Today is National Magic Day, Halloween and also probably my least favorite day to perform. When performing for groups kid, family or adults, they all act strange when they are in costume. Some they try to play their character, and the rest just don’t act quite like normal people I don’t like it, and I haven’t really done Halloween gigs in about a decade. Sure, there are reasons ($$$$) that I would take one, so I won’t say that I don’t do them.
The other thing is what people wear isn’t always conducive to participating or enjoying a show. Costumes aren’t necessarily made for comfort, and they are full of visual distractions. Then you have mask which limit visibility and face make up which makes it hard for people to tell what someone’s doing with their face.
I know there are some people that are really into doing Halloween gigs and that’s great, with me not really doing them, there’s more work for everyone else.
Last night I was at a sports bar watching hockey and in between periods I popped into the social media and in a group for children’s performers I saw this post:
For fun I wrote 10 of them…I wasn’t doing anything, it was between periods of the hockey game. It wasn’t hard, you just needed to find things that have an “ah”sound or sound similar to that and you’re off!
You’ll notice that I put a little note at the end of my list. The reason I did was that I think one of the problems with magicians is that they try to get people to give them the answer to a problem before they try to solve it first. In my list I put in the work…so should you. It’s not hard, I literally spent 10 minutes coming up with my list.
“sure, it’s easy for you because you’re creative” would be someone’s excuse for not trying. I’m no more creative than anyone else. I just sat down and did the work. I actually farmed out most of the work to an online rhyming dictionary.
Do the work, then show your work when you ask for help. Seeing that people have put in some sort of effort makes a huge difference in the quality of help you get.
A few days ago, I wrote about post about rewriting a prediction on larger paper and the trick playing better (you can read it here). I’m now running into a new challenge with the prediction, if there’s a little bit of wind, it will warp and it’s hard to read the whole thing.
The nice thing is that the prediction is revealed and read 1/4 of the page at a time, so if the top bends, that information has already been revealed to the audience. However seeing the whole thing is a better picture.
While I probably won’t have time to try this in the next few days, a solution would to be put a line of tape on the back of it. Maybe just around the edges and and X across the middle. That would give it some support. If that doesn’t work, I could completely line the back with tape. That would essentially be laminating the back of the prediction.
It’s been two months and I’m still going through the book The Artist’s Way. I will say the book is a bit “hippie” for my taste, but if you can get past that, it’s a great book. I honestly think the last eight weeks (the whole book is twelve weeks) have been a very creative time. I’ve really ramped up my creative output of the material in my show.
If you decide to get the book, commit to it. There’s some spiritual stuff that I’m not a fan of, and I just plow through that and do the work. I also feel it’s not written for someone who is out there actively doing their “art” for a living. A lot of the book addresses things that block you from showing people your art. Do the exercises anyway, you may learn a little bit about yourself.
As for creating magic, I find that I’m doing a lot more brainstorming with myself than I used to do. I’m essentially having a morning magic jam in a notebook. It’s great!
Despite all of things I don’t like about the book, the things that I like outweigh them, and I really recommend it! -Louie
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!