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Topic: What's in YOUR street act?
Message: Posted by: m@t (Jun 8, 2003 05:15AM)
I couldn't find a topic where everyone just posts the running order of their act. I thought it would be really interesting to see.

Here is mine at the moment (still under construction.) Its in order:

1) Jumbo "Do as I Do" with comedy patter. (3 mins)

2) Professors Nightmare and other comedy rope tricks. (3 mins)

3) Loosing a spectators signed bill (more comedy)(2 mins)

4) Chop Cup routine (3 mins)

5) Finding the bill in a lemon as the final load, with comedy! (2 mins)

6) Collecting the money! (As much as possible)

Total length: approx. 13 mins

Any body want to post their act? :) :babyface:

Ok - fine! I guess no one wants to tell me!!! :bawl:
Message: Posted by: Rich Cowley (Jun 9, 2003 02:25PM)
No need to get snippy, m@t; you asked the question late in the weekend, when most buskers are working, then falling asleep after some long hours...

I made a living on the streets for almost 15 years opening with a six-ring Linking Rings, and closing with a straitjacket. (Yep, just two tricks.) Once in a while, I threw Brainwave or a quick C-n-R Rope in the middle, and sometimes closed with Caveney's Linking Coat Hangers instead of the round rings, just to mix things up a bit. -- The show usually ran 25-30 minutes, with a *lot* of byplay/interaction with the crowd intermixed with the tricks themselves.

I've seen a *lot* of street acts, and I've never, ever, ever seen a correlation between the material they chose and the effectiveness of their shows. In other words, it ain't *what* ya do, it's how much of *yourself* you put into the show. -- Try not to think too hard about "which trick is better than which"; try to focus on "how can I frame this trick so nobody else would do it the way *I'm* doing it?"

What you wind up with, is material that always carries your signature, and anybody else who copies looks like a poor imitation of *you*.

Hope that helps!
Message: Posted by: m@t (Jun 9, 2003 03:36PM)
Cheers Rich, thanks for your input. Im currently working on a new act and thought it would be interesting to hear what kind of things play on the street for you guys.

Sorry didn't consider the whole sleeping issue! :napping:


Message: Posted by: ROBERT BLAKE (Jun 12, 2003 02:32AM)
My street show contains:

Cigarette routine (warming up).
Introducing (not showing yet) Rocky Raccoon.
Linking Rings (showing how training Rocky).
Rocky Raccoon + Sawing in Half.
Rocky's favorite trick a 8 people suspension. (this is just comedy)

All I have done is to make Rocky (in my show he is called Rambo)the main theme throughout my show. This way I get them interested and curious to see Rambo.
Message: Posted by: m@t (Jun 12, 2003 03:59AM)
Sounds like a fun act Robert. Where abouts are you working?

Im off to the States and Vancouver Canada this summer so I'm hoping to catch some of the magic scene :)

Message: Posted by: ROBERT BLAKE (Jun 12, 2003 06:01AM)
M@t, I am performing at street festivals in Europe, mainly Holland - Germany - Austria and Belgium. Someday I'd like to come to a festival in America or Canada. I hear great things about Hallifax.
Message: Posted by: m@t (Jun 12, 2003 07:21AM)
I curently live in London occasionaly working Covent Garden. I work restauraunts and bars. PM me if you are ever in London.
Message: Posted by: Harry Murphy (Jun 12, 2003 01:24PM)
I try to do short act (10 minute act with 5 minutes, combined, in getting the edge and later turning the tip) to average size groups (25 to 30 but will work a 10 to 15 person edge, hey I will play to a 5 person edge just to get some energy going!). With a good rhythm I can average 7 shows in two hours. I try for a 9 to 10 hour day that includes some comfort breaks and lunch.

As I gather the crowd I tell them what wonders they are going to see, then I show them the wonders (do the act) and I remind what they have seen as I pass the hat. I prefer tricks that are very visual, that play big, whose premise is easily understood (especially important if you have a big crowd, there is a lot of background noise, or if you have a number of non-English speaking folk in the crowd), and can involve several spectators

I am a strong believer that you must have a firm, polished, well practiced and rehearsed ACT. I find it very difficult of ad lib or improvise when I don’t know my act cold!

As to act, I tend to do ropes, signed-borrowed-bill-to-balloon (thank you Mark Jenest), or occasionally to a lemon, and cups and balls or Benson Bowl or Chop Cup. Add the warm-up, show-off, crowd attracting stuff too and the passing the hat and that’s about it.

While this is the core of my street act I also have a sponge ball/rabbit routine and a solid thumb tie (with watch steal) routine that I will also perform when the crowd is real small (say 10 people) and I want to create a bit of excitement and get some attention getting energy going. I might even perform my borrowed, signed, torn and restored bill routine.

I know this sounds pretty sterile but there really is a lot of fun stuff interacting with the audience.
Message: Posted by: Scott Xavier (Jun 13, 2003 05:43AM)
I am the freak here, I do street mentalism. Am I the first?

A think a card, some magazine tests, a dictionary test, psychokinesis with cards bills and spoons, a mind over matter s.j. escape, and even some block head stuff when I feel like shocking!
Message: Posted by: R2 (Jun 15, 2003 02:15PM)
The theme I use is that of a reformed "Street Hustler"

Performing for Free is a part of my probation and the rehabilitation efforts towards goodwill...No more Dark Side turn towards the light!

Thus, I expose the hypothetical losses that will befall anyone who dares to play the odds against the "House" (Me)

In my sets....

Cups and Apricots..using little apricots (Chabacanes)

Four Card Monte....using jumbo cards

Choose a number (roulette routine)

Pea-can Concentration (single cup, single apricot)

Bandido Matrix (personal story of my bank heist jobs with a double cross as the kicker and a jumbo coin production "Big Money")

Cut & Restored (exlplains my reformation as good and honest citizen?)

I remind them that I no longer pull off these street scams. I have now turned towards properly educating the public against would be "Street Scammers"

All proceeds benefit the "Society Against Street Scams" (SASS) as the hat is passed and FREE Fresh Apricots from the lid covered dish...are given away...

I enjoy myself more than the audience...Little pressure and it is part of my Community Service after all!
Message: Posted by: Eddini_81976 (Jul 17, 2003 08:45AM)
1. Red Hot Mamma (it has a mind reading effect for the second card, and a card to wallet with the second card). 3-5 mins.
2. Deju Vu Deck 2 mins.
3. Scotch & Soda 2 mins.
4. Card to Wallet + Ambitious Card Routine 5- 8 mins.
5. Thumbcuff Escape 3 min.
6. MacDonald's Aces 3-5 mins.

Tricks I switch in and out are :

1. Cut n Restored Rope
2. In A Flash (For Nightime)
3. Brainwave As A Mindreading Trick
4. Cards Across
5. X-Ray Box

There are others too, but it all depends on if there are kids in the crowd, how big the crowd is, and what tricks of mine that they've seen or not. My set on "average" is probably 10-20 minutes depending on other factors.
:) :bluebikes: :magicrabbit:
Message: Posted by: zombieboy (Jul 19, 2003 06:10PM)
I pretty much do jazz magic on the streets with a few props.

Cups and balls
Card manipulation (Angle proof, I might add)

And my act is silent, no music or patter.
Message: Posted by: vernon (Aug 2, 2003 06:08PM)
During Edinburgh Festival, did...
Silver Dollars!?through table...
**** rocky routine
Thought of card stop (sometimes folded card under pax wristwatch)
And Plagerised chop cup
But always with the lines thick and fast
Message: Posted by: m@t (Aug 3, 2003 04:18AM)
How was Edinburgh vernon? Anyone else work it? Also does anyone know what Gazzo is up to at the moment? :)
Message: Posted by: whitelephant (Dec 17, 2003 07:49AM)
The first time I went out I had nothing close to clue! I was ad libbing with all my restauraunt tricks, cards-coins-tip...and the walking on glass I had developed especially for the street. I got a loyal crowd of five to six teenagers and nothing else.

So the next day I dropped my cards/coins, and picked up my devil stix. I made a clock and posted it on a light pole. I sat on the glass which was covered by my banket. About five minutes before my act started if I had spectators I would light a cigerette (I know socially irresponsible) and begin by extiguishing it in my hand. Then I'd address the crowd. I started this here in Israel and my Hebrew is still pretty poor. In broken-tongue I would warn the audience not to try the things I was doing at home. I would uncover the glass, walk on it, recover smash with a frying pan. Then I'd pull a volunteer to walk on my chest while I lay barebacked on the glass. I would then pick up the stix and walk back over the glass thanking everyone and asking for donations.

Since then I've added fireballs and razor blades. It comes off a little more freak-show than magic—but I enjoy it. ;)
Message: Posted by: BroDavid (Dec 17, 2003 10:25AM)
I now do a series of card flourishes to start the draw, followed by Paperclipped, when I have a few, and as the pitch grows I go on to some coin things (Coins Across, etc.) and then do Twisted Sisters (jumbo card version) and finish with Rings In Your Face.

Message: Posted by: tboehnlein (Dec 17, 2003 10:53AM)
Bro David how was your Big Easy stay?
Message: Posted by: BroDavid (Dec 17, 2003 01:21PM)
Too cold, and too little foot traffic to really do more than get some practice. Also my wife was a bit impatient with me, the weather, etc and it was tough to get any continuity without being asked to go some place warmer, etc.

I love her dearly, and she was a terrific companion, for all but my busking. And she really is pretty tired of magic anyway, so magic outside in the cold really had no appeal for her.

But I learned a lot in NO and my act and attitude were honed by the experience, and I got to meet Kozmo, and spent some time with Harry Anderson, so the trip was definitely a good experience overall. I will simply pick better weather for my next trip there.

Thanks for asking.

Message: Posted by: Kondini (Dec 18, 2003 01:47PM)
[list][*]To draw Rings (4) 8"
[*]Multi Cut Rope or Coins in Glass With Bottle Production
[*]Card in Fly
[*]Card in Mouth
[*]Balloon Swallow
[*]Cups and Balls—12-minute spot[/list][list][b]For the evenings[/b]
[*]To Draw Blindfold Sword Work (using Kuffs' foil)
[*]Nail in Head
[*]Screwdriver in Nose
[*]Balloon Swallow
[*]Electric Drill in Nose
[*]Balloon in Nose Out of Mouth
[*]Siberian Chain or SJ to finish—15-minute spot[/list]The above content for season 2003 - 2004 season to ponder on!!
Message: Posted by: DanielGreenWolf (Dec 19, 2003 12:29AM)
On 2003-06-13 06:43, Dr_Zodiac wrote:
I am the freak here, I do street mentalism. Am I the first?


Sadly good sir, I don't think your the first but you're no freak (at least no more than the rest of us). I do much mentalism in my street act and walk around acts. Contimental, Burger's variation on Positive / Negative, BWave, center tear work just for an example. (using Osterlind's Perfected Center tear. READ ALL ABOUT IT. It should be a must for any mentalist.)

May you never win "The Lottery,"
Daniel GreenWolf
Message: Posted by: JamesinLA (Dec 19, 2003 03:54AM)
I usually do either rings and cups and balls or rope and cups and balls. That's all I have time for. It fills 20 or 30 minutes.

I sometimes draw the edge with the rope or rings, sometimes with some closeup coins or cards.

Message: Posted by: Twisted_Reality (Dec 26, 2003 11:14AM)

I am currently located in Amehrst Nova Scotia - Just outside of Halifax -and I will personally attest to the busker fest being the SHIZZLE! - I have had the pelasure of performing here for a little while and let me tell you - the people are friendly, the buskers are ready to please, and willing to talk shop over coffee.

If your coming down to Halifax - let me know I would love to hook up with some fellow Cafér's.
Message: Posted by: flooglestreet (Jan 5, 2004 10:53AM)
I believe a straightjacket is the exception that proves the rule. Straightjackets seem to increase a hat like no other trick. Yours Bill :banana:
Message: Posted by: drwilson (Jan 16, 2004 01:31PM)
I did quite a bit of street performing last summer in a very difficult location (small private courtyard), as busking in a public space is illegal in Bar Harbor, Maine. No kidding. It is not possible to draw a big crowd in this location, as you can't be seen all that well from the street, but people do pass through and you can snag them if a couple of people are at your table.

Most of the time, the only material I performed was Fast & Loose. You would not believe how strong this is until you do it. I used play money ($100 bills), which I handed out to the participants and won back. I covered their bets with real half dollars which I would ocassionally lose to them if the moment seemed right. Almost always, these would end up back in the hat.

Thanks so much to Whit Haydn and Chef Anton at School for Scoundrels for a very educational and lucrative product!

Pictures at:


Don't miss the link to Peter "The Glassman" Bennett's story from this site.

Big hats to you!


Message: Posted by: Mario Morris (Feb 1, 2004 07:43PM)
Well I can start with simple rope trick, Shell game, Dippy Duck, maybe head guillotine or straight jacket or full load Cups and balls. I might even balance Rocky the Racon on a tray which sits on top of a ten foot tall pole while I play Amazing Grace on a kazoo.
Message: Posted by: brandonford1982 (Jun 26, 2004 08:45AM)
I open with the straight jacket Then do sword through neck and finish with Abbott's chair suspension. 3 main tricks is all. I have found that where I perform (Clearwater Beach) it makes no difference if you do 10 tricks or just 3. They all pay the same. So I took the best 3 tricks I do and routined them together.
Message: Posted by: zman1234 (Jun 27, 2004 09:17PM)
Ok, I'm new here (not new to magic, been doing it a year) but I don't know what busking is. I think its another term for preforming for money on the street. Correct me if I'm wrong.
Message: Posted by: BerkleyJL (Jun 28, 2004 12:28AM)
Zman, you're right about your definition of busking.

I'm glad this thread popped back up. I'll answer with what I have in my act right now, and hopefully some of you old salts will give me some advice for changes or reinforcement that I've made decent selections:

Juggling/Shouting/Attention-Getting Silliness

Pen thru Dollar (first hat-line with jokes about $$)
Cigarette Routine (finish by lighting/puffing/vanishing lit)
Cut & Restored Rope (lay down to draw a line...move crowd up to line)

Color Monte (another hat line...not playing monte for $$--performing for $$)
Linking Rings (short 4-ring routine)
Professor's Nightmare
Torched and Restored

Cups and Balls (final hat line shortly BEFORE finals are revealed)
Message: Posted by: JamesinLA (Jun 28, 2004 04:58AM)
To me, this seems like a really long show with way too many effects for a street show. I do 20 minutes with a multi-phase cut and restore rope and my cups and balls routine runs 15 or so by itself (or longer) depending on how many gags I feel I can put it. I alter the speed of the cups routine and the number of gags based on how involved I feel the audience is.

Like your monte hat line.

Message: Posted by: BerkleyJL (Jun 28, 2004 06:27AM)
On 2004-06-28 05:58, JamesinLA wrote:
To me, this seems like a really long show with way too many effects for a street show. I do 20 minutes with a multi-phase cut and restore rope and my cups and balls routine runs 15 or so by itself (or longer) depending on how many gags I feel I can put it. I alter the speed of the cups routine and the number of gags based on how involved I feel the audience is.

Like your monte hat line.



Thanks for the tips. Now that I think about it, my show does kind-of seem more like a skill demonstration than entertainment. I'm sure I can trim it down a bit.

Message: Posted by: JamesinLA (Jun 29, 2004 03:05AM)
Good luck with it, Joe. One of the most satisfying things I learned about working on the street is that my act just gets better and better. Routines that I thought were just right, change for the better.

Message: Posted by: Danny Hustle (Jun 29, 2004 07:51AM)
On 2004-06-28 01:28, BerkleyJL wrote:

Juggling/Shouting/Attention-Getting Silliness

Cut & Restored Rope (lay down to draw a line...move crowd up to line)

Cups and Balls (final hat line shortly BEFORE finals are revealed)


This would be a GREAT show right here. Just these three things. If you can juggle and be silly you will absolutely and unequivocally draw a NICE edge.

Once you have them if you do a nice multi-phase C&R combined with Prof. Nightmare that is all the middler you need. Slydini's rope routine rocks hard on the street, as does George Sands, Panama Rope Trick, etc. Rope is a good middler.

Closing with the cups and balls? Well, that's a pretty hard trick to beat. That is why so many of us close with it. :)

For the record, your opener is VERY strong; do not discount it. There is not nearly enough silly in the world and people eat it up, especially if you can juggle! :


Message: Posted by: The Mighty Fool (Jul 14, 2004 03:00AM)
When I'm masquerading as a bum, I wait for my cardboard sign promising magic to attract someone, then do the time-machine watch prediction...hopefully that gets a few more to stop & look...then I'll do an stealth-pen-vanishing-reappearing bill routine, and what else happens really depends on who & how many stay to watch, but in my arsenal are
D'lites (color-changing)
time machine
DeKram deck and 'anywhere fine-print' cards
Kevin James' floating rose
stealth pen
Eclipse card-bag trick (a whopper!)
3 pre-set, pre-placed H&S soda cans
and card through window, via a 24 hour convenience store.
Message: Posted by: Dr_Stephen_Midnight (Jul 14, 2004 02:03PM)
1) Burling Hull's Simplex chain escape;
2) Full-view escape from Irish-8 Darby handcuffs and Indian 'British Colonial Period' Darby Leg Irons;
3) Straitjacket escape.

Message: Posted by: Sam Griffin (Jul 18, 2004 06:37PM)
Yeah I always make sure I get a CTW in my show as well. When performed right...HOLY MOLY! Get your buisness cards ready!

I always, and I mean ALWAYS include the knife through Arm in all shows I perform. Blood and all, I've never had censorship issues, I make it as gory and believing as I can.

Swallowing the Razor Blade trick is a great effect to perform on it's own. I have some times, ( When I was first starting out ) Set up a stand with a sign entitled " Witness the Incredible, You will not believe your eyes! $1 for 2 minutes of sheer entertainment" I had 3 tricks behind the stand, that was it...3 Card Monte, Swallowing Razor Blades and a thumb tip. - NOT ONE SPECTATOR LEFT THE STAND DISAPOINTED. AND MOST..MOST, even tipped me a few extra bucks.

Anyway at the end of a 6 hour day - ( Bloody fun day ) I had over $100. It was amazing!.

I don't know what the moral to this story is, but...For aspiring street magicians. Or any Newbie into magic, The point is : You do not need expensive, ground-breaking, diobolical mechanical gimmicked state of the art technology magic to be a winner.

All of that comes in one word. "PRESENTATION"

Message: Posted by: dlcmagic (Oct 2, 2004 11:02PM)
We were in Baltimore Maryland and saw a street
act do among other things a subtrunk for his last
trick. Anyone else ever try this on the street?
Message: Posted by: rsummer27 (Oct 3, 2004 12:53AM)
Did they pull it off? The street really doesn't offer the best layout for illusions like that. There are some places where it could be possible. However, you have to unload it from your car, carry it to your corner, make sure no one is standing behind you. Too much work for me.
Message: Posted by: Kozmo (Oct 3, 2004 09:49AM)
Slydini's rope routine has never really worked for me. It's like they have seen that before. I don't like it all that much....and even with the humor it doesn't make it for me...thats FOR ME....for others it likely works very well.
Cellini did it for 20 years.

Message: Posted by: dlcmagic (Oct 3, 2004 10:35AM)
Yes they pulled it off. It was in sort of a town
square setting. They also had a small p.a.
system for music. They carried the trunk in on
a cart. You can perform it surrounded. It's a top
Message: Posted by: cstreet_1986 (Oct 3, 2004 12:07PM)
I am wondering what would be the best closer - the Cups and Balls or a Strait Jacket Escape.

I am sure that these are two different schools of thought, and so it may be unlikely that I will get a response from someone who uses them both.

I would like to use both in my routine, its just a question of where in the routine they should be. Can anyone help?

Message: Posted by: Werner G. Seitz (Oct 3, 2004 12:29PM)
On 2004-10-03 10:49, tedb wrote:
Slydini's rope routine has never really worked for me. It's like they have seen that before. I don't like it all that much....and even with the humor it doesn't make it for me...thats FOR ME....for others it likely works very well.
Cellini did it for 20 years.

[/quote]What a shame..actually I had the pleasure of seeing Slydini do it..on stage 1961/Bologna/Italy..and it was GREAT.

Reading up his routine very detailed in the *Magical World of Slydini* didn't lessen the impression at all..

I played a bit around with it (25 years back)..did it, but disliked the waste/renewal of rope..

Today it is George Sands Ropesational finishing with the last part of the Ramsay-routine, instead of the knotappearing thing in GSs routine, starting Ramsays, where both ends of the 2 ropes are tied together and finishing with the knot-explanation, where the knot in the specs hands doesn't vanish (sectator involvement!)and mine does, and thereafter transforms to a renewed whole lenght of rope...everything worked out of the pocket..
A strong finish for any rope-routine IMHO..
Check the details out, they are in public domain :) both on DVD /Galloway and in bookform/Galloway!
Message: Posted by: drwilson (Oct 3, 2004 12:35PM)
I had my straitjacket with me last time as an "encore." The idea was to close with the cups and balls, but have it there in case I had a big crowd and they wanted more. As I was working off a porch and the crowd was on the sidewalk, I couldn't really draw a big enough crowd to make it worthwhile. I was going to ask people to hold up a five dollar bill where I could see it. If enough people held up money I would do it. I am sure once we got started we would have drawn a whole lot more people. I still plan on trying this someday at a different pitch.


Message: Posted by: Jim Wilder (Oct 3, 2004 01:03PM)
On 2004-10-03 13:07, cstreet_1986 wrote:
I am wondering what would be the best closer - the Cups and Balls or a Strait Jacket Escape.

On the street, I think you will find that the cups will be a physically less demanding routine. That is not to say that a good cups and balls routine can't be demanding due to certain conditions, but on the whole less demanding.

Performing a straitjacket routine can also pose a different set of problems than the cups. I would imagine that keeping up with your hat or props could become a tricky situation in the event of having someone grab and run with them.

However, the best formula is to actually try it. You are correct in that you will receive many different opinions on which would be a stronger closing effect. Ultimately it will be determined by you and your performing style and character.
Message: Posted by: Kayo_City (Oct 4, 2004 07:11AM)
I start with Aces of the Cuff, twisting the Aces, Aces 2 Kings, and truimph! if I need to do close up crowd build.
But lately I've been continualy getting INSTA-CROWD so I do professors nightmare, exploding sharpie gag, Pen thru spectators bill, Red hot mama or chicago opener and finally casino melts!
this lasts about 35 mins for the long version or 15 for the short!!!
Message: Posted by: chrisrkline (Oct 4, 2004 06:39PM)
I have, if I need it, a silly rendition of Paul Harris' Classic Eleven Card Trick, or Danny Archer's GI Bill.

But lately I have settled on Whit Haydn's Mongolian Pop-Knot and Cups and Balls, of course. Nearly 30 minutes right there.
Message: Posted by: bwarren3 (Jan 19, 2006 08:16PM)
If I'm not performing with Merlin then it's a coins across with a 3", a 7: and finally a 10" jumbo chrome coin. Cut & restored rope and professor's nightmare, a couple of packet tricks, John Cornelius Cutting the grass, color monte, twisted sisters, Ton Osaka X-ray card. A couple of card effects and close with the CUps & balls, 2 final loads.
If Merlin is with me then we open with a forcing deck and Merlin picks out their selected card from a shuffled deck. The he does 2 more and he's finished for the day until the next set.