Thursday, January 24, 2008


Onward and Upward

Here is that time of the year when your either up to 4 feet of Snow trying to get a gig or wondering when the season is ready for gigs again. So far this year has been a bit of both for me. Not that we get snow here in Fresno like I did as a kid growing up in New York. We have gotten enough rain some days to begin wondering if I should build an Ark. During this downtime is a great time to start lining up those gigs for the summer. For you might want to start contacting summer schools and camps. Not to mention libraries and day cares that end up taking in the kids that have no school all summer. Also now is the best time to do repairs to the props and even design a new show or two. Update so of the effects in your birthday routine. If you look in the mirror and hold up your 8x10 and that person doesn't look like you anymore, time to get new photos for you promotional material. While the slow time of the winter is slowing the world down jump ahead and be ready for those calls and shows.

Tony's Picks

Lie Detector TW3000

From local creative electronic wizard Tim Wisseman, the creator and builder of Remote Vision Color Cube and Remote Vision Die come his latest and greatest work. Is it possible to tell when someone is lying? Tim can with his Lie Detector TW3000 and you can let everyone know when someone is fibbing. The device is built into a rugged aluminum tool case measuring 11.5" X 7.5" X 4.5". The control and light display panels are made of heavy duty black acrylic plastic ready for many years of use. An elastic wrist band wired to the dreaded machine is placed on a volunteer's arm. When the power switch is turned on, 10 small bright LED lights begin to flash, including 3 lights on the wrist band. However, no matter how the person answers your questions, the lie detector will know if they are not telling the truth. If a lie is detected a bright red light comes on as a loud buzzer sounds and pandemonium ensues. It can be used in just about any routine that you can think of. It can be part of a comedy act, card trick, or even part of a mind reading effect. This is one of the most versatile utility devices you can own. It is battery powered so you can use it anywhere. It is large enough and loud enough for a stage act yet small enough to be used in a parlor show. The perfect prop for trade show workers, street performers, comedy club magician or any performer that wishes loads of laughs from his audience. Each unit is carefully hand-crafted and tested by the designer. The unit is totally under your control at all times thanks to a tiny radio remote control with a 100 foot range that you can be placed in your pocket or controlled using toe switch in your shoe. You have the option of turning off the buzzer and just use the bright light as the only indicator. The lie detector can even double as a detector of other things besides lies. Lots of comedy possibilities here for the creative magician. The TW3000 Lie Detector is an item built locally here in Fresno and you can only get them from Hocus Pocus

New Improved Remote Controlled Radio

From our friend Suds comes the greatest walk-around and close-up magical gag around, the New Improved Remote Controlled Radio. Walk up to a person and remove their pen from their breast pocket "Oh! This is one of those new radio pens," you say as you pretend to turn the end of the pen and at the same time turn on your remote controlled radio. Spectators will laugh and be amazed when they hear music or talk come from their pen! "Turn off" the pen and hand it back to the spectators and continue on with your set. The New Improved Remote Controlled Radio is a fantastic gag when making balloon animals. If you have a good music station, tune it in, present the balloon animal to the person and say, "This is a musical dog" (or whatever the animal is) and turn it's nose or tail to make it play. So many gags you can use this for and here are a few more. Turn yourself on by using a button on your jacket or costume, by turning your nose or bending one ear. Any item you pick up can be used as a gag as you find its make believe on/off button. Draw a picture of a radio on your business card and turn the knob and hold the card close to your hidden radio, then give them your card. A great way to give out your (now musical) business card. So don't miss out on the most clever way of making magic and music at anytime, anywhere and with anything!

Szechuan Sampler 2.0

From the creative team of Larry Beck and Lee Earle comes Szechuan Sampler 2.0. First published in they great book Syzygy now comes complete with all the well made props for this magical Chinese dinner. Created by Fred Rosenbaum, The performer hands four authentic menus from different Chinese restaurants to a participant, informing, "We're going to take a virtual tour among these dining establishments, sampling selections from each place until we've ordered a four-course meal: an appetizer, main dish, side dish, and dessert. Note that each restaurant has a wide variety of selections and all at different prices, yes?" The participant agrees. "You will be the host for our culinary caper." explains the Mentalist. "So hand three of those menus to folks you will invite to join you. And this, (placing a letter-size card in full view) is our gift certificate for the expenses, tax and tip included." Once the menus are distributed, the 'host' is instructed, "As our gastronomical guide, you may choose a dish from any course on the menu - we don't have to go in order Which course shall it be? ("A side dish.")** The performer takes out a pad and marking pen and, after inquiring which item is being ordered, writes it down and asks, "How much is it?" The amount is openly written down on the pad. All of the others each choose a different course and item from their menus with each name and price duly recorded in a column on the pad. "I'm certain that each of you will agree," reminds the mentalist, "that if you had chosen a different course, the selection ordered would have varied and the price would not be the same, correct?" All the participants agree. "Let's determine the total bill," suggests the performer, holding the pad in full view as he adds the price of each freely selected item. "It appears the dinner will cost $23.45. Not bad for a party of four. Let's see how much of that amount the gift certificate covers." The gift certificate is turned around and is seen to be printed with the amount $23.45! This routine comes with professionally designed and printed menus, all of them (except the paper takeout menu) are glossy coated for years of use. In addition, each menu has hidden cues for some of the most outrageous (and definitely un-PC) gag lines you could possibly imagine, which turn the effect from mere mental magic into belly-spitting entertainment! Szechuan Sampler is ready to go - no setup is required. The routine uses no forces, no gimmicks, no stooges, and nothing added or taken away. If you are working a repeat show, you may rest assured that the final total will be different! So here is a perfect packs flat, plays big presentation that you can perform right away. Imagine this as a effect to be done any type of show or even as a walkaround in a restaurant!

Restaurant Workers Handbook

From that wacky inventor and author Jim Pace comes Restaurant Workers Handbook. It is now back in print and you can learn how to make money doing restaurant magic. Jim Pace makes a very successful living performing Restaurant Magic. Now, in his Handbook for Restaurant Workers, Jim shares the secrets that have taken him years to learn. In this extremely informative 150 page book, Jim also teaches you everything it takes to become a successful restaurant entertainer. With 28 informative chapters which cover topic such as How to find places to work, How to approach a restaurant, How to get the job, How to keep the job. Then Jim covers the type of services you can provide as well as your act and the kind of material to perform. Then working tables and how to handle different clientele and for increasing income
to promote yourself and so much more. In addition to invaluable information on becoming a successful restaurant entertainer, Jim also parts with his own pet routines, including "openers", "strong middle routines", and "closers!" A not to be missed insiders guide to the money making career of Restaurant Magic

How to Make a Ton of Money Performing in Schools Program

From Cris Johnson comes his program " How to Make a Ton of Money Performing in Schools Program. Many aspiring magicians want to do school assembly shows, but their thinking about how to do it and what to offer is very flawed! For instance, most birthday show magicians decide to get into the school market because of the larger audiences and larger paychecks. Here’s the truth of the matter: If you don’t give school clients exactly the kind of program they want, then you’re NOT going to be successful in the school market! For starters, the pay is really good – Cris Johnson, creator of this course, makes between $450 (minimum) to $3000 per program performing all over the United States and Canada! Compared to other markets, schools are very easy to get into if you know the right techniques. Schools are on the look out for assembly presenters all the time. Unlike the holiday parties, Halloween shows or library shows, you can easily make a full-time living working schools 10 months out of the year, every year! What this means is this: if you want to perform in schools on a consistent basis, you must have educational material to present. That is what schools want the vast majority of the time. only by offering educational shows will you fill your calendar with shows. That’s where Cris Johnson’s new Course comes in! If you want to get into performing in schools: How would you like to: Learn how to perform on stage – not just get the gigs, but also find out exactly how to perform on stage in front of several hundred students? Know exactly what to present to school clients? How would you like to know exactly what to say to excite school administrators to say yes to hiring you? How would you like to have lists of contact names, phone numbers, addresses and schools in your area? How would you like to know exactly what to perform, what to say from a proven act, and how to get the booking? The “How To Make A Ton Of Money Performing in Schools” is actually a complete program…real marketing and complete performance script secrets that you can take and use in your performing career. After 15 years performing all over the United States and Canada, Cris Johnson knows what messages and concepts schools want for their assembly programs. He currently has three different school educational programs available to other entertainers, and they are, and continue to be, the hottest topics in schools. You will also recieve 3 complete performance script and analysis manuals. Cris' program is truly a great way to get your foot in the door of the school show market. So much more information about this program I recommend you check all of the write up information on our website.

Tony's Tips

School Shows

This week we look at School Shows. Sometimes steady work as a entertainer is not always or ever going to be the Las Vegas stage. Having a different stage everyday might be where you work instead. Making a living working for a captive audience that doesn't have to be in class today is not a bad way of earning a buck. School show audiences are always fun and I have gotten other gigs from them. Being able to visit and get return visit calls are the sign that your doing well. Over the years when I have done shows it has always been as a treat to the kids from the school's Parent Teachers group. Since I have started it was just about the magic, comedy and Fun! Over the years of learning about different performers making a living in the school show market it is now about theme programs. Folks like David Ginn and Barry Mitchell have written books and produced DVDs to show you the style of creating themed school shows.

The school show market is one that could keep you working all year round. Since I was a kid school ended for the summer. Now there are schools that run all year long due to the number of kids in the city or town. Each school has different needs for entertainers. I know some performers that do a show in the morning and then a workshop in the afternoon. Sometimes it could be a magic program followed by magic lessons for a couple of classes. Some of my friends present Circus/ Clown / Comedy shows and then in the afternoon have a circus arts workshop teaching juggling.

The other thing about school shows are you start your day early and can finish early and be home as if you did have a office job. Getting home by if not before 5:00 and have a regular life ...kindda. So tonight I am writting about school shows to also introduce a couple of guests and there tips to this blog. First please welcome Cris Johnson from "How to Make a Ton of Money Performing in Schools Program". Here are a few ideas from his book.

Cris Johnson in Action

Hi Tony,
Thanks for all of your help and kindness. Here's a blurb about me and some tips...
"I've been working in schools for the better part of two decades. I actually started off magic backwards from most in that when I was younger, I became interested inmentalism first and then went back later to traditional magic. I struggled for years to really build my career until i learned effective marketing techniques and in 1997 went full time when i lived in Pittsburgh, PA. I specialized in kid shows for several years and then in 2003 I moved to Niagara Falls, NY to get married. I took advantage of the new surroundings to concentrate on the school market, specifically elementary schools. Simply put, for me, there's no better market than schools for magic.
I want to give your readers some quick tips for those who venture into schools...
1. Realize that to consistently work in schools, you'll need character education programs, i.e. educational content. Anit-Drug, Self-Esteem and Bullying are the hottest topics.
2. Cater your programs to k-5 grades...those will be the most prominent. keep the show fast-paced and a lot of fun. leave the geek magic and mentalism at home - you're there for the kids!
3. I recommend bringing your own sound system. not only will you look like a pro, but at least %90 of the time, the people in schools have NO idea how to work the equipment!
4. Offer to do two back to back shows. This allows the school to split up the grades, which is to your advantage...because a kindergarten student sees and comprehends things differently than a 5th grader!
5. When offering an educational program, don't offer more than 3 main points - any more and you'll confuse the kids. This applies for adults a lot, too!
6. recap your points at the end to really "drive home" those key concepts
I could go on for hours, but maybe we'll save more tips for a later blog - Cris Johnson

Now as our 2nd special guest I would like to introduce the producer of the "It Factor" and Star of the Disney Magic Show Brad Ross. His marketing package called the "It Factor" is a incredible combination of books and CD's to get you right to the top of your magic and marketing game. You will save yourself years of finding stuff out the hard way by listerning and reading the "It Factor". So here are a few tips from Brad Ross.

5 Tips for School Show Performers:

1. Have a promotional item to give-away to EVERY child in the audience. Yes Every child needs to go home with your name, your contact information and your website. This is the only way to build your brand recognition among kids at your shows. Try this & you wil see by using promotional items like a magic dollar, a trick booklet, even a coloring sheet - you will see an increase in the number of shows you get from each show you do.

2. Arrive early at your show. Many times, more often than not, the school dropped the ball and forgot to tell the janitors or the music department that the magician needs the stage. You arrive & the stage is filled with TONS of band equipment, sports equipment or just storage. Arriving early helps you deal with potential issues which can & will come up.

3. Use coupons with a date for your offer. This technique has made me thousands of dollars in school shows because the school always wants to save money. When you offer them a discount by using your coupon, it creates an urgency and they must act now in order to save.

4. Follow Up. Always follow up when mailing to schools. They get so much mail and your really great piece may have gotten tossed away by accident. So by actually calling up the school and asking if they received your materials, you will have a better chance of getting a hold of the person who has the power to book or not book you.

5. When you book a show at a school, research the other schools in the area. Call up area schools and offer a discount to them since you will already be in their vacinity. You can also make this offer to the orignal school booking you; in other words, if they team up with another local area school within 5 -10 miles, you will offer them both a discount, as long as the shows are all on the same day- Brad Ross

I hope that you have been inspired to take a look at the concept of doing school shows if you don't already. Both Brad and Cris have written excellent marketing programs that you should check out on our website. I wish to say Thank you to both Brad and Cris for taking time out of their busy schedules to share with all of my readers.

If your a school show performer and wish to share a tip, please email me a I do hope you have read something today that will make you grow as a performer



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