Informal Virtual Performing…

I’m trying to be more proactive about performing when I don’t have shows on the schedule. The last couple of weeks I’ve popped into some virtual magic open mics. When I do these open mics my set up is a lot simpler than when I do a more formal show.

The nice thing about performing in my kitchen is that I can put Post It Notes on the fridge to remind me of lines or things to do.

When I do more formal shows with the virtual studio set up, I have notes taped to my lights and camera. This is a great way to remember new lines, or names of people to thank. For in-person shows I put notes behind monitor speakers or inside my case.

Trying new material is something I live for, so it’s nice to have little things I can do to make it easier!

Magician vs Juggler…

Yesterday I was chatting with a couple of jugglers and it’s interesting how different magicians and jugglers think. We were talking about a specific trick one the jugglers used to do. I came up with an idea that built upon their idea. My idea was that you put a bottle of soda on the floor, and you stand on a rola bola while holding a Mentos candy in your mouth. You drop the mentos into the coke bottle while standing on the rola bola and it fizzes everywhere.

The jugglers mentioned how hard it would be, and I told them how I would gimmick it. I don’t know if it would work but I have a method. First I’d widen the mouth of the bottle a little bit. Then I’d cut a hole in the bottle and run a thread through it. If the thread was on a thread reel, so it kept the line tight, it would hopefully pull it into the mouth of the bottle.

That’s a method that should work…I don’t know if I’m going to spend the time to try to make it work It’d be a good social media video, now sure how good it’d be in a live show it’s messy as hell. Feel free to give it a try and send me the video!


Studio Promo Videos…

I’m thinking about updating my promo video and was watching some other magician’s promo videos this morning. One thing I noticed that I don’t like, however I’m not sure if anyone else notices or not are videos that don’t show the performer in front of a crowd. Here’s one I found from a magician named Alfred, who from the video has great technical skills, however there’s no audience:

What that says to me is the person doesn’t do many shows, I could be wrong. I honestly don’t know if that’s what a booker sees?

I also don’t know how I feel about “studio” shots in a promo video. I understand that a lot of the time it can be the only way to get a certain piece of video, like a close up that wouldn’t really be possible without really annoying the audience. I can usually tell when a studio shot is mixed in with live shots, the energy feels different.

I guess my feelings on promo videos that don’t show actual performances clips is that they aren’t for me.

The Moisture Festival Podcast – Steve The Pretty Good

 In this episode we make our first house call and interview the hilarious Steve Hamilton.

We chat with Steve in his home and learn about how he went from saving lives as a paramedic to making people laugh with his comedy and magic at events all over the world. We hear how he quit his job to pursue his dreams and how his family responded to that decision. A fun interview with hilarious stories about bad gigs and we hear about how he has not only performed at the Moisture Festival, but volunteered also. A great glimpse into the hilarious career of Steve the Pretty Good. 

Coffee Messiah

When I was in my late 18-20 years old and living in Seattle there weren’t a lot of places to figure out how to perform outside of family shows. At the time the Washington State had very restrictive liquor laws which prohibited me from performing at a lot of venues that had open mics until I was 21 years old. One day I noticed an ad in Seattle’s alternative newspaper for open mic that was at 2:30am!

It was at a place called Coffee Messiah

I started going out to the open mic and had a blast. It was a drag show, strange performance art show and an anything goes show. I wasn’t a “regular” there, but did perform there a lot! This was probably the most supportive community of performers that I’ve ever encountered. This may have led to why I’m soo open, encouraging and helpful to other performers.

Coffee Messiah was a place for me to try to find my voice or style as a performer. It would be years before I started to figure out what my style was, but having a place to play around and do it was great.

One of my favorite memories was that at the time I had a Zig Zag illusion and one of the drag queens wanted to be cut up. They came over to my apartment and we practiced a bit. Then when it came to show time the next week, I put them into the box, and when I put the upper blade it, it wouldn’t got all the way through. Well, we had neglected to practice in costume and their fake boob got stuck in the way of the blade and we couldn’t get it out of the way! Eventually after a lot of wiggling we got the blade through and completed the illusion!

Sadly Coffee Messiah has been closed for years, but I stumbled upon a video the owner talking about the venue:

Having a place like this to create art was a blessing to me, and helped form who I am as an artist.


Relatable Props…

Last week I was in New York City for Christmas. We went to check out some shows, one of them was Stomp NYC.

stomp nyc

If you don’t know what Stomp is, it’s a show that’s percussion based and they use “everyday objects” for their instruments and there is no talking or singing.

There’s a lot to learn about performing from this show. For me the huge thing was relatability. The characters were relatable, but the bigger thing was all of the props were relatable. They were things we all see and touch almost every day in our lives. From things like a recycle bin, to a plastic chip bag, everyone has a point of reference for all of the props. This makes the show soo much more relatable than if it used some strange percussion instrument that was invented for and only exists in this show.

When you look at the props in your show, looking at relatability for your props is important. Keep in mind you don’t need to use things that exist in real life, that’s an artistic choice you are making. However when you do, I think they should be things that actually are when they look like, versus things that pretend to be something in real life. Once again this is an artistic choice An example of something pretending to be something real would be an illusion that’s painted to resemble a cardboard box. Everyone knows it’s not a cardboard box, they know it’s a stage prop.

If you look at my two appearances on Masters of Illusion last season, both use “everyday objects” that people have seen or interacted with before.

The first used a paper bag and some toy animals:

And the second used a inflatable dinosaur costume

The props in those two routines were much more relatable than had I used props that were created just for magic tricks. It gives them a simpler feeling than fancy props and that’s the vibe I’m going for. I’m an everyday guy, not someone solves problems with money. In the end it all boils down to your artistic choice for your show. I’ve made some very intentional choices, and while I don’t expect you to make the same choices, I do hope in my heart that whatever you choose to do, it’s intentional.


Event Promo Videos…

Frequently I’m asked to make little promo videos for events that I’m performing. Here’s one a made for a gig a few days ago:

They wanted me to thank the sponsors and to do a quick trick. One of my “go to tricks” for situations like that are flap cards for a quick color change. I do the first change in the glass (which as far as I know I’m the first to do) which I think adds to the impossibility of it changing. Then the second is just the toss change.

Having a quick and visual trick you can do for things like this helpful. Also essentially having a formula for doing videos for events, so you’re not reinventing the wheel every time. I just grab my glass and card and I’m good to go!


New Years Eve

Well, 2021 is coming to an end tonight and it’s been an interesting year. Due to the COVID pandemic still doing it’s thing for most of the year I got to do some unusual shows, from no contact shows, to filming a TV show with no audience to performing for the Amish!

I’ve tried my best to really go with the flow, rather than try to fight the current. Instead of complaining about restrictions on how I could do my show, I looked at it as a challenge as to how to make my show and ultimately my personality work under the conditions I was given.

I’m very curious how 2022 is going to be…so far my summer schedule it looking pretty full and I’ve got some ideas and exciting projects in the works!


East Coast Gig…

Check me out tomorrow in Winchester, VA at First Night Winchester. I really love performing at these First Night arts festivals. The audience and shows are good. If you have a First Night near you, I highly recommend performing at them, they are soo much better than 99% of the normal NYE gigs!

This is a rare east coast appearance, I’m more of a west coast guy. If you’re in the area, send me a note and we’ll hang out!