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Interesting Gigs

I performed as a contortionist for 10 years across the UK and sometimes across the world. I worked alongside some interesting and lovely characters such as Gary Stretch in the Circus of Horrors who had a rare disorder allowing his skin to stretch like elastic and to perform tricks that you could never copy and would never see again in your life. There was the crazy but sweet Prince Albert who had an epic collection of facial piercings. And there was the brilliant Rod Laver who could play music not with a bass guitar, not with a trombone but by firing ping pong balls at gin bottles. One of the best acts I ever saw.

Rod Laver
Amazing mouth juggler Rod Laver

But the locations of my gigs as a contortionist were also pretty odd.  Aside from the cabarets, and circuses, I was booked to pretend to be a normal dinner guest in a restaurant with a group of friends, and 15 minutes in, go into my contortion act at the dinner table. Just one dude, trying to impress his mates.

“Ritchie, you are amazing!”

I was always small as a boy. I was the smallest boy in my year until the top year of high school.  I’m probably about average now as a man but the day of one of my contortionist gigs, I felt like a very small man; when I was booked to do a show at a bodybuilding competition. Everyone in the building was bulging with muscles. I had an idea for two big fellas at the end of my act to carry me off stage with my legs behind my head. They did it but seemed rather uncomfortable and unhappy about it for some reason. I cannot imagine why.

As a children’s entertainer/magician, I thought the gigs would get less weird, but last year, I was booked to do a show at a doctors surgery. I assumed it would be closed for people’s appointments. I got there, they had a face painter and had done a bit of advertising. 3 children turned up and so did people for their doctor’s appointments. Suddenly I found myself entertaining (?) a half-full room of people needing medical assistance. Those who were delighted by me, were the doctors as they would pop out to call their next patient into their rooms.  The doctors did enjoy my stool sample joke.

stool

Speaking of which; I registered at a new doctors a few years ago. I went to a check-up session with a nurse. She typed into the computer some details and took from me a urine sample I had been asked to bring. I then said to her “I have brought my stool sample, look!”  She continued to look at her computer as I repeated: “look, look, my stool sample!”  As she fixed her gaze to her computer she sternly repeated “I do not need to see that!”

As I have lowered the tone already, I had a fun few days shooting a TV advert for Easyjet where I had to get in and out of a suitcase in central London. See the ad here

suitcase contortion
Working Inside a Suitcase

At the time, I was a vegan and trying to build muscle in the gym so I was eating a lot of chickpeas and lentils. Yes, you guessed right. I farted while zipped in the suitcase, twice!

New blog every Tuesday!

Check out Ritchie’s Youtube channel here

Ritchie Rosson is a children’s entertainer & magician based in Sutton, London UK.

Where To Buy Magic Tricks?

You can buy magic tricks all over the place these days. Even in the petrol station: “yeah, I’m pump number 4. And give me a Snickers, 3 foot of rope and head sword casket”.

The tricks inside magic sets tend to be poor quality and look rubbish when you perform and who doesn’t want to perform a magic trick they have learnt and even put on a magic show for your friends/family/at the bar down the local Wetherspoons?

You can buy tricks from all over the web but go for the websites/shops run by actual magicians. Give them a call or pay the shop a visit if possible. They know great tricks for the right ages and what beginners tricks will be easy to learn and will amaze people.

There are are many great DVDs to get but if you are more serious about magic, get some books and if possible attend a convention. Magic is like music, there are all kinds of styles. Not every trick will amaze or entertain everybody. I always loved the sillier, funny tricks and routines which is what led me to kids shows. Some have a stronger draw towards clever magic with card tricks, coin manipulations or….eugh. Mentalism! Booooooring!

Smaller tricks such as with elastic bands are great for showing a few people i.e. doing “close up magic” but if you use bigger items you can perform for a bigger audience. It does not necessarily require big items but needs things that “play big” like a large silk or a wand.

Buy/learn tricks that amaze you. And practice until you are confident before you show anyone. Practice in the mirror and video yourself to catch your mistakes. Performing a trick badly and nobody is impressed is a horrible feeling and believe me I know this feeling very well!

Also, join your local magic club. Email me if you need help finding one. There are many all over the UK. They are very friendly places and people share ideas and help one another with tricks and ideas. You will see lectures there from professional magicians. But if the lecture is about mentalism, bring a pillow.

It can get expensive if you get into magic to buy lots of tricks, but you can make your own tricks and do tricks with everyday items.

Magic Dealers

Practical Magic

Brilliant website for children’s magic. Gary Dunn who runs it is a brilliant professional magician (and one of my biggest influences) with years of experience and only sells top quality tricks.

Propdog – online and fantastic magic shop in Hounslow

Run by Dave Bonsall who is a professional magician and magic engineer. He develops his own tricks and has a passion for the art and a passion for good quality products and will not sell the poor quality rubbish that you will find from many magic dealers. Visit his wonderful shop if you can. You will never forget going there!

Brilliant Magic Conventions

Trix In The Stix

Children’s magic convention held every May in Shropshire.

Kidology

Children’s magic convention held every September in Birmingham.

Blackpool Magic Convention

My favourite Magic DVDS

Jeff McBride Magic on Stage

Gary Dunn – Keep Them Laughing

Terry Herbert – Magic For Under 5s

Robert Baxt DVDs and Tricks

 

 

Stand Up Comedy

Woah! I did my first stand up comedy gig last night at the awesome Comedy Virgins at the Cavendish Arms in Stockwell. I had been secretly studying and writing stand up comedy the last few months to work towards my first 5 minutes on a stage without any balloons, magic tricks or a giggle-ready bunch of 5-year-olds in front of me.

Ritchie's first stand up comedy night.

I didn’t quite have the whole room barking with laughter but then I did get some laughs.  So I think it was a success. It surprised me that the whole room cheered at the mention of “stationary” but that a stoic silence was met with my talk of “a rubber fist”.

They have a random order of comics on the night meaning everytime the compere calls for “a big to cheer to welcome to the stage…..” every act of the night puts down their drink ready to march to the stage. This was nice for me as I was the 43rd act of 45 on the night.

The very funny and lovely man Adrian Tauss was compereing. We briefly danced as I went on stage I seem to remember and as my five minutes ended I tightly hugged Adrian like a fireman who had dug me out of an earthquake rubble.  My plan for next time is to extend the dance section to 4 minutes and drop some of the material I wrote for this set, maybe 38 of the 40 jokes.

Finding The Cheapest Entertainer?

I think this is a good rule for any service, but going for the cheapest children’s entertainer especially is not the best idea when a 4th/5th birthday party is such a special day.  Whoever you book, read their online reviews and look at their website and videos. Are they professional? Do they entertain full time? Do they have a high-quality sound system that won’t be driving everyone mad with feedback noises? Will the children have a great time? Will they laugh and be comfortable in the company of this person? Are they experienced in the range of children’s parties that take place? I did one show last Saturday for 6 children and 40 adults but on Sunday, I did a party for 15 x 5-year-olds and 10 x 8-year-olds. It took a lot of experience to gauge the magic routines, jokes and the rhythm of the show for those different groups. This is something that only comes from performing at hundreds of parties.

Avoid cheap kid's entertainers

The worst thing of all about cheap entertainers is that they might call and cancel a few days before because a carnival offered them twice the money to do 5 hours there or worst of all, the nightmare scenario of the entertainer not turning up at all!  Suddenly you have a very disappointed birthday child and 30 little ones running around screaming driving the parents to despair.

“I’m sorry I cannot make it today!”

Book a brilliant children’s entertainer, not a cheap one. If budget is a worry, cut corners on having simple (or no) party bags, finding a cheap village hall, have the party at home (if it’s up to 15 children) or have a joint birthday party with another family to split the cost.

Avoid entertainers from cheap party companies as you usually won’t know who you are booking and a lot of their entertainers are very inexperienced and trained within a few hours.

You will probably only have such a party once or twice. With a brilliant entertainer and fantastic magic show, they will have an unforgettable day, you will get great photos and all the other parents will be wondering how you organised such a brilliant party.

Children laughing and having a great time at Ritchie Rosson's magic show 2018

 

Ever Hosted a Children’s Birthday Party?

Mum’s and dads, uncles and aubergines. If you have ever organised a children’s party, please can you comment below with your top 2 or 3 tips to make things great? Perhaps something that discovered worked great or something that on the day you wished you had done differently.  I am looking to put together a later blog and an article to help out those organising a little one’s party to make it go super smooth and near to stress-free.

 

Evasion Of The Procrastination Equation

I had a rubbish two days of doing hardly anything productive and spending most of my time debating with people in the Youtube comments section. A place that obviously should never be visited.

I’m not saying they are for everyone, but “self-help” books (surely there is a less cringey name for them?) really help me a lot. They get my motivation going which is always a challenge when you have no boss. There are key ideas in these books but when I highlight them and read back only the meaty nuggets, it never strikes me in the same way. I guess the meaty chunks need the gravy and the onions.

My biggest life problem is procrastination and the books below have really helped me deal with this and I really must read them all again. Maybe next week.

Phone and PC apps

I have a big problem with addiction to social media. I had a very successful recent 3 months of no social media. But if you are similar to me, my advice is delete all those apps from your phone and just have a look on your PC a few times a week.

If you work on your computer a lot, check out the brilliant app on Google Chrome, Waste No Time

You can set a time period that it will block a list of sites that you can add to it or block all apart from those you have added to the allow list.

Also, the awesome phone app, Forest is brilliant. You set the timer going for 30/60 minutes for a tree to grow and if you open your phone it will kill the tree. It’s fun and a great incentive to not look at the phone.

An example of my putting things off lameness is me starting this blog last week after going to a lecture on blogging 4 years ago. I think this is a great success. I could have started it 7 years later. So there!

What are your favourite life coaching books?

Eat That Frog and The One Thing brilliant books to fight procrastination
“Eat That Frog” by Brian Tracy and “The One Thing” by Gary Keller

 

Brilliant books to supercharge your day
“The Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod and “Two Awesome Hours” by Josh Davis