I think I was scrolling through facebook and I came across this video on the props that another magician uses for strolling at a fair:
There’s a lot of stuff in this that I disagree with, but the first thing is what he says he wears. He says his costume (whatever you wear while performing is a costume) is a t shirt and cargo shorts. I’m someone who is pretty dressed down compared to most magicians, but I don’t think I would perform in a Tshirt and shorts.
The other thing that I don’t agree with is how much material the he’s taking. I should say that I don’t agree with it “for me”. You really don’t need that many props, you’re doing roving, not a formal 22 minute magic castle close up set.
Here’s the props for my roving set:
That’s a 20 minute set if I wanted to do it as a long chunk, however I normally wouldn’t do it that way. Normally I’d do it as a 5-10 minute set. There’s a lot of variety in what you see there. Obviously there’s a lot that I can do with the deck of cards, then there’s the linking pins and finally the wallet. The wallet is a card to wallet, but inside it I have my Splitting Image trick, and a bunch of business cards that I can do mentalism with.
That’s the core set, then if I’m working on something new, I will add that to my those props. The whole works will fit into my two front pockets. Just because you have a ton of pocket space, it doesn’t mean you need to fill them with tricks!
For some reason I’ve always wanted a Chair To Suitcase. This is simply a chair that folds up into suitcase and was popularized in the USA by Horace Goldin in the 1930’s. I’m not sure why I want one, or what they heck I’d do with it. Recently I had a chance to buy one and now I own one.
Here it is as a chair:
And here it is as a suitcase:
This particular one will hold my weight if I sit on it, but I really don’t think it necessary. I think if I used it, it’s be something that held my props, like a makeshift table. For something like a cabaret show or when doing a short set it may be useable. I have a feeling it’s something that will just kick around for a while and I’ll either figure out a use for it, or eventually sell it.
A long time ago I was chatting with Nick Lewin and we were talking about the Ambitious Card. He said it was the “greatest card trick ever” and I agree with him! With the base effect, you put a card in the middle and it’s instantly on top. Very easy to follow. I do think that most modern versions are really multiple revelations of a selected card, as it’s more than the card simply jumping to the top.
A couple of weeks ago I started doing the ambitious card from a spread. Here’s what it looks like:
When I do it there are two phases, the first I push the card in and in the second they do. That gives it a sense of build. I like getting to play a little bit with having them move their finger along the spread of cards.
I’m liking doing it this way when I have a table. It doesn’t play the same with the cards spread in my hand. I think it’s because with the cards in my hand, it feels less impossible.
A couple of days ago I wrote about there being two kinds of Nielson Latex Canaries and that I prefer the lighter color as it’s thinner. The reason is that it’s a thinner latex. If it happens to stick out of the cage during the vanish it doesn’t really hang up on your sleeve. Here’s what the cage looked like after I pulled it out of my sleeve yesterday:
When I noticed that I made a quick video to explain the difference:
While the difference in the firmness of the latex isn’t much, one thing I’ve learned about the cage is that a lot of small things that end up making a huge difference! -Louie
The Linking Safety Pins has been one of my favorite tricks for years. One of things that I do are two phases where the pins are totally out of my hands and someone from the audience links or unlinks them. However my favorite part is the final unlink where I pull the pin through the pin that they are holding.
What draws me to this trick is the simplicity of it. It uses two large safety pins. Everyone knows what they are, they can be examined before and after the trick. Also they take up virtually no space in my pocket.
The downside is that the good oversized linking pins haven’t been made for a long time, so they have to be found on the used magic market. There were soo many sold, they frequently pop up and I’m always buying them whenever I find them. If you’ve never done the linking pins, the trick Shrapnel which is currently available is a good routine and it uses more standard size safety pins and worth looking into.
Sometimes I see things on fairgrounds that make no sense to me in the moment. Recently I saw Bubba Bear and the Bad Land Band.
This is a trailer stage that had an animatronic animal band and Mark Twain. If I was betting, these are older robots from a Chuck E Cheese that have been repurposed for this show.
Here’s a peek at the show:
The show runs every 10 minutes, I didn’t watch more than one show, so I don’t know if they are all different.
The show is (in my opinion) not good, however I do think it serves several important purposes. First of all the trailer stage and graphics look great and it looks like something you want on your fairgrounds. Next, it runs all day, and it has benches, so it’s a chance for people to sit down for a few minutes, however no one is going to sit on those benches for hours chatting. Also, it doesn’t really take man power (unless it breaks down), so it’s an easy to fill a blank spot on a fairgrounds. Oh, it’s owned by the carnival, so I’m going to imagine that if they have a ride that’s supposed to be at the fair, they can easily substitute this in. Finally, it’s free for the people attending the fair, so it’s something that’s not a money grab.
That illustrates something that you need to know if you want to perform at fairs, what is your purpose on the fairgrounds? A fair may book you because they want an awesome show, they may book you because they need to move guests a certain direction on the fairgrounds, or any number of reasons. The sooner you understand why you’re there, you’ll be much more successful!
With all of that considered, I’d still not watch the show again…but if I ran a fair, I’d probably book it and be happy with having it on my fairgrounds.
I’m still working on a redesign for my Applause Please trick.
This is my take on the liquid in light bulb effect, but instead of using a lamp, it uses an applause sign. This has been unavailable for a while as the Tim Rose who built them for me passed away about 2 years ago. I’m working with a new builder and should have it available in the near-ish future.
One of the changes that I’m working on is having it all battery operated. I’ve fought thing as I don’t like to rely on batteries, but I frequently get that suggestion. I think LED technology is catching up for the lumens that I need for the trick that can be run off of a 9 volt battery.
I should mention one of the reasons that I’m not using a rechargeable lithium battery is that you can’t fly with them. If the battery was built into the prop, you’d have to hand carry it onto a plane. Another thing is that I don’t trust myself to always charge it. With a built in battery, if you forget to charge it or don’t plug it in fully, you can’t do the trick. With a 9 volt battery, you just throw a fresh one in there and you’re good to go.
Another change I’m testing now is that I’ve rewired it so that the foot switch and hidden remote work together to so there is less secret pushing of the button on the remote control than in the current version of the trick that I’m using.
Hopefully these will be available by the end of the summer!
Years ago I used to do lasso in the show, but it’s been a long time. Since we’ve moved, I now have access to an indoor half court gym and I’ve been using it to practice lasso again. For me, relearning it is not like riding a bike, it’s definitely taking some work!
Here’s what I can do:
Right now it doesn’t look very elegant, or remotely skillful. I think I look like I’m working hard doing it, that’s because I am. I need to get to where I have a lot more muscle memory so that I can talk while I do it. The other thing I need to do is figure out what my left hand should do when I jump into the loop at the end, it looks funny right now.
The nice thing about working at fairs all summer is that I can practice this as part of my preshow and actually do it in front of people. For me, that’s a huge advantage when learning, when I’m learning in front of people, it makes it easier to introduce into the show when it’s finally ready.
The plus side to the lasso is that it’s has no set up and plays big. The downside to the lasso is that it’s a high practice, low payout skill. What I mean by that is people think it’s easy to do (it’s not). The other downside is that it’s a low trick, so it wouldn’t play well at a show where you don’t have a stage, as it’d be hard to see for anyone in the 3rd row or further back.
When it’s finished, I’m hoping to get 3 – 5 minutes out of the lasso. That primarily will talking with a 60-90 second routine.
Very frequently magicians will post in social media groups that they don’t understand why people want to show them magic tricks. I’ve got no problem with that, and unless it’s at a totally inappropriate time, like in the middle of a formal show, it let them.
I think the reason for this is that magicians have ego problems and they can’t let the spotlight on someone else. Usually it’s a trick like the 21 card trick and it won’t remotely step on anything you’re doing. You can get some great moments out of it, like immediately forcing the card they failed to find if the trick doesn’t work. The key to doing something like that, is acting like it just happened, so it doesn’t look like you’re one upping the person.
I’ve seen some crazy things that I never expecting, like a old guy that did a perfect tabled faro shuffle with my old beat up deck of cards! I then spent the next half an hour with him teaching me the basics of how to do it. Or this guy:
That guy also taught me the basics of ripping a deck of cards in half, and with the help of my friend Todd Gardner who is a strong man I can now rip a deck of cards in half!
Your job is to be an ambassador for the event you’re working, and with that in mind I almost always say YES when someone offers to do a trick!
I’ve been playing with adding remote controls to things recently. The company that I get the remote controls for my Remote Control Chattering Teeth had send me the wrong ones a while ago, and instead of sending them back, I decided to keep them in case I needed them for another project.
Here’s the most recent thing that I’ve made:
The idea is that the bell is rung by the corded button. However I can also secretly ring the bell via the remote control.
Some ideas for routines to use this to add comedy to are:
Having someone ring it when a trick happens. This would probably be better for a juggling style trick.
When doing a timed trick, like an escape.
When someone does something. For example, you need a kid to stay standing on a spot, and you if they move someone is supposed to ring the bell.
Those are all routines that you could very easily add the bell into. It’s the sort of thing that can turn a 2 minute trick into a 5 minute trick. For an example of this style of trick, look into my Order Up routine from Vanish Magazine #43. It’s the Cube Libre magic trick, but I added a bell and I used a sound effect on my PA to make the ring, but it played really well.