Earlier this year Dan Block as thinking about setting a Guinness World Record, but he had some worries about doing it correctly. I suggested that he set the world record at an industry event. I did this for several reasons, first Guinness likes records to be press worthy, so the event was something that the news could promote. Second at the event there were experts in the field who could be witnesses and finally the room would have many people who had broken Guinness World Records and could help out with making sure the rules were followed.
Dan just sent me this:
I’m super excited for him!
Many magicians think that helping other magicians achieve things is making their competition stronger and they’ll lose gigs to the person they helped. I don’t think this way. When everyone is amazing, it’s better for all of us.
I constantly go out of my way to help people level up, and you know what…those people go out of their way to help me be better. If we look at other performers as a team and not a competition, you’ll go a lot further and you’ll be much happier.
On Saturday I performed at the Oddities and Curiosities Expo in Grand Rapids, MI. This was a fairly unusual situation for me performing as the audience was standing, there was no seats. For me, the challenge was getting people to stand for 30 minutes. A standing audience is very different from a sitting audience.
It was also a family audience that wanted edgy, which is a very fine line to walk during your show. I was able to do a lot of bits that I wouldn’t normally do in my show as they’re slightly too edgy for a general audience, but worked great for this crowd.
This was an audience that was ready to see a show, and there were great audiences, and we packed the space with people standing. If I ever do one of these again, I’d probably take more tricks that have a lot of build up, and a singular payoff, versus routines that have multiple smaller effects.
For example I brought my object in ball of yarn that’s 8 minutes and has a couple of mini tricks before the final trick a the end. I should have done my blindfold which is also about 8 minutes and has a single reveal at the end.
It’s something that really fills the stage without much in the way of props. It’s the two metal triangles, some rope and 4-6 people from the audience. I think the stunt is very relatable, you’re playing “tug of war” against two groups of people from the audience at the same time.
For me a lot of strength feats fall flat because it’s a “look how cool I am” sort of thing, but I with this particular one, no one wins and you’re fighting a losing battle and essentially it ends in a three way tie. I really like it and I’m surprised more people don’t do it.
Last night my wife and I went out to see the movie Nightmare Alley. It’s about a guy that ends up working in a sideshow and learns to be a mentalist, who ends up making it fairly big, but then gets involved in some shifty stuff and his success ends up crashing down.
It’s interesting what you focus on when you see things in your industry portrayed in movies. The little thing that drove me nuts was in the sideshow scenes, the banners weren’t tied right, or well. When I worked with the sideshow last summer, I would have had to retie them all if I did them! It’s a small detail, and hardly anyone would fixate on that.
The other thing was the mentalist’s name in the movie was Stanton Carlisle, who is a mentalist and I have a couple of his books. I did a little bit of research and it looks like he insists that’s his name, and he didn’t take it from the book Nightmare Alley. Stanton would have been about 20 when the book came out.
One of the fun things in the World of Wonders show is they do the some great illusions! One of them is the headless woman. This is part of a larger routine, where a girl gets her head cut off, the head is displayed balanced on a sword on a chair (so you can see under the head) and then the body is displayed without a head!
It’s fun to get to slip into the illusions for fun, but it also gives me a lot more respect for people who do them. Not just sideshow illusions, but magic illusions as it’s a lot of slipping into places that don’t feel like they were designed for people to slip into!
I don’t do illusions, however I do think it’s important for magicians to try to slip into them. It’s easy to say, “I know how it works, she’s just in the base…“. the reality is that there’s a lot more to it than simply laying down.
This week I’m performing as an act in the World of Wonders Sideshow. One of the challenges for me is keeping my acts short. They have the 10 act format and each act is in the ballpark of about 3 minutes. Normally when I perform, I try to get as much time as possible out of a routine That’s the key to being a solo act that does a full show.
I’m working on cutting down a lot of the personality bits, it’s hard to figure out what jokes/bits to cut to keep the routine in the 10 act format.
I’m fighting the urge to simply do the bits as I normally do them and have them run 5 minutes. There was a time when I was younger where I wouldn’t have cut down the bits. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized you have to be a team player, but more than that, this is taking me out of my comfort zone. Maybe I could learn that a 5 minute bit in my show, is really an amazing 3 minute bit and I’ve diluted it by stretching it to 5 or 6 minutes.
I’m enjoying stepping out of my normal box and taking some risks!
This weekend I got to perform at a sideshow festival in New Orleans. I think that performing at or attending festivals is something that very important for performers today. You are supporting innovation in your art form. When you go to these festivals or conventions as an attendee, you get to see the top performers. … Continue reading “Support Your Art!”
This weekend I got to perform at a sideshow festival in New
Orleans. I think that performing at or attending festivals is something that
very important for performers today. You are supporting innovation in your art
When you go to
these festivals or conventions as an attendee, you get to see the top
performers. This keeps you informed of what
level you are at and who your peers are.
Knowing what level your show or act is act keeps your helps with pricing
and what sort of venues you can be performing at. The acts you see keep you updated with the trends
in the industry. What tricks or styles
common, and once you know the trends you can embrace or avoid the trends.
performing at festivals is a good place to “level up” your show. When other people see what you do and how you
do it, you can become the trendsetter. I
know the old argument is that people don’t want other people to steal their material. It’s a lame excuse because as a performer you
need to do your art where other people will see it. You’ll never know who is seeing it no matter
where you do it. Do it for industry and
establish it for yourself.
Last year for a gig I built a Girl Without a Middle illusion. Basically, it’s a Sphinx Illusion, but I put it on wheels so that I can get in it and walk around. Then I can stop and put other people in it, and pictures and be taken. Here’s what it looked like: After … Continue reading “Keep Notes…”
Last year for a gig I built a Girl Without a Middle illusion. Basically, it’s a Sphinx Illusion, but I put it on wheels so that I can get in it and walk around. Then I can stop and put other people in it, and pictures and be taken. Here’s what it looked like:
After doing it last year, I think I must have thought it wasn’t going to get rebooked as I kept nothing about the box, not even the building notes. When the time came to rebuild it, I was basically starting from scratch. I found the receipt for the mirrors, so that gave me some basic info about the box and a starting point.
My learning lesson was doing something as simple as taking a picture of my build notes would have helped a lot.
I’m currently performing at the Southern Side Show Hootenanny in New Orleans. I’ve seen some amazing acts so far. One of the acts that I had heard a lot about are the Monster’s of Schlock, which is a two person sideshow. They do all the classic acts in a modern way. Sideshow tends to attract … Continue reading “Modern Classics…”
I’m currently performing at the Southern Side Show Hootenanny in New Orleans. I’ve seen some amazing acts so far. One of the acts that I had heard a lot about are the Monster’s of Schlock, which is a two person sideshow. They do all the classic acts in a modern way.
Sideshow tends to attract acts that are more “dark” than comical. These two guys did a great job of have a story arc through the show, and get a ton of laughs in the process. I think that performers need to look at something old as the hills and figure out how to breathe fresh air into.
Sideshow is a great example, as most acts are based on classics and there are probably less than two dozen of those acts. So how do they make acts stand out. A lot of times it’s a fresh look on the props, by either themeing them or making them more modern.
As a magician, you have no excuse for doing a store bought die box when these side show people are finding innovative ways to pound a nail up their noses