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Topic: Packs Flat, Plays Flat
Message: Posted by: Rupert Bair (Sep 6, 2004 12:30PM)
Hello,
Just thought I would ask your opinions on this, I feel that a majority of flat pack items don't play well, Yes they are easier for the magician to carry with his roll on tables and all the the suitcases and bags but to they really 'Play Big?' as they say. I love a lot of supreme magic but I have a lot in the cupboards that Is think is not really that good effects, a few that come to mind
Snow white and the seven dwarfs
Space man Sam
Hocus pocus hare
Dressing doll
Maybe its me but I think the reactions you get from these effects is flat. Maybe its the presentation but other entertainers I have spoken to say the same thing.
what do you think?
Matt
Message: Posted by: p.b.jones (Sep 6, 2004 12:48PM)
HI,
As soon as you pull out such a prop you sterotype your self as a baby magician in my eyes. most kids over 5 tollerate such effects at best
Phillip
Message: Posted by: Rupert Bair (Sep 6, 2004 12:52PM)
What sort of effects do use then?
matt
Message: Posted by: Cheshire Cat (Sep 6, 2004 01:59PM)
Yes Matt, I basically agree with you. As entertainers who've always carried loads of equipment we feel that parents do notice. The old fashioned dinner suited, floppy bow tie magician with his 'easy to pack' props (purely done for HIS benefit), who arrives 5 minutes before the party and is gone in similar time is unacceptable these days. YES, I know you can entertain with silks and sponge balls etc. - but I personally feel that props as individualistic as possible (we've always won on this with our custom made puppets), that have the appearance of substance do get noticed.

Just one little exception here, - I always liked the Supreme "Eddie's Ghost House" strangely enough. All these 'baby' props others refer to I've always presented in a 'cod' manner - thus for us they work.

Tony.
Message: Posted by: Rupert Bair (Sep 6, 2004 04:12PM)
I was looking at that before in a supreme book. a lot of supreme stuff is nice but its hard to find it in really good condition. My mentor bought one of everthing of Larry Cadabra so sometimes I am fortunate to obtain mint cond. props.
Matt
Message: Posted by: p.b.jones (Sep 6, 2004 04:34PM)
What sort of effects do use then?
matt

HI,
My adaptation of David ginns Snake can routine, misers dream,linking rings, Dukes dye version, these are pack small play big with plenty to see (not sponge balls or scotch and soda) but things that make the kids the focus not the props also they are all very strong magic
Yes entertainment is important but so in my opinion is the magic. Why make a magicaly poor trick entertaining when you could make a great trick magicaly equaly entertaing
Phillip
Message: Posted by: Ron Reid (Sep 6, 2004 06:29PM)
Well said, Phillip! An excellent post. After all, if you're a magician, you have to fool them.

Ron
Message: Posted by: Neale Bacon (Sep 6, 2004 08:01PM)
I guess I must be a baby magician then. I use Sammy Smiths Deja Zoo which gets a huge reaction, as does Superfrog.
Message: Posted by: p.b.jones (Sep 7, 2004 02:15AM)
I guess I must be a baby magician then. I use Sammy Smiths Deja Zoo which gets a huge reaction, as does Superfrog.

HI,
I think that Deja zoo is in a different catagory than superfrog or run rabbit run ext as you are just displaying pictures of animals and having one selected.

I am not trying to be cheeky by my baby magician statement it could well be your target market (up to about 5 years old) But personaly 4 is my bottom line age for birthday parties (unless I am assured there are lots of older kids there too). I have seen so many magicians that have problems with kids of 8yrs upwards and in my experience it has mostly been the performers poor choice of effects and not their performing ability. As I said above ultimately it is no harder and no more work to take a good strong trick and make it entertaining than it is a weak one like superfrog or run rabbit run.
Phillip
Message: Posted by: Joseph_Then (Sep 7, 2004 03:02AM)
Most of my items are pack small and plays big. But the problem so far for me is: "Pack small, play big, hard to keep"!

I've always love the following tricks for my shows:
1) Dream Bag
2) Botania
3) Mouth Coil
4) (Some others I can't think of right now, sorry...)

Mouth coil can be toss away but keeping botania and dream bag can be tough job.

I also used super frog and deja zoo once a while and they do play well too.


On a second thought, I felt that it would be important to bring "big items", even for birthday party.

From client's perspective, it will look nice if a magician bring big boxes to their performance area as it seems like they are getting their money worth.

That's why I've always used Joe Lefler's Pro Suitcase table (L) because it looks "big" enough and hold almost 1 hour worth of show (actual show plus back-up) plus my PA system.

Just my thoughts...
Message: Posted by: Dennis Michael (Sep 7, 2004 04:14AM)
I've never subscribed tot he "Pack small play big" philophopy because it was not the way my mind remembered magic as a kid. I like the prop magic.

I use big Props, The Mak Magic chair suspension, Wiz-Kote, the Pro Viper II, and several rabbit production boxes such as the wringer rabbit, the circus wagon, and many other larger, carry in extra boxes.

I've done flower productions, rabbit productions, silk productions (Temple screen), Miser's dream, 20th century silks and variations of this (one of my favorite).

I also use a backdrop, sound, music and lighting. A mini-stage production. It does, in my opinion, make a difference in the minds of the parents, paying for the event.

Based on the age of the group, I'll switch in, age approriate items such as, the coloring book, What's My Job, Super frog, Pizza Box Surprise, Die Box, Hippy Hop Rabbits, and others.
Message: Posted by: NJJ (Sep 7, 2004 04:46AM)
I think these tricks have a bad rep because the attract lazy magicians who

a) don't want to lug stuff around
b) want to rely on the pictures to provide the narrative.
c) Don't have the skill.

That doesn't mean they are bad....in fact, I perform Rabbits, Carrots and Hats ALL the time.

Its a wonderfully made monte effect on plastic cards.

Essentially, you play a game of three card monte with the kids (two hats and a rabbit) with a fourth card (a picture of carrots) as a prize. The rabbit card turns into a third hat card and the rabbit appears on the carrot card eating the cards.

It looks great and KILLS kids!
Message: Posted by: Sammy Haydn (Sep 7, 2004 05:15AM)
The trend in this thread is to decry the "pack small, play big" philosophy. I also remember that Bob Markwood in his excellent books also decried it.

Let me be contrary here. It is the singer not the song.
If the magician understands kids and can ENTERTAIN them it doesn't matter a hoot what he does.

I will concede that there is a certain appeal to a booker when they see a lot of stuff brought in and set up. It makes a good flash and heightens expectations. However you still have to fulfill that expectation. All the flash and display of props in the world will do you no good whatever unless you are an ENTERTAINER.

When Ron says that you have to fool them -you actually don't.Well, I suppose you do but it doesn't matter that much. It is far more important to MAKE THEM LAUGH! You don't need fancy props to do that.

I know someone who frequents this board who is a master kids entertainer. He makes a six figure income doing mostly birthday parties along with a few other shows yet I don't suppose anyone in the magic world outside his city has ever heard of him. He has very few props except his table and he is finding that a pain to carry around.

This guy can hold an audience of kids for about 40 minutes with gags, bits of business and sheer nonsense. There is some good magic too but it remains secondary to his main purpose which is TO MAKE THEM LAUGH and entertain them.

I myself have a show in a small briefcase and I will immodestly put it up against any magician out there with a bagful of paraphrenalia. In fact I was once booked in a mall and had to work with another magician who had big props and a Punch and Judy fitup.When he saw the reaction I was getting with my bunch of nothing compared to the reaction he was getting with a virtual magic shop he was seething with fury.

He was seething even more when subsequently someone in the audience phoned him to get MY number. The spectator saw the guy's phone number on his Punch and Judy Booth. He didn't give the guy my number but he found it out anyway and told me the story to my great delight.

PB JOnes thinks that "Run Rabbit Run" is a weak trick. I don't think so. I will now horrify him by saying that it is probably the strongest thing in my act especially if the kids are 7 or under. No great mystery but it is ENTERTAINING.

If Matt were to concentrate on making the items he mentions ENTERTAINING he will get results from them. If he were to concentrate on making HIMSELF entertaining rather than worrying about the trick I dare say he will go very far indeed in his career.

I and the entertainer mentioned above are great advocates of the Shakespearian school of kids entertainment. Much ado about nothing. The unnamed magician uses what he calls "a load of rubbish" to entertain kids. I use even less magic than he does and still get great results. A friend once said I have a "no magic magic show". I laughed because there was some truth in it. I probably should have more magic but I discovered a long time ago that the "Magic" is in the performer and not the prop.

It saves a lot of lugging about too.
Message: Posted by: p.b.jones (Sep 7, 2004 07:25AM)
PB JOnes thinks that "Run Rabbit Run" is a weak trick. I don't think so. I will now horrify him by saying that it is probably the strongest thing in my act especially if the kids are 7 or under. No great mystery but it is ENTERTAINING.

Hi,
By weak trick I was refering to the magic, as you said
"No great mystery " so if you get great rections by making a trick that is no great mystery entertaining, just think how much better a great mystery would be with an identicaly entertaining presentation.
This is the point that I am trying to make..
Phillip
Message: Posted by: Sammy Haydn (Sep 7, 2004 07:59AM)
Hello, Phillip.
I am not too concerned about "great mysteries" It is a great mystery to me why magicians are concerned about great mysteries.
I am concerned about great entertainment not great mysteries. I would be happy to do a great mystery if there were one with the same entertainment potential as Run Rabbit Run. I don't think there is. Mind you I haven't looked at a magic catalogue for 30 years.
I suppose Hippity Hop Rabbits is the nearest thing to it. It is a mystery and very entertaining. Perhaps not a great mystery but a mystery nevertheless.
I don't think amazing kids is a big deal anyway. In the end all they want to do is have a good laugh. If you can mystify them all well and good. If you can't so what?
Of course if you follow the American style of kids entertainment you will want to create "wonder" in the kids. I have no desire personally to create "wonder" I have a desire to create ENTERTAINMENT.
Just a matter of personal style. I am not saying that creating "wonder" is wrong. I am merely saying I am wondering why magicians want to make the kids wonder instead of making them laugh which is what they want to do in the first place.
That should be no great mystery. And that is where we came in.
Message: Posted by: Chuck Lyons (Sep 7, 2004 08:30AM)
As a clown I agree with hydan, I have in several circus performances had to entertain a very large group with nothing but my physical being. I do beieve that that to is magic. Remember its what you do with any prop big or small large or flat that makes the entertainment. If this was not true there would not be close up magicians in tons of resteraunts performing all over the word. Some of the most miraculous things I have seen have been the smallest illusions done in the "bare hands".
Message: Posted by: Rupert Bair (Sep 7, 2004 10:27AM)
Thanks, a lot of good opinions.
I know that you have to put a lot into a trick for it to work but what I'm saying is its not me its the props that I think the actual trick is very poor. PB Jones what is the reaction like with the snake can routine. I found it doesn't play well of me maybe its just me. like think Nkthen said they are hard to look after. most of them are made of cardboard. possibly not the best material to use! I think I'm going to slowly reintroduce some flat pack items and work on my showmanship. Jungle jamboree went down like a sinking ship last time I performed it so it went away. any ideas for that its quite a nice trick.
matt
Message: Posted by: Joseph_Then (Sep 7, 2004 10:48AM)
I think that the original concept of “Pack Small, play big” is a LOGISTIC issue, not an issue of ‘weak magic’. Matt calls it “Pack Flat, play big” and I believe it refers to the same concept.

“Pack small, play big” does NOT mean stacks of cardboard that packs flat and plays it big. It could also mean packing tricks like Botania, Mirror Box, Pizza digitations, etc. into a box where you can carry it around. Of course, ‘small’ is a subjective term and it varies for different magician. If I can fit my 1 hour show in my Joe Lefler’s Pro Suitcase Table, I consider it “pack small” for myself.

To DenDowhy, he may not want to pack it small because it makes a difference in the minds of the parents and I fully agree with him because he has his reasons.


I do agree, partially, with Mr. Haydn that it is “the singer, not the song”. A magician can have only a few pack small tricks and still entertain BIG crowds. Ask Jeff McBride, and he will show you his “Commando Show”. :>

I’ll like to highlight that there are magicians who use BIG props in kid’s shows and achieve the same effect (Right, DenDowhy?). The main reason is that they know which tricks suit them and which does not. I can perform Deja Zoo but Jonathan Pendragon may NOT want to perform because that is NOT his trick. He can perform Deja Zoo but he chooses not to.


But I do not agree, Mr Haydn, that you don’t create wonders and say that “It is far more important to MAKE THEM LAUGH!”.

Think of it: If you don’t create MAGIC in your show, why call yourself a MAGICIAN?

The ORIGINAL intention of magic is to CREATE WONDERS. It is to make people believe that you have magical powers. MAGIC IS ENTERTAINMENT.

If I can produce a Rabbit out of my bare hands and I make my audience think that I’m Merlin-incarnate, I’ve done justice to the art of magic. If you produce sponge balls out of a child’s collar and he went home believing that his shirt contains ‘magic sponge balls’, you have done justice to the art of magic.


Years ago, my family and I watched David Copperfield TV shows and ALL of them laugh and are entertained by his shows. Everyone in my family is bewildered by his magic and my parents think that his is Satan-worshipper!

I say David Copperfield has done justice to the art of magic. Jeff McBride does it. Penn & Teller does it. David Blaine does it. The people in David Blaine’s show are bewildered and laugh too! That is entertainment and he brought the art of magic to its original intention.

If Matt creates BOTH wonders and laughter using his list of ‘pack flat’ tricks, that is HIS style of performance and he is A MAGICIAN.

I think Ron Reid puts it right in the end, “After all, if you're a magician, you have to fool them.”

Just my 10 minutes worth of thoughts. :>
Message: Posted by: Neale Bacon (Sep 7, 2004 03:07PM)
I have to agree with Sammy Haydn. It's not the song. it's the singer.

I do tricks like super frog, deja zoo, jolly polly (not all in the same show) and they are VERY entertaining and the kids have a blast.
Message: Posted by: GlenD (Sep 7, 2004 04:09PM)
The yellow bandanna is pretty much always a hit! It does'nt exactly pack flat but it does not take much room up in my case either.

GlenD
Message: Posted by: Frank Tougas (Sep 7, 2004 04:42PM)
I think kids appreciate good strong clasical magic such as Linking Rings or Cut and Restored Rope. I seldom use the large "cardboard looking" children's props although I have nothing against them and in the right hands are both amusing and amazing.

I'd say match your props to your style and you can not go wrong.
Message: Posted by: p.b.jones (Sep 7, 2004 05:05PM)
Just a matter of personal style. I am not saying that creating "wonder" is wrong. I am merely saying I am wondering why magicians want to make the kids wonder instead of making them laugh which is what they want to do in the first place.


HI,
I am not saying do not make them laugh for the expence or istead of wonder.
What I am saying is if you truly believe it is the performer not the trick then you just as well do a good trick as a crap one and get the bonus further emotion of wonder.

I have heared a great singer sing a crap song really well.. but I would rather they sing a good one
Phillip
Message: Posted by: Kent Wong (Sep 7, 2004 05:20PM)
With children's shows, I don't believe in the pack small, play big philosophy. When you are hired to do a show, you are actually being hired to play the role of a magician. The audience has certain expectations of what that role should look like. Now, from a performance point of view, your main audience is the children. They expect a magician to look a certain way, to behave a certain way and to have all of the expected props to prove he is a magician.

This is absolutely essential if you are going to have any ability to establish who you are, why you are there and who is in control. On many occasions, I have had magicians complain to me that they can't seem to control their audience. But when they describe their act to me it quickly becomes evident that the children did not view him as a professional magician because he did not act and dress like one. As a result, they did not give him the respect and deference that a professional magician would deserve.

The other reason for a children's magician to pack big, play big is that children's attention spans are quite short. By giving kids a lot of eye candy to look at during your show, you have a better chance of keeping their attention.

This leads me to the third reason. The parents. Parents know how difficult it is to maintain attention and control over one or two kids for any length of time. If you, as a magician, are able to keep an entire group of kids riveted for half an hour, you proved your worth as an entertainer.

This is incredibly important since it is the parents who pay your bill and since it is likely the parents who will refer you to others. So, it is vitally important for the parents to feel they got their money's worth. When you show up early, set up on time, dress and play the part well, with all of the props expected of a professional magician, parents don't tend to have any regrets in paying you.
Message: Posted by: TrickyRicky (Sep 7, 2004 06:10PM)
Hello Mr Sammy Haydn.
I have seen you perform for children and you are the best there ever will be.
Quite an all rounder you are.You can do almost anything as far as entertaining an audiance.
I don't think the Café posters really knows how excellent a performer you are.
I'd say say you're one of a kind, the likes of which we'll never see again.
Cherio old boy. See you around.
Message: Posted by: Ron Reid (Sep 7, 2004 07:01PM)
Yes, Sammy is a wise man and superb performer. I enjoy reading his posts very much!

Ron
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Sep 8, 2004 02:04AM)
Although large props look visually better, the size of the prop does not influence the size of the effect. Some of the strongest magic tricks use the smallest of props.

If you are a full time entertainer doing lots of work, it's not practical to carry around lots of big props and do several journeys to the car, also you don't always have the luxury of space. As you get busier you downsize the show for convinience, but you do it without downsizing the impact of the show. I use a mixture of flat packed and larger more visual props, the props used though all have to fit into the one magic box.

<<<<The other reason for a children's magician to pack big, play big is that children's attention spans are quite short. By giving kids a lot of eye candy to look at during your show, you have a better chance of keeping their attention. >>>>

I don't dress the performance area with lots of stuff, Most of my props the kids don't see until it's time to use them, and they are put away as soon as they are finished with.

<<<<This leads me to the third reason. The parents. Parents know how difficult it is to maintain attention and control over one or two kids for any length of time. If you, as a magician, are able to keep an entire group of kids riveted for half an hour, you proved your worth as an entertainer.>>>>

I keep them sat down laughing for an hour, with a mixture of fun and magic, fun taking preference over the magic, the helpers get the credit for the magic working not me, they are the stars, I don't feel the need to prove I'm a real magician.
Message: Posted by: Leo B. Domapias (Sep 8, 2004 02:48AM)
If I were the parent who had unfortunately hired a magician who spent 90% of his time making the kids laugh and 10% doing magic, I'd kick his butt for misrepresenting himself. :bg:

If I wanted a comedian, a clown, a humorist, a wit, or a funny storyteller, I'd hire one. If my purpose is to make the children laugh, I'd rather invite my neighbor who could do funny faces. Imagine this: I flipped through the Yellow Pages, saw Mr. Magic's ad that says he does magic, and I hired him. On my son's birthday he comes to my house, makes my kid and his guests laugh with gags, funny bits of business, etc., but does so few, so little, and so tenuous magic that nobody notices it. Well, what do you think a parent like me will do?

First, I will ask him why does he bill himself as a magician when he barely does magic. Next, I'm gonna ask for his photograph and I will stick it with needles while chanting my most potent voodoo spell. ;)

I'll do that also to a singer who barely sings but does somersaults and tumbles around my living room, no matter how entertaining his acrobatics are. That I'll do, too, to a hired pianist who will instead choose to eat fire, or to hired dancer who will instead choose to perform a juggling act, etc.

I'm a parent, and I'm speaking now as one, not as a performer. If I hire a magician who can make children laugh, well and good. But he had better do it through a magical performance rather than through serving a "load of rubbish".

About the "great mysteries". It is not great, and it's not even a mystery if a performer stops gauging the entertainment value of his performance solely by the loudness of the laughter. An audience of children can be very silent and still be entertained. Being awestruck with wonder, mystified and amazed to the degree of speechlessness is also an indication of being entertained. I know. I have been a kid once.

Just a father's two cents, not meant to argue, for who can argue with success? Magicians who have success making children laugh instead of mystifying them have a following and successful businesses that span many years.

Leo
Manila, Philippines
Message: Posted by: Joseph_Then (Sep 8, 2004 05:01AM)
Well said Leo. It's a valid arguement.

Look around at all the successful magicians: David Copperfield, David Blaine, Lance Burton, Mac King, Jeff McBride, Penn & Teller, etc.

They perform MAGIC. They's why they are magicians.

Making their audience laugh is the by-product of their performance. :>


However, we can name very few successful kids magician and so far we can only name: David Kaye, Samuel Patrick Smith, David Ginn, Barry Mitchell.

They are recognized kids magicians in our industry because they perform MAGIC.
Message: Posted by: p.b.jones (Sep 8, 2004 08:43AM)
However, we can name very few successful kids magician and so far we can only name: David Kaye, Samuel Patrick Smith, David Ginn, Barry Mitchell.

Hi,
We only really know these because they are dealers lecturers and we are fellow magicains most lay people would not consider them famous
Phillip
Message: Posted by: Rupert Bair (Sep 8, 2004 11:00AM)
We only really know these because they are dealers lecturers and we are fellow magicains most lay people would not consider them famous
Phillip
Absolutley Philip. I have never heard of most of them untill recentley and that is only because I have heard them lecturing or selling stuff Not because I have seen their act.
matt
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Sep 8, 2004 11:47AM)
Hi Leo, I totally agree with you, if your going to call yourself a magician you need to do magic in your show.

My show is a magic show, but is full of fun, the fun take preference over the magic, when I look for new stuff for the show, 1, it has to be a strong visual effect, 2, A patter routine I use for it must need a child assistant, 3, it must play across the whole age range from 4-9yrs old, as I don't believe in changing my show for each age group. I prefer quality to quantity.

Though my show is a magic show, I don't do any magic myself in the show, that is done by the kids who come up for each routine. What you as a parent see is children, one of which is the birthday child who helps twice, coming up and being part of four very funny magical routines, the kids who are sat down, laughing ponting, occassionally going wow, and clapping and cheering the helper when the magic happens. The parents are not silly, they know that the magic happens because I have made it happen, so I don't need to stand there magicing at them to show I'm a real magician, They still come up to me afterwards asking how did you do that?. but what they really love that is I give the credit to the helper. That's why I get re-booked time and again as the
kids go home begging to have the magic man at their party.
Message: Posted by: Bill Scarlett (Sep 8, 2004 03:19PM)
Some magicians rely on lots of props in lieu of talent or presentation. Other magicians take the pack flat/play big concept to the extreme and do 45 minutes with a tt and a pocket hank. (OK, I might be exaggerating). I think a more balance approach might be called for. I started out as a very prop-heavy act, making many trips out to the car to get my gear. I have gradually pared that down over time as I have improved my act and included more stories, laughs and bits of business. It has been good for my act and for my aching back.

I think that parents don't always like a magician who needs a "magic box" in order to always make the magic happen. They want to see something that they would consider a display of skill, such as slight of hand.

Presentation can really make or break the trick, especially if it packs flat. For example, I recently saw Mike Bent do his version of the color changing shoelace and it was hilarious. He was able to give a whole new perspective to a rather mundane effect. And he did it for children who were having a great time. They were definitely fooled and laughing, as well. If you are interested, his routine is in his lecture notes; "Putting the U 'You' in Funny". I highly recommend them.
Message: Posted by: JamesinLA (Sep 8, 2004 05:25PM)
My most popular effect in my kid's show is my egg bag routine, which includes two kids, hats, music cues, and gets the whole audience dancing.

The props are small and flat, however, the entertainment is big and a theatrical experience for everyone.

Jim
Message: Posted by: Chippo (Sep 10, 2004 10:52AM)
As with most everything in magic and entertainment, its mostly what you do with the prop or material that counts. I have seen famous singers perform the same song and get different reactions for various reasons. Likewise I have seen magicians, both local and famous, perform stuff I either have tried to do UNSUCCESSFULLY or would never dream of doing because it doesn't fit my personality or style. As I'm sure most of us do, I have loads of stuff I bought that is doing little more than gathering dust. However I refuse to get rid of it becuase over the years and idea has come to me and I found I already had a perfect prop to do what needed to happen.

Just because the prop is silk, sponge, "cardboard", large or small doesn't make it any better or worse than any others. It's what you do with it that matters most. If it accomplishes what you want it to do then you have used it to entertain.

The common thread, I think, running thru all this is that if whatever you are doing is working, so be it. If not, experiment and try other styles. Don't copy but watch other performers (magicians) and see what works for them and why. By adapting certain props to fit your style and developing your own patter and presentation.

The important thing is to keep developing as whatever type of entertainer you are striving for. My show has grown and changed over the years, inserting new effects and reworking patter and presentations. I never dismiss any prop because it is large or small, inexpensive or not. I have bought stuff at Conventions that other magicians thought too expensive only to find it has played well for me over the years. I alos have a few of those props collecting dust too!

Lastly I must add that you have to have some talent. You can have the best props, patter, etc. but if you cannot performn and entertain all the other stuff is useless. I have been performing over 25 years with many rebookings, referrals and consider myself a success only because I have managed to do what I set out to do for such a long time.

Thanks for giving me the time to ramble on. Sorry if I bored anyone.
Message: Posted by: Chuck Lyons (Sep 10, 2004 02:49PM)
Well put chippo, as we all can see its what type of venue we play in. In a livinroom we would not so a ashrah levitaion, and in madison square garden we would not do cup and balls. Put the punch in the prop and make it won and the audience wins no matter how flat the prop is. Chuck
Message: Posted by: TrickyRicky (Sep 10, 2004 03:55PM)
[quote]
On 2004-09-08 18:25, JamesinLA wrote:
My most popular effect in my kid's show is my egg bag routine, which includes two kids, hats, music cues, and gets the whole audience dancing.

The props are small and flat, however, the entertainment is big and a theatrical experience for everyone.
Bravo! That's the way to do it.
The ones who need a stage or a room full of props, is so no one can them performing.
I invite all the posters to come to Toronto and watch my show in home or theater. You'll have a lesson on intertaining with pack small play big.
I've just finished 4 show at the Play house theater to 400 children in each show, plus parent. Standing ovation at the end.
1-Sponge balls
2-Linking ring
3-change bag
4-Silk Caddy
5-Misers dream
6-Ghost hunt "run rabbit run"
7--Bunny
Everyone wanted a business card.
Richard Lyn "Tricky Ricky"
Jim
[/quote]
Message: Posted by: paraguppie (Sep 11, 2004 01:12PM)
This is an interesting thread.

I can see both sides of the fence on this one, but I will probably stay on the side that "packs big, plays big". I'm not saying that it's impossible to entertain without larger props, I'm just thinking "why would I"?

Most of my birthday show is Wacky Wolf props. Yes, they are big, bright, colorful and most of all, wacky. It fits my style and the kids are pointing at the props and talking about them before I even start the show. It sets the mood, if you will, to be fun and crazy.

I also think people expect a little more than a breifcase when they book me. The parents love to see my big goofy props. Yes, I take more than a trip to the car and back, but I'm paid killer money to walk 3 times to the car and back.

Most of my props don't break down very much and I'm fine with that. I have ATA cases for most of my Wolf's stuff and my ATA case doubles as a table.

I agree, we are paid to entertain, and I think that I am more entertaining when surrounded by goofy colorful props. Once again, it sets the mood to have fun.

If you are the performer that can do 45 minutes without a single prop, good for you. I have no problem with that, I just think that my props help me to be more creative and fun. We are all find motivation in different places, and that's what makes the Café interesting.

Keith
Message: Posted by: TrickyRicky (Sep 11, 2004 08:14PM)
Those props are for the theater. My birthday props are far less.
1--Sponge balls
2--A piece of rope
3--Magic wand
4--Silks
5--Bunny.
Tricky Ricky.
Who is this Rick The Chinaman?
Message: Posted by: NJJ (Sep 11, 2004 09:25PM)
Whether you have more or less props then some other perform is of little consequence. Its like comparing apples and oranges!

However, I always like to try and treat my case like I treat my brain: There is a finite amount of space and its best to use what little room there is smartly! This means a combination of smaller props (sponges, ropes, the flat effect I mentioned earlier etc) and some larger ones (rabhit production etc.)

Assuming for a moment that large props and small props can both be pure magic in the hands of a professional there are several other benefits for having larger props.

Firstly, People expect them. I used to perform out of a breifcase and parents would say "Is that all you've got" and the start. I'd have to work harder to bring them round. Also, Kids like to see props out on the table and ready to be used. It creates an air of suspense for them!
Message: Posted by: Regan (Sep 12, 2004 06:51AM)
I want to know how Ricky The Chinaman gets Run Rabbit Run in that briefcase. That, my friend is a good trick.

Regan
Message: Posted by: magicbern (Sep 12, 2004 04:50PM)
A fascinating debate but one I've wrestled with for a long time. I think as magicians we want to travel lighter (especially if we have no car, rely on public transport and getting older!) and aalso, undeniably there are many tricks that offer great entertainment for a very small physical space (see the choices offered above). However I also agree that kids need to be visually impressed as do parents who do the booking! In HK, many kid parties are occassions for parents to 'show off' to others how lavish they can entertain. Therefore, if you turn up with a briefcase, silks and cards only (no offence to those who do...because I utilize some of those tricks myself) they may not be too happy!
Anyway, as with most things in life, you need to strike a balance between larger more visual props and smaller lighter ones. It all depends on your style, budget and market. That's my take on this matter for all its worth!

Also, I wonder in this policallyy-correct era, why is there the need to address oneself (and others) as 'Chinamen'? Lving in HK where 98% of the population are ethnic Chinese, I know the majority would find the term rather insulting and reeking of the Hollywood 1930s-40s Charlie Chan mentality towards Asians. Why not just call oneself "Chinese'?
Or does race and nationality even have a bearing? I personally have turned away clients who on the phone ask me what nationality I am or what is my skin colour...not that I,m ashamed (I'm part Peruvian, part Filipino and part Chinese) but I don't want clinets to book me on the basis of my skin or race. The kids never seem to mind...just some parents!
Perhaps many members may feel this has no place in a magic thread...just an observation I have based on certain names I've seen on this forum.
Message: Posted by: paraguppie (Sep 12, 2004 09:46PM)
Ricky,

I see I hit your touchy button. If you re-read your first 2 posts here you may see how they could hit MY touchy button. I tend to call it like I see it. Your post just didn't scream "I love children", that's all.

I respect the fact that you have 20 more years in the business than I do and I'm always willing to learn from a senior magi.

I hope you can see past my post. I really was not trying to be rude, but it may have come off that way. I do actually have a sense of humor, and I'm not the least bit offended by your stage name. :)

Keith
Message: Posted by: magicbern (Sep 13, 2004 12:10AM)
I really am disappointed at the confrontational stance of the C....... (I hesitate to repeat his name for fear of another outburst)> If members have read my posts, I endeavour to be polite and not antagonize. Why the need to go out of his way to defend an observation is not easy to comprehend. If he reads my post he will also see I have CHinese blood and having lived in a multicultural society like HK all my life, I think I am partly qualified to make an observation...that's all it was, not a condemnation!
I'd also like to thank Mr. C.........for his advice which I will bear in mind.

BY the way, I'm in my late 30s if that qualifies me for senior citizenship then so be it! Furthermore, I DO give many DANGS what parents say...they're the bookers and I am not arrogant to say take it or leave it! I do a very good show and have done so for 20 years but my observations are based on real-life performing situations in my part of the world. I was of the opinion that on this forum, there would be lively but respectful exchange of ideas and opinions, but obviously not for some members.
Therefore, as I prepare to leave this discussion and forum (to avoid any more animosity) I would like to say thanks to all who have helped me and have offered their constructive advice and support.
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Sep 13, 2004 01:48AM)
Sweating like a pig. That was me Saturday. Performed with a car load of props along with backdrop, music, PA etc in 95 deg heat (outdoor party).

I know eventually I need to downsize but at this point, I also believe the parents (and children to a degree) like to see a colorful, magical production.

Determing the success of my show Saturday was difficult at best. They were all very hot.

I think I know the Café member who makes the six figure income and uses very little. I have his DVD in fact:)

Very good thread here:)
Message: Posted by: p.b.jones (Sep 13, 2004 02:37AM)
HI,
I have stated on other threads is my personal aproach all of my props fit in one suitcase including the rabbit production, I have one journey to the car sutcase and bunny unless I need sound equipment which is an extra journey
phillip
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Sep 13, 2004 02:56AM)
Phillip,

I think one of my problems is I am a packrat. I have one colorful footlocker that stays in my trunk and it only contains the bunny box and square circle plus plenty of silks.

I have to get better organized, especially at the shows knowing where my next effect will be. This past show everything was in the grass and not properly laid out.

Wayne
Message: Posted by: BIlly James (Sep 13, 2004 04:58AM)
Hi folks,
Well, big props or small props,
so talented that one need not bother to do magic or not,
I can tell you there are people who have posted here who wouldn't even get a sniff at performing for my kids because their attitude would give them away over the phone.
Message: Posted by: NJJ (Sep 13, 2004 06:12AM)
Ha! That's what YOU think!

Luckily I'm such a silver tounged salesman that I'd been in the door and performing my dodgy colouring book and breakway wand before you knew what hit you!

:)

(just kiddin')
Message: Posted by: MarkTripp (Sep 13, 2004 06:42AM)
Interesting thread and ideas...

However in my many years as a professional magician who makes a full time lifing off of all of this, I beg to differ with many.

First, the big picture, when I leave my home to begin my day, I can have a series of shows lined up that consist of two birthday parties, a retirement banquet, a wedding reception and a comedy club show.

Do you really think I am going to carry seperate props, tables, and the like for all of those shows? I'd need a truck, anbd I'd lose money.

Now, to birthday parties, most magicians bring things into peoples homes that are far too large for the space they are going to have in most situations I won't even speak to the silly notion about bringing in a major illusion (boy to rabbit, flying carpet) to use with the birthday child and get more money for the show. EXPOSED magic is just as bad (perhaps more so) as poorly performed magic, NEITHER has any mystery to it.

Years ago I realised that to play EVERY paying venue that calls, would require my working out of my pockets. No tables, no large props, if it didn't fit in my pockets, it was out.

I am not alone in this, people like Jay Marshall, Karrell Fox, Billy McComb, Patrick Page, Terry Seabrook, etc, ALL learned it years ago.

Yes, this path means you actually have to learn magicial skills beyond how to work a dove pan or wich way to turn a foo can so you don't get wet. However, it can be done and I can only say having done every kind of magic over the last 40 years that the audience DOES know the difference between "close up on Stage" (Danny Korem's term and where you should begin your journey), and prop magic.

In there near future Camirand Academy will be puting out a DVD with me on this subject, frankly I do not believe it will sell well. The market today seems to be driven by either colorful stuff and is very easy to do (and figure out in my personal opinion) and things to fool the boys at the magic meetings. More the pity because unlike most things sold these days, I know it works in the real world cause if it didn't I wouldn't be able to pay trhe bills.

If this thought interests you, I would spend some time with the video tapes by Patrick Page and Billy McComb, and that Korem without Limits book. You will be well served by the journey.
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Sep 13, 2004 07:20AM)
For those that wonder wher 'ricky the chinaman has gone, I'll give you a 2 word clue.......Mark Lewis.
Message: Posted by: paraguppie (Sep 13, 2004 10:22AM)
Hi guys,

Nice to see that they pulled a few posts (including mine) they were not appropriate for this forum. I should bite my tounge more often. :)

Some great posts that made me think, thanks for that. I can see if I was doing 4 or 5 shows a day that packing in my ABC Gumball, Blow Yur Stack, Balloon Wand and Funhouse could be a pain. I am currently not that busy (give me a couple years!). Even then I would have to consider it though.

I can see the other side of the fence on this one I guess. Good stuff.

Keith
Message: Posted by: Avrakdavra (Sep 13, 2004 11:50AM)
Mark Tripp wrote [quote]In there near future Camirand Academy will be puting out a DVD with me on this subject...[/quote]

I hope you'll let us know the title and other details when it's available.
Bruce
Message: Posted by: MarkTripp (Sep 13, 2004 04:51PM)
I shall
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Sep 13, 2004 05:26PM)
<<<Do you really think I am going to carry seperate props, tables, and the like for all of those shows? I'd need a truck, anbd I'd lose money. >>>

Hi Mark, that's why I put one show together that plays across all the age ranges, I don't want to be carrying more than one show if my 1st party is for 4 year olds and my next 8 year olds etc. I'd rather have one brilliant show, than a few good shows.

I don't even normally bother changing shows if the kids have seen me before, unless it's like this weekend where I had the same kids on the Saturday and Sunday, This was too close together so I took last years brilliant show which is now show 2, on Saturday, and this years show on Sunday.
Message: Posted by: flimnar (Sep 13, 2004 10:27PM)
Seems to me that if it works for you, there is no
need to justify your approach or criticize someone
who takes a different approach. What is the
true definition of a Magician? Does it matter if
something falls into a particular category or
philosophy? If it works for you and the people
for whom you perform, then it seems to me that you
go with it. If it doesn't, then don't. I can't imagine anyone here believes that the same effect works the same for every performer.

For what it's worth.
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Sep 14, 2004 12:17AM)
"In there near future Camirand Academy will be puting out a DVD with me on this subject, frankly I do not believe it will sell well. "

Mark,

Count me in too please........

PS: Has anyone seen John Zander's DVD? He works out of a suitcase and does school shows full time in LA.
Message: Posted by: p.b.jones (Sep 14, 2004 02:54AM)
Some great posts that made me think, thanks for that. I can see if I was doing 4 or 5 shows a day that packing in my ABC Gumball, Blow Yur Stack, Balloon Wand and Funhouse could be a pain


Hi,
there is always another aprouch.. keep your prices very high then you will earn as much if not more and never need to reduce yourself to the type of commodity that's doing 5 shows a day
Phillip
Message: Posted by: MarkTripp (Sep 14, 2004 06:57AM)
[quote]
On 2004-09-14 03:54, p.b.jones wrote:
there is always another aprouch.. keep your prices very high then you will earn as much if not more and never need to reduce yourself to the type of commodity that's doing 5 shows a day
Phillip
[/quote]

LOL! Hey, here is a better idea, why not charge one million dollars? You won't get very many, but all you need is one! Also you can say you are the most expensive kid show performer around

"Type of commodity"? I am the type that Karrell Fox trained me to be. But some day we will have to look at tax papers and see which one is making more money at magic.....
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Sep 14, 2004 08:56AM)
I'm with Phil on this one, once your diary gets to the point it's bursting with bookings, you're racing around between shows like a madman and you're turning stuff away, it's time to increase your prices. That's what I do, last time I not only increased ny prices, but also the gap I leave between shows so I wasn't rushing around so much, This year I'm earning more than last year and doing less shows.
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Sep 14, 2004 09:50AM)
Would live to have your problem Clive:)

Of course all I need is a few more school bookings and the ol birthdays can just be icing:)
Message: Posted by: p.b.jones (Sep 14, 2004 10:38AM)
"Type of commodity"? I am the type that Karrell Fox trained me to be. But some day we will have to look at tax papers and see which one is making more money at magic.....

HI,
Who earns the most is relativly unimportant to me. The way I view things is you can only spend so much money, I earn much more than I need, I also get lot's of free time to enjoy it (I could take bookings for the time if I chose to) and my other persuits which do not involve spending money so I am really happy with life to me that's more important than earning just for the sake of it... perhaps I am just lazy... but I like it!
Phillip
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Sep 14, 2004 06:38PM)
Good take Phillip.....very true...

It's the thrill of the bookings for me at this point:). Shows pays for my addiction to this hobby or at least pays for some of it...
Message: Posted by: MarkTripp (Sep 14, 2004 07:03PM)
Who earns the most is relativly unimportant to me.>>>

Indeed, but it is a sure way to know who is working and who is not. More to the point, there was a very insulting tone in your first post.

The simple fact is I do this for a living, not a hobby. As such, I have done more shows and have more experience than most around here. I from time to time like to share so people can avoid the errors that hurt the art and craft.

As to "money", here is the real secret. There is only so much a person will spend for a show. Nothing you add is going to get any more money out of their pocket but it will add to your woes.

When this is your full time job, you take as many shows as possible because there are no paid sick days and for the most part it is a reactive market, in other words, people call you. It is nice to have money in the bank for when they aren't calling.

Again, if this is a "hobby" great. Just quit doing shows for money so those of us who make a living at this can do so.

Because once you take money, it is no longer a "hobby", you are expected to be a professional, in EVERY way.
Message: Posted by: Donald Dunphy (Sep 14, 2004 09:48PM)
Wow, Mark. I just read your post on another thread about the number of shows you do average per month. You are a hard worker. And I absolutely believe that you know, and are doing, what is right for you.

I see both points of view here. I see the benefit of doing lots of shows, I also see the benefit of charging decent prices for our shows. I know of many in my area who do not charge enough for the quality of work they do.

I put up my rates back in December, and it reduced the number of shows. However, the income is still about the same.

Some members might benefit from taking a peek at this thread, from a different area of the Café: [url=http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?topic=75604&forum=5]Fee for strolling magic at private parties?[/url] While the topic is about strolling magic, it evolved into one about charging the right fee, and finding the right clientel... one that will give you "less shows, more money, more free time."

BTW, to bring this thread back on track. I subscribe to the "pack right, play right" threory.

I perform a mixture of small magic and larger magic. With birthday shows, because I charge a discounted fee, I tend to use smaller magic, and even some "pack flat" effects. I have used items like "Bunny Tip Top", "Dan's Magic Van" and the Coloring Book in my birthday shows. For the family shows (regular shows), I tend to use tricks that are a little larger, taking into account the visiblity of what I am performing. Larger audiences need to see the magic.

As has been stated before, it is a matter of personal preference, and what you know and choose to entertain an audience with.

- Donald
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Sep 14, 2004 10:22PM)
Can't it be a hobby and a job? I mean by hobby, I am still interested and love all types of magic.

I feel I am worth every penny of what I charge though. I work hard and if I did get a negative comment about my show, I would definitely re-evaluate what I did wrong and go from there.

Kids may be kids but cultural values come in to play also.
Message: Posted by: kenscott (Sep 14, 2004 11:10PM)
WOW! I did read this thread much. SHould have popped in.

As to Mark. I do do the flying carpet illusion with a lot of success. As some you have seen in my birthday dough video or seen in my post. I like to bring a big show to the birthday parties. I can say that I do this fulltime and make GREAT money at it. What set's me apart of other magicians in Atlanta. I like to think that I am professional and entertaining but I think/KNOW that by turning the family;s living room into a small theater is as set me apart in a BIG way.

So someone said earlier if it works for you why knock it. I use a lot of music in my show with a great sound system and I use the showteck, Iuse a countryman mic, suitcase table. I don't do a lot of the pack flat stuff.

So all I can say with over 15 years at it is bigger can be better for some.

I would agree there comes a time when you hit the top of a market and you cannot get anymore money. Here in atlanta I get 275.00 to 325.00 for one hour birthdy party. The smaller end of the market in Atlanta is 125.00.

Best,
Ken
Message: Posted by: Chance Wolf (Sep 14, 2004 11:15PM)
[quote]
On 2004-09-14 20:03, MarkTripp wrote:
As to "money", here is the real secret. There is only so much a person will spend for a show. Nothing you add is going to get any more money out of their pocket but it will add to your woes.
[/quote]

Mark,
I respect your opinion and experience however I must STRONGLY disagree with this viewpoint. Please know the following point is NOT a "pitch" for my products..we are so busy, I really can't keep up!
I have customers who have made promo shots and flyers which include my entire line of magic. Let me tell you...this is an AWESOME visual impact on the potential customer showing them a complete professional routine with a visual continuity of a cartoon style which kids can not resist. Parents/Customers KNOW the effect it will have on the kids as well as take confidence that ( hopefully) someone who presents a show of the VISUAL caliber will definatley be worth every penny. And in most cases, it has proven more than true.
During my days of performing, I brought out everything including the kitchen sink even with multiple shows on a given day. It proved to be a bit more strenuous but far more profitable for the extra few trips to the car. In perspective, it is far easier than ANY given Illusionists problems ( which I did for sometime ). Overall, I believe it is worth it to give the kids a WHOPPER of a show that far exceeds the standard props etc.
Please remember, my business is to study what children TRULY react to and I can ASSURE you Visual Stimulation is the MOST IMPORTANT aspect of maintaining a child's attention..of course combined with good entertainment.
For my last point...over the years, I have watched my children watch Cartoons with full attention...with the sound OFF. Think about that. It is a powerful observation.
Just my Wacky and Humble opinion.
Chance Wolf
Wolf's Magic

PS...my props are not limited to Stage effects by no means. I can't think of one customer who does not use them at birthday parties. Heck, that is why they bought them in the first place :)
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Sep 14, 2004 11:39PM)
"For my last point...over the years, I have watched my children watch Cartoons with full attention...with the sound OFF. Think about that. It is a powerful observation. "

How true! My 3 yr old can sit and watch colorful cartoons with the sound off and be truly amazed.

While on the way to my "other " job I was thinking about this thread. While money is important, I think of it as a reward for my performance. My goal is really not more money but being one of the best entertainers in the city. If I don't become one of the best, at least I gave it my best.
Message: Posted by: Donald Dunphy (Sep 14, 2004 11:50PM)
[quote]
On 2004-09-15 00:10, kenscott wrote:
WOW! I did read this thread much. SHould have popped in.

As to Mark. I do do the flying carpet illusion with a lot of success. As some you have seen in my birthday dough video or seen in my post. I like to bring a big show to the birthday parties. I can say that I do this fulltime and make GREAT money at it. What set's me apart of other magicians in Atlanta. I like to think that I am professional and entertaining but I think/KNOW that by turning the family;s living room into a small theater is as set me apart in a BIG way.

So someone said earlier if it works for you why knock it. I use a lot of music in my show with a great sound system and I use the showteck, Iuse a countryman mic, suitcase table. I don't do a lot of the pack flat stuff.

So all I can say with over 15 years at it is bigger can be better for some.

I would agree there comes a time when you hit the top of a market and you cannot get anymore money. Here in atlanta I get 275.00 to 325.00 for one hour birthdy party. The smaller end of the market in Atlanta is 125.00.

Best,
Ken
[/quote]

Wow! Ken gave away his USP. How generous is that?

- Donald
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Sep 15, 2004 12:38AM)
I am glad to see others burning the midnight oil tonight:)

Ken's birthday show (video) has plenty of color, props, comedy and magic. I'd hire him if I was looking for a magician at my kid's party.
Message: Posted by: p.b.jones (Sep 15, 2004 02:49AM)
Indeed, but it is a sure way to know who is working and who is not. More to the point, there was a very insulting tone in your first post.



HI Mark,
First I would like to apologise for the way my post read I meant no insult in my post. I just would not want to work that hard there is more to life than work for me.

........................

"The simple fact is I do this for a living, "


HI,
Me to magic/ entertainment (as I do puppets too) is my full time job. Though I work to live, not live to work
Just my choice

.............................
"As to "money", here is the real secret. There is only so much a person will spend for a show. Nothing you add is going to get any more money out of their pocket but it will add to your woes."

HI,
To a point I agree add ons will not greatly increase your show fee (though could add up over a year)
Though they will pay much more for someone they really want, frankly most people do not even ask my price until after the booking is in the diary a kind of afterthought, the exception would be a small percentage that are totaly new to me.

.......................
When this is your full time job, you take as many shows as possible because there are no paid sick days and for the most part it is a reactive market

HI,
I choose not to take as many shows as possible, if I did it would drag my price down and I would have to work harder. I prefer not to be so available and charge more. If I wish to do something or go somwhere then (as long as I have no prior booking) I take the time off refusing bookings for that space like wednesday nights are scuba diving nights, I take time off for holidays or magic conventions when I want. clearly there has to be times when I knuckle down.
but I like to have a good balance
Phillip
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Sep 15, 2004 04:59AM)
Like Phil, and yourself Mark I also do this for a full time living, I do maimly 2-hour shows for birthday parties and average about 30 a month.

<<<There is only so much a person will spend for a show>>>

Yes to a point, but which person, a poorer family has a lower budget than a richer family. if you have a brilliant show and once your diary is full every month you put your price up a couple of things happen,
1, you put yourself out of most of the poorer rougher bookings and into the richer areas.
2, If you're good people will come back next year and pay the new price willingly because they know you are worth it.

The majority of my work is re-bookings and reccomends, I've people phoning for parties this year who paid £95 last year and are now paying £110 quite happily, next year they'll be paying £120.

What we (Billy & I) found on increasing the prices was at first the number of callers who hesitated or didn't book us increased slightly, but after a while bookings have increased up to the level we were at before the price increase. Although we were doing less weekend shows the number of weekday shows increased. Overall we've done less shows this year than last, but due to the price increase earnt a lot more money. Now we are at the point where we are turning away lots of bookers again as we can't fit them in, hence the proposed price increase. I now work a policy that when 6 days in a week have something on I cross off the final day and will not work on that day. The next price increase is designed once again to lower the overall workload, but still increase our earnings.


<<<<When this is your full time job, you take as many shows as possible because there are no paid sick days and for the most part it is a reactive market>>>>

Once you are established and have a good rep, and the confidence to know that work will always come in, you get the luxury of being able to pick and chose your jobs. If I don't like the sound of a gig, I tell them I'm booked and can't do it, I know another call will come in for that day. If I want a weekend off I just plan it in ahead and steer any jobs that come in to dates either side of the days I'm off. I also ensure that I have money put away as a cushion for emergency's like illness.

Your statement says to me that yes you are very busy, but you havn't reached that level of confidence in you business that you can relax and enjoy all the money you are earning. I was at that stage for the first few years in the business the same as everyone else. Now I earn the money, and more importantly get to enjoy it.

Who earns the most is not relevent as we all have different standards of living, and fees in areas and countries differ, IE someone in London can get twice the fee I charge. I look at it this way, if you're working you're guts out and earning more than me, but I'm standing on the golf course with Billy enjoying a sunny days golf, (yes it does come out here occassionally) or Phils off diving with his mates, who's got the better life?

You need to enjoy life, not worry where the next penny's coming from. One of the best thing about being a full time entertainer for me, is getting up in the morning picking your paper up off the mat, looking out the window at my nieghbours scraping the ice off their cars and then going back to bed with the paper and a cuppa, then getting up and driving to the the golf course.
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Sep 15, 2004 02:19PM)
"I prefer not to be so available and charge more"

Bingo!! Even though I am only part time, I truly can relate to that. Just a few minutes ago, a school counselor called me who I had almost written off and booked two back to back shows for $450. I am hoping that show will create more business because my only advertising is business cards and direct mailing.

I out everything I have into these shows and have come over to kids shows from mentalism (crazy isn't it). I have learned from new magi as well as the seasoned here on the Café' and hope the dialogs will continue to stay civil:::))

Thanks to all here!

PS: Anyone have a Fraidy Cat Rabbit they want to sell before I bid tonight on one with sliding doors?

Candini
Message: Posted by: Rupert Bair (Sep 15, 2004 02:58PM)
Emazdad, If Billy leaves for Spain you are going to be working 24-7, LOl.

Matt
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Sep 15, 2004 04:51PM)
I know Matt I'll have to 1, increase my prices, 2, find another golf partner.
Message: Posted by: Chuck Lyons (Sep 15, 2004 06:52PM)
I just read marjs suggestion that those of us that do not perform for a living but as a hobby should not charge for the program so he can make a living> well that would litterly flood the mark with hobby performers doing shows for free and would that not kill the buisness for the paid performer. I believe their is room for all of us and at all skill levels. The audience will in the end be the judge wheter they get the value out of it or not. Each of us have different levels of performance and skill but does that mean that those of us that do not perform full time are any less of a dedicated performer? I really don't think so, at least not in 100 percent of the cases. Like every thing else in life nothing is ever that cut and dried ... well except life and death and that is a whole nother thread. LOL
Message: Posted by: Billy Whizz (Sep 15, 2004 07:13PM)
Increase your prices mate, and then have extra holidays is Spain and play even more golf :)
Message: Posted by: Rupert Bair (Sep 16, 2004 10:47AM)
Well you could invest into a robot with all the extra money, that does shows for you and plays golf!
matt
Message: Posted by: MarkTripp (Sep 16, 2004 01:53PM)
Again, interesting. A few final points:

1. Pictures of the props? How silly is that? The best pictures are your audience having fun and YOU being the cause of that. If you really think its the props, send the props and you go play golf.

2. You know, it is very hard to see past a polite audience. I stand on the fact that the flying carpet in the living room is not going to fool many people, and mom and dad will see through it for what it is. If its working for you, great. I submit it will not work for most.

3. Sorry boys, but the professional arena is NOT the place for a hobby. Why not a part time dentist for that root canal you need? BTW THAT line closes a lot of shows for me. If you are taking money you are a pro which means you have to act like one.

4. The money thing is interesting; but it reminds me of an old joke on the Bob Hope radio show; Jimmy Durantie is on and the following happens:

Bob: I went out with a lovely movie star last night

Jimmy: That's nothing, I was out with two stars.

Bob: Well, I have 20 pictures of girls in my dressing room

Jimmy: that's nothing, I have 40 pictures of girls in my dressing room

Bob: (silence)

Jimmy: Well?

Bob: Oh no you don't, this time you go first!

In point of fact I have NO problem getting $350 for my birthday party when I am in town to do it; and upsells into the $500 area are not uncommon. What I am doing is VERY hot, and frankly is crushing the magicians/clowns, not just in this market, but markets all over the US.

Why?

Because far too many of you really believe it is about the size of the show and the props; rather than the size of the entertainment the joy and true feeling of wonder in the children.

To each their own.....
Message: Posted by: Cheshire Cat (Sep 16, 2004 02:45PM)
Having passed the quarter Century doing kids parties I see where Mark's comments are coming from (that's the nearest thing you'll get to a compliment from me Mark!). I have felt the thoughts Mark expresses in his Sept. 14 posting. However these days I tend to be more philosophical about the business. If someone wants to book a two party a month clown who's a window cleaner during the day then there is little I can do about it. We can't do every party in our area, we would not want to either. I also agree wholeheartedly with Ken.

Regarding Matt's excellent Topic here, as entertainers who've always done BIG shows to the extreme, I have to admit, - if we were to move house and move area, somewhere where nobody knew us, - the show would be much smaller. Such is life.

Tony.
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Sep 16, 2004 03:56PM)
$350-$500 a show.

How long does your show last for that Mark?
Message: Posted by: Neale Bacon (Sep 16, 2004 03:57PM)
[quote]
On 2004-09-16 14:53, MarkTripp wrote:
Again, interesting. A few final points:


3. Sorry boys, but the professional arena is NOT the place for a hobby. Why not a part time dentist for that root canal you need? BTW THAT line closes a lot of shows for me. If you are taking money you are a pro which means you have to act like one.

[/quote]

I am sorry for being blunt, but that is a pretty lame analogy. I have stated many times in this forum I was a full timer for many years, but I made the decision to go part time.

That does NOT mean my show is any less professional than a full timers show.
Message: Posted by: Rupert Bair (Sep 16, 2004 04:11PM)
Wow mark interesting post. You say the arnea is no the place for a hobby but I think magic is our hobby and yes we are pro's! If you are doing a flatpack show then I would eb disapointed paying you $500, I mean ive never heard anybody charge that much before (£278) I'm not putting you down it seems a little like your 'talking big.' I love big shows not OTT but beutiful props nice prodction pieces and so on and their someone comes along and adds a 10min routine to a colouring book and change bag and charges double. Kids don't want to see three tricks in a show they want to lots of bright colourfull fun magic.
IMHO
Matt
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Sep 16, 2004 04:45PM)
Hi Matt,

My show lasts an hour and I do only 4 routines, it's not the number of tricks you do, it's how you do them that's important.

But I do agree that if you walked into the room with just a small briefcase, and proceeded to do a kids show, the booker may think that they are not getting their moneys worth, I use a mixture of larger props, and small stuff in my act, but it all comes out of my magic box which is nice and colourful and dress's the stage nicly.

I don't take anything in I'm not going to use, and everything I do not only has to fit in the box but has to have, little or no reset.
Message: Posted by: Rupert Bair (Sep 17, 2004 11:30AM)
Yes,
but You your routines are made up of lots of tricks aren't they?
Matt
Message: Posted by: Payne (Sep 17, 2004 01:28PM)
[quote]


Sorry boys, but the professional arena is NOT the place for a hobby. Why not a part time dentist for that root canal you need? BTW THAT line closes a lot of shows for me. If you are taking money you are a pro which means you have to act like one.


[/quote]

Rotten analogy there Mr. Tripp.
A dentist is a licensed professional who requires professional training at a certified institution. There are no Universities of greater learning for Magicians. The best you could hope for is a degree in the Theatre Arts or Psychology I suppose.
The entertainment industry is rife with partimers and wannabees. Garage Bands, Civic Theatre and Karaoke Bars are all filled with them.
I really know very few Magicians who actually do this full time with no other means of support and those few I do know who do do it "professionally" all have working spouses to support them during the off times.

But you are right it is not the props that entertain but the entertainer. A truly gifted individual could entertain a room full of people for an hour with nothing but a coat hanger and a piece of tape.
The magic is in you, not your props.
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Sep 17, 2004 02:02PM)
Hi Matt yes there is bits of magic in all the routines, but they are part of the routines and not different tricks
Message: Posted by: Rupert Bair (Sep 18, 2004 06:03AM)
A truly gifted individual could entertain a room full of people for an hour with nothing but a coat hanger and a piece of tape.
The magic is in you, not your props.

Wow I think youve met a childrens entertainer near me! ZZZzzzzzzz Ok not really but I have seen swome one get 25 mins out of a colouring book just the book no change bags just boring patter.

Matt
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Sep 18, 2004 06:40AM)
Can long drawn out effects at a kid's show really keep their interest or just the volunteer (if any) the performer is using?
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Sep 18, 2004 08:14AM)
If it's done right, with lots of audience participation, along with lots of funny interaction with the helper yes. I use a helper for every routine they are the stars not me. The trick is when talking to the helper you must not ignore the rest of the kids.

I take a trick, look at how it starts, how it ends and then work out what I can have happen on the way. I then end up with a routine for a trick that will involve a couple of magical episodes where it goes wrong, or we need to magic the bits to make the trick work.

If you do it Matt described just drag out a trick with no substance to the routine, you'll bore the socks off them.
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Sep 18, 2004 01:59PM)
"I take a trick, look at how it starts, how it ends and then work out what I can have happen on the way. I then end up with a routine for a trick that will involve a couple of magical episodes where it goes wrong, or we need to magic the bits to make the trick work. "


Clive!

That should be framed and hung up on the wall (invisible to the kids and moms)!
Perhaps an excert from an upcoming book??

Great advice, you hit the point right on the head of what I was looking for, thanks!

A magical puzzle that needs to be solved by all of us working as a magic team filled with laughs and mishaps along the journey.

I don't know if you have seen John Zanders Entertaining School Assemblies (something like that) DVD but he only uses a few effects from a suitcase and involves his helpers to the max. I couldn't pull it off and wouldn't even attempt it at this stage of my "part time hobbyist semi-professional for some bucks" career:)

Thanks,
C
Message: Posted by: The Donster (Sep 18, 2004 02:19PM)
Candini get John Zanders Lecture Notes he was just up here in Wisconsin. doing a Lecture for S.A.M. # 61 I'll say get his lecture notes to a lot of material plus never. insult the kid etc up on stage. Don,
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Sep 18, 2004 02:32PM)
Donster,

I have his DVD. You are right, he has a way with kids that probably no one or not many have. Have you seen his performance?

He works out of LA and is a full timer. He gets bookings that I couldn't touch and probably will never get to that level. It probably takes him less than a minute to set up.

There are the John Zanders, Mark Tripps, David Ginns then the 20-30 yr full timers, then the learning process part timers who get frustrated when every kid doesn't get involved 100 percent in one who is suppose to be winning this game.........striving to be the best has its ups and downs Donster but Im still in the game.

I have to seperate my roots in mentalism and magic to stun and astonish. Had a talk with my 8 year old assistant a few minutes ago about the shows....She really doesn't like working outside in the heat but Im not blaming it on that. I feel everyshow I am getting better at interacting with the kids (my biggest problem) which CLive hit the nail on the head a post before yours.

My strong points:

Magic is there....
Very visual
Very colorful


Weak Points:

Cultural issues (I am a minority here and have to understand the way kids are taught)
Interaction is there but needs more "connection."
Need more surprises.

Prop heavy also. I get rid of effects that I don't feel I can make get the house roaring (except my finale to music). My blue die box with the yellow cube would sometimes get them going other times zzzzzz..Its outta here! I need 100 percent, nothing less.
It is the performer I know but some things just don't go with my style.

Sorry so long here.....

I guess a show can be rated on screaming and yell value.

Clive, I know its difficult and you are across the pond but what would you say the average screaming and yelling is for your average show?

30 percent of the show?
50 percent etc.

My rabbit gets the kids going crazy. Usually P B n J does it also. I don't really look at every effect as to the laughter but should I? I mean involvement should be up there also correct?

I know this is way off being prop heavy but needed to give this some venting.

You are correct about the adults. I know I impress them but I must leave them totally out of the picture unless I use them for a silly volunteer etc.
Message: Posted by: The Donster (Sep 18, 2004 02:54PM)
Candini don't worry about it being so Long. I know your out of the 20-30 year range. as for Kids its hard to say how to keep them interested evreyone is Diffrent. also PM me on how you are doing the blue Die Box you might have to change the Bit a Bit. Don,
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Sep 18, 2004 03:51PM)
Its on Ebay Donster...ends tomorrow with one bid.
It had em screaming but not every party. I can't afford any more non user friendly effects. I have to have 100 percent success with every effect to be the best or at least better than the rest in my neck of the woods. There are not a lot of entertainers I know from here but they bring their acts in here from out of town to perform.
Message: Posted by: Emazdad (Sep 18, 2004 04:05PM)
If you mean screaming and yelling because I'm doing something that they feel they must point out to me, Theres a tiny bit of that in the first routine as they tell me the wands , bent, broken, or fallen apart, none in the 2nd routine and quite a bit when marmite does things behind my back. The rest of the time there is lots of laughing, pointing and even the occassional Wow.

The thing you have to get right is the balance, after a while if over done the screaming, and shouting bits of business can get repetitive and boring. Which is why I don't over do them.

You also have to be pretty flexible, each audience of kids are different, and something that sends one lot crazy will fall flat with another. Therefore you have to learn to suss the kids out at the start and adjust what you do and say to fit. That's why I can do the same show for 4 year olds, and 9 year olds. Also you have to be prepared for when your 'make the birthday kid look special' trick doesn't have a birthday kid because the kids suddenly gone shy and bottled it.

Because I do 2-Hour parties by the time I get to the magic show I know what makes this group tick, who not to have up, who to seperate when they sit down etc etc. If I'm only doing the one hour I arrive as they are eating, as I'm setting up if they are in the sameroom I'll talk to the kids, a have a laugh and suss them out that way.
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Sep 18, 2004 04:16PM)
"You also have to be pretty flexible, each audience of kids are different, and something that sends one lot crazy will fall flat with another. Therefore you have to learn to suss the kids out at the start and adjust what you do and say to fit"

Im following you around the board before a dinner Clive:) I see some of my show in every post but not a complete assessment. I do suss them out as I set up. I noticed from this last show they weren't a very lively bunch before or after the show. Perhaps Im being a bit hard on myself and I wish I could see all your shows here as well as you seeing mine. Boy would that be something. Really if I thought I was a flop at children I'd pack it in tomorrow and stay with adults but I really like the children, the challenge of it all and I have two at home also. I think most adult magi see this as a starting point or baby sitting etc but this is really hard work and something that really takes time to get right.

Im not at the point to let my effects last too long (crash and burn, do it early Candini:). That way if the reaction isn't there, its on to the next effect.

I know what works the majority of the time (yes age differences I am constantly aware of now) and as I get more experienced I will add and refine my show as needed.

Great help here as always and well heeded.


C
Message: Posted by: Rupert Bair (Sep 19, 2004 04:57AM)
Marmite is Clives lion. You either love him or hate him!

BTW, Thanks for making this the 2nd most popular post in the history of the litle darlings! followed by how much do you charge, I went through all 40 and found some really good posts along the way!.

Matt

The reason I believe Mark Tripp charges so much I, think is because he only does two types of shows and they both use specialist equptment and the experiments need new matireals every time. Although I didn't see a price of $500 they were still pretty reasonable for what he was offering.
matt
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Sep 19, 2004 05:21AM)
Thanks Matt,

Mark Tripp certainly is in a separate class of magicians. I'd love to see his show on tape.

C
Message: Posted by: Magic Patrick (Jan 1, 2011 11:22AM)
I don't care what anyone says about skill or great mysteries. I am an entertainer before I am a magician. Speaking of pack flat play big, I love the ones I have all of them are hits and I have a lot of fun with the children. I bring in a Lefler suitcase and one small side table and that is it for house call magic shows. I pack up and breakdown in no time at all. The parents love the show afterwards. The kids love it during. About a year ago I made this change as I use to bring in boxes for livestock and chair suspensions and backdrops and sound systems and bigger wands and the list goes on. It would take me all day to perform one show. These props didn't make my show any better. Just made me more tired.

So now to my point, here are the tricks that I think pack small and play huge for me everytime.

Deja Zoo (instant reset)
Cereal Killers (I get the parents involved) (instant reset)
Super Frog (almost instant reset)
Rising Card pad (not instant reset, but I make four at a time and keep them in a suitcase in the car)
Mini Hippity hop rabbits (instant reset and only take up 2" square space)
Shrinking and growing head (instant reset)
Happy Hyena (20 secnd set up and gives me 7 minutes of laughable entertainment from the children)
No tear restore newspaper (sometimes I use the Gene Anderson tear so I have extra in the car - Instant reset)
Sponge Balls (Instant reset)
Mismade Flags (Instant reset)
Needle though ballon (easy clean up and instant reset, I just put the needle in the wand and I am ready to go)
Professors nightmare (instant reset)
Flower box bag (30 second reset)
Vanishing Bottle (instant reset)

The only props I bring are multiplying bottles (Nuka Cola labels on them - reset is about one minute as I wrap them in a sock)
Stratosphere with devils box (instant reset)
Deceptive Square Circle
Sucker Die Box with top hat(instant reset)
Spell a Word (usually childs name if 7 letters or smaller, if not then it spells Magic)
Chattering teeth box (one minute reset dump out excess and load the other gimmick newspaper)
Vanishing Bandana (instant reset as I use the pocket inserts - I have to buy another banana but this is done on my way to the next show)

At the end and during the show I fill up the space to make any parent seem like they got their monies worth. Since I am only a hobby magician it is not about the money. Everything I own (illusions included) are completely paid for. The advantages of my show is I am in and out and ready to go. I don't compete with those that use the rabbits as I charge only $110 for a 45 minute show and they charge over $250. Very easy in this economy for party planners.

I hope that this helps with seeing the advantage of pack flat play big.

Patrick
Message: Posted by: David Thiel (Jan 14, 2011 09:53PM)
I am a fan of "Packs flat, plays BIG!"

If you are fixated on the effect and NOT the kids, you're missing the boat. I would much rather be a performer the kids really enjoyed than to be considered a guy who came and did some tricks. I'll go though fourteen effects in my half hour show. But it's NOT about the effects. That they rock is just a bonus. What it's about is the ENTERTAINMENT that happens along the way.

David
Message: Posted by: Starrpower (Jan 15, 2011 04:37PM)
I think you need a healthy mix. If you select your effects JUST on "pack small" you are missing out because your emphasis is on the wrong thing, which is entertaining the kids. On the other hand, if you disregard "pack small" entirely you may end up with an impractical show to carry around and move.

I prefer tricks that I enjoy doing, whether they are big or small. If I enjoy doing them, I will present them better and people will enjoy watching what I do. I don't intentionally select things based on size. That is secondary.

I just returned from doing a 9 year old boy's party. All of the tricks I did, with the exception of the Rocky Mountain Magic Pizza Oven, are "pack small" tricks. But the show was not created based on them being small; it just worked out that way. I chose them because they allow me to interact with the kids, they are entertaining, and they have some good magic.
Message: Posted by: David Thiel (Jan 15, 2011 05:00PM)
[quote]

I prefer tricks that I enjoy doing, whether they are big or small. If I enjoy doing them, I will present them better and people will enjoy watching what I do. I don't intentionally select things based on size. That is secondary.

[/quote]

I couldn't agree more. I was thinking the other day that the effect that got me into magic in the first place was seeing a street performer doing the Invisible Deck in the late 80's. I was floored. I still perform it today and it's one of my favorite effects.

It's the same thing with kids effects. I loved the Drawing Board the first time I saw it -- and I still do. Every effect in my kids show is chosen for those reasons. Although I must admit that I don't let myself look too long or longingly at BIG HONKING PROPS since I have a relatively small car.

:)

David
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Jan 15, 2011 05:19PM)
I like doing stuff that other magicians don't do.
Message: Posted by: Starrpower (Jan 15, 2011 07:12PM)
Funny, but that has never really entered my consciousness. I think that your average person (especially kids) has not seen enough magicians to even KNOW if you are doing the same stuff. If I like it, I do it. If it gets a good reaction, it stays in.
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Jan 15, 2011 08:15PM)
Starrpower
One thing that every member of the KGH has in common is that each one of them does original material. If I had to do one of the top ten kids magic tricks I would not feel as unique as I would like to be. My whole show is me thinking outside of the box.
Message: Posted by: Starrpower (Jan 15, 2011 08:59PM)
If I knew who the KBH that might mean something -- LOL!

I do original material, but every trick is not original and that is not a priority with me for shows. All my stuff is not original. For example, like you, I have a Pizza Oven Surprise, so I guess neither of us is completely original. Silly Billy does the coloring book.

If doing stuff that others are not doing is important to you, then you should do it.
Message: Posted by: TomBoleware (Jan 15, 2011 09:38PM)
I kind of feel the same way. Kids don't travel from town to town, and certainly not state to state watching magic shows.
Every magician could be doing the same show without a problem. But then the magicians wouldn't have anything to sell each other. LOL

But seriously, most kids will grow up, get old and die having only seen one or two (if any) magic shows during their lifetime.
Yet we worry about finding something new just to be different. But I agree, self satisfaction does mean a lot. Unless we first satisfy
ourselves it's hard to satisfy others.

Tom
Message: Posted by: Brian Lehr (Jan 15, 2011 10:40PM)
I just got home from doing an after-dinner banquet show, and ended off with the straitjacket escape (nothing special, just a standard escape). As usual, it got a huge response.

After the show, one of the key people in the company came up to me as I was leaving, and said she especially enjoyed the straitjacket escape. She said that she had never seen that done in a magic show before.

To me, it seems that every second magician does a straitjacket escape, but this lady made me realize that just because WE see those magicians, doesn't mean the average spectator has seen them. So something that we use in our show, which we might think is what everyone else is doing, will often be brand new for the audience we are performing for.

Brian
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Jan 15, 2011 10:46PM)
Tom
The people that I look up to are all originals, and I just have to do it all the way, or not at all.

Starrpower
The pizza box is not my only problem. The rest of my show is just a combination of material that I have copied from every magician that I have ever seen or read about both living, and dead.
Message: Posted by: Red Shadow (Jan 16, 2011 04:28AM)
I agree with Tom, I don't mind if the magician copies another entertainers act completely as long as the act they are coping was released by the performer on DVD (giving them the right to copy it) and they don't then release their own DVD with a copy of that act.
It's fine for private parties, just not for tv or other magicians.
Unfortunately, watching shows on BBC like 'the magician' is like watching tricks almost copied completely from their original creators and performed as described straight out of the instructions. They may impress lay people, but all those magicians on that show are ruining magic for me and I can't watch it anymore.

But as long as it's for private parties, then copiyng is fine. Sometimes a routine is polished so much by a performer that to put your own spin on it would actually damage the impact value and ruin the trick. Sometimes it's best to perform it as the original magician did. But don't go on tv with the trick.

As for flat pack, I mainly agree with you but there are always exceptions and in the end, it comes down to mixing it up. If every other trick is flat pack, then that's okay. But you can't do an entire show off it, that's bad.
Message: Posted by: TonyB2009 (Jan 16, 2011 08:13AM)
Al, I am with you 100%. I strive to have a show that no other magician has. The first step was to eliminate the magic words and wands. Then the props - no hippy hoppy rabbits, no colouring books. Certainly no rabbits or chair suspensions.

Once all those were gone I was able to build up a show based on personality. It works as a show now, rather than a collection of tricks. It packs small (into pockets, apart from the puppet) but that is just a happy coincidence. And it plays big, which is why I get repeat bookings.

I find parents don't want to see a room full of props - they don't care over here. And some houses are too small in any case. What parents want is to hear an hour of laughter and good fun. If the kids love you, their parents will rebook you.
Message: Posted by: David Thiel (Jan 16, 2011 09:42AM)
A purchased prop is to me what a script is to an actor. You don't expect that actors must write their own plays in order to perform...a magic prop is the same. I do not need to create my prop in order to do a good job performing it.

The UNIQUE thing...that which us un-"copyable"...is YOU and the way YOU present your magic and the way YOU interact with the audience. The prop is just a byproduct, a catalyst, to create that mechanism.

David
Message: Posted by: Red Shadow (Jan 16, 2011 10:37AM)
Well put David.

My show is original but for my own reasons, I have no problem with someone copying my entire act should they wish. I know they can copy the tricks, but I doubt they will ever copy my personality. Beside, I'll just invent something new the next week so I'm really not that concerned about releasing stuff. I also believe that imitation is the best form of flattery.
Message: Posted by: rsylvester (Mar 7, 2011 11:29PM)
I'm on the side of whatever works with the audience. When I was a kid, I bought, "How to Entertain Children with Magic You Can Do" by "The Great Merlini," aka [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clayton_Rawson}Clayton Rawson[/url], one of the premier mystery writers of the 1950s. Throughout the years, in and out of magic, I kept that book, and some of the rope tricks, like the old shoelace trick, still gets great reaction. Of course, I combine them with others and make the routines my own. But most "pack small." Plus, as a professional writer, I love having the book from a guy who help found the "Mystery Writers of America."

I was reading this thread this morning before I went to work this morning, it stuck with me, and really got me to thinking. I like to travel light as well, and respect the opinions of people here who say the props are key and people want their money's worth. I'm getting ready to do a church show and had my 11-year-old daughter helping me put the effects together. I have a color-changing cane that's older than many of the people on this forum, but it still works. I had put it in the drawer and shown it only for my kids. My daughter was insistent that I include that. She loves it. So you know what? Despite people ragging on different effects, I'm including it. I also know a pro here, who does travel to as many shows as he can cram in on a Saturday, who swears by the coloring book.

So in thinking about all the ideas here, which are so valuable, I thought: How about packing light but with some production type material that really does play big? You walk into a party or setting with just a brief case, then have to make several trips to carry it all out after the loads are produced?

People would be scratching their heads. You really travel light and have all the props at the end and people are wondering, "How did that happen?"

Get out to the car. Reset, and you're onto the next show. Not that I really have a next show to go to right now. Just a thought from a hack who's really interested in magic.
Message: Posted by: KC Cameron (Mar 29, 2011 02:46AM)
I have been a full-time pro for over 20 years, and I have been on every side of this discussion at one time or another.

Big colorful props (I call "Box Magic") are great at building excitement during the pre-show, and can be great sales tools. On the other hand, most magicians who use them end up getting lazy and less creative and original. I know I did. The magic ends up being in the prop, not the magician, and often they become puzzles.

Small props encourage creativity and showmanship, since you cannot hide behind a prop. I think one can connect better to the audience, where it becomes more of an "experience" than a "show" with smaller, simpler props. When using simple props, the magic resides in you, not the "magic box". The entertainment also rests on your shoulders with simple props as apposed to "box magic".

Let's look at the hugely popular Harry Potter series. Muggle magicians are pitied. The magic is done with simple "organic" props, and the magic rests much more in the individual than in "magic objects" - although both are used.

In my shows, I don't want anything to look like a magic prop. I want the kids to be amazed at my magic, not my magic boxes. This is a personal preference, and I do not think it is for everyone. Actually I am glad it is not more popular. While I have spent (and spend) tons on magic props, in the end, the ones I end up using are ones I have made.... with the exception of the Axtell Board. My props now are kitchen dishes (sometimes the clients'!), paper bags, hangers, and other household items. Some are gimmicked, some aren't, but they all look like normal objects (with the exception of my Lie Detector).

I have lightened my load considerably, and can now perform out of a briefcase. (Plus sound, posters and a backdrop.) This was not a goal, I just found myself using the bigger props less and less.

The neat thing about my current show is it works well for all age groups from 5-up. It also works well in a living room or on stage. Much of it works in walk-around as well.

Now granted, this is not just my magic preference, but I am reaching 50, and lugging a floating table does not excite me anymore.

I have found a way to make up for the fancy props. Large professional posters (5 feet high) and Jeff Jones' backdrop. I get the "bling" without the negatives of using "Box Magic".
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (Mar 29, 2011 04:18AM)
Even when performing my "packs flat" (briefcase) show, there's still the need for a bunch of stuff. The briefcase table and stand, a PA and iPod for music, guitar, costume, balloon bag and balloon pump. And for standard parties there's also lugging in a backdrop and two side banners. Plus accessories such as batteries, cables, postcards, drawing pins, tool kit, microphone, "emergency" tricks like the egg bag and TT, cloths and colourful drapes. All of this means even the smallest shows aren't that small!
For some shows, clients ask for: Bigger Wands, Flying Carpet, Axtell puppets, Drawing Board, etc. And of course, in the standard show also a couple of larger props....perhaps "Flag-O-Matic", and "Funhouse". So there always seems to be a lot to haul in.
But a lot of packs small items work well too.
On the other hand, only performing 4 shows a week when possible, earns as much as the average accountant earns in a 5-day week. My preference is never to perform more than two shows a day, and keep weekday bookings to a minimum, or else take a day off at the weekend if If the dollar is already in from earlier in the week.
Of course, "packs flat plays big" is one of the fave topics here at the MC. No amount of props will make you entertaining, but a big colourful show is always going to provide that eye-candy that kids love. Advertising photos that include beautiful props work wonders, which also makes a show look more interesting.
There is no "right" or "wrong", but my philosophy has always been to create shows which offer as much variety as possible, include plenty of magic and visuals, gags and business. And lots of different shows, constantly updated with new routines and material.
Unusual or unique props, and limited edition props, which no one in your area has, or will ever have, can aid as USPs. If you try to make roughly 90% of the material in your shows your own original scripting and presentations, folks won't have seen every other magician doing "the same stuff".
Message: Posted by: TonyB2009 (Mar 29, 2011 07:01AM)
I have always found that the biggest thing in my show should be me (and I don't mean the twenty stone!). I spend on my costumes, so that when I arrive I am the centre of attention right from the off. Twenty years ago I took the decision to work almost exclusively on my presentation skills. I joined Toastmasters and worked hard on that. When I got a puppet I took eight weeks of voice coaching to get that right. The end result is that there is less and less in my act. This year I flew to Lapland with a briefcase, containing three forty minute shows. Apart from a set of linking rings there is nothing in my act that anyone else could have, so no one can say they saw it before. That gives me my unique selling point - unless they've seen me before they won't have seen what I do.

If I needed to add bulk to the show I would go with a good backdrop ahead of any prop. Laughter, comedy and good storytelling don't need props to support them.

I recognize that this is a personal choice, and if someone chooses to use big props because they love them and can make them entertaining, rather than hiding behind them as so many do, then I respect that decision. The guys I don't respect are the ones who think that a chair suspension and a rabbit production at the end are the keys to success.
Message: Posted by: Ken Northridge (Mar 29, 2011 07:04AM)
I just read this entire thread and I am once again struck by the fact that you can have two completely different philosophies and both can be totally successful. I can’t see how anyone can disagree with that. Now, as to which philosophy is wiser, more profitable, more entertaining, etc. …the debate goes on.

Does anyone know anything about Sammy Haydn? He was a poster on page 1 that prompted Tricky Ricky to write this:
[quote]
On 2004-09-07 19:10, TrickyRicky wrote:
Hello Mr Sammy Haydn.
I have seen you perform for children and you are the best there ever will be. Quite an all rounder you are. You can do almost anything as far as entertaining an audience. I don't think the Café posters really knows how excellent a performer you are. I'd say you're one of a kind, the likes of which we'll never see again. [/quote]
That is some high praise coming from Tricky Ricky!
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Mar 30, 2011 07:33AM)
Ken
Ricky is absolutely correct Sammy Haydin is great, but I think Ricky is just being modest.