Coincidence plays a big part of magic. The spectator freely selects a card and by some magical coincidence it’s the same card the magician predicted at the start of the show; however, sometimes real life coincidence without any sleight of hand of trickery can be even more magical.
Let me share my favourite serendipity of the year.
At the end of November, I was performing magic over in Arran at the Santa Sparkle event, run by the guys at the Glenisle Hotel. The event is staged in a Marquee across from their hotel. The event has a light show, fireworks, a live band, Santa Clause & Mrs Clause, professional dancers, fantastic stalls…and moi.
The main show I’m meant to do is a stand-up comedy magic show. That starts at 7pm, however since I’m there I’ve been signed up to do some close-up magic and balloon modelling during the day.
On paper, it all looks great, however, this is Scotland, the land where a lovely idea on paper can quickly turn to paper mache. The event is taking place in a marquee said marquee is on the grass, next to the beach. The day was meant to start with a santa parade, but unfortunately uninvited guest arrived called Storm Clodagh. She turned up bringing with her 80mph winds, hailstones and torrential rain. Although the marquee didn’t blow away there was now a permanent water feature running over the grass making it wet and muddy. I wasn’t sure if the event would go ahead but these Arran folks are not to be put off by something as mild as a bit of a hurricane.
My first show of the day begins and I’m providing balloon models for the kids. This is not something I specialise in but I’m pretty quick at firing them out. Queues aren’t the most exciting thing to wait in line for, especially when you’re standing in a puddle but the audience were there and they were happy to wait. I’m making the balloon animals and the majority of the kids want a dog or a sword so the queue is moving pretty quickly and everyone is in high spirits.
Next in line is a young girl about eight years old. I ask her what she would like but she doesn’t respond, I ask her again and she cuddles into her mum and avoids all eye contact. I don’t know if she’s just painfully shy, she’s depressed because of the weather or if she’s sad because Mrs Clause and the dancers had to cancel. What I do know is that she’s waited in a puddle for about 20 minutes so she clearly wants a balloon just not to communicate. I’ve had this before. The solution is normally just to start naming things you can make the child will nod or the parent will jump in and say, “Oh, you like dogs, will the nice man make you a pink dog?” I start saying things I can make. I say would you like a dog? teddy bear? a swan? a cat? snake? giraffe..no reaction, no answer – I’m struggling so I change from animals to objects. “How about a flower? sword? wand? hat? heart? a machine gun?
The mother looked at me when I said machine gun like I’d lost my mind but could see I was trying my hardest to find something.
At this point, I’m really struggling and I’m running out of things I can remember how to make or even kid on I can make for that matter (I’ve sneakily passed on a few swords in my time cleverly disguised as light sabres and by disguise I mean, I’ve changed the name and let the child’s imagination do the rest)
So I say, “erm, how about a…octopus, or a…parrot…or erm, a snail? ” BOOM!!!The child & her mother jump into life like one of the fireworks has gone off.
Her mum says, “She loves snails!!”
I ask her: “Do you like snails?”
She says, “Yes, I love to draw them”
I said, “Well you’re not going to believe this, but my favourite thing to make from balloons are snails”
(This is actually true, I think of all the animals the snail is the most lifelike and the antenna give it character. )
seventy five seconds later I hand over her snail. She smiles and reaches into her pocket. I start to get embarrassed. Lots of times people think they have to pay for the balloons because they don’t realise unlike the stalls, I’m paid to be there. But it’s too late, the wee girl has reached into her pocket and has come out with an outstretched arm and a clenched hand. I really don’t want to take this wee girls sweetie money especially as she’s started off so shy and has now really come out of her shell (no pun intended)
So I’m thinking, “I’ll open my hand, she’ll drop a pound in there, I’ll vanish it, make it appear from her ear, give it back to her and say it’s a magic coin and ask her to keep it safe for me”
I open my hand and she gives me…a beautiful white snail shell.
I don’t know if this was her lucky shell, she may have had a full pocket full of them for all I know but I was really taken aback at this wee gift and I shall keep it with me always. I’ve even named it Shelly 🙂
All weddings are missing…
Well I was the Wedding Magician in Newton Stewart on Saturday and after a 2.5 hour drive most of which was around winding country roads that made me think the obesity epidemic is actually caused by the introduction of power stearing. You heard it here first folks the weighted steering wheel workout will be making a come back at some point in the next 2000 years or so.
Anyhow, I finally arrived and it was my first wedding on a farm! Yip, cows and everything just wandering around – it was mad. These people love animals so much they even had a dog at it. Yes, in the Marquee was a wee dog walking up and down the aisle of the temporary church. I think all weddings should have a dog as it gives people something to look at and just think if this happened.
“Does anyone here present know of any reason why these two people shouldn’t be married?”
Would that not be the highlight of your life?
Dynamo how you haunt me
Every 5 years we are presented with a new TV Magician and right now Dynamo is inspiring everyone under the age of 14 to pick up a deck of cards and with every shuffle of the cards they dream of becoming the next big thing. It’s almost becoming rare to attend a wedding that I’m not introduced to someone who immediately asks if you can walk through walls. Today was a little different…mainly because the closest wall had a gate on it and the others are made out of tarpaulin (or whatever marquees are made out of). So I was presented with the customary 12 year old child Findlay who was going to show me a trick. These things are always nerve wracking for me as there are literally a million tricks out there and I don’t know all of them. It’s always that moment of, “I’m the professional magician and I don’t want to look stupid in front of a 12 year old” Luckily for me…he got the trick wrong and I managed to keep my job for the day.
It’s nice to be nice
As the speeches started it was time for me to head back to Glasgow to teach magic followed by a gig in a comedy club. However, before I left I noticed the cards young Findley was using and I thought it would be a nice gesture to leave a deck of unopened professional Bicycle cards for him in the house. As I thought about it, I thought they’ll just assume I’ve left them by accident so I thought I’d better leave a note. Trouble was I couldn’t find a piece of paper and I started to become really guilty at the thought I was wondering around someone’s house and if I was caught the excuse of “I was looking for a bit of paper ” wasn’t going to work. Even as I mentally practiced it I didn’t believe myself. (is it bad that a professional liar was essentially feeling guilty about telling the truth?) Thankfully there was 1 piece of paper in the printer so I stole that, wrote a wee encouragement note and a p.s. of I’m sorry I stole the paper. I got a lovey wee thank you from the client today to say.
Just a quick email to thank you for Saturday. Everyone loved it and you did a great job in terrible weather conditions. Thanks also for the cards you left for Findlay . He has not laid them down since !!
Last week I was the house party entertainer / magician for the 21st birthday party of the lovely Esmee. I was really looking forward to this gig because I’d chatted to the client (her mum) on the phone and she was lovely but more importantly…she got my sense of humour and liked my cheeky charm. I knew she’d been in contact with a few other magicians and I thought it was my personality she’d fallen for but no…turns out her Daughters boyfriend is called Woody. WTF? 2 Woody’s in the same room – don’t think I’ve ever met another Woody.
So I turned up still dying with my man flu; but, my body knows when it’s time to perform there’s no room for illness. I’ve often joked that even when I die I’ve probably still got 2 or 3 gigs left in me. Don’t know why – but something just kicks in and say’s “It’s show time”
The mum, Mary, had asked me to perform one of my cheeky opening lines which I was more than happy to do and within minutes we had started the show and as Kevin Bridges would say, “Everyone was having a good time”. However, someone was feeling a bit left out and decided to come and watch the show. Yip I had a wee cheeky heckler – a dog!! Now I can’t remember the young pups name but he was very inquisitive and liked to watch the show and even participate on the odd occasion. I think Pudsy from Britain’s Got Talent may have inspired dogs across the nation to move into the entertainment world
I’ve never been a ‘Gig And Run’ type of guy. Being one of the more social magicians out there I quite like to stay for a coffee after a gig and have a wee chat with some people about magic. With Dynamo being all the rage magic is all of a sudden interesting again. People want to know about certain tricks, how we get into magic, who inspires us or sometimes just to learn a basic trick themselves. So yeah, that’s all good and I’m more than happy to share my experiences.
At this show I was taken very good care of and I was even offered a bowl of soup. I thought that might be overstaying my welcome but then I heard it was lentil (my favourite) but not only lentil…it was “Mental Lentil” How could I say no? I have to admit…it was mental – very spicy – but just what the Doctor ordered. So after a Q&A session and my bowl of vitamins it was time to head back to Costa Del Cambuslang. On the drive him I received a lovely txt saying how much they had enjoyed my show and today I received the photo of the dog looking at me which i thought was a lovely touch.
I was performing at an Asian wedding in Edinburgh which is a bit strange as lots of the audience couldn’t speak English. Luckily I’m from Glasgow where most of us don’t speak English either so I’m used to adapting my patter.
Many years ago, when I was learning my trade, I performed in a lot of night clubs, busy bars and at events also featuring music. I quickly learned that visual magic tricks worked far better than ones that needed verbal accompaniment. Basically, when the rope snaps in half, I can say something but as long as the audience see the rope in 2 pieces they understand the magic has just happened.
Near the end of the show I was having a chat with the Event Organiser, he wasn’t wearing a badge or anything and he just looked like a guest. He asked me how the show was going but before I had time to answer we were interrupted by the videographer.
He was very enthusiastic and proceeded to critique of my performance. You literally can’t pay for advertising like this.
“I’ve been Videoing weddings for 7 years and I must have seen 50 of you guys [magicians] and without a shadow of a doubt you’re the best. None of the others let me film them in case something goes wrong. But you, with that rope, and those cards, I’ve never seen anything like it but you’re also dead funny – can I have your card”
When he left I said to the organizer, “That’s how it went”
I Performed as the comedy magician at The Glasgow Stand for the Fun Junkies night, got to hang out with Kevin Bridges, I farted all the acts had to leave the changing room and on the way home something really funny happened with the police and real Fun Junkies.
The Stand Comedy Club Glasgow
When you say you’re a magician people ask, “Are you in the Magic Circle” When you say you’re a comedian people ask, “Have you gigged at The Stand”. It’s widely regarded as the best comedy Club in the UK. As all the TV comedians have played there Ron Burgundy would say, “It’s kind of a big deal”
The last ever Fun Junkies – The Best of
Fun Junkies is a comedy variety night and has an excellent reputation – It’s organised by a Stand regular: Chris Forbes. The bill was hosted by Des Clarke,TV/radio Comedian, who was excellent as always
Stu and Garry – Top Improv group in Scotland – think Who’s Line Is It Anyway but in Glasgow.
James Kirk So You Think You’re Funny Winner 2010 (national contest Peter Kay won) James has also appeared on TV in Gary Tank Commander
Jay the guitar funny man and a mime who’s name I can’t remember, I was going to ask him but as he’s a mime I was worried he might not tell me.
As I entered The Stand I saw Kevin Bridges, one of the most famous comedians in the UK and one of my favourites. I didn’t know what to do/say so I just gave a wee comedy bow and then to my surprise Kevin Bridges Said, “Hi Woody”
Hi Woody?? Now I don’t get star struck but I nearly had to sit down so I could fall off my chair.
He wasn’t on the bill that night but pops into The Stand from time to time to hang out with the acts. So I actually got to hang out with Kevin Bridges and Des Clarke backstage – if It wasn’t a Wednesday night I’d have thought I’d have made it big time. So what can I say, Kevin’s a funny fu**er off stage as well and as a total open book He was telling embarrassing stories just like the rest of us perhaps even more so. I always thought he’d be a normal Glasgow guy and happy to say I wasn’t disappointed. I would have asked for a photo but as he was chilling out I thought it wasn’t the done thing.
Do I still get nervous performing magic?
The answer is very rarely. However, being in a room with the best in the business that’ve all been on TV not to mention performing in front of a girl I used to have a thing for (she knocked me back) gave me a lovely adrenaline rush some people would call nerves. I’ve missed that feeling but I haven’t missed the smell. Yes in a dressing room the size of a single bedroom I let out a quarter fart but it was enough to empty the room. Thankfully it was time for me to go on stage. And after the 2147th check that all my props were in the correct place it was time to hit the stage.
So I done the show and all went well. I’ll never be at my best at The Stand as you can’t see the audience because of the bright lights. So it’s difficult to gauge what’s working but I still done pretty well and I got lots of positive feedback after the show including:
“I really enjoyed your act, funny and great magic” Kevin Bridges
“Great reaction from the audience” Des Clarke
All the acts done excellent on the night and I can it was an honour to be asked to perform on the same bill as these guys. Shame it’s over but there’s still plenty of amazing nights to be had at The Stand and who know’s maybe I’ll even headline in there as there comedy magician.
Yes it’s true my friend Natalie Wilson just got married to Graham Malarky and magically became Natalie Malarky. I had the pleasure of entertaining at their wedding and what a wedding it was!
Performing magic for Friends
I always hate performing for people I know. When I perform I am Woody the Magician, I’m in charge, I can adjust my performing character to best fit the audience. However, when people know me as ‘Chris who used to daft wee card tricks when he was 14’ – and they see me and say,
“oh, are you still doing this”
I always hope they’ll say the same to my brother, when he was 5 he has a plastic stethoscope and now he’s a Doctor. I think it would be funny,
Guest: “oh, are you still doing this”
Kieran “Yes sir, now please remove your trousers”
When I was 14 I started taking magic far more serious and one of my best friends was Natalie Wilson, she’s a tall blonde hairdresser and one of the best people I know. She always makes me laugh and put’s a smile on my face. We had agreed if by the age of 40 if neither of us were seeing anyone we would get married. However, she broke the deal by getting engaged about 18 months ago and about 3 hours later I was booked to perform at the wedding.
Wedding Car Brakes Fail
The first wedding malarkey was that the bride was 45 minutes late. it wasn’t fashionably late or because of a dodgy mascara, It was because on route the wedding venue – the wedding car’s brakes failed. At one point the driver approached a roundabout and had to go right over the top of it. What we couldn’t understand was – If the car couldn’t slow down, why didn’t this make her arrive early?
Wedding surprise: Horse
Once the wedding was complete, Natalie looked so happy looking into the love of her life’s eyes…no not her husband, her horse. As a surprise, they brought Natalie’s horse down for the day and dare I say they had Pimped Her Horse out a bit as it was looking very clean. So the husband was abandoned and the horse was given lots of love and kisses.
How can you tell if a wedding will be eventful?
There’s one rule I go by. The quicker you see a hipflask at a wedding, the more eventful the wedding will be. I have never seen so many hip flasks in my life. My date is from England and asked me if it was a Scottish thing. I didn’t have the courage to tell her it was because we were too tight to pay Hotel Prices for spirits so I just lied and said it was for good luck. When we got to The Redhurst Hotel in Giffnock, I abandoned my date and performed an hour of mix and mingle magic while Natalie was getting her wedding photographs done. I was branded a great magician but a terrible date – as I had abandoned my girl. I could see their point but she knew the script and seemed happy enough.
Table Choice – it’s all about the view.
I was at the young table with all the single attractive ladies so my normal chat of; tennis, football and boxing wasn’t going to make me the ideal table guest. What I had forgotten was that about 7 years ago I met all the girls at Natalie’s 21st birthday party, so it was good to reminisce.
Warning: I probably shouldn’t write this next paragraph (and I have deleted it several times) but I think it’s funny and so did the bride. So if you’re offended by it…you’re probably easily offended.
I thanked Natalie for sitting me at the best table in the room and she said,
“What makes it the best table in the room”
“I’m loving the view”
What she didn’t realise was my table was in the middle of the the dance-floor and directly above me was all mirrored. So from where I was, I could the tops of all the men’s heads and down a few dresses. Natalie loved this and pointed out a few people I should look at – That’s just the type of gal she is. (just for the record –I didn’t look up nearly as much as all the girls at my table who were ‘boob spotting’)
The Last Dance
I have a confession: I can’t sing and despite taking Salsa lessons for 10 months I hate dancing. However, there seems to be a natural assumption that because I’m confident and a good laugh that I’d love to dance the night away – nothing could be further from the truth. However, my escapology skills haven’t allowed me to get out of dancing at weddings and there comes a time at every wedding where I march onto the dancefloor, step from side to side and try to copy someone in my peripheral vision.
As I was venturing onto the dancefloor near the end of the night I could see someone in more pain than me. It was the groom. During what can only be describe as a spectacular air guitar solo, he managed to dislocate his knee. A chair was brought onto the floor and an icepack was ordered from the bar – he was in agony – I was relieved I wouldn’t have to dance.
Every Cloud has a Silver lining
The groom dislocated his knee and was in agony, the bride and groom missed the end of their wedding, how could anything good come out of this?
Well, it was only a moment, but I’d describe it as a magical moment.
Graham struggled off the dance-floor and Natalie phoned the ambulance / taxi. Why did they do this? Well, Although it was their Wedding Graham went through a lot of pain to get off the dance-floor and left instructions for the families to take the place in the center circle for the last dance. At this point, everyone became invisible and Natalie was only focused on one person – her new husband. They left without saying goodbye, missed there last dance but I could see she couldn’t care about that at all. She wanted to be there for him “For better, for worse in sickness and in health” And they left together very much in love.
On Friday night, I had the pleasure of performing for one of the best organised events I’ve ever attended. Unfortunately, the company shall remain nameless because of attempted client theft from my competitors (tut tut – you know who you are!)
The night was the first fund raising night by this certain group and they organised it perfectly. 18 tables with more guests to come at the evening reception. I met my host and thought she was one of the models used for the night. Then the first group of girls walked in and I thought, “Ok these must be the models”, as the groups of countless women came in I had to check my pulse at certain points to see if I had visited the place in the sky. For a man who has worked in Scotland’s top Strip club, fashion nights that have been broadcast throughout the world, worked with countless models including former Miss Scotland Neive Jennings and as a regular performer at the world’s largest burlesque club, the following sentence is quite a bold statement. I have never been in a room with so many beautiful women.
The only thing to come close to the beauty of the women was the venue itself. It had a fantastic yet unusual centrepiece hanging from the ceiling and very modern yet cosy lighting scheme.
What the event did really well was have lots young professionals 22 – 35 and rather than have just the host of the charity talking they had someone there who had benefited from the charity as well. I don’t know why more charities don’t do this. They kept it focused on the positive and didn’t let the speeches go on for too long. This meant that for one of the few times in my performing career every table I visited was in a really happy positive mood – which made my job really easy
After the meal they had a Ceilidh and the dancefloor was fully populated within seconds.
After the event I met up with the host and told her how much I had enjoyed the event and how I thought it was one of the best events I had ever performed at. She thought I must say this to all my clients…here’s hoping she reads my blog.
I had the pleasure of entertaining at Braehead shopping centre on Saturday night to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the opening. They had a BBQ, A karaoke tent, and a £1 a drink offer on. There were about 500 in attendance and I can safely say I’ve never worked in a place with so many young attractive girls – and that comes from a guy who used to work in a strip club. It never occurred to me that so many sales staff were females between the ages of 18 – 24. Rumour has it that one of them wasn’t blonde but I didn’t see her.
The highlight of my night was probably a guy from my first group. Approaching the first group of people is a skill that’s important to magicians as it can get you into a really good frame of mind. Amongst my first crowd was a guy called Jay who was really cool. He said his friend was into card tricks but it was a pleasure seeing me doing it so effortlessly.
Another group I had was a real struggle at first. One of the gentlemen at the group said there was no point in showing him any tricks because he used to work with someone who was really good with cards. The rest of the group still seemed interested and I proceeded to show them my signature effect. They were amazed and my misdirection was pretty good and I even managed to fool the guy who knew how it was all done.
Overall a very fun night and a big thanks to Lauren for hiring me
Thursday night brought my magical abilities to Hamilton for the opening of a solicitors. Normally, I would go into telling you about wee bits and bobs that happened (including my driving down a 1 way street antics) on the night; but, this blog contains something far more interesting! Midway through a card trick, I looked up and saw Celtic legend Billy McNeil. Now, if ever perfect misdirection existed it was performing magic to a bunch of Celtic fans when the Lisbon Lyon Legend walks in to room. “Wow there’s Billy McNeill” I said, and the whole audience looked over to him. I could have walked a rainbow coloured elephant onstage to the music of a brass band and no one would have noticed.
Billy was in a small room and was being harassed by people for photographs and autographs. I started performing for 2 people next to him only to be asked if I knew who I was performing for. I didn’t recognise the face and was informed that it was Scotty McClure from the radio. Around 1994 Scotty McClure was a total radio phenomenon. His quick wit and outrageous comments made him the thing on everyone’s lips. He will probably be the last person to make radio more popular than TV to a young audience. So Scotty was great fun and it was a pleasure performing for him.
Next up was Billy McNeill. So how did I manage to get to perform for him when no one was around? Simple…Neive Jennings (Former Miss Scotland and Miss Uk) walked into the building. Billy was brilliant and loved the magic. He kept walking away and coming back in disbelief. I briefly thought he was going to have a heart attack and I panicked a little but the show must go on. I asked him to name a card and was certain he would go for number 5 (his shirt) but he said he was looking for Jimmy’s number (Jimmy Johnstone) and picket the 7 of hearts. What a gentleman!
So next off was Scotland’s own Neive Jennings. Neive and I both work in events so we bump into each other quite often – I like to think she’s stalking me but unfortunately she’s not. My random Neive Jennings story is that I performed in her flat when she was in the audition process for Miss Scotland. Neive has always been an admirer of close-up magic and she loves my rope routine so I showed it to her again and it’s always nice to see her jaw drop and reveal those big pearly whites.
Random story of the night: Sometimes when performing for girls they don’t understand that I am paid to be there and I am not just flirting with them. So it’s important to address the issue in a humorous manner. So I’d dealt with this and about 5 minutes into the act just before I got to a punch line one of the girls blurts out, “she’s only 14” Now bearing in mind the girl looked about 14 and I was talking about the 10 of diamonds at the time I asked her why she felt the need to tell me the other girls age, She replied, “I’m 21”. This totally confused me beyond all belief. It was as if we were in different time zones.
Overall; A fantastic night, lovely office, lovely people and a night I will never forget.