Back Ups, Non Arriving Props, and Oh, My—What to Wear!

What are my back-up tricks?

  It is vital to have a couple of back-up tricks with you for each and every show. Things can go wrong; in fact it is a sure fire guarantee that over the years things will go wrong. Your job as a professional is to be absolutely capable of doing your full time without the audience getting any hint of unseen performing trauma. If your table gets knocked over while it is being set, and your props scattered on the ground backstage, —you still need to have material enough to cover your show.

I personally have my Cards Across, 6 Card Déjà vu, Coin in Bottle and Linking Finger Rings with me, on my person, at all times and at every show. It is a powerful feeling of confidence to know you are fully prepared for anything. With these four tricks, that fit in an inside jacket pocket, I actually have a totally balanced and strong 30 minute show at my fingertips. If the show is running short for some reason, I can rectify the situation by adding one of them. If the audience absolutely insists on an unexpected encore you are ready to go.

What if my props do not arrive?

 No matter how tough flight restrictions are, you should be able to carry a full show with you in your hand baggage. Even if you end up on some God forsaken puddle jumper of a plane, that won’t allow you to take your props with you inside the plane, you should have a mini box/bag inside your working case that contains the bare necessities of a balanced show. This is your first duty as a travelling entertainer. Make sure that you don’t have so many electronic and video items with you that your props take second place. You will see my luggage in the photo here they contains a lot of clothes, a mini tech store and performance wise 2×50 minute and 1×20 minute shows. 90% of the props are in the larger of the two small hand baggage. The larger blue suitcase is a Travel-Pro which in my opinion is the lightest and best made case you can buy. Inside my checked case is a small GPS unit called Lugloc (70 bucks) that uses Wi-Fi, Cellular or bluetooth to tell me, on the map, where my case is anywhere in the world should we get separated. The service costs about $8 a month and is GREAT. Their URL link is

It is also a wonderful exercise to make sure you can put on a decent show with just items you can easily find on location or acquire with a simple visit to a couple of local stores. There have been several books/DVDs on this topic and I plan to add another to the mix in the near future. Once you have been placed in this “no prop” situation a few times, you really appreciate the importance of being fluid and flexible enough to make your show work in ANY conditions, and that includes having your props go missing. Always remember that YOU are the show and not the little overpriced gimmicks you bought from an online magic store.

                        What do I wear?

 You should wear something suitable for the act and also suitable for the audience. Whatever you wear should be high quality, well pressed and accompanied by shoes that are well polished. Generally speaking if you are working a business or social event then you can’t go wrong wearing the same level of clothes as the audience or slightly better. If they are wearing suits then you should be in a suit, if they (God forbid!) are wearing tuxedos then you should be in a tux. If the audience is casually dressed then you should be a notch above them, i.e. If they are in shirts then you wear a jacket, if they are wearing jackets and open neck shirts then you should wear a tie.

I think it is a mistake to look too formal if the audience is casual, you don’t want to look like the maître d’ by dressing in a tuxedo if the rest of the group are dressed in golf clothes. Billy McComb always used to point out that your outerwear should be top notch also. No point in wearing a slick suit topped by a tacky, greasy raincoat. Billy also has a wonderfully detailed regime for keeping your nails spotlessly clean in his book McComb’s Magic: 25 Years Wiser.


~ by Nick Lewin on March 28, 2018.

4 Responses to “Back Ups, Non Arriving Props, and Oh, My—What to Wear!”

  1. Great advice from a true professional! Thank you for posting these wonderful tidbits of advice. They are indeed helpful to anyone who wants to better their show and capabilities of performing. Thanks Nick! You’re my hero!

  2. I am very pleased to share them and even gladder you enjoy reading them! Cheers, Nick

  3. Hi Nick,

    You’re on a roll Nick! This one phrase is something I live by:

    “Always remember that YOU are the show and not the little overpriced gimmicks you bought from an online magic store.”

    And I have spent almost a Million bucks on cool gimmicks and magic boxes – but I almost never perform any of them. Magicians lap them up, but real people don’t care.

    Thank-you for offering your expertise and wisdom so freely to magicians of all levels.


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