Linking Pins and Thumb Tie

I’m still working on the Linking Pin and Thumb Tie routine and it’s slowly making progress. I started this in mid-February, however I’ve only done it about 30 times. For me that’s a pretty fresh routine. I haven’t figured out where all the moments are.

I wrote a couple of new jokes and changed it so there were three magic effects in the routine instead of three and took it out to an open mic the other night. It can be challenging at a bar open mic when it’s in a big room and there are 13 people there and only two of them are actual audience members, the rest are comics waiting to do there time onstage. In my opinion most bar open mics are to figure out how to do something onstage and just work that part out, you’re not there to try to have your set crush. Yes, you should try and ideally it’ll crush, but you should be bringing things that need work, not polished material.

Here’s bad video with bad audio of the trick:

The trick went well, but more importantly the new jokes worked and I added another penetration, so there are four instead of three in the in the routine. There’s actually normally one more at the end that I didn’t do because I “got the light” and had to wrap up.

The intro to the trick I think needs to be tightened up and be a bit more clear. That comes with time and rewriting and reworking. I think by the end of the summer this will be a strong piece in the show!

PS If you want to learn more about how I work on my shows, check out my download The 6 R’s To Working On Your Show!

Poof Too!

A few weeks ago I performed in a show called Poof Too! in Hermosa Beach, CA. This is show with stage magicians and one close up magician. I was the MC in the show and had a performance spot in the show.

David Zirbel, Simone Turkington, Mark Furey, Shawn McMaster and Alexander Great & Pamela

It was great performing with David Zirbel, Simone Turkington, Mark Furey, Shawn McMaster and Alexander Great & Pamela! Everyone was super professional and great to deal with as an MC and fun to hang out with! When I was approached to be in this show by Dennis Forel, the first thing I asked was “is it a fun show”, not how much does it pay. Personally a fun show is more important to me than money (don’t get me wrong, I still gotta pay the bills).

I’d been doing comedy gigs before this one and in a comedy club I have a lot of gear. However a show where the illusionist is packing up crates of huge illusions, and I just wheel my case out, I feel like I have nothing!

Packing up a magic show

I love performing with other magic acts. One thing I did years ago (close to two decades ago) was to start to work on a show that I can do when I’m sharing the stage with other magicians and not have to really worry about duplication. Sure there will always be things that no matter how different they will seem the same to an audience. A rope trick will usually feel like almost any other rope trick no matter how different it is. For me, just trying to have unique or less common tricks in the show makes my show much more versatile.


Strange Magic Prop in Real Life!

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.


Nick Trost’s Mexican Monte

Here’s a packet trick from the 1980’s that I came across.

nick trost's mexican monte card trick

I think Nick Trost’s Mexican Monte is a pretty solid routine. Here’s me doing the routine and my thought on how to improve it:

It’s really a small change at the end, and I think Nick really nailed it with this one. I’d change the patter, but it’s good and worth checking out if you find one at a magic swap meet!


Gimmicking Post Cards

I do a card trick that I call “choices” where the audience narrows down cards by eliminating them until there is one card left and that matched a prediction that I have made. The overall presentation is about me making bad choices in life, and honestly from a presentation standpoint doesn’t need to be a card trick, it could literally be anything that’s narrowed down.

Since it doesn’t need to be playing cards, I was trying to think of what I could replace them with and decided to use postcards.

You can read more about the postcards on a previous blog post here.

By switching props from jumbo cards to slightly smaller postcards I can add an additional way to show the postcards all to be different. I should note this routine at its bones is essentially Al Koran’s 5 Star Miracle. One of the things that I added to the postcards was to cut them short, so I can do a riffle display to show them all different.

postcard magic trick

This little bit allows me to show them a bit more freely. The postcards are soo visually different that if I spread them all in a face, I think the repeating pattern would be more obvious than with playing cards.

Now I need to make a choice and figure out if I want to keep the presentation as is, or try to write something new.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Every year I post this trick on Thanksgiving. It’s a good example of adding a theme to a trick that already exists.

The base routine was something that I had read in a Jim Steinmeyer book. For holidays, look at what you already do and look for logical connections then make the trick!


Call and Response…

There’s a common street performer “trick” to unite the audience and it’s call and response. If you’re not familiar with what that is, it’s typically used when the performer says something like, “Would you like to see another trick…say YES!” then the audience responds by saying YES.

This an effective technique uniting the audience, they’re doing something together and it helps them start to become an audience and not just a bunch of individuals. This is especially important for an outdoor show where you may have a transient audience. Another thing it does is forces the audience to invest energy into the show. The more they are invested in the show, the more they will stay and watch the show…and like it!

I like the technique, but I personally don’t like how most people do it, they’re doing it simply because it’s effective. There’s no real purpose besides filling a hole in the show because you don’t have a segue to the next routine.

When I use it in my show, I give it a bit of meaning. In my Drawing in Ball of Yarn routine, I do it to have the audience vote on whether I should buy the person’s drawing. It accomplishes the same thing and just telling the audience to say “yes”, in fact it actually moves the show forward!

With a little bit of thought, you can find ways to use this technique to move the show forward, instead of a hack bit.


New Emergency Show

emergency magic show

In the past I had made a 25ish minute emergency magic show that fits into a little pouch about the size of a sandwich bag. I keep this in my car and it’s come in handy several times since I made it.

In reading Doc Dixon’s book The Show is the Mother of Invention, it got me thinking of expanding this emergency pouch into a small show, not an emergency show. The emergency show was had tricks that I can do, but don’t do and were selected for the size of the trick, not necessarily if the trick was a good fit for my personality.

While I was killing time in a town the other day, I was walking through a junk shop and found a small doctor’s bag.

magic show case

This bag was cheap at $20 and it’s still really small and won’t take up much room in the trunk of my car, but will allow me turn that 25 minute emergency show into a better show. I have a lot more space to play with and can put things that fit me better into it and things that will play for a larger audience.

Something that the larger size of the case will let me do that the pouch won’t is to put a couple of audio cables into it so the show will have music. This will add production value to the show.

I’m starting to put the show together, but I’m still on the road performing for another month and a half, so it probably won’t be done until I’m home and can add a few more props to it.


Liar’s Blackjack by Bob King

Here’s another packet trick I picked up from a magic shop’s junk bin. It’s called Liar’s Blackjack by Bob King. It’s sorta an all backs routine, but not really. You have five cards that have backs on both sides, then a few faces appear and one of them changes.

Here’s what it looks like with when the original instructions are followed and my update on the trick:

The big change is that I got rid of the cards with backs on both sides. That’s such a strange object that the routine really glosses over and I think detracts from the routine. Using blank face cards keeps the focus on the effect and presentation. Then a little change in the count as the Kiss Elmsley doesn’t really work with the blank face cards, so I used the Hypnotic Rumba Count.

This isn’t a routine that I would ever do, but I think that getting rid of the cards with backs on both sides is a HUGE improvment!


The (W)hole Thing For Me!

I had a day off last week and finally made a prototype of my custom props for The (W)hole Thing which is Daryl’s version of an Emerson and West packet trick.

The main differences is that the circle around they hole is a donut, the spots are arranged like an X and the cards are black. The main reason that the cards are black is that I might have a line about a black hole. With the cards in black I’m sacrificing some visual clarity of what’s a hole and what isn’t. I think if I end up not using the black hole line, I’ll switch the colors back to red as it visually pops!