Last night I went out to an open mic at a bar that’s not too far from where I live. I always say that magicians can learn a lot by going to these, not just performing but by watching comics work.
The acts that did the best were the ones that hopped onstage and got into their material. The acts that got up, mumbled, fussed with the mic stand, then 45 seconds later got into jokes were the ones that didn’t do as well.
One comic got on stage and immediately started making fun of a guy at the bar. It turned the audience really quick on the comic. Without liking the comic, you can’t do “insult humor” or roast anyone before you establish yourself so the audience is with you. It was interesting to watch someone make that choice, especially when you only have 3-5 mins onstage. I guess open mics are about taking risks, and that comic definitely took a risk!
If you’re a magician, especially a “comedy magician” you should pop into these every now and then.
A while ago my friend Monty Reed mentioned he was working on some comedy magic, and I suggested we go to an open Mic. Our schedules finally worked out and we went to one last night:
This was Monty’s first comedy open mic, and there are some “rules” that people need to know. It’s always easier to go with someone who has done them before, they can kinda show you the ropes.
There’s nothing crazy you need to learn, however if the concept of “The Light” is new to you, it’s important to know. The light is usually a literal light of some sort, so a flashlight, or phone, but can be something as simple as a someone waving to you or sitting in a chair. It’s a signal that you’re running out of your allotted time onstage. Usually they “light” you when you have one minute left. When you’re new or working on new material, it’s hard to tell how much time you have done and the light is really helpful…if you know what it means!
When I was in my late 18-20 years old and living in Seattle there weren’t a lot of places to figure out how to perform outside of family shows. At the time the Washington State had very restrictive liquor laws which prohibited me from performing at a lot of venues that had open mics until I was 21 years old. One day I noticed an ad in Seattle’s alternative newspaper for open mic that was at 2:30am!
It was at a place called Coffee Messiah
I started going out to the open mic and had a blast. It was a drag show, strange performance art show and an anything goes show. I wasn’t a “regular” there, but did perform there a lot! This was probably the most supportive community of performers that I’ve ever encountered. This may have led to why I’m soo open, encouraging and helpful to other performers.
Coffee Messiah was a place for me to try to find my voice or style as a performer. It would be years before I started to figure out what my style was, but having a place to play around and do it was great.
One of my favorite memories was that at the time I had a Zig Zag illusion and one of the drag queens wanted to be cut up. They came over to my apartment and we practiced a bit. Then when it came to show time the next week, I put them into the box, and when I put the upper blade it, it wouldn’t got all the way through. Well, we had neglected to practice in costume and their fake boob got stuck in the way of the blade and we couldn’t get it out of the way! Eventually after a lot of wiggling we got the blade through and completed the illusion!
Sadly Coffee Messiah has been closed for years, but I stumbled upon a video the owner talking about the venue:
Having a place like this to create art was a blessing to me, and helped form who I am as an artist.
Way back in the pre-pandemic days when I had a new Idea I would go to an open mic and try it out. I’m not a huge fan of trying something out at a virtual open mic, as it’s hard to get the overall feeling if the idea is good. In front of a live audience you can get a vibe that there’s something there, even if the trick flops. It’s hard to get that from a virtual show.
A couple days ago I did the Boston Magic Lab to try out the Torn and Restored Postcard I’ve been working on. Here’s the tear and restore sequence:
After rewatching the video, there’s a lot that it needs. One thing it needs a magic moment for the restoration. Something like hitting it with a lighter, but not that as I don’t do fire. Another thing is needs is a good way to ditch the torn postcard.
The nice thing is that I can probably fix both of those. If I reach into my case to grab a lighter, I can ditch the torn postcard. Now that motivates the ditch and gives me the magic moment. I’ll need to find something other than fire.
A possibly solution is using Bizzaro’s Non-Toxic trick which is a vanish of glue. I pour the glue into the folded post card to “fix it”, open it and show the glue is gone and the post card restored. I’m not sure how I feel about mixing two effects at the same time, the vanish of glue and restoration of the card will happen at the same time.
I’ll need to play with it more. I think there’s something there…
One of the nice things about the magic scene in Seattle is that we have a monthly magic show called Magic Monday. Essentially it’s a “magic open mic” and a great place to work on new material. Most areas don’t have a venue specifically for magicians to work on new things, or give newer performers … Continue reading “Two Methods…”
One of the nice things about the magic scene in Seattle is that we have a monthly magic show called Magic Monday. Essentially it’s a “magic open mic” and a great place to work on new material. Most areas don’t have a venue specifically for magicians to work on new things, or give newer performers a place to work out materials.
A couple of nights ago I performed at Magic Monday to practice some routines that I hadn’t done in a while. One of the routines uses some technology, and it failed during the show. That’s the importance of having an “out”. When doing a trick that relies on technology, that frequently means you need to run two methods for the trick at the same time.
While running two methods to accomplish one trick is a bit of a pain, but if you use tech, it’s worth it. It’s good that for the trick I was relearning, the worst possible scenario happened, that let me practice that scenario. That’s a good lesson, you need to not just plan for the worst, but practice for it!
I’m very luck that have places to “work out” routines, not a lot of magicians have that. Personally I prefer to work out stuff in a real show over an open mic. With an open mic typcially the audience isn’t invested in the show like they would normally be in a show that they paid … Continue reading “Ten Card Deal…”
I’m very luck that have places to “work out” routines, not a lot of magicians have that. Personally I prefer to work out stuff in a real show over an open mic. With an open mic typcially the audience isn’t invested in the show like they would normally be in a show that they paid a ticket to see.
Last night I hosted a show and as host, not the feature or headline act, I can play a bit more with new stuff. Currently I’m working on a stage version of the 10 Card Poker Deal. It ended well, but was a hot mess up until the ending.
In my stage poker deal, it uses jumbo cards and ends with a prediction. Somehow I wasn’t paying attention and ended up having the wrong prediction after the first deal. Luckily I know a lot of poker deal variations and was able to do a second deal and end up with the prediction that matched the one I had on the table.
This is where it’s important to know more than just the routine you do. Whenever possible I try to have a deeper knowledge of the concept or the trick. Knowing more that just what’s required for the routine bailed me out of the situation last night.