On a recent flight I read The Fog Machine of War by Matt Disero. This a great book full of short essays / stories by Matt about his career and experience as a full time comedy magician.
There’s a ton of great stories in the book, but the value of the book is the advice. It goes from everything from working with agents, to using production elements, to trying out new material onstage.
There’s tons to learn from Matt’s failures, which he openly shares. Failures are things that magicians don’t talk about enough, especially in print. With magicians and their egos, most put out the facade that they always crush every show and have never bombed. Matt opens up about bad shows and that’s were the learning happens.
The other day my buddy Matt Disero posted on his Facebook about a Stewart James trick that he thought was overlooked by magicians. I’m a huge Stewart James fan, and dug out the book and read the trick. It’s on page 120 of Stewart James In Print: The First Fifty Years
In the introduction to the trick it says that it’s not a good trick for non-magicians, but a fooler for magicians. I think whoever wrote that intro was correct, well for how the trick was written up. It’s a very interesting principle, here’s the effect:
Someone picks a card and puts it face up on top of the deck. The cards are cut to bury the card. You then take the cards behind your back tell them the card above the face up card.
It’s very clever, and I think it has a use in a longer routine. As a stand alone, I’m not sure how I feel about it…
Last night Matt Disero posted a video of him performing on a TV show in the early 1990’s. His comments on his set about 25 years later are great and very insightful. Basically he says it’s horrible.
Here it is, you be the judge:
What I like the is commitment to the atomic lightbulb. It’s a lot of props to lug around to light up a lightbulb, but it’s way better than just rubbing it on your sleeve and lighting it up!
I think most performers who create their own material and look back on what they were doing when they were young will have a similar impression to their show as Matt did. It’s because we’re growing and evolving and the person performing isn’t the person you are now. That’s a good thing.
The other night I was chatting with Matt DiSero about the Bounce No Bounce Balls trick. If you don’t know the trick, it’s a ball that bounces and a matching ball that doesn’t bounce. He came up with a really cool ending for the trick and I made a quick video of it:
Here’s the dilemma I’m having, in the video I feel like flash the palmed ball too much. Should I post the video on my social media or not?
Before you say, “why don’t you just rerecord it?“, let me tell you that I can’t. I had just sold the set of balls, so this was recorded right before I boxed them up. Now before you say, “why didn’t you rerecord it before you shipped them out?“, let me tell you that I couldn’t. I only had one tomato, and with the current self quarantine, I didn’t feel that a trip to the store to buy tomatoes would have been a wise decision.
For now it’s living on this blog. I may post it as sort of a look behind the curtain of how magic tricks develop.