One thing I love is seeing people do unusual things. A couple days ago I got to see my friend Terry Godfrey do the Al Goshman’s Cards Thru Newspaper. It’s a great trick and it’s also a fun, special moment when he gets on the floor with the cards. It’s a break from what Terry normally does and when he does it, it feels like he’s showing you something special, and he is!
Seeing him do that trick in early 2020 is what inspired me to come up with this trick:
My trick is essentially Cards Thru Newspaper, however it’s changed a lot. Goshman’s trick used a simple gimmick, mine is a little more complex and of course I eliminated the big sheet of newspaper and changed all of the props!
One thing I’ve written about a lot on this blog is that right now it’s easier than it’s ever been to get props exactly how you want them. You can 3d print things, custom diecut with a cricut machine, or follow a tutorial for just about anything on youtube.
For my polaroid trick I need an envelope that’s about the size of a postcard. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find one at a store, and going a bit low tech, I simply sketched on and cut it out.
I’ve finally worn that envelope out and made a new more formal template to cut them out with.
I do feel kinda funny cutting small envelopes out of a larger one! However I am a big fan of getting props that are what I want, not sorta what I want.
One of the “quarantine” trick I’ve been working on for the last year is the trick with the Polaroids that disappear and reappear under and envelope. A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I removed one of the pictures, so now it only uses three which really streamlines the trick. I also altered it so it’s not just the same vanish and reproduction three times. Finally I figured out how to make one of them appear face up under the envelope.
Here’s a video of me working on it:
It’s crazy the changes this trick has made in the almost a year since I started working on it. It started out as Goshman’s Cards Thru Newspaper, but now I can say it’s completely it’s own thing. There’s really nothing left of that routine in what I’m doing now…except the under the envelope switch, which isn’t unique to his routine.
When people say to make a routine your own, I think this is kinda what they mean…
One of the first tricks that I started working on since the COVID pandemic started a year ago was my Polaroid to Envelope trick. This trick started as Goshman’s Cards thru Newspaper, but then evolved a lot. It’s pretty much been unchanged for months, here’s what it looked like:
Yesterday I was going to work on it some more as I was going to be doing the Nashville Magic Company’s Tricks of the Trade magic open mic in the evening. That’s when it hit me, I don’t need four pictures, I just need three. One of them doesn’t do anything, it cleans up some clutter and tightens up the routine a little bit.
After the open mic they do a little bit of a workshop for the performers to ask other performers for thoughts on what they performed. I got a couple of great suggestions and ideas. Someone asked why the pictures appeared face down, instead of face up. This is a great idea, that because I was building from a another trick, I didn’t think about that.
I started playing with having the pictures face up and I think I got a workable sequence out of it. Having just three pictures is soo much more manageable than four! I’ll probably record a video of the new sequence later today and post it when I get a chance.
If you’re not using these virtual open mics to work on material they are a huge resource that didn’t really exist a year ago. Not only to practice material, but to get specific feedback from other performers.
In May I started worked on a trick that was my version of Albert Goshman’s Cards Thru Newspaper. You can search for those blog posts, but it shows how the trick progressed from the original Goshman trick to what I’d now consider an original magic trick/routine.
Essentially the original trick is that four cards appear one at a time and reappear under a folded up piece of newspaper. I took out what I didn’t like, the cards and newspaper and ended up using an envelope and four polaroid pictures. The pictures disappear and reappear under the newspaper.
It’s been five months since I started working on it, and really, it should have progressed further, it’s been slow going, mostly because of laziness on my part and not putting in as much work on it as I should be. I’ve been doing it as “preshow” for some virtual shows, but really I should be out at virtual open mics doing it and working it in.
I did recently make a change. I’ve been using this trick in pre-recorded virtual shows lately and a problem the trick had was the problems is that the Polaroid pictures are soo glossy, that they are hard to see on camera. They reflect too much light, and you can’t see them clearly. I took some brochure paper and printed the Polaroid pictures onto that paper. It’s a semi-gloss paper, so while it’s shiny, it doesn’t reflect nearly as much as the actual Polaroid picture.
The row on the left are the real Polaroids and the right are the copies. When they are side by side you can see the copies are a little less vibrant than the originals. However without a side by side comparison, you really can’t tell.
Keep working on your magic, even if you’ve been doing a trick for years and it’s a polished routine. There’s usually still improvements that can be made. Sometimes these are small improvements that no one will really notice, but these little things add up!
For the last twenty years or so, I’ve tried to have a show that people don’t call “cute”. I want what I do to have some edge or be amazing, and not simply cute. However recently a show producer called something I did cute and I was excited for that comment! I was doing my new routine to my Polaroids to Envelope trick that I’ve written about on this blog.
What makes the trick “cute” is the story, it’s a personal story about my family. It’s a real, honest and true story. It’s also something outside of my comfort zone. I do joke based magic tricks, and while I do reveal personal things about my life, this is the first thing I’ve written that was more about the story than the jokes.
The show producer commented that she had a kid and the story was really relatable. Maybe it’s me getting older, but that comment really warmed my heart. Performing is about connecting with people. Usually I do that through fart jokes, but I did it through parenting this time. This routine took me out of my comfort zone and it paid off.
Is my show going to have a huge shift because of this one success? Nope. This trick does add some texture to my show and I will continue to explore writing like this in the future.
Today is an extension of yesterday’s post. I’m working on a script for my Polaroids to Envelope trick. I’ve build upon the yesterday’s script and fleshed out the hook a little bit more. Here’s the script as of this morning:
This is some of the most important stuff in the world to my wife and I. These are Polaroids of our pets and our daughter.
We have Talia who is a dog. She’s a Lhasa Apso which is means food vaccum. Talia’s favorite things are belly rubs, long walks and playing call of duty…and we don’t even own an xbox.
Then there’s Taco Tuesday who is a cat. He’s loves cheese, milk and pineapple on pizza. Which is how you know he’s a rescue.
And finally we have loucy who is a rat, she loves bossing around the dog and cat. We’ve got a reverse Tom and Jerry situation.
Here’s a common day at the home, when I’m home…I turn on the vacuum turn on and Talia disappears!
Of course you’ll always find her in Ella’s Room…Her extremely messy room.
Then when the UPS guy knocks on the door, Taco Tuesday will won’t be found.
You’ll find him hours later buried under the blankets on Ella’s bed. A bed that I asked ella to make two years ago.
Later in the day when I go to feed loucy, she’s totally gone!
Of course she hasn’t been there for hours, she’s been hanging out on Ellas desk…distracting her from doing home work. Ella calls it “proRATstinating”
And that’s a normal day at home!
I need to go back and make a lot of the punchlines stronger. I also need to start doing the trick while saying the lines. That will help me rewrite what doesn’t flow naturally from my mouth. Still more work to be done, but the trick is making progress!
My current book that I’m reading is Scripting Magic by Pete McCabe. This book is interesting and I’m only about 145 pages into volume one and it’s pretty good. When I was younger I used to have a loose script, but nothing formally written down. As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized the huge advantages to writing down what you say in your show.
For me writing out a script makes it a lot easier to see where jokes should be. It also makes it easier to work on them. One thing I don’t like very much is the script format that this book uses when it’s showing scripts. I find them hard to read, however I’m 99% sure it’s simply because I’m not used to that format. I think the more I use it the easier it will get to read.
I’m working on my Polaroids to Envelope trick that I wrote about a week or so ago. I decided to write out the script using the format in Scripting Magic. What I did was simply use a practice video and wrote down what I said and added the actions.
For the Polaroids to Envelope magic trick I’m working on, the last technical step is to clean up the handling. The initial handling had three Tenkai Vanishes, which is fine, but redundant. I also think that if you do the same false transfer over and over, you need a convincer to show both hands empty.
Here’s the tweaked handling:
One thing that I decided with showing both hands empty was that I didn’t want to make both hands being empty part of the vanish. I wanted to show both hands, just not show the dirty hand as a “moment” of the trick. In the video you’ll notice that I show both hands as I turn the envelope over.
The technical end is finished for now. The technical part is something that may evolve over time, and something that’s never completely done.