Woofle Dust is what I call posts with no unifying theme, other than it’s some stuff I’d think would be helpful for you to consider. For you youngsters out there, woofle dust was once a popular presentational conceit of dubious efficacy. Have something hidden in your right hand you want to ditch while your left hand holds the thingamajig? Then reach inside your right pocket, ditch the doohickey, and come out and mime sprinkling woofle dust on the thingamajig.
Yep. Parts of Tarbell (both the book and the author) didn’t age that well, either.
A Tale of Tardiness Terror!!
For a season at a festival I shared a stage with an act that consistently ran OVER time. It was nearly twenty years ago, but the memory remains.
My stage, as well as every stage at the festival, was on a thirty minute grid. Each stage had three acts who cycled throughout the festival day, doing four shows each.
Throughout the festival, slightly before the half hour marks, the lanes would fill with patrons looking for the next show to watch.
At the same time, performers on the stages would begin hawking their shows to the lanes, encouraging patrons to join them. That is, every performer except me, because I had the bad fortune to follow, well, names aren’t necessary. He would regularly end his show five minutes late. So when he ended the show and I got on stage, the traffic in the lanes had ceased, making my job of hawking like making bricks without straw.
I told him about this.
I warned him about this.
During the festival run he and many others came to my home for a party. At my home he asked to borrow a shirt because he had not brought one to change into after the festival day. So of course, I lent it to him.
The next day the Putz still wouldn’t end his act on time …while he had food from my home in his belly and the shirt off my back.
To be clear, I still ended MY act on time. Why? I thought to myself, “The virus ends with me.”
It was twenty years ago and I’m still amazed at the lack of professionalism from this guy. In the weeks after that run I asked others in the festival market if they knew him, and all, without prompting, mentioned his lateness and performer disrespecting ways.
Oh, I saw his act. Surprise — cutting ten minutes would not have hurt.
No, I’m not bitter. Why do you ask?
This leads into the next helpful gizmo:
Good = Go Over.
Bad = Go Overtime
A small device that takes up a small amount space and helps a performer be more professional.
Finishing your show at the right time is so critical.
Too short? Your client can feel ripped off.
Too long? Oh, that can be even worse! You’ve delayed the awards ceremony, or the speech from the Big Kahuna. You’ve delayed the staff from getting home to their kids – or babysitter. Or you’ve taken time away from the headliner. Or (shutters) you’ve kept the audience from getting back to those slot machines!
Years ago you’d think I was bitten by a radioactive stopwatch. Like Peter Parker has a spidey-sense, I had a timey-sense. When I was doing my stand up act I could wrap it up on time within 60 seconds. Goal was forty-five minutes. Not forty-seven. Not forty-three. A minute variance either way.
One cause for the loss of timey-sense, I theorize, was the shutdown of 2020-2021. Another cause is my act has become increasingly conversational and interactive. As I discussed in the blog posts leading up to the release of MAWEEGE, magic that opens up interaction with the audience can be a comedy goldmine. To be honest, I like goldmines, and if I have an opportunity to go in one, I’m going in. If that means I have to adjust a little on the backend to stay within the time, I’ll do it nine times out of ten.
So now, my timey-sense is not as reliable. So I always have one of these in my case. An inexpensive timer, sold in pairs, because two is one and one is none.
The timer makes my mining for gold safe.
I can’t stand this meme.
Its roots are in a graphic design meme about colors. You can get the history lesson here. Thanks go to Ryan Pilling, friend, magician, and definitely not an axe murderer, for finding the history on this.
Yes, I get this meme is literally saying the differences between card magic plots *might* blur in laymen’s minds, and that’s a fine and fair enough statement to make, but that’s not how it’s used amongst our tribe.
It’s usually shared as a way to disrespect, disregard, or belittle card tricks or someone’s effort with card tricks. You know, someone posts a video of a card trick they’re working on, often a variation of a classic. Then someone1 comments with this meme. I hate that. Here’s why:
Not all the great card tricks have been invented. Imagine it’s 1942. Your buddy, Paul Curry, shows you his new trick where the spectator separates the cards into reds and blacks. As Facebook hasn’t been invented yet, you’re forced to go to your car and take out an oil painting of the meme we’re discussing. Curry sees it. Curry gives up magic. Because of you, he goes from out of this world to out of this art form. Congrats, Captain Sarcasm, you’ve saved the art from the burden of progress! But, you got to make snark points, so it’s worth it.
I freakin’ love good card tricks. The first very real sleight of hand move I learned over forty years ago was the glimpse from page 24 of Henry Hay’s Amateur Magician’s Handbook. We go way back. The journey to good card magic has many failures along the way and those failures don’t benefit from snark.
I make a big chunk of my living from, you guessed it, card tricks. My stand up act of 45-50 minutes is six tricks. Three of them are card tricks. At the end of the day, I hate the way this meme is used because my own work has shown it to be BS.
Finally, wasn’t the rona shutdown rough enough on showbiz? We can stop being schmucks with each other. I’m not a fan of mindless, harsh online behavior, especially within the magic community. Is this meme the worst of it? Certainly not. I address it here because it’s all too frequent, all too dumb, and this is my website. Am I writing in a ticked off mood? Well, let’s go to our next story …
If you haven’t bought Matt’s book yet …
…now would be a good time. Matt Disero’s The Fog Machine Of War has become an instant classic of comedy magic road life. And at the risk of sounding presumptuous, it’s a great companion read to The Show Is The Mother Of Invention.
Keep in mind, I plug Matt’s book sincerely, as I don’t make a dime from it, and neither does Matt. The money goes to Academia Boliviana de Magia e Ilusionismo, a magic school for children in Bolivia. From Matt’s site: Check out their Facebook page; they do incredible work. It’s a really cool project started by Mago Byron and Maria Schwieter.
BREAKING NEWS NEXT WEEK:
My New Book On Kids Magic
I’m not going to say much about it now, other than …
1. It’s coming out very soon.
2. It will be useful for you if you’ve done zero kid shows or 1,000
3. And, yes, it’s deeply rooted in my “pack small, play big, and live large” philosophy.
Until Next Time,
1To be clear, this is not true of EVERY time this meme is posted …probably.
PS #1: If you’d like to learn to pack small and play HUGE to the back of the room, order my new book, The Show Is The Mother Of Invention. As of September 7, 2023, the first printing is almost sold out with only SEVEN books left. Act now!
PS #2 If you’re looking for a great packs small plays huge routines that uses cards and will crush in the same show , check out Reign Man, the KING of All Magic Square Routines and MAWEEGE. (For some reason, probably a Facebook post I’m not aware of, now both of these have been moving off the shelves much faster than normal.)