Friday, March 14, 2008

Thursday Night at the Ha Ha Cafe

Last night I did a 12 min. guest set at a comedy club. It was fun. One thing that I didn’t expect was how excited I was all day to do it. I felt like a little kid. Sure I work every night at the City Walk, but this wasn’t going to be on the street! So, the notion of working for a sitting audience was something to look forward to.

I got there an hour early to set up my headset mic and camera tripod. As I took a look a the layout of the room, I noticed another magician setting up a nightclub table and getting his act set up on stage.

After talking to a fellow named Eric who was the booker as well as a comic on the bill, he told me that there would be an MC/Opener, after him was the other magician, then he told me I would go on after him. I told Eric , that while I thought it made more sense to separate us with a few comedians, ultimately, I’d go where ever he wanted to put me. I ended up going on an hour after the other magician. Maybe I should have kept my mouth shut.

André, who worked with Polly on “Dirty, Sexy Money” helped out by taping my set. As he familiarized himself with my camera, he did an interesting thing that only a camera savvy guy would do, he slowed down the zoom to half speed.

Everything looked like it was in line to have some fun and get some good video. I had a couple of cocktails while waiting to go on and enjoyed a top shelf Ashton Churchill Cigar.

My mind was all over the place and I kept changing my mind about what to open with. My set was going to be either Cups, Coins & Rings or Cards, Coins & Rings. 12 minutes can either seem like a very short time or an eternity. The benefit of opening with a card routine, would be; I wouldn’t have to bring on my table, I could have lost the pouch, worked out of my pockets and only had to bring the rings up. One of the nice thing about being a street performer is, we’re very portable and used to lugging our crap around. At the last minute I opted for the cups over cards.

I was introduced, came on stage and realized that the sound man was nowhere in sight and that my headset mic wasn’t on. GREAT! Having been around long enough to know that this sort of shit happens all the time, I had a back up plan. In my back pocket I had one of those things you where around your neck and stick the house mic in. While in the process of getting that together Eric returned and got my headset mic going, all the while feeling like I had brought my act to a dead ass halt. . . before I even got started. I was going to edit this portion of the show out, but decided to keep it in and show, what a real live performing situation can look like. If nothing else, it’s kind of funny. It was real and made me venerable. While the situation was quite out of my control, I made the best of it.

The set was. . . what it was. I rushed through my material, stepping on applause and audience reaction. Wasn’t too happy about that, but a great study of what not to do on the tape.

I had a good time, learned a lot and will probably do it again sometime.

What exactly did I learn? Well. . . SLOW DOWN I’ve always know this, but watching the video really shows me what I’m doing.

I love magic and I love performing, what can I say.

A good time was had by all.

I just watched the tape again and had a few closing remarks. I did something that I shouldn’t have. I switched from the Tayade Style balls for the cups to the larger ones Gazzo uses. Bad call. The reason I did this was the last time I taped my set at the City Walk, I thought you couldn’t see the balls too well. I just hadn’t practiced with the new size and flashed like some old perv in a rain coat. I can fix these flashes, but it didn’t make me too happy to see them. Oh well. Guess I’ll start working with them on the street and keep you posted as to my progress.

Another issue, I hadn’t talked during my cups or coin routine in months. On the street, I’ve been doing these routines strictly to music. Certainly was different to go back to my lousy patter.


If anyone has any helpful comments. . . I'm all ears.


Anonymous said...

You had great energy and handled the sound issue really well.

The coin was a little hard to see against the multi-colored shirt. Black would be good.

The "Hi Will" joke made them too!

I agree you could slow down just a bit.

Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Where are the jokes? With the exception of the "at Will" joke and the removed finger, where are the jokes? Where are the lines that are funny or even attempting to be funny?

I'm not trying to be mean or harsh, just honest. Your energy is great and wonderful.

I love the rings, even though they aren't funny. I feel a routine that is "artsy" as your ring routine would absolutely CRUSH after a strong comedy set. It would be feel like the audience is having something very special shared with them.

On more thing, slow down, especially with the coins.

Agree with previous shirt comment.

Greg McMahan said...

Hello Tom Frank! I just discovered your blog is back up, I'm so glad!

The video from the comedy club is very nice, I enjoyed it. Here are some comments:

* The mic problem at the opening is something I've had to deal with often. Your solution is the same I use, having a holder for the hand-held mic. I know it can get a bit confusing when something like that happens, but you handled it well. The audience empathized with your problem, because you were open about it and had fun with it. You probably could've gotten by without a mic until it was fixed. Your voice carries VERY well.

* Position the chair with your prop case closer, and set it so you don't have to turn your back to the audience when accessing it.

* For the street, the table you use works perfect because spectators are looking down onto the surface. On stage however, they are looking up at it, so you may want to consider tilting it like Bob Sheets' table. Place a strip of transparent plastic along the front to keep the balls from rolling off.

* Opening with the cups & balls was the right choice.

* The coins were hard to see, partly because you need to slow down (which you are aware of) and also because of the background. Perhaps you could use the table top, positioned on it's edge, as a small backdrop to place behind the coins. Use that for the entire coin routine.

* Before you make the coin fall up, pause and focus the attention on the coin. I get the feeling many people missed it.

* Your ending, with the linking rings, is a classic. That is your signature routine.. bravo!! If your sound equipment permits it, I think low volume instrumental music would add a lot to it. You're good at music, I'm sure you can pick just the right tune.

These are all minor points... You are a true professional who knows how to entertain an audience!

Timmy Jimmy said...

NICE! Those big Gazzo balls do show up nicely! Keep working with them and the flashes will dissipate!
Nice pacing and timing. Thanks for sharing with the fraternity. I am slowly adding the Linking ring routine into my shows. I like your "brashness" with them. No timidity with you. honestly I do not think you need to tilt your table. The cups and balls is basically the only effect you need the table for. (Other than a prop for your linking rings to rest on for awhile)It shows up just fine.
I notice that you are having fun. This makes the audience have fun, nothing worse then a droll performer.

cenafreak0709 said...

I liked it. Makes me want to make a short set like this. Everything that went bad was minor, and no audience would care. If it's a comedy club, then you need more jokes- just for the comedy club. For the cups and balls, why not throw in another final load? Awesome show, just slow down.