MB 010: Educational Magic with Doug Scheer


Listen on  iTunes or Stitcher! Doug Scheer Entertaining Education magician Business Podcast

Educational Magic For Corporate, Trade Show, Motivational, Sponsorship and School Magicians

 Special giveaway and discount details at bottom of this page    It’s not often you get to introduce your guest like this: “He’s lousy at sleight of hand, he has the grace of an ox, and the only reason he looks good sometimes is because he married a beautiful woman.” Those are Doug’s word’s; not mine. When I first thought about contacting Doug for this podcast I jotted down ‘school magic shows’ next to his name. Then I read his new book titled Entertaining Education: a comprehensive guide to creating and performing educational magic Wow, wow , wow.  It is an eye opener. The use of education in magic or more correctly, magic in education, is much more em-compassing than I had imagined. It’s so much bigger. This book is an education in itself  relevant to:

  • Trade Show Performers
  • Motivational Speakers
  • Corporate Training
  • Sponsorship Performers
  • School Show Performers

This is my favourite quote from the interview

I am not that worried about people knowing who I am , I am worried about them finding my showDoug Scheer

In this episode we talk about:

  • Doug’s 18 years of trade show magic following in the footsteps of Karrell Fox and Johnny Thompson
  • What is success in magic?
  • Why laser focusing on a target market brings benefits
  • The 5 categories of educational magicians
  • Why doing educational magic is just as hard as performing comedy magic
  • How to write effective educational presentations
  • How to use the Substitution Trunk illusion in educational shows
  • 5 ways to present educational routines so the magic supports the message
  • 6 elements of drama critical to your show’s success
  • How to market your education show to schools
  • Should you call yourself a magician??
  • Creating effective promo videos for your education show website
  • Publicity photos: what should you use on your website?
  • How much should you charge?
  • Should you put your prices on your website?

Links and resources mentioned:

AssemblyShows.com – Doug’s School Shows

Diversity Circus – Doug’s character education show

Wacky Science Show – This Doug’s show that has franchise opportunities for  magicians serious about production and performance quality

Toastmasters – International Public Speaking organization Julian belongs to

Thank you for listening

To get more Magician Business Podcasts sent directly to your device as they become available, you can subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher!

Please help by leaving a review on iTunes, they are really helpful and we appreciate you taking the time. Reviews help our podcast get noticed by entertainers, magicians and performing artists all over the world which grows our community. A larger community means more experience to share with each other so please feel free to share your comments below.

Thanks again, Ken and Julian

Meet the Author

Julian Mather

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Fab interview and very inspirational!

    My current school show is a themed anti bully message show. The plot is ” school is cool”
    I highlight bullying in the school and get the children emotively involved by asking them what bullying is , What it does to someone and the long term affects to the kids bullied , the bullys themselves and the school life in general. I then show solutions to the problem that highlight that school will and is cool for ALL kids. An everyone responsible for this.

    The sub plot
    Is simply we having so much fun learning really cool ideas in an entertaining fun way.
    ” a fun show!”

    Will be ordering this book anyway. Tx

  • Richard Milne

    Hi Doug
    I have performed this show for teenagers now for a couple of years and it has gradually evolved.

    My show is called Mind Games and has a strong “brain based learning” theme.

    The plot or the problem is that not every thing in life is as it seems. We are often hoodwinked, ripped off and betrayed by people who exert enormous influence on our thinking.

    In order to avoid this we need to “Open our Eyes” and really begin to see. We do this by Preparing, Planning, Researching, Validating and Reflecting.

    The sub plot is challenging students to suspend their current beliefs about specific events, actions or people, look closely and really see what is happening.

    This is often illustrated through visual illusions that “trick the Mind”

    Some key points for young people to learn in my show:

    if it looks too good to be true then it probably isn’t
    relationships require us to look beyond the immediate
    Being ripped off or treated poorly occurs because we rushed in.

    Thank you for sharing your story in the podcast. You do not realise just how influential a few words on a specific issue can often resound throughout a community.


    • Richard this sounds great. I think the broader sub pot and the main themes are such important issues for teenagers to engage in. All the best with your ongoing development of the show!

  • By just reading the subtitles of how to market your educational shows to schools, 5 ways to present educational routines, etc., etc., I can tell the this is priceless information! I couldn´t download it because it said the it exceeded the size permitted or something to the sort. But a BIG thank you anyways, dear Julian and Ken!!

  • By just reading the subtitles of how to market your educational shows to schools, 5 ways to present educational routines, etc., etc., I can tell the this is priceless information! I couldn´t download it because it said the it exceeded the size permitted or something to the sort. But a BIG thank you anyways to both of you!!

  • My plot is teaching Anti-bullying techniques I do this with magic and very personal experiences also teaching them simple magic to increase self esteem (accomplishing the trick ) and communication skills (performing for some one) .

    Sub plot is to get these kids to make friends with the magic and help others as they learn too. Many of the kids I perform for on the remote Arctic, etc are also battling suicide and I am working hard to have this inclusion as part of the show.

    I am desperately trying to increase the effectiveness of these shows and your books sound PERFECT !!!!
    Brian Glow

  • Don Davidson

    First of all, Congratulations on your new book.
    By listning to the podcast, it sounds you have ( like Julian ) a wealth of experiences of creating and re-creating your magic and shows, and thats what I want.
    Brian Glow has a great plot and sub plot, very personal and I bet a great show.

    My plot would be teaching good hygene techniques, such as brushing their teeth with magic of course, and washing their hands after playing outside and or after going to the washroom.

    Sub plot is to get the kids to help other kids learn personal hygene through a magic mentor
    “ME” !

    If I don’t win your book, I’m buying it anyway ! it’s a win win.
    Don Davidson

  • Gary Pratz

    My show is a Gospel show. The plot is God loves you and the sub plot is what he has done to show you that love.

    Following the opening segment of a series of tricks to music I introduce a scripture that I want them to learn by the end of the show, this is reinforced between tricks of the show. Tricks are performed and different lessons are taught, whether it be self esteem,
    or how we can get through obstacles with God’s help, when we put God first he will bless us abundantly and ending with a lesson of salvation that is explained with the card in the orange trick.
    I give the kids an opportunity to quote the scripture and they receive a T shirt, Magic trick
    or magic book. I have performed mostly in churches but after listening to you I see how I can take my magic and performances to a new level. I appreciate your willingness to share your knowledge to help others. Thank you. Gary Pratz

  • Firstly, a big thank you for all the valuable information shared on this episode of the podcast. You already have me thinking about my show in a new way.

    I have a show which focuses on the fact that everybody is special, and we each have something unique to contribute. It is part of a series of anti-bullying messages but coming at it from a different angle – the fact that every person is special and important. I use the magic to help the kids see that sometimes we only look at the surface, and many of the special qualities about a person are hidden and take time to discover. I then do a routine with my puppet where he feels he isn’t good at anything and not important. The children help him identify some of his talents and ways he can use these to contribute to the broader school community.

    While the main plot is to show that each individual is special, the sub plot is that bullies, victims, people standing by, we all have the same internal struggles but deal with them in different ways. By valuing others instead of looking to conquer others we can begin to shift a culture from a bullying culture to a collaborative one. We can all be part of the change.

  • Hey gang,
    Great ideas and comments. I’m glad you’ve gotten something from my ideas.
    Remember a plot and/or a subplot has to have some sort of conclusion. In any story a problem is set up and then overcome. Example: In my Math assembly show I play a game show host leading kids through the challenge of learning how math is a part of their everyday lives. We discover that math isn’t always obvious until you start to look for it. In the show, a math superhero accidentally appears on stage. While I’m teaching the kids to find math all around them, I am also working to send the superhero back to where she belongs. The problem is that she’s in the wrong school and needs to leave. At the end she vanishes leading us to believe that perhaps she was only imaginary and the real superhero is inside each and every child.
    The problem is set up, the problem is resolved and we learn a nice little morale lesson. Love your thought so far. Keep em coming.

  • Matthieu Polet

    Currently my kids shows don’t have any plot.
    If I had to choose one, it would be : “Everybody’s got talent”.

    The storyline could be the following one :

    A little girl is envious of her schoolmates. She finds that some are pretty or good at sports or have always good marks at school. She wouldn’t describe herself as “pretty”, is scared by ball sports and wishes she had a better school report.
    As she can’t find any gift for herself, she infers she has none.

    Then she meets an imaginary magic (puppet) friend that will teach her that each of us has got talent (just like in the TV show !), even if it is sometimes difficult to discover by oneself which one it is.
    Using magic and small “school” missions, her fellow teacher will help her to feel more confident and to find out what her gift is.
    She will actually discover that her talent is to understand people deep needs and to bring them all the attention and the listening they are looking for.
    His talent is to make other people feel better which is one of the greatest talent in the world.

    Sub-plot : a talent is not always something you’re good at, it can also be a way to behave towards the others in order to bring them support.

    The spotlight would be on :
    – Self-esteem (feel more confident)
    – Empathy
    – Solidarity
    – Respect
    – Diversity

  • David

    Fantastic podcast. This post is about a new show I’m writing (so I’m very excited for this book).

    My main plot is that I’m an illusionist & entrepreneur that can accomplish the impossible using simple everyday objects. However, the subplot is more interesting as it will have an environmental message. This is something I plan to sell to a niche group, and I’m very excited about it.

    Getting this book immediately. Great work.

    • David

      Also, to be a bit more specific, the purpose (from an audience perspective) is to inspire a greater connection to nature in life and business. As the world continues to increase in population and needs to reduce waste, I think this show can inspire regular people, as well as businesses to think more comprehensively about the way they do things. It’s about creating an inspiring figure who is passionate about a cause. Coupling this show with internet videos, I truly believe there is huge potential to make a great impact.

  • Hello !!

    I’ve already ordered the book as its exactly what Iv’e been looking for. I’m a children’s entertainer who uses magic, juggling, puppets, balloon modelling and magic in my shows and I am wanting to step away from the kid’s party scene and into a more creative place. I’ve recently got my degree in Circus and Physical Theatre and want to start putting it into practice.
    I cant stop thinking about plots and sub-plots.. I have been thinking of this idea for ages but haven’t really solidified anything in my head as such. This has been a brilliant opportunity to have a blast at it, now I can’t stop..

    This show is targeted at the primary school age year 6 as they prepare to go to secondary school.

    So, the idea …

    I’m Lucy Lost-it, Time Traveler Extraordinaire.

    Plot – I’ve been sent forwards in time to try and change the future and tell children about renewable energy before its too late. To prove I am a time traveler i have brought a dinosaur with me from long long ago.(axtell puppet)

    Problem – My time machine (A bike with a pedal-powered generator) is broken and i’m stuck at the school trying to get to 2015.
    Solution – Throughout the show I get the children to help fix my machine.

    While the children are helping me find the solution to the broken bike and we use renewable energy to do this,
    Problem – I start to hear a faint voice coming from inside the bike. It gets so loud that I have to stop the show.
    Solution – Find the noise
    Who is it? JAKE !! How did you get there? Jake is a little boy who unbeknownst to me sneaked into the time machine without me seeing and is now stuck with me and he is very worried.
    Problem – Jake doesn’t want to travel anymore as he is so worried about the future.
    Solution – Through juggling we convince Jake that the future is cool and we might not know whats going to happen next but with practice, confidence and help from his friends we can get through anything.

    Problem – The machine is nearly working but there is just one missing piece
    Solution – With Jake’s new found confidence he performs some magic and we find the missing piece for the bike.

    (morale lesson – Things might seem scary because we don’t know whats going to happen. But with courage, confidence and a little help from our friends we can get through anything)

    Any feedback would be much appreciated, as this is the first time I have actually put anything down on paper.
    Many thanks

  • I have been listening to the podcast a couple more times and would like to resubmit my entry. This is not my current show but an idea that is growing in my mind. Just as background I use ventriloquism and magic in my current show and can see both working well together in this idea.

    My main plot is the crew of a space ship exploring the universe to find out about other planets. One of the crew, my puppet, feels like he isn’t important and will learn during the show that he has an important part to play. The sub plot is that we are all different and these differences are to be appreciated and valued. This is an anti bullying message as it addresses foundations of identity and community which lie at the heart of many anti bullying programmes.

    The stage would be set like a spaceship. A back drop would have a large window with the stars and planets beyond. There would be various control desks around which would also act as tables and boxes for the props and puppets needed in the show.

    As we visit different planets we would meet creatures from those places. Some would be puppets and some would be an assistant dressed up. Each planet would have a problem. For example one planet would be really boring because everyone is the same. For the second planet I was thinking of the example CS Lewis used of heaven and hell – everyone has arms locked at the elbows. In hell no one can eat the wonderful feast in front of them because they can’t bend their arms. In heaven everyone eats because they feed each other. A substitution trunk could be used in trying to beam a member of crew onto a planet and a locked armed alien could accidentally get beamed back. A child from the audience could then have their arms strapped straight and work with the alien to find a way to work together. On the third planet there would be creatures where there is an ongoing feud between those with horns on their heads and those with bells (or some other silly physical trait). But in the end they realise that by working together their different physical traits actually compliment each other and solve a problem the planet was facing.

    As the show progresses the children see the beauty of diversity, and the importance of valuing these differences and seeing we all need each other.

    The main plot would be my main puppet (his name of Dudley) keeps trying to do other people’s jobs around the space ship and mucking them up. This would become a running gag but in the end the children will help Dudley realise he has a special part to play in the mission.

    The magic would be used as part of telling the story or getting things in the space ship to work but also constantly demonstrating the importance of not making snap judgements about situations, and that preconceived ideas can be wrong. Although the tricks would have a purpose in the story (eg multiplying sponge balls could be special multiplying space food) they would be constantly reinforcing the thought that first impressions can easily be wrong, and by working together we can achieve much more than by ourselves. This would give a great opportunity for children to come up as volunteers and contribute to the magic working. In a way they would be a sub plot themselves, as they would also be contributing to the successful working of the show.

  • Julian Mather

    Here’s my take on plot / sub plot that might help you …

    … what do you want to say? What is the ONE key message you want your audience to be able to remember? If the audience was interviewed after the show and asked WHAT was that show about, what would be their answer in one sentence? That is your subplot. Now, how are you going to illustrate that? What is the story you will tell on stage? Remember the classic beginning middle and an end. Also remember the basic formula for a story: introduce the characters, then create tension between the characters, then resolve that tension.

  • Thanks for your thoughts regarding the plot and sub plot, Julian.
    In the show idea I outlined the key message I want the audience to remember is that every person is special (sub plot). The story (main plot) that demonstrates this is 2-fold. We look at the different alien worlds and how valuing differences would make them better, and my puppet learns the lesson personally as he finds his place as a member of the ship’s crew.

    The tension part of the story is my puppet feeling inadequate. Because he is small he can’t do the “big important jobs” (beginning, he is comparing himself with others) and when he tries he causes more problems (middle). The tension is resolved when he realises (as a result of all the experiences in the show) that although he isn’t like anyone else that is a good thing as he has a unique contribution to make (end).

    • Julian Mather

      Hey Andrew, My comment wasn’t directed at your specifically but glad it made you delve deeper.

  • Hi Doug
    I loved this podcast and it has totally changed the way I have been thinking about setting up school shows.
    I have been putting together a Respect Show, but as Julian suggested to me and I am now quickly learning, there doesn’t seem to be as greater demand for it as I had thought there would be.
    After listening to you podcast, I realised I can sell a show about Respect, but under the disguise of something more sale-able.
    So my new idea for a show is set in a mail depot with parcels and letters everywhere.
    I am new on the job and am very outgoing. My work mate (Monkey Puppet) is very shy and withdrawn.
    The Plot is Learning about Countries and their customs: Together while sorting and playing with parcels and their contents as well as reading postcards, we discover lots about the world we live in and many different countries.
    The Sub Plot is that we learn to work with and respect each other’s differences becoming good friends after a very unstable start.
    Thanks again for all the valuable info in the podcast, I can’t wait to get my hands on your book.

  • Tom Causey

    Hi Doug,
    I am a school Family Resource Coordinator at an elementary school in Louisville, KY. I book various performers (magicians included) to do “educational” shows. I wish more of them could here this podcast! So many times they just make kids laugh or scream (nothing wrong with that in itself) for 45 minutes and then they and my money are gone. The “message” is show shallow or superficial I doubt that the kids even remember it by the time they walk back to their classroom. Schools need more performers who are good at presenting a strong and memorable message in a fun and entertaining way.
    I do magic part time (right now) and one of my main goals is to combine magic performance with solid educational and social skills messages.
    My current show is on relationship building. My plot involves constructing an anagram using Martin Luther King’s initials: MLKJR. M= making friends, L=Let it go (not holding grudges), K= Keep the peace (help others resolve conflict), J = Justice for all (fair play and inclusion), R=Respect I have magic to demonstrate and/or illustrate each of the main talking point.
    My subplot is about being a superhero. I ask kids what super power they would most want and why. As the show goes on, we talk about each of the MLKJR points as superpowers that they all have.
    I conclude by pointing out that superheros are not just Spiderman, Batman and Wonderwoman who exist only in the comic books and movies, but they are real life people just like the people in this room. They have the power to make their school a better place.
    Thanks so much for sharing on this podcast. I look forward to reading your book!


  • Hi Julian, Ken and Doug,

    Thank you for everything you’re doing to support the magic community! Here’s an overview of the plot and subplot of my character development magic show:

    The audience witnesses a re-enactment of the inciting incident where I, as a 6 year old boy, was bullied on the playground. I explain that this incident was so humiliating that – from that moment on – I vowed to find a way to stand up for myself.

    I re-enact and use magic to show the obstacles I dealt with. I explain that I tried to fight the bully, but quickly discover that this tactic only gets me into more trouble (Assistant’s Revenge Illusion). I explain how I tried to spread a mean rumor about the bully, but that it backfires (Needle Thru Balloon). Then I confess that I had to overcome feelings of elf-doubt, fear and confusion about what to do (Hindu Sands).

    After grappling with these obstacles, I explain that I met my next door neighbor who also noticed that I was having trouble at school (Doll House Illusion). My neighbor offers to help. Through the re-enactment, the audience learns about “I Messages.”

    Until finally, I explain that you can stand up for yourself and be respectful at the same time. There’s also the subplot: friends don’t just stand by, they stand up and help each other out (Torn and Restored Newspaper).

  • Kevin

    Anyone else unable to see the director’s cut of the show? The first video Doug references isn’t on his YouTube channel, like he says it is. I contacted him about it…it should be up soon. Unfortunately, it’s his main example of some principles he’s discussing.

    Has anyone found the behind-the-scenes footage? The thoughts and methods? The commentary track? Those videos don’t appear to be on his website (scriptsandclips.com).

    Also very disappointed at having to give so much personal info to get onto the site. You guys never mentioned I would have to give a mailing address and personal phone number PLUS the username AND password that I purchased with the book. Very poor form.

    Unfortunately, I feel like I was deceived on this purchase. Most of the free bonuses appear to be missing!

    • Julian Mather

      Hi Kevin,
      I cannot answer any of the questions you have raised as I don’t know anything about this. I have forwarded a copy of this post directly to Doug Scheer. All the feedback we have received so far has been very positive. My dealings with Doug indicate he is honourable. I’m sure he will help you reach a happy conclusion. What website sign up process are you referring to? That doesn’t sound like ours? If you don’t feel we are giving the value you expect then drop us a line and tell us where we can improve. This is a work in progress. Sincerely, Julian

  • Hey Kevin, What’s up? I responded to you personally on this and explained the issue I’m having with my web host. For the benefit of others here is my reply:
    Hey Kevin, My wonderful web guy who promised me the video would be up on the site by July 1st has vanished without a trace. I am in the process of finding him so I can beat him over the head with my computer. His brother says he can take over but I am waiting on that to develop too. Stay tuned. It should be up soon. Sorry, I am having more trouble with this as I am dealing with idiots on my end and it’s doing nothing but making me look pretty bad. I hope to have this resolved within a week. -doug

    If the work I am doing on my end isn’t enough for you then please send the book back and I’ll be happy to issue you a refund.

    Asking for you personal info for the login is a way to protect your purchase as explained in the book. Should anyone ever try to sell their book and passcode the new buyer will be locked out of the site and not able to access the videos. This is beneficial to everyone especially anybody who plans to use the routines in their shows. Having your mailing address registered (which you had to provide me anyway so I could mail you the book in the first place) is one more level of confirming your identity. This is my attempt to prevent theft of the material by others who have not paid for it (which is unfortunately a big problem in this business). I’m sorry about the troubles and am working to solve them. Yes, others are having the same issues. I believe there is plenty on the site to study and learn from while those last few videos are loaded. If you still feel disappointed please return all the materials and I’ll issue you a refund which is against the policy as stated on the site, but I don’t want my name dragged through the mud or reputation tarnished. After that I hope that we can happily part ways.

  • Director’s cut: Here is an additional reply to Kevin Witt’s concerns (above),

    Here’s a thought. As I am waiting for the director’s cut to be posted on the site, I’ll give you all backdoor access for now. Follow this unpublished link and you can watch the special edition on YouTube.
    Once the video is on the site I’ll remove this link. Again, Sorry for the trouble this may have caused. -Doug

  • I’ve been “dabbling” in kid shows for about a year and I am always learning. What I did know is that I didn’t want a “hobby” that would only occupy my weekends. Listening to Doug has empowered me to dig deeper in week day shows & focus on that – day cares, schools (especially), senior centers (must not forget these wonderful people – so many of us have). I wasn’t sure if there was a future in this business if you eliminated weekends but now I know it can be done. I’m definitely a fan!

    • I know you are not specifically talking about educational shows for seniors centres Christine but if you were, what ideas do you have to share?

      • i used to volunteer in a assisted living home – folks there are often forgotten by their families or sometimes have outlived them. It takes very little to entertain them & make them happy. I’m planning on offering free, 30 minute shows.. nothing complicated but something that would make them smile! I know for a fact they love puppets and they’re so easily pleased. It would be great practice for me (they don’t criticize at all), and it would be one way for me to “pay it forward”. Working on a schedule where I can do one of these a week locally.

        • Julian Mather

          The great thing about paying it forward like this is that something will likely come of it for you. You will make a contact, get a referral, get an insight, learn something.

        • Andrew Ready

          Christine that is a great idea. I’ve also wondered at times about visiting kids stuck in hospital. Not for business reasons necessarily, but to simply share some joy. I like your thinking. Not every investment is a financial return, sometimes the fruit of our work is the intangibles

  • Have any of the posters here made any progress with their show ideas after reading Doug’s book?

    • Andrew Ready

      Yes, this book is helping me a lot. As well as working on a new script which is a work in progress I am finding ways to strengthen the message of my existing show. Before this podcast and book the magic in my show was really the “spectacle”, then in the middle I’d use comedy and narrative with my puppet to teach the lesson. Now I’m seeing how the magic, ventriloquism and story telling can all work together

  • Philip Taylor

    This really has my brain ticking. The ideas I would like to use from this are amazing – thanks

  • Doug Scheer

    Thanks to all who have purchased my materials and/or have learned from the information I shared. I was told you all helped make my book one of the best selling magic books of 2014. 380 copies are now in print! I am humbled. 🙂 Because of you all, I’ll be releasing more products in the future and I am excited to be part of the new venture Ken and Julian are currently planning. Stay tuned!