One quote that soo many people like to say, which I dislike is
“A magician is an actor playing the part of a magician.”
Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin
The reason I don’t like the quote is usually who says it. It’s a lazy way to say you don’t like someone’s routine. Not all people who do magic tricks pretend to have magical powers. The people who quote the above are usually the same people that dislike card tricks.
Here’s fun Houdin quote I came across the other day:
Of all the marvels produced by Sleight-of-hand, card tricks are, beyond question, the most amusing, and the most generally appreciated.
Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin
You can’t have one quote and not the other. They came from the same person. I think I’m going to try to popularize this quote whenever people show their dislike for card tricks!
I was going through my vanishing birdcage collection the other day. It’s interesting the different styles and how the cage has evolved. Going from rigid, to floppy to semi rigid. There has definitely been an evolution in how the vanishing birdcages have been made.
I think the Thayer cage, which is more rectangular than a modern semi rigid cage is the best shape. A modern cage, it more square (still rectangular) than the Thayer vanishing birdcage. When collapsed, it has less bulk because of the shorter ends, which is good. However there might be some engineering challenge that the more rectangular shape presents when making it as a rigid cage.
I’d love to try to make a semi rigid cage with the proportions of a Thayer cage, but unfortunately the skills to make a vanishing bird cage are beyond me…
In a facebook group someone asked for advice on how to deal with preteen hecklers. Now, I’ve written in the past about how advice on the internet is pretty much always crap advice. Well here’s a good example. Here’s Pete’s suggestion and my reply:
Objectifying a pre-teen girl without their permission is wrong. This is also misguided, as the girl may not be the one causing the problem. Another issue is that preteen’s probably don’t know what misdirection is, so they won’t get the joke.
He tries to defend it by saying he’s not in the USA, and where he lives it’s culturally OK. That may be, but that doesn’t make it right. There’s a place in the USA (Massachusetts) where it’s legally OK for an adult to marry a twelve year old, but that doesn’t make it right.
Then he goes onto personally attack me:
I respond with a couple bullet points of my resume and Pete says that he’s never heard of me. This is very interesting because he just made a lot of statements about my show. How could you make the above statement if you know nothing about me?
So which is it Pete, do you know about me or not?
When I asked him to explain his statement, the confirmed he had no idea who I am. That’s when I asked him:
He then says he never made any statements about my show. That’s when I quoted his statement about me copying other people and then here’s the exchange that followed:
FYI: he lives in the UK, which has libel laws that are much more strict than in the USA.
His only response to me asking why he felt the need to make up stuff about me was to try to bully me.
This is the problem with trying to crowdsource advice on the internet. You can get advice that’s not very good. Then the people giving that poor advice aren’t exactly people you’d want to take advice from.
The bigger point is that we all should try to be better. Things that were OK in the past may not be OK now. Look at it this way, if you don’t objectify women in your show, no one is going to see the show and say, “I didn’t like how the magician chose to not comment on that preteen’s look, I’m not going to hire them for my event.” However there are people who will see the show and chose not to book you because of how you objectified a child.
Yesterday I started messing around with the Silver Extraction coin trick. Traditionally how the trick goes, is you give them the coin that they hold in their fist. You then pull the silver (silver blob) through their hand and they are left with a clear coin. I think the pulling through the hand is fun, but I think this particular set of coins has a different effect possible.
here’s the idea:
I like the visual of the shaking and having the silver blob sliding around on top of the copper center of the coin. Method wise, I’m not sure it’s an improvement over just a shuttle pass. I’ll be trying out both methods today at the fair.
A couple of weeks ago I was performing at a fair and another act mentioned she was going through a book called The Artist’s Way. This is a book about how to be more creative. It’s more than a book, it’s a series of things you need to do and it’s broken down by week. It doesn’t feel like a lot work, but it is. There’s a lot of writing that needs to happen. I’m not afraid of writing, so it’s not as daunting as it may be for me. If you’re someone who really hasn’t done much writing, it may be a little bit of a challenge.
I’m only on day three, and the book gives you things to do by the week, so I’m on week 1. The first week seems to be identifying the things that are holding you back, and while I did know some of the things that I’ve brought up in my writing, there were a couple of surprises as well.
This book has a pretty hippy vibe. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I guess that writing style may turn some people off. So far, I’m down with this book, but it’s a twelve week thing, so we’ll see how I feel by the end (assuming I make it to the end).
One thing I was working on over the weekend at the fair was freezing and holding for applause and for the effect to sink in longer. This can be hard to do, just standing still and waiting for the audience to do something.
I need to be better about this at the end of the effect and after telling a joke. Letting the effect or punchline marinade with the audience for a little bit. I’ve noticed the difference between the first day of this fair and the last day in the amount of applause and laughs I’m getting.
Doing this can be hard if you have a dead crowd, as you’re standing and waiting for very little audience response. One thing I’ve notice is that it builds throughout the show.
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…
When you perform at fairs, usually there is a “green room” or space where the performers can hang out between shows. There’s normally food, drinks and air conditioning. It’s a shared space for everyone, but that doesn’t mean everyone should have access.
Recently at a fair I performed at there was someone who was obviously sick hanging out in the green room. This specific green room was a trailer, so not a very big space. He had lost his voice, was coughing a lot and visually didn’t look well. None of the other performers wanted to get sick. We chatted about what to do, and settled on insisting that the guy get a COVID test and not allowing him in the green room until he was better, and we then talked to our boss. He still had access to the food and drinks, someone would bring them to him.
Luckily he tested negative for COVID, but he still had a bad cold, flu or something. It’s a courtesy to the other performers to not get them sick if you are sick. Unfortunately, the person was sitting down with with, or standing and hovering while we were sitting and coughing on us. It didn’t feel good to have to someone’s access to the trailer removed, however when one person can put the a dozen other people at risk of not being able to work, it’s a big deal.
Staying healthy on the road is a challenge and it’s hard to do. All it takes is one bad cold to make you lose a week long gig and financially that sucks! Do what you need to do to stay healthy!
At the fair I was performing and at the end of the show I looked down and my giant spoon had broken in two pieces!
The spoon act was something that I had taken out of my show a while ago, but started doing for a gig this summer. It’s been in the show all summer since!
I do have more spoons at home, the issue is that the spoon is big and heavy. My car won’t be home until November, so if I want to grab another one, I’ll have to fly with it. Luckily, my friend Elliott Hunter understands metal and gave me some advice to try to get it through the summer. The simple crutch is some JW Weld and hopefully that will hold.
I’m going to have to be careful with it, but with a bit of luck, I won’t have try to fly with one of these!