The Artist’s Way…

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).

Junk Bin Magic…

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…

Real Edu-Tainment!

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!

Hold It…

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.

All Sizzle…No Steak…

Whenever I’m performing at a venue and there are other shows or performers I always try to watch them. You can learn soo much from watching other acts. One of the shows that I saw recently was the Jet Pack Circus.

This show used the water jets to propel performers in the air. Their set up looked great and the show has great curb appeal. What I mean by that is that it looks like something you would want to watch, or would want to book.

I personally wasn’t the the biggest fan of the content of the show. Yes, the jet packs are interesting for about 5 minutes. After you see the first person go up, it’s all a variation on them going into the air. For example the first performer goes with the jet pack shooting from a board they are standing on (see above pic), then the second performer went up in a seated position (see pic below).

Once they were in the air then went around in circles in pool. It was pretty repetitive. The show was short, at about 20 minutes and around the 18 min mark they finally gave us something new when a performer did a flip.

Their ending was a performing went up holding an American Flag. It wasn’t a big patriotic production like how Ringling used to end their circus. There was no patriotic music, just someone holding the flag and waving.

One thing I remember from an old magic book was they was to get a good round of applause at the end of the show is to end with the production of a flag. That’s essentially what they did. I think this is lazy, they didn’t have a finale, so they waved a flag. I dislike it when any performer leans on the flag to try to get applause.

Honestly, for my taste it was a lot of “Look at these jet packs we bought” and less of a “Jet Pack Circus“. This show would have been better as an act within a larger water show, not as a stand alone show.

I also understand that these water jet packs are fairly new technology and performers are trying to figure out how to use them. I hope they come up with something cool!

Out For Beers…

One of the tricks that I came up with during the pandemic was a gag card that used the Out To Lunch principle. The gag relies on the similarity of the words “pitcher” and “picture”. You offer someone a “free pitcher/picture of beer”.

The card shows a full pitcher of beer, and you write their name on it. Then the pitcher magically becomes empty.

I’ve been doing this trick since shows started opening back up and about a month ago, I was doing it at the Abbott’s Magic Get Together. It was a hit with magicians, and many asked if I was selling it and at the time I wasn’t.

Recently, I’ve been doing it a lot and am convinced that it’s an amazing trick to non-magicians. I think the gag is very strong and that strengthens the magic trick as it’s unexpected. I’m trying to decide whether to write up the trick for a magazine, or to do make up sets and sell them. I think if I sell the sets, more people will do it as it’s easier to get a set of the cards than having to make you own set from scratch.

We’ll see what I end up doing…

Keeping Busy on the Road…

Everyone things performing on the road is all fun and games. My current run is about 15 weeks long, sure there are some gaps in the schedule that I fly home, but 15 weeks is a long time on the road.

There are some things that I do to keep myself sane, like going for walks or to the gym. This particular trip I’m driving, so I was able to take some tools with me. Last night was a big night, I hunted down about 50 bottles for my Evaporation trick and then made them in my hotel room!

Later today I’ll be working on a couple of custom props in the hotel room after a full day of shows at the fair! The glamour of working on the road ever ends!

It’s a Joke-r…

Here’s another one of my videos where I try to improve packet tricks that I’ve come across. This one is called It’s a Joke-r by Bill Pryor. Here’s the video of it done with the original instructions and then a revised version for a real audience:

The trick is sort of a Princess Card Trick with a kicker, but it’s poorly executed. The whole part of putting a card in your pocket, just to pull it out I don’t like. I also don’t like waiting for the audience to want to turn over the cards on the table for the kicker to happen. If they do turn them over, it’s great, but if they don’t, the trick is just OK.

The changes I made of have a card thought of by me and the person from the audience gives the trick a little more depth. Then never putting a card in my pocket, but keeping it in my hand adds a lot to the trick. Finally having a reason for them to turn over the cards to discover the jokers guarantees they get revealed.

This is a trick that takes up way too much pocket space for how good the trick is. I don’t think the original or my revised version justifies the use of space.

Back in the Virtual Saddle…

The virtual magic show that I did a couple days ago went well. It had been a while since I had done them, so the show wasn’t as tight as it could be. Also I didn’t really have time to run the show a few times, so I had forgotten a few bits. Overall it was a decent show.

With the COVID delta variant out there, I think there’s going to be a lot more people looking for virtual shows than there were a few months ago. I just booked another virtual show that will take place in October. I’m flying home for this show to do it from my virtual studio.

One of the things that initially was cool about virtual shows was that in theory you could do them from anywhere in the world for an audience anywhere in the world. The reality is that many hotels don’t have good internet, and the room isn’t necessarily a good background. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done, but it’s an additional challenge. You may need to book a room at a nicer hotel, or book a conference room. Sometimes those costs can make it cheaper to just fly home and do the gig.

What I need to do is put together a virtual show that can be done with basically just my laptop camera (or small webcam). All of the props would need to be hand held near my face, with no action taking place on the table. This would then work for most situations and could easily be packed.

This is a backburner project to work on for me…

The Moisture Festival Podcast – Nancy Levidow

The Moisture Festival Podcast is on location in Berkeley California and is joined by the amazing Nancy Levidow. Those of you who know Nancy, know that she is such a cool, interesting and amazing person. For those of you who don’t, get ready to meet someone awesome.

Nancy tells us about how she got involved in the WELL which is the oldest online community in the world. She also tells us about how she worked as a private Investigator, how she became part of the famous Fighting Instruments of Karma Marching Band and her early performing days as a juggler. We had a great time getting to know Nancy and we know you will too.