Hosting Contests…

Right now I’m out performing on the fair circuit for most of the summer. If you perform at fairs, at some point you’ll be asked to host a contest or two. When I do them, I have a playlist of music and sound effects for contests. It takes it up a level from just someone saying “go” to start the contest. I try to turn them into events.

I also have jokes that I’ve written for the contests and I add a lot of energy to them. Usually when I host one, they have me do a lot more. I turn a 10 minute contest, into a 30+ minute show. These are also fun for me to do because it breaks up the monotony of doing my show multiple times a day for months!

When I’m performing in any industry, I try to notice things that I get asked to do and try to come up with ways to make them better than simply being an announcer. I think of it as building up skills, then eventually I can justify charging for it, or including it within my scope of work.


Bubba Bear and the Bad Land Band…

Sometimes I see things on fairgrounds that make no sense to me in the moment. Recently I saw Bubba Bear and the Bad Land Band.

Bubba Bear and the Bad Land Band

This is a trailer stage that had an animatronic animal band and Mark Twain. If I was betting, these are older robots from a Chuck E Cheese that have been repurposed for this show.

Here’s a peek at the show:

The show runs every 10 minutes, I didn’t watch more than one show, so I don’t know if they are all different.

The show is (in my opinion) not good, however I do think it serves several important purposes. First of all the trailer stage and graphics look great and it looks like something you want on your fairgrounds. Next, it runs all day, and it has benches, so it’s a chance for people to sit down for a few minutes, however no one is going to sit on those benches for hours chatting. Also, it doesn’t really take man power (unless it breaks down), so it’s an easy to fill a blank spot on a fairgrounds. Oh, it’s owned by the carnival, so I’m going to imagine that if they have a ride that’s supposed to be at the fair, they can easily substitute this in. Finally, it’s free for the people attending the fair, so it’s something that’s not a money grab.

That illustrates something that you need to know if you want to perform at fairs, what is your purpose on the fairgrounds? A fair may book you because they want an awesome show, they may book you because they need to move guests a certain direction on the fairgrounds, or any number of reasons. The sooner you understand why you’re there, you’ll be much more successful!

With all of that considered, I’d still not watch the show again…but if I ran a fair, I’d probably book it and be happy with having it on my fairgrounds.


Drink Ticket Magic…

Back in October I started trying to go to more open mics to play with new ideas. I haven’t been to as many as I’d like, however the one I went to last night was a gave us drink tickets. That got me thinking about a trick with them.

If you showed the ticket, then it grew to about the size of a sheet of paper! For the finale you produce a drink out of the giant ticket!

That’s a great little routine that would be a good opener, especially for something like a corporate holiday party where they are giving out drink tickets.

As for a routine, you could tell a story about trying to use a drink ticket and that the bartender told you it would only get you a small drink. The ticket grows and you got a full beer.

The challenge would be making the growing ticket not look like it was just folded up behind the small ticket. I guess that’s the gag the sets up the production of the drink, so the growing doesn’t need to be the strongest trick.


Coming Soon…Applause Please

I’m still working on a redesign for my Applause Please trick.

This is my take on the liquid in light bulb effect, but instead of using a lamp, it uses an applause sign. This has been unavailable for a while as the Tim Rose who built them for me passed away about 2 years ago. I’m working with a new builder and should have it available in the near-ish future.

One of the changes that I’m working on is having it all battery operated. I’ve fought thing as I don’t like to rely on batteries, but I frequently get that suggestion. I think LED technology is catching up for the lumens that I need for the trick that can be run off of a 9 volt battery.

I should mention one of the reasons that I’m not using a rechargeable lithium battery is that you can’t fly with them. If the battery was built into the prop, you’d have to hand carry it onto a plane. Another thing is that I don’t trust myself to always charge it. With a built in battery, if you forget to charge it or don’t plug it in fully, you can’t do the trick. With a 9 volt battery, you just throw a fresh one in there and you’re good to go.

Another change I’m testing now is that I’ve rewired it so that the foot switch and hidden remote work together to so there is less secret pushing of the button on the remote control than in the current version of the trick that I’m using.

Hopefully these will be available by the end of the summer!


Prop Maintenance

Last week I performed at a fair that was very windy and dusty. One of the things that the wind and dust (plus the sun) does is put a lot of wear and tear on your props. After the fair wrapped up, I got up early the next morning before my flight home and did some cleaning and maintenance on my props.

magic show props

There were several things that I just had to throw away as the dust made them not work properly and I really couldn’t get inside them to clean them. It was also a good time to give my magic show props a good once over to look for things that need repairs, or touch ups.

The nice thing about doing this clean up before I left is when I fly back to CA in a couple of days, I won’t have to clean my props, I can just load into the next gig.


Moving On Up…

I recently was performing at a fair that had a very challenging stage.


The audience was 25 feet from the front of the stage and the were many visual barriers between the stage and the audience. There was no way to fill that gap, the hay bales were decorative, to cover the front of the stage, so I couldn’t convert them to seating.

The solution for me was to not use the stage, but do the show directly in front of the bleachers. That closed the gap between me and the audience. The show lost some “status” doing it on the ground and not the stage, but the advantage of being close to the audience outweighed the loss of perceived “status”.

Personally when I’m at a gig where the setup is less than ideal, I will try to find solutions to the problem. Sometimes at hotel gigs, it’s doing the show on the dance floor and not using the stage…but sometimes you need to use the stage as your show will get lost on the dance floor in a big venue with the audience seated at tables. At the end of the day you need to weigh the pros and cons of the venue and make choices that will hopefully be advantageous for your show.

Verbal Card Magic…

There’s a lot I don’t like about how a lot of card magic is presented. A lot of them are “magiciany” things that we think everyone knows. Let’s start with the fact that there’s a chunk of people that don’t know what the spade and club suits are called. We assume they know that, they don’t.

The one that gets me is that magicians expect people to know what the “mate” of a card is and they use the word “mate” which really is an industry term. It’s not a hard concept to grasp, but when we use industry terms it doesn’t really help. Recently I watched someone do a card trick, they showed the seven of spades and they asked, “what’s the mate to the seven of spades?” The person didn’t know what they were talking about. It would be easier to say, “that’s a black 7, so we’re looking for the other black 7, which would be the seven of clubs…” There’s really nothing gained by asking them what the mate is, and not telling them.

I think “mate cards” are the card magic version of calling scarves “silks”. It still works to convey the idea, but it doesn’t work really well.


Lightning Bill Switch

A few weeks ago I was hanging out with my buddy Clive Hayward and he showed me Jay Scott Berry’s Lightning Bill Switch. Honestly I think it’s better than the hundred dollar bill switch…in most situations. Essentially it’s the Hundred Dollar Bill Switch, but using a modified Sanada Gimmick called the Cloaking Device instead of a thumb tip.

I bought two videos from Jay, the one on how to make the Cloaking Device and the other on the Lightning Bill Switch. I will say that I feel the Cloaking Device video was incomplete. I think it’s a chopped version of a DVD that he used to sell. Mine starts with him constructing the gimmick, but he doesn’t go into the materials used. I think there’s another video where he talks about the materials, but I’m not going to drop another $10-20 to figure out how to get the name of the type of tape he uses. Personally, I think if I were to buy the videos again, I’d look for a used DVD and you’d get all the info. While I’m all for supporting the creator, I feel like he sold me an incomplete product, so I have no problem paying $5-10 for a used DVD and getting all the information.

With the above concern noted, I still think this is an amazing bill switch. What makes it great is that the bill is only folded into eighths, not sixteenths like with the Hundred Dollar Bill Switch using a thumb tip. That keeps the bill a lot more visible, which is great when doing it onstage and it feels a lot less cramped.

Go out and learn this switch, it’s great!


Visiting Hocus Pocus!

One my way to the airport in Fresno yesterday, I swung by Hocus Pocus to hang out a bit and dig around their bins of magic. I had a great time chatting with Max, and Kyle Elder happened to be there, so it was fun to chat ACAAN with him!

hocus pocus magic shop

Hocus Pocus is is the only place to get the magic tricks that I make (other than directly from me). They usually have all of my products in stock!

When I travel it’s important for me to support the remaining magic shops. If we don’t support them, they’re won’t be any to run into when you need something!

Rock Prediction…

A couple of days ago I wrote about finding some rocks that were attracted to a magnet and trying to figure out a trick to do with them. The idea that I came up with that’s the best is a “heads or tails” sort of trick. You have two rocks, one is black and one is gray. You hold a cup behind your back and someone from the audience picks a rock, holds it in their fist and drop the other one in the cup behind your back. You know which rock is where.

The method is simple, it’s a magnet in your hand. You could put a magnet in a thumb tip, however with how your hand would hold a cup behind your back a Sanada Gimmick with a magnet in it would be a better choice as it’d be behind the cup. You simply tip the cup so the rock would be near the magnet, then tip it the other way and if the rock moves, it’s the one that’s not attracted to the magnet.

Now we need to add a layer to the trick. What if it ended with a prediction? So you guess which one the person is holding correctly two out of three times. On the third time, you reveal a prediction that says:

I will WIN – LOSE – WIN
and you can keep the
GRAY rock you are holding

Method wise, it’s pretty easy. Since you can know which rock is where, you can control the outcome of the three rounds. For the prediction, you will need two predictions, each revealing a different colored rock. You would keep this in a double sided envelope, Himber Wallet, Shogun Wallet, or whatever that would allow you multiple outs.

Adding the layers of multiple guesses with a final specific guess makes it much harder to backtrack to a rock with a magnet in it.