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Stevethomas
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Chance calls that stuff "Alumicore"...and it's pretty sturdy, thin and light.

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

Matthew


If you read my post that is exactly what I said. Have a good show, prop heavy or not. Just have a good show.
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"MT is one of the reasons we started this board! Im so sick of posts being deleted without any reason given, and by unknown people at that." - Steve Brooks Sep 7, 2001 8:38pm
1999-2014 Daniel Denney all rights reserved.
derrick
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I suppose the reason that the meat of my show packs flat and plays big is that it gives me the flexibility to travel and play any size venue and set up just about anywhere if I need to do so. For the most part I don't play my show this way but if I must I will, and I still feel like I'm giving the audience my "A" show. Within this frame I usually perform routines that require bigger, bulkier props. I love my bigger wands for instance, but they are just too big for some rooms so I don't always perform them.

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

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

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

Sorry to disagree


Matthew
Danny Hustle
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Quote:
On 2007-12-03 10:55, James Fortune wrote:

Absolutely Matthew!

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

Hmm. Interesting.


Hi James,

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

Best,

Dan-
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"MT is one of the reasons we started this board! Im so sick of posts being deleted without any reason given, and by unknown people at that." - Steve Brooks Sep 7, 2001 8:38pm
1999-2014 Daniel Denney all rights reserved.
Dennis Michael
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I sure hope everyone follows the advice of "pack flat and play big" as mentioned above because I pack big play big and charge the top price in my area, I can't count the number of times I am told by the customer they were looking for a "Real Magician" with all the props. It is almost a niche in my area.

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

The drawbacks:

  • More trips to the car.
  • Much heavier in weight (And this is the single biggest drawback especially as I get older.)
  • Can't do lots of shows in one day. A single show takes 2.5 hours to set-up, perform & break down/reset. Two is my max by choice.

The advantages:

  • Looks like the classic magician as seen on TV cartoon/children shows
  • It is fun using all the props as well as th magic
  • It is my signature act as a classic magician.

The Equipment:

  • Lefler table loaded with, Pro Viper, sound system, miser's dream bucket, Safety cones, Rabbit Production Box, Birthday Hat Spring Rabbit
  • Laflin Table with, all the flat props, but looks big when set up, Temple screen, variety of coloring books, big head illusion, happy birthday art, what's next, appearing cans, disappearing canes, give-aways, vanishing bandana, a variety of comedy wands, three side tables, and more (Do not use them all but switch out items based on age group.)
  • Wiz-Kote in it's own Box
  • Treasure Chest Recovery box for Wiz-Kote
  • Axtel Puppets (Rodney, Big Bear, or Vern)
  • Axtell's Meter
  • Chair Suspension Bag
  • Backdrop (The new quick set-up backdrop replaced the Spider backdrop)
  • Rabbit in His cage.
  • Balloon Pump (If client wants balloons but I avoid this if possible)
  • Dependent on venue: Spotlight, Movie Projection system, and others
  • Dependent on fund Raiser: Trailer loaded with illusions and consession stand equipment.
  • And there is more, but you do get the picture of different shows require different props.


Fee Range: $250 to $2,000

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

PS...Topic: New Magic Box / Rollon so I am looking for ways to reduce the number of trips without increasing back-pain.
Dennis Michael
Danny Hustle
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Quote:
On 2007-12-03 14:42, mrmarvel wrote:
Hi Danny

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

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

Sorry to disagree


Matthew


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best,

Dan-
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"MT is one of the reasons we started this board! Im so sick of posts being deleted without any reason given, and by unknown people at that." - Steve Brooks Sep 7, 2001 8:38pm
1999-2014 Daniel Denney all rights reserved.
Danny Hustle
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Dennis,

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

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

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

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

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

I say, be yourself.

Best,

Dan-
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"MT is one of the reasons we started this board! Im so sick of posts being deleted without any reason given, and by unknown people at that." - Steve Brooks Sep 7, 2001 8:38pm
1999-2014 Daniel Denney all rights reserved.
NJJ
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Some thoughts on prop size.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Opps Off topic... When one brings in the props, does the client feel like they are getting their monies worth? If the answer is yes, and more business is increased through word of mouth, then you know you are priced right.
Dennis Michael
Danny Hustle
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Nick,

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

Best,

Dan-
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"MT is one of the reasons we started this board! Im so sick of posts being deleted without any reason given, and by unknown people at that." - Steve Brooks Sep 7, 2001 8:38pm
1999-2014 Daniel Denney all rights reserved.
Tom Riddle
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Danny Hustle speaks much wisdom. Many on this thread could do well to listen to his genius!
"Yes, Virginia, there really are people named Riddle...isn't that AMAZING! And to think of all the royalties I'm missing out on! SCANDALOUS!"

Thomas Williamson Riddle III
Chelsea, UK
kimmo
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I am well aware that this thread has meandered off topic and back to our old favourite of big props vs small props, but I really believe there is only one rule that should apply to all branches of entertainment:

PUT ON A GOOD SHOW

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

What are you up to for two and a half hours?
Tony James

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Tom Riddle
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I have just heard from my British friend in Arizona that he will be taking part in the world's children's entertainer competition at the Blackpool convention in february. It will be held in the Opera House, the largest theatre in Europe, and he will be working his show out of a carrier bag!
"Yes, Virginia, there really are people named Riddle...isn't that AMAZING! And to think of all the royalties I'm missing out on! SCANDALOUS!"

Thomas Williamson Riddle III
Chelsea, UK
Danny Hustle
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Quote:
On 2007-12-03 16:50, Dennis Michael wrote:
The most profound statement has been said and repeated by Danny "Be Yourself". I would not be myself working out of a suitcase. I just wouldn't feel right inside. It's not me!


Dennis,

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

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

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

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

Best,

Dan-
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"MT is one of the reasons we started this board! Im so sick of posts being deleted without any reason given, and by unknown people at that." - Steve Brooks Sep 7, 2001 8:38pm
1999-2014 Daniel Denney all rights reserved.
Danny Hustle
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Quote:
On 2007-12-04 09:04, Tony James wrote:
By the way, in the UK one usually allows fifteen minutes to get in, set, and to strike, pack and get out.



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

Best,

Dan-
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"MT is one of the reasons we started this board! Im so sick of posts being deleted without any reason given, and by unknown people at that." - Steve Brooks Sep 7, 2001 8:38pm
1999-2014 Daniel Denney all rights reserved.
chris mcbrien
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Quote:
On 2007-12-04 09:39, Danny Hustle wrote:
Quote:
On 2007-12-03 16:50, Dennis Michael wrote:
The most profound statement has been said and repeated by Danny "Be Yourself". I would not be myself working out of a suitcase. I just wouldn't feel right inside. It's not me!


Dennis,

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

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

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

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

Best,

Dan-


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

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

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

I believe the problem that many of us have with this current topic is that we believe that there are a number of dreadful entertainers, who hide behind their props, and believe that makes them a good entertainer. It does not. How do we know this? We have seen the videos!
"Yes, Virginia, there really are people named Riddle...isn't that AMAZING! And to think of all the royalties I'm missing out on! SCANDALOUS!"

Thomas Williamson Riddle III
Chelsea, UK
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