Think back to when you first began learning magic. Those were the days, eh? You had never heard the names Vernon or Marlo; you thought Han Ping Chien was something that you would order at a Chinese restaurant; and the word “practical” wasn’t a part of your magic vocabulary. So what if a trick required you to carry around two handkerchiefs, duct tape, and a jar of peanut butter… you were doing magic, baby!
Of course, as you gained experience, you realized that maybe it was all a bit too much. I mean you could get great reactions with stuff that would fit in your pocket, so why keep lugging around that Mirror Box, right? Slowly but surely you started to weed things out of your repertoire. “If it doesn’t fit in the case, it doesn’t go in the show.” Well, maybe that wasn’t your experience, but it certainly was mine.
I remember carrying a car load of stuff an hour and a half away for my first paid show. I made fifty bucks, and I was perfectly content. It didn’t bother me to have to run to my car multiple times to bring in all of the stuff. It seemed fine to go off into the corner to prepare a few props before the show. But as time went on, and I started thinking of performances more as business than pleasure, I slowly condensed the show down to a small briefcase… and it isn’t even full. Now, I arrive to the show ready to go, and can walk out the door with all of my stuff within minutes of my closing routine. “Pack small, play big” became my motto. It was inevitable.
But lately, I’ve been feeling a little differently. With all of the things going on in my life, I don’t perform nearly as much as I did through college. As a result, I have found my performing priorities shifting: and it’s very freeing. Here’s a recent example of an effect I recently performed that I would have NEVER thought of trying a couple of years ago. It’s called “Supercool” from Jay Sankey’s great new Kaleidoscope DVD. The effect is simple: a selected card appears inside a block of ice inside the card case. I don’t think I’m giving anything away by telling you that the method requires a bit of advanced preparation. It’s definitely not something you’ll be using during walk-around. Still, in the right environment, this is a reputation maker.
I’m so glad I went through the extra effort to perform this effect. It was quite an experience for me and something that I’m sure my audience won’t soon forget. While I think practicality is essential for a working pro, I also believe we all need to be reminded that sometimes going the extra mile to pull off a one-of-a-kind effect is worthwhile. So, what tricks do you perform on those special occasions?