Gut gesagt / Words of Wisdom (12): Topas

Zauberhändler haben immer auch etwas von käuflicher Liebe: Die Ware ist wunderbar, aber die Motivation des Verkäufers ist klar.”

Magic dealers always carry an air of negotiable affection: The displayed goods are wonderful, but the seller’s intention is obvious.”

zitiert aus / quoted from Aladin 04/2016, S. 59.




Vielfältiges Sammlerglück

“Sammler sind glückliche Menschen”, soll Goethe ja einmal gesagt haben. Aber stimmt das denn wirklich? Sind wir nicht eigentlich die meiste Zeit über unglücklich, gehetzt, frustriert, weil wir bestimmte Sammlerstücke einfach nicht finden, uns nicht leisten können oder sie uns der verdammte @$%&§! wieder einmal vor der Nase weggeschnappt hat?!

Nach einigem Nachdenken bin ich zu der Überzeugung gekommen, dass wir zwar nicht automatisch glücklich sind, nur weil wir sammeln, aber dass uns das Sammeln doch regelmäßig verschiedenste Glücksmomente beschert. Hier sind sie!

Die acht Glücksmomente des Sammlers

  1. Entdecken: Du findest ein neues oder auch ein schon lange begehrtes Objekt, zum Beispiel auf einem Zauberflohmarkt oder auf einer Auktionsplattform.
  2. Erwerben: Du erwirbst das Objekt der Begierde bzw. erhältst den Zuschlag dafür.
    3 – 2 – 1 – deins!
  3. Erhalten: Du bekommst dein neues Schätzchen überreicht oder per Post zugestellt. Es ist jedes Mal ein bisschen wie Weihnachten.
  4. Einsortieren: Du reihst das neue Objekt stolz in deine Sammlung ein.
  5. Komplettieren: Besonders schön: Du komplettierst mit diesem Stück deine Sammlung oder zumindest eine bestimmte Serie!
  6. Besitzen: Du erfreust dich beim Betrachten an deinem neuen Besitz. Meins, meins, meins!
  7. Spielen: Du nimmst das edle Becherspiel oder den alten Tenyo-Trick aus dem Zauberschrank und spielst liebevoll damit herum.
  8. Zeigen, Tauschen, Fachsimpeln: Du tauschst dich unter Gleichgesinnten aus, zum Beispiel auf einem Sammlertreffen.

Könnt Ihr noch weitere Glücksmomente entdecken? Dann lasst es mich gerne wissen!

Fleck Jaks
Glückliche Menschen unter ihresgleichen: Andreas Fleckenstein und…
…Reinhard Müller bei ihren Vorträgen jüngst beim Sammlertreffen 2019.


Well said, Mr. Lamont!

Magic is not about fooling the audience. Magic depends on successful deception, but that is the means, not the end. Of course, the audience should not know how it is done, but this is a basic requirement, not the goal. The goal is not to provoke the experience of not knowing how it is done. The goal is not the experience of ignorance; it is the experience of magic. The audience are not the enemy; they are the people for whom we provide this experience. The goal of the magician is to create the effect that something happens that cannot happen. This is a paradox. It is a source of wonder. This is a profound and worthy goal.

Peter Lamont on “What is magic?”


Potatoes are funny – but why?

There are a lot of books on comedy out there. How to write it; how to stage it; how to perform it. Despite all the rules, it is incredibly hard to do it right. And that is partly because it is so damn hard to define what is funny – and what isn’t.

Let’s narrow the big question down a bit for magic. What makes some props funnier than others? Not for laughing out loud, but for a chuckle or a smile, or to get people interested, because uncommon objects are intriguing and quite often cute.

If I recall correctly from the „Revelations“ tapes, Dai Vernon was fond of saying that a lemon or a potato were a great final load for the Cups & Balls because they were, somehow, inherently funny. A banana is also funny. An apple isn’t. A pear isn’t. A strawberry isn’t. An orange – maybe. A cucumber can be funny once you use it as a magic wand. (That’s my view, not Vernon’s.)

I don’t have a theory to offer either, but I feel that for many objects it has to do with their Gestalt: their size, color and form and the extent to which these deviate from their more common brothers and sisters. Plus, the context in which they are used, appropriately or inappropriately. Some examples will follow.

Matches are tiny, thin and easy to break. A massive wooden match of 15‘‘ length or more, however, is none of that – and it’s funny.

Handcuffs are made of metal, in grey or silver, cold and unappealing. But there are fancy, playful handcuffs around in carnival and novelty stores that are soft and furry, in a bright pink color. Taking them from your pocket or „discovering“ them accidentally somewhere else is funny.

If you announce that you will bring out your time-worn, valuable magic wand and then present a giant pool noodle, a pencil stump or a wooden spoon from your kitchen, that is funny (at least to children).

You get the idea. Now let me invite you to start a tour around your house. Try to discover as many un-ordinary objects as possible. Maybe in the kitchen. In your bathroom. In a closet. In your den. In the shed.

Go hunting now!

Found some contrasting stuff? Good!

Next step. Consider this:

How could you use these objects in a magic context, be it within a routine you are already doing or as a novelty?

Imagine a group of debonaire magicians in tails on stage, with white gloves and top hats in hand, but all wearing these zany zebra gumboots: Funny!


We blinded them with science

Recent years have seen a surge in scientific research around the hidden forces of deception. Names like Kuhn, Wiseman, Fraps, Martinez-Conde and Machnik come to mind. Soon, another book by Dr. Kuhn will appear on our bookshelf:


Read more about it here.

BTW, the next Science of Magic Conference will be held in Chicago in July, more details to be found here.




Simply amazing: My birthday’s coming up, and this book is coming out! Finally, after years and years and decades of waiting: 600 pages of pure insight and wisdom (I guess), by magic’s biggest treasure alive and our most beloved Maestro, Mr. Juan Tamariz.

Screw those flying unicorns; I want THIS rainbow!


Update: Got mine! About 100 pages in, and I find myself nodding and nodding again… Transcendental lucidity!


The Horst Vegas Magic Chalk Talk (7): Going Great

Speaking of Pros: Horst Vegas, self-proclaimed Senior Boy Wonder of Magic and an unfailing Lota Bowl of Wizzdom, shares another of his tinny-tiny Golden Showbiz Rules & Recommendations:

There are a million details that separate the great performer from the average one, but these are the most obvious ones to me: full technical, psychological and theatrical mastery of the trick, stage movement, efficient routining, showmanship, and audience command on the one side; haste, overproving, lack of drama and lack of personality on the other.

Addendum: There is a good discussion on this matter over at the Genii Forum!


Words of Wisdom (9): Billy McComb

The best advice is usually found in the books written by experienced pros, when they have decided to share their pet tricks, bits and routines after decades of performing and polishing them. One such book in my possession is McComb’s Magic: 25 Years Wiser, written by Billy McComb himself and published by Supreme Magic.

Sure, some of those routines are obviously outdated by now, the markets for a “Magic Fishing Act” or “The Clay Pipe” having disappeared. Other fine tricks and bits of business have stood the test of time or are awaiting resurrection. In addition, there is a lot of advice, wit and anecdotal material to be found in these 184 pages. Here are some excerpts:

If you wanted to be an earth-shattering Mentalist, I think you could do worse than become an expert thumb-writer.

With any luck, you will never ever work a night-club . . . Try and keep it that way. You’ll be the saner for it.

This is one of those things which magicians who are new to magic cannot understand. After half-a-lifetime of doing a trick, it gets to be polished smooth and easy for the performer. There may well be better methods of doing it but the way you are used to is often the very best because your brain and muscles have become co-ordinated over the years. You can relax, know it’s going to happen because it has happened many times before. And, best of all, you can give all your time to the presentation and showmanship.

It was the scene of the prize presentation after the Magic Competition. The winner had done fantastic things with flicking and catching cards; the billiard balls had rolled all over his hands; his dexterity was most impressive. The principal judge handed him the cup … and he promptly dropped it!!!

Carl Hertz was rumoured to have a bird-cage pull so strong that it once pulled him up his own sleeve after the cage.

True story! There was a well-known dealer who, when asked for “Invisible Thread” would gravely open an envelope, wind off several lengths of nothing and place it in an envelope and hand it to you with a laconic – “That will be one and sixpence, please”. I’ve often wondered how many people fell for it.

We’re a funny, inconsistent lot, magicians, tho’ as friends, I’d never swop them.

Other McComb books:

  • The Professional Touch, available from Lybrary
  • McCombical: The Wit and Wisdom of Billy McComb, available from Magic, Inc.

A Word on Carney

John Carney is a modern Hofzinser.

He is a consummate sleight-of-hand artist.

He studied with Dai Vernon, learned from Faucett Ross, Derek Dingle and Michael Skinner.

He is funny, see his Mr. Mysto persona, and he can act – two qualities not inherent to most of us mortal majishuns.

And he is a bit overweight and obviously incapable of changing that (or simply doesn’t care). Either way, this earns him some extra cookies from my tray!

He is also an author, lecturer, creator and teacher of fine magic, as his two sought after books, Carneycopia (1991) and The Book of Secrets: Lessons for Progressive Conjuring (2004), ably demonstrate.

I consider “Secret Philosophy”, his opening chapter from Carneycopia, required reading. By diligently studying this plus his tricks and also his booklet Magic by Design: Study, Practice and Presentation (2009) you will become a better magician. Unfortunately, the latter work is out of print, but you may find other useful material of John Carney on his website here. He also has announced a new book for 2016.

Establishing Meta Magic (2)

There is another form of meta magic that comes to mind, and it is more about discrepancies which are not always spotted easily:

  • Magic tricks on television that are achieved rather by TV tricks than by magic methods
  • When forum threads about magic books are sooo much better than the books themselves
  • Genii editor Richard Kaufman telling you in the digital video supplement of the magazine what you will find in the very same issue that you are already reading
  • When the performance and the explanation are essentially and inadvertently one and the same video on YouBurp
  • Magicians performing a bad trick badly and then telling you why it’s a good trick and how successful they are with it (not as uncommon as you might think, you inveterate optimist!)
  • Along similar lines: When, according to their own reviews, performer, critic and audience have obviously attended very different shows simultaneously.