The Birth of a Show | Paul Daniels Magic World

The Birth of a Show

This is, yet again, one of those strange times of my life where I look ahead to many different kinds of shows that I have to do. I spend most of my days in dreamland where I try to see the routines in my imagination and put those routines into an order that I think will build the show into an entertaining time for an audience.

The great Ken Dodd once asked me, in a routine we were doing together, to change the wording slightly in the tag line of the joke and I asked him why. ‘I don’t know why’ he said, ‘I just know it will be better.’ He was right and I hope now that I have acquired long experience, that I, too, will ‘just know’.
When I am on stage I don’t think the audiences are aware of all the tiny props and bits and pieces that all have to be packed when I set off to do a show. An example would be when people talk about one of my ‘signature’ routines where some borrowed money finishes up in a walnut that is inside an egg that is inside a lemon. At best they remember some of the stuff the money was inside. What they don’t realise is all the props they saw along the way to that ending: a handkerchief, a wand, a drinking glass, a teaspoon, a single edged razor blade, a roll of kitchen paper, a pair of nutcrackers, a walnut, an egg (careful packing needed), a lemon, a box to hold everything together… See what I mean?
Every routine has a list like this and if one prop is missing, forgotten, then the whole routine can fall apart or even have to be left out of the show.
I am putting the production of a rabbit from a hat back into the show because I have had so many requests to do it again. That meant heading off round the M25 to buy a couple of minilop rabbits, cute as hell with blue eyes, put together a hutch that is bigger than some apartments I have lived in, hay, wood chips, specialist food, as well as the ‘treats’ like carrots. The comedy table has had to have a complete overhaul, being repainted and the gimmicks all made to work again. It also needed new curtains for the front. I am hoping to do this at the Udderbelly show next week on the South Bank of the Thames, and it still isn’t completely ready.
Two nights after that I will be performing at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh and logistically that is a nightmare of organising vans, air tickets, clothing for the 6 people in the show, as well as the illusions and all the small bits for the tricks we will be doing that will be unique to that show.
And you thought I only did an hour a night….

2 comments to The Birth of a Show

  • Masterless Magician
    April 28, 2011 at 6:42 am

    A insightful and very timely blog for me (I have my first gig this evening. I am terrified of forgetting to take a prop and all of my act fits in a close up case. Even with a check list and extra pair of eyes I think I’d be a bag of nerves if I had more to move about.

  • Pete Biro
    April 29, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    And I thought you were retired… Yes, it is fun being a pro. But, you will do it and do it well.