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.


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.

More Key of Fate…

Yesterday I wrote about some changes to the Luca Volpe’s Key of Fate routine that I’m making. I figured I should write out the effect:

I show lock that’s locked to a little case and four keys in a cup and only one will open the lock. There are also three colored notebooks and three matching colored spots on the floor.

Three people from the audience are invited onstage to play a game. Whoever’s key opens the lock will win one of the prizes written on one of the pages of one of the notebooks. Each person grabs one key and one notebook, leaving a single key on the table for me. They are to stand on the spot on the floor that matches their notebook’s color.

You flip the pages of the notebook for the first person to see what prize they are playing for. They end up picking 500 Pesos, but unfortunately their key doesn’t open the lock. The first person returns to their seat.

The second person selects the ice cream sundae from their notebook as a prize, but their key doesn’t open the lock. The second person returns to their seat.

The final person, who is standing on the blue spot selects a prize, which is a banana. When they try to open the lock, it opens! Inside the case is their prize, a banana!!! They can keep the banana and return to their seat in the audience.

For the kicker, you show underside of the two spots from the people that didn’t win and there’s nothing under them. The spot of the person that won, has some paper taped to the bottom of their spot. It says, “Congratulations on winning the banana, sorry the other two people didn’t wind the ice cream sundae and the 500 Pesos!”

Ok, so that’s how the routine plays. I’m a huge fan of being able to describe what happens in the trick in a sentence. If I take those six paragraphs of how the routine plays and condense it into one sentence it would be:

The magician predicts the outcome of a game played with the audience.

That’s the effect, it’s a prediction of the outcome of a game.

Double Lifts…

One of the most overused sleights in card magic is the double lift. It’s a great move, but soo many people do it poorly (I put myself in that group). One of the problems is that a double lift looks like a double lift. There’s virtually no one that does one that looks like all the other times they turn the cards over. Everyone says, “turn a single like a double” and they’ll all look the same. In theory that would work, but in practice, it doesn’t. There’s soo much going on with a double lift from the get ready, to however you are getting your alignment down and the force or lack of force to hold the two cards together.

There are other ways get to the end results such as a top change, second deal, or a palm and replacement. The problem with these is they are much harder to do poorly than a double lift. A double lift is easy to do bad, which is why soo many people do it. They can put in a minimum amount of time to do something and sort of do it.

There are some good double lifts, but they are much harder to do. My favorite one is the Stuart Gordon double turnover. While it still looks like something is happening to me, it’s one of the more natural ones to do. I play with it a lot, but I don’t do it, the way you move the card isn’t natural to me. It’s great and I think you should learn it, not necessarily do it, but learn it!

Using Projection…

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about using projection in my stage show. I’ve been looking at how other magicians and performers are using it. It’s something that can make a lot of difference in how visible something is. For magicians, David Copperfield was the first that I was aware of to use in it … Continue reading “Using Projection…”

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about using projection in my stage show. I’ve been looking at how other magicians and performers are using it. It’s something that can make a lot of difference in how visible something is. For magicians, David Copperfield was the first that I was aware of to use in it his four ace routine. Currently using video is pretty common.

The best use of video that I’ve seen so far is Darren Brown in his Broadway show Secrets. Most people when it’s used, it feels like you are either watching the screen or watching the performer. When Darren did it, it felt like your attention wasn’t torn between two places. You were watching him perform and the video enhanced it.

That’s what I’m going for, using video to enhance what’s happening. Projection would be used for showing the signature of a card, but not the whole card trick. I think when the action happens on the table and the only way you can watch it is through the screen, then it stops enhancing the live show and becomes the audience watching TV.

Sometimes You Need To Take the Long Road…

Magicians love to take short cuts and be lazy. Here’s an example, I’m doing a trick where loose rubber bands turn into a rubber band ball. The easy way would simply be to do a shuttle pass during a hand to hand transfer. However I had some conditions that I wanted for the trick: 1: The … Continue reading “Sometimes You Need To Take the Long Road…”

Magicians love to take short cuts and be lazy. Here’s an example, I’m doing a trick where loose rubber bands turn into a rubber band ball. The easy way would simply be to do a shuttle pass during a hand to hand transfer. However I had some conditions that I wanted for the trick:

1: The change had to feel like it was a visual change
2: I needed to end with my hands empty
3: The trick needed to be able to happen at anytime in my show
4: The ball had to be able to bounce

The first and second conditions made something simple like a shuttle pass not the solution for me.

Ending clean made things a bit more complicated. An early idea was to use a gimmicked rubber band ball that was similar to a Silk to Ball Gimmick. However making one that could bounce and not look strange is something I have yet to figure out.

Here’s what I ended up coming up with:

What I ended up doing from a “method” standpoint was a lot more complicated than a shuttle pass, but I think it fulfilled my artistic vision better than a shuttle pass would have.

P.S. The method for this will be in an upcoming issue of Vanish Magazine