So what's to be gained from the examinability testing? Well, it's hard to say. Seeing just how much a non-examinable item undermines the strength of a routine, it definitely keeps me moving in the direction of avoiding tricks that just beg to be examined. I just have no way of performing them in a way that is conducive with the way I interact with spectators. "Put it in your pocket and go on to another trick," is bad advice in general, but it's particularly shitty advice for the social magician. If someone showed you something and then put it away at the peak of your interest in it, you'd think they were a tease (at best) or an imbecile.
"Put it in your pocket," is a magician-centric gambit. I'm the magician, and I decide what you can and can't see. I make the rules because I'm special. That's an attitude you can maybe pull off as a professional, as an amateur it's not a good look.
I definitely see the appeal of these highly-visual tricks. You'll watch a trailer for them and they'll get a great reaction. And they'll get a great reaction for you too... right up until the person says, "That's crazy! Let me see that." That's the part the trailers don't show. The part where you slink away, stuffing your gimmicked pack of gum in your pocket.
This isn't about convincing people you're a real magician, it's just about giving them the strongest experience and not giving them easy outs.
Examinability is not the be-all and end-all for me. I'd rather use a normal invisible deck than almost any ungaffed version I've seen. But that's because the gaffed one looks much better and (I've never had someone ask to look at an invisible deck before. It's not a trick about the deck.) So examinability is just one factor. But the testing showed that it's not a factor that's as easily dismissible as some like to make it.
If you love these visual tricks, save the unexaminable ones for Skype and FaceTime. That's a perfectly valid performing arena. I talked more about this in one of my first posts on this subject, "Youtube Magic in the Real World."
Did I ever show you these cool card clips that friend-of-the-site, Les Allen, made me?
I don't think so. Hey... check out these cool card clips friend-of-the-site, Les Allen, made me.
They feature part of the damask pattern that was on the endpapers in the Jerx, Volume One and the first Jerx Deck.
I used to not be a fan of card clips, but then I had a change of heart. I used to think it was dorky. Like, "Look at me. I'm Mr. Magician and I have a special clip for my cards." But then I realized that carrying around a deck of cards was already a dorky thing to do, so it's not like I was avoiding the dork factor. And, a card clip is at least mildly-interesting. Most people haven't seen one. And with one on your cards, you kind of provide a gentler incline to get into a trick in a casual situation.
What I mean is this... if I'm at a cafe and I put a deck of cards on the table, someone might ask, "Why do you have cards with you." And then my first response is going to be something related to magic. But with a card clip their first question is, "What is that?" And then I explain that it's a clip they make to protect playing cards. Then they ask why I have the cards and I can get into that. The transition is a little smoother. You don't go straight from zero to magic. And I found that I'd rather start a conversation answering the question, "What is that?" rather than the question, "Why do you carry around a deck of cards."
Surprisingly, multiple people have written me asking what I think of this product from Penguin. It's an empty gum box that you put gum in. The box says "Instant Psychic" gum.
It's not a trick. It doesn't do anything. According to the ad copy, "To get ready for a particularly difficult trick. Make a show of popping a piece of psychic gum in your mouth." It's just a presentational conceit.
And I'm fine with that. This blog is full of presentational conceits. The problem with this one is that it's just going to come across as a gag. (Which isn't a problem if you want it to come across as a gag. But gags are for professional magicians. They're corny for amateurs.)
Sometimes I'll see people who try and do something interesting presentationally, but they treat it as a goof, so it loses whatever intrigue it might have possibly provided. They don't want to commit to it 100% because they're afraid it will make them look silly. So they half commit. But it's the half-committing that actually makes you look silly. This is true of almost everything in life.
So, while I can see the benefits of this prop to the professional, close-up performer who wants to do it as a "bit," it's kind of a half-committed way to genuinely pursue this presentation for the amateur.
If there was a gum that somehow increased empathy in a way that could mimic psychic phenomenon, it wouldn't come in a professionally printed package marked "psychic gum." Instead it would be some loose gum that came in a plastic baggie and you had to order it from some sketchy Silk Road-esque type site. It would be delivered in a plain brown envelope.
You can do this, of course. You can mail yourself some gum and keep the envelope on the table, and wait until you have a visitor. Be skeptical. "Do you want to try this out?" Explain how it's supposed to work. "It's $5 a piece, so if you don't really want to try it, then don't. I'll save it for someone else. Whatever you do, don't swallow it." Maybe you go first and you're able to read their mind. Then they go and they can tell you what number you wrote down or what card you're thinking of.
That could be a fun interaction and one that could genuinely screw with someone's head at least a little. Was it all theater? Or was there something more going on there?
Maybe Penguin can start selling The Jerx Presents: Loose Gum in a Baggie.
For whoever runs the GLOCC (The Global League of Clowns and Comedians) I think we have someone for you to kick out.
Ellusionist is now selling decks of cards without boxes because... reasons.
Geraint Clarke, from Ellusionist, sent out an email announcing this groundbreaking product that included this confusing declaration:
"I am, without doubt, the most hated man by playing card producers. HERE'S WHY...
I never use a tuck box. I open a deck, throw the tuck, the jokers, ad cards and gaffs away immediately."
Well... I think there's maybe some doubt that those actions would make you "the most hated man by playing card producers."
So you pay for the cards?
So at this point, the card company has your money.
And then you go home and throw out the card-case and the jokers.
So if you did want a card case or jokers for something, you'd have to go buy a whole other deck.
Mm-hmm. Can you imagine how much they must despise me? What matters most to Reginald J. Bicycle, president of the US Playing Card Company, is that I'm nestling the deck back in its case every night... but I don't!
My favorite line from the email is this...
"Those who know me know that I always have a deck in my hand. For performing at gigs and walking down the street doing cardistry."
Okay. You're all deputized now. Someone needs to capture some video footage of Geraint "walking down the street doing cardistry." I don't care if it's professionally shot or if it looks like that old bigfoot footage. I need to see this. I imagine him smiling and nodding at everyone. "Hey Marsha, those petunias look phenomenal!" He's got a bit of a skip in his step. Meanwhile he's doing that dopey cut where you're holding a packet of cards under your chin.