12 Cent Interactive Trick!

The last couple of days I’ve been writing about doing an interactive “do as I do” trick using coins that has a magical ending. Yesterday I talked about how I’m forcing the coin, and a couple days ago I talked broadly about how the coin vanish would happen.

Basically I’m using a 21 cent trick coin set…but instead of the dime that’s in the set I’m using a penny. That gives me a set of two pennies and two nickels that will nest to form a single nickel. You are essentially doing the standard routine used with tricks like the 21 cent trick, all the coins go into your hand, you remove a nickel (that has the other three coins inside of it), then open your hand to show the other three coins are gone.

What my forcing sequence gives is a mini effect before the main effect. More importantly is that the mini effect justifies removing the nickel from your hand, which shifts a lot of heat from the method of the trick AND removes heat from the coin on the table, since there was a reason to remove it.

What I love about working on this trick is that I’ve taken a trick (21 Cent trick), where the standard routine is garbage and made something decent out of it. I can only think of one other routine with the coin set that’s any good. It’s in one of John Mendoza‘s books and uses ae $1.35 coin set, which is essentially the same coin set. That routine ends with a very surprising production of 85 pennies!!!

Watch Nick Lewin…

On the this weeks episode of Masters of Illusion, the act to watch in Nick Lewin do his Slow Motion Torn and Restored Newspaper. He’s the best act on the show. You can see the lifetime of work he’s put into it. You can watch is on The CW’s website.

Nick knows every beat of that trick. starts out with energy, establishes his character and the magic is strong.

Pay attention to how each joke moves the act forward. There are no jokes shoehorned in there. It all relates directly to him or the trick.

The appearance was just under 2 minutes, and I counted 9 laughs in those two minutes. That gives him 4.5 laughs per minute. That’s pretty solid, my goal is 4 LPM’s. You’ll notice he front loads the routine with jokes and then the final 25% is magic, and he doesn’t really mix the two.

I think everyone who wants to be a comedy magician can learn a lot by watching Nick’s appearance.

Stuff I’d Never Do…

One of the fun things about making short pre-recorded videos for events is that I get to play around with things that I’d never do in my show. Here’s a clip of a trick from one of those videos:

What I really enjoy about making videos like this is getting to play a lot more. When you can try something 20 times, it allows you to take risks you’d never take in a live show.

Go out and play!

The Cork Trick…

Awhile ago I was visiting Steve Dobson and someone (sorry I can’t remember who) showed me a little trick with cork. You put the cork under a cup and when you lifted it, it was standing up on end. It’s a clever little trick that I learned is Sol Stone’s Abraviagra.

You can watch Sol do it here:

Sol’s version is great, while his presentation is a bit dated, don’t let that turn you off. This is a great impromptu trick. I’ve used it a bunch and and it’s great.

I was recently working on some videos for a client thought about the cork trick. I needed to get a bit more time out of it, and wanted a bit more build to the routine. I don’t think it would hit as hard if you’re not there watching it in person.

Here’s what I came up with:

The trick progresses from fully covered, to partially covered, to just under a clear glass, and then there’s the kicker at the end. My method is a bit more complex than Sol’s method is. Mine was designed for a video, so it didn’t need to be practical. It’s super gimmicked!

I think the trick came out well and while it won’t be moving into my show anytime soon, it was fun to do and it’s something that’ll be in my “back pocket” if I need it.

Give a Laugh…

A couple of years ago while in New Orleans I got to sit down with Aye Jaye and chat about his book, The Golden Rule of Schmoozing. We talked about giving people things, and initially I didn’t know I was doing it, but I was. I always have a trick or gag ready. I never force it on people, but if the situation is right, I do it.

That brings me to this gag that I thought up not too long ago:

I was at the store and got carded because I was buying some alcohol. I remembered a gag that was taught to me by Tom Mullica where you glue a clown nose on your ID. I thought it’d be a topical gag and found some paper and cut one out and stuck it to my ID. Now I’m giving away a laugh, and expecting zero in return.


Just giving out a smile. That’s all. It’s a great feeling, and something that I think people need right now. Also I think it’s one of the better COVID gags out there right now, because the laugh is on the situation, not on the virus.

Update Your Bits…

The last ten years a lot has changed in America, and your show should be changing to keep up. Right now I’m in a hotel and the 1980’s movie Overboard in on TV. This movie was remade in 2018, however I haven’t seen the movie. There must have been something there some production company felt the need to make it again.

There are a lot of old “bits” in the movie that aren’t really used anymore. In the beginning of the movie Goldie Hawn has amnesia, which is something that was in in every episode of a 1980’s sitcom and many movies of that time. It’s something that really isn’t an any modern shows. Of course at one point she faints, which is another dated movie bit.

What does this have to do with magic?

Simple, you need to look at your show, how does it fit in with where the USA is right now. Not too long ago I saw a video of a performer doing the break away wand. When it broke he said, “must have been made in china”. He mentioned that he got a complaint about the line. I told him the complaint was justified and it’s super insensitive.

Let’s pretend that I’m wrong, is the bit worth complaints, even if it’s not offensive? In the video the line didn’t really get a laugh, so it’s not a joke that I’d fight for.

When you look at your show, if you can’t justify a joke with a reason beyond, “it gets a laugh” if someone were to be offended by it, you should drop the joke. Now’s the time to go through your show before you get complaints.

Online Variety Show

Coming up on 7/16 at 5pm (pacific) Matt Baker and I will be hosting the third Odd and Offbeat Variety show. These are live variety shows that happen over Zoom. Each show features three acts, these are some of our amazing friends and this month’s show is going to be AMAZING!

Odd and offbeat variety show

Each performer will answer questions from the audience after perform their acts, then after the show we hang out a bit. It’s a lot of fun, and you should check it out!

Tickets at: https://oddandoffbeat.ticketleap.com/july2020/

Too Much Procedure For The Payoff

After being in magic most of my life, I still love it. That’s not to say that I unconditionally love any trick, there are plenty of bad ones. For example I had this one come through my Facebook feed:

4 ace from shuffle deck

Find the 4 Ace ace from shuffle deckSleight of hand trick

Posted by Panha Magician on Friday, June 12, 2020

For a four ace production it’s pretty bad, and the payoff after all that procedure heavy shuffling doesn’t justify the time it took to get there. After all of that shuffling, at least give me a flash production of the four aces, don’t just take them off the top of the deck.

For a social media video, a better trick would be a couple of riffle shuffles and then a flash production, and you’d be at less than 30 seconds of video and it’d be a much stronger trick. For one minute to simply turn the top cards over, you’d need some novelty or cardistry type shuffling to make it interesting.

Polaroids to Envelope

For the Polaroids to Envelope magic trick I’m working on, the last technical step is to clean up the handling. The initial handling had three Tenkai Vanishes, which is fine, but redundant. I also think that if you do the same false transfer over and over, you need a convincer to show both hands empty.

Here’s the tweaked handling:

One thing that I decided with showing both hands empty was that I didn’t want to make both hands being empty part of the vanish. I wanted to show both hands, just not show the dirty hand as a “moment” of the trick. In the video you’ll notice that I show both hands as I turn the envelope over.

The technical end is finished for now. The technical part is something that may evolve over time, and something that’s never completely done.