MAGIC IS MY WEED
NEW STEVE SPILL BOOK
The Magic Circle in London called my last book, HOW TO MAKE LOVE THE STEVE SPILL WAY, “the book of the decade.” That was kind of embarrassing – but if those brainy upper-crust UK dudes think that, who am I to argue? Their review was in the May 29, 2019 Magic Circular and is attached below.
My wife Bozena says I’m brilliant and the funniest magician on the planet. Well, I am her husband, so she might not be objective – but since she knows me better than anyone, it must be true.
Don’t ask me. All I can say for sure is that I’ve been a comedy magician for fifty years who has walked a mile in every man’s shoes. What I mean is, I’ve lived large and fallen hard – and I’ve survived – performing at casinos, corporate events, social soirees, on TV, and for the last two-plus decades I’ve done my own show in my own theater, Magicopolis, in Santa Monica. That’s how I know what I know. You could steal five or six books from the Magic Castle library, and not get anywhere near as much help and inspiration as you’ll get in my new masterwork – MAGIC IS MY WEED.
This book is designed to skyrocket your creativity – it offers practical techniques and exercises for improvising without preparation as a comedy magician – which is different than what a set-up punchline stand-up comic does, or sketch actors improvising with each other do. You get a sure-fire callback system with tags that you can incorporate into your show right away – if you have no idea what that last sentence meant – you need this book. I reveal my personal innovative ideas on how to capture swinging singles, kids, teenagers, seniors, corporate crowds, and establish rapport and a sense of camaraderie with those audiences – for real – along with a pantload of other ideas that will help you increase engagement, boost your creativity, and transform your life.
PLUS YOU GET TWELVE SURE-FIRE AUDIENCE-TESTED ROUTINES that can help close the gap between where you are and where you want to be. Kick ass with these routines that are complete with every gesture, nuance, method and handling – including word-for-word laugh-getting scripts that get results. These are the twelve routines of which I speak:
REVIEW BY JACK SHALOM - Steve Spill is at it again---writing that is, and his books just keep getting better and better. It's a shame that the title Lost Inner Secrets is taken, because this book is that. No, it's not going to tell you where to put your left pinky when (at least not too much), but it's a book that could supercharge a performance from just competent to extra special. I can't imagine a better investment of your magic time than reading this book.
Steve's recent retirement from daily performance at his Magicopolis venue, interestingly, has put Steve in a different frame of mind; you can feel it in his writing. There's still the same love of humor, magic, and people---still plenty of funny jokes---but there's something else this time around, something deeper, more philosophical…wiser. With his new perspective, he gets at what the real essentials are in this performing art.
To my knowledge, what Steve talks about here just isn't available in magic writing anywhere else: the information within comes only with the repetition of thousands of performances. It's about hard-won expertise that is deep in the performer's bones. And it's not easy to articulate it without a lot of self-awareness and self-reflection. Reading, I felt I had a privileged view watching from the backstage wings, thinking: Oh, that's what he's doing, that's how he's getting that laugh. that's how he's making rapport with the audience, that's why he does that move then. If you're reading this, you probably have shelves of magic books with tricks and sleights; you likely have near warehouses full of magic equipment. Those are not going to make you a better magician at this point. Leave them alone for now. Pick up this book. It will tell you what you don't know about performing, and will never know, until you perform as many times as Steve Spill has.
Steve starts off with persona. A magician, he explains, doesn't have to be relaxed and carefree---but s/he has to give that impression. Magic is an aggressive art at bottom; there's always the iron fist in the velvet glove. It takes a lot of time to find the right balance of mystery and playfulness to keep an audience from feeling abused. "It's important," says Spill, that magicians "not take themselves so seriously that audiences feel beaten over the head by the performer. I think a cultivated casualness is an antidote to the oft-perceived pomposity that comes with fooling people, and that can help whatever you do become more viewer-friendly." And, a bonus of such apparent casualness: "Performing without a lot of affectation can conceal methods, and presents everything that’s said and done as something brought about without laboriousness."
"Cultivated casualness" is a wonderful phrase and Spill goes on to explain exactly how to cultivate that casualness and how to use it to the performer's advantage. First, there is a terrific section on improvising, which is unlike any other advice on improv that I've seen. As Steve points out, the improvisation techniques that a comedy magician needs to learn (and really the techniques here are good for all magicians, not just those committed to comedy) are different from the techniques that one learns in a theater improv class. Simply put, an actor works with other trained improv actors, but a magician is largely exchanging banter with audience members who are untrained. Steve gives you techniques that make those interactions wittier, funnier and more engaging. I practiced his exercises for a single day, and I was already faster on my feet with other people. This chapter alone will improve performances greatly. It's a real gift.
Then there's a whole chapter devoted to comedy tags. Wait, I know---Dammit, Jim, I'm a magician, not a comedian! Okay, okay. But you know what?---Steve is giving you ready-made callbacks here, and if you play your comedic cards right, four or five-time callbacks. Even if you're not a comedy magician, only the most dour of performance personas would find these suggestions out of character. Short of some Bizarre Magic approach (and maybe even then) humor almost always lifts a performance.
On to a chapter about doing magic for teens. As someone who's worked with teens as an educator for many decades, I'll tell you this: Steve Spill understands and appreciates the way teens think and act. He is exactly right about how to approach them. He gives not only a general approach, but also some very specific bits that work and carry him through a show. I like that Steve Spill likes teens. And oh yeah, if you don't know how to deal with teens who love their cellphones---and they all do---once again, Steve comes to the rescue with both general and very specific advice.
Steve ends this section with some disarmingly frank advice about playing the long game:
Being a pro may be a labor of love, but is labor nonetheless. It is a job. Usually it is a fun job, but not always…Very few in our craft are ever in the position to turn down work. Some jobs are ones you desperately want---others you don’t want, but take just for the payday. In my lifetime I’ve given tens of thousands of performances. Some were great. Most were good. Some were bad. A few were really bad.
And then Steve goes on to say how he saves himself when things go South.
I really should stop the review here, because the book I've described so far is worth every penny to a person who repeatedly gets onstage for a living.
But duty says, continue. And it's not really a duty, it's a pleasure. Because the second half of the book consists of some unpublished wonderful routines from Steve's repertoire, with their full scripts. It includes "The Mindreading Goose"---"Not bad for a goose!"; and "Broken Mirror," a spirit slate routine done without slates, suitable for your favorite spooky holiday; then a lovely sleight of hand interlude done with a Cub Scout neckerchief slide; and a brilliant Torn and Restored routine that can be customized for special occasions. They are all effects that although not overly elaborate can play big and funny for a large audience.
But my favorite routine here is Steve's version of the Slydini "Paper Balls Over The Head." The piece should win some kind of award for the most brilliant comedy magic script of the decade. This thing is a comic masterpiece. This is one to bring down the house. Okay, remember what I said about the first half of the book being worth every penny? Forget that. Because for the right person, this script alone is worth every penny. Seriously. It could be a reputation maker.
Overall, the book is bursting at the seams with fantastic performance advice and magic routines. I can't recommend it highly enough. The icing on the cake is a back cover photo of Dai Vernon that I assure you, will have you laughing out loud.
You've got an uncle in the business. His name is Steve Spill, and he's telling you everything he knows. Thank you, Steve, for one of the most entertaining and useful books of magic I've ever read.
MINDREADING GOOSE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZDtzhPCry4
GRAB N STAB https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pj4wvnuB4rM
A spectator selects a restaurant menu and mentally orders a meal – the magician divines the appetizer, entree, and dessert and wraps the bit with a surprise finish.
One of the most crowd-pleasing Miser’s Dream routines ever, with six silver dollars, a pot and a large spoon, that ends with a dinner plate size coin.
BIZ CARD BUNCO
Seven solid corporate event minutes where a spectator takes on a new identity and you divulge their innermost thoughts.
AN AROUSING DOUSING
A spectator is given a dousing rod that goes haywire and finds hidden water amongst a boatload of whisky.
A bloody message mysteriously appears on the surface of a broken piece of mirror. Yes, that’s the bottom line visual effect. But what really affects the crowd response to the surprise writing is the story.
I’ll wager there’s never been another routine where an appearing and vanishing golden Cub Scout wolf neckerchief and slide were used as a metaphor for a plethora of unwanted ordered and returned mail-order items – no gimmicks and plenty of comedy and magic throughout this eight-phase presentation.
THE RENAISSANCE NUDE
Being an artist has always been a good way for geeks to get chicks naked. Especially true with this Renaissance routine, that makes use of a three-panel painting, known as a triptych, and the surprise funny finish features an actual nude.
A volunteer groupie imagines herself at a concert – without revealing a thing – that artist’s music starts playing on an old record player, simultaneously that very record cover rises from a stack, and on the back of our groupie’s photo is a poster advertising the exact concert in mind – from the artist, right down to the date, time, and venue.
Although the general effect, that of restoration, is nothing new… this reweaving of how to get to that conclusion precludes audiences from anticipating the outcome. Nope, I’m not talking about the popular pastime of pretending to read jokes off pre-torn pieces of newspaper. In fact, there isn’t any newspaper involved at all. This is a never-revealed-before effect and never-revealed-before method.
The penultimate two-person balls-over-head routine that’s been perfected in over 20,000 performances.
MAGIC IS MY WEED has everything a book should have: 287 sequentially numbered pages, ink, binding – even a hardcover – all at no extra charge!
Special pre-publication discount offer – $95 paypal to email@example.com international $120, all pre-publication orders are personally autographed and include shipping and handling. MAGIC IS MY WEED is due to ship in seven weeks, thereafter $125 per copy domestic, $150 international.
Hasn’t indecision ruled your life long enough? Take a stand and buy this groundbreaking inspirational manifesto now.