Interview with Christopher Cool – Clipped Card Trick

This week I’ve talked about this Benefits to Using Giveaways In Your Show as well as Different Types of Giveaways To Use In Your Show. Discussing these concepts was all inspired because this year Christoper Cool just released a new promotional giveaway item to the market called the Clipped Card Trick.


If you’re not familiar with the classic effect it’s quite simple: You show a card with five playing cards on it, both front and back. Four of the cards have black faces. The card in the middle is the ace. The goal is to place a paper clip on the ace while the cards are face down. Sounds simple? Surprise! The clip is always on the wrong card!

As soon as I saw Christoper’s Branded Cards I knew I needed to pick it up to use in my library shows this summer. What’s great about this giveaway is that it’s so inexpensive, it matches my other marketing materials, and it’s self working. Plus they look awesome— look at that handsome guy!

paniniLeif: For those who don’t know you, Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Christopher: What do you want to know? I like my panini maker! Seriously though. I am a full time Magician out of Calgary, AB, but I was born in Winnipeg, MB. Most of my work is split between birthday party shows and educational programs at preschools/daycares.

Leif: What kinds of giveaways do you use in your shows?
Christopher: I’ve used coloring pages, activity pages, funny money, invisible magic dust, roll-up wands, magic wands and other small magic tricks.

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Dave Attwood Podcast with Leif David

attwoodLast week I was interviewed by Dave Attwood on his podcast radioshow. You can listen to the podcast directly or by visiting Attwood Magic Studio’s website and listening to episode 77.

Here’s a description of the episode:

“This week we were joined by Kelowna magician Leif David. Leif told us about his early start in magic and his mother’s influence in getting his career off the ground. Dave and Angel take a moment to discuss Remembrance Day and taking the time to remember those that served and sacrificed for our country. Thank you all for supporting the show by spreading the word.”

If you enjoyed the show you can keep in touch with future episodes by liking the Dave Attwood facebook page or by downloading the iTunes podcast app and looking up Attwood Magic.

Late Night Conversation – Lecture at the 3 of Clubs Magic Convention

This past weekend I lectured at the 3 of Clubs Magic Convention in Coquitlam, BC Canada. In the talk I discussed my stage setup for shows, branding, marketing materials, advertising, newsletters, and evaluations. There were a few additional topics that I discussed live at the event that aren’t included in the below video. You’ll just have to attend in person if you want to hear everything!

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Free Routines for Kid Show Performers – Interview with Christopher T.

While researching new material for my library shows this summer I came across a Magic Cafe post where some guy was posting free video routines for kid show performers. That man is Christopher T. Magician and so far he’s posted seven FREE episodes loaded with amazing content. Once I started watching the videos I knew I had to do an interview with him and share his videos with my readers.

Christopher_T_jersey_kid_gymChristopher T. Magician performs as a children’s magician throughout New York City and New Jersey. A graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, he brings his acting and playwriting knowledge into his magic to create wacky, hilarious, cartoon-like performances. Alongside his passion for magic, he is building a career writing musical theatre as well, performing his Off-Broadway one-man show Just Like Magic at the New York Musical Theatre Festival and currently participating in talks with Broadway producers (real ones, too – not imaginary!) for his horror/slasher musical Most Likely To Die. His love of music influences his magic as well. His USP (as the marketing gurus might say) focuses on his original musical theatre style songs integrated into his routines and the overall throughline of his magic show.

Here’s a video a mother took of Christopher performing his song “Looking Like A Magician Now!” with the cutest little birthday guy…

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Canadian Performers Working in the United States

Previously I’ve written articles like How to Produce a Touring Illusion Show, and How to Perform and Work Internationally. But for Canadian performers the main headache of performing across the border in America is obtaining the correct working Visa.

Your Greatest Resource

The best resource I’ve found is a PDF distributed by the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs. “Canadian Performers: How to Enter the United States

Canadian performers

This publication provides the information needed by Canadian performing artists and theatre, dance and musical troupes planning to perform in the United States. It describes the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) visa classifications, procedures and timelines, required materials, and deadlines for submitting applications and includes lists of INS offices, labour unions, immigration tax lawyers and other resources. The guide also provides definitions of U.S. immigration terms and offers a breakdown of some of the costs associated with visa petitions, applications and processing services.

In the booklet it explains exactly how to apply for the various types of Visa’s for Canadian Performers. You can apply yourself or you can do what Murray SawChuck talks about below and hire a lawyer who specializes in working Visa’s to help you with the process.

Never Try to Enter Illegally

Some performers try and cross the border illegally under the guise of a vacation while getting paid for work. Obviously, this is a very very stupid idea. There are very stiff consequences should you be caught.

Once I was attending a magic convention in the states where I was going to enter the stage competition. The border guard was concerned because I was entering the country with equipment that I normally use make a living with. I had to explain multiple times that the equipment was ONLY going to be used to enter in the magic competition and I wasn’t receiving compensation of any kind. That’s when he turned to google to check the convention website to make sure that I wasn’t on the entertainer schedule. In the end I was able to cross without issue because I was being honest and upfront. They are very meticulous at the border and if you try to cross illegally they will catch you!

Interview: Murray SawChuck

Canadian magician Murray SawChuck has been performing internationally for the last 18 years. Murray generously sat down with me to answer a few questions on performing in the United States.

Murray SawChuckMurray’s star power has exploded onto the entertainment scene with the charisma, personality and talent of an entertainer born to be on stage and screen, after his successful run as a semi-finalist on NBC-TV’s “America’s Got Talent.” The #1 network summer series was viewed by over 22 million fans nationwide. Murray dazzled the judges: Piers Morgan, Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel by producing a Ferrari from thin air, transforming a girl locked in a cage into a 450 pound tiger and did the largest trick ever on “AGT” by vanishing an entire 1918 steam train locomotive in mere seconds. All of these illusions took place before a “live” and national “TV” audience, and brought standing ovations from the judges.

Leif: First off, how long have you been performing internally for?

Murray: I have toured around the world for the last 18 years from Lebanon and Paris to Singapore and Ukriane!

Leif: And how long have you been performing in the states for?

Murray: I have been performing in the state for the last 15 years.

Leif: What type of Visa did you apply for while working in the states?

Murray: I never applied for any. The key is to have the employer apply or you and use a good immigration attorney. I had an O1 and O2 visa when I first worked for “The Lawrence Welk LIVE Show” in Escondido, CA. The lawyer obtained the visa for me.

O-1 Visa: For an individual (one person only on the petition) of extraordinary ability (distinction) in the sciences, arts, education, business, athletics, or extraordinary achievements in the motion picture and television fields

O-2 Visa: For essential support personnel (including performers) accompanying the O-1 performer of extraordinary ability or achievement

Leif: Was there anyone else in your company that needed to apply for a visa, such as an assistant?

Murray: No, just me. No matter where I fly I can us local talent. Save a lot of hassle and visas.

Leif: Do you have any advice for Canadian performers looking for work in the states?

Murray: Yes! The NUMBER one key to working and having any chance at getting a visa to work in the states is to have something ORIGINAL that NO ONE else is or can do. I invented an act all with Compact Discs and won over 24 international and national awards titling me a world champion. One of the main reasons along with BEING DIFFERENT I created the act was to stand out and be able to be eligible for a visa. I wanted to be the ONLY one that could do an act like that which gave me a stronger chance of gaining a visa to work in the United States.

Murray SawChuckLeif: Any funny travel stories?

Murray: I remember once in Shanghai, China I won the world title of World Champion Magician in Shenzhen, China. It was on television and broadcast to more that 8 million Chinese viewers. Well, when I left for the airport the next morning and my driver dropped us off at the airport I went to check in my suitcases and as soon as I entered the airport I was surprise as everyone recognized me from the TV show the night before.

I was escorted to the front of the line to check my bags in, then to immigration, and as I approached immigration I never had time to fill out my customs form before going through immigration. I must of had 5 immigration people assisting me. I shook all their hands and they handed me the proper travel immigration form everyone has to fill out when leaving the country.

I started to fill in my address, passport information and they said …”No, no… not important…” just sign at the bottom… I said “Sure”… they are the law of the land! So whatever they wanted.. I signed the bottom of the form then the guy folded it up and put it in his pocket… and said thanks now I have a souvenir and you are free to go through! I was so surprised and said “Thanks!”

Leif: Have you ever had any problems crossing the border? Have you ever had any problems with customs with your equipment?

Murray: NO never any problems… you enter legally and honestly and abide by the rules… you won’t have any problems. There are always questions with my equipment but if you are using them for what you say you are… YOUR PERFORMANCE… and you have the proper documents, there should be no problems.

Leif: You’ve been living and working in the states for a while now. Are you still a Canadian resident?

Murray: Yes I am still a Canadian resident… I will NEVER give up my Canadian residence or citizenship. I am a united states citizen and when I married my first wife I received a green card then went for my citizenship after having a green card for 8 years. Now I am a citizen of both countries.

Leif: Is there anything else people should know if working intentionally is their goal?

Murray: Just be different and original… The easiest way to get accepted is to bring something new, different into the country that they don’t have already… that’s what helps a lot.

Leif: Thanks again Murray for taking the time to answer these questions! If anyone would like more information on Murray you can visit his website or follow him on Twitter @MurraySawChuck.

Have you ever travelled internally? Leave your tips below in the comments section.

How to Produce a Touring Illusion Show – Interview with John Kaplan

When I was getting my start in magic John Kaplan’s “Magic School Bus” show was one of the first live magic shows I ever saw. I remember that it was a fundraiser for an elementary school in Penticton, BC. Almost 20 years later and John is still touring Canada with his show, commanding thousands of dollars per show for himself and earning thousands of dollars for his clients.

Since he’s obviously on to something I wanted ask him how he did it. It turns out he’s leaving this week to tour a month long tour in New Zealand and Australia, but he found enough time to do this interview with me. But first, Who is John Kaplan?

kaplanJohn Kaplan’s career began, as most magicians’ do, when he received a magic kit at age 9.

Inspired by the life of Houdini and determined to make magic his life’s work, after high school John became a sorcerer’s apprentice, finding as his mentor Micky Hades – author, publisher, illusion builder and inventor of magic tricks (such as the world-famous “Micky Hades Improved Finger Chopper“) – and it was from Micky that John learned the business side of the magic business.

Early contest wins and TV appearances gave John a running start as he pursued his childhood ambition.

Many interesting career high points followed, including promotional shows that saw John escaping from straitjackets, making cars and people disappear, headlining gala shows for major sporting events, performing on cruise ships, in comedy clubs and being Jay Leno’s opening act.

In 1989 John created, produced and starred in his own theatrical production “Johnny’s House”, leading to years of creating theme shows for amusement parks and shopping malls, where he developed his acclaimed “Santa-via-Satellite” program currently licensed in over 60 markets worldwide.

In addition to his performing career, John’ s business-building programs, effects and routines have been well received by the magic community.

However, it’s his unique approach to the fundraising market that’s given John his greatest success. During his 30+ year career he’s performed thousands of shows in over 500 Canadian towns and cities, and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for school and community groups with his Fundraising Magic program.  Read More…

Video Interview with Tommy James – We Live and We Learn

Earlier this week Tommy James made an interesting post on The Magic Cafe. Here’s that post:

I have something I NEED to share with everyone who has purchased my Lop Sided Cyclops or intends to buy one in the future. We all need to learn from our mistakes and I hope MY mistake will be a learning experience for anyone else. I just received a letter from a teacher at a school that I need to share. I’m not proud of it in fact, I’m hitting myself in the head and saying “Why did I not foresee this as a possibility!???” Please read her letter and then I will tell you how I responded.

Dear Mr. Tommy James,
Last week you put on a performance for our school. Most of the children enjoyed the show greatly, you were funny and magical. However, I would like to bring to your attention, a skit that I found very offensive. When you did your flying eyeball trick, you mentioned a “monster” who had one leg shorter than the other and walked around the stage limping. You had no way of knowing this, but in my class, I have a student who was born with a birth defect and has one leg shorter than the other. The minute you said that, he looked at me and several students looked at him. I am writing to you, to ask you to eliminate this skit from future performances. You never know who will be in your audience, monsterizing a physical defect can be very hurtful. Please consider this in the future.

Thank you,

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How to Perform and Work Internationally

Many magicians have a dream of performing internally but there’s many road blocks to navigate along the way. That’s why I decided to do an interview with Paul Romhany who’s without a doubt one of the most qualified people in our community to answer the golden question “How do I work internationally?

For the past 25 years Paul Romhany has been travelling the world performing at corporate events and festivals, as well as cruise ships around the world. During that time he has been in over one hundred countries and in 2012 flew over 500 hours to get to gigs. When asked where he lives he replies, “I’m a Citizen of the World”. The answer that Charlie Chaplin gave when asked the same question almost 80 years ago.

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