Why I Don’t Do Halloween Shows

Halloween is a busy time for magicians, there’s soo much work out there, everyone could be performing and there’d still be gigs leftover. That said, I don’t normally perform on Halloween anymore. Here’s why:

Halloween shows usually suck!

When you put audiences (kids or adult) in a costume they act really strange. The will play up their character which isn’t what I want in my show. I want them to be themselves, not Darth Vadar. Also when in costume, you can’t always see people’s faces clearly, which makes it harder for an audience and you to connect with them. The amount of times I’ve picked someone from the audience to help who wasn’t wearing a mask, then as they got up to walk onstage they put a mask on is remarkably high.

Then you have people’s costumes that interfere with basic functions that you don’t anticipate. Some costumes will have sleeves that will make it harder to do things like hold a prop the the audience can see it, or make it difficult for people to move.

I’m not saying that I will never do a Halloween show again in my life. Sometimes the pay is insane or there’s something I want to buy, so the show will finance it. However I very much dislike them and do my best to avoid them.


Shell Game Set (Homemade?)

I just added a new shell game set to my collection:

Three Shell Game

I’m pretty sure this was a home made set, as they look like nothing I’ve ever seen. The look like they started as candle snuffers, and someone took the stick off of them and glued a bearing over the hole. I like their weight, but don’t like how tall they are. The height and strange shape makes working with them a bit awkward.

They’re a great addition to the collection, but won’t replace my working set!


Show Introduction

When I perform at showcases, my agent has me use a preshow video. There’s a great reason for this, usually the MC sucks and the video sets the vibe for what they are about to see! I also use this for shows that have video as an option. It’s simple to keep it on a flash drive and give it to the tech crew where ever you’re performing.

Recently I was at a hockey game and realized that all sports do this.

It really hypes up the crowd. After watching the Seattle Kraken’s introduction production, it really highlighted how important this is. I was trying to imagine watching the game without it and how strange of transition from nothing to the game would be.

Go out and watch a sporting event and see how their preshow sets the mood for the game. There’s a lot that can be learned from sports that can be applied to your show. For example all of the transition music bits, and bits with people in the stands when there isn’t play happening.

Watch a game in person and imagine it without music. It’d be really strange and the energy level would constantly be going down. In my show I fill they gaps between routines with joke or music, which is essentially what happens at arenas, just on much bigger scale.

Go out and see a game and you’ll learn a lot!


Applause Please Available Soon!

Woo hoo! I just got a text from Brian at Magic Crafter that a batch of the boxes for my Applause Please trick are finished!

I still need to add the electronics and a couple other things to them before they’re ready for sale. The bad news is that I’m out of town for a few weeks, so I won’t be able to work on them for a little while. I’m hoping to have them done by Thanksgiving.

If you haven’t seen the trick, here’s the promo video:

These will be available at Hocus-Pocus.com when they’re completed.


The Rocket Card Fountain

I’m still working on my Rising Card routine. At the end of it I’m doing a bit where I push the out jogged card back into the deck and it rises up again. I do that several times, but the bit is lacking an ending. It’s the same joke over and over again.

I’m thinking that maybe after it gets pushed down and pops up a few times, I set the glass into my case, THEN all the cards come shooting out of the glass.

I started playing with it in the green room at the fair a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t really try it at any shows at the fair as I don’t want to deal with the clean up of cards everywhere at the stage I’m at.

Here’s what the ideas will look like:

I’m using The Rocket card fountain. I really like this, it’s pretty quiet and so far is very reliable. I can’t wait to actually try it in the show!


Small Changes

In my Drawing in Ball of Yarn routine, there’s a middle phase that’s a mismade bill. I’ve been having trouble with the the mismade bill part. The bill part was essentially my 13 sided bill routine that I do close up. Here’s what that looks like:

The mismade bill phase was too long for it’s spot in the show and I dropped it for a few weeks. Then I added it back in with a little change, I’m using a Quadraflex style mismade will that has the four quarters.

The routine for the mismade bill part of the routine is simple. I say, “I’ll fold your dollar four times.” then I do that and ask the kid, “do you know what that does…it turns it into four…” as I’m slowly unfolding it. For the last 30+ shows the kid has always replied, “dollars”. Then I say, “four dollars?! Have you seen the budget for this show? It turns it into four quarters!” Then I reveal the mismade bill.

I think this works a lot better because I keep dealing with the number four and it foreshadows what the audience is about to see and then at the reveal, it tells them what they are seeing.

I’m glad I put the mismade bill phase back into the routine and tried a different approach!


Performing in a Comedy Club

One of the challenges of performing in comedy clubs is space on stage. Since most stand up comics don’t require a lot of space, you’ll get some really tiny stages (and sometimes giant ones). The last few years I’ve been working to make my show physically larger, so that it plays better in larger venues. That doesn’t necessarily mean using a larger prop, but sometimes it does.

Here’s my show set up on the stage before the show at the Tacoma Comedy Club a couple of days ago:

Comedy club magic show

There’s not a lot of free real estate on that stage. Right after the pic was taken, I pushed my case back to that it was against the wall to leave more room for the opener to perform. That stage being probably 8 x 8 feet with my gear set didn’t leave a lot of room to perform. Luckily when I started out, I performed on a lot of stages like this so I know how to tighten up my show physically to make it play.

Another thing to consider with set ups like this is that the first row is literally at the edge of the stage, so the audience is on top of you. With the stage being low, anything that happens below my belly button can’t really be seen from about the 3rd row or further back. That mean everything need to be handheld and held at shoulder height.

If you’re interested, here’s my set list for the show:

magic show set list

On the right side, I wrote down the names of the servers at the club so that I could thank them by name. If you don’t already know, always be super nice to the servers and staff at the venue!


How Hard to Promote a Show?

One of the local comedy clubs in my area is trying out doing all ages, family friendly afternoon shows and they had me do their test show! I’ve known the owner for probably a decade, so I wanted this to succeed! If they do it monthly, quarterly or whatever it’s good for local variety performers as it’s more local work!

I do try to promote every show I do, however sometimes it’s just a calendar listing and sometimes it’s more. This one I worked a bit harder to help sell tickets. For this show I worked my email list, and social media a bit harder and much to my surprise I managed to sell out the show!

louie foxx tacoma comedy club

When it comes to promoting a show, there’s a lot that goes into deciding how hard to promote it. Some of the factors are:

-How high profile the show is: A comedy club, theater or TV appearance sounds more prestigious to the general public than a rural library. That doesn’t mean that the rural library is any less important, in fact I’d say that the rural library is a more important show for the community. That may be the only chance that community has to see a live show. However me promoting that rural library really hard, probably won’t change the attendance.

-Do I have a financial stake in the show? If it’s a show where I’m four walling it, or get a percentage of tickets sales instead of a flat fee, then I need to hustle the show a bit more.

-Do I have a personal stake in the show? Some shows you have a personal reason that you want them to succeed. Like it’s a fundraiser for a cause that’s close to your heart, it’s a gig run by a friend, or whatever.

Also anytime you promote a show, you are marketing to a general audience. It’s the old advice that the more people see your name the more likely they’ll book you.