Technically a ton of stuff I did in Korea could have qualified as “a close-up gig” but whatever, this one felt like I was right back at it properly, without the weight of also being an ESL teacher at the same time.
(Apologies in advanced, a lot of me-talk coming up…)
Feeling… weird about it, I guess? This was ultimately the goal, to be working as a proper magician. I suppose it’s a reason to celebrate, but I don’t really feel much of anything right now.
Now, during the gig, it felt great. The current mission is basically to get my hands back, and it felt good in the moment. I went in with pretty much a bare-bones approach — they got 3 Card Monte, 2 ITH/1ITP, and a card trick to be determined later. This is way less than what I had the last time I was doing these sorts of gigs, but whatever, baby steps.
One thing that I was working really, really hard on was the charm and interaction. That’s not to say that I wasn’t doing this the last time, but I was pouring it on this time around. I think, if I had to make a recommendation to somebody starting out, it would be to spend their first however-many events honing and practicing the tricks so that you could do them in their sleep, because one thing you can’t really practice for or even rehearse for is true interaction. I mean, if you’ve done more than one gig in your life, then you’ve got some sort of joke or comment or whatever that’s meant to feel like it’s off-the-cuff and which is, of course, totally scripted. I think one of the problems with that is that if you’re doing your trick’s phases like it’s on a tight schedule, and if you’re saying your lines like it’s on a tight schedule, then everything risks feeling like it’s on a tight schedule. That’s not to say that you abandon the trick structure and the key lines, but rather, you have them cold so that you come back to them if for whatever reason the genuine interaction you engage in reaches its fruition and now you’ve got to go back to earning your paycheque as a magician.
(Erm… as an aside, treat much of this as if I’m talking to myself.)
Jumping back to the “advice for somebody starting out” thing, I think it’s because before I used to look at genuine interaction as something to be ready for in case it happened, rather than something I’m looking to do each and every time somebody comes up. Last night I was aiming for the latter, and when things hit, it felt really good.
One downside to this was that it stretched the routines out a fair bit. 3 Card Monte done in the direct style (rather than in the indirect, story-telling style) is something you ought to be able to do in three minutes. I had some performances that must have lasted close to double that.
I should also add that much of last night’s work was for audiences of one or two at a time. It was a weird gig in that sense — the event-planner that booked the casino company that booked me had sort of set things up so that only some of the guests were involved in the casino stuff, and there were a ton of other activities to capture people’s interest, so it wasn’t exactly easy to build a crowd. It went alright, but if I’m ever going to be moving into trade shows and such, small audiences aren’t going to cut it. I’ll need to work on that.
Three Card Monte: As time goes by I’m getting a deeper appreciation for Vernon’s approach to actually explicitly bending the card and making sure everybody sees it. It’s got some benefits. First, even though I’m jamming the winning card down on the loser cards hard sometimes to get that bend in, sometimes it’s still too subtle and people don’t pick it up. Second, every now and then you’ll get people who suspect that the card being shown isn’t the card being thrown, and Vernon’s script handles that really well, although it is something you can use at your discretion rather than having that exposure hard-coded into the script. It’s really important for the bent corner to be a thing, though, because otherwise it’s just you winning one more time, without much in the way of escalation. Finally, I forgot the cardinal rule of the busker, which was to make sure that people don’t walk off after the climax. For my part, I was so thrilled to get through the trick that I relaxed on the final reveal, and didn’t immediately jump into the next bit, which must have led to some people thinking “Very good! And that’s the magic, then! Jolly good! Take care…” and then wandering off. It’s probably for the best because it’ll be a while before I’ll have something really strong and polished to follow it with, but I’ll need to be on the lookout to make sure that doesn’t become a habit.
2 In-The-Hands / 1 In-The-Pocket: Got to do it once. Not much to report. I’ve got a bunch of stuff written on this trick and I really do want to try out a specifically Nim-related version. If you don’t know Nim, it’s a game where you’ve got a bunch of coins or matches or whatever on the table, and you’re allowed to pick up one or two, and whoever’s left with the last one loses. There are some variations on that but ultimately that’s the game. There is a legitimate way to cheat at that game, and I’m working really hard to try to combine the trick with a game of Nim, since again the focus at the moment is on scams and such, but anyhow, last night I just did a bog standard version of the trick. It’s ok as a builder, but it could use some work.
And now for the card tricks…
Michael Vincent’s got a version on the Ten Card Poker Deal (I believe it’s his take on the 2-4-2 approach?) that’s pretty good. You lay out two cards, they select one, you do this several times, and they get a nice hand but you get a Royal Flush. I only got to do it once but it played pretty well. Now, Vincent was rather proud to announce that he’d “cleaned up” the trick by adding a bottom-deal to the routine. I don’t think it’s as straightforward as that — one could just as easily argue that eliminating moves “cleans up” a trick — but whatever. I may be mistaken on this, but one sleight that lends itself really well to Vincent’s approach is Marlo’s automatically bottom deal, so it’s possible to get some of the benefits of sleight-of-hand while not necessarily making the trick all that much more difficult. In any case, it played well, and Vincent’s approach has merit.
Psychic Vibrations: Had a lady who’d had a magician in her extended family, and so she wasn’t too keen on being performed at, she’d rather know how some of the stuff was done. Gave her a simple presentation for the key card and taught it, and she was delighted. This might ruffle some feathers in the magic community, but if you’re able to use your discretion I think it’s good to have a decent trick that you don’t mind giving away, including even putting some work into making the presentation entertaining. In any case, it got me her business card and she wants me to get in touch for the possibility of future gigs. She works with some special needs kids, and performing for that demographic is something I’ve actually been wanting to figure out for a while.
The kid: Ugh. So this poor kid who’s the only one his age at this party doesn’t have much to do, so I show him a bunch of stuff I hadn’t really practiced as much as I should have. Gave him Cards Across, it did the job. Botched a couple of things which I’m not too proud about. However, I did give him a small packet Out Of This World trick that will (should?) be showing up in Genii soon, and it played well. Now, one of the earlier tricks that was less-than-expertly-executed was a weird combination of Dr. Daley’s Last Trick and “Be Honest, What Is It?”, and of course, the rustiness came through and I wasn’t ready for when he turned over the changed card prematurely. I was able to get an effect out of it, but it was a kid, and I should have seen that audience-management issue coming a mile away, so it’s my bad. But anyhow, one interesting thing about it was that after the OOTW, he wasn’t sure how he was able to do it, and then he said “Unless you used the same magic to change my cards as you did the last time?” It’s funny that a 10-year-old kid intuitively understands the concept of magicians’ power in a way that a lot of magicians themselves don’t get. Granted, it was my bad for mixing mentalism and magic in the first place, but screw it, the kid wouldn’t go away so I was going to test everything I had on him. Still, though, it was interesting to see how the “superhero theory” isn’t just theory. If I was able to change a card that was in his hands, and if I was able to make cards multiply in his hands, then of course I’d be able to change the six cards that are in his hands into reds. By extension, if that undermines the idea that his own mental powers helped him separate the reds from the blacks, then that’s totally a routining error on my part. And this was a ten-year-old kid who saw it!
Anyhow, I guess that’s it. Another gig tonight. Dunno if I’ll write as much about it as I did last night’s, since “Second Close-up Gig in 6 Years!” doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Oh, and yes, that table-cloth needs to be replaced with something that doesn’t look like an un-ironed shirt.