Bold Moves

I appreciate bold methods in magic. Tommy Wonder’s essay on using sheer confidence as method resonated deeply with me upon first discovering it. Derren Brown’s work reflects similar ideals.

Many magicians are afraid of overtly bold means of achieving their magic. I fully understand this aversion. I was with them for years.

The first method I remember being taken aghast by was Dean Dill’s Blizzard. I’m supposed to do what!? And they just won’t notice!? There’s no way that will work!

I don’t think I ever had enough confidence in that trick to actually do it.

And that’s the difficulty with bold methods. It’s difficult to have as much confidence in their construction at the creators do. However, whenever I’ve created a bold method myself, (and I think I have several examples in my work), I’ve never doubted that they’d work.

There’s a piece I created for my Pier 39 show called “The Trick With The Kids.” The effect is simple: A sponge ball travels from one kid’s hand to join a second one in another kid’s hand. I would classify false transferring into a 5 year old’s hand and entrusting her to understand the role she was just cast in as bold. In fact, I’d probably classify it as pretty damn bold. If I were to read that in a book I would likely write it off as a supremely risky idea that I’d never think to include in my show.

I do not have much risk in my show. Things work.

I thought up “The Trick With The Kids” one morning before a slew of Pier 39 shows, method and all. I had zero doubt that it would work. I performed it that day, and have featured it in almost every Pier 39 or festival show since. I think the trick has failed a total of three times.

(As a quick aside: please do not take this anecdote of debuting a trick without rehearsal as proper form. Pier 39 is a bizarre laboratory of a venue where such unpolished work can be workshopped without disappointing a client or audience. Also, the necessary sleight of hand this routine demands is already establish in my repertoire. I would never do this for a booked show.)

Lately, I’ve found myself more openminded about methods I come across that seem too good to be true. I’m not sure if this is just myself maturing as a magician in general, or if it stems directly from this sympathy of the creator’s situation. I’ve found myself more empathetic to their confidence, and thus more eager to trust in their construction.

Hopefully you can too.

Footnote: “The Trick With The Kids” is a fairly personal routine of mine. Part of me hopes readers will write it off as too risky and not steal it. If you aren’t dissuaded by it’s boldness, please have the decency to not steal my material that I describe here in order to share my insights for free. Thank you for reading.

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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!

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