The picture below is from back in 2017, I had an idea to use a foam hand for a trick.
The idea was inspired by a math based trick in a Jim Steinmeyer book. The problem I faced in the trick was giving clear instructions. I tabled the trick shortly after I started doing it in 2017. Then shortly before the pandemic hit in 2020, I reread in Gary Oulette‘s book of his columns in Genii magazine called Fulminations about the challenges David Copperfield had to get through when giving instructions for his “touch the TV screen” tricks. The instructions had to be clear, even for the biggest idiot.
Then the pandemic hit and I started playing with some tricks that used counting on a hand, and went out and remade my foam hand. I never used the foam hand in a show, because in a virtual show my hand plays big.
Right now I’m cleaning up and downsizing the props I have, and I came across the giant foam hand. It’s sort of gimmicked, or at least altered so that I can bend the fingers down and they stay down. In a couple of days I head to Arizona for a month long gig and I think I’m going to take the hand with me and try to figure out the routine.
One thing I think it lacked was an ending. It needs a good way to reveal that they are all touching the same finger. When I made the last foam hand, I also bought a foam hand that just has the pointer finger up. The challenge was how to reveal this. I was playing with it and essentially found a pull the giant hand off my hand to reveal my hand is holding a giant foam hand with just the index finger up!
Now I have a moment to punctuate the reveal of everyone on the same finger.
It’s still got a challenge. Am I going to do the trick looking at the audience or not? Traditionally in this type of trick you don’t look at the audience, however I’m not sure I want to do that. You lose a lot of control by not looking AND you can’t keep an eye on people doing the procedure.
I think I can solve this by having my instructions fixed. By “fixed” I mean something that I can’t change. It could be a recording, like in the Banana Bandana style of trick. I really don’t like performing to a recorded track, it takes away a lot of what makes a live show fun. I think I may make a flap card, that has a five on one side. You turn it over and it has a three on the back side. Then when you turn it over again, the five has changed to a one. That gives the audience something interesting during the boring counting procedure. I also think going from five to three to one, makes the counting easier as it’s getting simpler each time.
I’ll have some playing to do, but luckily I’ll have a monthlong venue to try them out!
The virtual magic show that I did a couple days ago went well. It had been a while since I had done them, so the show wasn’t as tight as it could be. Also I didn’t really have time to run the show a few times, so I had forgotten a few bits. Overall it was a decent show.
With the COVID delta variant out there, I think there’s going to be a lot more people looking for virtual shows than there were a few months ago. I just booked another virtual show that will take place in October. I’m flying home for this show to do it from my virtual studio.
One of the things that initially was cool about virtual shows was that in theory you could do them from anywhere in the world for an audience anywhere in the world. The reality is that many hotels don’t have good internet, and the room isn’t necessarily a good background. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done, but it’s an additional challenge. You may need to book a room at a nicer hotel, or book a conference room. Sometimes those costs can make it cheaper to just fly home and do the gig.
What I need to do is put together a virtual show that can be done with basically just my laptop camera (or small webcam). All of the props would need to be hand held near my face, with no action taking place on the table. This would then work for most situations and could easily be packed.
A couple of weeks ago I got a call from a library that had all of their in person shows cancel to the COVID delta variant and needed a virtual show. That had me fly home last night to do a virtual show today. It’s been a couple of months since I’ve done a virtual show, so I’m a bit nervous. I did a couple of checks of things a few days ago and the audio wasn’t working correctly.
Now that I’m home, it’s a little bit easier to work on things as I’m back in my normal space to perform in. I could have done the show from a hotel room, but having my usual area will be helpful as I know where everything is and I’ve done it a bunch from here.
Another advantage when doing the show from home is that I have my daughter here to help me. I’ve always found having the extra person in the room to try to fix any problems is a huge help!
I think that more virtual shows are going to be popping back up on my schedule in the near future…
My final scheduled virtual magic show was yesterday at 9:30am…and it was for a group of middle school aged kids. I’m going to say that middle school age isn’t the ideal demographic for 9:30am. They had fun, and so did I!
This show had some problems which are why virtual shows stressed me out. The big one was my internet dropped about 2 mins from the start of the show. I was back in the zoom before the show started. it’s one of those things that had it happened 5 mins later, it would have been a bigger issue. Zoom also wasn’t recognizing my mic, so I had to use my laptop’s mic. That also wasn’t a huge deal, but it just adds to the stress of these gigs.
I ran this show solo, normally I have my daughter run the production on the show. It was fun, but I’m glad to be back to performing in person.
I had a great time learning to perform in a virtual venue, and I really loved creating magic for virtual shows. I’m not saying I will never do another virtual show, there are just no more on my calendar.
Today is the the day that I perform my final virtual magic show! I’m pretty excited that I’m back to doing in person shows, however going forward I will still do virtual shows if requested. In the last year and a half, I think I’ve figured it out at a workable level. My virtual show was decent, not crazy amazing, but passable.
The HUGE thing that I’m not going to miss going forward is setting up my studio. I don’t have a dedicated space to do virtual shows, so I had to build and tear down the studio every time I did the show. That made the effort to do the virtual show close to what it would be to drive to an in person show.
The other big headache is technology. I think that’s the thing that was the most stressful about these shows. The internet has mysterious dropped out during shows, or gotten laggy while I was performing. That part that’s completely out of my hands, but affects the perception of how good the show is caused me a lot of stress!
I’m hoping today’s show virtual show is uneventful!
Awhile ago on this blog I mentioned I was working on a trick that used an Amazon Alexa / Echo device. The goal of the trick was essentially a self working trick that someone could do without me, just following some instructions and having an Alexa in their room.
Here’s the final trick:
When I was putting this together, it I was pretty lucky. I put the hats above on note cards. I needed to force the party hat and the four hats I randomly wrote down and the order that I randomly laid them out worked for the math! I still needed to figure out the second count (hat), and once I realized I just needed an odd number, it was a piece of cake!
Recently I did a virtual lecture for a magic club in Wisconsin and one of my favorite parts of the lectures is at the end when I do stuff that’s not normally in the lecture. One of the things I did was my Coins To Glass:
It is my great platform for me to talk about fixing tricks you like, but are broken. What I mean by that is the original Copentro trick. It’s a great trick, but that base doesn’t really work with modern standards of what magic props look like. Sure you could come up with a reason to justify the base, but it still looks strange. My method was used to completely eliminate the need for a the thick base, as the coins don’t move vertically.
What’s great about show and teaching this routine to magicians is it really illustrates how I think. How I won’t stop at the original idea (usually), and will keep pushing it until I figure it out. Also that I’m open to suggestions from other performers.
Yesterday’s post I wrote about someone looking for interactive coin magic. Seeing their post, I created an original trick that would fit their requirements. It’s a coin trick, it’s interactive, in that everyone could follow along from home and it has a magical payout. It’s a “touch the screen” type effect, but the magic ending takes it beyond a math puzzle.
here’s how the effect plays, you have three pieces of paper, one has coins written on it, one credit and the final bills:
Someone touches one of the pieces of paper. They spell the word on it, jumping one space per letter.
You tell the you know they aren’t on the word “Bills” so you eliminate that one and throw that piece of paper away.
Now they spell money (starting on the word they ended on), jumping one space per letter.
You tell them you know they aren’t on the Credit, that means they picked the Coins! You then pick up the paper with coins written on it, light it on fire and produce coins!
In my head this coin production would look like this Tommy Wonder picture:
There you go and original, interactive magic trick that had a magical payoff!
While I personally don’t like the the “touch the screen” type effects, I do think that knowing them and understanding how they work make you a more well rounded magician. It’s just another tool in your toolbox that will help you solve a problem.
A few days ago this post came through my social media feed:
The huge thing is the original poster didn’t define what they meant by “interactive”, it leaves a lot up to interpretation. Do them mean that they interact with people verbally, or is it a Touch The Screen type effect?
The next poster tries to get clarification:
My assertion that any trick can be interactive with a bit of thought, seem a bit outlandish, so they gave me a challenge of a trick that based on how the instructions are written, you really shouldn’t be able to do it virtually.
However I immediately knew how to make it interactive:
I stand by my assertion that any trick can be “interactive” in a virtual show if you put some brain power on the problem, instead of blindly doing what everyone else is doing.