Ambitious Card…

A couple weeks I performed at Wonderground in Las Vegas.  This is a monthly magic/variety show put on by Jeff McBride.  It’s a very fun show and if you get the chance, I highly recommend doing it!   The one thing that stresses me out about this show is the close up, I’m fine with … Continue reading “Ambitious Card…”

A couple weeks I performed at Wonderground in Las Vegas.  This is a monthly magic/variety show put on by Jeff McBride.  It’s a very fun show and if you get the chance, I highly recommend doing it!

 

The one thing that stresses me out about this show is the close up, I’m fine with the stage show.   It stresses me out because there aren’t a lot of original plots in my close up set, sure I have my own twists on things, but at it’s core it’s Ambitious Card.

 

About a week before  I performed at Wondgeround I was visiting with Nick Lewin and we chatted about the close up stressing me out.

My concern was that the Ambitious Card was too common of a trick for the audience there.  Not all of the audience there are magicians, however they are magic fans, so they’ve seen it.    Nick commented that it’s the “greatest card trick” and I agree…that’s why it’s so common.  The plot is simple and when done right it’s impossible!

 

I ended up doing a trick where someone feeds me marshmallows.  It played well!
Louie Foxx at Wonderground in Las Vegas

Personally I think there is one trick when done correctly that might be better than the Ambitious Card, and that is Any Card at Any Number. It’s got a simple plot:

Name a card, name a number, count down to that number and the card is there.

The problem with ACAAN is that is gets mucked up when people try to make it easier.  They limit selections or use convoluted processes to make the trick work.  Also what I think most of people who do this for a non-magician audience misses is repeating it.  You need to do it twice.

 

So that’s my thoughts on the best and close second for card tricks.

Play Around…

When I’m out performing mingling magic (aka roving close up) I frequently throw something into my pocket that’s not part of my normal set.  It could be a full trick, gimmick, prop, or whatever.   A couple of nights ago I  put a pair of blank dice in my pocket.  Years ago I published a … Continue reading “Play Around…”

When I’m out performing mingling magic (aka roving close up) I frequently throw something into my pocket that’s not part of my normal set.  It could be a full trick, gimmick, prop, or whatever.

 

A couple of nights ago I  put a pair of blank dice in my pocket.  blank dice magic trickYears ago I published a trick with blank dice in the Linking Ring Magazine.  Basically the gist of it was someone selected a card.  They rolled the blank dice, told you the number they rolled, and you dealt down the number they rolled.  The selected card was at the number.   This is based on an Eddie Fields trick that uses a name.

 

Here’s video from the first table I did it at the other night…it’s been years since I did the trick:

After I did the trick in the video above, I realized it needed another phase.  For the next phase I added this trick that’s part of my normal card set, but using the “rolled” numbers instead of any number:

Now I’ve got a little routine…but it needed an ending.  So I’m ending it with a third phase where they shuffle the cards, roll again and deal down to that number. This time the card is not there.  It’s folded up in my wallet.

 

I like that in this routine, each time the card is found it’s in a different state.  First it’s face down, next it’s face up and finally it’s folded up.  By the end of the night it went from OK to pretty good!

 

So the moral of the story is don’t be afraid to play around!

 

Louie

Not Everything Has To Make Money…

One thing that drives me nuts is when performers in online groups say things like, “I won’t get out of bed for less that $500…”.   That’s fine, you can have a price that you won’t work for less than, however you are missing out on a lot of opportunities.   What I mean by “opportunities” … Continue reading “Not Everything Has To Make Money…”

One thing that drives me nuts is when performers in online groups say things like, “I won’t get out of bed for less that $500…”.   That’s fine, you can have a price that you won’t work for less than, however you are missing out on a lot of opportunities.

 

What I mean by “opportunities” is chances to perform in cool shows that have a lot more value than a paycheck.  Here’s an example, last year and this year I’m performing at the Southern Sideshow Hootenanny in New Orleans.  This is a festival of sideshow performers and variety acts from around the world. Southern sideshow hootenanny

 

All of the acts are getting paid the same, and many of their rates are thousands of dollars for a single show…yet they are working for a fraction of their normal rate.

 

Why?

 

Easy, this is part of something bigger than a one off paycheck.  They are building their brand within their industry AND networking.  I’ve made a lot of great connections with people at festivals like this which have yielded more money than I would have made if I got my normal fee for that show.

 

Then for me the greatest value is to work with great acts!  There’s an old saying, “you are the sum of the 4 people you are around the most”.  What that means is if you hang out with people that aren’t good performers, you’re going to have a hard time getting good.  However if you hang out with people that are amazing performers, it will elevate you and push you to be better.

These festivals are great chances to meet and become friends with amazing artists!  Go out and apply to a festival and up your game as a performer!

Louie

Go See Shows!

One thing that’s important to me is to support magic, and variety performers.  Whether it’s a local or  nationally touring show, I always try to go out and watch.  I do this for a couple of reasons, first of all when I was a kid it was a pain to go see shows.  I had … Continue reading “Go See Shows!”

One thing that’s important to me is to support magic, and variety performers.  Whether it’s a local or  nationally touring show, I always try to go out and watch.  I do this for a couple of reasons, first of all when I was a kid it was a pain to go see shows.  I had to hop a bus and travel all day to see a show at a library, or sneak into a casino to see an act. Now it’s much easier, but that struggle to see shows when I was younger placed value on these shows.

 

Another reason is to support the performing scene.  When I go to shows it does it in several ways.  First my ticket helps support the performer.  Secondly and more importantly the other performers (especially newer performers) see me at these and we can chat and it builds some community.

 

It can be hard when you are a newer magician to get into the “circles” of people that have more experience.  When I go to these shows I get to chat with them one on one.  Now I’m not saying chatting with me is a big deal (it’s not, trust me), but for someone just starting out it give me a chance to get to know them.

Penn & Teller

The other  night Penn & Teller were in town performing.  My family went out and we hung out with a lot of the local performers, it was a great night and a lot of fun. Not just the show, but the fellowship with the other performers.

Louie

The Stroller Test

I was at a showcase last week for performers trying to get booked.  I watched all of the magicians showcase (that I was aware of) and while I had a crappy showcase spot, I pulled a bigger crowd then all of the ones that I saw.    Why?   They all had long presentations, where … Continue reading “The Stroller Test”

I was at a showcase last week for performers trying to get booked.  I watched all of the magicians showcase (that I was aware of) and while I had a crappy showcase spot, I pulled a bigger crowd then all of the ones that I saw. 

 

Why?

 

They all had long presentations, where mine while they can be long, have jokes in them. In addition to that what I selected to use in my showcase all had big unique visuals.  This comes down to what I call the “stroller test”.

 

How the stroller test works is you have to imagine mom pushing a stroller down the walkway with a kid or two.  Would she stop at your show. You have say 50 feet to catch her attention and get her to sit down. If she’s travelling at around 1 foot a second, you’ve got about a minute to catch her attention.

 

If you are standing up there talking about poetry for five minutes before the trick happens, you aren’t going to grab her.  If you are standing up there talking and have a joke every 45 seconds, you have a much better chance of getting her attention.  If you have a joke every 45 seconds AND an interesting visual you will have an even better chance of getting her attention.

Another Presentation for the License Plate Prediction…

A couple of days ago I wrote about a post about the License Plate Prediction trick (you can read it here).  I was thinking about it some more and came up with another, probably better presentation.  The idea is that in high school you named your car.   You have a list of the top baby names … Continue reading “Another Presentation for the License Plate Prediction…”

A couple of days ago I wrote about a post about the License Plate Prediction trick (you can read it here).  I was thinking about it some more and came up with another, probably better presentation.  The idea is that in high school you named your car.   You have a list of the top baby names from the year you bought your car. You run scissors down the list and they saw stop whenever they want.  You cut the list at that point. They read the first name from where the list was cut and end up matching your license plate.

 

Mind reading magic trick

 

This would simply be the trick where you have the list of names printed upside down.  So when you cut the list, the name at the top where they think you cut it is actually the last name on your list.  That’s a simple and effective force for a trick like this that is list bases.

 

I think there’s tons of room for fun in this trick. “I named my car “Carl” and would tell my mom that carl and I are going out. It was month before she realized that Carl wasn’t real.”  

 

Now that I’ve got the hook and the method, it’s just a matter of writing the script and testing it out. 

 

Louie

Recommended Reading

Right now I’m reading John Carney’s book Magic By Design. It’s a book on theory of how to become a better magical performer.  One of the things he mentioned was writing down your “ideals” for your magic. Some guidelines as an artist of what you want for your magic / show.   Here’s some of … Continue reading “Recommended Reading”

Right now I’m reading John Carney’s book Magic By Design.

Magic by Design by John CarneyIt’s a book on theory of how to become a better magical performer.  One of the things he mentioned was writing down your “ideals” for your magic. Some guidelines as an artist of what you want for your magic / show.

 

Here’s some of mine:

  • The magic has to be good.  By that there can be no easy explanations of how things work.  
  • Every trick has to have a unique visual.  
  • I have to sweat.  I need to work on stage.
  • The audience has to feel like this “isn’t just another magic show”
  • The audience gets to know me during the show
  • The material has to “move the show forward”

 

I’m sure that I’ll come up with more, but this is just the quick list I’ve come up with.  There’s not much to it, however I’ve always said that creating with rules is so much easier than creating without rules!

 

I’m only a few pages into the book, but I highly recommend it!

 

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 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

Custom Built Props…

We live in a very exciting time to be a magician. Right now it’s super easy to get custom made props cheaply.   This means your show doesn’t have to look exactly like someone else’s.  For example the Evaporation trick…don’t want it in orange Sunny D?  Easy, I can make it in almost any other bottle … Continue reading “Custom Built Props…”

We live in a very exciting time to be a magician. Right now it’s super easy to get custom made props cheaply.   This means your show doesn’t have to look exactly like someone else’s.  For example the Evaporation trick…don’t want it in orange Sunny D?  Easy, I can make it in almost any other bottle for not much more than the stock version.

 

Click here for details on custom Evaporation bottles

 

This goes with pretty much any prop, you can print out decals on your home inkjet printer and add them to props.  Then you could customize off the shelf props that use generic product names to have “brand names”.

 

Here’s an example from my show. I do a soap bubble act and all of the props were made from “found materials”, thing that I repurposed to use as props.  The props don’t remotely match is color or general look.  I spend about 45 minutes one day designing them to print on my 3d printer.

 

bubble magic

 

I printed them out and got a set of props that not only looks better than what I was using before, but works better than what I was using before.  If you don’t have a 3d printer, there are plenty of services that will print out your projects for you, there are even libraries that have 3d printers you can use!

 

Basically in 2018, there’s no real reason to have props that are cobbled together (unless that’s the look you are going for).

 

Louie