Yeah, Don’t Punch Me

Last month when I was performing roving magic at a fair, I had an interesting interaction with a family. A guy approaches me and asks me if I would show his family a magic trick. Of course I said YES, then he said, “I’m not going to watch because I’ll probably get frustrated and punch you.” Then he looked away and his family had a great time watching some close up magic.

I personally thought it was really cool of him to give his family a moment to see a magic trick. I should add that the guy looked like he’d punched a few people in his lifetime. I’m glad he knew his personal limitations and didn’t put himself in a position where he would punch me!

I mentioned this to another performer who was shocked at how “violent” and inappropriate this guy was. I look at this like someone who had a problem with alcohol not wanting to see me do a show at a bar. This guy wanted his family to have fun, even if it was something he wasn’t into. Did he need to tell my why he wasn’t watching? Probably not, but I would have wondered why he asked, then didn’t watch…and probably would have tried to engage him (and gotten punched!)


Commercial Art Supporting Art Art

One of the fun things about performing at fairs is that you work with a bunch of other entertainers.  In the green room someone was talking about a friend of theirs that has a very artsy act, but it isn’t getting much work with it.  We were trying to come up with advice to be relayed to the artsy person, and here’s what we came up with.

They need a commercial show to support the act, it’s hard to get enough work to pay the bills with just an act (artsy or not).  Making a living now with just an act is really hard, there aren’t as many variety shows, etc and enough of them to fill up a calendar.  That’s where having a show comes in. There’s a lot more opportunities to do a full show than there are just an act. 

If you look into it, while someone like Jeff McBride is known for several acts, he also has a full show to support those acts.  Now let’s look at art, someone like Andy Warhol did a lot of commercial art which brought in money to pay the bills until he could make enough doing the art-art. 

While it’s not bad to work on a passion project, you do need something that will reliably pay the bills. That’s why you also need a commercial show!


UnPlanned Rising Card Routine

A long time ago I had an idea for a rising card routine.  Most of the rising card routines that I have seen have either a singular rise, which is the whole routine, or it’s multiple rises. The thing I have against multiple rises is that it’s essentially the same trick over and over, you just may add conditions each time to make it more impossible.  I understand it gives it a sense of build, but why wouldn’t you just do it the “hardest” way the first time if you could, the previous ones were wasting the audience’s time? 

In the idea for my rising card routine, three cards are selected and the deck is put in a glass.  An interesting point is that the cards never leave the glass after they are put in.  This is one of the interesting parts of this trick, the hands off nature of the trick.  I do touch the cards, but only the top card to show it’s not a selected card.  So the deck is in the glass, and first two cards appear one at a time to the front of the pack. Then for the finale the final card rises up from the middle of the pack.

It’s a good one, two, three set of reveals.  It’s also done with me solo onstage, so no one physically has to come up on stage and it ends with a nice applause pose.

There are some challenges with the original routine.  The placements of the gimmick in the deck and best way to hide the lock that I built into my rising card gimmick are some of the more major challenges. I took my props for this routine to the green room of the fair I’m working at and was showing it to Mickey O’Connor and Bri Crabtree for their thoughts.  While messing around with a different idea, I came up with a way to use a someone from the audience as a way to “lock” the rising card in the down position.  It was a real “break through” for the routine…also it marked a complete change of the routine.  It’s now a two card revelation with someone onstage, and that person does the magic.  It is a better routine after the changes, and this is a great example of how bouncing around ideas with other people can make a huge difference!


Scripting Magic Vol 2

I just started reading Scripting Magic Vol 2 by Pete McCabe on a flight recently. One interesting thing that he does in the book is lays out a trick and asks how you would turn it into a performance piece, or what you would do with it.

One of the tricks he does this with is a mathematical trick using matches. Essentially you can control the number of matches in the middle pile of three piles where you don’t know how many total matches there are and don’t need to look at the matches. There’s only a few steps to the math, and they aren’t that complex.

Following the exercise, before I read the routine I wrote out a little routine of my own for the trick. Here it is:

My wife says I can gamble on anything. Duh, I’m Chinese, we gamble, squat and smoke.

The greatest bet I ever lost was to my bok bok… uncle Frank.

He’d gamble on anything…the lottery, the horse track eating at a BBQ restaurant in a white neighborhood.

I’m going to show you our final bet and my last memory of him.

Here grab that pack of matches off the hostess stand, or first full of Pennies from the jar at the counter.

He wrote on the dinner bill the 3 moves he’d make. He’d committed to those

(Take out old receipt)

The rules are simple, if we tie he wins. Anything other than a tie and I win.

Make three equal piles…I have no idea how many there are, so if there’s a remainder, put it in your pocket, so you have something to show for it.

No matter what he gets the middle pile.

Give me a number 1-9

(Nail write adjustment)

Wow, that’s the same number I said!

His middle pile will be a tie with your number, not more, not less.

(Follow instructions on reciept)

We tied and all I have to show for it was this receipt for dinner…and over 40 years of memories

That’s the routine that I wrote, keep in mind I wrote it in the notes app on my phone on the flight, so it’s probably got some errors. The point is to not just read the book, but to actually do the work.


New Emergency Show

emergency magic show

In the past I had made a 25ish minute emergency magic show that fits into a little pouch about the size of a sandwich bag. I keep this in my car and it’s come in handy several times since I made it.

In reading Doc Dixon’s book The Show is the Mother of Invention, it got me thinking of expanding this emergency pouch into a small show, not an emergency show. The emergency show was had tricks that I can do, but don’t do and were selected for the size of the trick, not necessarily if the trick was a good fit for my personality.

While I was killing time in a town the other day, I was walking through a junk shop and found a small doctor’s bag.

magic show case

This bag was cheap at $20 and it’s still really small and won’t take up much room in the trunk of my car, but will allow me turn that 25 minute emergency show into a better show. I have a lot more space to play with and can put things that fit me better into it and things that will play for a larger audience.

Something that the larger size of the case will let me do that the pouch won’t is to put a couple of audio cables into it so the show will have music. This will add production value to the show.

I’m starting to put the show together, but I’m still on the road performing for another month and a half, so it probably won’t be done until I’m home and can add a few more props to it.


ProMystic Color Match FTW!

About a week ago I was able to switch back to using the ProMystic Color Match and I’ve been using it with 100% success! I’m glad to be able to not Anverdi Color Match set where I was constantly getting a missed signal. That doesn’t mean that the Anverdi set is bad, it just doesn’t work for how I work.

The ProMystic set is the set I’ve used for years, and that may be why I prefer it. I know why it works, and when it doesn’t, I know why it’s not working. I feel like I definitely committed giving the Anverdi set a chance. I know tons of people that prefer the Anverdi set over the ProMystic. I think ultimately your performing style will dictate which works better for you.


The Long Walk…

Last week the fair I was at had a very long walk from the audience to the stage. This made bringing someone up from the audience a bit of a speed bump in the show. The general format in my magic show is every other trick has someone from the audience onstage. Figuring out how to deal with the time that it takes to bring someone onstage was a challenge.

The first thing to fill the time was simply writing jokes to address the issue and fill the dead space. I wrote lines like, “The walk to the stage is longer than the line at the DMV“.

One of the emergency props that I have in my case is a thumb tip with a silk. I can do a solid 5 minute routine with that that’s full of laughs. That routine uses two people from the audience.

Obviously, bringing two people onstage wasn’t he solution to the long walk to the stage, but the silk was. I started simply vanish the silk while the person walked to the stage. It filled the dead space, but needed more. Then during my morning writing I came up with the idea of doing silk in balloon. That gave some sort of a payout to the vanishing silk. However, the breakthrough was the next day during my morning writing I had the idea of silk in selected balloon.

silk in balloon magic trick

I had a line of balloons tied to string from my case to the microphone stand. The silk vanishes while they are coming onto the stage. Then a balloon is selected and when popped the silk appears inside that balloon.

What I ended up with is a routine for when there is a long walk to the stage (or any show), but not a solution to fill that time for existing routines that I do.

I’m not disappointed that I didn’t come up with a solution for the long walk, as a routine that fills the stage and packs very small is still a win!


Anverdi Color Match – A Good Day

Yesterday was a good day for the Anverdi Color Match set. I did three shows without an issue. This is a good development and really helping with my confidence with this prop!

The challenge is figuring out why it’s not sending the signal when it doesn’t. The closest thing I can guess is that someone isn’t moving the pen enough, however it appear from reviewing video that the pens have plenty of movement. Unfortunately if not enough movement is the problem, I can’t think of a good solution to get the person to move the pen more. I can’t say, “pick up the pen and shake it like it’s 1987 and it’s a can of Aquanet“.

I did have the thought of buying a second set of the Anverdi color match and put two gimmicks into each pen. That would give me a redundant system and allow me to have two receivers.

I’m going to see how the success/fail rates play out over the next few weeks before I buy another set.


Using the Flic Button

Someone asked me about how the Flic Button works for controlling music. It’s pretty simple, the button has three things is can do which are triggered by a click, double click and press and hold. For me I use those as Play/Pause, Next Track, and Previous Track.

You can use multiple buttons, so I may use a second one for volume and up and down, but for now one is working.

For a simple and cheap audio device for smaller shows, I’m really liking the Flic Button!


Simple Audio Set Up

In my attempt to have all of my different shows as self contained units, I’m working on having separate sets of audio equipment for some of the shows. My kid show that I’m doing for summer camps has just gotten it’s own sound set up.


The only thing not dedicated to this show is the speaker. Here’s the gear list: