Some Sound Advice…

In a facebook magic group someone asked about sound systems for bday parties.  I was kinda amazed by the response of the people. I think one of the interesting responses was , “you don’t need one for a dozen kids…”, i find this interesting because while a dozen kids in average, having 30 is not … Continue reading “Some Sound Advice…”

In a facebook magic group someone asked about sound systems for bday parties.  I was kinda amazed by the response of the people. I think one of the interesting responses was , “you don’t need one for a dozen kids…”, i find this interesting because while a dozen kids in average, having 30 is not uncommon.

 

Another factor is production value.  Having music in your show adds a lot to it.  It kills dead time and opens up other things to do, like musical gags and bits.  Whenever I do shows without music, I feel the show isn’t living up to its full potential.

 

Then there’s the core issue, having your voice heard.  I’ve seen too many shows where you can’t hear the performer and it’s a small group.  It could be because the show is outside and there’s a lot of background noise, or it could be the performer not projecting.  

 

Finally there’s the whole, 3 or 4 shows a day thing.  You can blow out your voice in a weekend. A $300 bday party isn’t worth it if it wrecks your voice for the $1K gig you have saturday night.  


Invest in the best sound system you can afford.  

Always Bring It!

I was chatting with Jeffrey Tam in Las Vegas about performing on Fool Us.  He was saying that going on the show just to get on TV isn’t why you should go on that show, you should go on the show to WIN!  I totally agree with him, that’s the goal, if you just want … Continue reading “Always Bring It!”

I was chatting with Jeffrey Tam in Las Vegas about performing on Fool Us.  He was saying that going on the show just to get on TV isn’t why you should go on that show, you should go on the show to WIN!  I totally agree with him, that’s the goal, if you just want TV footage, there are plenty of places to get that.

 

One of the things that drives me nuts is when people go on TV and do sponge balls.  That footage isn’t the best simply because bookers, especially bookers who deal with good talent have seen it.  That video footage does nothing to help you get gigs above local level.  Sure it may help you be “king of the birthday parites” but it won’t help you make the move to children’s festivals, or performing arts centers.

 

What video of your show makes it unique?  Recently I was on a local TV show and I did material that set me apart from other magicians in my market!

 

The moral of the story is when you are on TV, don’t waste it on doing stuff that will just be white noise to bookers.

 

Louie

Always Have a Trick in Your Pocket…

One thing that I often hear magicians say is that they never perform for people unless they are paid.  That’s bunk.  Personally I usually have a deck of cards in my pocket, not because I want to show people tricks, but it allows me to practice when I have unexpected downtime.   Stuck in the … Continue reading “Always Have a Trick in Your Pocket…”

One thing that I often hear magicians say is that they never perform for people unless they are paid.  That’s bunk.  Personally I usually have a deck of cards in my pocket, not because I want to show people tricks, but it allows me to practice when I have unexpected downtime.

 

Stuck in the drive thru line at the bank…I can bang out a few practice false shuffles.

 

Recently I was picking my agent up at the airport in Billings, MT and her checked luggage as well as about 30 other people’s luggage were left behind in Seattle.  That meant a long wait (over 2 hours!) to file their baggage claims.

She had taken my banner as “carry on” to the plane.   So I popped up the banner and did a show for the people waiting!

 

It really made a difference in the people’s day!   Also the trick that I’m doing in the above video was published in an issue of Vanish Magazine from a couple of months ago.

 

In addition to a deck of cards that’s usually in my pocket, I have an impromptu show that lives in my wallet.  This show is short at about 15 mins, but it’s got a beginning, middle and end.   This isn’t just a series of tricks, it’s a show. I highly recommend you have show you can do from you wallet.  It doesn’t need to play for 500 people, but a good, solid 10-15 mins of close up.  The book The Impromptu Mystifier is what got me to put this show together and in it the author gives a great frame work for how to structure the show.

 

I’m not saying you should force your magic on anyone, but you also never know when you’ll be in a position to perform.

Louie

Finally Seeing an Act!

When I was a teenager I remember in a issue of Magic Magazine (I think), I saw a picture of Mondre performing.  The picture has stuck in my head for over 20 years.  Last week I was able to work with Mondre at Wonderground in Las Vegas! I had a blast hanging out and chatting … Continue reading “Finally Seeing an Act!”

When I was a teenager I remember in a issue of Magic Magazine (I think), I saw a picture of Mondre performing.  The picture has stuck in my head for over 20 years.  Last week I was able to work with Mondre at Wonderground in Las Vegas!

I had a blast hanging out and chatting with him.

I also love that his act didn’t disappoint me.  I’ve seen many shows that I read about as a kid and when I finally see it as an adult, the show is a clunker.  Here’s a video of Mondre that I found :

 

This also brings me to something that I think is lost on kids today, which is seeking out shows.  When I was a kid there was no youtube, I had to actually ride the bus for hours to see a show.  When seeing a show it had value and a lot of it.  I really took in the show, it wasn’t just something that was happening in the same room as me.

My advice to anyone who wants to be a magician is to go out and actually see shows!  Go see any live show, not just magic, not just national acts…go see every single show you can!

 

Louie

Be Content Creator, Not a Content Consumer

Right now we live in a world that needs content.  With YouTube, Facebook, etc the amount of content that gets consumed is amazing.   Sure you can go on Instagram and do the snapchange and do alright, but that’s all it will be in just alright.  We’ve all seen it…   So the trick is to … Continue reading “Be Content Creator, Not a Content Consumer”

Right now we live in a world that needs content.  With YouTube, Facebook, etc the amount of content that gets consumed is amazing.   Sure you can go on Instagram and do the snapchange and do alright, but that’s all it will be in just alright.  We’ve all seen it…

 

So the trick is to create content, how do you do that? One easy way is to create around topical things like news, or a holiday.  For example the other day President Trump said the reason we’re having out of control wild fires is that we aren’t “raking the forest“.   That was my starting point for this quick trick:

 

I have less than an hour into the trick, and most of the time was spent driving to the hardware store and back to make the appearing rake and then walking to and from the park to record this.

 

Here’s an example of some content I created based on a holiday a couple years ago:

 

It’s not hard to create this way.  The downside is that when you do this stuff has a shelf life.  Material based on the news is a few days to a few weeks. If you create content based on a holiday, you’ve got a week, but you can recycle it every year or every few years.

So go out and think of a trick!

Be Seen!

One of the hardest things when performing for a group in a banquet hall without a stage is being  seen.  Here’s a picture from a corporate gig I did recently. I sat down in a chair at the back to take this picture.  Can you see the person up front talking?  Look close, you can … Continue reading “Be Seen!”

One of the hardest things when performing for a group in a banquet hall without a stage is being  seen.  Here’s a picture from a corporate gig I did recently.

Magic Show
I sat down in a chair at the back to take this picture.  Can you see the person up front talking?  Look close, you can really only see them from about the shoulders up.  What can we learn from this picture?  If you magic is happening below shoulder level most of the audience cannot see it.

There are two ways to solve this visibility problem:

  1. Hold all of your props above your head:  The problem with this is it makes doing sleight of hand really difficult and looks strange.
  2. Bring a your own stage:  This is most obvious solution.  However not always practical, especially when flying.  So I travel with a folding stool.  This fits in my suitcase and when I stand on it makes the show much more visible.

Next time you are at a show, even one with a stage, sit in the back and watch the act or speaker before you and see what you can see. You’ll be amazed at how little can be seen even with a stage!

Louie

Do Something Different

I just got back from a conference in Montana that was full of people that book acts.  There were a ton of magician’s there, all trying to get booked.   So how did I make myself stand out?   Simple, I do fairly unique tricks…well, to put it better I do tricks that have unique … Continue reading “Do Something Different”

I just got back from a conference in Montana that was full of people that book acts.  There were a ton of magician’s there, all trying to get booked.

 

So how did I make myself stand out?

 

Simple, I do fairly unique tricks…well, to put it better I do tricks that have unique visuals.  This gives the feeling of a unique trick.   For example my “Tossed Out Deck” uses an original method which allows me to know who picked what card, however at it’s core it’s still a tossed out deck.  Then I use an original way to reveal the cards, and like magic, I have a trick that no one else is doing.

 

You don’t need to completely create a trick.  In my “Tossed Out Deck” I started with the standard frame work and then started changing things.  This is also an easy way to create new tricks.  Take a standard trick, change the method, then change the presentation.  The nice thing about this is I can now do my version of this trick in a show where someone does the classic version and it won’t feel like a duplicated trick.

 

Louie

Bad Advice…

On the internet I see magicians giving other magicians some of the worst advice ever.  It’s also interesting when you look at the websites/promo of the people giving the advice, they really aren’t performers you should be taking advice from.   One of my favorite pieces of bad advice to beginners is “learn 7 tricks”.  The … Continue reading “Bad Advice…”

On the internet I see magicians giving other magicians some of the worst advice ever.  It’s also interesting when you look at the websites/promo of the people giving the advice, they really aren’t performers you should be taking advice from.

 

One of my favorite pieces of bad advice to beginners is “learn 7 tricks”.  The idea behind the advice is good, and that’s to spend time to understand the tricks that you do.  However the messenger in the form of only learning 7 tricks is very misleading.  How do you pick the 7 tricks, if that’s all you can learn?  If we all picked 7 tricks when we got started we’d all be doing pretty much the same shows and there would be no innovation.

 

The saying about learning 7 tricks came out of vaudeville, the story goes:  A kid meets the magician after the show and tells him he knows 150 different tricks.  The magician tells the kid he knows 7 tricks, but knows them inside and out.

 

The main problem with the story to be advice for a modern magician is that it came out of vaudeville.  Most of the magicians were doing an act, not a show.  Their were doing 5-15 minutes, not a modernn 45-60 minutes.  In 15 minutes you could do less than 7 tricks and you didn’t have things like TV or the internet burning your material.   Look at any modern show and just within that show count the number of tricks…it’s going to be more than seven.

 

The other thing is that if you only learn 7 tricks and that’s all you spend your time on, then you aren’t a student of magic.  Personally I learn all I can about magic, I love it and if I could only spend my time on 7 tricks I’d quit and do something else.

 

The moral of this post is 99% of advice you are given by other magicians sucks.

 

Recommended reading:  Allow Me To Give You Some Really Awful Advice by Jim Steinmeyer

 

 

I Saved the Show!

Last night I did a corporate gig that I wrote a post about packing for a couple of days ago (Click here to read the post).  The gist of the post was that I had a feeling the venue for the gig that I was flying to wouldn’t have a PA, so I packed my … Continue reading “I Saved the Show!”

Last night I did a corporate gig that I wrote a post about packing for a couple of days ago (Click here to read the post).  The gist of the post was that I had a feeling the venue for the gig that I was flying to wouldn’t have a PA, so I packed my street show PA just in case.

 

Much to my surprise the venue had a PA and a sound board!   Then I plugged my audio into it and learned that the sound board didn’t work.  The venue’s PA only had one XLR input and I need 3 channels.  So I used my street show PA as a mixer and monitor:

Roland Street Cube EX

Please take note that the jumble of wires on the floor is mostly the venue’s cords, not mine.  I simply ran the audio out from my Roland Street Cube EX into the XLR input in the venue’s sound system and I was good to go!

 

One thing I’ve learned as a full time performer is your ability to be problem solver will make your very valuable to your clients.  The booker of the event was in the room when  I was trying to figure out why the sound board wasn’t working, and when had the audio up and running.  She complimented me on my ability to find a solution.

 

So the moral of the story is be a problem solver!

 

Louie

Flying With Your Magic Show

When I travel I like to meet with magicians in the city I’m performing in.  I love jamming magic tricks and hanging out with other magicians.  When I meet up with magicians I frequently get asked about flying with you show.   There are a few schools of thought with this:   Create a show … Continue reading “Flying With Your Magic Show”

When I travel I like to meet with magicians in the city I’m performing in.  I love jamming magic tricks and hanging out with other magicians.  When I meet up with magicians I frequently get asked about flying with you show.

 

There are a few schools of thought with this:

 

  • Create a show that fits in your carry on luggage:  I have mixed feelings on this.  If you are designing a show simply because they take up a small space, are you fulfilling your artistic vision?  I’ve seen very few of these “carry on” shows that I felt really played big.

 

  • Check the luggage with your show props: This is what I do.  I carry on essential props, and things that are valuable (like microphones).  This allows me to have a show that fills the stage and my vision for the show much better.

    If you are checking your show, a great resource is the TSA’s “Ask TSA” facebook page.

    magic show

 

  • Ship the show ahead:  This is probably the best option.  However it does require you to have two show set ups. One that can be in transit and another you are using while the first is en route to it’s destination. The bonus of this is if this shipment gets delayed, you can always take the show that wasn’t shipped.

All of the options have their pluses and minuses, and there isn’t a choice that’s 100% the best for every situation.

 

I know I’m taking a little bit of risk by checking the “meat” of my show, however that’s a risk I’m willing to take.  I’m also able to locally source a show.  For example I have a 25 min stand up set I can do with a deck of cards.  It’s not what I want my show to be, but if my luggage gets lost, I can do it.   Add a piece of rope, scissors, markers and a pad of paper  and I’ve got a 35-40 min show that I can do with locally sourced props.

What it all really comes down to is the level of risk you are willing to take.  There’s no right or wrong answer.

Louie