The amount of magicians that complain when people want to show them a magic trick is staggering. I don’t get it, why not let the person show you? The person will be the star for a minute, and I think that’s where the problem is, most magicians have a ego that won’t let them step away and let someone else into the spotlight.
At a gig the other night a someone wanted to show me a trick and I say “yes”.
They did the trick with the glide where at the end the slap the cards out of your hand and one card is left in your hand and it’s the selected card. When I let her do it, she nailed it! That’s going to be one of the memories from the party for the dozen people that say it, and something they’ll talk about longer than my roving set.
I’m not saying you should 100% always let the person show you the trick. There are times when it’s inappropriate, like in the middle of a ticketed formal show. but if you’re roving or after a show, why not? It’s not going to hurt anything.
There’s an old piece of advice that (usually older) magicians give newer magicians. That is, “you only need to know 8 tricks” and that you should know those tricks inside and out. While that advice may have be relevant over 100 years ago when it was originally given. I think the story was a kid said to Thurston that he knew over 100 tricks and Thurston replied, “I only know seven” or something like that.
Here’s the problem with that advice, look at every modern successful magician, they all know and do more than seven or eight tricks.
Now let’s apply that to the average magician. Yesterday I performed at a company party for people in healthcare. I was hired for an hour of roving magic, and normally I’ll do the same 5ish minute set over and over for the hour. However, this party spanned several hours and the worker came to it when they were free. When I was there the first 30 mins was busy, but the final 30 mins was just about 8 people (who had seen my set in the first 30 minutes of the party). If I only knew seven or eight tricks, I’d be screwed. However, I have a big toolbox of sleights and tricks, I was able to pull out some things I don’t normally do and to improvise.
In the picture above I’m doing Jack Carpenter’s Mysterious from the book Modus Operandi. This is a trick I’ve done since I was a teenager, but it’s not in my roving set because it uses a table, and some specific cards. When I do roving magic, my deck loses cards very quickly, so I can’t always guarantee that I have the needed cards.
The moral of the story is to fill your tool box, if all you have is a 3/8 inch wrench and a hammer in it, you’re in trouble if you need a phillips screwdriver!
When I do roving magic my main tool is a regular deck of cards. The reason for that is you can do a lot just a deck of cards. Also they are larger than a rubber band or a coin and when someone walks by they know that you are doing magic tricks. When doing … Continue reading “Something Special…”
When I do roving magic my main tool is a regular deck of cards. The reason for that is you can do a lot just a deck of cards. Also they are larger than a rubber band or a coin and when someone walks by they know that you are doing magic tricks.
When doing roving magic I also try to pack one other thing to perform that’s special. Something that’s fairly unique, so something that they wouldn’t see another magician typically do. Frequently this is the Linking Pins or something I’m working on that uses a unique prop. I save this for special groups that fun to work for.
Last night at a roving gig in addition to my normal card set, I did a trick with a nut and a bolt. Basically the nut and bolt unscrew while covered by a cup, then you repeat it. It’s a great trick and something that I love doing, but more importantly, it feels special. People really seem to dig the special trick, and can feel that it’s not something from your normal set.
Sometimes performing for some people can be a pain in the butt. I’m specifically thinking about a person (usually a kid) that thinks everything is a secret sleight of hand move, and feels the need to tell everyone. When they do this, it really breaks up the show and makes it a pain for everyone … Continue reading “Time To Wrap It Up…”
Sometimes performing for some people can be a pain in the butt. I’m specifically thinking about a person (usually a kid) that thinks everything is a secret sleight of hand move, and feels the need to tell everyone. When they do this, it really breaks up the show and makes it a pain for everyone to watch.
Here’s an example:
I’m doing walk around magic and have a family stopped and ready for a magic trick. The kid excitedly points out that I’m hiding a deck of cards in my hand. I then tell the kid, “I’m not hiding, I’m going to do a card trick, and they are required to do a card trick”. The a moment later after someone has signed the card he tells every that he, “sees that”. I ask what he sees and he replies, “you put that in your pocket”. I ask what and he say he saw me sneak the marker into my pocket. He tells me the marker, I explain that it was no longer needed and I was putting it away. It continues like this until I leave.
I finished the card trick and wrapped it up and started to leave. When I did he mother told me, “they’re a rough crowd”. I wanted to tell them they weren’t a rough crowd, her child was simply an idiot, or an a-hole. I’m sure there was a larger issue at play with the kid, however it’s a teachable moment for the mother and child. She simply could have explained that’s he was interrupting the show and he needed to shut up
However she didn’t, and I finished the card trick and left.
The first paid gig I ever did when I was a teenager was an event where I did close up magic lane to lane at a bowling alley. It was a rough gig, and even and a kid after doing it, I knew it sucked. It was a bad show because the event planner was … Continue reading “Coming Full Circle…”
The first paid gig I ever did when I was a teenager was an event where I did close up magic lane to lane at a bowling alley. It was a rough gig, and even and a kid after doing it, I knew it sucked. It was a bad show because the event planner was trying to put an activity into an an activity. No one wanted to watch the tricks, I did, they were busy bowling and I as interrupting them.
Over the years I’ve gotten requests to do gigs at bowling alleys and I’ve turned them down. However over 20 years later I finally accepted a roving magic gig at a bowling alley.
Why did I take this gig? I wanted to try it again, and see if I could conquer it. I’m happy to report that last night the show went wonderfully!
What did I do differently 20 years later?
A lot of things have changed. First of all there’s the “David Blaine Factor”, which is that his TV shows have made people aware of what close up magic is. When I was a kid, people didn’t know what close up magic was, and they thought it’d be lame tricks that your uncle Jimmy Does.
This time around I also had over twenty years of performing experience. My close up set was short tricks, nothing too long and drawn out. It gave me a chance to leave if I noticed they were more interested in bowling. Add that to being a much stronger performer than I was as a teenager.
My advice is if you’ve had a rough performing situation in the past that you swore you’d never do again…maybe try it again. I’m glad I did!
When I’m out performing mingling magic (aka roving close up) I frequently throw something into my pocket that’s not part of my normal set. It could be a full trick, gimmick, prop, or whatever. A couple of nights ago I put a pair of blank dice in my pocket. Years ago I published a … Continue reading “Play Around…”
When I’m out performing mingling magic (aka roving close up) I frequently throw something into my pocket that’s not part of my normal set. It could be a full trick, gimmick, prop, or whatever.
A couple of nights ago I put a pair of blank dice in my pocket. Years ago I published a trick with blank dice in the Linking Ring Magazine. Basically the gist of it was someone selected a card. They rolled the blank dice, told you the number they rolled, and you dealt down the number they rolled. The selected card was at the number. This is based on an Eddie Fields trick that uses a name.
Here’s video from the first table I did it at the other night…it’s been years since I did the trick:
After I did the trick in the video above, I realized it needed another phase. For the next phase I added this trick that’s part of my normal card set, but using the “rolled” numbers instead of any number:
Now I’ve got a little routine…but it needed an ending. So I’m ending it with a third phase where they shuffle the cards, roll again and deal down to that number. This time the card is not there. It’s folded up in my wallet.
I like that in this routine, each time the card is found it’s in a different state. First it’s face down, next it’s face up and finally it’s folded up. By the end of the night it went from OK to pretty good!
So the moral of the story is don’t be afraid to play around!