So You Want To Do A Phony Magic Video For the Homeless

Here's a video of Murray Sawchuck called Homeless Veteran Gets Thanksgiving Surprise - MAGIC PRANK! Although that should probably be "Homeless" "Veteran" "Gets" "Thanksgiving" "Surprise" - "MAGIC" "PRANK!" Because I don't think any of those words are meant to be taken at face value.

Watch this...

There are a bunch of videos of magicians performing for the homeless on youtube. It's a way of giving a bland, uninspired performance some resonance. "He changed a $1 to a $100." Okay, so what? "And then he gave it to a homeless person." Alright, well that's something, at least. But the truth of the situation is, we just like to see people giving homeless people 100 bucks. The magic trick is secondary.

Here's how lazy magicians are. Henning Nelms says, "It's one thing to be able to make a ham sandwich appear out of the blue, but it's much more meaningful if someone says 'I'm hungry' and then you make the ham sandwich appear." (Or words to that effect.) So what do we do? Do we become masters of improvisation in order to deftly fulfill the wishes of those around us? Do we learn to anticipate people's unexpected desires so we can magically satisfy them? No. Magicians read that Henning Nelms quote and say, "Well, I guess I'll go do something for homeless people. They always want ham sandwiches."

Think of it like this. A woman spills a glass of water all down the front of her dress. You reach into the air and magically pluck out a small towel for her to dry off with. There's definitely something magical about that. But if you stand at the end of a waterslide and produce towels out of a seemingly empty box, that's not magic, that's just you performing a service industry task in a needlessly complicated way. Clearly you have some way to produce towels and so you went to a place that you knew towels would be needed. Big deal.

So the whole performing magic for the homeless thing is a little lame to me. It's about as unimaginative as you can get creatively. And just as a charitable exercise it's pretty corny. "Yoo-hoo! Look at me! I'm giving to the homeless! Better upload this to youtube!" 

Perhaps the only thing more hollow than that type of gesture is to fake that type of gesture like Murray does in the video above. 

Here are some things for Murray (and anyone else) to keep in mind when he wants to fake his next magic video for the homeless.

1. Homeless people don't walk around with empty shopping carts ready to be filled with groceries. That's what people use actual shopping carts for. Google "homeless shopping carts." That's what they look like. They're filled with shit. Sometimes literally.

2. Homeless people don't naturally know the blocking for your magic trick. There should be some sort of miscommunication or misunderstanding. I know you worked out the trick so that he would hand you the blanket and then turn around, step back so the blanket is between himself and the cart, wait for you to do your trick, then go remove the blanket -- but that's a little too polished. You choreographed the homeless guy like you would a stage assistant. 

3. Homeless people are usually dealing with some sort of psychological or substance abuse problem. I'm not making a judgment about that, I'm just pointing out the cause and effect relationship. Now, because of that, interactions with them don't often go super smoothly. The dialogue in this video bore no relationship to any interaction I've had with a homeless person. He should have flipped his shit when you took the blanket. "Hey man, I need that to fuck my old lady under!" At the very least I would expect to hear him offer to suck your dick or sell you a VCR. He should have been calling you the n-word or masturbating while singing the Kars-4-Kids jingle. Instead it was very clear that you said to him, "Just ask me for a dollar and say that you're canning and that you were in the marines and stuff like that." Because that is exactly what my man said. Without even a fucking coordinating conjunction to be seen.

"I was wondering if you could have a spare dollar today I'm canning I was a marine corp veteran."

That's the actual quote. Get this guy an improv class. He's not an actor so much as he is a macaw. 

And the soaring orchestral music while the guy shovels cheese doodles into his mouth is a little much. Speaking of that, why were you like, "This is for thanksgiving," and then you gave the guy a metric ton of cheese balls? That seemed a little odd. Historians now say the pilgrims and indians didn't even have cheese balls at the first thanksgiving. Just cool ranch Bugles.

Don't worry, Murray. It could have been worse. Your video could have been as transparently fake as this one. Oh wait, that's you too. (Love your patter here. "Do this, then this, this, this, then this." Why would you need magic to pick up the ladies when you have a silver tongue like that?)