SUMMARY: Half a dozen entertaining tricks from one of the world's funniest magicians!
Dave Williamson is a true entertainer, and a good magician as well. But he hasn't published a huge amount of material, and what he has published tends to be snapped up quite quickly. A good example is his book, Williamson's Wonders, which is out of print. On this video even Dave says he can't get a copy! So he figured he would throw some of the tricks included in that book on video. The result: Dave's Magical Mysteries Revealed, a digital video download available from Vanishing Magic Inc.
What you get is an instant digital download of the video (440MB in mp4 format) which features Dave Williamson demonstrating and teaching six different tricks. It goes through each of the six effects one at a time, and features Dave first performing the routine, and then explaining how to do it. I would have liked a few more different camera angles of close ups, because the video is mostly continuous footage with a front-on view of Dave, with the occasional zooming in and out. While the video quality isn't outstanding, it's quite adequate - and most importantly it brings us Dave! I don't think that experienced magicians will have any trouble in following Dave's explanations.
?Dave's Magical Mysteries Revealed runs for 48 minutes, and contains half a dozen lovely effects, which I'll briefly summarize, along with listings of the time on the video where each section starts:
1. He Who Spelt It Dealt It (Performance: 0:00, Tutorial: 3:11)
This is an interesting spelling trick where spectator is hero. After shuffling the deck a couple of times, the ten number cards of one suit chosen by the spectator are removed from the deck. Whenever the spectator spells the name of a card, starting with Ace, the named card turns up; whereas whenever the magician spells a card he gets the Seven - even when he's down to just a single card!
This trick is especially great for performing for kids, because a lot of normal card tricks won't work for them. It's based on Edward G Brown's "A Futile Lesson in Open Spelling", and I especially like Dave's ideas for preparing this.
2. Brain Scan (Performance: 8:39, Tutorial: 14:02)
The spectator shuffles the cards, and then is informed that the result is subconsciously mapping his own brain, which the magician will now analyze. Three cards are removed to represent "brain probes", which are inserted in the deck at places chosen by the spectator. The resulting three piles represent different areas of the brain, and the top card in each indicates the health of that part of the brain. Each turns out to be a match/mate of its probe card, except the final one (representing intelligence) - but when digging deeper to the number of that card, the exact match is found!
This trick is genius! I absolutely love the plot of this effect, because it really gives a real twist on traditional tricks, and is very personal and interesting. You can have a lot of fun with this routine!
3. Interlaced Swindle (Performance: 22:35, Tutorial: 23:50)
This is a handling of Paul Harris' Interlaced Vanish, and Dave uses a Cannibal Kings style patter. The Ace, two and three (representing Missionaries) are shown on top of the deck and placed between four Kings (representing Cannibals). Magically, the three missionaries have vanished and only the four cannibals remain - and then the three missionaries magically appear back in the deck!
This is a fairly smooth and quick routine, but requires quite a few moves and sleights to pull off.
4. Rising Cards (Performance: 28:09, Tutorial: 30:00)
Three spectators each select a card from a deck. The magician simply squeezes the deck to make each card rise from the deck in turn. The exception is the final card, which first rises as a reversed card, and then instantly changes and rises again to be the final selection.
This effect relies on a rising up card move by Fred Robinson, which is a bit knacky to do, as Dave admits. But it is something that is visually very impressive!
5. The Hypnotist (Performance: 36:41, Tutorial: 39:55)
The magician adds a single blue card into a red deck, and then shows the faces and shuffles. When the spectator chooses one, it turns out to be the single blue card! The magician then says that actually there is no blue card; rather you've just been hypnotized into thinking there was one - and flips over the card to show it was red after all! This is then repeated, and again the card chosen by the spectator is a blue one - but now the entire deck turns out to have blue backs and all the red cards have vanished!
Like the Brain Scan trick, this is a very fun plot, although it does require using two decks for the last phase, and some gaffs. It really is quite mind-blowing, however, and Dave's suggested presentation beautifully emphasizes the moments of surprise.
6. Wishing Well (Performance: 44:39, Tutorial: 45:18)
After five card tricks, this is the only coin trick on the video. It uses a small silver half dollar and large copper coin. One hand is presented as a "wishing well", and when one coin is put into the well it instantly turns into the other coin. The change happens several times in increasing speed.
The Wishing Well routine is not an easy trick to do, and requires existing skills with coins, but coin workers might enjoy Dave's presentation and method.
Most of the sleights Dave explains will be familiar to working magicians, and there aren't any real new or unusual moves that will surprise advanced magicians. But this is not a video for beginners, since Dave assumes that you already have a working knowledge of card sleights. For example, some of the routines require competence with advanced effects like the pass. So a number of the tricks taught here do require you to have good skills skills with cards already, although others are certainly well within the reach of intermediate magicians.
Most of the routines included are beyond my own ability in magic. I'm just reaching an intermediate level in card magic, and my abilities with coin magic are still very much at the beginner level. Even so, this video was well worth watching, in the first place because Dave is very entertaining, and his style is very fun to watch. He has a wonderful and natural sense of humour, although be aware that there are a couple of moments of innuendo that not everyone will appreciate. Even between the tricks Dave often adds in a funny moment of visual magic that has nothing to do with the effects as such, but makes the video all the more fun to watch. From an entertainment perspective, it's brilliant, very funny to watch, and well worth checking out for that alone.
But for me, aside from the entertainment I had in watching these routines, the real value was the plots and story-lines Dave uses. I especially love Brain Probe and The Hypnotist. The tricks themselves aren't earthy shatteringly original in terms of method, but what I love about these two particularly is the fresh story-line, that gives them a whole different feel. They have very engaging plots that depart significantly from the usual style of card trick that most audiences are familiar with. You'll get some great ideas here, and I immediately started thinking about ways in which I could possibly use these plots with other tricks that I already know.
Dave Williamson is nearly always worth watching, and this video is no exception: he's funny and engaging, and while you might find some routines here that you'll want to learn yourself, they have value already by virtue of the engaging stories that he uses, which have application to many other card tricks. I imagine that almost anyone who enjoys performing card magic will take away something from this great video!
- BoardGameGeek reviewer EndersGame