The last couple of days I’ve been working on using a giant set of safety pins onstage for a linking pin routine. Recently I started adding a thumb tie to it to add length. One thing I quickly learned is that there’s a ton of dead time at the end of the routine when I’m having the tape cut off of my thumbs.
My first attempt for fixing the dead time was to add a trick to the end. What I was doing was taking the tape and turning it into an animal balloon. That went over fine, but it’s not the right fix for the routine.
I think my second attempt is a reasonable solution to making the dead time of cutting the tape off my fingers worth it. I’m moving the thumb tie to the first half of the trick. After the thumb tie, the tape is cut off, then I move into the linking pins routine. This has been playing a lot better!
Now I need to keep adding meat to the routine to get it good.
I was browsing through reddit and came across a post with an picture of an old bread slicer:
I immediately made a connection to a prop that I assumed was simply a strange magic prop. The bread slicer resembles Lester Lake’s Disceto that was put out by Abbott’s Magic!
A quick internet search shows that bread slicing machines were invented in the 1910’s and Disecto was put out in 1942. It’s entirely possibly that the Disecto was trying to mimic a common object.
It’s also interesting that if it’s supposed to be a bread slicer, that people still use a prop that mimics something that used to be something people were familiar with, but hasn’t been common in my lifetime.
This is why it’s important to look at our props or lines and take out things that people aren’t familiar with. A good example of this is when I hear a comedy magician use a line about someone’s picture in the post office. That’s something that really hasn’t existed in my lifetime. I’ve encountered it once in my life about 10 years ago in a small town. I do know the reference from Bugs Bunny cartoons, but those were made decades before I was born. Because of this I don’t find the “post office joke” funny or something I can relate to. Look at your show and remove old references whether they are verbal or physical objects.
This week I started working on routine using some giant safety pins that I came across (read about them here). My initial plan was to see if I could make my close up linking pins routine work on stage with the the giant pins which are about 14 inches long.
The routine works onstage, but it needs more. It’s hard to justify the time it takes to bring someone onstage for a quick trick. I needed to build out the routine and add more.
I think that adding a thumb tie to the trick adds time and texture to the trick. The idea is after my normal linking pin routine, I would add the thumb tie using the giant pins as the “ring” that would normally go on and off my arms.
I’m thinking of using electrical tape for the tie as it’s easy to get almost anywhere. Method wise I’m thinking of using Irv Weiner’s Red Tape thumb tie, as I have all the stuff for it.
There are many reasons why the agents I work with like me, but this is the secret to get any agent to like you. It’s really easy, pay your commissions on time! By the time you get to the gig, the agent has done all of their work (unless there’s a problem) weeks or months ago. The agent is the last person to get paid, and has to wait the longest to get paid for their work.
The week before gigs when I’m sending out conformations for gigs, I also mail out any commission checks. These are sent out before the gig and the agent usually gets paid before I do the show.
This may seem like a small thing, and it really is as usually I have somewhere between two weeks and 30 days to mail the check. I know I like it when shows are prepaid, and I’m sure agents are the same. I also personally know a lot of agents and if you ask them how many of their acts are pay late, or how many acts have owed them money for years, it’s remarkably high.
This one little thing, being reliable with payment goes a long way!
In my close up set I do the linking safety pins and I love the trick. I’ve even gimmicked a larger set of about 5 inch pins to do the trick with. The 5 inch pins are good for about 30 people, there’s too small for a real stage show.
I found these giant safety pins and I think they’d be great for using on stage!
The challenge now is figuring out context to do them and getting more than a couple of minutes out of them. In my close up routine I use someone from the audience. Since I’m bringing someone onstage I really need to get at least 4-5 minutes out of the routine to make it worth the time it takes to get someone onstage.
In my writing this morning I had the idea of combining the linking pins with the thumb tie. The idea is the beginning phases will be my normal linking pin routine, then I’ll have my thumbs tied to “eliminate sleight of hand” and then the pins will end up going on and off my arms. That’s the idea, we’ll see how it plays when I get a chance to try it out!
One of my favorite types of show are shows were there are a lot of other performers. It ultimately feels like more of a team effort and you’re not out there working alone. Sure, my time on stage I’m alone, but before show and after show it feels like a group effort!
That said, you can check me out on 3/16/24 at the Hermosa Community Theater in California. This should be a fun show as I don’t know any of the magicians that I’m on the bill with, so I’ll get to meet some new people and see some new acts!
I started my first long run of the year this week. It’s a 10 day gig in Indio, CA. I flew into Fresno, CA, rented a car and then drove 5 hours to Indio. The nice thing about flying into Fresno is that I got to swing by Hocus Pocus and dig through the boxes of magic there!
I’m also always on the hunt for old Cincinnati stock cards from the US Playing Card Company, and found a ton of them
One of the things I picked up is this shell game set (maker unknown) and it will make a great addition to my three shell game collection!
They had some oddities (mostly gaffs) there and that’s something that I’m into! Here are a couple that are for sale on their website:
While I was there I put a two things for my collection. The first is a “snapping turtle” which is an alligator in a turtle shell:
And the other is what a side show would call a mummified devil or mummified alien.
If you’re ever in Fresno, there’s a ton of magic there (and some oddities!) and it’s totally with the trip!
There’s a rule that you’re not supposed to badmouth a gig until you’re one hundred miles away from it. The theory is that once you get 100 miles away, there’s no one connected to the gig that can overhear you say anything bad about it.
On this blog, or social media I try to use a 100 day rule. I try to get 100 days away from a gig before I either complain about it or post something funny/interesting to me, but may not be positive for the event.
That just makes it hard for anyone to backtrack to where you were. This is good if you’re giving non-specific info about the gig. There are plenty of bad gigs that I would return to, if it made sense and I don’t normally want to burn the bridge. Sure there are times when you need to burn it down, but that’s the 1% of bad gigs.
In this episode of the Moisture Festival Podcast, we are thrilled to have the extraordinary Ariel artist, Amy Funbuttons, joining us. Amy takes us behind the scenes, sharing the ins and outs of what it truly means to be a professional Ariel performer.
We learn about the challenges that come with the territory and delve into the daily experiences of a variety artist hard at work. We discuss her creative process as we uncover the mysteries and joys that accompany her journey. We also take a stab at an unsolved mystery from Amy’s own life. It’s a captivating interview with a remarkable performer that you won’t want to miss!
Let’s start out with what a sizzle reel is, they are typically a short, fast paced promotional video. In variety entertainment they are usually some between one and three minutes long. The goal is to give a buyer a feel for you and what you do.
Here’s how to make sizzle reel for your show:
Step 1: Go to the movies and watch the trailers for upcoming movies. These are longer than a variety act’s sizzle reel, but they are a good reference for what you are going for. Notice that the movie trailers don’t show whole scenes of the movie. The goal is to give you the vibe of what the movie is about and this is the goal of your sizzle reel, to give the vibe of what your show is.
Step 2: Go through video footage and audio and pick the best clips. I’m assuming you have a bunch of video because you’re regularly recording your show. You should be doing this to work on your show to make your show better. Also, you’ll notice that I mentioned audio, your audio should be recorded separately from your camera. You want clear audio of your voice if you use it in your sizzle reel.
Step 3: Edit out most or all of the set ups to your tricks and just show the magic. An agent explained it to me this way when he said, “I don’t want to see your rope trick, I want to see that you do a rope trick.”
Step 4: Find music that fits the feeling of your show and put your video clips to that music. I use Envato Elements for mine. It’s a subscription service that you get the license to use the music for web purposes. This eliminates any YouTube or whatever copyright claims.
Step 5: Upload it to YouTube or wherever you host your streaming videos. In addition to YouTube I use JWplayer. I pay annually for this service, because there are no ads or suggested videos at the end of your video. This gives you more control over what the potential client sees and you don’t have to worry about YouTube suggesting another act after your video.
One thing I should mention, when you’re compiling the clips, you need to think about the flow and what you want your target audience to think about. For example, I just made a sizzle real for my Incredible Idioms school assembly show, and I want to show the fun vibe of my show, but I also needed to show that there is educational content in the show, it’s not just a magic show.
P.S. Here’s the sizzle reel for the Incredible Idioms show: