Monthly Archives: November 2013

Experience Review: Shriners Children’s Hospital – Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Tonight’s routine was a mixture of victory and frustrations. I had been working on new material for doing shows, and this was a test of some of the new stuff in addition to using some of the material I used all summer. All in all, though, the crowd was good and we had fun both during and after the acts. At this point, I’m hoping to pull enough into a good act to start performing, probably starting with the elderly care facilities and working my way into bigger gigs from there. Some of this I’m sure I’ve mentioned before in other blogs, but for anybody just joining in, I figured I’d do that little bit of recap.

After Ken Trokey did his routine, it was time for me to take the stage. After I got my gear in place, I started off with my Linking Rings routine. Now, before, my routine was pretty much Al Schneider’s, just adapted a bit for myself. Since the last time I performed it for a crowd, though, I’ve been reworking it. Between Levent’s Linking Rings DVD set and various lecture notes and printed routines, I had reworked things to a routine that I feel is strong for me, and I was jazzed to perform it. It’s still a five-ring routine, and I think it should be a stronger opener in addition to still being a good routine for busking when I start that again in the spring. And, even though I started strong, I got a bit confused in the routine and got some stuff out of order. Freaking ouch! I got to the point where I couldn’t see my outs, so I ended the routine while it was still okay.  Because of the amount of manipulation involved in the rings, I know that either I should have put more time into the new routine or used the old routine while working through the new material until that was set enough for me to focus harder on the rings. Strong opening to the routine, but not so grand in the finish.

In the set list I had, I ended up dropping the next routine. It’s not a hard one to perform, but at this point I felt it was better to skip over the new and go back to one of my time and tested my routines. Okay, I hadn’t lost the crowd with the rings, but it felt like now I had them back on my side. And seriously, if you ever use the line, “Pull my finger” at the end of a routine that has fathers in the crowd, you know you have them in your corner. Cheap gag, but it seems to work.

The next two routines, my sponge ball bit and the Ropes Thru the Neck, were as solid as I knew they would be. It was at the performances for the Purina Farms Haunted Hayloft that I decided I needed to add a stronger ending to the sponge ball routine, and I had that at the ready, but at this point, I felt it was better to stay in my comfort zone because of my finale routine. As it was, both routines were happily received and we had fun.

And now we come up to what I’ve been stressing out about for the past month and a half, my new finale bit. Bits and pieces have been things that I wanted to do, but I didn’t know how to tie them up together, and at this point, it’s feeling like I’ve got something I and the audience can have fun with. It starts out with my variation on Dan Garrett’s “World Famous Banana Trick” (carrot variation) before leading into my production of Reggie the Rabbit. We do a number of spring animal puppet gags before Reggie reveals a card selected by an audience member (this uses a prop made by Fort Wayne magician Dick Stoner). There are quite a number of tricks involved with the finale routine, so between going through the script and blocking, I was a bit stressed and excited about doing the routine. I might be using bits and pieces from throughout the magic books, but like the new Linking Rings routine, the arrangement is mine, so I’m a bit proud of it.

As it was, some bits got left out and some (a lot) of lines got dropped, but it worked! Not ready for a competition or anything, but we had a lot of fun. Bonus, though, is that the assistant I picked out for the routine is having another round of surgery tomorrow. Bad thing is, I never quite caught what her name was. I know there are plenty of ways around this as far as dialog is concerned, but this kinda means something to me. I love connecting to the audience as we play together, and it helps if it starts by knowing their names. On another note, I started working through this routine a few months ago, and when I performed for the hospital last, a girl by the name of Valora wanted to see a rabbit production. This pushed me to move this routine to the top of the list of routines to add. Sadly, even though she was supposed to be at the hospital until the day before Thanksgiving, she had additional surgery yesterday and wasn’t able to make it to the show tonight. Even worse, she’ll be in the hospital for another six months, so there’s a good chance she’ll be able to catch Reggie’s act. Sadly, she’ll still probably be in a halo. Poor kid, and that goes for all the ones who are out there. Considering the types of treatments kids receive at the Shriners Children’s Hospital, they’re not there just for an overnight stay.

As it was, it was a good night, overall. After our acts were done, I hung out with the kids some more, did a little bit of close-up, was shown a trick from my same lovely assistant from the Reggie routine,  taught them a trick, and got out before I got dealt in to a game of Skip-Bo.

My main take-away from tonight’s performance, though is about playing with the audience. I found the more comfortable I was in performing a routine, the more it was me playing with the audience. I commented about this in my review of Shawn Farquhar’s performance, and I’ve been reminded of this while watching DVDs from John Shyrock. I love calling people up to the stage to keep them part of the act, and I find that I can’t stop smiling the entire time. In Shawn and John’s (sorry for the rhyme) performances, that’s the joy that I feel in the performance. Going with a combination of Murray Hatfield’s and David Ginn’s routining structures, I see how the routine selections can be applied in building that act. Also, going back to Levent, and reviewing his performances, I appreciate how much magic is built into a routine without ever saying “For my next trick…” while performing copious amounts of magic.

Also, I’ve got a greater appreciation of adding new material to routines. My prowess in magic isn’t to the point that I’m able to do a whole new 30 minute act of material I’ve never done before. My new finale was big enough that I should have stayed on with tried and true for the rest of it until the finale was solid enough. Problem is, I’ve broken the seal on some stuff, like the rings routine, I don’t want to look back. The other new material can be worked in and I think I might have to perform a hell of a lot more at club meetings to get the kinks worked out of some other bits. It feels close to go time, though, as far as going to market.

And, hey, a few hours after the performance is done, I’m still smiling about it. How cool is that?

Oh, and for little Paige: You may find out sometime how I did the sponge ball routine, but you won’t hear it from me how it’s done.

Daily Dose of Magic – John Shyrock “Baby Card Trick”

One of the things I love to see is when families are part of the act with the magician. John Shyrock’s ( wife, Mari Lynn, in addition to being his life partner, is also his magic partner. As a kid, I always loved trapeze artists at the circus because you saw less of just one performer and knew families who were generations into high-wire work. Because of that appreciation, I dig this routine where John and Mari Lynn have their daughters, Hailey and Jasmine, helping in the act.

John Shyrock “Baby Card Trick”

Daily Dose of Magic – Tom Burgoon Comedy Magic

Tom Burgoon ( is an example of what can happen after a misspent youth getting in trouble in Study Hall. He is the man who brought toilet paper into magic and is one of the funniest magicians in the business. This is one of his promo videos, but considering it has Timmy in it, it’s definitely worth taking a dose of. Enjoy!

Tom Burgoon Comedy Magic

Daily Dose of Magic – Ricky Jay “Sword of Vengeance”

Once again, an appearance on this blog by Ricky Jay ( In this card routine, he once again demonstrates that as much as he can mystify with what he does in card magic, he is a great raconteur. I don’t know if I’ll ever have that knack, but growing up around two outstanding raconteurs and (let’s face it) brilliant bullshit artists, one being my Uncle Dan and the other my friend’s dad, Roger Wilbur, I love and appreciate the art. Ricky Jay shows that a great card trick gets even better with a good story.

Ricky Jay “Sword of Vengeance”

Daily Dose of Magic – Paul Daniels Levitation Trick

Once again visiting the mind of master magician Paul Daniels, we have one of the coolest levitation tricks to come along in a while. While many levitation acts have a lot of flash, this trick is propelled as much by Paul’s personality as illusion. I’m pretty sure if I had seen this one as a kid, I probably would have landed myself in the hospital while trying to reproduce it myself.

Paul Daniels Levitation Trick

Daily Dose of Magic – Kevin Kalvus Contact Juggling

OK, if there is one other form of physical performance that I would love to be able to add to my act, it is contact juggling. The first exposure to this form of manipulation was performed by Michael Moschen in the movie “Labyrinth,” and I’ve been entranced with it ever since. This clip is by German Kelvin Kalvus (, and his movement and manipulation is nothing short of magical. Kelvin’s physical control and movement is stunning. His presentation is both mystical and beautiful, and while it’s not considered magic by the strictest sense, I find I have to add it here.

Kelvin Kalvus Contact Juggling

Daily Dose of Magic – Duo Minasov Quick Change Act

Not many quick change acts really impress me, but Russians Victor and Elena Minasov, billed as Duo Minasov (, are one of those few. International award winners, they both have a strong background in circus performance. Lots of dance and choreography make up a hell of an act. For this performance, I definitely give bonus points for use of the Brian Setzer Orchestra.

Duo Minasov Quick Change Act

Daily Dose of Magic – Brynolf & Ljung “The World’s Most Difficult Card Trick”

Sweden’s Peter Brynolf and Jonas Ljung ( won a silver medal at FISM in the Comedy category in 2009. They were semi-finalists in “Britain’s Got Talent” and were successful in fooling Penn & Teller. You can tell that even if magic were not involved, these two would be just as great as comedy entertainers, so the magic is a bonus. Here is their appearance on Penn & Teller’s “Fool Us.”

Brynolf & Ljung “The World’s Most Difficult Card Trick”

Daily Dose of Magic – Lance Burton “Multiplying Bottles”

I do like Multiplying Bottles routines, and Lance Burton has that charm on stage that just brings out this best in this classic of magic. Most presentations I see of this are strsight out comedy with a lot of mugging by the performer. Lance’s style keeps the laughs in the routine without it feeling like just a repeated series of gags.

Lance Burton “Multiplying Bottles”

Daily Dose of Magic – Uh, Me

OK, for me this is just painful to watch, but other than video from a high school performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” I’ve never liked watching myself on video. Fair warning, this is pretty much the first act I worked out and I did it (sans tux) for busking. This is less a piece of art than a crayon drawing on the refrigerator, but it’s mine, even if the routines borrowed heavily from Al Schneider (pretty much his Linking Rings routine, just adjusted a bit to suit my taste), Daryl (although it’s a pretty standard Sponge Ball bit) and the Ropes Though the Neck technique is from Harry Monti. This was shot by Greg Lewis at an S.A.M. Assembly 8 meeting on my phone as just a quick and dirty video to show my routine to possibly get into the Midwest Magic Jubilee for their Thursday night performance. Didn’t get in, but I’m okay with that. It was the personal challenge to at least try.

Working My Busking Routine on Stage