Monthly archives for July, 2010

This Week’s Blog

Hi everyone, tonight it’s going to be really quick…

Long story short, my father-in-law passed away Monday after a brutal battle with cancer, so I just don’t have time for any deep magic analysis. I PROMISE I will do TWO full-length reviews next week.

Also, I sincerely appreciate all the support for my newest book, “Cause & Effects Volume 2.” It’s selling like hotcakes and in fact, a VERY famous performer bought it for one very specific idea. I was truly flattered as I have a heck of a lot of respect for this performer. (No, I’m not going to reveal who…sorry to be cryptic – LOL)

Details on the book available here: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/inc/product_detail.cfm?item=13367

I’ll be back next week…

Best,

Cris

MY NEW BOOK IS HERE! Plus…A Review of Hundy 500

Howdy, folks!

Cris Johnson here with a new blog entry that’s sure to be fun and if you’re not careful, you just might learn something before we’re done…

Well, I’m super-psyched to announce that my NEW book, “Cause & Effects Volume 2: Comedy Magic Routines That Will Make You Money!” is here at Hocus Pocus! We just got it up on the site yesterday. This book includes six of my current comedy magic routines that I use all the time in my own stage work. There’s something for everyone, but my personal fav is my Arm Chopper Routine. When I was writing the book, I counted up the laugh moments and there’s nearly two dozen such moments…and TEN of them occur BEFORE I even bring out the Arm Chopper! It works perfectly for any arm chopper, Disecto, etc.

ALSO included is my presentation for the Confabulation plot. I tip all of the workings, psychological tips, scripting and more. At $24.95 with a total of SEVEN routines, this is a steal. Here’s the link: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/inc/product_detail.cfm?item=13367

Also, I’m busy preparing the upcoming August issue of my FREE ezine, “Cause & Effects” and it’s going to explore some really BAD jokes and so-called ‘comedy’ bits I saw a truly dreadful magician use at a recent kids’ library show. I was appalled and I will pull no punches in my analysis. It may all be my opinion, but I can back all of it up with scientific analysis (yes, scientific!) of why such jokes are not just in poor taste but can actually be damaging to a child’s psyche. It’s a must read!

Sign up for FREE by shooting me an email to: crisjohnsoninfo@verizon.net.

On to the review!

This week, I tackle Gregory Wilson’s Hundy 500. It’s available for $29.95 from Hocus Pocus. Here’s the ad copy: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/inc/product_detail.cfm?item=3055

EFFECT: 5 $1 bills instantly change into 5 $100 bills!

WHAT YOU GET: A very well produced DVD that gives you multiple real-world performances, construction of the gimmicks, handling and much more.

MY HISTORY WITH THE EFFECT: For years, I’ve been using a variation of the classic Hundred Dollar Bill Switch in my close-up act. In my mind, it’s still one of the most beautiful effects in all of magic. In recent years, the concept of changing several bills instantly into a higher denomination has been growing in popularity. I won’t try to list them all, but there’s a ton.

While using the Hundred Dollar Bill Switch (in my case, the Mismade Bill) serves me well, I didn’t like using it as an opener as I didn’t want to borrow money immediately upon introducing myself at a new table. I eventually developed a mentalism effect for my current close-up/strolling opener, but for repeat audiences, I needed a different opener, something that did not involve borrowing anything, something that was captivating, easy to understand and easy to perform. Angles were important, too.

I then saw a friend of mine performing Hundy 500. It was the first time I had seen a version performed live other than the older Fred Kaps version with the “z” folds (which, I’m sorry to say, I was never that impressed with, but that’s just me.)

I was blown away and resisted the urge to buy it for myself, not wanting to copy my friend. He eventually dropped it and began working on a new version of the same effect. I’ll get more into this later, but I then picked up Hundy 500 for myself.

INSTRUCTION: Let’s start right here, because this DVD covers this effect in incredible detail. There are the appropriate close-ups, the history of the effect, construction of the gimmick, and much more. The best part is the fact that Greg Wilson is incredibly skilled at a teacher and seems warm and friendly in front of the camera, warm and friendly in front of live spectators and makes the magic look effortless.

Another thing I love about this is the fact that Greg covers the psychology of the effect, why his handling strengthens the impact of the effect and, I’m really thankful for this, he covers various scripting options, why you might want to get into the effect faster and much more. Finally, he also covers the different ways to end the effect from a scripting standpoint, comebacks for different questions or requests after the effect is over and more. To be sure, these are not snotty comebacks that insult people or “shut them down,” but merely a way to deliver a nice response at the end of the routine that serves as a ‘button’ to the whole thing.

I also really like the fact that he has around 10 or so live performances taped in the real world. They are all well-lit and you can tell the people are not ‘in on it’ as it’s occasionally a bit of a challenge for Greg to keep these people focused on the effect. This is in and of itself a nice lesson in spectator management as Greg handles each situation calmly and with poise.

DIFFICULTY: Despite al of the detail Greg provides, this handling is easy from a technical point of view. Again, I hate labeling anything in magic as “easy” but other than a numbered scale…hmmm…that’s a good idea! OK, from a techical sense, on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being “Faro shuffle difficult” and 1 being “David Blaine ‘bites’ a Folding Quarter easy,” I’ll rate Hundy 500 as a 2…you have to keep your head on straight to keep everything aligned and you must manage your spectators so no one gets grabby hands (you are dealing with real money) but it’s within anyone’s reach with just a bit of work.

MARKET: This effect appeals to all age groups. This past weekend (on my anniversary of all times) I performed it several times for teens, adults, younger kids, etc. It KILLS.

SETTING UP THE GIMMICK: You’ll want to take your time setting up the gimmick. Gimmick construction is NOT difficult technically, but the true effectiveness of this effect depends on you making sure the bills are PERFECTLY aligned together. TAKE YOUR TIME and your actual work at your gigs will be a breeze comparatively speaking.

WHAT YOU NEED & THOUGHTS ON THIS VERSION: To make the gimmick, you only need six $1 bills, six $100 bills, and some rubber cement. That’s IT. That’s another reason why I like this version – you can construct the gimmck after a quick trip to the store. I am not the kind of magician who carries things around in his wallet to perform at a moment’s notice. In fact, if I’m not at a paid gig, I don’t even think about performing and usually have to be talked into it. To me, it’s a skill and one I prefer to not give away. I’m not being a snob it’s just how I feel – I travel a LOT all over the country and thus like to “get away” from work when I can.

I tell you all of this because one year, my wife and I went to the Poconos (adults-only resort) for a week. While there, we made some friends who really wanted to see me perform. We drove to a nearby Wal-Mart and my wife was asking me, “Well, what can you do?” I grabbed a bottle of rubber cement and a few minutes later I had put together another Hundy 500.

That, to me, makes this such a great routine – the fact you can make the gimmick nearly anywhere.

Remember that friend I referenced earlier? He did Hundy 500 for a few years and then, as so many magicians do, “chased” the newest version. I don’t remember the name, but that version came with some very specific gimmicks that you HAD to use, meaning he can’t make his “on the fly.”

I’m not saying it’s a bad version, only that in my mind, once you have a killer version of a certain effect, I personally do not see much sense in learning a new version of basically the same effect. (I’ve seen it and it’s very good but it’s not like a ‘quantum leap’ forward in the same effect.)

ANGLES: No serious issues to speak of. There’s just a tiny bit of work you must keep hidden in a surrounded situation, but this is ultra-easy and is covered by Greg’s rock-solid handling. You can do this anywhere.

FINAL THOUGHTS: There’s not much more I can say. Hundy 500 rocks. It’s great for any age in a close-up situation and you can easily make the gimmick nearly anywhere. I give this a perfect 10. I know this has been out for quite a while, but if you haven’t guessed by now, I do not automatically gravitate toward the newest effects out there….sometimes, but not always.:)

Until next time,

Send any comments or questions to crisjohnsoninfo@verizon.net.

Best,

Cris Johnson

Entity by Peter Loughran

Hi Everyone,

Cris Johnson here with a new review.

Before I get into this week’s review, a couple of housekkeeping notes and then a mini-rant…oh, heck, I’ll do the rant first.:)

I had a day off this past monday and I saw a sign near my house advertising a magic show at our library. Since I’m in the beginning stages of planning an agency, I decided to go check the show out.

From a technical standpoint, the show was fine, but from a patter line standpoint, I won’t even use the word ‘script,’ the show was awful ONLY because of the nasty..and I do mean NASTY…insult lines the guy used, directed at CHILDREN.

I tried finding the guy online and/or yellow pages as I wanted to VERY politely offer my thoughts. He was in his 60′s, I’m in my 30′s, so I can only imagine how it would’ve gone! Sadly, I couldn’t find him anywhere.

Sad to say, this type of BAD performing is NOT unique in my experience. Therefore, I am changing next month’s ezine. It was originally going to be about what Hollywood sequels can teach us about magic for repeat audiences. I’m still doing that article, but it’s getting pushed back a month.

Instead, next month’s main article will list some specific examples of this guy’s insult lines without naming him by name), why they SUCK, my thoughts and speculation as to why magic has not advanced as much as it should from a scripting standpoint and more. I guarantee it will be a must read!

If you’re not signed up, jump on the wagon now by sending me an email to: crisjohnsoninfo@verizon.net. Sign ups for “Cause & Effects, the Ezine” is FREE!!

The second announcement: my newest book is READY! It’s called “Cause & Effects Volume 2: Comedy Magic Routines That Will Make You Money!” It has 7 routines right out of my current 2010 set lists. There’s my routine for the Arm Chopper – bar none, the funniest Arm Chopper routine ever! There’s much more and at $24.95, it’s a STEAL. The Hocus Pocus Web Team is crammed with work, but Paul assures me it will be up soon, so check back often!

On to the review…

This week, I take on Entity by Peter Loughran. It’s available for $399.95 from Hocus Pocus. Here’s the link: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/inc/product_detail.cfm?item=6071

EFFECT: Objects move without being touched – no threads, you’re completely not attached to the gimmick and you can do this even across the room!

WHAT YOU GET: You receive the main props, a CD-ROM of video programming instructions and some written pages of routine ideas and a small carrying case.

QUALITY OF PROPS: Peter makes great stuff and this is no exception. The electronic prop comes with a nice carrying case with room for the remote control and even some additional small props, if you desire. Plus, the electronics were built & designed by Sean Bogunia, so you know you’re getting quality.

QUALITY OF INSTRUCTION: Peter’s instructional CDs are always of serviceable though not broadcast quality, but they’re more than good enough. The written routines are decent, though this prop has so many possibilities that it’s overwhelming. Right now, I use the prop in two of my shows – one for adults and one for elementary schools. Both age groups react VERY well.

AD COPY: Here’s where some folks might have a problem. I’ll admit, I’ve owned the prop for about two years and it’s been a while since I read the ad copy…when I did today, I had the “uh-oh” reaction.

You see, I bought the prop initially for one very specific purpose in a very specific show. I talked to Peter on the phone and he really helped me make a good decision. For me, I use it for stage and parlor, in front of anywhere from 20-400 people.

If you’re not experienced in performing parlor and stage, to me this means that unless you have an unruly audience, there’s going to be a sort of ‘barrier’ between you and the audience. I mention ‘unruly’ because only the rudest of spectators will start poking around and grabbing things. Sure they may speak, but most seated shows do not encourage poking and prodding.

In the TV and film industry, people talk about the “invisible fourth wall,” where psychologically people are just watching…At your next show, leave the stage and start walking toward people. Often, some people will be surprised! “Oh, the guy can move toward me!!”

What does all of this have to do with Entity’s ad copy? In my opinion, a LOT. Peter talks about doing this close-up and table-hopping and how you are clean before and after the effect. I know the handling Peter is talking about, and in my opinion, most people would not want to use it. I’m not saying it won’t work, just that I know how magicians think and I believe that at least 99% of the people who buy this with the idea of table-hopping in their head will not entertain the idea of using this in a table-hopping situation once they receive it.

Why? In a close-up situation, there is not a “4th wall” psychologically separateling people. I have done killer stage shows and then close-up afterwards where even the most polite corporate suits turn into Mr. Happy Hands, to quote Doc Dixon. It happens.

The handling for using Entity in a table-to-table such situation requires immense audience management skills. While you are clean before and after the effect using this odd handling, DURING the effect, if someone looks where they are not supposed to, you’re screwed.

Compounding things is the clean-up: Right after the effect is over is when people are MOST likely to look where they can’t and that’s precisely where you must then secretly stash the device. I don’t feel it’s practical. Possible, yes, practical, no.

Next, Peter assures us that people can place the item down, watch it move, and then they can pick it up again. Here I respectfully disagree…because of the nature of the secret to the movement, most people will feel “something” intangible that will lead them to the secret. This is all despite the fact that there truly is nothing attached.

Now, all due respect to Peter as I LOOOVVEEE this effect..for stage. And parlor. In my opinion, his ad copy should have focused on the real strength of this effect. The first time I performed this for a paying client, I sat down in the audience with them and watched Entity do its thing on stage!

MY THOUGHTS ON THE EFFECT ITSELF: Continuing from the previous paragraph, this puppy shines from the stage or parlor. People can stare right at the item moving and they won’t see anything…no threads, for real.

Entity can also move fairly large objects, depending on weight and performing conditions. It’s pretty strong. Also, you can move things laying on their sides as well as upright. I started out using Entity to move a Styrofoam cup that was upright. After a while, I tried it sideways and now I always do it that way because after a lot of practice, I can get the cup to not only move sideways, but also twist & turn as it does so. It’s REALLY neat!

The remote’s range is quite good, meaning you can do this from across the stage. Very cool!

Also, the movement is something you can program for yourself, meaning you can have the object move…wait, move again, move all at once, etc. Variety is a good thing!

The only beef I have really with using this prop in my stage shows is the manner of securing the unit. Peter provides a way to place the unit secretly in place and then easily remove it again. This method for me at least only held it in place for a few seconds…and that was after I cleaned the heck out of my surface.

I switched to my own method: velcro! Now it works perfecty.

These minor short comings are not meant to convince you not to buy it. In fact, I highly recommend this product if you are a stage or parlor performer. It’s reliable, looks great and is quiet.

MY RATING: I’m going to give this one of my “split reviews.” As far as close-up. I would never use this. The unit is too big and the handling is too awkward for table hopping. I have no doubt Peter does it, as he created it, but for most of us, no way. Our expectations and comfort levels would probably prohibit us. Not to mention the amount of pocket space you’d use.:)

For stage or parlor, this is truly an AWESOME product.

With that, I only give this a 1 out of 10 for close-up and a rock-solid 9 for stage or parlor. I’d also strongly urge Peter to consider revamping his ad copy. But I still love it.:)

Questions? Comments? Review Requests? Email me at crisjohnsoninfo@verizon.net.

Until next week…

Cris Johnson

Airborne Wine & Glass is to be AVOIDED!

Howdy, loyal readers!

Cris Johnson here back with a summer-time fun magic review…and for those of you wondering why I give the majority of my reviews glowing praise, well, this week will be one for the ages!

First, some housekkeeping…

Once again, I am truly flattered by the continuing sign-ups for my free magic ezine, “Cause & Effects.” Each month it’s loaded with great content: one ‘feature’ article on performing, marketing or philosophy related to magic, a road story (the strange & true!) and other surprises each issue. Signups are free – shoot me an email to crisjohnsoninfo@verizon.net.

Finally, I’m putting the finishing touches on “Cause & Effects Volume 2″ which will be stuffed to the brim with more of my own presentations and handlings for different effects, including my laugh-out loud presentation for the classic Arm Chopper, Disecto or Guillotine. I recently counted up the laugh lines and there are 10 laugh lines in my original script BEFORE the prop is even introduced! It’s taken me 10 years to fine-tune this baby and I’m setting it free!

Watch this blog for the release date. Maybe I’ll even talk to Paul about putting together a special “pre-publication special.”

On to this week’s review…

This week, I’m tackling Visual Magic’s Airborne Wine & Glass. It retails for $74.95 and is available from Hocus Pocus. Here’s the link to the short-as-can-be ad copy. http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/inc/product_detail.cfm?item=8282

The ad copy, such as it is, is fascinating for reasons I’ll get to a bit later. First, let’s look at…

WHAT YOU GET: You recive the gimicked glass, the wine bottle with the ‘airborn’ gimmick installed and a one-page instruction sheet complete with blurry photo.:)

A SPECIAL NOTE: This is going to be a very negative review. Paul Gross has assured me many times that he wants me to be honest in my reviews – the whole reason he asked me to write this blog. I also want to point out that some people have questioned my reviews, saying that I’m positive in many of them. This is a fair question.

I’ll briefly address this – thus far, the majority of my reviews have been for items I’ve purchased for myself. A lot of them are higher dollar items, so I ask a lot of questions. I know what the item can and more importantly cannot do. I think a lot of magic tricks get thrashed & trashed in reviews because people want the dream..they want the item to do things it was never meant to do…not all, but many. Therefore, I go into my reviews (and purchases) with a realistic idea of the item’s limitations. My main source of income is performing on stage – I don’t worry about what other magicians or my friends think, just my clients. I’m not judging, only explaining why I tend to give positive reviews…I’ve done the research before I buy most of my stuff.

Now, I’m only mentioning all of this because the product of this week’s review is going to get thumped quite a bit and I do not want first time readers to read this week’s entry and think that I’m this brutal all the time.

Finally, I have the utmost respect for the staff at Hocus Pocus and consider Paul & Ken in particular to be good friends. This review is my opinion only and I will not let it tarnish an otherwise stellar track record of carrying killer stuff.

MY BACKGROUND: I’ve loved the Airborn effect – the floating glass as water is poured into it from a bottle – ever since I saw Lance Burton do it on TV. Despite my love of the effect, I fought the urge to buy it until the heat had died down.:)

Once I did invest in a version, I got one that allowed users to quickly and easily install the main gimmick in virtually any bottle. For me, it worked like a charm and I used it successfully for 8 years. I finally decided to replace it about 18 months ago after it was discolored. (It still worked great, but the wear & tear meant the glass in particular looked beat-up.

My original version was no longer available. I tried a model for about $30 that was installed in a 7-up can. I couldn’t get it to work consistently and after others I talked to expressed a similar experience, I moved on. I then found an $80 model which worked OK for about 20 shows. I was happy…until the poorly made hot-glued gimmick fell apart. Not good.

Then, about 2-3 months ago (forget when) I bought this version that I’m reviewing today and after several weeks of struggle, I tossed it in the trash.

The only reason I give this much background is to show you that when it comes to Airborne, I’ve been around the block with different versions and am not trying to learn this for the first time.

THE PROPS: First, the ad copy makes a big fuss over the fact that the floating glass is clear. When I received my glass, I was expecting to see something wonderous and new, but the fact is, this Airborne glass is built just like every other version out there, except in this case, the glass is clear. I don’t know if the audience really cares if the glass is clear or not – when the Airborne effect is done properly, the audience freaks and my other versions have used frosted glasses or those plastic tumblers with the ‘ridged’ finish that obscures the inside. Again, I don’t see the importance, but whatever.

Next, the bottle. The mechanism that is installed in the bottle, upon a cursury examination, looks to be well engineered – no cheap crappy hot glued garbage. This gimmick looks (to me at least) as though it was made specifically for this effect. I like that – i can’t stand it when I buy a trick and the $.05 gimmick is clearly ‘wooly nylon from Michaels fabric store wrapped around a playing card’ but I pay $30 for a promised “customized gimmick.”

So the gmmick looks like it was in fact custom…which makes the fact that it works very badly even more amazing. First, a note on water flow.

For the Airborne effect to work, the water flow out of the bottle must be even and constant, a stream that does what it needs: hide what it is that makes the glass float. So, one thing that a gimmick needs is proper air flow. Ever drink Juicy Juice or any of those sugar-laden fruit drinks out of those half gallon cans?

When you open the can, you probably grabbed the can opener and pierced the can, making two triangle-shaped openings in the can, with the two openings at opposite sides of the can. Why? For proper air flow – without the air flow, the liquid kind “blub blubs’ out, in a constantly shifting stream that is hard as hell to keep confined to the cup you’re pouring it in.

In regards to this Airborne’s gimmick, there’s no such additional opening for the air flow, so when the liquid comes out, it ‘blub blubs’ quite a bit. I could almost make it work, but for there are other things that fried me.

The secret something that makes the glass float in the air…you probably know what it is. In the interest of being coy, let’s just say that the main support of said floating glass rhymes with “Dishing Mine.” Got it? Good. All Airborne versions rely on this. there’s no other way unless you sell your soul to some guy named Mr. Louis Cyfer (yeah, a Mickey Rourke movie reference…)

Anyway, this “Dishing Mine” is far too thick, so when you float the glass and go to detach it, you angle the mouth of the glass up and a weight is supposed to pull the…uh…”Dishing Mine” back into the bottle. The weight is not strong enough, so you’re left with your “Dishing Mine” showing for all the world to see.

Now, I have to break in – I know these things take practice, but this cost $75 and after two months of fighting with it, it sucks. That original version I mentioned? It cost $35 and after a few days of practice, I was a master.

After a while (weeks of frustration) I suddenly got the bright idea to swipe the too-thick gimmick for one a little thinner. I then re-read the ad copy – the gimmick supposedly can be transferred to any other bottle.

Yeah, right.

The gimmck is mounted in the bottle VERY tightly and is seated down just below the neck of the bottle – I’m sure this was done to hide the gimmick (all well and good) but this meant to remove it I had to pry it out and after 30 minutes of careful prying, I still managed to mangle the heck out of the gimmick.

Despite the partial mangling, I was still able to reinstall it and still try new, thinner gimmcks and finally decided that life was too short.

THE END RESULT: This prop is absolute garbage in my opinion and as a result, I’m giving it my first (and hopefully only) 0 out of 10.

Next week’s review will be much more positive…it’s going to be Peter Loughran’s Entity, which I’ve used for 2 years now and can offer some terrific insights.

Until next time, send any questions, comments or review requests to crisjohnsoninfo@verizon.net.

Best,

Cris Johnson

Romhany’s Multiplying Bottle Routine DVD

Howdy, Folks!

Cris Johnson here, with another fun-filled review and if you’re not careful, you just might learn something…

I have no idea what that meant, but it sounded fun, at least.:)

Quick housekkeeping: Thank you to all of you who have purchased my Mother of All Predictions book. Many of you have told me that you’ve already added it to your act with spectacular results – news like that is gratifying! For the ultimate one-man, ungimmicked audio CD prediction in which you can mail it to a client weeks or MONTHS in advance and predict ANYTHING, check out the link: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/inc/product_detail.cfm?item=13021

Don’t worry if you don’t care for the presentation I describe – you can use this system to predict ANYTHING!

Also, I’ve already received some GREAT feedback on the latest issue of my FREE ezine, “Cause & Effects,” and it just went out today! Sign up is FREE! Send an email to crisjohnsoninfo@verizon.net. The next issue is going to be a lot of fun, as I reveal how the way movie sequels are often created can serve as a blueprint for crafting a magic show for repeat clients. This is going to be my best article yet!!

On to this week’s review…Romhany’s Multiplying Bottle Routine DVD. It’s available from Hocus Pocus for $39.95. Here’s the info link: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/inc/product_detail.cfm?item=11913

EFFECT: As the magician listens to a mail-order audio CD to learn how to do a magic trick, things go crazy as bottles of alcohol switch places with glasses, multiply and generally create more havoc then the magician can handle.

BACKGROUND: I’ve been performing the Multiplying Bottles for 15 years. It’s a killer effect with big visibility, an easy to understand plot, and no angle considerations…well almost none, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

I will admit that while I fell in love with the effect immediately, I didn’t think it would “fool” anyone other than young children. I’m pleased to admit I’m dead wrong, as I often have adults coming up to me after a family show and telling me that the bottles was their favorite effect and they could not figure out where the bottles came from.

THAT will teach me to “think like a magician.”:)

My first set was a set of bottles that cost $90 or so. My current set was around $300 from Harries Magic and, since they’re getting banged up after 8 years, now I’m thinking of upgrading to those new Extreme MULTIPLYING BOTTLES by Keisuke Hanada They’re GORGEOUS!

THE ROUTINE: As mentioned in the ad copy, this is a presentation for a 9-bottle set, though the end of the CD’s spoken script is open and “loose” enough that you may be able to do this with a 12-bottle set.

The idea is that with the audio CD coming from a magic company, we, the performers, are being guided through our first performance of a brand new effect. (Only in magic would a presentation like this be accepted – LOL)

This is a really nice alternative to the Vanishing Bandana, pretty much the industry standard for the “play a tape and listen to it as we perform” plot in magic. I’ve never used the Banadana effect, though I think it’s a riot. I turned away from it pretty much for the same reasons as Paul – eveyone’s doing it and if you play the CD, there’s not a lot you can do to ‘make it your own.’

Thus, the classic multiplying bottle routine with an audio CD is a nice way to add an audio CD presentation to your act. It adds texture – audience volunteer effect, speaking solo effect, solo effect set to music and now this – you’re creating variety in your act.

WHAT YOU GET: You get the audio CD with two tracks – one male (Paul’s voice) and one female (not Paul’s voice).

You also get a DVD with a live cruise ship performance by Paul and then a thorough run down of several multiplying bottle tips, such as the kind of table Paul recommends, tips for the kind of glasses or tumblers to use, bottle tips to increase the lifespan of the bottles’ labels (I wish I would have thought of this when I first bought my Harries bottles) and tips for the tubes themselves, and this, I have to say, is good advice if you’re dealing with audience above you. Many of us don’t run into that very often, but it’s still good to know.

MY THOUGHTS: First of all, the voices. I like Paul’s voice. As he delivers the lines, it seems he was trying to deliver the audio CD lines with a certain snarkiness to them. It fits. The woman delivering the lines seemed to deliver them as though she was explaining the effect to a person who had just been kicked in the back of the head by a mule – she was very deliberate, as though she was talking to an idiot.

Personally I think both tracks work and the fac that each was delivered in a different manner shows you how much vocal tonality can impact the written words. This was a fun discovery in the product.

The vocal clarity is very good and the intro music to each track is hilariously cheesy – I actually started dancing to it, which really cracks my audiences up.

The script itself is funny. Not bust-out loud funny, but pretty funny. A few of the lines used are standard multiplying bottles lines from the famous Ken Brooke routine – good, but hardly original.

Paul does a great job of teaching the physical handling of the routine by running through it many times rom different angles. He’s very thorough and cares about his products.

The biggest beef I had with this product is one of timing – it seems, to me at least after around 20 performances, that Paul left too long of a pause between each of the laugh lines. There would be a line, then a laugh from the audience…then what felt like several seconds before the next line. That means, for me at least, I was forced to ‘mug’ or ‘vamp’ to kill time til the next line.

It’s not a BIG deal, but it’s been noticeable to me.

Still the end judgement comes down to how it plays and the fact is that the routine does play well. I’ll give this a solid 7 out of 10. It’s a very well produced product, gets a good though not great response, and you’ll have to probably ‘mug’ a bit between some of the lines, depending on your audience’s response.

I like it and you proably will, too.

Until next week…

Questions? Comments? Requests? Email me at crisjohnsoninfo@verizon.net.

Cris Johnson