Every now and then I end up with a trick that I like, but it doesn’t have a place in the show. These tricks end up in the preshow section of my show until I either come up with a routine for them, or give up on trying to figure out a way to fit them in show. The spoon and fork transposition is something that’s a great trick, but stayed in the preshow part of the show for years.
I finally fleshed out the routine a little bit, so it was more than a quick trick. It’ s a two phase routine, with an ending. Recently I tried it at a virtual magic open mic and it went well:
One thing I didn’t think about was the “hips gag”, I don’t think it played virtually. One of the problems was I was sitting, which I really should have realized before I started. Sometimes little things slip, that end up being a much larger problem that you’d think they would be. At least I now know for future gigs!
I’m thinking about updating my promo video and was watching some other magician’s promo videos this morning. One thing I noticed that I don’t like, however I’m not sure if anyone else notices or not are videos that don’t show the performer in front of a crowd. Here’s one I found from a magician named Alfred, who from the video has great technical skills, however there’s no audience:
What that says to me is the person doesn’t do many shows, I could be wrong. I honestly don’t know if that’s what a booker sees?
I also don’t know how I feel about “studio” shots in a promo video. I understand that a lot of the time it can be the only way to get a certain piece of video, like a close up that wouldn’t really be possible without really annoying the audience. I can usually tell when a studio shot is mixed in with live shots, the energy feels different.
I guess my feelings on promo videos that don’t show actual performances clips is that they aren’t for me. -Louie
It seems the Vanishing Birdcage is getting more and more popular right now, and I think it’s because there are some more cage options on the market right now than there were 5 years ago. I personally love the trick and have for years. The thing about the trick that I think easily gets forgotten is that you need to have a bird, or something in the cage.
That’s where Billy McComb‘s routine with the mouse really shines. It gives a purpose for the cage and puts focus on the cage. In the later Tommy Wonder videos of him doing the vanishing birdcage, it’s an empty cage that disappears. There is a video out there of an early version of Tommy doing it where he does it under a see through cloth, however the cage has a “mouse” in it.
In my routine it’s about the bird, here’s the very end of it:
When the bird is the focal point of the routine and not the cage, the take the audiences focus away from the funky looking cage. If all they have to look at is the cage, it’s easy for them to quickly realize it’s a trick cage.
I use a Nielsen Magic Latex Canary, and I’ve kinda been hoarding them. Whenever I see them at a magic swap meet, I buy them, or when I’m ordering some other trick from a place that sells them, I’ll add one into my order. The canaries are pretty cheap at $10, however, they won’t be around forever. I figure as long as I use them, might as well have them around.
Lately I’ve been on a downsizing kick, and cleaning out my office. Some of the things I’ve decided to sell are my duplicate Vanishing Birdcages. I’ve got a several of the same cages in various conditions. Here’s one that I’m selling:
This cage had a bar broken and a previous owner had done a repair. You can see in in the bottom left of the picture below:
This repair was probably in the best place it could possibly be. The lead edge contacts your sleeve a lot less than if it was done on any other corner.
I made a quick video showing the cage in action:
If you’re interested in this cage it’s currently on eBay: UPDATE: it has sold
One of the cool things about virtual performing is that if you have something you want to try, there are a ton of opportunities to do it…and you don’t need to leave you house! Yesterday I popped into Kevin Peel’s Open Mic Magic Show on Zoom. The nice thing about this show is that it’s UK based, so showtime is noon in Seattle!
I was looking to try out the Take Out Production Box for an audience, here’s the first attempt at doing the trick:
I think it works, I do need to do some writing to come up with something to say, or some jokes. For a video I like the “travel hack” premise, however for a live show, I think it may need some more meat. I could be wrong…
Last week I was in New York City for Christmas. We went to check out some shows, one of them was Stomp NYC.
If you don’t know what Stomp is, it’s a show that’s percussion based and they use “everyday objects” for their instruments and there is no talking or singing.
There’s a lot to learn about performing from this show. For me the huge thing was relatability. The characters were relatable, but the bigger thing was all of the props were relatable. They were things we all see and touch almost every day in our lives. From things like a recycle bin, to a plastic chip bag, everyone has a point of reference for all of the props. This makes the show soo much more relatable than if it used some strange percussion instrument that was invented for and only exists in this show.
When you look at the props in your show, looking at relatability for your props is important. Keep in mind you don’t need to use things that exist in real life, that’s an artistic choice you are making. However when you do, I think they should be things that actually are when they look like, versus things that pretend to be something in real life. Once again this is an artistic choice An example of something pretending to be something real would be an illusion that’s painted to resemble a cardboard box. Everyone knows it’s not a cardboard box, they know it’s a stage prop.
If you look at my two appearances on Masters of Illusion last season, both use “everyday objects” that people have seen or interacted with before.
The first used a paper bag and some toy animals:
And the second used a inflatable dinosaur costume
The props in those two routines were much more relatable than had I used props that were created just for magic tricks. It gives them a simpler feeling than fancy props and that’s the vibe I’m going for. I’m an everyday guy, not someone solves problems with money. In the end it all boils down to your artistic choice for your show. I’ve made some very intentional choices, and while I don’t expect you to make the same choices, I do hope in my heart that whatever you choose to do, it’s intentional.
Frequently I’m asked to make little promo videos for events that I’m performing. Here’s one a made for a gig a few days ago:
They wanted me to thank the sponsors and to do a quick trick. One of my “go to tricks” for situations like that are flap cards for a quick color change. I do the first change in the glass (which as far as I know I’m the first to do) which I think adds to the impossibility of it changing. Then the second is just the toss change.
Having a quick and visual trick you can do for things like this helpful. Also essentially having a formula for doing videos for events, so you’re not reinventing the wheel every time. I just grab my glass and card and I’m good to go!
Yesterday I wrote about an idea of using a chinese take out box as a production box. I went out and bought some poster board and made a box using the real one as a template. It was pretty easy to make the box, and luckily it all worked out on the first try:
I won’t use cards as the production item as they don’t make sense coming out of the box. I think I’ll use chinese food like noodles, or possibly and oyster and then noodles.
I think this is superior to many production boxes that are on the magic market because it’s something that people actually see everyday. Also as a prop, it’s much easier to relate to than a mirror box!
The other day I had a strange idea. I wanted to do a transposition between a tooth and a quarter. Using the toothfairy as presentation hook is a no brainer for this. The challenge was that I wanted one of them to be held in the spectator’s hand and obviously they are very different shapes.
The solution finally hit me, why not hand them a folding coin that was folded in thirds? This will have roughly the same shape as a tooth, and have some textures like a tooth. Once that was figured out, the rest of the mechanics were pretty simple. Here’s me trying it out:
It works! This was a great solution for strange problem.
Oh man, someone sent me a video a Rich Freeman performing at a sweet 16 party. The guests seem to enjoy what he’s doing…but the video is unwatchable:
Here’s the thing, I’m not trying to crap on the guy, but he made the video publicly available and out there. There are a lot of things wrong with this video. After the title screen, he opens with an immediate transition. That transition then ends with him yelling at a kid about toilet paper with no context. The constant shapes that appear in the video make it impossible to see anything that’s going on. Outside of his control, you have a kid sitting behind him the whole show that looks bored as hell.
I’m not sure of the purpose of this video. Is it to try to get him work, or for social media content? It’s listed on the video section of his website, so I’m guessing it’s promo to get him work. Whenever you put a video on your site, you need to think about what it’s purpose is. Is it a fun video or is it to get people to book you? If it’s fun, it belongs on your social media. If it ends up taking off and getting millions of views, then you might want to move it your main site.
Upload videos with a purpose…and make them watchable!