Briefcase Magic Show…

One of my least favorite tropes in magic ads is “packs flat and plays big“. I don’t like it because you should be selecting material that is right for your show, not right for the size of a case that fits under the seat of an airplane. I had a saying, “fits my artistic vision and packs as small as it can“. Some props are simply large and there’s no realistic way to make them any smaller. If that big prop is part of your art, then lug it around.

In the past, for a specific gig I needed a “briefcase magic show” that I could carry onto an airplane and when I got to the gig all I had to do was open the case and it was good to go. It worked for that gig, and I used it for a few more gigs. What I didn’t like was a lot of the material was selected for its size and lack of set up at the show. I wasn’t picking tricks because they were best for the show, but best for the travel and set up.

One of the things I want to work on right now is making a briefcase magic show that can live in the trunk of my car and has minimal set up when I arrive at the gig. I’m going to start the show length at 30 mins and hopefully work it up to 45 mins. The goal is for the show to have some texture. Most of the pack flat, play big shows I’ve seen lack texture. Most of the props are flat cards, and the show (to me) feels flat.

The other goal for the show would be something that could play in a black box theater, so up to about 100 people, and could be done with just a handheld microphone. That would allow me to not have to bring audio and spend time setting it up. I’m hoping for a 5 min set up and 5 min take down.

Quick set up, that plays big, that’s the goal.


Hanging Out…

Whenever I’m out doing shows, I always try to spend time any magicians that are in the audience. Sometimes I don’t know who is a magician, so I apologize in advance if I don’t hang after the show.

I am still very passionate about magic and really enjoy watching and learning it. If you come out to one of my shows and be sure to mention you are a magician. Sometimes I don’t have time to hang after the show…but if I am available, I always love to jam for a little bit!

Gas Prices…

There’s a social media group of performers and they’re complaining about gas prices. Here’s the thing, gas prices were higher in the past than they are now. We had higher gas prices in 2008 and from 2011-2014 and that’s without adjusting for inflation, that’s a straight dollar to dollar comparison.

Price comparison source: US Energy Information Assoc

Some people are talking about adding a gas surcharge to their show fee. I think this is a bad idea. Here’s why, it makes buying a pain for the client:

How do you implement it?
If gas prices drop, so you remove the surcharge?
What date do you use for your price threshold?

Instead of having your worth tied to the price of a gallon of gas, you should just raise your rate. I’m assuming you’re worth more than you were last year, or five years ago. Your show has improved, maybe you’ve picked up some national TV credits, or had a video go viral.

If you’re doing the same show they same way you’ve been doing it for a decade, this may be a hard sell to your client and tying your price to the cost of gas might be the only way you can get a pay raise.

Let’s do some math.

For a local gig, let’s say your round trip is 100 miles, your car gets 20 miles per gallon and gas in 2021 is up from 20 cents to just below 70 cents per gallon from 2019. That means you’ll burn 5 gallons of gas at 70 cents a gallon, and it will have cost you $3.50 more in gas to drive 100 miles than it did in 2019.

Are you honestly going to put a line item for $3.50 in gas on your invoice?

If I was booking someone and they wanted me to pay $3.50 for a gas surcharge, I’d laugh in their face. You’re not teenage driver getting their friends to chip in on a trip to the mall.

If your profit margin is soo tight that $3.50 will make you unprofitable, you need to seriously reassess your business!

Be better than you were last year, raise your rate, and use that to justify why you’re worth more.


Dr. Strange Magic Show…

Last week I was at Disneyland and went over to the California Adventure park to see the Dr. Strange show. Essentially this was a 12 minute magic show. The magic trick were essentially used as “live special effects”, and not as magic tricks. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with doing them this way, it’s just a different mindset.

There were basically four tricks: Devils Hank, Ring to Flower, Zombie, and an Appearing Pole. This show was a great example of a themed magic show. Every trick was used with a purpose to further along the story. The Zombie was well motivated, but went way longer than it should have gone.

Here’s video I found online of the full show:

This show is also a good example of why when I do themed shows my role is more of a lecturer than a character that’s presenting a show. Performing as someone other than me doesn’t really interest me, and I’m not a good enough actor to do that.

Building For Others…

One of the things I love it helping other performers make their visions of tricks become a reality. A couple of months ago my friend Todd Gardner called me with an idea. Todd is a strongman and there’s a stunt they do called levering (you’ll see it in the video below). He wanted a prop to punctuate the stunt and to add a laugh.

I think it worked out pretty well.

As far as a build, I sketched it out when we were on the phone. It’s not a really complex prop, it was just attached a bell to a headband. I 3D printed the connector and had it print around the headband.

one of the great things about building props for other people is that it helps me grow as a builder and creator!


Removing The Force…

I finally got around making a trick that’s been on the back burner for a couple of months. I really like the trick 52 B Wave 2.0 by Vernet. This is essentially a brainwave deck with the kicker of all the cards being blank at the end. It’s got a great three beat ending.

52 B'wave  2.0

There’s one thing that I don’t like about it. What I think is the weakness is that you have to force a color (red or black), which isn’t a huge deal. I do see how adding a second bank of reveal cards would bump up the price and possibly make working it a little more complex.

I decided make it so that I could do the trick and have any card named. I went out and bought some matte finish spray to make some rough cards. It was a pretty easy process to make the black deck, the one surprise I had was the Vernet jumbo cards are a tiny bit shorter than the Bicycle Jumbo Cards, so I had to trim down my reveal cards. Other than that, it was pretty painless.

The routine I’m doing has people throwing cards, and before I had to force half of the card initially, then after that it was a free choice. Now I don’t need to do the initial force, just toss the pack to the audience and they start tossing away cards. It should be much cleaner this way.

Four Cages…

When I was at the Abbott’s Magic Get Together a couple of months ago, on the way home in Minneapolis, I added four new vanishing birdcages to the collection. Two were the older rigid styles and two were the more modern semi rigid style cages.

We’ll start with talking about the most modern cage of the bunch. It’s one of the semi rigid cages made in the style of the Milson Worth Silver Meteor vanishing cage.

I think the Indian design is slightly better than the original as the bars don’t stick out as far as on the Milson Worth cage. The problem with the Indian cage is that whatever metal it’s made from is very heavy when compared to the original Milson Worth cage. When you vanish it, it drops like a ton of bricks!

Now let’s look at the two rigid cages:

Both of these cages are made is similar styles and both have the “spoon” broken off of the front right corner. The spoon tries to eliminate some snags on the sleeve as the cage goes up your sleeve.

The cage on the left is polished metal and the has a little bit more care taken in putting in the bars. It also weighs a ton!

The cage on the right isn’t polished and is slightly bigger, but was made of lighter metal.

Honestly, I can’t imagine using this style of cage compare to the modern semi rigid lindhurst style vanishing cages. They are very heavy, and don’t collapse well.

Now let’s chat about the final cage, which is the linhurst style cage.

This is the same style of cage that I’ve been using for a while. The only difference is that this cage has all of it’s bars! It also has some loops added to hang the bird on. I think these loops were added by whoever bought the cage, and not the manufacturer (but I could be wrong)

This cage is virtually the same dimensions as an Owen’s Challenge Cage and it has a great collapsing action. This cage is going to be my main working cage from here on! I totally lucked out on finding it and the price it was sold to me for.

22 Days of Getting Better…

A couple of days ago I finished up my run at a 22 day gig (that took place over 30 days). I’m reflecting on all of the work I got done on the show over the 66 shows I did. Every show I was working on something. Sometimes it was a full routine, and sometimes it was small, like adding some confetti to a bit in the that I do with a kid.

For me, it’s all about trying to get better every show. Yes, there are some shows where you shouldn’t be trying or tweaking and you do just all A material. However I have the most fun when I can get on stage and play with ideas.

Here’s my stats for new stuff over the last month:
Hand held mic technique went from a D to a C+
Invisible deck like routine went from D to a B
Spoon and Fork went from C to B
Drawing routine went from B to A
Foam hand went from D to C
Game show went from D to B

Having 66 shows to start to level up routines is a good use of the run of shows! I feel like I left there a better performer, writer and magic creator!


The Moisture Festival Podcast – Swami Beyondanada

On this episode of the Moisture Festival Podcast we continue our interviews from Berkeley California and welcome in Swami Beyondananda and Trudy.

The Swami tells us about starting an alternative high school, being a ghostwriter for dental books and how all of that led him to performing his Swami character across the United States. We hear some horror stories from the road and discuss the state of comedy in the world today. An enlightening interview that you are going to love.