"I don't think anything competes with a magic act for humiliating entertainment value. What is the point of the magician? He comes on, he fools you, you feel stupid, show's over. You never know what's actually happened. It's never explained. And that's kind of the attitude the magician seems to have as he's performing. It's like, 'Here's a quarter. Now it's gone. You're a jerk.' Sometimes they ask you to blow on it. There's something mature adults like to do, blow on a deck of cards. I also love that little pretend look of surprise they do when the trick works. Like,'Oh, I didn't know that was going to happen myself. I even amaze me.'"
-- Jerry Seinfeld
As we come to the end of this season of the blog, I thought I would go back and look at one of the first ideas I proffered on this site: the three styles of magic presentation I find get the best reactions. Specifically I'm going to look at how you might approach each style in the performance of a coin vanish. This is something I went into more detail into in JV1, but if you've read the Presentation Week posts from last summer, then you're pretty much up to speed.
Here is the first way to vanish a coin. The standard way. It was described by Jerry Seinfeld in this clip from almost 40 years ago:
The audience is not laughing so hard because the joke is so clever, they're laughing because it's an observation they connect with.
Magic, presented in the traditional way, often comes across like this. We like to imagine it doesn't. We like to think people see it as a richer experience than just being fooled. But there's a reason Seinfeld didn't go onstage and say, "What's the deal with magicians? I mean, they really remind us of the wonder that surrounds us every day, don't they? It's like, 'Here's a quarter. Now it's gone. You're experiencing the astonishment we associate the a child-like state of mind. Now it's back. You're more open to the mystery of everyday existence.'" He doesn't say that because very few people would resonate with that observation, so it wouldn't be very funny.
I'm not a big believer that you can force people to see magic in some particular light, but I do believe you can present it in ways that lessen or remove the stigma Seinfeld is talking about above. And when you remove that, you put them in a position where they're more inclined to see it as a positive experience (occasionally even a transformative one) not your weird ego trip.
So the first way to vanish a coin is the traditional, meaningless, "You're an idiot" style that Seinfeld alludes to.
As the week progresses we'll look at other approaches.
Part Two tomorrow.