It’s an OK media spot, not the best. They wanted 90 seconds, and I ran the card trick for the camera guy and producer and they wanted the whole routine, just done in 90-120 seconds. That made the spot rushed, I should have let most of the effects linger longer for displays of the card.
Then the camera work during the card trick missed a lot of things because it was tightening up when it should have been wider. All in all, it wasn’t a bad TV spot, but it wasn’t great.
The last week I’ve been working on a thumb tie using electrical tape. The routine is starting to figure itself out, but I keep noticing dead spots or spots where the blocking is rough and hard for the audience to see.
One place in the routine that’s both dead time and not really audience viewing friendly is when the guy on stage cuts the tape off my fingers. About half the time they try to cut into the gimmick, which obviously is no good. Then I also have to make sure they don’t cut my thumb! While the whole process probably takes 5-10 seconds, it’s a hot mess onstage.
My solution has been to hand the guy the scissors, then take them back, but with my now free hand and cut the tape off my left hand. It gets a laugh at the surprise of my hand being free! I can cut the tape off my thumb really quickly and while facing the audience.
The last couple of days I’ve been working on using a giant set of safety pins onstage for a linking pin routine. Recently I started adding a thumb tie to it to add length. One thing I quickly learned is that there’s a ton of dead time at the end of the routine when I’m having the tape cut off of my thumbs.
My first attempt for fixing the dead time was to add a trick to the end. What I was doing was taking the tape and turning it into an animal balloon. That went over fine, but it’s not the right fix for the routine.
I think my second attempt is a reasonable solution to making the dead time of cutting the tape off my fingers worth it. I’m moving the thumb tie to the first half of the trick. After the thumb tie, the tape is cut off, then I move into the linking pins routine. This has been playing a lot better!
Now I need to keep adding meat to the routine to get it good.
I was browsing through reddit and came across a post with an picture of an old bread slicer:
I immediately made a connection to a prop that I assumed was simply a strange magic prop. The bread slicer resembles Lester Lake’s Disceto that was put out by Abbott’s Magic!
A quick internet search shows that bread slicing machines were invented in the 1910’s and Disecto was put out in 1942. It’s entirely possibly that the Disecto was trying to mimic a common object.
It’s also interesting that if it’s supposed to be a bread slicer, that people still use a prop that mimics something that used to be something people were familiar with, but hasn’t been common in my lifetime.
This is why it’s important to look at our props or lines and take out things that people aren’t familiar with. A good example of this is when I hear a comedy magician use a line about someone’s picture in the post office. That’s something that really hasn’t existed in my lifetime. I’ve encountered it once in my life about 10 years ago in a small town. I do know the reference from Bugs Bunny cartoons, but those were made decades before I was born. Because of this I don’t find the “post office joke” funny or something I can relate to. Look at your show and remove old references whether they are verbal or physical objects.
This week I started working on routine using some giant safety pins that I came across (read about them here). My initial plan was to see if I could make my close up linking pins routine work on stage with the the giant pins which are about 14 inches long.
The routine works onstage, but it needs more. It’s hard to justify the time it takes to bring someone onstage for a quick trick. I needed to build out the routine and add more.
I think that adding a thumb tie to the trick adds time and texture to the trick. The idea is after my normal linking pin routine, I would add the thumb tie using the giant pins as the “ring” that would normally go on and off my arms.
I’m thinking of using electrical tape for the tie as it’s easy to get almost anywhere. Method wise I’m thinking of using Irv Weiner’s Red Tape thumb tie, as I have all the stuff for it.
There are many reasons why the agents I work with like me, but this is the secret to get any agent to like you. It’s really easy, pay your commissions on time! By the time you get to the gig, the agent has done all of their work (unless there’s a problem) weeks or months ago. The agent is the last person to get paid, and has to wait the longest to get paid for their work.
The week before gigs when I’m sending out conformations for gigs, I also mail out any commission checks. These are sent out before the gig and the agent usually gets paid before I do the show.
This may seem like a small thing, and it really is as usually I have somewhere between two weeks and 30 days to mail the check. I know I like it when shows are prepaid, and I’m sure agents are the same. I also personally know a lot of agents and if you ask them how many of their acts are pay late, or how many acts have owed them money for years, it’s remarkably high.
This one little thing, being reliable with payment goes a long way!
In my close up set I do the linking safety pins and I love the trick. I’ve even gimmicked a larger set of about 5 inch pins to do the trick with. The 5 inch pins are good for about 30 people, there’s too small for a real stage show.
I found these giant safety pins and I think they’d be great for using on stage!
The challenge now is figuring out context to do them and getting more than a couple of minutes out of them. In my close up routine I use someone from the audience. Since I’m bringing someone onstage I really need to get at least 4-5 minutes out of the routine to make it worth the time it takes to get someone onstage.
In my writing this morning I had the idea of combining the linking pins with the thumb tie. The idea is the beginning phases will be my normal linking pin routine, then I’ll have my thumbs tied to “eliminate sleight of hand” and then the pins will end up going on and off my arms. That’s the idea, we’ll see how it plays when I get a chance to try it out!
One of my favorite types of show are shows were there are a lot of other performers. It ultimately feels like more of a team effort and you’re not out there working alone. Sure, my time on stage I’m alone, but before show and after show it feels like a group effort!
That said, you can check me out on 3/16/24 at the Hermosa Community Theater in California. This should be a fun show as I don’t know any of the magicians that I’m on the bill with, so I’ll get to meet some new people and see some new acts!
I started my first long run of the year this week. It’s a 10 day gig in Indio, CA. I flew into Fresno, CA, rented a car and then drove 5 hours to Indio. The nice thing about flying into Fresno is that I got to swing by Hocus Pocus and dig through the boxes of magic there!
I’m also always on the hunt for old Cincinnati stock cards from the US Playing Card Company, and found a ton of them
One of the things I picked up is this shell game set (maker unknown) and it will make a great addition to my three shell game collection!
They had some oddities (mostly gaffs) there and that’s something that I’m into! Here are a couple that are for sale on their website:
While I was there I put a two things for my collection. The first is a “snapping turtle” which is an alligator in a turtle shell:
And the other is what a side show would call a mummified devil or mummified alien.
If you’re ever in Fresno, there’s a ton of magic there (and some oddities!) and it’s totally with the trip!
There’s a rule that you’re not supposed to badmouth a gig until you’re one hundred miles away from it. The theory is that once you get 100 miles away, there’s no one connected to the gig that can overhear you say anything bad about it.
On this blog, or social media I try to use a 100 day rule. I try to get 100 days away from a gig before I either complain about it or post something funny/interesting to me, but may not be positive for the event.
That just makes it hard for anyone to backtrack to where you were. This is good if you’re giving non-specific info about the gig. There are plenty of bad gigs that I would return to, if it made sense and I don’t normally want to burn the bridge. Sure there are times when you need to burn it down, but that’s the 1% of bad gigs.