Whew, I'm whipped...I just returned from Tulsa, OK and now I'm in Mena, Arkansas...traveling is exhausting, but I ain't gonna complain as the bookings keep coming in.
I want to thank those of you who have sent in ezine name suggestions as part of my contest. I've got some great ones and the selection process will be difficult, but it's fun! I'll be making my choice by the end of this month, so if you have more ezine name suggestions for my soon-to-debut-magic/mentalism ezine, send them to email@example.com.
If I choose your suggestion to name my monthly ezine, you'll win both a copy of my soon-to-be-completed book of routines and essays PLUS a FREE Infinity Deck by Jon Allen! (I've had trouble locating the bugger in all of my travels so there MAY be a last-minute subsitution. Stay tuned.:)
Also, I have just received Sound Control by Jim Kleefeld (and his Water Magic CD) so once I have time to "field test" the sound controller, I'll post a review. I'm really excited to get it up and running as my Virtual Soundman is showing signs of wear.
On to this week's review...
This review is of Slashed by Scott Alexander. It's available for $199.95 at Hocus Pocus. Here's the link: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/inc/product_detail.cfm?item=8063
THE EFFECT: In essence, this is a 3-phase cut and restored rope routine, but the rope never gets any shorter, so you don't have to worry about replacements. The phases are each different from each other, building to a terrific finale.
WHAT YOU GET:
You get the long (about 6 feet or so) gimmicked rope that with care, should last forever.
You also get a box cutter. It's advertised as being gimmicked, but not by much. In a pinch, you can very easily use ANY similar style box cutter. This is great news, as if you're flying to a gig, you obviously can't carry on a box cutter and if you choose not to check luggage, you can simply pick up one at a Lowe's or Home-Depot for about 50 cents once you land.
You also receive a DVD with two performances - one of Scott's comedy presentation in front of about 1000 people. The second performance is shot in Bob Kohler's studio and is a non-speaking routine set to music. You also receive the royalty-free music that you can access once you put the DVD into your computer.
ANGLES: It's recommended that you reserve this for stage. In one of the variations I've come up with for this routine, I invite a teacher onstage with me so we perform the effect together in front of 200-300 kids. Thus far, the teachers never catch me. In part, Scott's routine is structured so no one really has a chance to look for gaffs. I feel it's best as a stage effect, but I have done it fairly close, within 5 feet or so in standard living room-type lighting. Test it for yourself.
MARKET: The first time I performed this was for about 40 adults. Every time after that I have performed this in schools. So far it KILLS.
INSTRUCTION: I've said before, but I feel Bob Kohler produces killer instructional DVDs. With the camera angles and fantastic lighting, this shoot is broadcast-quality. Additionally, Scott's teaching is first rate. Scott has a good speaking voice and he is very detail-oriented. He covers every nuance of the handling, the details of the gimmicks, bonus moves, some acting tips and much more. GREAT DVD.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: I admit, I'm cheap. I debated buying this routine for a long time, as two hundred bucks seemed like a lot for another approach to the classic cut rope effect. Until recently, I've been using Jeff McBride's rope routine straight off of the Commando Act DVD for 7 or 8 years. I finally decided to take a chance on this product because I was captivated by the idea of buying someone else's comedy routine for the classic rope effect, as it usuakly takers me 50-100 performances to fine tune an effect..longer, depending on the effect. Additionally, I love Scott's script for Velocity. It's very funny and plays great.
When I watched Scott's routine, I really enjoyed it and the funniest part to me is a sort of "false start" he uses when he takes out the rope and starts to introduce a different rope effect. It's very funny.
Scott's routine is the type of routine that will play best for a mixed audience, a varied age group...you know the kind: The client says, "We'll have all ages from two year olds to grandparents. Can you play to everyone?"
This routine, with two exceptions, will cover all ages. One joke is very funny but I would reserve only for adults. The other joke pokes fun at two audience members that is sort of funny but really sets a bad example for kids.
The rest of the routine is very very very good. I don't think I'd use the script for an audience of JUST kids as many of the jokes would fly over kids' heads, but as I said, for a a family audience, this will play great.
I should also point out that in many cases, buying someone else's routine doesn't necessarily mean it will play for you. In an earlier post, I mentioned the need for adjustments to your character. While I was delighted with how this script played for me, realize that you are a unique individual and some adjustments for your style may be necessary.
Once I started studying the routine, I really liked the handling. My original plan was to simply use Scott's routine for my family night magic shows, but I liked the handling so much that I've adapted it (and wrote different scripts) for two other theme shows.
The three phases are magical and build in "OMG" moments til the end. Unlike the standard cut and restored rope routines I've seen, there is more magic than just repeatedly cutting the rope and restoring it. It's beautiful - based as it is on some classic handlings, the gimmicks allow these classic moves in rope magic to appear even more impossible.
DIFFICULTY: I admit it: this took me about three months to really nail down - one month of daily practice to get the moves, then another month to get smooth with the routine, then a third month to integrate the script with the moves. Don't let that scare you away - I've been doing the same rope routine for so long that I simply needed to un-learn old habits.
I think this routine is well within anyone's reach is he/she is willing to put the work into it.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I'm giving this a 10 out of 10. i love the handling and it gets a GREAT response for me. As I've always said, if a routine kills for my audiences, it gets a 10 and this one qualifies in abundance.
I should also point out that with this routine, you'll save money. I've never personally had an issue with buying more and more rope as the classic cut and restored rope plays so well that it's tough to argue with success. I was buying it more for the script, and the end result is I've found a great deal more to like about it.
If you're a working pro and you're looking for a new rope routine, this should fit the bill nicely.
Until next time,
Feel free to email suggestions/questions/comments to firstname.lastname@example.org