing the trick, however the advantage of my complex method is that I can hold the coin more openly after the switch.
One of the problems I’ve encountered working on this is getting the shell to stick to the magnet on the lighter. The solution was simple, I added a second magnet to the lighter and some more shim steel to the shell coin.
Having more magnets and more steel to grab solved the problem. The lighter really firmly attaches to the coin.
Another thing that I’ve learned about the trick is that I need to call attention to the three layer of the coin. Most people have noticed the layers, but never really thought about them. The trick has been getting great responses from the people at the fair this week. I really like how strange the trick is.
Yesterday I started messing around with the Silver Extraction coin trick. Traditionally how the trick goes, is you give them the coin that they hold in their fist. You then pull the silver (silver blob) through their hand and they are left with a clear coin. I think the pulling through the hand is fun, but I think this particular set of coins has a different effect possible.
here’s the idea:
I like the visual of the shaking and having the silver blob sliding around on top of the copper center of the coin. Method wise, I’m not sure it’s an improvement over just a shuttle pass. I’ll be trying out both methods today at the fair.
Many years ago when I was working at Market Magic Shop, I used to demo and sell a trick called Silver Extraction. The effect is you take a half dollar and it ends up turning into a blob of silver and a clear coin. Then at some point someone made a coin that was just the copper center of a half dollar. I don’t know what the routine was, but I’m going to assume it was a similar effect.
I always thought it would be great paired with the blob of silver that came with the Johnson Silver Extraction. Unfortunately they stopped making the Silver Extraction a long time ago, so that was something I never did. Well, recently I came across one of the blobs of silver and bought it.
Now that I have the two of them, I can try it out!
A couple of weeks ago I was performing at a fair and another act mentioned she was going through a book called The Artist’s Way. This is a book about how to be more creative. It’s more than a book, it’s a series of things you need to do and it’s broken down by week. It doesn’t feel like a lot work, but it is. There’s a lot of writing that needs to happen. I’m not afraid of writing, so it’s not as daunting as it may be for me. If you’re someone who really hasn’t done much writing, it may be a little bit of a challenge.
I’m only on day three, and the book gives you things to do by the week, so I’m on week 1. The first week seems to be identifying the things that are holding you back, and while I did know some of the things that I’ve brought up in my writing, there were a couple of surprises as well.
This book has a pretty hippy vibe. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I guess that writing style may turn some people off. So far, I’m down with this book, but it’s a twelve week thing, so we’ll see how I feel by the end (assuming I make it to the end).
Many years ago I bought a trick in a bin of discount magic that was a change of a spoon to a fork. When I opened the package, I thought it was garbage, and as written in the instructions, it really was garbage. Then I started presenting this as a transposition between and fork and a spoon and it played much better. It’s a real fooler for audiences.
This trick has basically lived in my preshow for years, but never made it up into the main show. It was missing something. I ran the trick through a workshop group I’m in and they all thought it needed a surprise ended. They were pulling for a spork, which is funny, but I think it lacks visual contrast from a spoon or fork as an ending.
Here’s what I came up with yesterday:
I do like the surprise of the knife. Now the routine needs to be fleshed out a bit more and performed for an audience a bit and we’ll see if it goes anywhere…
Last week I had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Ed Kabotie. Ed plays music and talks about Native American issues.
What Ed does is talk about something like how the reservation has arsenic in the water from the mining companies, then sings a song about it. The education of the stats before the song and the passion he tell and sings with really brings home the point. The amount of people after his show that would come up to him and tell him the didn’t know about all of these things was amazing!
I wish I could do what Ed does.
I do a comedy magic show, and in the past there’s been some social commentary in it, but with how polarized we’ve become in America, it’s hard to put something in right now without people getting very offended that you don’t think like them. I think I may need to look at other things that are important to me, but less political and try to figure out a way to work that into the show.
I’m out there making people laugh, Ed is out there trying to educate the world!
One thing I was working on over the weekend at the fair was freezing and holding for applause and for the effect to sink in longer. This can be hard to do, just standing still and waiting for the audience to do something.
I need to be better about this at the end of the effect and after telling a joke. Letting the effect or punchline marinade with the audience for a little bit. I’ve noticed the difference between the first day of this fair and the last day in the amount of applause and laughs I’m getting.
Doing this can be hard if you have a dead crowd, as you’re standing and waiting for very little audience response. One thing I’ve notice is that it builds throughout the show.