Learning to Rock the Mic…

I’m still working through using a handheld microphone in the show. There’s definitely a learning curve. I’m getting better at it, but it’s an uphill slog. I have a lot of points where I’m holding the mic in my hand, then put it in the stand for a moment, only to quickly remove it.

Stage magic show

I really like how when I’m holding the mic in my hand, I’m a lot more expressive with my hands than when I’m wearing just a headset. I think holding the mic makes me more aware of what my hands are doing. It also puts a hand up near my face, so I can play more with motion that’s motivated.

As I get deeper into my show, I’m realizing that there’s going to be a lot of spaces where I’ll need to use the mic neck holder. That’s fine, I’ll need a joke to address it. Today I have to figure out how to do the reveal of the object in ball of yarn that’s the end of the longest routine in the show. I had to chunk this routine out into three bits to figure out the blocking, and today will be the third bit to figure out.

-Louie

Ugh…Still More Invisible Deck Work…

Phoenix large index cards
Regular card and a Phoenix Large Index card

Having a gig where I’m doing 66 shows at all month is a great opportunity to work on new material. I’m still working on my idea for the Invisible Deck. It’s coming along. I’m now using Phoenix Large Index Cards. The bigger index makes it play a row or two further back.

One thing I’m realizing is that this trick is going to be limited to the size of room it can play. I’m going to need to figure out a way to scale the trick back up to either a Phoenix Parlour sized deck or a jumbo deck. It’s interesting how the process works, I had to shrink the trick to figure out why I need to enlarge it!

So why not just go back to using the Vernet 52 B’Wave?

The main reason is the routine I was doing required 3 jumbo decks and didn’t really have a routine for it. By changing the method, I ended up finding a presentational hook for the trick, which ultimately helps the routine. Yes, I could do my routine with the 52 B’Wave, but now that’d bump it up to travelling with four jumbo decks, and that’s a lot of weight in case for a card trick!

I think the method may end up being some sort of hybrid method, where the reveal deck is similar to the 52 B’Wave deck, but with different reveal cards, and reveal cards that aren’t gimmicked, so they can be shown more freely.

Another reason I’m playing with a different method is that there’s a sense of pride I have when I perform with original methods.

MisMade Bill Styles…

In my stage show I use a mismade bill that just has one seam of the bill on each side.

Most magician’s use the mismade bill that has two seams:

I think the single seam is easier to visually process from the audience and at a distance. I decided to do some testing at the fair that I’m performing at and I’m getting bigger reactions and faster reactions from the bill with a single seam than with two seams.

It’s such a small thing, and in many context’s you may want to use the two seam bill, like if you are tearing a bill into quarter, of course it makes sense to use the bill with two pieces. In my routine, I turn the bill inside out, so there’s no tearing.

The important thing is to try new things and see if maybe you can get a better reaction doing something slightly different.

-Louie

Still Working on the Invisible Deck…

It hit me yesterday while I was doing my version of the invisible deck was that my version is not about the card, it’s about the two cards matching. That’s a huge distinction when it comes to making it play big. If you’re performing on stage with the invisible deck, the audience needs to know it’s the card that was named. In my routine since it’s a prediction, they only need to know that the two cards match. That means they only need to be able to tell the cards look the same from the back of the audience.

To make it play bigger, but still use a normal size deck, I have a few options. I could use a jumbo index card, which I personally don’t like. I think they look funny. In the past for stage work, I’ve used GIANT INDEX cards. These are cards that don’t have the pips in the middle, they are more like flash cards. These also look funny, but I like they way the look more than Jumbo index cards. The final option is to use the Phoenix Large Index Cards. These are normal looking cards, but the pips and indexes are 50% larger.

I just ordered some of the large index cards. I’m going to make a gimmicked deck and give it a try when I’m back at the fair on Wednesday. I’m guessing it will play slightly better, I don’t think the difference will be huge, but better than how it’s been.

I also figured out the optimum number of cards to do the trick with. I need to do the trick with 16 pairs (32 total). That’s going to eliminate evenly from 32 to 16 to 8 to 4 to 2 to the final card. I’m hoping that 32 cards will still play like a full deck from the stage. We’ll find out…

-Louie

Writing For the Invisible Deck…

As I still keep working on my version of the Invisible Deck, I think I have the technical end worked out. The biggest challenge is the elimination process. I needed to figure out how to remove any confusion as to what side people are selecting. What I have settled on is having people point to a side of the room. If they point to my hands, I can’t tell which side they are pointing at. So having them point at the left or right wall clears that up.

Next up is figuring out the presentation. As I’ve been doing it, as the elimination process happens I’ve organically been saying, “that’s what I would have done”. I’m kinda using that as the base for the routine. Here’s what I wrote last night:
“Whenever I leave the house, my wife tells me to make good choices. I’m gonna tell you, I only make the best choices! Like the time I made my own penicillin from sour cream…or when I knitted my own seatbelt…or the time I went to Wyoming.”

It’s a starting point. Maybe I could say say their “choices are better than the time I…” and then say something funny. I think I’m not at a point where I just need to write and try out the jokes.

Stage Compromise…

At the end of the day yesterday, I mentioned to my contact in the event production that having all tables up front isn’t really conducive to doing a show. It may work for more ambient things like music, but not for an interactive show that people need to pay attention to. I also mentioned the giant speakers on stage, and how the took out usable performing area. Their 16 foot wide stage, only had 8 feet of usable space. I think showing them this picture of a band on that stage helped get my point across:

The poor keyboard player was buried in the behind the speaker. I was told the the speakers wouldn’t move, and I’ll need to figure out how to work around them. In a compromise, if I figured out how to do my show with the speakers onstage, they would give me some benches up front and take out the front two tables.

To my surprise, this is what I walked into this morning:

The benches made a world of difference! It gives me a place for my anchor crowd to sit. Once I have that group, I can win over the people with their backs to me at the tables…or I can walk those people as they’ll realize that sitting and chatting at the tables isn’t easy during my show. Once I walk the people that don’t want to watch my show, I can fill the space with people who do.

I’m hoping that people will see that I was right about the benches and maybe think my idea with moving the speakers (somehow) has some merit. I’ll revisit that conversation with production later in the week.

-Louie

At Home Virtual Shows…

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…

Interesting Observation…

After one of my shows yesterday at the fair I’m performing at, I had a guy tell me something interesting after the show. He was a caterer and has worked with a lot of local performers, so he’s seen some magicians, and told me that. The caterer told me that my product wasn’t a magic show, it was my personality.

I 100% agree with his assessment and that’s the goal with the show. It’s not about the tricks, while they are important and I select them to hopefully move the story of my personality forward. What I’m selling is how I work, not what I work with.

Some magicians live on the the tricks that they do and that’s an easier route than trying to live on your personality. One of the hard things is when people don’t like your show, that directly means they don’t like you. Where if you do an effect driven show, if they don’t like the show they don’t like the tricks.

It’s up to you what your art is…

Unqualified Answers…

In the past I’ve written blog posts about how the facebook groups are bad places to get advice. The exception to this is when it’s a curated group of people where you know everyone. Recently in a group someone was asking about where to find some fuse to make a fake stick of dynamite. I’m not sure why you would want that, however that’s a different conversation.

In the comments of the facebook group, someone added this comment:

This is horrible advice. First of all, that doesn’t make flash string. Soaking cotton in lighter fluid makes a wick. It will burn, but not like flash paper. What will happen is the cotton string will light on fire until the lighter fluid burns off, then the string will burn, leaving a lot of residue. It also won’t happen in a flash, it burn like a wick with very little fuel, because that’s what it is.

Be careful out there when you ask for advice on the internet!

No Production Show…

At yesterday’s day camp show where I didn’t have music or a microphone, I initially had a bit a “what did I get myself into” moment. I started the show and the kids were really rowdy, lots of chatter and random screaming. The group was 3-12 years old, with the majority in the 3-5 year old range. That meant most of the kids had no concept of magic, or how to behave during a show.

I opened with a warm up, and did the rules bit that I do for school assemblies. It tells them my behavior expectations in a funny way. Once I did that and then my first trick, it really snapped them to attention. 15 years ago when I was a kid, I really would have struggled with this. I would have thrown energy at the kids, instead of keeping more calm (but still have energy). Starting out calm, like I’m the captain of a ship, really brought them to me…instead of me going to them.

The other thing that having no production in the show made me do was work a bit slower and be comfortable holding for laughs or reactions without any “audio spew” in the background. Holding and waiting for a reaction for me is one of the most nerve wracking things in performing.