SUMMARY: Compelling magic without the complex moves: three more strong routines refined by John Carey
John Carey is an in-demand lecturer and teacher for magicians in Europe and the USA, his expertise further evidenced by the publication of three books on magic. An experienced close-up magician, he performs regularly, and has also created various card tricks, and it is these that are of special interest in this review. He has especially earned a reputation for streamlining effects and turning them into practical and hard-hitting magic by relying on clever thinking and good presentation rather than complex moves and techniques. That means that card tricks from John Carey are usually quite straight forward to learn, and yet pack quite a punch. Designed with lay audiences in mind, they distil routines of unnecessary sleights and complexities, and turn them into effects that retain the impact of magic while ensuring that they are also very doable.
So if you like routines with clever plots and powerful magic without knuckle-busting moves, then you'll be interested in this second exclusive collection of three tricks from John Carey. This collection follows a previous release which included three tricks (Pseudo Vernon, Dead Cut, and Piggy in the Middle). This second collection includes the following three effects: On the Up Up Up, Crist Cross Searchers, and Think and Sync.
EFFECT #1 - On the Up, Up, Up
This effect starts as an apparent ambitious card routine with a packet of four cards, as a red Queen slowly moves from the bottom of the packet to the top. Then as a final surprise, the remaining three cards are revealed to have changed from the indifferent cards they were initially, to make a four-of-a-kind that includes the red Queen.
This routine was inspired by "Safety Zone" from the Cheaters Handbook.
EFFECT #2 - Crist Cross Searchers
In this effect, the Jokers are first removed from the deck and returned face-up, one near the top and one near the bottom of the deck. The spectator selects a card from the middle of the deck. Then the Jokers are shown to have moved from their original positions to be only 10 cards apart; then for the final display they move even closer together with only a single card between them - the spectator's selection!
This was inspired by Larry Jennings' Searchers routine, and also makes use of a great force by John Bannon. There are some very lovely subtleties in presentation and patter here.
EFFECT #3 - Think and Sync
After the two Jokers are removed from the deck, and the spectator takes off a small packet of cards and secretly counts them to determine a random card number. They then freely/secretly think of a suit to go along with this to determine a merely thought of card. The spectator returns the cards to the middle of the deck and genuinely shuffles them. The magician now selects a card from the deck, and amazingly proves he is in synch with the spectator by getting a perfect match.
This routine was inspired by an Allan Kronzek routine first published in Genii magazine in 2012. John also gives some good suggestions for different techniques you can use to accomplish some of the moves necessary in the first part of the routine.
What you get for just $10 is an instant digital download of the video, which includes all three effects. It's an exclusive from Vanishing Inc Magic. You can play the video via streaming, or download it in *.mp4 format to view on your computer with any video program. I had no difficulty downloading or viewing the video, and the entire process of getting it was hassle free. The entire video is around 18 minutes long, and the downloaded file is around 83MB in total size.
Like the first collection, this video features John Carey performing each of the three effects on a table in a room called The Session at Vanishing Inc, so it has a real feel of a session of close-up magic. The first trick (including explanation) is about six minutes long, the second is about five minutes long, and the final one is about seven minutes long. The first trick shows John performing the trick to the camera, whereas the second and third tricks are performed with spectators.
The camera moves and zooms to find the best position as the video goes along, and where necessary there are close-ups on John's hands and the cards themselves. The video production is not flashy, but it doesn't need to be since these tricks are easy to follow, so no real complaints here.
With his friendly and low-key style with a strong English accent, John Carey is what I imagine an older Dynamo might sound like if teaching card tricks in two or three decades time. The relatively short length (18 minutes) makes it obvious that he is a no nonsense guy that doesn't waste time talking about non-essentials, but gets right down to business in teaching the meat-and-potatoes of each effect. He has a very straight-forward and direct style, and almost an understated presentation, which really emphasizes the magic. He's not one of those larger-than-life personas where the performer's character gets in the way of the magic, but all the focus is on what is going on, and there's no time wasted with unnecessary frills. He's very clear and easy to follow, and it makes for easy viewing and learning.
The explanation just has John going through the routine slowly, and explaining the method carefully, as well as the patter. Some might consider his style somewhat dry, but he does throw in some good one-liners you can use, and it's not difficult to expand on the presentation by incorporating your own style. One thing I really appreciated is that John Carey is very good at crediting his sources and influences, making frequent references to the routines and moves that he's using or that have inspired his work. I also like the small touches he mentions which have application to other tricks. For example, in On The Up Up Up he demonstrates a nice way to show four cards, and at the end to reveal three cards one at a time, in a very aesthetically pleasing way; both of these moves can be used in many other routines as well.
None of these routines involves difficult sleights, and that is why the explanations for all of them are relatively straight forward. John Carey has been well described as having a "work smarter not harder" mindset in creating magic, which means that his effects rely on clever methods, plots, and presentation, rather than difficult finger-busting moves. In most cases, his effects are extremely accessible, and you'll be able to perform them after just a small amount of practice. For intermediate magicians, any sleights he does use are not difficult, and will likely be ones you already know. At times he does mention some sleights, and in most cases he runs through them quickly, but even if you aren't familiar with them they are fairly easy to learn.
Of the three, the "On the Up Up Up" effect requires the most sleights, although these should all be within the abilities of the intermediate magician. "Crist Cross Searchers" is technically easier but relies more on psychological subtleties. "Think and Sync" is perhaps the easiest of the lot, although the patter does need to be carefully mastered to deal with several eventualities, so that it can be performed smoothly. While beyond the ability of most beginners, these tricks should be able to be learned and mastered by most intermediate level magicians without too much difficulty.
The John Carey Collection 2 is a great companion to the first collection, and together they have cemented my respect for John Carey's magic, and made him a name to look out for. While the effects he teaches have plots and ideas that aren't new, their strength is that John Carey has reduced these effects to their essentials, simplified and refined them, so that they are easy to learn and can be performed in a way that avoids knuckle-busting sleights. And despite the simplifications, the effects still pack a real punch, and there's still some strong material. Note that all of these effects, plus the three in the first John Carey collection, were later published in his book Crafted With Carey (2015).
John deserves much credit for his well-deserved reputation, and these three routines are fine examples of his skill. Even if you won't find yourself using all three effects here, there's bound to be one here that you'll like. Much can be learned from the way he eliminates excess fat, and trims routines to what is really important, and yet straight-forward to perform - that's a skill most of us would do well to learn. And the moves that he teaches are very versatile and have wonderful application outside of these routines, and that alone makes this worth a look. At just $10 for three effects, it's hard to go wrong with this John Carey Collection!.
- BoardGameGeek reviewer EndersGame