I frequently have people ask me about why I like Leo Smetser’s Three Shell Game set. I like it because it’s the shells are heavy, and I prefer the bowl shape. Another thing is that it all fits together into a nice container that fits neatly in my pocket.
I just started doing a phase that’s unique to this shell set. This set has rubber O rings on the top of them, and I use those for a phase:
With Leo’s set, you can do soo much more than with just a regular set. I really dig this set, sure it’s probably not everyone’s flavor, but I’m a fan! -Louie
When you are out performing, I always try to keep an eye out for photo ops. Moments where I can take a picture and it will make good social media content. Once you do this a while you start to have some ones you do often. Things like a dog watching my flea circus or law enforcement playing the three shell game!
Once you have a few “hits” you know what to look for, but don’t get soo blinded by the hits that you aren’t on the look out for new things!
For example the new thing I’m doing where I peel the picture off of the card and stick it onto a kid. This is a great photo op!
A couple of weeks ago, I was loading my street show into the dressing/storage/green room at a fair and had all my gear laid out before packing it into it’s cart.
That’s my street show. There’s not much to it. I have a shoebox with close up magic, but 90% of the time I don’t do any of that aside from the card trick that’s my initial crowd build. I’m not sure why I travel with the close up magic anymore, I think it’s my mental security blanket in case I can’t stop more than two people.
I think I was scrolling through facebook and I came across this video on the props that another magician uses for strolling at a fair:
There’s a lot of stuff in this that I disagree with, but the first thing is what he says he wears. He says his costume (whatever you wear while performing is a costume) is a t shirt and cargo shorts. I’m someone who is pretty dressed down compared to most magicians, but I don’t think I would perform in a Tshirt and shorts.
The other thing that I don’t agree with is how much material the he’s taking. I should say that I don’t agree with it “for me”. You really don’t need that many props, you’re doing roving, not a formal 22 minute magic castle close up set.
Here’s the props for my roving set:
That’s a 20 minute set if I wanted to do it as a long chunk, however I normally wouldn’t do it that way. Normally I’d do it as a 5-10 minute set. There’s a lot of variety in what you see there. Obviously there’s a lot that I can do with the deck of cards, then there’s the linking pins and finally the wallet. The wallet is a card to wallet, but inside it I have my Splitting Image trick, and a bunch of business cards that I can do mentalism with.
That’s the core set, then if I’m working on something new, I will add that to my those props. The whole works will fit into my two front pockets. Just because you have a ton of pocket space, it doesn’t mean you need to fill them with tricks!
When I was performing in King City, CA a few weeks ago my buddy Skip Banks let me read his copy of To Lure With Spectacle by Jimmy Talksalot. I mentioned to Skip that there was a couple of things about my street show that I didn’t like and he brought in the book for me to read the next day.
I was a great read and it really helped me solve some of the problems I was having with my street show. I like it so much I bought one for myself!
The current edition looks different from the previous one, it’s got a lot less frills, but the same great information. If you’re interested in doing street shows, I highly recommend it! -Louie
I don’t really do escapes in my show, except for my Straight Suit routine. Years ago I did a 100 foot chain escape, and I recently did it again at a street show at a fair.
This routine really builds a huge crowd. The nice thing about it is that it’s easy to understand what’s happening if you just walk up. You see someone being wrapped up in a lot of chain, you know they are going to get out.
My routine starts with a wrist restraint and ends with me getting out of it that restraint. The reason for that is I have a lot more control of how long the routine lasts and what the ending looks like than with just the chain. Also the starting position with my wrists secured and held out in front of my body allows me to more naturally hold the chain up, if gravity starts to loosen it too quickly before the escape starts.
It’s been probably 5 years since I’ve done the chain escape and I think I may be done with it. I might have aged out out it…or more realistically I’m too fat to do it. I can still escape from the chain, but it’s not believable when someone over weight does physical escapes. If I drop about 20 pounds, I think it would work better in the show and I’d reconsider doing it.
When I was a kid starting out, I used to take a bus into downtown and street perform. I still ocassionally street perform, but not usually in the normal context of plunking a table down on a street corner. When I perform at fairs, sometimes I will do a “found space” show. These shows happen on the fairgrounds and are pretty much street shows. The main difference is that the show doesn’t end with a hat pitch. I don’t ask for money.
Yesterday I performed at a busker festival, and I was one of the paid acts, so I didn’t have to ask for money. I did after my first show, but the second show I couldn’t because there was a presentation after me and they wanted me to hold the crowd and introduce the guy that was going to talk.
From the one show I did where I did a hat pitch, I remembered how important it is to actually have a hat pitch. My non existent hat pitch didn’t really work. There are essentially two elements to a good hat pitch. First is the plea, you tell them why they should tip you. Usually these start with, “This is my job…” and then tell about how tips are your income. You then do your final big trick and go into the call to action, where you tell people to put money in your hat. There are a million stock lines for this, like “Remember Tipping isn’t just a city in China…” Things like that. It’s the running lines of patter during the hat that fill the awkward, empty silence and while people are digging out their wallets.
In my opinion, having a strong hat pitch and a good show will make you more money street performing than having a good hat pitch and a strong show. If you’re thinking about street performing, be sure to work on the hat pitch!
Last weekend I was in Raleigh, NC and went for a walk. One of the things that I came across was a little street festival. It was a little bit of a return to getting back to normal. There was a street performer, and she was signer ad had a pretty decent sized crowd (also her PA was crazy loud!).
One of the interesting thing was how the crowd with now instructions, socially distanced themselves by group. This is a good sign for my summer performing at fairs. One of the things that I was worried about was how I was going to handle the crowds, and keep them socially distant. I was curious how much of that would be on me to do. It’s looking good that the audience will do it themselves. However, I think a lot of this will have to do with the local culture.
Whatever your personal beliefs on masks or social distancing, the reality is that if you want to work, you are going to have to follow whatever procedures the venue imposes. That may be nothing, or that may me a lot. Sure, as a magician whose job it is to entertain a crowd, you can’t force anyone to follow and rules or regulations. Just thinking about how you would manage a crowd now, will help you in the future if you ever need to.
Lately I’ve been busy creating digital content for events. This is different from virtual or live stream shows. I’m creating tricks and routines specifically for their groups and they are using them to promote their online events. It’s fun, and very much a different mindset than performing.
Here’s a practice video for one of these videos:
Ultimately we didn’t use the final trick, however this is a good example of having fairly well rounded knowledge of magic techniques comes in handy. Personally I never thought I’d be doing any illusions at this point in my career, but know a little bit about them has come in pretty handy lately!