Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Magic Gone Wrong

Sure, even the most seasoned professional (myself included) flubs a trick here and there. Last week, Tomas showed me a new collectors routine he's been working on, so I decided to show him a Triumph routine that I read recently. Naturally, after his beautiful routine, I screwed my trick up at the end to reveal the wrong card.

Fortunately, I've been blessed with a quick wit, so any flubs in front of paying audiences have been covered sufficiently not to affect my paycheck at the end of the show. But there are some who are not so lucky.

The first thing that comes to mind are the horror stories associated with the Spiked-Under-the-Cup routine and its many variations. I'm sure you're familiar with the concept: a large sharp nail or spike is hidden under a paper cup, mixed around with three other cups, and the performer psychically eliminates the safe cups by smashing them with his hand, leaving only the dangerous object untouched.

It can be an amazing, suspenseful, edge-of-your-seat routine. Or it can be tragic:

Of course, I prefer to stick with cards and coins. Usually there's a far lower risk of impaling myself. Here's another clip where we can all relate to our kindred performer's pain - but on a national-television type scale.

Here are some lessons we can learn from each of these clips.
  1. Always be safe. If there's even a 1% risk you could seriously injure yourself on stage, that's still a little too risky. Penn & Teller's Bullet Catch routine has three independent safety systems, any two of which could fail - and they would still be completely safe.
  2. Don't be afraid of failure. It's going to happen - you lose a break, or flash a palmed object. But if we let the fear of failure keep us from performing, nobody would ever get on stage. Don't be afraid to make mistakes.
The audience loves it when the magician messes up (without bloody results), so why not play into their hopes? Invest in a sucker trick or two. My personal favorite is the McCombical Prediction. For the kids show entertainer, Hippity Hop Rabbits and Hocus Pocus Hare are good bets. Remember - give your audience what they want!


Mike said...

I once saw Harry Blackstone Jr on a TV show ("People are Talking"). He was doing a pick-a-card trick, loses it in the deck, finds it, holds it up near his face, back to the camera and asks the host "What was the card?" The host answers. Harry says "No, the card you chose". Host answers again, same card. You see panic and confusion flash across Harry's face. He lowers the card, and says "I always carry this pack of cards with me", pulls out an invisible deck, and finishes the trick.

It taught me - "always have an out".

Sudipta Das said...

Well, I am 17 years old and I am a beginner in card tricks. I kind of picked up a new hobby, card tricks. It's so easy to fool someone with the easiest card trick. I hope to one day be able to learn a trick I saw David Blaine do where the card the person picked somehow ended up in her back pocket. Does anyone know any good website for beginners that can learn good card tricks?

Sudipta das
magic tricks revealed