I thought I was done with the virtual shows, but last night I was back at it! Doing this show as a nice change of pace from the three shows a day I’m doing at a state fair all month.
This was a corporate gig that was for the employees and their families. This was a fun group! One thing I’ve noticed with virtual shows is the time really flies by, compared to a live show. I think that with an in person show, time travels soo much slower. I think it’s because I’ve done it in person soo much that I have to think less. With the virtual I’m constantly on my toes.
In my virtual show my daughter usually runs the production end of the show and in it I normally do a prediction that she helps me out with, but unfortunately she wasn’t available last night. So I had to had to do it all solo. Running the production part is easy, but doing the prediction was going to be a bit of a challenge. Normally the prediction we do is my “Wheel of dinner”. I was going to modify it to a “wheel of costumes” as the client wanted some Halloween themed tricks. The problem was how I was going to accomplish the trick. With the wheel there are 20 options and it doesn’t force. There are ways to force from the wheel, but I really like just spinning it. It feels random.
It hit me, a while ago I had bought Manifest by Danny Weiser, which is a prediction on a luggage tag and never used it. I hung the luggage tag in the background, and during the course of a trick, I asked someone what they were going to be for Halloween. Then at the end of the trick, I did the reveal of the prediction. It played really well. I like a prediction, where the prediction is not the routine, but a bonus…especially because I takes a lot of the heat off of the method!
This week is the final week of my “fair” season. I end my run on Saturday after performing 66 shows over 22 days at a State Fair. I really like performing at state and county fairs across the USA in the summer. One of the things that I really like about it is that in my preshow I get to work on tricks and jokes that aren’t ready for the main show.
In my show I have materials that’s A, B and C material. A is the stuff that’s finished and plays well. B are tricks that aren’t quite done yet, they’ll be things missing, like maybe the trick is there, but needs some jokes, or the routine is there, but the method or something isn’t quite right. Finally, there’s the C material, and that’s stuff that’s just ideas.
My goal for the summer is to move as much A material out of the show as I can. I do that by levelling up all the other stuff. I work hard at figuring out what’s missing from the B material, and try to move it up to the A level. Once that happens, I stop doing an A routine and put the former B trick in it’s place.
Then there’s the C material, I work on that during my preshow. The goal is to move it to B or drop it. Some ideas are just that…ideas. They may be great ideas, but they’re not for me or my show. It’s good to learn that fairly early on, so you don’t waste too much time with them. This is also why I’m a huge fan of getting material on stage as quickly as possible. That’s the easiest way to figure out if there’s something there or not.
It’s also crazy how quickly things can level up if you put in the time and effort and you have three shows a day for 22 days to work on them. For example the version of the Invisible Deck that I started doing this month (see an early version here) has moved from a C trick to B+ or A- routine in a few weeks. Once I got the technical side down and then found the presentational hook, it was just polishing it up. The routine works as is now, but there is on small technical thing I’d like to figure out…however if I never solve the problem, the routine works great in it’s current form.
I’m very fortunate to have a venue to actively work on new material!
One of the tricks I’ve been working on, sort of on and off all summer is based on Alan Wong and Luca Volpe‘s The Key of Fate. I’m using their basic framework for the trick, but have changed the props a lot. I’m using totally different forces for the prizes and the method for forcing the winner. The basic effect is you predict the outcome of game and what prize the winner gets.
When I first started doing this I was using a larger piece of paper, but the paper got damaged and all I could find was a smaller piece of paper. The small piece was about 15×10 inches, so still fairly large. The trick wasn’t hitting, but due to my schedule I was having trouble finding time to hunt for bigger paper. The effect was playing just OK with the smaller paper and I was thinking of giving up on it. I was attributing the OK response to my performance. Then I had time to hunt down some giant paper, that’s 30×20 and rewrote the prediction.
Here’s the size comparison:
The new prediction is soo much bigger than the previous one. Much to my surprise, the trick is hitting soo much harder with the bigger paper than with the smaller paper. Sometimes it’s small changes that can make a huge impact to a routine.
Now I’m wishing I had done thing a long time ago, I would have gotten a lot more work on this routine done this summer.
In my continuing effort to get better at using a handheld mic, I went out to a comedy show to watch how comedians hold and use the mic. It also helped that a buddy of mine was in town headlining the show, so it was a good chance to say hi.
All of the comedians in the show used a handheld mic, it’s rare to see a comic use anything else other than a handheld. One thing that I noticed I was doing and they all did was they used the mic as a prop. Kinda like how a conductor uses a baton, it was used to emphasize things they were saying. When I started using the handheld mic earlier this month, I noticed I was a lot more expressive with my hands. Normally my hands wouldn’t really have a reason to be near my face, and the motions I make holding the mic would look strange without holding the mic.
One thing I need to do now is watch my show and figure out where I can clean it up the unnecessary moves in and out of the mic stand.
A fun little side bonus is setting up my show is fast now that I don’t have to deal with my wireless headset mic!
P.S. If you are want to learn to use, or get better with a handheld mic, I recommend Michael Kent’s video Microphone Management for Magicians! He does a great job covering pretty much all you need to know and it will save you some time.
One thing that you do when you perform at a lot of events is “media”. This is when you get up super early in the morning to entertain the local morning news or visit a radio station. Later last night I was called to do media this morning, and all of my gear was at the fairgrounds and that was about half an hour out of the way from where I was going. I really didn’t want to get up any earlier than I had to.
I had a deck of cards and a sharpie in my car, so I was confident I could make it happen with just that. In my wallet I have short show that’s always ready to go. Having this on me at all times has saved my butt on my occasions, and opened some doors.
One of the tricks in my impromptu wallet show is my mismade bill routine that I call Splitting Image. The picture below is the finale of this routine!
The effect is you take a picture of them holding a regular dollar bill with their phone, then you rip it in half. You restore the bill, but backwards…then the picture on their phone now has the bill in the mismade condition!
What I like is that this trick doesn’t rely on technology, so there’s no apps to use, it’s just the camera on their phone. It’s low tech, and 100% reliable!
If you don’t have a wallet show, you really should…or at least think about it and what you could do with just the stuff that’s in your wallet. -Louie
On New Year’s Day of 2020 I saw Darren Brown’s show on Broadway in New York. It was a great show and during the intermission the guy next to me was looking at the program and mentioned there were a lot people listed in the credits for a magic show.
Somehow that guy’s comment popped back into my head and got me thinking about who I would have to credit for my show. Looking at the tricks in the show, I’m trying to name the creator of the trick, move or principle that I’m using. For example, I use a classic force, and while Reginald Scot is not the inventor, he’s the oldest reference I could find for the move. For the technical end of things I’m calling the creators “magic consultants”. Then I have a column for “writers” and my criteria is if the line didn’t come out of my head, then it has to be credited to someone else. If I know who wrote the line, then their name is listed as a “writer”. If I don’t know who wrote a line or created a trick, then I’m going to list them as “unknown” and for each unknown I list, it will have a number after it. This also applies for moves/tricks/routines. For example, let’s say I use 2 stock lines and a trick who I don’t know the inventor of, then it would be “unknown (1)”, “unknown (2)” and “unknown (3)” listed in the appropriate categories.
Here’s what my credits look like:
Ralph W. Hull
When you read my list, you’ll notice that Jim Steinmeyer is listed as a writer, not magic consultant. This is because I use a gag from his egg bag routine, in a different context. I’m using the joke, not magic routine.
This was a fun thing to do, and made me think about who has contributed to my show!
In thinking about the giant foam hand, the trick that I’ve been doing in my preshow where the audience follows along is a trick that will never move up to the main show. I don’t thing the “count along with me” type tricks where the audience follows your instructions are very deceptive. They are interesting novelties, but not very magical. They can be fun, and entertaining, but they lack magic.
It hit me that if you used a number force like Phil Smith’s Quinta, you get something that is a bit more deceptive. Quinta doesn’t use any math, it’s pretty straight forward, they name an number, you count across your finger tips and end up at the force finger. It’s soo much more fair than using math to force a finger. It think it would move this trick up into a “filler trick” or “MC trick“, I’m not sure if it would make it to the main show. It’d need a few good jokes and hook.
The nice thing is the props are visually large, you could get the whole audience counting, which would make it play even bigger. It also looks different from the traditional “pack small and play big” type of trick which are usually flat cards or silks.
I need to practice the Quinta a little bit before I try it out in my pre-preshow.
The last couple of days at the fair I’ve been doing my trick that uses a giant foam hand as part of my preshow. It’s a counting trick that uses math. While I honestly don’t think these types of tricks are really amazing to an audience, they are fun little things. Anyone who puts a second of thought into the trick will come to the conclusion that it’s just a sequence that has you end up at the same spot all of the time.
Here’s my running the routine…also a quick note, the audience isn’t mic’d and the camera is in the way back at the sound booth, so you really can’t hear the audience:
I think the foam hand makes it more visual and look like something is happening onstage. You lose the “propless” advantage of using just your fingers, but you gain it playing a bit bigger with the prop. The foam hands, don’t weigh anything and pack down, so they don’t take up more room in your case.
The addition of the foam hand with just the pointer finger out adds a bit of a punctuation to the trick. The reveal of the finger is the ta-dah moment of the trick, which I think the previous versions I’ve seen lacked.
It drives me nuts when magicians complain about magic tricks being “knocked off” or “stolen”, but they didn’t take the most basic steps to protect them. It doesn’t take much to register a copyright on the art and instruction for whatever trick you are putting out.
Before you say it, I’m aware that in the USA your work is “copyrighted” the second you create it. The issue is that you can’t enforce that copyright without a registration number. Sure, you can send a “cease and desist” letter, but without a copyright registration, you really can’t legally enforce it.
Magician’s love to say that “show business” is two words and the business is important. It is, and it’s time for magicians to actually look into the business part when releasing tricks. If they did what businesses do and legally protect their intellectual property it really wouldn’t be an ethical issue. It’s pretty cut and dry.
It’s a business decision to not patent a trick that you are releasing due to the cost or time it takes to get a patent. That’s fine, but you have to live with that decision.
Recently I put out a trick called Out For Beers. This trick uses an original visual gag combined with the Out To Lunch Principle. I really like the gag, and wanted to protect it as it’s something that would be easy to knock off. For $65 in filing fees, I was able to copyright the gag. I’ve copyrighted stuff in the past, and it’s always taken 6-9 months, however somehow I got lucky and this one was process in less than a month!
What this certificate and registration number does is allow me to quickly force sites like Ebay or AliExpress to remove the knock off or unauthorized version of the trick from their websites. This doesn’t guarantee that my stuff won’t get knocked off, but it’s gives me a tool to fight people who are knocking off my stuff!
When it comes to prop management, I’m not the best, but I do have a system. All of my hand held props are in a bin on my table. I don’t do any performing on the table top, it all happens in my hands, so the table simply holds my props. Here’s a peek into my table top bin:
As things get used they either go back into their space in the bin if the trick is instantly reset at the completion of the trick. If the trick doesn’t reset, it goes into my case which is to my left and holds a two larger props I use. This system works well for me when doing three shows a day at fairs. It makes it easy for me to assess what tricks need to be reset and make sure nothing gets missed.
I’m sure there are better systems. I know some two person acts have the “assistant” bring out each routine and then remove the props at the end of the routines. The advantage of that is the show is getting packed up while the show is happening. I’ve used this system in the past when I’ve performed with my daughter. It’s a really nice way to do it, but it’s not something in can do in 90% of my shows.
What’s probably the most important thing is that you have a system of some sort to try to eliminate or shorten dead time while getting or putting away props. Sometimes a joke or interesting patter can fill this time. Other instances, simply having a prop that’s easy to grab is the best option.