Today we have two unrelated posts (that taste great together).
First, an anecdote from this weekend.
I was supposed to meet Friend A and Person B for lunch today. Friend A is our mutual friend, but Person B is a stranger to me.
So Person B and I show up for lunch, order some drinks, wait around for a bit, and then Friend A has to cancel out on us. So it's just me and this stranger, Person B, getting lunch together. It was almost like a forced blind date, and I wouldn't quite put it past that being the intention of Friend A.
One other piece of information. I had four mini peanut butter cups in my hoodie pocket. The kind that are wrapped in foil. I had snagged them from Friend C's place where I was at before lunch. But don't get confused. Friend C isn't important. Screw Friend C. All that matters is that he had mini peanut butter cups.
Person B and I got along great, and, as we were wrapping up our meal I decided to gently fuck with her. I pulled out a peanut butter cup and said, "I'd offer you one, but it's the last one I have." I unwrapped it, left the foil on the table and continued our conversation. As things went on I picked up the foil, balled it up between my palms where it regenerated into a full peanut butter cup again. In other words, I had one of them palmed in my hand, I switched it in for the empty foil, and then while apparently just rolling empty foil between my hands, I would let my hands go from slightly cupped to flat, like there was something pressing them apart. The peanut butter cup regrew.
Now, she didn't say anything the first time. So I did it twice more. And, as with the Distracted Artist style, I didn't put much focus on it, but I was still confused when she didn't comment on it at all. The moment had somehow slipped by again and again and again. I'd eat the pb cup, roll the foil, make a new cup, eat that, roil the foil, make a new one, etc. etc. And no comment from her. Maybe it was too subtle.
We hugged, said goodbye, and went our separate ways.
Later that evening I got this screenshot from Friend A, of the text conversation she had with Person B.
Distracted Artist works best when they have some idea that you're into magic (this girl had no clue).
The Ultimate Rep
Reps are a way of getting your spectator to question their concept of how magic tricks work—a way to keep them from immediately dismissing it as being done with some mechanical gizmo or sleight-of-hand. Often this is enough of an answer for people. But using a Rep with a trick can prevent them from going with this easy answer.
Even with something like a Tenyo trick, which is considered a toy by many people, you can still get people to wonder if maybe there's something more going on that they don't quite understand.
For example, take Burglar Ball. A ball penetrates into a plastic box. Presented as is, it can be a fooling little trick. But there's nothing that really grabs an audience about it, except that one moment where—PLOP!—the ball falls into the box. It's a good trick, but not one that's going to stay with people forever.
If you try to dress it up with some intense symbolic presentation about the ball representing something and the box representing something else, the trick actually becomes much stupider.
So maybe you don't mess with the trick, and just present it as a little moment of mystery. That's absolutely fine.
But I want to point out what a Rep can do with such a trick.
Imagine you perform Burglar Ball and concentrate quite a bit before the ball penetrates, and right after it does a trickle of blood comes out your nose.
Now you have this repercussion of the trick that doesn't align with what the spectator would naturally assume the method was. Maybe they'd assume it's a trick box or a trick ball, and even after examining them they'd perhaps think you handled them in some funny way (you did). But a nosebleed, brought on by... what... too much concentration? Well, a tricky box or a something like that wouldn't require such intense concentration, so what's really going on?
If one of the purposes in magic is to increase the sense of mystery for your spectator, a Rep is certainly a way of doing that.
Now... the Ultimate Rep.
I will never do this. You will probably never do this either, unless you're batshit crazy.
Take any trick. It can be the first trick you ever learned. Maybe the one where you clip two paperclips to a dollar bill and they fly into the air and connect when you pull the ends of the bill apart.
Now do that trick and right when you get to the climax, forcefully and vociferously shit your pants. Eat a lot of broccoli and drink a bunch of coffee so it's a real loose mess back there. Then wear silky shorts with no underwear so it sprays down all over your legs.
"Unnnngggghhhhhhh!" you say. "Dammit. They said that could happen. I'm sorry."
What? They said that could happen? People shit their pants enough from the paperclip trick there needed to be a warning in... wherever it was you learned it?
No, it's not a good idea. I understand that. I mention it as an image that will hopefully stick with you so in the future maybe you'll think of repercussions you can build into your presentation that will disrupt people from just resorting to the "easy" answer for how something was done.
More and more I find it's the elements that I put around the trick itself that really capture people's attention.
Also, if anyone does shit their pants for a trick, please film it. You will be the proud recipient of 2 Jerx Points.
Look at these fucking dingbats...