Today I asked Robert Strong some questions about a recent experience he had while traveling. Robert the Strong was born in 830. He was also known as Robert IV of Worms. Wait…that’s not right. Robert Strong the comedy magician was born much after 830 and is also known as Robert IV of Wands. He is a comedian, magician, and presenter who specializes in corporate entertainment. While traveling to perform for kids with terminal illness, United lost his luggage. Which makes sense because we all know “United” is an acronym for “Don’t Expect Luggage To Arrive”.
Find out more about Robert Strong the Comedy Magician at his website: strongentertainment.com
The Q’s & A’s
1. I’ve talked to a lot of performers who have Tile. Do you think it was worth it? Did knowing for 9 hours on the plane help or would it have been better to find out when you landed?
After I boarded my flight, I turned on my Tile App (like I always do) so see if my luggage made my flight. The Tile is a tiny little Near Field Communications (NFC) device that communicates with the Bluetooth on mobile phones that have the app. It is a cheap real time tracker. I put one in each of my pieces of luggage when I travel. Once I was boarded, my app confirmed via the Tile tracking device that all of my luggage was not on the plane but back at the airport. While I was in the air, there was nothing I could do about starting the retrieval of my bags/gear until I got to my final destination which was frustrating. But, I was able to get on the inflight wi-fi and start communicating with the organizer, other performers, and the volunteers so that I could start coordinating a back-up plan. It was great to have the extra 9 hours to work through what was needed to make the show the best we could. I am very grateful to the other magicians and volunteers for loaning me gear and shopping for clothes and deodorant. They had enough notice, it wasn’t a last second scramble. It was definitely worth the small investment and it would be even more valuable if it ever helped me locate my gear if there was a more nefarious situation…
2. Is this something you’ve planned for? Did your plan pan out?
As a rule, I always make sure that there are two more flights (after the one I am on) that will get me and my gear to my gig in time if my flight gets delayed/canceled or my luggage gets separated from me. This usually works perfectly, but this time there was a confluence of a bunch of airline problems that caused my gear not to make it until after the show (including a silly old policy that should be updated).
I did three years on cruise ships, three years of international touring, and three years of colleges and there have been a number of occasions when my gear was lost or damaged because of the airlines. I was always able to pull off some alternative version of my show by scrambling around the venue looking for things that can be turned into props and making a quick run to the local Target, Wal-Mart, or grocery store. I have a list in my phone of the precise things I need for my Plan-B show that can be found at any local super store. So, yes it worked out. In some ways it was a better show because there was extra focus, thought, and adrenaline that went into this show. Fun for me, not stressful.
3. Are you going to make any changes to your packing to make sure this doesn’t happen again? If so, what changes?
I will start carrying clean underwear, socks, and toiletries with me in my carry-on. I will start wearing slightly nicer clothes on the plane (including shoes) in case I need to perform in what I am already wearing. I already have a few small props stuffed in the little side pockets in my back-pack, I will definitely keep doing that.
4. You reached out to the online community of jugglers and magicians for help. Now that you are on the other side what advice/help would you give to someone in a similar situation?
- Carry some props with you in your carry on.
- Use the Tile App so that you know sooner that your props are not going to make it.
- Have clothes with you that will work on stage.
- Have a list ready of things that can be found anywhere in the world that will be good prop substitutes.
- Relax and trust your experience
5. You are on death row. What would you request for your last meal? The governor offers you a pardon if you can do magic trick with your last meal. You have five minutes, what would you perform?
The heart of the person who put me on death row or a good east coast pizza. I would do the Banana Bandana trick, I shouldn’t be the only one who has to suffer that day (actually people love it).
After I asked Robert my 5 questions, I asked him to come up with 5 questions he’d like comedy jugglers to answer:
- What is your must read book?
- What trick can you do with no props?
- If a young person asked how to get bookings, what would you tell them?
- If you can go back in time and tell the young you one great piece of advice, what would it be?
- What is holding you back from being more successful?