Monday, April 28, 2014

Death is a Party Pooper

Yesterday I was doing a spring festival gig for a car company (don't ask). Lot's of entertainment stuff was booked. Among riding donkeys and live music there was a magician. Me! So I did my usual stuff, coins, cards, finishing with the Cups and Balls. Not big shows, but something quick for all the people strolling about.

So this old man is looking at me doing some coin magic. Then he wonders of. Five minutes later an announcement was heard that a doctor should come quick. Somebody has fallen down, it is serious. Turns out that old man fell over and hit his head on the ground. He was dead when they found him. Getting from the point of the accident to the place where the mike is took about two minutes. And from the place where I was doing my magic to the place the old man died took about one minute. So within that time frame he fell and died.

Every act that was to follow was cancelled. Still the festival went on. Most people were blissfully unaware of what had happened. To them an old man fell and then the ambulance arrived. Nobody knew who he was.

As I was driving back home I was thinking. Pretty much the last thing he saw was a magician doing coin magic. And I suddenly wished I made my magic more meaningful. It could be the last thing somebody sees. And if so, wouldn't it be much better if the act was really, really good?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

At least I had a laugh

Jack Moyer finally being searched for by something worse than police and law. The media!

The odd thing about this is the following: Aaron Harp does a trick near the end. With sharpies.
It looks a lot like the Color Match trick by Promystic. Exept that it is not. Make of that what you will.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

How to actually get things done PART V

So I get the 20-Euro bill and then hand it to some other spectator. He has to do the magic now. I turn on the lighter "Before we do this, please remember that the flame of a lighter is as hot as a fire place. So don't burn yourself. And don't burn the bill either, otherwise you will get into trouble with him" pointing to the spectator who owns the bill.

The bill is passed through the fire twice, but nothing happens. No change to a 50. "That's odd?" as I unfold the bill and it turns out it is a mismade 20-Euro bill. "Oh my, that's a mess. But here, look, all the parts are there! here and here and over here. Check out the bill make sure it's legal tender in an illegal state." The bill is examined. "Let me go back a little, sorry about that!" I take back the bill and hold the lighter back under the bill. As it is unfolded it is now the original 5-Euro bill from the beginning. "This doesn't get better. I went back a little too far. But see it this way. You have as much money as you started with, but you feel a lot worse." I straighten the bill a bit and add: "If that was real magic, you could keep it" then hand it back.

This gets applause and laughs. "Buy yourself something nice during the break."

So you see the function of that magic running gag. It give the first part of the show some closure. Yet I've set up several threads that will lead into the very end of the show.

Then a 15 minute break takes place, where the people leave the room. This gives me enough time to reset the first part of the show, get some secret stuff done and to prep for part two. And to get a drink and to clean up the room a bit.

Then it is time for part two.

Which is follows in Part VI

Saturday, April 19, 2014

How to actually get things done PART IV

Right after the rabbit story I come back to the cards starting the second card block, which is the multiple card selection/ Truimph routine. After that I ask the spectator with the 10-Euro bill, if he/she wants to have a 20-Euro bill. People usually expect me to revert it back to the 5 that we started with. But it actually turns into the 20-Euro bill. "If that was real magic, you could keep it" that line gets repeated. 

Imagine the reaction. It feels like it is building up to something, but you are so unsure about it.

Now we are nearing the end of the first part. So I wondered if there is an element that can eventually carry over to the next part of the show after the break. It took me a while to figure it out. Mentalism seemed like the way to go. What if I handed a spectator an envelope with a prediction asking him to hold on to this until the very end of the show? I liked that. But what could be predicted?

The outcome of a trick, a prediction of the person's clothing? It all depended on the method. If I would switch out what's inside then anything could go, but then again there would would be a lot of heat on that. If I force whatever is inside it would weaken the impact, as the process of the selection would be a process... So I was thinking. And with the help of some friends we deceided on the best of both worlds. Part of it would be switched out and part of it would be forced in the second part of the show.

So this is a case of working out the trick starting from the method. So I needed a prediction that would have two things about it. I realized that most predictions in mentalism are incredibly mondane. So I finally decided to go all goofy. I decided to predict the end of the world.

I would declare the bearer of the envelope a prophet and would ask him when he thinks the world would end, taking all of us with it. And that is funny. Imagine the room. This guy giving us a year. So I would write down the year, openly and then the month and the day. I do a joke on each element. "A thousand years from now? So you are on the safe side. You don't wanna be one of those lunatics who are wrong in their life time.... good call!" "In September? Good, we can all go the beach at least." And so on. 

So the process of writing down the information would be a fun one. "Now here is the hardest part of being a prophet... you will be approached during the break. Everyone wants you to open the envelope. But you say no! Because you can. So what do you say?" "No!" "Right.... and if I approach you during the break with a suitcase full of money, what will you say?" You can see that there is comedy potential.

Yeah I almost forgot, it is a comedy show!

Then I end the first part of the show with Doc Eason's Opener with the nuts and bolts. It is a great little routine. Check it out.... However there is just one more bit before everybody leaves the room.

"Hey you with the 20.... Want a 50-Euro bill?"

More in Part V

Friday, April 18, 2014

How to actually get things done PART III

After having one 3rd of the 90 minutes show being cards I had to add way more non card material. For years I have done a certain rope routine that heavily borrows from Francis Tabary and George Sands. I also had this Ring and Rope routine. It was a nice match up. I knew both would be my opener. But I realized that it may got to the magic too quickly. This is strong stuff after all. I needed some luring in. And then I was reminded of my old days of me doing ball manipulation. A quick one ball routine would do it I guessed. So I got me some bounce no bounce balls and went for it. A ball bounces then doesn't. Then the ball gets tossed in the air a few times and then vanishes. A quick sequence of the ball being placed in the pocket and then coming back a few times followed by a color change. After that the rope act and then cards already?

It still felt too rushed to get to the cards. So was thinking.... this was the perfect time to include a running gag that may get resolved at the end of the first part of the show. Then it struck me. Money! If I would borrow a 5-Euro bill and then transform it into a 10-Euro bill and then give that 10-Euro bill back to the spectator that would keep things a bit unresolved. Why would the magician give out money? I liked that. As I could go back to that and then borrow the 10-Euro bill again and turn it into a 20, then a 50 perhaps.... and always giving it back to the spectator. That would indeed be a magical running gag. So that is what I went for.

And it plays great. "Does anybody have a 5-Euro bill for me. I'm gonna do a trick that makes sense for a change." then I would do the transformation "If that was real magic, you would be allowed to keep it" after a brief moment of hesitant wait I would give it to the spectator "Keep it, it's yours!" suddenly there was a emotional reaction that was worth exploring. "Yeah and all of you others... now you wish you had given me the 5-Euro bill I asked for!" That got such a great laugh so I kept it in the act.

And now I would transition into the card bit with the Chicago Opener and the kings.

Then coins! I have a rather lengthy 3 coin routine, that I split up and part of it made it into the act. It ends with the three coins going under the playing card that was remaining from the last bit. Then I would tear up the card and three quarters of the card would turn into three more coins. With the six coins I would do my coin thief routine, which ends in a transposition of a coin in the spectators hand.

So far the show has been non stop magic. I felt it was too much in a way. The audience needed a break. Then I turned back to my initial idea pool. The history of magic... Wouldn't a magic story give the audience some time to recover? I thought so, so I tell the story of Mary Toft and how she gave supposed birth to 17 rabbits, leading eventually to the rabbit from the hat trick. Then I would explain why I wouldn't do the trick, as rabbits are way too big to fit in a hat and that people believe anyway that magicians do that trick all the time. So there is no need to do it. As some sort of compensation I would do another little bit that deals with birth, death and animals, and the best part people can do this at home. What follows is the famous towel chicken. But mine would lay an egg in the end.

The story had one problem: People still expected me to produce a rabbit now. And then it struck me! What if I would keep that thread loose. And only tie it back together at the very end of the show. And then a few more ideas followed leading into the actual ending I have now.

It's a bit hard to explain. So hear me out. During the entire show I have some bits that feel unresolved and then I drop them. For instance: I tell the audience that there is one specific type of spectator that is the worst. The person not wanting to know how the trick works. No even in the slightest. For those spectators you could do the bit with the fingers jumping from hand to hand and they would enjoy that: "And doing finger magic is the lowest form of entertainment. Whoever enjoys that must really be out of his mind!" This line is important.

In the end, after the last trick I would announce the fact that the show has now come to the end. The scream for an encore always happens. Then I roll my eyes saying "Alright, we'll do it, we do the rabbit from the hat." You cannot believe how things fall into place after the line.

Then I do my routine with my fingers representing a rabbit that would do all sorts of tricks... It's not magic but it ties up all the loose ends. And "whoever enjoys that must really be out of his mind!"

So what about the money thing? Will the spectator get to keep it?

Feels unresolved doesn't it?

More in Part IV

Thursday, April 17, 2014

How to actually get things done PART II

Before I go on: Big thanks to my girlfriend as she is actually the one who pushed me into doing the theater thing. It was a long dream of mine and she forced me to do it. If there was one thing hindering me from doing it the most it would be the initial steps. Finding a location, planning, getting the inventory like tables and chairs, registering the business at the public authorities and so on. She did all of that, so I could concentrate on the magic shows itself. Otherwise it would have taken a lot longer. Back to the magic...

So I deceided to do a comedy magic show and the show about the perception and deception. I knew that the later would take way more effort to put together so I kept the first one very light.

The first show basically was my close up/stage set that I did for years. Rope, cups and balls, sponge balls some card tricks, some coin tricks, something with a finger ring and so one. The first thing I did was to put the stuff in order. From weakest to stongest. Then I ran into the first problem. I have been doing table hopping for so long, that I realized that even my card tricks were to darn strong. There was no proper build up. And that is totally great for table hopping where you don't have a lot of time to establish anything. But for a theater show.... The tricks got to the point to quickly. I needed to milk time. All the card tricks I had were FASDIU. Then it struck me. It doesn't have to be. It's a controlled situation. I could do an elaborated card set with deck switches and gimmicks and all of that.

And what a Pandora's box I opened with this. The card act now consists of 6 deck switches and is gimmicked to the max. Why? Because I can!

I was asking myself how many card tricks I could put in the 90 minutes show. And I think it was Tim Ellis telling me that 30 minutes split up into three 10 minute sets would be okay. That helped alot.

The first card act as follows: The deck is examined, Chicago Opener, a production of the four kings. A card is selected and turns into the four kings, then turn back into the selection. The selection is signed, and again turns into the four kings. The selection is pull from the inside pocket and then is lost in the pack. The four kings turn into the selection one by one, then revert back to being the kings. As I go for the pocket to reveal that the selection has gone back into the pocket the opposite happens and I pull the four kings from the pocket and in place of the kings in now the selection. Then I repeat the Chicago Opener but this time not the card changes color, but the deck.

It's a lot of stuff happening and keeps people alert.

The second card act: The deck is examined, then I do a slip slop shuffle to mix the cards face up and face down. I claim to righten the deck using the magic tool of misdirection. I pull out a jumbo card and ask a spectator to name any card. Basically I do the 52 card gag. Leaving the jumbo card on the table. Then I show that the deck is now all cards facing in one direction. What follows is a multiple card selection routine. 5 people each stop at a card and remember it. I claim to find all of the cards using different ways. Skill, Magic, Luck, Misdirection and Planning. The first one flies out of the deck, the same card then turns into the second spectator's card. The next one is found reversed in the deck and the next one is under the card case. But then the deck vanishes. I look confused and look at the fifth specator.... then I grab the jumbo card again asking him to tell me his card. The jumbo card is now his selection. The it is revealed where the deck has gone, in the card case of course. Then offer to do that trick again where I shuffled the cards face up and face down, this time without misdirection. And then it's the most clean Triumph I could find. And with clean I mean gimmicked to the max.

Again a lot of stuff happens. The third card set happens after the break. And is basically hands off. I won't go into detail here, as it is not my routine, except for the gags.

After I decided on those big blocks, the rest was just filling.

More in Part III

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How to actually get things done PART I

I run a little theater for well over a year now. A close up theater. I do 3-4 shows a week in addition to the regular bookings. When the project was still in making I knew I had to come up with new material. As the close up material that I had was about 40 minutes. 60 if you you really milked it for time. But I had to come up with two 90 minute shows, that are different from one another in both feel and choice of tricks. So I made a list of possible themes for a close up show. Here are some:

Magic from a Notions Box... tricks with needles, yarn, thimbles, buttons and so on. It was clear very early on that that would not fill 90 minutes.

The History of Magic... tales of magicians of the past and some of their tricks. While I liked the concept and I still do, I knew that this would be a show that is very little magic and a whole lot of talking. It might be interesting to some but a letdown for those expecting a magic show full of magic.

Just a magic comedy show... No running theme, just tricks after tricks and the only thing tying it together was my personality and some running gags. Eventually the show would lead up to a point that has been hinted at the whole time giving the audience a feeling of having seen a whole show instead of just bits strung together.

A show about the Perception and Deception... I would do a trick and then perhaps explain the principle behind it. Not the trick, but how our brain operates and gets fooled. Then in the end I would reveal that everything was a deception from the very beginning, and that people may have come to learn something, but they have not learned anything. It would be revealed that all explanations were fake but then I would have a closing trick to redeem myself for that lie where I would be honest all the way.

I decided on the last two show. That was in early fall of 2012.

More in PART II