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steve spill
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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.

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:

MINDREADING GOOSE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZDtzhPCry4

GRAB N STAB https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pj4wvnuB4rM

MUNCHIES
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.

POTHEAD
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.

BROKEN MIRROR
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.

CUB
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.

GROUPIE
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.

WASTE NOT
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.

RICE PAPER
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 info@stevespill.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.
Mac_Stone
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Great news, I love weed!
saysold1
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Thank you for dispensing with the pleasantries.

You should limit the number sold to 420.
Creator of The SvenPad Supreme- "One of the most versatile and well made utility devices I have ever used. Highly recommended." Bob Cassidy www.SvenPads.com
noble1
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Ordered. Now waiting next to the mailbox for it to arrive.
John Gerard
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Ordered as well. CBD isolate is as good as I can get due to my day job.
DanielChard
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I’m going to pick this up! Love the sound of the effects Smile
Stunninger
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You have your own theater in Santa Monica, how cool is that?! One of my favorite cities...can't believe I didn't know this!
Emerson Rodrigues
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Awesome! Love when workers release their gems! It's a no brainer!
msmaster
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Ordered
mumford
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ORDERED - Stunninger, do some Googling..
markmiller
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Just ordered, loved the Love book, Weed sounds great.
takeachance
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How is the release date going, must be soon?
markmiller
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steve spill
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MAGIC IS MY WEED STARTS SHIPPING NEXT WEDNESDAY - $95 pre-publication pice good until september 25 stevespill.com
HERE IS WHAT JAMY IAN SWISS HAS TO SAY
https://www.magicana.com/news/blog/magic......4chymUrk
Magic is My Weed
TRICKS AND STRATAGEMS TO TAKE YOU HIGHER THAN A BILLION BONG HITS
BY STEVE SPILL
REVIEWED BY JAMY IAN SWISS
I don’t know how Steve Spill does it. Just over a year ago, I reviewed his then newly released book of stage and platform magic, How to Make Love the Steve Spill Way. That remarkable work was devoted to, in the author’s words, instructing the reader in “[H]ow to share with audiences who you are, how to integrate comedy, and develop your own original material.” In 277 pages, Spill did a superb job of providing such a guide, with in-depth consideration of the how-to elements, based on his vast career experience, coupled with the detailed descriptions of twelve powerhouse routines—several of which could serve as the foundation of anyone’s professional standup act. In that review, I wrote:
So what we have here is a remarkable guidebook to the professional performance of comedy stage magic, written—from the heart as well as the mind—by a successful veteran working pro who is also one of the most original and creative magicians of his generation. With unusual frankness as well as expertise—and in a distinctively stylistic and comedic voice—you receive professional guidance about character, comedy, creativity, originality, presentation and scriptwriting, and no less than a dozen professional caliber audience tested routines complete with original presentations, featuring three blockbuster pieces, any one of which could become the feature of your show.
In my 2016 Take Two essay about Steve, I recounted how quickly he could come up with an idea, make a run to the arts and crafts shop, put together the props, and within a few days—if that—put the routine on stage to see what might happen. It is apparent that he is as fearless and driven when it comes to writing books, because now, just over a year after the release of its predecessor, Steve Spill gifts us with his second substantial volume of stage and comedy magic, featuring another dozen polished professional stage routines, preceded by six meaty chapters of theory and practice about real-world performance skills.
After recently selling Magicopolis, the unique magic venue that Spill founded and operated for some twenty years in Santa Monica, he takes the experience of not hundreds of shows, not thousands, but of literally tens of thousands of paid professional shows, and in these pages, delivers, without holding anything back, what he’s learned. You will rarely find comparable lessons and experience elsewhere.
The book opens with “Let’s Party!”, in which Spill explains the book’s title, offering that while his days of recreational drugs are long behind him, the pleasure of creating and performing original magic continue to produce his greatest highs. In these initial pages, Spill contemplates his evolutions and influences, offers further discussion about performance character, including his own, and provides a thoughtful viewpoint about magic as art, craft, business and lifestyle. These pages are not only unusual for the amount of personal and professional experience that Spill brings to the table, but they also border on being unprecedented for their inordinately frank and straightforward commentary—all the while being funny and irreverent. Deeply personal at moments, this content is also powerfully instructive. In concluding this introductory chapter, Spill invites us to what’s in store, explaining that:
As an entertainer I am keen to please people, as many in an audience as possible. I want them to love what I do, but during the writing of this book, I have kept that guy chained, gagged, and locked in a lead-lined box under my bed. The routines described herein were designed so audiences respond viscerally to each trick and joke. Writing about them and how they are accomplished is another story. You see, my desired outcome here in this book doesn’t include a responsible attempt to please all the people all the time. But I do want the words ahead to be strictly honest, accurate, instructional, inspiring—and if possible, an aid in the journey for some of my colleagues who strive to find a new, different, or funny path. I also want to make you laugh and think and feel. So there you have it.
The next chapter, “Spur of the Moment,” is about the role of spontaneity in performance—both planned and genuine. In the previous chapter the author comments that, “To me, part of the beauty of magic is to project an assumed air of doing difficult things with an effortless mastery and the feel of nonchalance so as to make them look easy. This is part of giving what we do a sense of spontaneity, even though it is a result of acting and practice and rehearsal.” In this chapter he examines, in the most instructive detail I have ever come across, how to create that air of spontaneity. He writes:
An improvisational attitude encourages one to be flexible and adapt – so that a fresh discovery is always waiting around the corner. I firmly believe that improvisation enhances one’s performance, increases confidence, and builds self-esteem. It is an important and crucial part of establishing an atmosphere and connection to a crowd. When one is doing their act, there’s a rhythm the audience creates that’s essential. When they are engaged and involved they are the most reactive. Crafting that collective attitude, being able to customize it, to personalize it on the fly, is an essential part of performing. Being spontaneous and instinctive, speaking extemporaneously, being able to think on your feet in front of an audience—are extra human-touch presentational efforts that fall into two categories. Both of these skillsets enhance the enjoyment of a performance and make the audience feel they are part of the process, like we’re all in this together. … I wrote together, even though technically it is more about you than them, but it should feel to them like the show is more about them. The more you invest in the audience the more they invest in you.
Now, sure, you’re thinking that makes sense, but it’s a lot easier to say than to do. Fortunately, the author then plunges into an in-depth discussion of how to actually learn to do this in front of an audience, how to expand and hone one’s ability to ad-lib and bring spontaneity to a show. Spill provides not only general guidance but also practical exercises that enable aspiring performers to think about, to practice, and to improve these skills, in ways that have produced palpable results in the course of his five decades s of professional performance.
In the course of this instruction, Spill breaks things down and analyzes how comedy magic on stage is different than standup comedy or improv comedy, to wit:
Improvising as a magician onstage and being funny without any preparation or planning. This is about honest discovery and observation, with nothing contrived or invented beforehand. The improv techniques of a comedy magician are a bit different than a set-up and punchline stand-up comic monologist, and are completely different than the type described in a gazillion texts that are executed by an ensemble of trained comedy actors interacting with each other.
Here is golden advice from a top pro, an analytical and insightful expert. He provides tools for become more improvisational on stage, and how to make the results funny—including describing a simple system he dubs “PESK,” which stands for Punch, Exaggerate, Specificity—and “the K sound.” This, and so much more within these pages, amounts to simply the best real-world instructional guidance I have come across for creating a sense of immediacy—and laughs—on stage.
In the next chapter, “OA,” the author discusses “callbacks” and “tags,” comedy techniques that involve referring back to earlier jokes or incidents, or references that serve to add multiple laughs on as extensions to an initial joke or gag. Spill’s “OA” is a specific, manufactured callback technique based on audience participation that he has used for years. He explains in detail how it was created, and how it provides an extended and repeating gag that, for those whom it might fit, is a surefire results-oriented laugh-getter.
I’ve long thought of Steve Spill as a laid back deadpan wordsmith, whose material kills the hardest with audiences that are smart and paying attention. I don’t think I’m wrong about that, but in over twenty years of doing family shows at Magicopolis, he has developed and fine-tuned the ability to thoroughly and consistently entertain audiences of all types and ages. In “The Dope on Young Humans,” he provides terrific guidance on how to expand your range to include children, without stooping to standard birthday party tricks and props. Along the way he details a running gag that, as he explains, amounts to “… a secret for keeping children entertained and attentive over the course of a seventy-minute show.” And he adds, “I’ve successfully implemented this technique literally thousands of times.”
Continuing along related lines, the title of the next chapter, “Paparazzi,” refers to a similarly priceless bit that Spill has developed when working for audiences of teenagers rather than children. The extended and virtually foolproof bit described here is something that the author might use, as a callback for teens, perhaps three to five times in a ninety-minute show. He posits: “Is it risky? Maybe. Crude? A little. Does it capture an audience of high school graduates? Yes. Funny? Yes to that as well. And those two latter facts are the whole point.” For some performers, either one of these chapters, much less both, might well amount to a value far greater than the price of the book.
The final chapter of this theory and craft section is entitled “Thick Skin,” and is about how to develop one if you’re going to become a successful performer of any kind, but especially of the comical type. Standup comics will readily tell you how badly they’ve bombed on stage, and how often—and even the best, especially the more creative and risk-taking ones, still risk it with every outing. In this chapter, Spill recounts “some of the most miserable experiences of my career.” It’s brutal to read, and far more brutal, I would think, to be willing to confess to it and narrate the details to the rest of us. “But,” he adds, “bombing is good for you. Like eating your vegetables. It makes you strong. It permanently alters your molecules and recalibrates your fear sensors. It thickens your skin and makes you stronger in ways that come in handy down the road. Yes, bombing makes you feel inadequate, but that can drive you to prove you are not. There is nothing that sears itself into one’s memory more indelibly than traumatic events, but as a special bonus, these negative things are now useful to me as part of this chapter. From bad to worse, here are some of my most humbling humiliations that will uncurl your short hairs.”
And yes, if you’ve been on stage enough, you’ve been there—we’ve all been there. (In fact, now that I think about it, one of the times I "was there," well over twenty years ago, was in a brutal corporate show at which Spill and I shared the stage.) I commend the author for his courage in sharing these tales, in the selfless pursuit of educating his readers to the real work about performance and comedy. And under the heading of his pain is our pleasure, the author recounts at least one such anecdote that is literally laugh-out-loud hilarious. Maybe two.
Now, truth be told, I think this book would be a uniquely invaluable volume if it concluded right there. But instead, Steve Spill now presents readers with a dozen original routines that are absolutely astounding in their quality and potential usefulness. Of the dozen routines in the previous book, at least two or three were masterpieces that could serve to ground any full-time pro’s act. Here, the author does it again.
Steve Spill with his mind-reading goose. Photo via The Romhany Report.
This time around I’m not going to detail every piece. In brief: There’s a mental effect with restaurant menus; another platform mental effect with business cards; a Miser’s Dream with a distinct and visual climax. There is a routine that uses a Multiplying Bottles set in a way I can guarantee no one has ever thought of before. There’s an updated version of the spirit slates plot that, thank goodness, does away with the slates. There’s a multi-phase sleight-of-hand routine with a Cub Scout neckerchief and “slide” ring. There’s a clever and funny application of a Grant Buddha Temple Screen (including instructions for how to build one) that involves a presentation about visiting an art museum and a “Renaissance nude.” There is a take on a torn-and-restored effect that comes with a presentation designed on the theme of Mother’s Day that will bring some audiences to tears and that many of those audience members will simply never forget.
And then there are the Mind-Reading Goose; Grab ‘n Stab; and the Rice Paper. These simply demand my taking some time to talk about.
I’m pretty certain that the first routine I ever saw Steve Spill perform was the Mind-Reading Goose. I recall thinking at the time that the piece told me a tremendous amount about the performer. It introduced Steve’s on-stage persona in a perfectly delineated fashion—that laid-back, wisecracking hipster. (He describes himself more as an aging hippie these days, but there was nothing hippie about him back then—albeit he was thoroughly wisecracking.) In the performance of a single routine, he painted a beautifully crafted on-stage picture. It was instantly clear that he was a terrific magical thinker—one who had taken the ancient idea of the cents-in-the-pocket mentalism effect (both effect and method, in fact), and applied it in a virtually unrecognizable manner—one that was scintillatingly contemporary, hilarious, and original. Not bad for a few minutes with a goose puppet in your arms.
The Mind-Reading Goose is truly a signature Steve Spill routine. It has been marketed at one time for a very high price, more than a thousand dollars, and professionals jumped at the opportunity to own and perform it. Then again, countless pros have also jumped at that opportunity without having the any right whatsoever to perform it, or spending as much as a British pound sterling beyond the cost of the puppet to own it. To say this routine is worth the price of this book is ludicrous, because it is worth many times the price of the book, and has literally sold for as much in the past. And I needn’t describe it further, because below you will find a link to a performance, from the era in which I first witnessed it and laughed my ass off at it.
You’ll also find a link to a performance of Grab ‘n Stab, yet another entirely original comic and visual masterpiece. This is basically Russian Roulette with a bag of knives, where the magician hopes to grab the one fake collapsible knife out of a transparent bagful of genuine knives, immediately stabbing himself in the chest—and things don’t go entirely as planned. The double-beat visual punchlines on this are unforgettable images for audiences.
And then, there’s the Rice Paper. No matter how hard I laughed the first time I saw the Mindreading Goose, I didn’t laugh as hard as I did at the Rice Paper trick.
Rice Paper is a version of Slydini’s Paper Balls Over the Head, that Steve Spill developed and refined in performances with Bob Sheets, when they were doing nightly shows of the Bob & Steve Magic-Comedy Cabaret show at the Brook Farm Inn of Magic in Chevy Chase, Maryland. You can read more about that history in my Take Two about Spill, and in my review of Steve’s previous book. But suffice to say, to this day that show remains one of the two or three funniest comedy magic shows I’ve ever seen, and the Rice Papers was a highlight—one of the three routines that Bob and Steve performed together in the course of the show (along with the levitation and the Sub Trunk).
Bob Sheets and Steve Spill. Photo via The Magic Word Podcast.
Now, I had the pleasure in my youth of watching Slydini perform in person many, many times, more times than I can count, both close-up and on stage. And I can tell you that I have very little patience for most performances of the Paper Balls Over the Head that I’ve seen since, because few—very few—performers understand how mystifying the routine was in Slydini’s hands, for both the larger audience as well as for the on-stage spectator. Yes, the audience knew where the balls were going, but they didn’t really understand why the guy in the chair wasn’t seeing it. That’s a key and powerful difference in the effect between Slydini’s performance and most others I’ve since witnessed.
The unfortunate truth is that anyone can get a laugh—and worse still, convince himself that he’s funny—by doing some ham-fisted “which hands” crap and then literally throwing the balls over the spectator’s head so that he lacks the slightest chance of ever seeing them fly. It’s a truth I’ve seen the proof of countless times.
This is part of why I respect Steve’s version, because he understands how to deepen the power of the effect with skill and subtlety.
But that’s the least of it. The key thing with the Rice Paper routine is that there’s a role for a second person, who is in cahoots with the performer. Back in the Brook Farm days that person was Bob Sheets, the other stage performer in the show, who was apparently—at least, to the on-stage spectator—sitting way up in a balcony in the back of the theater, watching and being amazed as every ball vanished. When Steve would ask how it looked, Bob would shout from the balcony, “It looks great from up here, Steve.”
But what the on-stage assistant didn’t know was that between every vanish, Bob was racing down the staircase in order to be on stage, immediately behind the spectator, just in the nick of time, ready to catch the ball as Steve tossed it over the spectator’s head; whereupon Bob would race back around the room and up the stairs to the balcony, just in time to respond to Steve’s request for his opinion.
As the routine moved into its later phases, Steve would ask again how the trick looked, and Bob would breathlessly gasp from the back of the house, “I don’t know about you, but it’s killing me, Steve.” This was beyond hilarious. This was fall-off-your-chair, gasping-for-air, madness.
In later years, the second performer has long been Steve’s talented life partner, Bozena, perched in the lighting booth, apparently in order to operate the follow spot. Now, Steve Spill takes every word of this routine, every detail, every nuance, every action, every beat, and lays it all out on the page. It is all here, for the mere purchase price of this book.
As Bob Sheets used to shout from the balcony: “I can’t believe it!”
I don’t know what more I need to tell you in order to help convey how valuable I think this book is. I simply don’t know of a better book of real-world counsel on what it takes to perform professionally on stage, to make a living at it, and to be funny in the process. In Magic Is My Weed, Steve Spill unloads a bucketful—a lifespan load—of knowledge and advice that will keep you learning, and laughing too, for years to come. My advice: grab yourself a toke, now.
________________________________________
Magic Is My Weed by Steve Spill (2019). Laminated hardcover, 287 pages, illustrated with drawings by the author. Published by the author. Price: $125 US, $150 international. Order via PayPal: info@stevespill.com or visit https://magicopolis.com/magicians-only/
________________________________________
steve spill
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Pre-publication sale price ends 9-25-19
JANY IAN SWISS “I simply don’t know of a better book of real-world counsel on what it takes to perform professionally on stage, to make a living at it, and to be funny in the process.”

JAMY IAN SWISS REVIEW
https://www.magicana.com/news/blog/magic......4chymUrk

JACK SHALOM REVIEW
https://jackshalom.net/2019/09/07/high-t......e-spill/

Hasn’t indecision ruled your life long enough? Take a stand and buy this groundbreaking inspirational manifesto now. stevespill.com
saysold1
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Quote:
On Sep 19, 2019, steve spill wrote:
MAGIC IS MY WEED STARTS SHIPPING NEXT WEDNESDAY - $95 pre-publication pice good until september 25 stevespill.com
HERE IS WHAT JAMY IAN SWISS HAS TO SAY
https://www.magicana.com/news/blog/magic......4chymUrk
Magic is My Weed
TRICKS AND STRATAGEMS TO TAKE YOU HIGHER THAN A BILLION BONG HITS
BY STEVE SPILL
REVIEWED BY JAMY IAN SWISS
I don’t know how Steve Spill does it. Just over a year ago, I reviewed his then newly released book of stage and platform magic, How to Make Love the Steve Spill Way. That remarkable work was devoted to, in the author’s words, instructing the reader in “[H]ow to share with audiences who you are, how to integrate comedy, and develop your own original material.” In 277 pages, Spill did a superb job of providing such a guide, with in-depth consideration of the how-to elements, based on his vast career experience, coupled with the detailed descriptions of twelve powerhouse routines—several of which could serve as the foundation of anyone’s professional standup act. In that review, I wrote:
So what we have here is a remarkable guidebook to the professional performance of comedy stage magic, written—from the heart as well as the mind—by a successful veteran working pro who is also one of the most original and creative magicians of his generation. With unusual frankness as well as expertise—and in a distinctively stylistic and comedic voice—you receive professional guidance about character, comedy, creativity, originality, presentation and scriptwriting, and no less than a dozen professional caliber audience tested routines complete with original presentations, featuring three blockbuster pieces, any one of which could become the feature of your show.
In my 2016 Take Two essay about Steve, I recounted how quickly he could come up with an idea, make a run to the arts and crafts shop, put together the props, and within a few days—if that—put the routine on stage to see what might happen. It is apparent that he is as fearless and driven when it comes to writing books, because now, just over a year after the release of its predecessor, Steve Spill gifts us with his second substantial volume of stage and comedy magic, featuring another dozen polished professional stage routines, preceded by six meaty chapters of theory and practice about real-world performance skills.
After recently selling Magicopolis, the unique magic venue that Spill founded and operated for some twenty years in Santa Monica, he takes the experience of not hundreds of shows, not thousands, but of literally tens of thousands of paid professional shows, and in these pages, delivers, without holding anything back, what he’s learned. You will rarely find comparable lessons and experience elsewhere.
The book opens with “Let’s Party!”, in which Spill explains the book’s title, offering that while his days of recreational drugs are long behind him, the pleasure of creating and performing original magic continue to produce his greatest highs. In these initial pages, Spill contemplates his evolutions and influences, offers further discussion about performance character, including his own, and provides a thoughtful viewpoint about magic as art, craft, business and lifestyle. These pages are not only unusual for the amount of personal and professional experience that Spill brings to the table, but they also border on being unprecedented for their inordinately frank and straightforward commentary—all the while being funny and irreverent. Deeply personal at moments, this content is also powerfully instructive. In concluding this introductory chapter, Spill invites us to what’s in store, explaining that:
As an entertainer I am keen to please people, as many in an audience as possible. I want them to love what I do, but during the writing of this book, I have kept that guy chained, gagged, and locked in a lead-lined box under my bed. The routines described herein were designed so audiences respond viscerally to each trick and joke. Writing about them and how they are accomplished is another story. You see, my desired outcome here in this book doesn’t include a responsible attempt to please all the people all the time. But I do want the words ahead to be strictly honest, accurate, instructional, inspiring—and if possible, an aid in the journey for some of my colleagues who strive to find a new, different, or funny path. I also want to make you laugh and think and feel. So there you have it.
The next chapter, “Spur of the Moment,” is about the role of spontaneity in performance—both planned and genuine. In the previous chapter the author comments that, “To me, part of the beauty of magic is to project an assumed air of doing difficult things with an effortless mastery and the feel of nonchalance so as to make them look easy. This is part of giving what we do a sense of spontaneity, even though it is a result of acting and practice and rehearsal.” In this chapter he examines, in the most instructive detail I have ever come across, how to create that air of spontaneity. He writes:
An improvisational attitude encourages one to be flexible and adapt – so that a fresh discovery is always waiting around the corner. I firmly believe that improvisation enhances one’s performance, increases confidence, and builds self-esteem. It is an important and crucial part of establishing an atmosphere and connection to a crowd. When one is doing their act, there’s a rhythm the audience creates that’s essential. When they are engaged and involved they are the most reactive. Crafting that collective attitude, being able to customize it, to personalize it on the fly, is an essential part of performing. Being spontaneous and instinctive, speaking extemporaneously, being able to think on your feet in front of an audience—are extra human-touch presentational efforts that fall into two categories. Both of these skillsets enhance the enjoyment of a performance and make the audience feel they are part of the process, like we’re all in this together. … I wrote together, even though technically it is more about you than them, but it should feel to them like the show is more about them. The more you invest in the audience the more they invest in you.
Now, sure, you’re thinking that makes sense, but it’s a lot easier to say than to do. Fortunately, the author then plunges into an in-depth discussion of how to actually learn to do this in front of an audience, how to expand and hone one’s ability to ad-lib and bring spontaneity to a show. Spill provides not only general guidance but also practical exercises that enable aspiring performers to think about, to practice, and to improve these skills, in ways that have produced palpable results in the course of his five decades s of professional performance.
In the course of this instruction, Spill breaks things down and analyzes how comedy magic on stage is different than standup comedy or improv comedy, to wit:
Improvising as a magician onstage and being funny without any preparation or planning. This is about honest discovery and observation, with nothing contrived or invented beforehand. The improv techniques of a comedy magician are a bit different than a set-up and punchline stand-up comic monologist, and are completely different than the type described in a gazillion texts that are executed by an ensemble of trained comedy actors interacting with each other.
Here is golden advice from a top pro, an analytical and insightful expert. He provides tools for become more improvisational on stage, and how to make the results funny—including describing a simple system he dubs “PESK,” which stands for Punch, Exaggerate, Specificity—and “the K sound.” This, and so much more within these pages, amounts to simply the best real-world instructional guidance I have come across for creating a sense of immediacy—and laughs—on stage.
In the next chapter, “OA,” the author discusses “callbacks” and “tags,” comedy techniques that involve referring back to earlier jokes or incidents, or references that serve to add multiple laughs on as extensions to an initial joke or gag. Spill’s “OA” is a specific, manufactured callback technique based on audience participation that he has used for years. He explains in detail how it was created, and how it provides an extended and repeating gag that, for those whom it might fit, is a surefire results-oriented laugh-getter.
I’ve long thought of Steve Spill as a laid back deadpan wordsmith, whose material kills the hardest with audiences that are smart and paying attention. I don’t think I’m wrong about that, but in over twenty years of doing family shows at Magicopolis, he has developed and fine-tuned the ability to thoroughly and consistently entertain audiences of all types and ages. In “The Dope on Young Humans,” he provides terrific guidance on how to expand your range to include children, without stooping to standard birthday party tricks and props. Along the way he details a running gag that, as he explains, amounts to “… a secret for keeping children entertained and attentive over the course of a seventy-minute show.” And he adds, “I’ve successfully implemented this technique literally thousands of times.”
Continuing along related lines, the title of the next chapter, “Paparazzi,” refers to a similarly priceless bit that Spill has developed when working for audiences of teenagers rather than children. The extended and virtually foolproof bit described here is something that the author might use, as a callback for teens, perhaps three to five times in a ninety-minute show. He posits: “Is it risky? Maybe. Crude? A little. Does it capture an audience of high school graduates? Yes. Funny? Yes to that as well. And those two latter facts are the whole point.” For some performers, either one of these chapters, much less both, might well amount to a value far greater than the price of the book.
The final chapter of this theory and craft section is entitled “Thick Skin,” and is about how to develop one if you’re going to become a successful performer of any kind, but especially of the comical type. Standup comics will readily tell you how badly they’ve bombed on stage, and how often—and even the best, especially the more creative and risk-taking ones, still risk it with every outing. In this chapter, Spill recounts “some of the most miserable experiences of my career.” It’s brutal to read, and far more brutal, I would think, to be willing to confess to it and narrate the details to the rest of us. “But,” he adds, “bombing is good for you. Like eating your vegetables. It makes you strong. It permanently alters your molecules and recalibrates your fear sensors. It thickens your skin and makes you stronger in ways that come in handy down the road. Yes, bombing makes you feel inadequate, but that can drive you to prove you are not. There is nothing that sears itself into one’s memory more indelibly than traumatic events, but as a special bonus, these negative things are now useful to me as part of this chapter. From bad to worse, here are some of my most humbling humiliations that will uncurl your short hairs.”
And yes, if you’ve been on stage enough, you’ve been there—we’ve all been there. (In fact, now that I think about it, one of the times I "was there," well over twenty years ago, was in a brutal corporate show at which Spill and I shared the stage.) I commend the author for his courage in sharing these tales, in the selfless pursuit of educating his readers to the real work about performance and comedy. And under the heading of his pain is our pleasure, the author recounts at least one such anecdote that is literally laugh-out-loud hilarious. Maybe two.
Now, truth be told, I think this book would be a uniquely invaluable volume if it concluded right there. But instead, Steve Spill now presents readers with a dozen original routines that are absolutely astounding in their quality and potential usefulness. Of the dozen routines in the previous book, at least two or three were masterpieces that could serve to ground any full-time pro’s act. Here, the author does it again.
Steve Spill with his mind-reading goose. Photo via The Romhany Report.
This time around I’m not going to detail every piece. In brief: There’s a mental effect with restaurant menus; another platform mental effect with business cards; a Miser’s Dream with a distinct and visual climax. There is a routine that uses a Multiplying Bottles set in a way I can guarantee no one has ever thought of before. There’s an updated version of the spirit slates plot that, thank goodness, does away with the slates. There’s a multi-phase sleight-of-hand routine with a Cub Scout neckerchief and “slide” ring. There’s a clever and funny application of a Grant Buddha Temple Screen (including instructions for how to build one) that involves a presentation about visiting an art museum and a “Renaissance nude.” There is a take on a torn-and-restored effect that comes with a presentation designed on the theme of Mother’s Day that will bring some audiences to tears and that many of those audience members will simply never forget.
And then there are the Mind-Reading Goose; Grab ‘n Stab; and the Rice Paper. These simply demand my taking some time to talk about.
I’m pretty certain that the first routine I ever saw Steve Spill perform was the Mind-Reading Goose. I recall thinking at the time that the piece told me a tremendous amount about the performer. It introduced Steve’s on-stage persona in a perfectly delineated fashion—that laid-back, wisecracking hipster. (He describes himself more as an aging hippie these days, but there was nothing hippie about him back then—albeit he was thoroughly wisecracking.) In the performance of a single routine, he painted a beautifully crafted on-stage picture. It was instantly clear that he was a terrific magical thinker—one who had taken the ancient idea of the cents-in-the-pocket mentalism effect (both effect and method, in fact), and applied it in a virtually unrecognizable manner—one that was scintillatingly contemporary, hilarious, and original. Not bad for a few minutes with a goose puppet in your arms.
The Mind-Reading Goose is truly a signature Steve Spill routine. It has been marketed at one time for a very high price, more than a thousand dollars, and professionals jumped at the opportunity to own and perform it. Then again, countless pros have also jumped at that opportunity without having the any right whatsoever to perform it, or spending as much as a British pound sterling beyond the cost of the puppet to own it. To say this routine is worth the price of this book is ludicrous, because it is worth many times the price of the book, and has literally sold for as much in the past. And I needn’t describe it further, because below you will find a link to a performance, from the era in which I first witnessed it and laughed my ass off at it.
You’ll also find a link to a performance of Grab ‘n Stab, yet another entirely original comic and visual masterpiece. This is basically Russian Roulette with a bag of knives, where the magician hopes to grab the one fake collapsible knife out of a transparent bagful of genuine knives, immediately stabbing himself in the chest—and things don’t go entirely as planned. The double-beat visual punchlines on this are unforgettable images for audiences.
And then, there’s the Rice Paper. No matter how hard I laughed the first time I saw the Mindreading Goose, I didn’t laugh as hard as I did at the Rice Paper trick.
Rice Paper is a version of Slydini’s Paper Balls Over the Head, that Steve Spill developed and refined in performances with Bob Sheets, when they were doing nightly shows of the Bob & Steve Magic-Comedy Cabaret show at the Brook Farm Inn of Magic in Chevy Chase, Maryland. You can read more about that history in my Take Two about Spill, and in my review of Steve’s previous book. But suffice to say, to this day that show remains one of the two or three funniest comedy magic shows I’ve ever seen, and the Rice Papers was a highlight—one of the three routines that Bob and Steve performed together in the course of the show (along with the levitation and the Sub Trunk).
Bob Sheets and Steve Spill. Photo via The Magic Word Podcast.
Now, I had the pleasure in my youth of watching Slydini perform in person many, many times, more times than I can count, both close-up and on stage. And I can tell you that I have very little patience for most performances of the Paper Balls Over the Head that I’ve seen since, because few—very few—performers understand how mystifying the routine was in Slydini’s hands, for both the larger audience as well as for the on-stage spectator. Yes, the audience knew where the balls were going, but they didn’t really understand why the guy in the chair wasn’t seeing it. That’s a key and powerful difference in the effect between Slydini’s performance and most others I’ve since witnessed.
The unfortunate truth is that anyone can get a laugh—and worse still, convince himself that he’s funny—by doing some ham-fisted “which hands” crap and then literally throwing the balls over the spectator’s head so that he lacks the slightest chance of ever seeing them fly. It’s a truth I’ve seen the proof of countless times.
This is part of why I respect Steve’s version, because he understands how to deepen the power of the effect with skill and subtlety.
But that’s the least of it. The key thing with the Rice Paper routine is that there’s a role for a second person, who is in cahoots with the performer. Back in the Brook Farm days that person was Bob Sheets, the other stage performer in the show, who was apparently—at least, to the on-stage spectator—sitting way up in a balcony in the back of the theater, watching and being amazed as every ball vanished. When Steve would ask how it looked, Bob would shout from the balcony, “It looks great from up here, Steve.”
But what the on-stage assistant didn’t know was that between every vanish, Bob was racing down the staircase in order to be on stage, immediately behind the spectator, just in the nick of time, ready to catch the ball as Steve tossed it over the spectator’s head; whereupon Bob would race back around the room and up the stairs to the balcony, just in time to respond to Steve’s request for his opinion.
As the routine moved into its later phases, Steve would ask again how the trick looked, and Bob would breathlessly gasp from the back of the house, “I don’t know about you, but it’s killing me, Steve.” This was beyond hilarious. This was fall-off-your-chair, gasping-for-air, madness.
In later years, the second performer has long been Steve’s talented life partner, Bozena, perched in the lighting booth, apparently in order to operate the follow spot. Now, Steve Spill takes every word of this routine, every detail, every nuance, every action, every beat, and lays it all out on the page. It is all here, for the mere purchase price of this book.
As Bob Sheets used to shout from the balcony: “I can’t believe it!”
I don’t know what more I need to tell you in order to help convey how valuable I think this book is. I simply don’t know of a better book of real-world counsel on what it takes to perform professionally on stage, to make a living at it, and to be funny in the process. In Magic Is My Weed, Steve Spill unloads a bucketful—a lifespan load—of knowledge and advice that will keep you learning, and laughing too, for years to come. My advice: grab yourself a toke, now.
________________________________________
Magic Is My Weed by Steve Spill (2019). Laminated hardcover, 287 pages, illustrated with drawings by the author. Published by the author. Price: $125 US, $150 international. Order via PayPal: info@stevespill.com or visit https://magicopolis.com/magicians-only/
________________________________________


Wow, I got a buzz just looking at all that TEXT! Wow Smile
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On Sep 22, 2019, saysold1 wrote:
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On Sep 19, 2019, steve spill wrote:
MAGIC IS MY WEED STARTS SHIPPING NEXT WEDNESDAY - $95 pre-publication pice good until september 25 stevespill.com
HERE IS WHAT JAMY IAN SWISS HAS TO SAY
https://www.magicana.com/news/blog/magic......4chymUrk
Magic is My Weed
TRICKS AND STRATAGEMS TO TAKE YOU HIGHER THAN A BILLION BONG HITS
BY STEVE SPILL
REVIEWED BY JAMY IAN SWISS
I don’t know how Steve Spill does it. Just over a year ago, I reviewed his then newly released book of stage and platform magic, How to Make Love the Steve Spill Way. That remarkable work was devoted to, in the author’s words, instructing the reader in “[H]ow to share with audiences who you are, how to integrate comedy, and develop your own original material.” In 277 pages, Spill did a superb job of providing such a guide, with in-depth consideration of the how-to elements, based on his vast career experience, coupled with the detailed descriptions of twelve powerhouse routines—several of which could serve as the foundation of anyone’s professional standup act. In that review, I wrote:
So what we have here is a remarkable guidebook to the professional performance of comedy stage magic, written—from the heart as well as the mind—by a successful veteran working pro who is also one of the most original and creative magicians of his generation. With unusual frankness as well as expertise—and in a distinctively stylistic and comedic voice—you receive professional guidance about character, comedy, creativity, originality, presentation and scriptwriting, and no less than a dozen professional caliber audience tested routines complete with original presentations, featuring three blockbuster pieces, any one of which could become the feature of your show.
In my 2016 Take Two essay about Steve, I recounted how quickly he could come up with an idea, make a run to the arts and crafts shop, put together the props, and within a few days—if that—put the routine on stage to see what might happen. It is apparent that he is as fearless and driven when it comes to writing books, because now, just over a year after the release of its predecessor, Steve Spill gifts us with his second substantial volume of stage and comedy magic, featuring another dozen polished professional stage routines, preceded by six meaty chapters of theory and practice about real-world performance skills.
After recently selling Magicopolis, the unique magic venue that Spill founded and operated for some twenty years in Santa Monica, he takes the experience of not hundreds of shows, not thousands, but of literally tens of thousands of paid professional shows, and in these pages, delivers, without holding anything back, what he’s learned. You will rarely find comparable lessons and experience elsewhere.
The book opens with “Let’s Party!”, in which Spill explains the book’s title, offering that while his days of recreational drugs are long behind him, the pleasure of creating and performing original magic continue to produce his greatest highs. In these initial pages, Spill contemplates his evolutions and influences, offers further discussion about performance character, including his own, and provides a thoughtful viewpoint about magic as art, craft, business and lifestyle. These pages are not only unusual for the amount of personal and professional experience that Spill brings to the table, but they also border on being unprecedented for their inordinately frank and straightforward commentary—all the while being funny and irreverent. Deeply personal at moments, this content is also powerfully instructive. In concluding this introductory chapter, Spill invites us to what’s in store, explaining that:
As an entertainer I am keen to please people, as many in an audience as possible. I want them to love what I do, but during the writing of this book, I have kept that guy chained, gagged, and locked in a lead-lined box under my bed. The routines described herein were designed so audiences respond viscerally to each trick and joke. Writing about them and how they are accomplished is another story. You see, my desired outcome here in this book doesn’t include a responsible attempt to please all the people all the time. But I do want the words ahead to be strictly honest, accurate, instructional, inspiring—and if possible, an aid in the journey for some of my colleagues who strive to find a new, different, or funny path. I also want to make you laugh and think and feel. So there you have it.
The next chapter, “Spur of the Moment,” is about the role of spontaneity in performance—both planned and genuine. In the previous chapter the author comments that, “To me, part of the beauty of magic is to project an assumed air of doing difficult things with an effortless mastery and the feel of nonchalance so as to make them look easy. This is part of giving what we do a sense of spontaneity, even though it is a result of acting and practice and rehearsal.” In this chapter he examines, in the most instructive detail I have ever come across, how to create that air of spontaneity. He writes:
An improvisational attitude encourages one to be flexible and adapt – so that a fresh discovery is always waiting around the corner. I firmly believe that improvisation enhances one’s performance, increases confidence, and builds self-esteem. It is an important and crucial part of establishing an atmosphere and connection to a crowd. When one is doing their act, there’s a rhythm the audience creates that’s essential. When they are engaged and involved they are the most reactive. Crafting that collective attitude, being able to customize it, to personalize it on the fly, is an essential part of performing. Being spontaneous and instinctive, speaking extemporaneously, being able to think on your feet in front of an audience—are extra human-touch presentational efforts that fall into two categories. Both of these skillsets enhance the enjoyment of a performance and make the audience feel they are part of the process, like we’re all in this together. … I wrote together, even though technically it is more about you than them, but it should feel to them like the show is more about them. The more you invest in the audience the more they invest in you.
Now, sure, you’re thinking that makes sense, but it’s a lot easier to say than to do. Fortunately, the author then plunges into an in-depth discussion of how to actually learn to do this in front of an audience, how to expand and hone one’s ability to ad-lib and bring spontaneity to a show. Spill provides not only general guidance but also practical exercises that enable aspiring performers to think about, to practice, and to improve these skills, in ways that have produced palpable results in the course of his five decades s of professional performance.
In the course of this instruction, Spill breaks things down and analyzes how comedy magic on stage is different than standup comedy or improv comedy, to wit:
Improvising as a magician onstage and being funny without any preparation or planning. This is about honest discovery and observation, with nothing contrived or invented beforehand. The improv techniques of a comedy magician are a bit different than a set-up and punchline stand-up comic monologist, and are completely different than the type described in a gazillion texts that are executed by an ensemble of trained comedy actors interacting with each other.
Here is golden advice from a top pro, an analytical and insightful expert. He provides tools for become more improvisational on stage, and how to make the results funny—including describing a simple system he dubs “PESK,” which stands for Punch, Exaggerate, Specificity—and “the K sound.” This, and so much more within these pages, amounts to simply the best real-world instructional guidance I have come across for creating a sense of immediacy—and laughs—on stage.
In the next chapter, “OA,” the author discusses “callbacks” and “tags,” comedy techniques that involve referring back to earlier jokes or incidents, or references that serve to add multiple laughs on as extensions to an initial joke or gag. Spill’s “OA” is a specific, manufactured callback technique based on audience participation that he has used for years. He explains in detail how it was created, and how it provides an extended and repeating gag that, for those whom it might fit, is a surefire results-oriented laugh-getter.
I’ve long thought of Steve Spill as a laid back deadpan wordsmith, whose material kills the hardest with audiences that are smart and paying attention. I don’t think I’m wrong about that, but in over twenty years of doing family shows at Magicopolis, he has developed and fine-tuned the ability to thoroughly and consistently entertain audiences of all types and ages. In “The Dope on Young Humans,” he provides terrific guidance on how to expand your range to include children, without stooping to standard birthday party tricks and props. Along the way he details a running gag that, as he explains, amounts to “… a secret for keeping children entertained and attentive over the course of a seventy-minute show.” And he adds, “I’ve successfully implemented this technique literally thousands of times.”
Continuing along related lines, the title of the next chapter, “Paparazzi,” refers to a similarly priceless bit that Spill has developed when working for audiences of teenagers rather than children. The extended and virtually foolproof bit described here is something that the author might use, as a callback for teens, perhaps three to five times in a ninety-minute show. He posits: “Is it risky? Maybe. Crude? A little. Does it capture an audience of high school graduates? Yes. Funny? Yes to that as well. And those two latter facts are the whole point.” For some performers, either one of these chapters, much less both, might well amount to a value far greater than the price of the book.
The final chapter of this theory and craft section is entitled “Thick Skin,” and is about how to develop one if you’re going to become a successful performer of any kind, but especially of the comical type. Standup comics will readily tell you how badly they’ve bombed on stage, and how often—and even the best, especially the more creative and risk-taking ones, still risk it with every outing. In this chapter, Spill recounts “some of the most miserable experiences of my career.” It’s brutal to read, and far more brutal, I would think, to be willing to confess to it and narrate the details to the rest of us. “But,” he adds, “bombing is good for you. Like eating your vegetables. It makes you strong. It permanently alters your molecules and recalibrates your fear sensors. It thickens your skin and makes you stronger in ways that come in handy down the road. Yes, bombing makes you feel inadequate, but that can drive you to prove you are not. There is nothing that sears itself into one’s memory more indelibly than traumatic events, but as a special bonus, these negative things are now useful to me as part of this chapter. From bad to worse, here are some of my most humbling humiliations that will uncurl your short hairs.”
And yes, if you’ve been on stage enough, you’ve been there—we’ve all been there. (In fact, now that I think about it, one of the times I "was there," well over twenty years ago, was in a brutal corporate show at which Spill and I shared the stage.) I commend the author for his courage in sharing these tales, in the selfless pursuit of educating his readers to the real work about performance and comedy. And under the heading of his pain is our pleasure, the author recounts at least one such anecdote that is literally laugh-out-loud hilarious. Maybe two.
Now, truth be told, I think this book would be a uniquely invaluable volume if it concluded right there. But instead, Steve Spill now presents readers with a dozen original routines that are absolutely astounding in their quality and potential usefulness. Of the dozen routines in the previous book, at least two or three were masterpieces that could serve to ground any full-time pro’s act. Here, the author does it again.
Steve Spill with his mind-reading goose. Photo via The Romhany Report.
This time around I’m not going to detail every piece. In brief: There’s a mental effect with restaurant menus; another platform mental effect with business cards; a Miser’s Dream with a distinct and visual climax. There is a routine that uses a Multiplying Bottles set in a way I can guarantee no one has ever thought of before. There’s an updated version of the spirit slates plot that, thank goodness, does away with the slates. There’s a multi-phase sleight-of-hand routine with a Cub Scout neckerchief and “slide” ring. There’s a clever and funny application of a Grant Buddha Temple Screen (including instructions for how to build one) that involves a presentation about visiting an art museum and a “Renaissance nude.” There is a take on a torn-and-restored effect that comes with a presentation designed on the theme of Mother’s Day that will bring some audiences to tears and that many of those audience members will simply never forget.
And then there are the Mind-Reading Goose; Grab ‘n Stab; and the Rice Paper. These simply demand my taking some time to talk about.
I’m pretty certain that the first routine I ever saw Steve Spill perform was the Mind-Reading Goose. I recall thinking at the time that the piece told me a tremendous amount about the performer. It introduced Steve’s on-stage persona in a perfectly delineated fashion—that laid-back, wisecracking hipster. (He describes himself more as an aging hippie these days, but there was nothing hippie about him back then—albeit he was thoroughly wisecracking.) In the performance of a single routine, he painted a beautifully crafted on-stage picture. It was instantly clear that he was a terrific magical thinker—one who had taken the ancient idea of the cents-in-the-pocket mentalism effect (both effect and method, in fact), and applied it in a virtually unrecognizable manner—one that was scintillatingly contemporary, hilarious, and original. Not bad for a few minutes with a goose puppet in your arms.
The Mind-Reading Goose is truly a signature Steve Spill routine. It has been marketed at one time for a very high price, more than a thousand dollars, and professionals jumped at the opportunity to own and perform it. Then again, countless pros have also jumped at that opportunity without having the any right whatsoever to perform it, or spending as much as a British pound sterling beyond the cost of the puppet to own it. To say this routine is worth the price of this book is ludicrous, because it is worth many times the price of the book, and has literally sold for as much in the past. And I needn’t describe it further, because below you will find a link to a performance, from the era in which I first witnessed it and laughed my ass off at it.
You’ll also find a link to a performance of Grab ‘n Stab, yet another entirely original comic and visual masterpiece. This is basically Russian Roulette with a bag of knives, where the magician hopes to grab the one fake collapsible knife out of a transparent bagful of genuine knives, immediately stabbing himself in the chest—and things don’t go entirely as planned. The double-beat visual punchlines on this are unforgettable images for audiences.
And then, there’s the Rice Paper. No matter how hard I laughed the first time I saw the Mindreading Goose, I didn’t laugh as hard as I did at the Rice Paper trick.
Rice Paper is a version of Slydini’s Paper Balls Over the Head, that Steve Spill developed and refined in performances with Bob Sheets, when they were doing nightly shows of the Bob & Steve Magic-Comedy Cabaret show at the Brook Farm Inn of Magic in Chevy Chase, Maryland. You can read more about that history in my Take Two about Spill, and in my review of Steve’s previous book. But suffice to say, to this day that show remains one of the two or three funniest comedy magic shows I’ve ever seen, and the Rice Papers was a highlight—one of the three routines that Bob and Steve performed together in the course of the show (along with the levitation and the Sub Trunk).
Bob Sheets and Steve Spill. Photo via The Magic Word Podcast.
Now, I had the pleasure in my youth of watching Slydini perform in person many, many times, more times than I can count, both close-up and on stage. And I can tell you that I have very little patience for most performances of the Paper Balls Over the Head that I’ve seen since, because few—very few—performers understand how mystifying the routine was in Slydini’s hands, for both the larger audience as well as for the on-stage spectator. Yes, the audience knew where the balls were going, but they didn’t really understand why the guy in the chair wasn’t seeing it. That’s a key and powerful difference in the effect between Slydini’s performance and most others I’ve since witnessed.
The unfortunate truth is that anyone can get a laugh—and worse still, convince himself that he’s funny—by doing some ham-fisted “which hands” crap and then literally throwing the balls over the spectator’s head so that he lacks the slightest chance of ever seeing them fly. It’s a truth I’ve seen the proof of countless times.
This is part of why I respect Steve’s version, because he understands how to deepen the power of the effect with skill and subtlety.
But that’s the least of it. The key thing with the Rice Paper routine is that there’s a role for a second person, who is in cahoots with the performer. Back in the Brook Farm days that person was Bob Sheets, the other stage performer in the show, who was apparently—at least, to the on-stage spectator—sitting way up in a balcony in the back of the theater, watching and being amazed as every ball vanished. When Steve would ask how it looked, Bob would shout from the balcony, “It looks great from up here, Steve.”
But what the on-stage assistant didn’t know was that between every vanish, Bob was racing down the staircase in order to be on stage, immediately behind the spectator, just in the nick of time, ready to catch the ball as Steve tossed it over the spectator’s head; whereupon Bob would race back around the room and up the stairs to the balcony, just in time to respond to Steve’s request for his opinion.
As the routine moved into its later phases, Steve would ask again how the trick looked, and Bob would breathlessly gasp from the back of the house, “I don’t know about you, but it’s killing me, Steve.” This was beyond hilarious. This was fall-off-your-chair, gasping-for-air, madness.
In later years, the second performer has long been Steve’s talented life partner, Bozena, perched in the lighting booth, apparently in order to operate the follow spot. Now, Steve Spill takes every word of this routine, every detail, every nuance, every action, every beat, and lays it all out on the page. It is all here, for the mere purchase price of this book.
As Bob Sheets used to shout from the balcony: “I can’t believe it!”
I don’t know what more I need to tell you in order to help convey how valuable I think this book is. I simply don’t know of a better book of real-world counsel on what it takes to perform professionally on stage, to make a living at it, and to be funny in the process. In Magic Is My Weed, Steve Spill unloads a bucketful—a lifespan load—of knowledge and advice that will keep you learning, and laughing too, for years to come. My advice: grab yourself a toke, now.
________________________________________
Magic Is My Weed by Steve Spill (2019). Laminated hardcover, 287 pages, illustrated with drawings by the author. Published by the author. Price: $125 US, $150 international. Order via PayPal: info@stevespill.com or visit https://magicopolis.com/magicians-only/
________________________________________


Wow, I got a buzz just looking at all that TEXT! Wow Smile

Not me. For me it's a real buzz killer.
RNK
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Hey Steve, did you happen to be at the San Francisco/Pittsburgh NFL game yesterday? I was almost certain I saw you on TV cheering on the forty-niners!
steve spill
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All books ship today, wed, thurs, fri stevespill.com

Click here to view attached image.
takeachance
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Has anyone received their book yet?
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Latest and Greatest? » » MAGIC IS MY WEED new Steve Spill book (1 Likes)
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