Working on my Stand-Up Routine *Help*

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Robert//Livingston, Aug 22, 2010.

  1. Hey guys,

    So I'm finally getting together a Parlour type show. I'm just wondering what types of effects everyone else out there is using, or if you could give any advice on the ones I'm thinking of using.

    So here it is:

    Opener- The Vanishing Bandanna
    Middle - Fiber Optics, (some effect) (some effect)
    Closer - Bill to Lemon

    I'm looking at getting a 30 to 45 minute show going. What other effects would you recommend?
  2. The only question I would have you ask yourself is 'What is this show about? Why am I doing it? What is the theme?' Even if it's just you showing a bunch of tricks, I can't tell you what effects will work for you.

    If you can find a theme/connection then the effects should fill themselves in.

    Sorry I can't be of more help, but telling you effects won't help you make a successful show.
  3. Here is my advice...

    Try to create a show that packs small but can play big. This makes transporting your act easy. It's preferable to not have any (or many) angle issues either, as it will allow you to do your act in more environments. If you can, eliminate the use of a table as well. The less requirements of your environment the better.

    As far as material goes, try to keep your props and the plots diverse. To keep your show tight write it out like you would a play, as basically what you are presenting is a piece of magical solo theatre. After all of that, think of what effects work well next to one another, and what the best way to transition from one effect to another is in your set.

    And experiment. Don't get married to any effect. It can be easy to fall in love with an effect and force it into your show even though it doesn't fit with the rest of your set. Be willing to cut any effect in your set. "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts."

    Good luck!
  4. Rik, thank you for your advice (and your's to Mat). I will obvioulsy have my script and 'theme', I was just wondering what effects are good for this type of show. I feel the three I have right now will flow nicely with each other, and be diverse. I'm also planning on having a Cups and Balls routine.

    When people say 'Theme', I think they are misconstruing the word. I really don't think it's like planning a Wedding, or Birthday party. I feel if you transition good from each effect, and keep the audience interested then you'll have a good show. It's not like I'm trying to have a 'Batman' theme show. As for props, I have nothing big. Some rope, a lemon, a bannana and a cd player. Also, NO ANGLE ISSUES! (so far) As you can tell there is not a deck of cards, or coins, to be seen!

    Anyway, thanks for the advice so far, I'm really looking forward to some more.
  5. I have been working on my stand-up show for almost a year, and it's barely at 20 min. with no filler, just "A" material. Have you scripted your three tricks out yet?
  6. #6 Robert//Livingston, Aug 22, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 22, 2010
    Yes, I have each of my effects scripted out to fit MY personality and character. When you say "No Filler", do you mean "No Audience Interaction"? I say this because, Fiber Optics can be a 2 minute effect, or a 10 minute effect. Depending on how you want to work it, and interact with your audience. The same applies for Bill to Lemon, or Cups and Balls.

    I was just wondering about other effects that people are using in their shows. Or where I could find any material that I could use. Also, I'm just asking for advice.

    Jamie D. Grant did a busking experience in which he had an act he used on the street. It contained:


    1) Random card trick
    2) CMH
    3) Precious Metal
    4) Fiber Optics
    5) Cups and Balls

    He turned 5 effects into a 10 - 15 Minute show. Not just because of the effects, but his personality and interaction.
  7. My Parlor Show is Mentalist/Metal Bending and a touch of Bizarre so i don't know if i could help much... my close up act is mainly cards, but also some mental/PK/Bizarre magic

    are you not looking into going with some mentalist stuff?
  8. I love love love Mentalist stuff. BUT, I really feel that it doesn't fit my personality/character. I've dabbled a lot in some mentalism and when I performed, it got good reactions. The downside was, people really didn't buy into it.

    I also like to do bizarre stuff as well. I perform W:H's 'THREAD' a lot, but don't want to do it in this show because it 'rubs' with the other pieces.

    My debut of this show will be for a class with kids ranging from 14 to 18. I have as much time as I want to prepare, as I can go to this class whenever I want.
  9. Just some ideas... you can think about what will fit your persona and show...
    Some levitation effect
    Torn and restored newspaper (newsflash by Axel Hecklau has to be my favorite effect!!!)
    Maybe an escape or ins and outs routine
    Cups and Balls are awesome (another of my favorites)
    ^^ Or a chop cup routine
    Silks are good... maybe 20th century or something similar
    Maybe some mentalism if your into that

    maybe give us an idea of your persona so I can name specific effects ect..
  10. When I say Theme, I mean a reason to have the show, other than the fact that you want to sell it.

    Even if it's you as a magician showing off impossible things to a crowd you need a connection. If your character is consistent and your transitions well thought out then you'll do fine. That leads me back to my original answer, I can't tell you what would go well. I don't know what you could put in, would adding something that is an escape and not a magic effect go against your vision or character?

    Why are you doing the show? What feeling do you want your audience to feel?

    Do you want to build an entire show around comedy, or do you want to start that way with the disappearing Bandanna and then get more serious as you approach the Bill in Lemon?

    All of these questions will change what effects would or would not fit in the set.
  11. By "Filler" I mean no crappy tricks to kill time.
  12. Since you are interested in doing cups and balls, you could easily transition from that to bill in lemon, just make at least one and up to four lemons your final production from the cups. However this only works if your version of bill to lemon allows the lemon(s) to come into play at the onset of the effect (As I'm sure you are aware, there are many variations to bill to lemon, and I don't know which one you do). Of course, I should perhaps caution that Michael Ammar has a marketed manuscript of a Cup and ball + bill in lemon routine.
  13. Some good thoughts so far. I would encourage you to think of exactly the target audience you want to hit. Be specific (more than just age range). Choose effects that fit for that category.

    As far as specific effects that are good for parlor, take a look at Bill Abbot's stuff. Great stuff, and lots of it can be adapted for various audiences. Bob Kohler has some amazing stuff as well. I agree about packing small/playing big, but collectors workshop has some nice looking effects as well.
  14. From personal experience I would not open with the Vanishing Bandanna... if I were you I'd use that as your closer. It is one of the strongest effects to end on imo
  15. Really? Because I find it as a perfect opener for me.

    I think Cups and Balls, or Bill in Lemon would be a better closer.

    Plus, I think the effect is magical, and you want an amazing reaction for your opener to tell the audience that you can do what you say you can.

    Lastly, it fits the script and direction of my show at the moment.

    Why do you feel it's not a good opener? Examples would be great :D

    By the way, I've seen some of your stuff and I like it.
  16. Well for me I like to use it as like a sense of credibility. I just did an entire show of some really cool magic, so how about I show you how I learn my magic. Also just the way that the routine ends with the music, I feel that it brings the entire show to an end. Also I like to end leaving my audience laughing. I do see how it would work for an opener, however I like to work my way up, making it so each thing is better than the last. Now at this moment my main venue is children's shows and the occasional stand up gig, and I feel that it works well with my character and presentation.

    Thanks I'm glad you like it =] If you want shoot me a PM and I can give you an idea on what my stand-up routine currently entails.

    Hope that helped!
  17. You're not going to like what I'm about to say...

    You're not ready

    C'mon... you have more stuff than this, think it through.

    The Bandana routine is better placed in follow-up to an actual opener. Your opening needs to be stronger than this routine allows (even though it's a powerful bit) so the problem is finding an actual "routine" that establishes you as a skilled performer but likewise gives folks an idea as to the kind of personality you have as a showman; two to five minutes of "wow" as they say.

    Step One: You need either a pre-recorded introduction or a set script card you can hand the MC so they can introduce you. This is a very important part of your opening because it establishes YOU and draws attention to YOU. So, with that part established, what's your next step? How do you "prove' to your audinece that you are the "great" so & so...?

    While I'm not famliar with "Fiber Optics" i know the other two routines well and it suggests to me that you enjoy the classics along side a bit of light-heartedness. My suggestion in that case, is that you simply step out with music playing (whatever is appropriate to who you are, etc.) and offer a hard-hitting classic routine... Paper-Wad to Egg followed by by some additional Egg fun with audience members... the old "Human Hen" type gag... you get a handful of eggs and suddenly one of your Human Hen's gives you a Lemon followed by an Orange... hmmm?

    Yep, you act confused, pull a kerchief from your pocket to wipe your brow... you flick it open to show a silk painting of a parakeet... silk drops down, a little flick of the wrist and out comes a live parakeet that climbs up the length of the silk to your hand... you open the silk and the picture is gone... yea team!

    Now comes the real fun... you vanish the bird, egg, & lemon... yes, we're going there... a twist on the old Bird, Egg, Lemon & Orange routine

    Now, that is an opening! You have proven to the audience that you are "more" than a mere mortal; in roughly 6-minutes time you have caused things to transform, vanish, appear from nowhere and relocate... you've given them an entire show but it's only a glimpse into what is yet to come.

    Your Opening has to be looked at in segments; the first 20 - 35 seconds are the most critical in that this is the instant that your audience is either going to like you and let you into their world, or close the door on you (mentally) and ignore everything you do. By walking out and turning a wad of paper into an egg... a very real egg... you have capture their attention at two levels; visually, they saw that ball of paper transform as your swirled it around in a glass and turn into an egg you just cracked opened and poured the yolk out of... if that don't make them realize something special is afoot, I don't know what will.

    Now that you are established, you're more than ready to tell them about your first lesson in magic (Vanish Bandanna)

    As I've said, I haven't a clue as to what the Fiber Optic thing is... that's something new I've not seen performed so i can't say much. Given the flavor of things, the fact that you've just used someone from the audience (at least that's how I remember the Bandanna bit) it's time for what some call "Stool Time" in that many performers literally sit on a stool or the step of the stage and create some kind of mushy "pretty" bit of business such an an elegant Ring Act, the Snow Storm, etc. If you are in the position to do so, this is also the spot to toss in your fist larger scaled effect such as the "creation of a girl" or some such bit... of course, once you have the girl, what will you do with her?

    But I can't afford a big illusion! Comes the whines of dismay

    Go to the local Bicycle shop and pick up two shipping cartons... very large but narrow cardboard boxes in which bike frames are shipped... now look at the back of that Mark Wilson Course that's on the shelf collecting dust; there's no fewer than three grand illusions that can be made with that card-stock straight from that book... if you think about it, there's even a kind of "shadow Box" illusion that can be made ala "Victory Carton".

    No, this isn't cutting edge magic nor is it something that can be done in the round and without a trained helper/partner, but it IS practical and it does work and when staged properly, blows minds. The thing to remember is that you are on the ground floor and building an act and it must start somewhere.

    Once you have the girl on stage you must have a routine to do with her so what will that be?

    If you elected to use Mark's "Haunted House" routine why not hold to the idea of ghostly visitors and do a spirit cabinet type act? There are several practical methods of doing this using your assistant as the "Medium" and while a hint spooky, it's more in the shape of Disney's Haunted Mansion ride and not some eerie Occult encounter. Conversely you could do a two person telepathy routine... Corinda has the easy version without a code as well as a few code examples but again, I'm talking about basic stuff you should have accessible to you NOW.

    If you'd rather move on with something more of the Illusion route there are some simple to put together vivisections, escapes, even transformations that the two of you can do. Traditionally, this is why most starter acts have a sub trunk as part of the collection... not to mention the fact that the act packs into the trunk... Similarly, you may want to consider a Sword Basket or Sword Box due to ease of transport (this is something you really need to think through when choosing effects).

    Depending on what you do at this point you are at most 25 minutes into an act, time to either wrap things up or move on to the next bit of Audience Participation... typically with kids if you are doing a family program a gent or two if not (in that you used a young lady earlier) With male helpers from the audience it's time to have some fun... gambling routines work great in this instance as do certain types of "sucker" routines...just don't put mud on their face without giving them a positive recovery at the end of things. Then again, these gents could be there to strap you into some kind of restraint... use your imagination here, it's time for drama, a hint of funny business and something that fills the lull... you don't want to "top" yourself at this point and though you don't want to be too boring, you do want to let the Roller Coaster ride slow down some at this point so that your finale comes off as being much more than it really is. So play with ideas that "fit" best to you and your objectives.

    Now you are ready to move towards the finale... after excusing your helpers for the above you offer thanks to everyone attending, sponsors, staff, etc. (very important thing most forget to do). Then you move into your "first finale"... this needs to be something "artistic" (ish) with just you on stage. If you want to end with the Bill in Lemon routine it only makes sense that this routine have something to do with money... my suggestion being to recall that silly uncle of yours that would make a coin vanish and reappear behind your ear and thus, move into a fun but elegant Miser's Dream... this is a very rare routine now days which is what makes it dramatic and memorable... there are other psychological reasons I'm suggesting this, but I'll not tarry at this point.

    As you come to the end of this bit produce a lemon... this will get a chuckle but it does more... it takes the audience all the way back to your opener (assuming you go with what I've suggested here) this is something most magicians never weigh and yet comics prove its value constantly; going back to "a line" so as to keep a joke rolling. In this case you are creating recall to the very first part of your show and in so doing, causing the spectators to remember YOU and the first impression you made on them. Now you're anchoring (to borrow an NLP concept) that image in their minds and thus, every time they see a lemon, they are going to think of you... keep this in mind as you create your material and see how to use this kind of subtlety to your advantage.

    Now you do the Bill in Lemon as a faux finale... your real finale' is an encore routine that can be as simple or as complex as you wish to make it. I typically do the Tossed Out Deck as my encore routine but I know guys that do Ultimate Flash Back... whatever you do, find something that plays big... of course, that's entirely up to you when it comes to how "big' it seems.

    I hope this short lecture gives you some ideas that help, feel free to PM me should you have any questions.
  18. I just wanted to thank you Craig for taking the time to write all of that out. Probably the best advice I've seen in a long time when it comes to routine building.

    I also wanted to throw in something a magician told at a lecture, probably not originally his...but who knows, Eric DeCamps said to us 'Anything that you have that you consider a closer should also be considered as an opener-and every opener should be considered as a least once.'

    Not all closers will work as openers, and not all openers will work as closers-but they generally have similar qualifications and many can be switched around. Eric DeCamps created a 2-cup cups and balls routine for his closeup work, something he could easily carry and he actually opens with it more than he closes. Following a solid cups and balls routine with other magic is a tough test, but not impossible. If you produce a lemon and then do some magic (leaving the lemon out) and then do bill to lemon it would be 10x as impossible because the lemon has been there the whole time and the bill was just introduced.

    Just a few thoughts, remember nothing is set in stone in magic (except the whole 'don't tell people the secrets thing')

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