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Topic: How often do you change your act?
Message: Posted by: Terrible Wizard (Dec 3, 2015 05:19AM)
Do you have a core that remains the same, and which you hone over years, or do you rotate material fairly regularly?
Message: Posted by: TonyB2009 (Dec 3, 2015 06:32AM)
I rotate regularly. I get something to a state of perfection then drop it from my act. My balloon swallow is as good as anyone in the world, in terms of sure laughs, timing, drama, etc. So I no longer use it. In ten years time I might bring it back.

And if I am doing two shows in one afternoon, they will be different. But that's me. I have a low boredom threshold.
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Dec 3, 2015 07:05AM)
Essentially, I have a "core"!

Some gags and bits have either evolved or have been cut, to stay topical! e.g.: WATCH WINDER GAG is out. People don't wind watches anymore! Weller Wieners and rubber chickens from a boy's shirt are out. ("O tempora, O mores" --Marcus Tullus CICERO). I dropped the dove routine (8 minutes!) when one of the last two birds died. The "POM PON STICK, the MUTILATED PARASOL, replaced the birds, and the EGG BAG was put back in, also. the 20th C SILKS, and the MISERS DREAM were moved to the end of the program, as they got stronger reactions, over time. The balloon bits, and one animal were dropped, because every amateur clown started doing them. I replaced the balloons with the "illusion" routine (BOOMERANG STICKS, "WHAT'S NEXT?" and the SILK PENETRATION THRU MIKE STAND).

Over the years, I've used a few tricks like FRESH FISH SOLD HERE TODAY, to PAD OUT the show, when I had a "quiet audience". The rope *knots & nightmare" routine was occasionally padded with an extra knot for the same reason. The rope routine originally involved a CUT & RESTORED (three "Cs & Rs" & Nightmare"). As the Nightmare got stronger, I cut the Cs & Rs! (It was somewhat similar to Pop Haydn's "Mongolian".) My "MOSQUITO or YOYO bit with rope moved from its own spot, to close the rope routine.

"On the road" professionals, change audiences. "Forty miler" professionals change tricks!
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Dec 3, 2015 07:40AM)
Note: I didn't mean that last sentence as a "put down" on magicians who aren't "roadies".

It just takes TIME to polish material!
Message: Posted by: TonyB2009 (Dec 3, 2015 05:56PM)
Dick, we didn't take it as a put down. For five years I travelled the length and breadth of Ireland with a travelling show, and it was the most wonderful five years of my life. But with kids you change your business model. There are nearly half a million people within a forty mile radius of me, and I can make a good living this way.

I change my act regularly because of a slight character quirk. I hate doing the same thing twice. It's why I don't take acting jobs. It might not be the best approach but it keeps me interested.
Message: Posted by: jay leslie (Dec 4, 2015 12:01AM)
I, like Dick, have a core.,. Actually I have 4 cores
1. Family & kids
2. Mental and psychic
3. Escapes
4. Three different Illusion shows that follow a distinct formula I figured out watching Doug Henning and making copious notes on the bus ride home.

Depending on the audience, I can grab a bag from my trunk and personalize the show.
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Dec 4, 2015 09:23AM)
Hi Tony!
Thanks! Glad that I didn't "ruffle any feathers"! I grew up in the "Jackpine Jungle" of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (the "Northern Gulf Coast" of the USA).

There aren't a half million people in the entire Upper Peninsula, so I HAD to leave home to get any work!!! (Also, the day I graduated from high school, I got a telegram from the sheriff "advising" me that, "Everything has been discovered! Suggest that you leave town immediately, and DON'T LEAVE A FORWARDING ADDRESS!"

After 50 years, the "heat" has died down, so, I came home to retire. (Black Herman, the magician, used to advertise, "See Herman NOW! He wont be back for seven years!" Some folks, back then, said that he couldn't return until the "heat" died down!

My opening iine usta be, "Hello, I'm all there is, and, I brought it with me!"

My lack of talent, never discouraged me, however! In vaudeville, I could have had steady work. --I would have been hired to be the "EIGHTH ACT" on an 8 act bill! The eighth act was used to get a >fleeing ovation?, so that the manager could "turn the house", allowing him to sell tickets to a new audience.

I DID get to see the entire USA though!

I never got bored doing my show. (I usually slept through it!)

I never had any character quirks. I was just a character.

Hee hee.
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Dec 4, 2015 10:11AM)
Hi Jay!
You're the second Jay in my address book. The other Jay was "one of the better cheaper acts". He was always the SEVENTH ACT on an EIGHT ACT BILL!

I, too, have several cores. But, one of them is the remains of an apple.

Back in the mid '80s, for high schools and colleges, I put in a 15-20 minute segment of mental material. It played well. Then, after a college date, a young man came backstage to compliment me. He said, "I really enjoyed your magic, but, I regard that mental "stuff" as a RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE! I dropped the mental segment, as the colleges wouldn't allow me to take up an "offering"!

In '95, I was only doing the show about 22 weeks per season. The remaining weeks, I was booking other talent for the office. Jack Lythgoe and I had both booked a young escape artist. for the spring semester. He had done one tour, the previous year, for another bureau, and had done a good job. He was supposed to start in early January. In mid December, he phoned and canceled the tour. Jack West, our manager, asked me "Do you know any escape artists?"

I talked a friend, Jim Jayes, who was working 40 milers around Sacramento, into doing half of the tour. Jim is a good magician, puppeteer, and clown. I loaned him a jacket, some cuffs, etc. He didn't want to do the other half, so I did. I had only done a few escapes, occasionally. I got greater reviews than I deserved!

In '80, I had done a tour for a phone promoter. He wanted "BIG STUFF". I put together enough plywood to please the promoter, and, the sponsors (and, made some "serious money", but, when the tour finished, I sold the lumber and went back to my schools! I had remembered the Blackstone show assistants who said: "Sure I was on the Blackstone show! --Wanna see my truss?"

I met Doug Henning when he was 17, long before "The Magic Show". Denny Loomis and I got to know him well. I have a picture of Doug, doing a Super X. He had SHORT HAIR! Do you remember him as SHOE SHOE" THE CLOWN???

See ya down the road.........!
Message: Posted by: danfreed (Dec 4, 2015 10:25AM)
I get a little bored doing the same stuff year after year, or more accurately, it's not that doing the old stuff bothers me, it's just I need a challenge and an outlet for creativity, etc. Plus I see holes in the act where I need more of a certain kind of thing for certain situations. Or an idea pops into my head and I have to do it, not always for a brand new thing but for an addition or change to something for my act I already do. Or I see a demo of something and I'm like that would be really good for my act and I can't resist. The downside to new stuff is that it may take a while to get it to be really tight and entertaining, and there is usually stress involved with a new thing. The plus side of always doing the same act is you get it super solid and consistent and you know how to kill with it almost every time. No right or wrong way to do things in general, your approach has to suit your personality and what works for the audience.
Message: Posted by: Rook (Dec 4, 2015 12:31PM)
I have a couple of "core" effects that I keep and rotate other effects around them as I feel appropriate. I'm not a roadie in the least, so I have the luxury to change things up (though I went to college in the UP, I did not perform magic there...my fingers were too numb!)
Message: Posted by: TonyB2009 (Dec 4, 2015 06:45PM)
Great stories Dick.

In boxing they had the equivalent of the eighth act - a four round fight at the end after the main event to clear the hall. I often thought I would be the height of indignity to be asked to fill that slot.
Message: Posted by: TonyB2009 (Dec 4, 2015 06:46PM)
Great stories Dick.

In boxing they had the equivalent of the eighth act - a four round fight at the end after the main event to clear the hall. I often thought I would be the height of indignity to be asked to fill that slot.
Message: Posted by: Howie Diddot (Dec 6, 2015 12:10PM)
The only trick I have retained in my show from early in my career is the Magic Wand Maker from Alakazam Magic; other than that I am constantly adding and removing tricks from my show; I buy at least three tricks a month and play with them until I can find a routine that makes it mine and then I try it in a show and change it as I go.

Awhile back I added the Magic Coloring Book to my show with a completely different routine, but removed it because as soon as I pulled it out to show, there was always some kid yelling out that they wanted to "throw the colors" into the book, throwing off my rhythm; it just didn't work out for me, but I still use the book in my walk around kids shows.

I also have gotten into the habit of changing the contents within the same routines.

A case in point, awhile back I viewed David Ginn's Rajah's Necklace on a video. so I purchased the necklace stand and extended David's premise into a full routine that includes the birthday child's father as the king the mom as the Queen and if the birthday child is a girl, she is the princess wearing a costume and a tiara; if it's a boy he is a prince in a costume; with the prince, or princess holding a staff; to control the routine, the queen loses the necklace.

I bought the costumes at Party City and had the costumes altered by cutting the back from top to bottom with tie strings by a seamstress so I can slip them on and off very quickly.

Wizard. the only advice I can give you is instead of just spending money to buy new tricks to plop into your show; before you purchase a new trick, think about how it will fit into your personality with the routines you now own; think about every routine you have in you show and experiment with how you can embed your personality into making the routine that came with the props into your own unique performance.

I believe this will make your show fresh and avoid the boredom of performing the same routine every time.
Message: Posted by: JoshRyan (Dec 7, 2015 09:24AM)
I am adding all the time - barehanded dove productions, sleeving, pulls and reels, IT. I realized that I'm doing this so much and getting good at the tricks I'm doing, that I might as well be getting good at really good magic. The great thing about kids parties is that I don't have to be perfect before performing a difficult trick. They really just want to have a good time.
Message: Posted by: JoshRyan (Dec 7, 2015 09:30AM)
It's also for practical purposes. I want to be able to perform an effect without props - ie. balloon to rabbit box, dove pan, change bag, so it makes transportation easier. On that note, I just put away my change bag this past weekend. It's a bitter sweet moment. That change bag has served me well over the years.
Message: Posted by: arthur stead (Dec 7, 2015 04:38PM)
How often do I change my act?

Since my focus is the educational magic show market, every year I design a new daycare show, a new elementary school show, and a new library show. Sometimes I use some of the same tricks, but dream up unique new presentations. Keeps my brain ticking, stimulates my creativity, and avoids boredom.
Message: Posted by: Howie Diddot (Dec 12, 2015 12:42AM)
[quote]On Dec 7, 2015, FiveTheMagician wrote:
It's also for practical purposes. I want to be able to perform an effect without props - ie. balloon to rabbit box, dove pan, change bag, so it makes transportation easier. On that note, I just put away my change bag this past weekend. It's a bitter sweet moment. That change bag has served me well over the years. [/quote]

If you are not using any props in your routines, what type of "effects" do you perform?
Message: Posted by: lurker (Jan 1, 2016 09:16AM)
Constantly changing your act is not a good thing but neither is the other extreme which I am guilty of is sticking to the same stuff day in and day out. The danger is that you can get stale and do not evolve. On the other hand your work does get honed to perfection. However, I do believe it is better to occasionally put in new stuff slowly and gradually. Have an evolved show rather than a different one or the same one. That is the middle course. You do your normal show but one day put in a new trick and after a while it develops into something that you will always use. Of course you may well have to discard something already in your show to accommodate the new item.

But you keep doing this adding in a new trick once more, dropping something in exchange and repeating this procedure slowly until after a few years you end up with a different show entirely. This system ensures that when you get a repeat booking there will always be something different in your show from last time. Many of the items will be the same but there will also be new material. But you still have the old material you have dropped from the act for other occasions when you need to use it.

Harry Stanley the famed magic dealer once told me that it is entertainment suicide to abandon an established act and start a new one from scratch. I think he was right. The system I advocate above means you keep the same act but evolve it slowly.

The practice of doing a whole new show from scratch is asking for trouble. You end up winging it and it is never as smooth and polished as it would be after repeated performances.
Message: Posted by: MoonRazor (Jan 1, 2016 11:18AM)
Many stand up comedians are trying to emulate Louis C.K., who's goal is to come up with a new hour every year.
Asked about this trend, Jerry Seinfeld responded, "I don't want to see your 'new' hour, I want to see your best hour."
Message: Posted by: bowers (Jan 1, 2016 12:57PM)
I change my show according to age of some partys.
Some effects will work well with all groups.
And some will not.
Message: Posted by: Geoff Akins (Jan 2, 2016 12:11AM)
My Bubble Wonders show has a solid core. There is my central theme of "Anything is Possible" and to prove it the running gag is how I try to make a square bubble. Along the way I do all sorts of bubbleology and bubble magic while weaving in positive messages about following our dream, developing persistence, etc.

Along the way some of the segments have morphed because of audience reaction or my interest changes. Over years of doing the show I've dropped certain things that just didn't get a a great response or somehow just didn't fit the flow as well.

All in all the show has been honed and polished. I like the fact that the core essence, including the closing, has remained and become even tighter and more effective as a result of looking for all the ways to phrase things in just the right way, how to display the bubbles I create, how to engage with my volunteers in the best way to make them shine, etc.

I like the Seinfield quote above, "...I want to see your best hour." I feel that's what I have now...my best hour!

It's interesting to go back and watch recordings of previous shows and realize how much some things HAVE changed. Great little lines or bits that simply fell by the wayside as new interests and ideas are introduced into the performance.
Message: Posted by: Geoff Akins (Jan 2, 2016 12:15AM)
All that being said...I'm also now interested in developing a new show. So I feel on one hand I'm starting all over again but not from scratch. Creating and refining Bubble Wonders has given me keen insight into what sort of performance is most meaningful to me and what sort of routines and effects and storytelling best fit my personality.

I'm guessing my new show (completely unrelated to bubbles) will change often as a result of seeing what works and what needs changing. It's one thing to write out an act and it's altogether a different thing to actually perform it for a live audience. It's those ten thousand hours that will make one a master!