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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Trick Review: Stand Up Monte by Garrett Thomas

For the first time on this blog I’m going to do a trick review. Based on feedback I may write more reviews if people are interested. I’ll only review products that I’ve actually used in performance.

This is a review for Garrett Thomas’ Stand Up Monte. Here’s the promotional text for the product:

In The Hands Wildcard Effect that makes sense to real-world audiences. Garrett Thomas’ Stand Up Monte includes eight or more transpositions or transformations.

Draw them in with an intriguing story about games, gambling, scams, hustlers and cons.Then add the strength of magic that happens in the spectators hands, combined with the visual power of the classic Wildcard effect. This easy to do routine happens All In The Hands, yours and the spectators, No Table Required. Best of all, it automatically resets.Truly Audience Tested. This routine has been used professionally by Garrett for the last 15 years with over 15,000 performances! This effect has been an underground favorite with many of the top working magicians today. All necessary tools provided.

Here’s a clip of me performing the effect:

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How to build a no-fuss appearing pole gimmick for $1.80

When you purchase an Appearing Pole the instructions tell you to wrap it up in an elastic and then remove the elastic during performance to produce the pole. But as you know if you’ve ever tried it yourself, it just doesn’t work. I wanted to include the appearing Candy Cane (the same as an appearing pole) into my act so I needed to come up with a different solution.


I came up with very simple solution made out home made materials. I’m sure that I’m not the first one to think of it because its so simple but I’ve never seen or read about it anywhere else so I thought I’d share it here. The finished gimmick looks like this. It can be used to produce the appearing pole, appearing candy cane, or even the appearing crayon.

crayon box

I constructed a box out of cardboard and duct tape. Then on each side I poked a hole where I stuck a pencil through.

Box with pencil - top view

Recently I tried switching out the pencil for a nut and bolt instead and that way the entire unit is now “locked” so its impossible for it to slip out. That brings the total cost of the gimmick to a whopping $1.80. 😀 The box with the bolt going through the center of the rolled up appearing pole keeps everything in place as you produce the item. It smoothly unrolls each and every time.

Bolt 3d View

I use a small gift bag to produce the pole. When the gimmicked box is inside the bag I can squeeze the sides to hold the box in place as I produce the item. After it begins to unroll its even possible to place the bag on the floor as you continue to produce the item.

Bag Squeeze

Another advantage of this setup is that you can setup the production item before the show. Once you’ve placed the appearing pole inside the gimmick, you can roll the flap to the bottom of the box. Then just before showtime, you can spin it around so the free flap is on top once again.

Box Flap

If you use an appearing pole in your show, give this gimmick a try and you’ll see that it works perfectly every single time. Let me know if it work for you too.

Update: I want to point out that this gimmick is not the same design or construction as Barry Mitchell’s “Pole Control”. His is designed out of materials that will last a lifetime and its only $25. Plus it can be used with the appearing shovel, and can be mounted into other production devices.

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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Directors and Consultants for Magicians

Many performers have no idea that there are consultants, directors, scriptwriters, and mentors specifically for magicians. Below is a list of some of the more popular options and a list of the services that they offer.

1. Joanie Spina – Artistic Director

A lot of people don’t know who Joanie is so let me give you the 2 second introduction

As principal performer, choreographer, and artistic consultant to David Copperfield for eleven years, Joanie Spina redressed the ancient art of magic with a flair the caliber of Broadway and Hollywood productions. Joanie teamed up with Mark Kalin, Jinger Leigh, and Jeff Hobson to create the award-winning show Carnival of Wonders.

If that wasn’t enough she also writes monthly columns called Directions in Magic Magazine. Its my personal opinion that her articles hold all of the secrets of making tricks feel like real magic. If you don’t already subscribe to MAGIC Magazine, track down 2012’s issues and read her columns! It’s the type of information you’ll want to go back and read over and over again.

Joanie Spina: Director & Consultant, Theatrical Coach, Lecturer

I’ve worked with Joanie twice. The first time I worked with her we did the video critique. I sent in a video recording of my show and she tore apart the act second by second. Literally every.single.second. It was an eye-opening and amazing experience that pushed me leaps and bounds beyond what I ever could have done on my own! The second time we worked together I flew to Vegas for an in person coaching session. During the live session we were able to do theatrical exercises with parts of my act to help think about my performance in new ways.

Artistic Direction

2. Magic and Mystery School with Jeff McBride and Eugene Burger

Jeff McBride’s Magic & Mystery School offers many different services depending on your specific needs and interests in magic.

Leif, Jeff, And Eugene

Back in 2007 I attended Jeff’s Master Class in Calgary, Alberta Canada and it was an amazing experience. I learned sooo much in just a couple days and I made some lifelong friends in the magic community.

3. Magician Tony Clark


Tony Clark offers personal consulting on the phone, a DVD critique, skype sessions, as well as services for film and television.

  • Hand Insert: Replace an actor’s hands to look like a magician for film
  • Creative Consulting and Directing: Film and stage.
  • Magic Academy: Introduction to Sleight of Hand, Parlour or Stand up Magic, Money Making with Kid’s Shows, Card Manipulation Course, Dove Magic Workshop and Private Session.

I contacted him once looking for pricing and his rates seemed very reasonable but I haven’t yet had an opportunity to work with him yet.

4. Doug Bennett – The Magic Writer


Doug Bennett aka “The Magic Writer” is a talented script writer who understands magic. While looking to theme my children’s show I hired Doug Bennett to help me write new routines and segways for the show. The part I found most amazing about working with Doug is the fact that the material I got back from him was written exactly in my natural speaking style. I’ve never in my life before experienced somebody writing something that so perfectly sounded exactly like something that I would say.

I would highly recommend him if you’re looking to have material written for your act. I will absolutely be working with him again in the future!

5. Bob Fitch

Bob_FitchBob Fitch is a director and magician that specializes in helping magicians improve their act. I haven’t worked with him but he’s received some high praise from big names in our community.

Bob Fitch is an actor, director, magician, singer and dancer. Bob Fitch has coached FISM winners Shawn Farquhar, Paul Gertner, Timo Marc, Florian Zimmer, and Gaston  & Arthur Trace. Bob offers performance workshops integrating acting, speech, movement and basic theatre (communication skills) for working magicians. His workshops have been reviewed in the Linking Ring, MUM and Genii.

  • One-on-One Private Sessions: You can either work in person (New Jersey) or do a video critique where you send in a DVD of your act. [more info]
  • Group Workshop: For groups of 5 or 6 magicians for 4 to 5-day workshops in their respective towns. [more info]
  • Free Online Articles: Articles & Reviews.

If you’ve worked with any of these people before please leave your comments below. I would love to hear how they helped you. If you found this article helpful, please share it with your magic friends.

How to Organize Your Magic Room

I have organizational envy. Below is some photo’s of how Charlie Cadabra organizes his magic props. Anything more organized and you’d be getting into museum level cataloging. haha


Each shelf is numbered and each stage container is numbered. Props always go back into the exact same container.

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Customizing Your Magic Props

Torch to Rose Kevlar WickWhen you buy a trick you’re buying the secret and permission to perform for the effect, but often the prop itself is made as cheaply as possible to appeal to the masses. Even if the prop is well made you’re probably going to have to modify it to fit your act.

If you’re going to be a professional magician you need to accept the fact that when you buy a new prop you’re going to have to make modifications or remake it entirely.  If you don’t want to look like every other magician then modify or create new props that match your personality, audience, and theme. 

You might need to modify the prop to last longer: If you buy a “Torch to Rose” the wick that’s included is just a bit of cotton wrapped in wire. It works for a little while but it won’t last forever. If you really want to add this effect into your act and you want it to last you’ll need to replace the wick with some kevlar rope instead.

You might also need to modify the prop to suit your technical needs: For my show I purchased a butterfly silk that turned out that it was too thin and transparent for my needs. So I took it to my seamstress where she was able to add a black layer of fabric onto the back of the silk so now it works perfectly for my needs.

Butterfly Silk

You might also need to modify the prop to suit your character: With the Wandering CD prop (A “Die Box” done with a CD instead) there’s a giant hole in the middle of the prop so that the children  can see the CD sliding back and fourth.

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Optical illusion magic trick

optical illusion magic trick - Thatcher

Last year the local libraries had a theme of “Strange but True”, so I created a Strange But True – Game Show magic show. For that show I wanted something a little bit different than just a standard effect, so I started looking at different optical illusions magic tricks that I could add into the show.

I had seen a couple performers use the Thatcher optical illusion and decided it would be a great addition to my show.

The Thatcher effect or Thatcher illusion is a phenomenon where it becomes difficult to detect local feature changes in an upside down face, despite identical changes being obvious in an upright face. It is named after British former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on whose photograph the effect has been most famously demonstrated. This was originally created by Peter Thompson, in 1980. [Wikipedia link]

The only problem was that I didn’t like the sample faces that were available online because children had no idea who the people were. That’s when I decided to create my own Thatcher Optical illusions out of people that they would recognize.

I created three illusions with famous celebrities children would recognize including Salina Gomez, Justin Beiber, and Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter). Upside down the faces look totally normal, but turn them 180º and you’ll discover that the eyes and mouth are facing the wrong way.  Read More…

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