School Assembly Tour Week 3

Today is the beginning of week three of this school assembly tour. One of the metric’s for figuring out how well you are doing is laughs per minute (LPM). My first show of the tour and first time doing the whole show for an audience I got 1.57 LPM’s. That’s an OK number, as this show has a lot of content in it, and isn’t a “just for fun” show.

Laughs per minute

I listened back to my last show on friday and it had 105 laughs in 45 minutes, giving me 2.3 LPM’s. that’s a huge improvement over the the first show. I added about 50% more laughs to the show!

If you don’t know how to calculate LPM’s, it’s super easy. Record your show, then listen back to it and count the laughs. I used a counter app on my iPhone. Then dived the laughs by the length of your show.

The question I always get asked is what qualifies as a laugh? That’s really up to you to decide.

Another metric is reactions per minute. In that you could count applause, or people going, “wow”. The thing I wouldn’t count are call and response, so anytime you ask the audience to do something and they do it.

-Louie

Tweaking a Line…

Yesterday I posted about writing a line to try to solve a problem where I had a spot in the show where a kid would frequently shout something. I needed to add a line to tell the audience that the fruit I was using wasn’t real. The line I wrote was, “they’re not real, I got them from Ikea…So they’re made of particle board and Swedish meatballs”. That line didn’t get huge laughs, but seems to have solved the problem.

I tweaked the line a little bit to be, “they’re not real, I got them from Ikea…So they’re made of swedish meatballs and sawdust”. This new line is getting a laugh from the adults AND the kids. I think both particle board and swedish meatballs is too much for the kids here to understand. However they do know what sawdust is!

A little tweak like that upped my laughs per minute and solved the problem of how to address the fruit not being real.

-Louie

Laughs Per Minute…

Last night I reviewed the video of the first show of this tour and calculated my laughs per minute. I came in at 1.57 laughs per minute or about three laughs every too minutes. Normally my goal is about 3.5 LPM’s, however this show has more content than my standard magic and comedy show.

I think my short term goal is going to be two Laughs Per Minute, but ideally getting this close to three LPM’s.

If you’re a comedy magician and don’t know your laughs per minute, you need to know them. I’m always amazed by how many comedy acts I talk to and when I ask what their LPM’s are, they either don’t know or say a crazy number like 10. To put it in perspective a stand up comic is in the ballpark of 4-6 LPM’s, maybe as high as 8. You need to know the actual number that you’re getting. Once you know this, it allows you to improve.

The way to figure out your LPM’s is to record your show and count the laughs. Then divide the length of your show in minutes by the number of laughs and you get your LPM’s.

Another metric is “reactions per minute”, so this is more than just a laugh. It could be applause, the audience going whoa or whatever. Having a metric allows you to set a goal.

-Louie

School Assembly Show…

In less than a month I’ll be debuting a new school/library show. I’ll be on a school assembly tour for five weeks. The show is called “Incredible Idioms” and is themed on idioms.

incredible idioms show

The great thing about breaking in shows by doing three a day for over a month is that the show gets really good, really quick…Or you realize by the end of the 5 weeks you don’t like the show and never do it again.

The key to these is actually putting in the work. I’ll be doing a lot of reviewing video and writing every night and the first week or two the show will be rough, but then it’ll be super tight for the rest of the tour. Oh, by rough, I mean just good, and not great. I’ve done school shows for a long time, and have a good general sense of what kids like (but the do surprise me sometimes).

Right now I have a ton of half built props and half written routines. It feels like the show won’t be ready in less than a month, but once one routine gets completed, they’ll all domino into being built.

-Louie

I’m Not Sorry…

One of the reasons that I’m not a fan of stock lines is that 99% of the people who use them only use them because they have heard other people use them. Not because they fit their performing persona or move their show forward, but simply because other people use them.

Recently I saw a magician and he asked where I was from, and I said “Seattle” and he replied “I’m sorry”. This is a very old gag and not a good one. I replied with several reasons why Seattle is an amazing city and he had no follow up. Was I “heckling” him? NO. He asked me a question and opened up a dialogue by putting down where I live. Had he had a joke set about why he dislikes Seattle that wasn’t connected to asking me question, then I would have been heckling. However he asked the question to me, which opened a dialogue…and he didn’t have the point of view or comedy skills to follow up. I wasn’t even funny, just factual with my response.

My point is that if you ask a question only to have your “comedy” response, you might want to rethink why you ask. Especially if your comedy response potentially insults someone. That brings me back to why I dislike how most stock lines are used, the performer doesn’t think about them. So if you use stock lines, think about them…what they are really saying beyond the laugh (if there is a laugh).

-Louie

Match Trick Patter

A couple of days ago I wrote a couple of posts about a vanishing and reappearing match trick idea and method. It’s a decent idea for 20 or more years ago when matches were common. Bars don’t give away matches anymore and most smokers have lighters now and not matches, so it’s a trick that missed it’s time.

I wrote out a little script for the trick to try to make it relevant for our current time.

Here’s the routine:

Start with match box in left hand under cover of a handkerchief

“This is the most dangerous trick that I’ve ever done. It’s soo dangerous, I was kicked out of my third grade talent show for doing it when I was 13 years old!

More dangerous than running with scissors or putting honey on my chest to try to breast feed murder hornets…it’s playing with matches!”


Pull the handkerchief off your hand to show the matches.

“I thought I’d be the hottest act”

Strike match and put it into handkerchief covered fist (and into thumb tip)

“but my show went up in smoke”

Squeeze the tip to make a puff of smoke come out.

“Luckily the trick didn’t leave a mark on my permanent record”

Open handkerchief to show the match is gone and not damaged

“The crowd was fired up”

Reproduce the match from the handkerchief

“To this day I can still taste the excitement”

Put the match out on your tongue.

It’s got a little bit of a presentational hook and a couple of chuckles and justifies using the match. I don’t know if I’ll ever do it, but it was fun making the routine.

-Louie

The Shell Game at Sea…

The other day I saw Phil Cass‘s show, and kinda briefly mentioned his shell game routine. Phil’s routine on his VHS tape in the late 1990’s was part of what got me going with the shell game when I first got serious about it.

Here’s the trailer for Phil’s video:

It’s always great to meet people who have had some influence on what you do and how you do it…it’s also a bonus when they are cool people!

It was great hanging out with Phil and Phillipa Cass while we were on the ship! The shell game video is still available from phil, you can get it at:
https://www.philcass.com/shop/

If you’re into the shell game, it’s worth checking out!
-Louie

Halloween Trick!

I’ve always said that creating tricks based on holidays is one of the easiest ways to generate content. Here’s an interactive Halloween magic trick you can do at home, just print out the pdf below and follow the instructions

Enjoy!
-Louie

Michael Buble and Adding Time to Your Show…

micheal buble

Last night my wife and I went to see Michael Buble, and that guy works his butt off onstage. He did just over two hours with no opening act, and the two hours flew by!

One huge thing to note is that it wasn’t all music. In between each song the told jokes. It was a mini stand up set that usually introduced the next song or was about the city we were in. Telling jokes between routines is a great way to add personality and time in your magic show. I used to do this more, and need to get back to doing more of it.

Basic math says if you do eight tricks in your show, and if you can add 2 minutes of jokes between those eight routines, you’ve added 12 minutes to your show without having to carry any extra props. That would turn a 45 in show into almost an hour!

– Louie

Here’s a Joke For You…

One of the things I hate is when people tell me they “have a joke that I can use in my act“, then proceed to tell the me the lamest, street joke. I always let them tell it to me, and laugh to be polite, but it’s never a good or original joke.

I recently had a musician working the same event as I was “give” me this joke:
You show a beer and say, “I’m going to make this beer disappear” then you drink the beer. It’s a stupid joke because everyone gets to the punchline before you can deliver, that and the payoff isn’t that good. I’m sure some hack comedy magicians will tell me they kill with that gag, and if they actually do, good for them.

ever filling glass magic trick

One of the reasons I always let the person tell me the joke is you never know what it will spark in your brain. The joke made me think of the old Ever Filling Glass. If you’re not familiar with this, it’s a glass that you drink from and then it’s full again.

Here’s a demo video of it I found:

If you pared that trick with joke, you might have something that has a magical pay out.

You show the glass and a handkerchief. Say “the beer will disappear” and cover it with the handkerchief. Pretend to drink the beer from under the handkerchief and then show the cup almost empty. You then recover the glass, say, “it’s going to reappear…now!” and whisk the handkerchief away to show it’s now full again!

I think this would also work with Mago Murphy’s Appearing Beer Trick, you’d just have to work it slightly differently, starting with the full beer and stealing the gimmick while you pretend to drink it.

I don’t think I’ll ever do this, but it’s an idea…

-Louie