My Favorite Card Tricks: Andy (The Jerx)
By Andy - Thursday, April 9, 2020
I want to first thank Josh and Andi and the Vanishing Inc team for asking me to write this post for their site. Being able to write for a magic blog? I mean... what more incredible opportunity could I ask for? I always thought it would be just a beautiful dream. But here I am... doing it for real. And I get to write about such a scintillating subject as... my favorite card tricks! Yes! Score!
This is going to be a wildly unsatisfying post for the people reading it because you'd probably like me to list a few obscure gems, and instead I'm going to list a few tricks you're likely already familiar with. But perhaps you will be able to find some value in why these are some of my favorite tricks.
The reason many people feel card tricks are lame or boring is because so many of them are inherently meaningless. If people can't connect to what's happening - even if what they're seeing is impossible - then there's going to be a limited shelf-life as far as how long they will find that sort of interaction entertaining. If you found out your new roommate could legitimately make playing cards change and transpose and all of that, you would be fascinated the first night he showed you, but then, by night three when he said, "Do you want to watch me make playing cards change?" you'd say, "Uhmm... nahh...that's okay, buddy. I want to pick at this thing on my arm."
If you're a professional and you're continually cycling through new audiences, that doesn't matter that much. But I come from the perspective of someone performing for friends and family. I want to keep them engaged in the magic I show them over the course of months and years, ideally.
So let's go back to your new roommate. This time, instead of being a true wizard, he's just a guy who always has a funny or interesting story about his day to share with you. You would listen to that for the rest of your life.
Good stories never get boring, meaningless impossibilities do.
And by "story" I'm not talking about the patter that goes with a trick. I'm talking about the context that the trick exists in. If that's not a clear distinction, I've written thousands of words on this subject on my site. (Search for the posts marked: Presentation vs Context).
For that reason, my favorite card tricks fall into a category of tricks I think of as "blank slate" tricks. These are tricks that can be recontextualized in a multitude of different ways. That makes them incredibly valuable to me. I'm not the sort of person who is looking for many ways to do the same trick. I'm looking for tricks that can be presented in many ways.
That's why the card tricks below are my favorite. They can become so many different types of effects.
Directed Verdict by John Bannon - This is John's brilliant Spectator Cuts the Aces handling. A spectator cutting the aces can be presented in a lot of different ways. It could be a gambling trick. Or a trick where you're controlling their actions in a mystical way, or in some sort of psychological way. It could be a coincidence effect. And so on. But what makes the possibilities really explode is when you realize you don't need to do it with four cards and those cards don't need to be aces. It's a trick that lets you introduce a certain small number of cards into the proceedings in a way that feels fair. Those cards could be the four aces, or the last four digits of their social-security number, or random cards that were predicted, or four specific tarot cads for a reading, or whatever.
See: Spectator Cuts the Aces Three Ways.
Cellmates by Paul Harris and Shuffle-bored by Simon Aronson - In Cellmates the spectator shuffles a deck and ends up dealing out cards that correlate with your phone number. In Shuffle-bored you are able to predict certain aspects of an incredibly mixed up deck. Both are great tricks. And what makes them even greater is understanding the value that both of these tricks are just different ways of getting a specific group of cards into play in a way that feels random. You can do a 10-Card Poker Deal from a spectator shuffled deck with Cellmates. You can use letter cards as an "oracle" to give you letters that spell a certain phrase in a "fortune telling ritual" with Shuffle-bored. Using either of these effects you can create all sorts of tricks that require a set of apparently random cards from a spectator shuffled deck.
See: The Most Impressive Least Impressive Prediction for one of my favorite way to perform Shuffle-bored
Two Card Transposition - I don't know who would be credited for this. As a far as I know, it's the "standard" way to do a two card transposition with a duplicate card. The set-up from the top down is duplicate, x card, duplicate. You do a double to show the x card, turn it over and deal down the 1st duplicate. Do a double to show the 2nd duplicate, then turn over and take off the x card. A two card transposition can be contextualized in 100 different ways. It can be a gambling move. It can be hypnosis. It can be time travel. It can be anything.
See: Two-card Transmogrification for more thoughts on this.
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