Elmo Magic Show…

Sometimes I end up watching magic videos on the internet and I’m not quite sure how I ended up on a video. I found of video of someone dressed as Elmo doing a magic show at a school:

I’m not sure who thought this was a good idea. Was it the school that wanted Elmo or the performer that pitched it? You get the initial reaction when Elmo walks in, but then it quickly turns into kids crying. Just because a booker wants something, it doesn’t mean you need to give it to them.

Based on the props set up in the video, it looks like they were doing a show, not just a short bit. I’m very curious how the perform kept any sort of control?

Also besides what looks like some copyright infringement, the Elmo character has a “character” associated with it, and I don’t think it’s pulling chickens out of a bag. Once again, just because there’s a paycheck, it doesn’t mean you need to do the gig!

P.S. the video posted above is something that is publicly available on YouTube with sharing enabled. It’s being used to promote a show, so it’s fair game for me to comment on. I didn’t secretly record this, someone thought it was a good way to show what they do for potential buyers.

Repairing Props…

One of the things that a lot of magicians use are magic tricks that use electronics. They are fun and you can do a lot of really impossible things with them, but the hard part is finding an “out” if the electronics fail. And they will fail at some point if you are out there working.

color vision box magic mentalism trick

In my show I use a Rubik’s Cube that a special something inside and if that ever fails, in most routines you’re really screwed. Awhile ago I 3D printed a box for it, so if it does fail, I can use the box like the old color vision box. The color vision trick is a pretty good trick on it’s own, so having that as my back up method isn’t the worst out in the world.

I’ve been using the 3d printed box for a little over a year and wore it out!

I think a combination of me working outside a lot in the heat and it just getting banged around during travel shortened the box’s life. Luckily with 3d printing, it’s a very quick and easy fix. I just hit a couple of buttons and I had a new one with virtually no effort on my part!

Get with the times…

One thing in magic we need to move beyond is the yellow face imagery. Recently in a magic collectors group someone posted they had gotten the prop below:

For some context, this isn’t an original prop, it’s a reproduction that was made sometime in about the last 20 years. They were reproduced by Magic Makers, and since then several other companies have put them out.

I mentioned the imagery was offensive to me and one magician told me to “get a life“. Clearly they don’t understand the history of this imagery. It was used in the late 1800’s to mid 1900’s to portray Asians as sub human. You can learn more about the history behind how the imagery was used here:

If you look at whole design of the prop it’s not just the face, but that he’s in jail!

I will say that I have less of an issue with the original as a collectible prop, as while I’m not a fan of it, it was “socially acceptable” at the point it was made. That doesn’t make it right, and it has no place in a show and no place as a retail item that’s currently being made.

Get with the times…


Anthony Hernandez and Dawn!

Last week I worked with Anthony Hernandez and Dawn in California. We instantly clicked and I had a blast chatting with them!

anthony hernandez and dawn magic show

They do a great show, they are both very likable on stage. One of the huge advantages of being a duo act is how they run their music. Every act they do in the show is to music and it well chosen. As they hit the end of the trick and the magic happens, the music’s audio bumps up. It’s great!

Another great thing Anthony does is how he sells the effect. He really pauses, and stretches out the magic. It made me realize I still rush the end too much, and I go a lot slower than I used to!

They do a great show, and if you get a chance to see them, I recommend it. I learned a lot from the show and also enjoyed watching it!


Old School Vanishing Cage

One thing that you’ll know about me if you’ve read this blog at all is that I’m a Vanishing Birdcage nerd. Last night I was watching a clip of Harry Blackstone Jr. doing the Vanishing Birdcage on the Magic Palace TV show.

Here’s the clip:

There are two things I noticed about just the vanishing birdcage segment. First is this gag where he asks the girl to put her hand on his had and reacts and says, “Isn’t that nice

That gag was probably acceptable at the time that this was recorded, but by modern standards it’s creepy. I hope that if Harry Blackstone Jr. was alive now, he’d be aware enough to drop the bit.

The next thing that I noticed is right after the cage vanishes…listen for it…

Did you hear it?

A kid says, “ouch“. I’m guessing the kid has his fingers between a couple of the bars and got pinched when the cage vanished. I also hope that if he was still alive, he’d change how he did this part of the trick so that there was no way a kid could get hurt. I’m thinking that when this was recorded, an occasional pinched finger was okay.

Look at your magic, what are you doing that may have aged out. Usually the performer is the last person to realize when something in their show has hit its expiration date.

Playing With Others…

Working on the road at fairs allows me two work with all sorts of acts. Last week I worked with Scotty and Rich and Orion. They are all variety acts and with very different styles!

One of the great things is chatting ideas with these different acts. Everyone comes at it with a different background and preferences as to how a show should be done. Talking to other acts and getting feedback often will show you things in your show you didn’t see or thing of.

If you work with other acts, talk to them and use them to help you grow!

Do Not Disturb…

For several years I’ve been working on a Silk Thru Coat Hanger trick.

You can read posts about it here

It’s three phases, the silk goes thru the hanger, then two hangers are put on the silk and one that’s selected goes thru the silk, and finally the silk goes from the triangle of the hanger to the hook.

I’m not the biggest fan of the second phase, but the trick really didn’t work as a two phase routine. It hit me while sitting in my hotel room, the Do Not Disturb sign would make a great prop for this routine and fits in with my presentation. The reason I never realized this before was most of the signs have a slit in them to fit over the door handle. The slit makes it useless for the trick, but I’m staying at a hotel that has Do Not Disturb signs that don’t have slits! I took one of the signs to the fair and gave it a try and it works!

I’ll need to play a bit with trying to figure out how to get it smooth. I think the problem is the sign at my hotel is that it’s got a really small hole. A quick search on Amazon and I found some with larger holes. I ordered them and they’ll be waiting for me when I get home.

I’m hoping this is the solution to the second phase of the routine!

Remote Control Party Popper!

Yesterday I posted about wanting to make a Remote Control Party Popper. I ended redesigning the party popper holder, so that it would fit more securely on the board. The one on the right is the new design, and it’s got a flat bottom to site flat on the board.

You’ll notice that I’m using spools to coil in the string. My first attempt was a lever that pulled them, but I couldn’t get the torque I needed, however the strings constant pull worked well to pull the strings.

Here’s the working version:

Having two that shoot off makes it feel “bigger” and having the second one staggered I think makes it hard to miss. I think people will hear the bang from the first one, but might miss the visual of the streamer. The second one should be seen as the first one will have gotten the attention.

I think if I made it again, I would put the two motors in the same motor housing, which would allow me to make it a little bit smaller.

Party Popper Idea…

party popper

One of the cool things about having a 3D printer is it helps me make my ideas a reality, and do it fairly easily. Last week I got the idea in my head of having a remote control party popper. If you don’t know what a party popper is, it’s a little tube with a string. You pull the string, there’s a bang and and little streamers shoot out.

The mechanism is pretty simple, it’s going to be a motor on a remote control. The party popper needs something to hole it in place, so I designed a little holder for it, with a hole in the back:

The plan is to attach this to a board with the battery, remote receiver and motor. To load it, you’ll put in the party popper, tie the string to the motor and when you’re ready, simply push the on button on the remote.

We’ll see if this actually works once I put it together later today…

The Secret to Likability…

The easiest step to being likable onstage is smiling. That’s it. If you can do that you’re soo much closer to the audience liking you.

Smiling makes you look like you want to be there and you are having fun. Yes, there are times you don’t want to smile, and those times should be well thought out. Your default should be a smile.

Many years ago I heard an interview with comedian Neal Brennan on Tom Papa’s podcast Come to Papa. He mentioned that he thought he was smiling onstage, but realized he wasn’t. Onstage you need to smile bigger than you think you need to for it to play to the audience. Hearing that interview really helped my show!