A Better Cheat Sheet

Greetings from somewhere in the Atlantic ocean.

That’s me.

Engineering Tolerances

I want tricks, routines, shows, and to be honest, a life, with WIDE ENGINEERING TOLERANCES. I want to avoid having to metaphorically thread the needle. Why? Because sometimes needle threading has to happen when someone is bumping your elbow and you’ve left your reading glasses at home. Threading a needle has narrow engineering tolerances.

I’ll pass on the needle threading if I can. Instead, I want to throw a tennis ball down a wide hallway. I can do that blind folded and half asleep. Throwing a tennis ball down a hallway has a wide engineering tolerance.

I’ve insisted on wide engineering tolerances in my work for a very long time. Wide engineering tolerances in performance come from making the right choices in routines, methods, and scripts.

That insistence is the reason I created Reign Man for my show. Too many magicians flub the simple math of a magic square — because even that math can be a NARROW engineering tolerance. Reign Man makes the magic square bullet proof.

Performing with a wide engineering tolerances gives the show a built-in safety net.

Which brings me to the next tip about set lists …

A Better Set List

If you’re performing your show, while it’s perfectly fine to have a set list, you shouldn’t need a set list. One routine flows into another.

But sometime you’re not performing your show. You’re doing your new show. Or your semi-new show. Or, you’re splitting up your material into two separate shows, resulting in an order you have never done before. Then a set list is a helpful safety net to have just in case.

One downside of set lists: if you’re a variety artist, they’re best if they are not noticed by the audience. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel they can look a little tacky if obvious. If you have my FREE ebook, The Stage Magic Emergency Handbook, you already know of one way to conceal a set list. Here’s another.

For most of us, a set list ends up being a white notecard with black writing. While that’s fine, compare it to this.

It’s a black card written on with a white pen. Black card stock blends in better on a stage than white card stock. Most of the places might we might put a set list — on a case, on the floor, on a table — offer more camouflage to black card stock than white.1

I admit, this isn’t a huge enormous game changer of a tip, but it has an economy to it that I really like. For the price of a white pen, black note cards, or cutting up a sheet of black card stock, you get a little increase the the efficiency of your show’s safety net.

Until Next Time,

Doc Dixon

1 The idea of using black cards with white ink was shared by a cruise ship comic on a comedian FB group. He said he saw variety acts on ships doing it. I said, “I’m a variety act on ships. I’ve not seen this and I think it’s great!” So now it’s yours.

PS #1: There are few things that will widen the engineering tolerance of your show than having a show that packs in one case. My new book, The Show Is The Mother Of Invention is currently SOLD OUT, so make sure you subscribe to my newsletter to get news of the next printing.

PS #2 You could drive a truck through the engineering tolerances my routines. Three examples: Reign Man, the KING of All Magic Square Routines and MAWEEGE and Corn Hole Zero.


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