Had another gig this past Saturday. Some notes from it…

Ran into an interesting problem with regards to personal interaction. One thing that I really wanted to prioritize was lots and lots of back-and-forth with folks at gigs, but I kind of went too far in two different instances.

The first was before the gig was really underway, I saw a couple sitting down and just sort of observing things. Technically, I wasn’t on the clock yet, but I thought it’d be good to be seen performing for these guys, and plus, I’d arrived early and was bored as spit. So, I’ve done two of the three phases of 3 Card Monte for them, and somehow the conversation got directed towards what it is that they do for a living, which led to a ten-minute-long explanation about his business with the investment group that I was doing the gig for. It was a very nerve-wracking situation, because what the guy was talking about was fascinating, so I was really interested, but it was so detailed and the guy had such momentum going with it that I had no idea how to bring things back to the magic. In the end, I figured it was best to not interrupt him, but that meant of course that the event organizer observed me sitting there not doing magic for people. Again, not the hugest problem because technically I wasn’t on the clock yet, but it was problematic.

The second was later on when I was performing for a couple whose heritage was Chinese but who were clearly raised here in Canada. The lady had a clearly Chinese name, but the fellow had a name that’s common in China and Korea, and anyway that led to a bunch of talk about heritage, and before long I realized that we’d kinda gone into politics. This was a huge goof up on my part that’s directly related to living in Korea. One thing that happens very early there in any Korean-foreigner interaction is frank talk about indicators of social status (job, marriage, country of origin, etc.). It makes sense there because knowing if there’s a social status divide or not has an immediate impact of the language you use, specifically in terms of honorifics (or lack thereof) that get tagged onto the end of the verbs. Anyways, one side effect to this is this level of frank talk can also lead to further frank talk, so that a discussion about politics isn’t necessarily taboo.

The problem here was that through the questions I was asking this couple, I’d basically allowed a conversation to move into politics, and for all the couple knew here was some white guy asking naive questions to them because they were Asian. Truth be told, that’s kind of what happened, but that’s only because it’s what people from different cultures do to each other all the time in Korea, and you just sort of get used to it, and even accept it because a lot of interesting stuff can come out in a discussion like that, but at a party, not everybody wants to be talking with a stranger about distant politics that they’re probably only arbitrarily connected to. So, my bad on that one as well.

Magic-wise, did Hal Haber’s “Perambulating Pasteboards”. If you don’t know the effect, card is selected, returned and lost. Spectator is brought up to assist. An indifferent card is shown and tossed on the floor, and the spectator is asked to stand on it. A second indifferent card is given to them to hold in their hands. The magician then places the deck in their pocket, and through some mumbo-jumbo manages to pluck the selected card from their pocket. Then, after more mumbo-jumbo, the card is shown to have changed to the card in the spectator’s hand, which is then shown to have changed to the card under the spectator’s foot, which is then shown to have changed to the card that was originally selected.

Personally, I’m a fan of the trick, and it’s got some interesting contrasts to something like a two-card transposition. It plays bigger, has more interesting audience interaction, and using Haber’s handling actually calls for fewer doubles even though three cards are changing places. The issue with the effect, though, is that it’s not nearly as direct as a two-card transposition, and it’s asking a lot of the audience to play along with the arbitrary setup. There’s a lot to motivate here theatrically, because otherwise, all you’re doing is just telegraphing the trick’s climax way too early because of course that’s where the trick is going. Still working on that. A bare-bones version of it is going in JACK, but this is definitely something I want to try to solve.

Had that rare annoying spectator that decided not to play along at all with 3 Card Monte. One of the major drawbacks to doing a story-based presentation for the trick is that you remove the immediacy from it, but one of the risks of doing it in real-time for somebody is that you cede some control to the spectator. If you do it right, this almost never happens, but the key word here is “almost”. It’s not a big deal, you just need to have something more impressive to move into after, and to be fair, given the nature of 3 Card Monte you’d want to have that follow-up effect anyways. Still, if you ever want to do Monte for somebody, and you want to do it straight-up, keep in mind that this can happen. It’ll be so rare that you’ll be tempted to think it never happens, but it still can from time to time.

Finally, I’m beginning to think that the most underrated card move is the flop. There’s so much that can be done with it. Essentially it’s a switch, but it can be a switch of a single card or a small packet. It can reverse the deck for Triumph routines or something like Double Reverse. There’s a great force you can do with it, either for a selection or else to force an outcome, such as for a CAAN-type effect. It can even be seen as the second half of a control, where the first half, that of bringing it reversed to the bottom, can often be a done a lot more loosely than most traditional passes or side-steals, what with the extra cover you get with not having to bring it to the top.

What’s more, you cannot discount the fact that it’s a one-handed move. John Carney likes to talk about Vernon’s hot plate theory, which is that (assuming the cards are in the left hand) the magician’s right hand should treat the deck as if it’s a hot plate, minimizing two-handed contact as much as humanly possible.

Finally, I need to get the coin flurry going again. I’ll report more on that later if it fixes the problem that I think I had with this gig, but yet, coin flurry needed.