Cafe Soap are the little “soap operas” that unfold in threads on the Magic Cafe. Back in the early/mid 2000s, when the Cafe was thriving, the Soaps were plentiful and fascinating. You’d get a thread that would go on for 18 months and 30 pages with a guy promoting his self-levitation that he would assure you was totally real, and definitely coming out. “Ah, damn! There were problems with the DVD replicator. It’s going to be 6 more months.” That was always great news. It was like your favorite show got picked up for another season. There would be accusations of theft and fraud and obviously-fake accounts that were just made that day, “I’m a friend of Tom’s. This trick is real. I’ve seen it.” But the dude’s syntax was identical to Tom’s.
With the Cafe well on its way to becoming the equivalent of the once thriving, now empty, mall near you (the one full of 35 dark, deserted stores; a weird smelling shop that sells wall tapestries; a local pizza place operating out of the old Sbarro in the otherwise abandoned food court; and, for some reason, a Bath and Bodyworks), the quantity and quality of the Cafe Soaps has gone far down hill.
But here’s a decent one. It’s people arguing over a trick where you claim to have predicted a spectator’s chosen card. It turns out your “prediction” actually says “Fuck You” on it. You then go on to show that you actually did know the card they would choose. You may imagine people are arguing about it in this manner: “You came up with that shitty idea.” “No…you did.” But believe it or not, they actually want to take credit for it.
The dispute is between Lloyd Barnes, from Ellusionist, who has released the trick as FU2, and Harrison Green Bomb* who has been performing a very similar trick in his act for some time now, apparently.
[*Edit 8/4/19 - Yes, I know that’s not how you spell it, but H.G. wrote and asked me to remove the next paragraph about his penis so it wouldn’t show up in searches by corporate clients—so instead I just removed his last name altogether, so now they won’t find this post at all, and we all still get to fantasize about his sweet dong.]
(I once saw Harrison perform magic naked. I’m 100% serious. This was somewhere between 2008 and 2010, I think. It was a brief period of time where people thought it was brave to do whatever they were doing on stage naked. So you had naked improv and naked stand-up and naked magic. It was stupid, unless someone you thought was hot was involved in it, then it was great. I can’t remember much about the show. I remember the guy who hosted the show legitimately had a micro-penis. And I remember Harrison did the Baby Gag. Speaking of which, I don’t think Harrison was working with too much downstairs either. Making a “baby gag” would probably be the best he could hope to do with that thing. In a full grown adult’s mouth it would rattle around like a Jolly Rancher. (I’m kidding, Harrison. Your dick made no impression on me one way or the other…. Ah! And isn’t that the cruelest thing you can say about a dick? Indeed.))
I can see both sides of the issue. I can see why Harrison feels it’s a rip off of his trick, and I can see Ellusionist’s position that the tricks themselves are different in method and have a somewhat different payoff. Like a lot of things in magic, it’s ethically ambiguous. In this sort of situation, I tend to side with the original creator. And in this case that’s a particularly easy thing to do because I sure as shit am not going to walk around with some pre-printed cards with a middle finger on them.
The problem I see with the trick is this… only a bunch of corny-ass magicians would think the phrase “fuck you” is somehow shocking or edgy. It’s not. You can say it in a PG-13 movie. So it’s not really that crass, nor is it inherently funny in any way, it’s certainly not original, and it’s not even charmingly sophomoric like a sponge ding-dong. The trick gets a good response when Harrison performs it, but that’s because he’s a competent performer, not because “fuck you” itself is particularly clever.
As far as I’m concerned, the best use of this sort of idea is by Joshua Logan, John Bodine, and Brian Hart, in the November 2012 issue of MAGIC Magazine. In their trick, Freak Out, you print a horrible, explicitly graphic sexual image on a card (think “goatse” or “lemon party” or someone sucking a log of shit out of someone’s ass). When your spectator sees that, they will give it a look that you try and play off as them reacting to your correct prediction. That seems like it could be fun. But no one is going to react in a shocked way to the words “fuck you,” unless it’s 1880 and you’re performing at Little Loyd Fauntleroy’s birthday party.
But whatever. I’m going to put an end to this dispute by giving both parties some alternative phrasing to put on the card. So now it’s not a a “fuck you” trick anymore. Okay? Problem solved. Here… for anyone to use… are some other things you can print on the card as a way to say “fuck you” with a little more panache…