I’m honored to take part in the 2021 International Brotherhood of Magicians convention this summer! I went to my first one when I was 18 years old in Minneapolis and got to see some amazing acts! The 2021 convention is going to be done virtually and they’ve got an amazing deal on the convention!
Whenever I get an idea for a magic trick, I try to take some sort of action immediately. Sometimes this is simply writing down the idea, sometimes this is trying to actually work out the idea. Yesterday I was making breakfast for the family and was cracking an egg and had an idea for this:
It started with me thinking, “I wonder if you could do spellbound with an egg…” which is better than a coin for a couple of reasons. One, it’s a natural thing that people have seen (white and brown egg), most people have not seen a copper coin that’s the size of a half dollar or silver dollar…also most younger people haven’t really see or handles a half dollar or silver dollar. While those two coins are real objects, they are still unfamiliar objects, where an egg very commonplace. The second reason is that there’s a perception of eggs being fragile, thus harder to manipulate (or gimmick).
I’ll need to tweak it a little bit, but after trying it once, I think it’ll be a good trick!
One of my favorite tricks and the opener to my virtual show is my Russian Shell Game routine. This is a three shell game routine with an ending that has 15 shells on the table. Someone just sent me a link to this review of the trick:
One little correction to something that he mentions in the review. The shells are not 3D printed, they are cast in resin. The original set that the mold was made from was 3D printed, but the set I use and sell is resin.
I love this routine, and still really enjoy performing it!
This came across my Facebook feed today, it’s probably the best stage levitation I’ve ever seen! Turn on the sound and watch the video:
There are several things that make this great. First of all it’s well performed. Next it starts with a very relatable premise, which isn’t floating, but flying and it does it in a very relatable way…fans. The fans give it “process” that’s missing in so many magic show levitations. Showing some sort of “process” is big in mentalism, but not soo much in magic. Also probably every at some point in time has floated something with a fan, or even been floated by a fan at one of the indoor skydiving place, so it gives people a point of reference.
One thing this doesn’t do is waste time with proving there are no wires. I’m aware that this isn’t performed in a magic show, so proving there are not wires isn’t the issue. It makes me wonder if the hoop is necessary in a magic show?
Not too long ago I added the remote control chattering teeth bit from my in person shows to my virtual shows and to my surprise, it was a hit! Honestly I didn’t think it would play as well over the screen. After trying it, it’s staying in the family virtual show!
One thing that I didn’t like is that my hand had to drop out of frame to push the button. Honestly, this really isn’t a big deal, and I don’t think that anyone notices it and this isn’t really a magic trick, but a comedy bit. I was going to build the remote transmitter into a foot pedal, then noticed I an old telegraph key kicking around. Here’s what I built:
I had to 3d print the base under the telegraph key to hold the remote transmitter and battery. The telegraphy key simply sits on the floor and I push it with my foot.
I’m a huge fan of props with things that no one sees but you, and there’s some embellishment that only you know about. I know I just built thing, but whenever I look at it, it makes me smile!
Later this evening I’ll be performing a family night show for the first group I did a full, live virtual show for. I’m amazed that a year later I’m still doing these shows and the show has come a long way! I’ve added a bit more production, I’m using more audio effects, and have tricks that are better suited / created for the virtual viewer.
This is the promo video I made from that first show:
It’s also the promo video I still use to promote virtual shows. I probably should have updated it a months ago, but it’s gotten me a lot of work!
Some of the core of that show hasn’t changed, like the silk in peach and the gypsy thread, however a lot has been changed or added.
I used to do a coin sequence that ended with some jumbo coin manipulation. That’s gone, it’s been replaced with my coins under glass routine.
Right now the show opens with the three shell game, a year ago that was in my recorded preshow video.
The show used to open with my flea circus, which was great, however it’s now too much work to set up. Early on in the virtual show timeline, I had a studio in my buddy’s garage that I could leave the flea circus set up in. Unfortunately he moved and that studio is now 5 hours away and my virtual studio is now my office. There’s really not enough room to do it in the office.
I would close the show with a password prediction, but that has changed to the Wheel of Dinner.
I’ve learned soo much over the last year, it’s been a very educational time. Like any show, it’s evolved over the last year and I’ve evolved in how I perform in the show as well!
The current project I’m working on is making a couple magical cocktail demos for IBM convention this summer. It was an honor to be asked to do this for them, it also shows that I’ve got something unique that I’ve started doing during quarantine.
One of the hard things about making these demo’s is using only the ingredients and the utensils that are needed. There are people that do a mixology or cooking videos, but crowbar in magic tricks that aren’t really related to the drink or recipe they are making. In my opinion that’s the guy that does his normal magic show and then at the end says, “kids don’t do drugs” and sells it as an anti drug school assembly magic show.
For one of the tricks in one of the cocktail videos I’m using is the Joao Miranda’s Gravity reel which I wrote a blog post about recently. It worked great and did what it needed to do, however I did find the thing that I don’t like about it. You can’t just preload a crap ton of thread into it. You need to put in a bit more than you plan to use. If it breaks, it tends to get tangled with itself, which has led to me cutting out and wasting a ton of thread. You are better off simply respooling what you need. Honestly, it’s easy to respool the thread, so it’s not a huge deal. I’d just prefer to load a bunch of thread on it and then pull it out as it breaks.
Awhile ago I wrote about a card trick I was working on that used an Amazon Alexa for the reveal (you can read the blog posts here and here). Here’s some video of it in action:
It’s a good novelty reveal, the weak spot for me is that I have to briefly see the aces at the beginning. I wanted a trick that would work start to finish without me having to see anything. I came up with the solution. It’s a 100% self working, you wouldn’t need to be in the room for the trick to work. I’ll write about it another time.
Ever since I put out my Take Up Reel, I’ve been invited to a lot of magic zoom get togethers to answer questions about and the vanishing birdcage. I never really thought of myself as an expert at the vanishing birdcage, but apparently I am (or at least people think I am). I don’t think I do anything groundbreaking with the cage, but I have put a lot of time into it and know what I like and don’t like with them.
During one of these magic meetings, someone asked me a great question. They mentioned they showed a video of someone doing the vanishing birdcage to their girlfriend and asked what she thought of it. The girlfriend’s impression of it was the cage looked funny. When asked how she thought it worked she said it was a trick cage designed to disappear. She didn’t know how…
This is a very important observation and it highlights the problem with most vanishing birdcage routines.
The problem is most people only present it as the effect. The cage disappears. When the only thing in the routine is the cage disappearing you live and die by the prop. For example you walk out onstage with a funky looking tiny birdcage with a rubber bird dangling in it. Then the only real “routine” is how impossible the vanish is…of course it’s not going to hold up for a modern audience.
This is where Billy McComb got it right. He started used a mouse not a bird, and it’s a little cage for the obviously not real mouse. The mouse then does some comedy, and then the cage vanishes. The routine isn’t about the cage disappearing, it’s about the mouse doing stupid things.
I think the way to make the Vanishing Birdcage good is to not make it about the cage. You’re selling something else, and the vanish of the cage is a punctuation at the end of the routine!
Last week I had a “Treat Yo Self” day and picked up Gravity by Joao Miranda. This is an electric invisible thread reel and it’s pretty cool. I personally don’t use invisible thread in my in person shows, as there’s too many variables for me to use it reliably. However I do use it frequently for prerecorded videos as I can control the conditions and breaking the thread isn’t really an issue. The main reason I got it was there’s been many times where I needed a thread to be pulled for something and it was just me in the room and had to rig some janky pully system. This should solve that problem.
The Gravity reel has three modes
ITR: It handles like an old school ITR with constant tension on the reel.
Remote: It’s slack until you trigger the remove which will then put tension on the reel.
Programable: You program a series of retractions into the reel
It’s the programable mode that has me the most excited. It’s super easy to program. I’ve wanted to have the bird from my vanishing birdcage routine do a trick in my virtual shows for a long time. Here’s my first attempt at programing the reel:
It was a bit after I made the video that I realized I could probably make the bird and card move at the same time very easily with the Gravity reel. That’ll be something I work on later today. So far I’m loving the Gravity reel!!!