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Topic: New Magic Box / Rollon
Message: Posted by: James Fortune (Nov 30, 2007 12:56PM)
I have used a [url=http://www.practical-magic.com/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=shop.flypage&product_id=81&category_id=9&manufacturer_id=0&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=26]Practical Magic Roll On Table[/url] for many years but, as it is made of wood, I'm finding it heavier and heavier as the years go on.

I do have a very 'propy' show and need a table such as this but one made in a light material such as aluminum.

Does anyone have any URLs they can point me to?
Message: Posted by: Daveandrews (Dec 1, 2007 11:37PM)
James, an aluminium table, similar to a rolon/su table, with all the added extras that could be included (as it's metal) is a brilliant idea.
If anyone is thinking of making one, consider that to be two orders already.

Dave
Message: Posted by: disneywld (Dec 2, 2007 02:39AM)
I wonder if aluminium will look good. I can see it being less than spectacular. Something lightweight would be nice though.
Message: Posted by: James Fortune (Dec 2, 2007 05:00AM)
Disneywld,

My thinking was that the front of the table could be covered by a sign/colour board or whatever so that the audience is not staring at shiny silver, which I accept would be horrid.
Message: Posted by: KC Cameron (Dec 2, 2007 10:33PM)
There is a material that is lighter, thinner, and stronger than wood, it looks like metal corrigated cardboard. Ask Chance, he would know. (WolfMagic.com)
Message: Posted by: NJJ (Dec 2, 2007 10:53PM)
I've experimented with several designs/ideas over the years and here are the various ideas you can try.

1) Get a nice rolon table with nice signage and have a canvas workshop make a nice cover for it. It will be protected in the car but won't fly.

2) Get a crappy road case style one and have a curtain skirting made for it. Simply covering with a cloth will NOT do. It looks dodgy. This will look very nice, fly well but doesn't have nice signage on it.

3) Get a roadcase style one and use a pop up banner to cover the front. This adds weight but looks great.

I've just purchased the last ozillusion rolon case in existence. It has a tray that brings your props into the top half when needed as well as a special designed that makes the top the same size as the bottom! http://www.ozillusions.com/autorolon.html
Message: Posted by: Tom Riddle (Dec 2, 2007 11:38PM)
James.......why not cut down on the props, and work out of a small suitcase? Children are not really interested in lots of heavy props. All they want is to laugh, be amazed, and be entertained. The props are secondary.
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (Dec 2, 2007 11:58PM)
I have a Billy McComb table, which is made of a very light plastic material. There have been problems with the rivets popping out, and I've had to systematically replace nearly all of them with bolts. But the table still looks like brand new, folds down to the size of a large briefcase, and is very quick to set up. I don;t know if these tables are still available, and if they are,they're VERY expensive. But the basic design is excellent.
Tom, I don't agree about working out of a small case. Kids LOVE big props. In fact, when I was four years old, I was incredibly disappointed when a magician didn't have any big boxes and props - those were the things I saw as "real" magic. When the magician made things happen in his hands - or even when he just had loads of gags, with almost no magic, it seemed far less than magical to me!
My preference is a good balance between comedy, magic, and visual stimulation. That's partly why I'm such a fan of Wolf's magic and Axtell's puppets, even though I do have a few shows that I can work from a small case (I can also entertain without any sort of table case or bag - just using items I take from my pockets. But I think if I did this for a Birthday party, my clients would feel short-changed.)
Message: Posted by: James Fortune (Dec 3, 2007 04:30AM)
Polly, I totally agree. As a child I always remember a magic show I went to where the entertainer had lots of colourful props laid out and I was agog before the show had even started. that is how I have done my children's magic for 20 years and the response from them (letters) and their parents (comments and re-bookings) tells me I'm doing the right thing.
Message: Posted by: Tony James (Dec 3, 2007 05:04AM)
Let's get something straight. When you work for children as a feature act - here an hour is normal - you need a focal point. And you need to give the punter something to see for their money. That something is a prop or props. Sorry if you prefer sponge balls and working on the hoof but I'm talking about a static performance.

So a table is an initial focal point and can start out with one or more props on it. That creates interest and anticipation.

You can put away and bring out subsequent props as needed. Or you can keep one on view throughout till you get to it. It's up to you.But a table of this sort is practical, a good hiding place and carrier all in one. A good advertisement too.

The table can at least display your name and logo. Even the children who can read will then remember who you are!

Be careful of aluminium or any metal. Sounds wonderful but in practise very thin aluminium is unforgiving. Metal always scratches, dents, buckles and bends and paintwork on metal scratches off and can quickly look poor. Bumps and dents are very difficult to remove. Thick aluminium is surprisingly heavy as is most plastic sheet material.

What you really need is Birch plywood. The plies are very, very thin. Birch ply just over one eighth of an inch thick can be 5 ply and a quarter inch thick can be nine ply. So forget about ordinary coarse, cheap, heavy 3 ply.

Because the plies are so thin and there are so many of them the resultant sheet is very strong so you can use a much thinner sheet. Thinner of course is lighter. And Birch ply has a surface that quickly rubs to a perfect finish ready for paint. This is why professional prop builders have traditionally used birch ply.In the UK it is not easy to buy. DIY stores don't stock it. You need a specialist timber supplier. The sheets are very big and it is expensive. But it's the best.

Unlike metal, timber forgives. It will take a knock which won't show. To protect in transit just cover the finished table with a thick, soft fabric fitted cover and over that a second cover, made from a quilted fabric with a shower proof fabric one side. This will provide extra protection from knocks and prevent the covers from becoming wet in inclement weather.
Message: Posted by: James Fortune (Dec 3, 2007 05:17AM)
Dear Tony,

What an interesting post. Does anybody make roll on tables out of this special ply?
Message: Posted by: Danny Hustle (Dec 3, 2007 05:27AM)
[quote]
On 2007-12-03 00:58, Potty the Pirate wrote:
Tom, I don't agree about working out of a small case. Kids LOVE big props. In fact, when I was four years old, I was incredibly disappointed when a magician didn't have any big boxes and props - those were the things I saw as "real" magic. [/quote]

And I disagree with you. At every other show I do I have to listen to how awful magician X was last year or how, "We saw magician X at another show and he was awful. Just a bunch of big boxes no magic." You are the exception not the rule. My show looks just as big as anybody else's I just don't have to wreck somebodies lounge to get it in the house. A lot of people do not appreciate a guy who makes 10 trips to the car and still has a problem entertaining the kids. And the kids don't care as long as you are magical, colorful, and fun. You may have seen boxes as real magic but I can tell you as a guy who does between 8 and 10 shows a weekend the kids sure don't.

Let's not turn this into a debate as to which is better. Because that is crap, if it's good it's good regardless of what you bring. Bringing more junk does not make for a better show.

To answer the original question, Tony Clark Makes one here:
http://www.tonyclarkmagic.com/storefront/shop/index.php?action=item&id=87&prevaction=category&previd=featured&prevstart=

Best,

Dan-
Message: Posted by: Tony James (Dec 3, 2007 05:47AM)
Of course quantity is no substitute for quality Dan. I quite agree.

But one Roll On style table is still a good focal point and can contain everything. No you don't need loads of big props. But you need some props.

You also need somewhere to keep them , out of sight, and somewhere to put some of them whilst using and somewhere to put them when they're finished with. My table is of a height which permits a child to take a prop from the table, or work it there. That's important. It provides an uncluttered working space. It might hold a cut-out of a figure or animal. The helper may be talking to that cut out during the routine.

I've found on the table works better in these circumstances than in the hand. And in isolation on the table the magic has more impact than something which happens in the hand. Not always of course, but generally.
Message: Posted by: James Fortune (Dec 3, 2007 07:29AM)
Just for interests sake, if you [url=http://www.magicfun.co.uk/children.html]click here[/url] and go down to the bottom of the page, you will see how I lay out my show.
Message: Posted by: Danny Hustle (Dec 3, 2007 08:03AM)
[quote]
On 2007-12-03 06:47, Tony James wrote:
Of course quantity is no substitute for quality Dan. I quite agree.

But one Roll On style table is still a good focal point and can contain everything. No you don't need loads of big props. But you need some props.

You also need somewhere to keep them , out of sight, and somewhere to put some of them whilst using and somewhere to put them when they're finished with. My table is of a height which permits a child to take a prop from the table, or work it there. That's important. It provides an uncluttered working space. It might hold a cut-out of a figure or animal. The helper may be talking to that cut out during the routine.

I've found on the table works better in these circumstances than in the hand. And in isolation on the table the magic has more impact than something which happens in the hand. Not always of course, but generally.
[/quote]

I use a folding table, one suitcase, and a jump stool. It's one trip from the car, my table looks filled with color, and my show plays just as big, if not bigger than many of the guys I know that bring a yard sale. I also know guys who bring a yard sale that have a great show as well, I am not saying one is better than the other. As a matter of fact I'm saying the opposite, a good show is a good show no matter what you bring. I have nothing against prop heavy shows, I just don't think props will make you a better performer and props alone will not book you more shows or put you ahead of the other guy. Having a good show no matter what you bring will.

I think a lot of guys think more about props and flash than they do about their show, character (and do the tricks SUIT that character), and the theater aspects that make a show good. But that is a whole other topic, and I don't want to derail the table thread. I do not own Tony Clark's table but I do own a lot of his other products and they are excellent.

Best,

Dan-
Message: Posted by: Danny Hustle (Dec 3, 2007 08:12AM)
Hi James,

I have a lefler table and stopped using it in my birthday party shows because it is just so darn heavy. I looked at your photos and it looks like you might be able to use a suitcase and a folding table. If you use a folding table I would suggest a banner of some kind to hang from the front and it will give the illusion of a much larger table. That's what I do. It is a LOT lighter than lugging a suitcase table. You put the suitcase on a jump stool (with your name on the front of the suitcase) set your props on the table and as each trick is finished it resets back in the suitcase. At the end of the show, your table is clear, you put the banner in the suitcase, fold up the table, and you are off to the next show.

Best,

Dan-
Message: Posted by: mrmarvel (Dec 3, 2007 08:54AM)
There seems to be two trains of thought here. Either you have lots of props and look great but are not in fact a very good entertainer. Or you work from a suitcase and are brilliant at entertaining. Nobody seems to have thought about the other two options. You could work from a case and be rubbish. Not good. But and this always the one that strikes me as the best, is tto have a great set and be brilliant. Surely that's the best solution.

Matthew
Message: Posted by: James Fortune (Dec 3, 2007 09:55AM)
[quote]
On 2007-12-03 09:54, mrmarvel wrote:
this always the one that strikes me as the best, is to have a great set and be brilliant. Surely that's the best solution.

Matthew
[/quote]

Absolutely Matthew!

Dan,
Your idea it that I replace my roll table (the purple 'box' to the left of the photo) with a large suitcase on collapsible 'legs' (such as a jump stool), right?

Hmm. Interesting.
Message: Posted by: derrick (Dec 3, 2007 11:01AM)
James,

I think your current set up looks great and I can see how you would have a hard time changing the look of it. Like you, I have not been very successful trying to lighten my show. I've changed it up a bit and have a great show that packs flat in one case, but I still feel like I need my lefler and two side tables to give the show the look, feel, and balance of a big show. Maybe it is just my personal vision of what a show ought to look like that is holding me back from totally retiring my lefler. I'll be interested in hearing what you decide to do.

I guess one day when I can no longer lift it out of my trunk, Iíll change my show set up. That or hire someone to go with me.

Good luck,

Derrick
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (Dec 3, 2007 11:50AM)
The Billy McComb table is made of a very similar material to the stuff Chance Wolf used a while back. I use that and a roll-on flight case, which serves to carry my props in, keep puppets in for the performance, and dump used props as the show progresses. For me it's a far better solution than a Roro table which I used previously. I couldn't imagine not having my flight cases, which stack atop each other to bring in everything for a whole party.
On the matter of props or not (again, I wonder why this is such a favourite topic?) When I plan a show, I give NO THOUGHT initially to which props or routines I should use. The skeleton of my show is about fundamental elements: I need a good opener, a warm-up, a trick with the birthday kid, a quick bit of "flashy" magic, a trick that includes animation....the list goes on. There are several layers of work that go into the planning of the show, and it's only once a show is almost completely ready that I start to consider how portable the show is. After all, if the show absoulutely rocks, I'm often happy to tolerate the inconvenience of a prop heavy show for a while. Christmas shows are typical of this for me, my Exploding Christmas Tree is quite a faff to set up and clean up, but it really makes the show, so why not use it every third year, say?
If I only had one show, it would be my main pirate show "Magic Island", which is fairly prop heavy. Yet I have lots of shows with far fewer props, hey I could put a 15 minute balloon twisting routine into my shows and carry almost no props at all, but I choose not to.
Realistically I need at least one table for most shows, which is great 'cos it's an advertisement too. Sometimes I have two or even three tables, in addition I often have my Drawing Board on it's easel. The point is, I don't write my shows thinking "I'm going to use lots of big props"....but inevitably, sometimes things work out that way. Ideally I like to have each routine bettering the previous one. Big colourful boxes and puppets create this illusion. So you can follow a good audience participation trick that uses sleight of hand with a simple production box, because the box is big and bright and says in a subtle way: "There's plenty more where that came from", or "If you liked that, wait till you see this".....
It's horses for courses, whatever works for you.
Message: Posted by: Stevethomas (Dec 3, 2007 12:31PM)
Chance calls that stuff "Alumicore"...and it's pretty sturdy, thin and light.

Steve
Message: Posted by: Danny Hustle (Dec 3, 2007 01:32PM)
[quote]
On 2007-12-03 09:54, mrmarvel wrote:
There seems to be two trains of thought here. Either you have lots of props and look great but are not in fact a very good entertainer. Or you work from a suitcase and are brilliant at entertaining. Nobody seems to have thought about the other two options. You could work from a case and be rubbish. Not good. But and this always the one that strikes me as the best, is tto have a great set and be brilliant. Surely that's the best solution.

Matthew
[/quote]

If you read my post that is exactly what I said. Have a good show, prop heavy or not. Just have a good show.
Message: Posted by: derrick (Dec 3, 2007 01:40PM)
I suppose the reason that the meat of my show packs flat and plays big is that it gives me the flexibility to travel and play any size venue and set up just about anywhere if I need to do so. For the most part I don't play my show this way but if I must I will, and I still feel like I'm giving the audience my "A" show. Within this frame I usually perform routines that require bigger, bulkier props. I love my bigger wands for instance, but they are just too big for some rooms so I don't always perform them.

My Christmas show tends to be my most cumbersome. I use a pretty big square circle that I decorate to look like a Christmas present. I pull out my ABC blocks and wrap them like presents. A few other props get dusted off and decorated for the holidays too and none of them exactly packs flat, but I figure I only perform this show a few times a year.
Message: Posted by: mrmarvel (Dec 3, 2007 01:42PM)
Hi Danny

I would just like to add that if you have a good show and you are a great entertainer than I am convinced that the wow factor you have is increased by having a prop heavy show. I know people say they can give a great performance from a suitcase but I bet I can give a better show from a prop heavy show. If you go to DisneyLand you don't have Mickey Mouse walking round a field. He is backed up by an incredible amount of setting.

I think this is a very deep discussion. But I think at the bottom of it is that many children's entertainer are inherently lazy. They just want the easy life. Take on suitcase in and they can be ready in 45 seconds. Great for the entertainer. Not so good for the paying punter.

Sorry to disagree


Matthew
Message: Posted by: Danny Hustle (Dec 3, 2007 01:45PM)
[quote]
On 2007-12-03 10:55, James Fortune wrote:

Absolutely Matthew!

Dan,
Your idea it that I replace my roll table (the purple 'box' to the left of the photo) with a large suitcase on collapsible 'legs' (such as a jump stool), right?

Hmm. Interesting.
[/quote]

Hi James,

Yes that's pretty much it, although interestingly, you will not need a very large suitcase. Using what appears on your table in the photo as a guide. Just a regular size suitcase, you might even be able to get away with a catalog case. I am able to get my show, a small apollo around the waist sound system, and banners, balloons, and hand pump, into one suitcase. I put professional lettering on the front of my suitcase so when it is open, it is another sign. if you want to be fancy you can even keep a skirt for the stool in the case and Velcro it around the front of the stool so it gives a more sleek appearance. I started doing that after I saw a video of my show and the stand I was using for the suitcase seemed to stand out like a sore thumb. You will be surprised at how much stuff you can get into a suitcase. the case I have is made from press board and is unlined. I believe it was a sample case originally. I've had it for 30 years so I really can't remember. If you do three or four one hour shows on a Saturday, it makes life MUCH easier particularly if some of your shows involve stairs. The table slings over your shoulder and you carry the suitcase. Once it is set up I actually have the appearance of having MORE stuff than a lot of guys who work from suitcase tables because I have the table with a skirt and the open suitcase with a skirt. It sets the parameters for my stage area.

Best,

Dan-
Message: Posted by: Dennis Michael (Dec 3, 2007 02:09PM)
I sure hope everyone follows the advice of "pack flat and play big" as mentioned above because I pack big play big and charge the top price in my area, I can't count the number of times I am told by the customer they were looking for a "Real Magician" with all the props. It is almost a niche in my area.

No disrexpect intended to those who work out of smaller cases. Like James, I saw and remembered my first exposure to a magician who had a stage loaded with props.

The drawbacks:
[list]
[*] More trips to the car.
[*] Much heavier in weight (And this is the single biggest drawback especially as I get older.)
[*] Can't do lots of shows in one day. A single show takes 2.5 hours to set-up, perform & break down/reset. Two is my max by choice.
[/list]
The advantages:
[list]
[*] Looks like the classic magician as seen on TV cartoon/children shows
[*] It is fun using all the props as well as th magic
[*] It is my signature act as a classic magician.
[/list]
The Equipment:
[list]
[*] Lefler table loaded with, Pro Viper, sound system, miser's dream bucket, Safety cones, Rabbit Production Box, Birthday Hat Spring Rabbit
[*] Laflin Table with, all the flat props, but looks big when set up, Temple screen, variety of coloring books, big head illusion, happy birthday art, what's next, appearing cans, disappearing canes, give-aways, vanishing bandana, a variety of comedy wands, three side tables, and more (Do not use them all but switch out items based on age group.)
[*] Wiz-Kote in it's own Box
[*] Treasure Chest Recovery box for Wiz-Kote
[*] Axtel Puppets (Rodney, Big Bear, or Vern)
[*] Axtell's Meter
[*] Chair Suspension Bag
[*] Backdrop (The new quick set-up backdrop replaced the Spider backdrop)
[*] Rabbit in His cage.
[*] Balloon Pump (If client wants balloons but I avoid this if possible)
[*] Dependent on venue: Spotlight, Movie Projection system, and others
[*] Dependent on fund Raiser: Trailer loaded with illusions and consession stand equipment.
[*] And there is more, but you do get the picture of different shows require different props.
[/list]

Fee Range: $250 to $2,000

So to those who pack flat and play big, I sometimes envey you, however, I wouldn't change what I do because I love thos wide-eye excited kids and yes Axtell's "Meter" goes far beyond a 10! It clearly is not for everyone, it is my choice!

PS...Topic: New Magic Box / Rollon so I am looking for ways to reduce the number of trips without increasing back-pain.
Message: Posted by: Danny Hustle (Dec 3, 2007 02:13PM)
[quote]
On 2007-12-03 14:42, mrmarvel wrote:
Hi Danny

I would just like to add that if you have a good show and you are a great entertainer than I am convinced that the wow factor you have is increased by having a prop heavy show. I know people say they can give a great performance from a suitcase but I bet I can give a better show from a prop heavy show. If you go to DisneyLand you don't have Mickey Mouse walking round a field. He is backed up by an incredible amount of setting.

I think this is a very deep discussion. But I think at the bottom of it is that many children's entertainer are inherently lazy. They just want the easy life. Take on suitcase in and they can be ready in 45 seconds. Great for the entertainer. Not so good for the paying punter.

Sorry to disagree


Matthew
[/quote]

No problem, you are entitled to your opinion. I think you are 100% wrong. I'll be happy to compare my show to yours. Keep in mind we are talking about birthday parties in someone's home and not a school show or an event at a hall.

People do not hire me repeatedly after seeing the other guys in my price range because they are dissatisfied. Customers will tip you, they will pay you, and they will even pat you on the back, even if you are awful. Because people are polite. They will not however hire you again. For the record, I do have a prop heavy show just not all the prefabbed flying widgets that everybody else is buying. I had another professional see my stiff rope routine and say that he wished he had bought that instead of the $500 spring loaded, spray painted, widget he bought because he gets nothing out of it. I select my props very carefully so that they suit my character. They also establish myself and my show. There is a lot more effort to that than there is to pulling out the credit card and buying hiyajoe's latest gadget without even having a place or a forethought about where it will fit in the act.

I will also add that I have had MANY parents complain about other entertainers bringing a yard sale into their living room. they knock stuff over, bang walls, all the furniture has to be moved. It's crazy.

I will say that I agree with you that most children's entertainers are HORRIBLY lazy and that is why they but a big expensive prop, that has the routine written out for them, and all they have to do is push a button to make it work. It is also why many parents complain to me that "all the other guys" do the same show. because well...they pretty much do.

I would be willing to bet that I have more time invested in my one suitcase show than most guys ever give to their performance.

I have to tell you that this line: "But I think at the bottom of it is that many children's entertainer are inherently lazy. They just want the easy life. Take on suitcase in and they can be ready in 45 seconds. Great for the entertainer. Not so good for the paying punter." offended me more than anything else you had to say. I would be willing to bet that most guys who do a good show out of a suitcase are more dedicated to what they are doing than someone like yourself who seems to be concerned about the next best prop.

Also you mention Disney land. Interesting. Take a look at what Bev Bergeron and Dana Daniels were doing there. Let's talk about vegas. Take a look at what Mac King and the Amazing Jonathan are doing there. Out of a suitcase. You are from across the pond, Tommy Cooper worked out of a suitcase as did Billy McComb. Using your logic I shudder to think of how fantastic they all could have been if they only had bigger props.

Best,

Dan-
Message: Posted by: Danny Hustle (Dec 3, 2007 02:23PM)
Dennis,

Please dear god tell me that you are not brining a spotlight into somebodies living room! :)

We are talking about a one hour birthday party in somebodies home. I think some guys are losing track of that. A hall or a school show is an entirely different animal.

Dennis, you need to up your prices! I charge as much as you and work out of a suitcase! And I usually get a big tip to boot! :)

Big or small doesn't matter do WHAT SUITS YOU. I know for a fact that one isn't better than the other. IF YOU DO WHAT SUITS YOU. The proof is everywhere.

If you want to be Copperfield go and knock it dead, the same is true if you want to be Mac King.

I say, be yourself.

Best,

Dan-
Message: Posted by: NJJ (Dec 3, 2007 02:37PM)
Some thoughts on prop size.

Choose the tools that will get the job done. You can make a table with a hammer and nails but it will be much better table with a plane, a circular saw, a drill etc.

A good magician can have few props or many props. A bad magician may have the same. If you are working small venues with a handful of kids (kid's parties, kindergartens etc.) then a small case may be acceptable. However, I work in shopping centres and major festivals in front of audiences of thousands and so clients expect a certain size prop.
Message: Posted by: Dennis Michael (Dec 3, 2007 03:50PM)
No spotlight at Birthday Parties, that is reserved for Magic Clubs and Fundraisers.

As for fees, even at $250 for South Jersey it is higher than most. (NJ is one state but there are at least 5 times as many people in Northern part) In, North Jersey one can get $50 to $100 more for birthday parties and double that for schools, and the more "country" one gets the less fee is available. I do lose to many who want a magician but want one for $150. There are several hundred magicians in the area as well as clowns so there is a crowded field. With an agent, one can get double the fee.

The most profound statement has been said and repeated by Danny "Be Yourself". I would not be myself working out of a suitcase. I just wouldn't feel right inside. It's not me!

Nicholas is also right, however there are also other factors. The venue, as well as geographic location, demographics of the area, skill level, insurance, 401K plans as well as medical for those who do not get this from the spouse's job, and much more.

One needs to concentrate on many factors to figure out the appropriate fee. The correct fee is what one get for doing a days work at a professional job. (Contractors: Roofers, Carpenters, Plumbers, Electricians, Policemen, Fire Fighters, etc.) Many make at least $500 a day with benefits which equate to 25% of salary.

Opps Off topic... When one brings in the props, does the client feel like they are getting their monies worth? If the answer is yes, and more business is increased through word of mouth, then you know you are priced right.
Message: Posted by: Danny Hustle (Dec 3, 2007 03:54PM)
Nick,

That hits the nail on the head. If I work a mall or a school I usually bring a backdrop, sound, etc. Unless it is requested I don't I have had schools ask me not to bring a background. I was told it is a fire hazard, we had a club burn down in Rhode Island and a bunch of people die a few years back and fire code got very weird in some places.

Best,

Dan-
Message: Posted by: Tom Riddle (Dec 3, 2007 05:05PM)
Danny Hustle speaks much wisdom. Many on this thread could do well to listen to his genius!
Message: Posted by: kimmo (Dec 4, 2007 05:33AM)
I am well aware that this thread has meandered off topic and back to our old favourite of big props vs small props, but I really believe there is only one rule that should apply to all branches of entertainment:

PUT ON A GOOD SHOW

The best we can hope to leave our audiences with is a happy memory of the event. It's wonderful to be able to reduce a crowd to tears of laughter, see children and adults enjoying a show together and know that you are creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Does anyone really believe that the size or appearance of the props has ANYTHING to do with this?

I've done incredibly prop-heavy shows in the past. Last year I was using 3 large axtell puppets, a remote drawing board, wolf wacky wacoon, water wheel and funhouse and a rabbit production bucket, to name just a few. My stage was laden with colourful props and it took 3 trips from the car just to get the stuff in. (although I could still set it all up in 5 minutes if pushed).

This year I decided to go the opposite way and work out of two undecorated black trunks set on tray stands. No fancy, sign-written tables or boxes. The show would be 100% about me, my puppet characters and the way we interact with the crowd. I've dropped the rabbit and I'm not using any big, colourful dealer items - just silks, cards, ropes and sponge balls. Feedback from clients who rebook year after year has been universally positive and I am being told all the time that I have surpassed myself this time round. It's not because I am using smaller props but because I am doing the kind of show that I always wanted to do. My heroes have always been stand ups - guys who could fill a large theatre with just their personality. I'm being true to myself and doing the kind of act that suits ME.

I firmly believe that the minute you start trying to get into the mind of a child and ask yourself 'what would they like to see' you are bound to get it WRONG. Do the kind of show that YOU want to do and the way YOU want to do it. Big props, small props, IT DOESN'T MATTER!!

By the way - I'm lucky enough to have corresponded with Danny Hustle over the last year and I've never known anyone who puts more effort and thought into their show than him. We can all learn a lot from him.
Although I don't know them as well, the quality of Dennis and Potty the Pirate's posts on this forum speak for themselves. We may all approach this job from different angles but there is no right or wrong way to do it. It's just up to us to find out the way that suits us best.
Message: Posted by: Tony James (Dec 4, 2007 08:04AM)
[quote]
On 2007-12-03 16:50, Dennis Michael wrote:
When one brings in the props, does the client feel like they are getting their monies worth?
[/quote]

With the amount of gear you seem to use Dennis I would have thought that "When one brings in the props" should read "When my staff brings in the props...."

You ask "does the client feel like they are getting their monies worth?" I've no idea what your client's feel but I can only warn you of what happened to me last season. I arrived at the house and rang the bell and the client's sister answered the door to me. I was stood there with my two bags and she asked:

"Are you Abigail's new boyfriend? Are you moving in?"

During the show the boyfriend arrived with all his worldly goods packed into a bag half the size of one of my cases!


So beware Dennis. You've probably no idea what they're thinking as you tramp their carpets treading in muck for the umpteenth time. I believe in Canada you wouldn't be allowed to do that. They don't allow shoes indoors in Canada and so magicians have to wash their feet regularly.

I recently did a party for Canadians over here and was most amused to watch mother demanding and failing to get the children to remove their shoes. One small girl wailed to her departing mother "Mrs Bains is trying to steal our shoes."

A very upright eight year old boy replied "Certainly not Mrs Bains."

"But we always remove our shoes indoors in Canada."

"Well,you're in England now Mrs Bains and we do not remove our shoes in England."

By the way, in the UK one usually allows fifteen minutes to get in, set, and to strike, pack and get out.

What are you up to for two and a half hours?
Message: Posted by: Tom Riddle (Dec 4, 2007 08:27AM)
I have just heard from my British friend in Arizona that he will be taking part in the world's children's entertainer competition at the Blackpool convention in february. It will be held in the Opera House, the largest theatre in Europe, and he will be working his show out of a carrier bag!
Message: Posted by: Danny Hustle (Dec 4, 2007 08:39AM)
[quote]
On 2007-12-03 16:50, Dennis Michael wrote:
The most profound statement has been said and repeated by Danny "Be Yourself". I would not be myself working out of a suitcase. I just wouldn't feel right inside. It's not me!
[/quote]

Dennis,

THANK YOU for getting that! Everyone else seemed to think I was saying one was better than the other which I was not. All I was saying is to do what works for you. If you would not feel right by all means DO NOT DO IT! I think some guys do certain things because others say, "you need to have a rabbit" or "You need to work out of a suitcase". I think the most important thing is to find out what works for them.

I also agree with everything else in your post I would only like to add something about necessity.

I am a full time entertainer who does approximately 8 kid shows per weekend. When you are doing four shows on a Saturday, over 40 years old, and want to bring the best you can to the client, That also influences what you can and can not bring. I know Samnmy Smith talks about this in one of his books where he says (and I'm paraphrasing here), "I often see a prop I'd love to put in my show but it weighs more than x and will not fit the spot in my case." When you work a lot of birthdays these are serious factors. I couldn't do three or four trips to the car per show physically. I also wouldn't be able to lug the stuff up three or four flights of stairs as many people in the Boston area live in walk ups. I do however want to have a show that is every bit as good (if not better) and as fun as one you could see anywhere else. One that can play in a bigger living room or on a postage stamp if need be. It took a lot of work to define all that. But there are literally thousands of tricks that already exist that are great tricks, suit the parameters, and just need to be discovered. I also put as much work into defining a unique character. My costume and character is unique, easy to remember and identify. That didn't happen overnight or by happy accident. When people see me they know it's me. My show revolves around that character and when people call me they usually call for me and not for a generic magician. That is all by design. I'm in this for the long haul and those who know me know how much effort I have put into the whole package. The suitcase is just one part of the whole picture and for me that works. Prop size and luggage is a matter of necessity in this situation and having the need to work within the parameters of that.

If you are part time and do 4 shows or less per moth you can pick and choose which venues you wish to work and that makes your choices in tricks less about necessity and more about personal preference. You might even be able to hire a kid to be your road crew. I know I do this if I am working a fundraiser or large corporate event. But for the kid show in somebodies living room, you should also pack appropriate to the venue. If you live in a metropolitan area and are working through agents that do high volume you will not know how big the clients living room is. you need to be ready for anything.

Best,

Dan-
Message: Posted by: Danny Hustle (Dec 4, 2007 08:48AM)
[quote]
On 2007-12-04 09:04, Tony James wrote:
By the way, in the UK one usually allows fifteen minutes to get in, set, and to strike, pack and get out.

[/quote]

For birthday parties the same is true here in the US and about half the time you need to be able to set and strike with the kids not only in the room but right under your feet. You need a lot of verbal shtick to get the kids to sit semi circle and entertain them while you are setting your props. If you don't and mom and dad are not right on top of them you will be hard pressed to keep them from picking up stuff out of your case and asking, "What's this?". Kids are a curious bunch when left to their own devices. Even when you tell the parents, "I need a few minutes to set up." If the group is larger than five it is like herding cats.

Best,

Dan-
Message: Posted by: chris mcbrien (Dec 4, 2007 05:59PM)
[quote]
On 2007-12-04 09:39, Danny Hustle wrote:
[quote]
On 2007-12-03 16:50, Dennis Michael wrote:
The most profound statement has been said and repeated by Danny "Be Yourself". I would not be myself working out of a suitcase. I just wouldn't feel right inside. It's not me!
[/quote]

Dennis,

THANK YOU for getting that! Everyone else seemed to think I was saying one was better than the other which I was not. All I was saying is to do what works for you. If you would not feel right by all means DO NOT DO IT! I think some guys do certain things because others say, "you need to have a rabbit" or "You need to work out of a suitcase". I think the most important thing is to find out what works for them.

I also agree with everything else in your post I would only like to add something about necessity.

I am a full time entertainer who does approximately 8 kid shows per weekend. When you are doing four shows on a Saturday, over 40 years old, and want to bring the best you can to the client, That also influences what you can and can not bring. I know Samnmy Smith talks about this in one of his books where he says (and I'm paraphrasing here), "I often see a prop I'd love to put in my show but it weighs more than x and will not fit the spot in my case." When you work a lot of birthdays these are serious factors. I couldn't do three or four trips to the car per show physically. I also wouldn't be able to lug the stuff up three or four flights of stairs as many people in the Boston area live in walk ups. I do however want to have a show that is every bit as good (if not better) and as fun as one you could see anywhere else. One that can play in a bigger living room or on a postage stamp if need be. It took a lot of work to define all that. But there are literally thousands of tricks that already exist that are great tricks, suit the parameters, and just need to be discovered. I also put as much work into defining a unique character. My costume and character is unique, easy to remember and identify. That didn't happen overnight or by happy accident. When people see me they know it's me. My show revolves around that character and when people call me they usually call for me and not for a generic magician. That is all by design. I'm in this for the long haul and those who know me know how much effort I have put into the whole package. The suitcase is just one part of the whole picture and for me that works. Prop size and luggage is a matter of necessity in this situation and having the need to work within the parameters of that.

If you are part time and do 4 shows or less per moth you can pick and choose which venues you wish to work and that makes your choices in tricks less about necessity and more about personal preference. You might even be able to hire a kid to be your road crew. I know I do this if I am working a fundraiser or large corporate event. But for the kid show in somebodies living room, you should also pack appropriate to the venue. If you live in a metropolitan area and are working through agents that do high volume you will not know how big the clients living room is. you need to be ready for anything.

Best,

Dan-
[/quote]

First of all, many here who may be beginners need to read this over and over and instead of nodding their heads, they need to LIVE IT!
I honestly can't believe Dennis hauls all that crap into someone's house. If it was my house I'd tell you on the second trip to stop right there, we don't have enough room for a second set of furniture (nor do I want a spotlight in my house) and can you simply entertain the kids.
I can't even begin to tell you how important it is as an entertainer, and a full-time one, to get in and get out as quickly as you can. This is part of what sets you apart from amateurs and weekend hacks and also adds to their perception of value/conveinence.
I"ve heard people complain many times about the long set-ups in homes, schools, libraries, company gigs "The guy just kept bringing more stuff in and we had to wait almost an hour after the party for him to leave!"
No kidding, just heard another story like this TODAY!
Jay Marshall walked in with what was in his pockets and his case...
Be like the Masters...
Chris
Message: Posted by: NJJ (Dec 4, 2007 06:51PM)
I think it is entirely stupid to equate the quality of an act by the number of props they do or do not have. Jay Marshall was not a great performer because of his lack of props just as Copperfield is not great because he needs three semi trailers and a jumbo jet and an battleship just to hold his dancing girls.

The silly bragging about how few props you NEED to entertain children is just as pointless as the obsessive collecting of bigger and bolder props.

The number of props does not decide the type show. The type of show decides the number of props.
Message: Posted by: Tom Riddle (Dec 4, 2007 07:08PM)
I think you are missing the point, Nicholas. Ofcourse it does not matter whether you have a few props, or a lot of props. That is the performer's choice(although I totally agree with Chris that if I was a client I would not appreciate someone walking with a mass of props through my sitting room!)

I believe the problem that many of us have with this current topic is that we believe that there are a number of dreadful entertainers, who hide behind their props, and believe that makes them a good entertainer. It does not. How do we know this? We have seen the videos!
Message: Posted by: chris mcbrien (Dec 4, 2007 07:09PM)
[quote]
On 2007-12-04 19:51, Nicholas J. Johnson wrote:
I think it is entirely stupid to equate the quality of an act by the number of props they do or do not have. Jay Marshall was not a great performer because of his lack of props just as Copperfield is not great because he needs three semi trailers and a jumbo jet and an battleship just to hold his dancing girls.

The silly bragging about how few props you NEED to entertain children is just as pointless as the obsessive collecting of bigger and bolder props.

The number of props does not decide the type show. The type of show decides the number of props.
[/quote]
I'm not saying what you're stating above "less props means better" as an "end all be all". What I'm saying is that you have to consider conveinence to the client and also look at those before you who did well. Copperfield's not doing birthdays, schools or libraries last I checked, though....
I suppose this may be a better way to put what I'm saying:
They're there to see you...and as "me" I want their experience to be as entertaining and conveinent as possible so they remember my great performance AND how easy it was to have me there...
I also want to know if those who lug all the boxes around really enjoy this and think it's worth their back strain at the end of the day. Would they secretely like to walk in with a briefcase and a small PA system? How would they feel arriving, setting up in less than a minute, performing, getting paid the SAME AMOUNT and perhaps a better tip because of the performance AND conveinence aspect..and packing in a minute and driving away with the same money for the same performance time...
THAT I would like to hear....
Chris
Message: Posted by: James Fortune (Dec 4, 2007 07:15PM)
So ... my roll on/box question? :)
Message: Posted by: chris mcbrien (Dec 4, 2007 07:25PM)
[quote]
On 2007-12-04 20:15, James Fortune wrote:
So ... my roll on/box question? :)
[/quote]
Well, you posted this before I could add that basically I'm giving Dennis a hard time and understand his desire to be the magician kids want to see...it's really a matter of artistic vision I suppose..and at the same time I'm not kidding, people don't want to wait for you to set up and set down in a busy area....
Ok, your table...

http://www.nnmagic.com/magicitems/stagemagicpage_mz.htm
I also know this is probably now what you meant! It's all I could find.
Message: Posted by: NJJ (Dec 4, 2007 11:28PM)
Sorry James - to answer your question, the rolon table is usually heavy because of it's size. Even when the box itself is light, the size of box means all your props will weigh it down. You might consider using TWO boxes that sit on top of each other to make a table and splitting your props between them.
Message: Posted by: Danny Hustle (Dec 5, 2007 01:06AM)
[quote]
On 2007-12-04 19:51, Nicholas J. Johnson wrote:
I think it is entirely stupid to equate the quality of an act by the number of props they do or do not have. Jay Marshall was not a great performer because of his lack of props just as Copperfield is not great because he needs three semi trailers and a jumbo jet and an battleship just to hold his dancing girls.

The silly bragging about how few props you NEED to entertain children is just as pointless as the obsessive collecting of bigger and bolder props.

The number of props does not decide the type show. The type of show decides the number of props.
[/quote]

Nick,
That is what I have been saying all along. I don't think anyone is bragging about how few props they use. Show to suit the venue. That's the way I feel about it.

Others have been boasting that if you do not bring the bigger props you do not care about your show, which is also a load of crap.

best,

Dan-
Message: Posted by: Danny Hustle (Dec 5, 2007 01:11AM)
[quote]
On 2007-12-04 20:15, James Fortune wrote:
So ... my roll on/box question? :)
[/quote]

God James, I'm sincerely sorry about that. It always seems to turn into this, anytime this topic comes up.

Judging by what I saw on your table, run rabbit run looked like the biggest prop. I think you could get away with a much smaller case and table. Perhaps even both. Chris Capeharts new video has him working a show out of one case on a eureka base with a skirt around it. It looks great! In Chris' show he is doing Fraidy cat rabbit, misers dream, Bruce Calver's shrinking head, and some other decent size props. He probably has more stuff than you. He even brings a rabbit. But he's able to work it out of the one case, and it looks pretty snazzy to boot. I would HIGHLY recommend that video to you.

Best,

Dan-
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (Dec 5, 2007 02:09AM)
My suggestion is that, like me, folks try out having a "Packs small plays big" show out of a suitcase (I use these shows for hospitals mainly, where I often have to give several short shows of five minutes or less in different wards, other times I need to give a full one-hour show from the same case. The ages of the audience are also unpredictable here, so I need stuff that caters for ALL ages from toddler up to 16-year olds. Last week I had a show in a local hospital, and I had two 2 year olds, one 3 year-old, a 12 year-old, and a 15 year-old. I chose material from my case that played well for ALL these kids, and the show lasted 45 minutes.)
As well as your pack small show, create a show that uses the props you know will really fire the imaginations of the kids. I'm lucky enough to still remember EXACTLY how I reacted to magicians and their props when I was very young, so it's easy for me to do this. As I've said before, when I was a kid, the stuff I loved most of all was always the big, colourful boxes, Run Rabbit, Giddy Guardsman, etc.
As for folks worrying about how much gear you haul into their house, well, I think it really comes down to how entertaining your show is. When I set up Magic Island in a small town house, I have a Rolling flight case, standard looking magician's table (the Billy McComb one), and my Flying Carpet (which looks beautiful, as I've had the "carpet" re-covered with colourful pirate material.) There is a BIG treasure chest, a very large treasure map, a bucket for "Passing Water", as well as a large Axtell puppet, a sound system, my balloon bag and pump, my guitar, and my costume. I think that's it.
All of this can fit into an incredibly small space, as all the big stuff is on wheels, and if neccessary can be tucked in a corner, and moved into place at the appropriate time in the show.
The show was written without any thought as to portability, and when completed, I simply had my flight cases made to accommodate the props I use. And because, of all my shows, this one is the most invoved (there is a narrative running through the whole one-hour show, which is very carefully scripted), it's my top show for 5 and 6 year-olds.
So I'd agree that to start out with the notion that it's the SIZE of your show that's important is nonsense; it's the SHOW itself that is of primary concern. Get the show down, then if you really feel there are too many big props, find a way to adjust that. Equally, if you feel there aren't enough big props, find a way to include a few more.
And think about having shows that pack small AND shows that pack big, naturally you charge a lot more for the big shows.
Danny works 4 shows a day, which I find incredible! I work a maximum of 2 shows a day, but I do earn 2 or 3 times what most of the other local entertainers charge per show, so I don't lose out financially. For me, the hassle of driving around the countryside to FOUR venues in a day is MUCH harder work than simply wheeling in another case of props to a venue that I'm already at.
Again, there are no rights or wrongs here, but I do think it's worth trying both approaches, and finding out what works for you. Personally, I feel it's essential that I can offer shows both big and small. And for the record, my BIG shows are the ones that have made my reputation, and which the clients request.
Message: Posted by: NJJ (Dec 5, 2007 02:45AM)
James - I also saw a aluminium rolon table like the one you are suggesting but it was just as heavy as a wooden one.
Message: Posted by: Ratty Roberts (Dec 7, 2007 06:55AM)
I have read the threads posted. They are all good. Does anyone have any plans that they can share for a box? I will be making a new one in January. The one I have in mind is a box, it has a front that folds up, with "wings" that are on hinges that make the sides. The back comes off , so you can get into the box, and that becomes the top, or lid to the whole shebang!
Message: Posted by: Ratty Roberts (Dec 7, 2007 06:57AM)
Can anyone help with plans for a table/box. I have described what I'm looking for, but on page two!
Message: Posted by: Stephen Barney (Jan 16, 2008 10:00AM)
James your just getting too old and wrinkley :) lifting your heavy box will keep you fit. How are you by the way.

Do you remember the cardboard table alli made for David Nixon looked like a really plush thing but was all card I think he bought it to one of the summer schoold at the Circle, although cardboard would not be very practical for constant use