Magic is alive and well in South Africa !

Magic is alive and well in South Africa !

Came across this interesting magazine article from a while ago.

Colin Underwood, a corporate magician  based in Johannesburg, is featured in the magazine Magic Seen.

Colin is recognised as South Africa’s premier juggler and has won many comedy awards at magic conventions in South Africa.

Download the article from Magic Seen by clicking this link.

You can also read about 3 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Magic 3 in South Africa


Experience the magic of a corporate magician! Ideal for corporate venues, weddings, tradeshows and more!

Call Colin for more details : +27 (0) 78 625 9663

#CorporateMagician #CorporateEntertainer  #WeddingMagician #magic #JohannesburgCorporateMagician #ComedyMagic

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Bring the magic !

Colin Underwood is sure bring the magic to your next corporate event, team building day or corporate colin-underwood-corporate-magician-3function!

Good prop planning and developing new characters for his shows, means that Colin always delivers fresh, unique and truly “magical” performances and keeps people from all around the world enthralled!

Using a variety of skills, such as comedy, jaw-dropping juggling, mime and magic, Colin is able to capture the imagination and attention of a wide range of audiences.

Colin Underwood was the first South African magician to be featured in Magic Magazine.

Here are a few clippings from the article featuring Colin in Magic Magazine  –

Please click here to download the pdf and read the complete article.

” The magic and comedy is always the common thread, and as a magician he shines as close-up performer,cabaret artist, and family entertainer.

Oh yes, did I mention that he is also an accomplished street performer and pickpocket?”


” Clients demand versatility, which Colin is able to provide in an imperfect world.

And of course, he always delivers, as most of his work is the result of happy referrals and repeat bookings.”


” The shoppers are now starting to gather and shrieks of laughter follow.

In fact, if laughter is the true measure of the performer’s success, Colin Underwood is a very successful performer.

His humor is self-depreciating and, as a result, audiences take an almost instant liking to him.”


colin-underwood-corporate-magician-2Experience the magic of a corporate magician! Ideal for corporate venues, weddings, tradeshows and more!


Call Colin for more details : +27 (0) 78 625 9663


#CorporateMagician #CorporateEntertainer  #WeddingMagician #magic #JohannesburgCorporateMagician



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Action / Reaction… Essential Techniques That Professionals Do Not Share!

DSC02836It’s not What you do—but How you do it!   – by Colin Underwood

Essential Techniques That Professionals Do Not Share:
This article I consider one of the most beneficial methods to enhance your character.
Let’s have Action with lots of Reaction.
I was first introduced to this concept by a very talented actor/producer—Kurt Wurtsman. He booked me for many acting-type roles, with my ‘skills’ coming second to the main character. I had to play for three thousand delegates for a Microsoft convention at one of our large resorts—‘Sun City’. I was sharing the same stage and dressing room that the likes of Rod Stewart and Michael Jackson had performed on. The space is large—hence the name ‘Super Bowl’.

Anyway, I was the only solo performer appearing on the stage in a cast of about 50. There were many dance sequences and many eclectic characters, too many to mention. I was a link character—very much in the vein of the Circus Soleil shows . . . an honour, when I look back at it.
Kurt showed me this Action/Reaction technique to help me play bigger in such a space. Let me say that this ties up with the last two articles on Surprise and Suspense. I suggest you re-read those articles first.

Action/Reaction for me is to act, and then to react.
For every action you make, a contextual reaction must also take place. You need to break up your actions into many smaller sub-actions, very much the way you did for the Surprise technique; and, in fact, the same cue points for the Surprise technique will be used—but the appropriate response might be different. With these points in mind, you apply the appropriate response to the action. This might be surprise, or sadness, or whatever.

What this does is stop you becoming a ‘robot performer’, and makes your show spontaneous. There are so many bad magicians—not because their technique is bad, but they do not believe in the ‘magic’ and the character they portray. Yes, they make certain stock lines at the appropriate moments, but if they portray genuine astonishment or emotion appropriate to the action at the same time as the audience does, the better they will engage in the moment. The more you show the same or exaggerated emotion the audience does, the more you bond with them. Salesmen will mirror their clients’ body positions in sales meetings as a way to link with them.

To highlight this technique, let’s take the actual scenario I was in on that ‘Super Bowl’ stage many years ago.
Here’s the scene as I remember it: Lights down and in walks this crazy character with big shoes and large, exaggerated eyebrows—with a lot of rouge on his cheeks and reddish lips. (Not by my choice.) With the previous acts walking past me to the backstage, I now proceeded nervously (according to my character) down a long ramp into the spots and three thousand (mainly) men standing around the stage area in a large horseshoe arrangement. Immediately I am aware of the comments and murmuring. (I am thinking: ‘It’s the damn rouge.’)

I am carrying a briefcase close to my chest, hugging it for dear life. I place the briefcase down on an office chair with jacket draped over the back rest, which conveniently was pushed in by a large fairy. I think he was a fairy—not because he was gay, but because of the strange wings and the pink tights he had on. I proceed to take my gloves off, and all goes well until I find my left glove is getting longer and longer from my sleeve. I am in panic mode! I now make exaggerated poses trying to release my arm from the clutches of this crazy man-eating glove.
Finally, after what seemed like hours, I escape; move over to the suitcase very slowly and open the lid. I immediately back away in panic, slamming down the lid. I look at the case, the audience, and back to the case . . . moving back and reaching down to the lid—again jumping back, as a large sound effect from backstage makes me jump. (By now the audience is engaged, with some people shouting that I can do it. Tough crowd!)

I pick up the case, open it, and very slowly reveal a bowling ball. I am surprised look horrified. Then I smile, and—with a slight shrug and sigh—toss the ball over my shoulder. I once again recoil in fright as the ball makes a loud bang falling onto stage. I turn around and, in one action, I have a revolver from my pocket pointing at the ball. My pose is an over-exaggerated police pose, pointing the revolver . . . and in my mind, saying: ‘Freeze!’ I realise my silliness in over-reacting, shrug, and place the revolver back in my pocket—but accidently shoot my foot . . . etc., etc.
To summarise the rest of the act: I survived the ordeal, produced another bowling ball, vanished it, and then produced a soccer ball from the jacket. I left to great response, and exited stage left.
How can this apply to your show and comedy?

Take the Nesting Wands set and the Breakaway Wand as examples.magic-and-colin-underwood
I can hear you say that you have done them before, but probably just like this version here.
The child is next to you and you give him the wand. Immediately the wand breaks, and you give him another one. Now it turns blue, and a little smaller, followed by another.
. . . Boring!!!
How about this?
“Mr Johnnie—the magician—folks! ‘GIVE HIM A BIG HAND’. What does he need to do magic?”
Children reply: A magic wand, Hat, Bunny, etc.
You reply: “No! Money—lots of it!”
“Now, who has seen a magician give the magic wand to a child and it breaks?” Pause. “Well, I don’t do that, as its old fashioned.” The timing for this is to make sure the word ‘breaks’ happens at the same time as the wand breaks. You look at audience as you finish the sentence.
Act surprised at the broken wand. Pause. Respond by saying: “I just told you I don’t do that.” Repeat this, getting more worked up. Take out the blue nested wand and say: “This used to be my best magic wand—given to me by uncle so-and-so—and when it worked its magic it would turn . . .” Give child the wand as you expose the red wand as you say: “RED!”

Freak out at the sight of the red wand, and ask the child how he did that. Go on your knees and start begging him to tell you—even pretend to cry—and say that you also want to be a magician. Carry on crying and move to an adult, and cry on his/her shoulder—pointing to the child and saying to the adult that the child won’t tell you how to do the magic. (This is not in everyone’s stage persona, but I can highly recommend it if you feel crying could be a viable comedy option.)

BTW: This crying technique took a lot of guts to do at first, before it became standard in my arsenal of techniques. It’s very funny for both kids and adults watching the children’s entertainer burst into tears . . . especially over something silly. Both children and adults know instinctively that crying is used to get your own way.

If you think I am making this up, I am not. This is the exact routine as seen in my show. If you do choose someone to cry on, I generally chose a rather happy, jolly type of woman—rather than the blonde in a mini skirt; although my real preference would be the latter! (I’m a guy—come on!) I also sort of come in at an angle, and rest my head on the shoulder without my body being totally in front of her. As an extension of this, if the woman pacifies me by patting me on the back, I proceed to become calmer—and then let out a loud snoring. I immediately jump backwards acting all indignant, saying something like: ‘Come on,’ or ‘Stop it’ to the audience.

If you have any pertinent comments, respond below or e-mail me. Regards, Colin.

#CorporateMagician #CorporateEntertainer #JHBMagician #magic #JohannesburgCorporateMagician #PerformanceTips #KidsParties #MagicShow #CharacterMagic #KidsMagician #MagicPerformanceTips

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It’s not What you do— but How you do it!

It’s not What you do— but How you do it!

Over the next few articles, Colin Underwood, Corporate Magician, will pass on real-life experience tips as a full-time performer – his career has spanned over 35 years, and these tips are tried and tested!


The following are for kids magic parties but you can adapt and apply the same principles for all ages.


This is vital for children’s entertainers, and increases the magical entertainment experience. The interest span of children these days is short—as a result of overexposure to video games and cartoon content.

If you study a current cartoon you will see there is a vast amount of sensory exposure. The colours are bright, with characters always doing something. The dialogue is kept to basics—and in kids’ style of talking. The characters are often magical—or have superunhuman powers. The music is upbeat—with massive sound effects sprinkled liberally in between. All of this hyper-stimulates the senses of the children.

How does this relate to you as a children’s entertainer and your magic show?

Well, if you do not engage the audience—and by that I mean all of the audience, including the parents—right from the beginning, you will have an uphill battle. By adding large doses of surprise situations in the show you will be off to a good start.

Most children’s performers place way too much emphasis on the main ending—e.g. the production of the bunny! The routine should be structured to engage and keep interest.

Sometimes, due to the use of familiar props, many children are way ahead of you, and will shout out that they have seen this or that trick before. Of course, this is both a good thing and a bad! To counter this you might consider performing a routine with a different ending—this makes you different, and a more interesting entertainer. I call this ‘a reversal-surprise technique’.

You can do a ‘Baking the Cake’ routine, and—rather than produce a cake—you produce a rubber chicken (BTW: It’s so much easier than a cake); or reverse this, and say you are knitting a jersey (jumper) for your granny. The kids can see you are baking a cake, and will tell you so. Your surprise ending in this case is to actually produce a jersey.

The surprise might be at the end of a routine; but I recommend having smaller sub-endings or surprises throughout the routine.

These can be silly misdemeanours that set your character; or in routines such as the ‘Washing Machine’ type, you keep reaching a false climax. The basic plot being ‘dirty gloves need washing’ and must come out clean at some point. But what can really happen is they are mutilated, change colour, and undergo any other surprising sub-ending. But be careful that the plot is maintained, and the audience know what you are trying to achieve. However, the final production of clean socks after so much mayhem, may actually be a let-down.

The silly misdemeanours are e.g. using a glue stick on your lips instead of Lip Ice (or Chap Stick as it is known in the US). You can look surprised at this, and then look again (a ‘double-take’ technique), noticing that the glue stick is now a proper Lip Ice. This gives you an additional surprise with strong magic content.

Colin considers sleight-of-hand as a great way to produce props or to vanish an item. The magic is strong in these situations and enhances the surprise. Cigarette sleight-of-hand from the old books is a great place to start, and these moves can be ideally adapted to similarly shaped items of sweets or, in this case, a Lip Ice.

The various wands on the market are prime example of incidentals that play a vital part of any children’s show. The reaction to a broken wand is a valuable bonus, and increases the entertainment value in your show.

It is recommended that you buy up any of the gag items in magic stores and scour toy shops and cheap one-dollar stores for interesting items that—with a little creative thought—can be used in your show. Of course, how you react to these happenings will determine how entertaining you will be . . .

Please look out for our next blog wherein we explore the  vital element of ‘Enhancing Suspense’ in your show.

#CorporateMagician #CorporateEntertainer  #WeddingMagician #magic #JohannesburgCorporateMagician #PerformanceTips #KidsParties #MagicShow #CharacterMagic

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Creating special Characters


Special Characters can add a wonderful dimension to a magic show  –  Colin Underwood, a professional corporate magician from Johannesburg, shares some ideas on how to create a believeable character for your show:

Start by creating a character brief wherein you write down key aspects of this new character. Play around with the traits and have fun.


Colin’s crazy businessman character looks something like this:


CHARACTER: Crazy Businessman

Type of performance: Walkabout Character

Name: Mr. Barnaby Smythe

Place of Birth: Surrey, England

Occupation: Insurance agent at Whiltelsby and Newcombe Insurance brokers.

His dress code: Sloppy

Suit: Dark, Red tie, red braces, red handkerchief, Attaché brief case, Umbrella, Bowler hat. Red or Black shirt. Sometimes he will wear a waistcoat.

Favourite food: bananas and popcorn.

Character traits

1. Very polite to ladies

2. Tries to maintain a smart composed attitude at all times even when he walks into a wall or door.

3. Life deals weird situations where inanimate objects always seem to attack him or cause embarrassing scenarios.

4. Strange magical occurrences keep him confused about his environment.

5. Walks with purpose but still walks into walls.

6. Sneezes confetti

7. The universe revolves around him and he is most of the time in his own world, not noticing anybody around him.

8. Mostly silent but will talk if necessary in hot potato voice or in gibberish.

This brief gives one a framework to work from onto which you can peg various gags and situations. Now you can ask yourself the following:

1. What can I do with the items on him?

E.G Eat the banana, use zipper banana, forget to peal the banana.
Phone rings he uses the banana as phone.

2. How can I exaggerate a normal action?

Braces get stretched. Umbrella opens continuously and becomes a fight to keep it closed.
A can of Coke magically appears in his shoe.

3. What known gags or comical situations can you apply to the existing props?

Floating suitcase mime act, take bowling ball from suitcase.
Take out a raccoon and shoot it with cap pistol.


Now you can add magical effects to the character.

 – For example, he uses well-known paper glue as a chap stick. The stick vanishes. His tongue now stretches, comes out completely, he glues it back in his mouth but at an angle. Eventually tongue is fixed.

– He tries to roll a cigarette (right next to a no smoking sign)

– The paper bursts into flames, the lighter he borrows disappears. He opens his fire wallet to pay for the lighter but the wallet bursts into flames. (In the old days he would light the cigarette from the wallet and the vanish it.)

– He can make the cigarette vanish and appear continuously. He places cigarettes into his bowler. They vanish and turn into a red sponge ball. Ball vanishes and reappears.

– Ball is placed in mouth as if to eat it, pulls a face removes ball but another appears.


This character is a solely walk about situation type character but the principals mentioned apply to a show as well.

Use Mind Maps to literally map out the gags and sequences. One can visually see on the mind map links to certain props and gags that would otherwise take a lot of performing time to link together spontaneously.

This allows you to go over the character when at home and create new situation.

Create small comedy situation sets which have a distinct beginning and end. Perform these within the show.

“I hope this character creating idea is useful. It has been for me. My business character developed over a long time with gags happening as I added a new item of clothing or specific prop to his appearance. He didn’t have an umbrella until much later. The props in the suitcase changed over time and aren’t fixed. I enjoy keeping this part pretty loose so that new ideas are created.”

– Colin Underwood, Magician

#CorporateMagician #CorporateEntertainer  #WeddingMagician #magic #JohannesburgCorporateMagician #PerformanceTips #KidsParties #MagicShow #CharacterMagic

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