If you are a magician then you no doubt have seen the hilarious parodies of David Blaine’s street magic specials by the YouTube team ThoseLilRabbits. On the surface these are well acted, well scripted, well executed, spot on spoofs of the man who single handedly changed the magician’s uniform from sequins and pleats to muscle shirts and denim.
These videos are as side splitting now as they were when the first one was released five years ago. Like any good parody, they mercilessly mock the subject matter while still showing a respect for the material and reminding us all why we love them to begin with.
As far as I can tell, the guys behind the parodies aren’t magicians, or at least not regularly performing magicians. Because of this, I think we, as magicians, have a unique opportunity to see magic through the eyes of our spectators. How do they perceive our presentations, our limitations, and our tricks.
Here are 4 things to take away from the videos:
DO BETTER MAGIC
The “magic tricks” that Spoof Blaine performs are more creative and memorable than 99% of the material us real magician do. Hell, Spoof Blaine’s “tricks” are better than Actual Blaine’s tricks! Changing a spectator’s driver’s license to reveal a named card is a cool effect. Causing orange soda and Cheese-Its to transpose is a cool effect. Shrinking a car and having everything else shrink, only to randomly change sizes again unexpectedly is a cool effect! Now granted, these aren’t real tricks shown in the video– they have all been set up and scripted, but to pass them off as impractical or beyond feasibility would be shortsighted for two reasons.
First, no effect is completely impossible. You can always create some variation to achieve a desired effect. To simply say “no that’s too hard” is throwing in the towel before the bell even rings. Look at just Paul Harris’ body of work to see how close us magicians can get towards replicating “impossible effects.”
Secondly, I am not suggesting that we simply sit down and try to copy what these guys did in the video. I’d rather magicians look at the video and try to figure out why a team of laymen video guys would choose to create these effects! This is a movie, not a real magic show! They could have done anything and everything, but they chose these “tricks” because they were surprising, visual, compelling and logical.
Why is it that laymen seem to be able to invent and choose better material than magicians?
CREATE BETTER PRESENTATIONS
Not only are the effects better than ours, the presentations are better. I’m not talking about Spoof Blaine’s deadpan monotone speaking, but HOW the effects are revealed.
For example, the cell phone prediction in the first video is so much more interesting and exciting than most mentalism routines. A spectator is asked to call his mom who is reportedly “never home during the day.” She picks up on the first ring! (“WHAT THE F@%&”) Then, instead of the magician just predicting “when your mom answers she will be looking at a picture of you in your yearbook eating chinese,” the magician lets the predictions reveal themselves by instructing to have the mother look at her son’s high school yearbook, (“SHE’S ALREADY LOOKING AT IT!”) and then asks what is in the picture before producing / predicting chopsticks (“WHAT THE F$*#!”).
This all leads to the awesome prediction where Spoof Blaine reveals a word by word prediction of what his spectator will say, while they are saying it! That is such a fun, compelling and creative presentation.
Can you think of any effects in your repertoire which you could restructure and rescript to be more compelling and surprising?
LEARN TO ROUTINE
These guys routine so well! The magic builds, they share a variety of “effects” in each video, and best of all: much of the magic seems to flow directly from one thing to another. What’s more, many of the “tricks” come naturally out of the conversations and challenges of the spectators.
BE PREPARED FOR ANYTHING
Spoof Blaine, like many of our kin, presents an all powerful magician. Naturally his audience challenges him repeatedly, and increasingly, as the series continues. But Spoof Blaine is always prepared and can always deliver on the requests and challenges of his audience.
Ask yourself, could you handle the audience in the video? Do you have the skills, gimmicks, preparation, lines and jokes to diffuse all of their attacks, requests, challenges?
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Have your own insights? Please comment below!
Did you really read this far down? Thank you so much, you are awesome!