Backstage Props!

When I’m performing a formal show where my show is set up onstage when the audience arrives, I have a backstage set up as well.

stage magic props

These are all the props that end up on my person when I walk on stage. I don’t put these things on until about 15 mins before I need to be onstage. Here’s what you’re seeing:

  • Wireless mic with transmitter
  • Mic tape
  • Glasses with no lenses
  • Two Promystic receivers (one is a back up)
  • Deck of cards
  • Marker
  • Music remote control

Sure I could set up and keep all this stuff on me, but I don’t. I’m worried I’ll accidentally turn on my mic, or play music. The other worry is that something will fall out of my pocket or I’ll use the pen and forget to put it back in my pocket.

For me, having all this stuff on a stool or table, then putting it all where it goes at the same time is the most sure fire way (for me) to not forget or lose anything!


Show Set Lists

For every show that I do, I have a written set list. I know my show, but I always have one. For my main show, it’s taped to the inside of the lid of my case. Recently I was in a show where I did three five minute spots, so the list was written on a piece of paper inside the bin on my table top.

stage magic show

I do this for a couple reasons, for my main show if I’m repacking it, it’s easy to go down the list as I pack to make sure I have all of my props. For unusual configurations of my show, it makes sure I have all the correct props set. It also takes brainpower out of what I’m doing, I can glance at the list and know what to do!


School Assembly set up

One thing I love it how other magicians have their props onstage. Not what the audience sees, but the magician’s view. A couple of weeks ago when I was doing my Incredible Idiom show, this is what the inside of my prop case looks like.

school assembly magic show

All of my props are easily grabbed and put away. There’s no fumbling, I’ve cut out all the dead time of bringing props into view.

I’m still amazed at how many magic shows I see where the performer ducks out of view behind their case looking for a prop. This is usually done by magicians who don’t have a firm set list, and simply chose the next trick on the fly and their show’s flow is different every time.

Having a set list will make your show better! You can see mine on the inside of the case!


Carry On Audio Box

The last time I flew, I had some of my audio equipment damaged that was in my checked luggage. What I think happed was when TSA screened my show case, they did a horrible job of repacking my stuff, which led to some stuff being damaged.

I’ve decided that I’m going to carry on my audio gear from now on…or until I get lazy. I went out to harbor freight and bought a Pelican Style hard sided case that has foam inside.

live show audio

I’ve used the “pick n’ pluck” style foam before and it has never really lasted for me. For this audio box, I cut cardboard to reenforce the foam walls, and hopefully this will add some durability to the foam.

I’ve just finished my first round trip flight with this case and it seems to be holding up…


Fair Magic Show Set Up

It’s always interesting to look into other magicians prop cases. Last week I did my first fair of the year and here’s what my set up look like.

First the bin that sits on my table:

And here’s the prop case that sits on the floor to my left:

That’s a 45 minute stage show and it all can pack down into the prop case. The fully loaded case is just under 50 pounds, so I can check it on the plane as luggage for no additional fees!


Zoom Recorder as a Mixer

Last week at the fair, their sound system only had one input and no mixer. My show uses up 3 channels, so I was in a little bit of a bind. Luckily I usually have a Zoom Recorder in my backpack for recording show audio and working on The Odd and Offbeat Podcast that I cohost with comedy juggler Matt Baker.

magic show audio setup

The zoom recorder has three inputs, 2 XLR’s and one 1/8 inch, which worked perfectly for my show’s needs. I then used the audio out to plug into the sound system and it worked great! As a bonus, I was also able to record my shows audio so that I could review it!

I’d never used it as a mixer before and glad it worked out, and now I know that in a pinch, I can use it!


Ankle Switch Problem Solving…

For this tour I started using my Media Star remote control that runs my music with the magnet ankle switch. Early on I realized that it was running about 2 shows before it stopped reliably working. Changing batteries every couple of shows solved the problem, but is annoying and I have a feeling that’s not how it’s supposed to work.

In the show I use the ankle (magnet reed switch) in a few spots to make the music play seamlessly, however there’s one spot where I need it as I can’t use my hands. I have someone from the audience playing sound effects from a fake music remote, and I need to trigger them when they push the button. With the ankle switch giving me problems, I needed to think of a way to make the gag work.

I defaulted to the mentalist’s old friend, Dual Reality! I put three different colored dots on my remote control.

I simply say “push the blue dot” or “push the red dot”, which implies to the audience that there are different buttons, when in reality it’s all the same button. I’ve done this for one day (2 shows) and it’s working out well and is a great, simple solution to the problem of the ankle switch not behaving properly.

We’ll see how it works for the three shows today…


Simplifying Show Set Up

I’m trying to carry less stuff with me when I’m on the road with my show. I used to carry a powerbank, USB micro cord, lightning cord and a USB wall adapter. I use this to plug in the show’s iphone that I run my music off of.

Recently someone showed me a powerbank that has the wall adapter and cords built in!

The nice thing is everything folds into the power bank, so I’ve eliminated carrying two cord and a wall adapter. I’m a fan of this, simplifying what I carry to it’s more direct to set up and strike the show. Sure eliminating two cords and a wall adapter isn’t much…but it’s less to haul.


Lip Reading…

Yesterday I did my second day of senior shows and it was a lot of fun. I think I may finally be figuring out how to make my coat hanger thru silk routine work. I just need to let the effect marinade and sit with the audience even longer. The trick is a very strong and visual trick, and I think brains just take a long time to process it.

Another thing I’m learning is how much people use their eyes to listen. When we listen we also do a lot of lip reading. When someone is masked, it’s harder to understand them because we can’t lip read. This makes a ton of sense looking into the past. For example my wife uses the captions when she watches movies on a smaller screen like her phone. It makes it easier for her to “hear”. Because of this I’m talking a lot more slowly and deliberately in my shows.


Adding Production Elements

While I was on the road last week I ran the production for my buddy’s in person show. I’ve been running the production for his virtual show, so I know his show well. I can’t imaging having to run tech for a show I’ve never seen off of a cue sheet!

One of the cool things about doing virtual shows is that it’s taken a bit of the mystery out of using production elements in my show. Typically I’m a one person operation, so one of the challenges for me was how to use video projection.

Here’s what I did the other night:

The ATEM mini camera switcher that I’ve recently added to my virtual shows, I used for the camera feed in my in person show the other night.

I simply used the Fade To Black (FTB) button on the right to turn the video projection on or off. This was on the floor and luckily due to the placement of the button, it was easy to tap with my toe!

This allowed me to add the camera and be able to easily control it without adding a laptop and running the Media Star software to the mix. I’m not opposed to using a laptop as part of my show production…but this is a lot smaller and more convenient for smaller shows.