In the last post I wrote, "People don’t actually have to believe the narrative of the effect. They can understand it’s all fiction and still get caught up in it."
This presentation is an example of that.
Moon Barks At Dog
This has been one of my favorite things to do the past few months, although I don't know if anyone else will be into it. It is a highly unbelievable premise. These are my favorite presentations because I can be 100% serious about them without any concern that someone might think I'm actually making some kind of claim that I want them to believe. I don't mind muddying the waters about what's real and what's not real in regards to certain things, but not when it comes to who I am and what my abilities are. When I was 13 I might have thought it would be cool if people thought I possessed some power that made me special, but I'm a grown-up now. I've got real shit going on in my life. I don't need to fake a quality to get people to like me.
For that reason, if I do a trick where I'm claiming some super-powered memory, or some gambling ability, I always feel compelled to do so with my tongue in my cheek. And even if I'm doing a mentalism effect—depending on who I'm performing for, their beliefs, and how well they know me—I feel like I should give a wink to them to make it clear that I'm not actually hoping they believe what's going on.
But with a truly unbelievable premise, you don't have to concern yourself with any of that. You can play it completely straight, which is much more fun. You can be 100% serious as you sit next to them on the couch, let out a long sigh and say...
"Did I tell you I bought an invisible dog? What a mistake that was."
You have your friend sit on the floor with you. They select a card and you put it back in the deck. You tell them about this invisible dog you bought and how you thought he was going to be really helpful with some tricks, but he totally sucks. You call for the dog and hold out the deck. “C’mon, Brooksy. Come get the card, boy!” And you just sit there with the deck on your hand, nothing is happening. “He’s supposed to be able to smell the card with his 'great sense of smell,'" you say, mockingly, "and then nudge the deck with his nose so it separates at your card and he pulls it out with his teeth. At least that’s what I was told he could do when I bought him. That's what the previous owner showed me he could do. But he's been totally useless. This is going to sound crazy, but I think he sold me a different invisible dog than the one he originally showed me.” You hold the deck out and whistle. Nothing happens. You slam the deck off to the side, slightly behind you. “That useless piece of shit. I think I’m going to have him put down. He’s old. And frankly if he’s not going to help with my tricks, it's kind of pointless to have him around."
And as you shit-talk the dog, your friend sees the deck start to move, splitting into two packets, and then one card being pulled out of it, almost as if… well... maybe as if an invisible dog has found the card.
“I’ll probably just end up beating him to death with a shovel. It’s just cheaper.” Finally you notice your friend noticing the cards. “Hey! He got it! Oh… who’s a good boy!” And you start petting a rambunctious invisible dog in your lap. You throw your head back and giggle like a fucking moron, as if the dog is licking your face. “Stop it! Stop it! Hahahahaha. Stop it, Brooksy!”
Yes, it's just Haunted by Paul Harris/Peter Eggink (and it could possibly done with other haunted deck effects).
I love using the haunted deck for something legitimately creepy. I think it's a great tool for doing something really scary, or really ridiculous as in this presentation. (The thing that's telling about most magicians is how—even with a trick that so easily lends itself to more interesting premises—it's still often kind of thrown away as a "watch what I can do" moment.)
I get it, I get it, I get it. You didn't start performing magic to make people consider ghosts or invisible dogs, you wanted them to consider your astonishing powers. I know.
But for some of you, this presentation will be a lot of fun. It has that emotional engagement factor, albeit in an unusual way. If you're enough of a jerk like me, you can actually almost feel the person you perform for rooting for the fake, invisible dog.
I've found pretty much everyone (guys, girls, old, young) is able to play along with this sort of thing on some level. This isn't one of those long-form immersive tricks that you need to establish a ton of rapport with the person first. It's easy for them to catch-on that this is leading somewhere and they just need to go along with it. (Of course, if they're very familiar with you, they can get on board even quicker. I performed this for my friend Elena last weekend and I said, "Did I tell you I bought an invisible dog?" And without missing a beat she rubbed her chin and said in all seriousness, "Hmmm... I don't think so." As if maybe it had come up but just slipped her mind.)
I particularly like that the deck cuts itself behind me, while I'm unaware, ranting about nonsense. There aren't many tricks that play out with that stage picture.
I'm thinking of adding one more beat to the routine. A couple days later I'm going to nonchalantly stroll back and forth in front of their house with one of these until they spot me.