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Topic: Draven Reviews: Totally Whacked by Steve Mayhew
Message: Posted by: William Draven (Nov 17, 2014 01:07AM)
Title: Totally Whacked
Artist: Steve Mayhew
Producers: The Magic Bakery
Retail Price: $35.00 USD
Learning Difficulty: Medium
Length of DVD: 1 hour 20 minutes
Notes: None

• Play All
• Scene Selection
• Bonus Features

Fresh from the Magic Bakery, whose website doesn’t work for some reason, comes an evening of card magic with master pasteboard manipulator Steve Mayhew. You’ll get to sit back and enjoy the comedy card magic of one of Seattle’s finest card magicians before you get to go behind the curtain and see how he does it first hand for yourself.

From a spectators point of view I’m sure Mayhew’s performance is unfathomable. His card chops are among the finest I’ve ever seen and even as a magician who knows how he’s doing it even then I still can’t catch him. However from the point of view as an entertainer I find myself rolling my eyes within the first five minutes.

Mayhew is good. He knows how to work the audience and keep the flow of energy in the room light hearted and jovial. I just roll my eyes at the number of hit on jokes he uses and how repetitious his card magic can get. Take the Conus Aces for an example. This is a brilliant routine in which four aces are given to a spectator to hold onto only to have them stripped away by the magician sight unseen. Mayhew does this over and over again, each time under seemingly more impossible of conditions but, and again maybe this is just the magic snob in me, I find myself asking “why do I even care anymore?” The first time you take the aces is unexpected. The second time is amazing. The third time is a challenge, and beyond that it’s just magical !@#$%^&*()_+ done for the reason that it makes the performer feel good. The audience has checked out by now because 1) we already know you’re good with cards. If that wasn’t painfully clear by the first twenty minutes of your performance then we’re either blind or stupid. And 2) we know how this ends. You’re going to have the cards. We may THINK we’re going to hold onto the aces but we really know, because we’ve seen this pattern set up three times already, that we’re not going to have them when we turn them over. Yes I know I what I just implied about Steve Mayhew’s performance skills so go grab your pitch forks and your torches. I’ll meet you in the town square at midnight.

Three by Three: This is a three card selection routine in which three cards are selected, and revealed, and has a kicker ending of the entire deck vanishing from your hand save for the last selected card.

Trust Me: A fun little multi phase comedy bill switch routine. This bit has a lot of good laugh points built into it and you can really milk an audience for quite a while playing off the byplay they give you. In this bit a single dollar bank note is produced from flash paper, then turned into a five dollar bill. Then a twenty dollar bill is borrowed from a different spectator, and under the pretense of turning it into a hundred you actually turn into a single dollar bill. The joke is that everyone knows you just made 19$ bucks off the spectator. In order to make it up to the spectator who just lost nineteen dollars you produce a pocket full of twenty dollar bank notes, and then change them into a pile of single dollar bills. You borrow back the five dollars from the first spectator and turn it into a twenty dollar bill to give back to the spectator whom you took the twenty from a moment ago. You decide that you need to pick a volunteer to help you with your next bit so you crumple up four single dollar bills and the one twenty dollar bill, and throw them all into the audience. Whoever gets the twenty comes onto stage, whoever gets a single can just keep it as a memory of the night. Of course no one comes on stage. The only thing more awkward than this segue into your next bit is the number of times Steve has to hug the beautiful female participant seated at his table. The first three times were funny… the rest just got excessive. This of course feeds into my eye rolling at all his use of “hit on” lines throughout the course of his act. It’s like dude… you’re walking the border line between being funny and creepy. Stop it.

Freedom: is Steve’s poker deal routine. As far as I’m concerned, and I agree with the ad copy on the back of the DVD, this has got to be the ultimate in false dealing demonstrations. You are able to skillfully display the ability to deal cards from any position in the deck. If your audience isn’t absolutely convinced that you’re a god with cards before you start this routine then they will be by the time you’re done.

James Brown Aces: There is nothing here but just an excuse to tell a bad joke about finding four aces in the manor of “James Brown” which apparently requires you to shout very loudly in falsetto and say that you “feel good” a lot. Other than that this routine is nothing but a classic four ace assembly plot.

None of the moves taught in the DVD are too hard that you can’t master them with a little practice. In fact most of the moves are things that anyone who has been studying card magic for a little while should be fairly familiar with. I personally loved the comedy beats in the Trust Me bill routine, and for close up I think it’s brilliant as a magic routine. The ending leaves a little something to be desired though, since I hate ending on such awkward anti-climatic moments but I think this is something that could be easily solved with a little personal finesse and time spent scripting.

The bonus features has an interview with Steve which is recorded in classic interview style. That is that he was obviously asked a question off camera and they’re only recording his replies. So since he rarely restates the question before he answers it you’re frequently left trying to figure out what he was asked while he’s talking. In the interview you get to know a little more about whom Steve is, where he came from, who influenced him, and what not. It just feels like a fairly standard interview. I just really wish they would have put the interviewer on camera too so it would be easier to follow along with the conversation.

The material in Steve’s DVD Totally Whacked was enjoyable. I think the magic in this DVD is certainly something worthy of a structured close up act to be done at a table, maybe not so much for out of pockets atmosphere commonly associated with street magic. I think there is certainly something in this DVD for everyone, so it’s worth checking out.

When I give my product scores below I am measuring them on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 Being absolute the worst score possible, and 10 being the absolute best, making a score of five average. The four points that I grade upon is Product Quality, Teaching Quality, Sound & Video Quality and Overall Quality.

Product Quality: 6
The magic is good. I think the price is fair for the DVD.

Teaching Quality: 6
I found Steve to be dry at times, but he does a good job teaching the moves.

Video & Sound Quality: 6
The sound is good, the back ground music was enjoyable, and the cheesy early 90’s 3D animated video segments belong back in the 90’s where they came from.

Overall Quality: 6
Overall I wasn’t blown away by this DVD. There was nothing that stood out to me as being something that I MUST have or MUST recommend to others, yet still Steve’s a master of his craft, and the opportunity to learn some of his routines is money well spent. You can’t go wrong with owning this DVD.

Have a product you want reviewed? Want to see if it will stand up to the Draven Seal of Approval? Contact me directly at draven@williamdraven.com to find out how your product could be on the next Draven Reviews!
Message: Posted by: TonySagittarius (Nov 17, 2014 01:44PM)
Hi Mr. Draven,

I love your reviews! Please keep them coming.

I just want to mention that the effect description you give of 'Conus Aces' from Mayhew's DVD isn't the classic Conus Aces effect. The classic effect is a sucker trick where the spectator thinks the magician is cheating and NOT giving him the aces - rather than the other way around, as you describe above, where the magician gives the spectator the aces, then keeps magically getting them.

I'm guessing either it's mis-named on the DVD, or Mayhew doesn't make it clear what is going on.

I only mention this because I love the effect - Bruce Cervon and Michael Vincent have great versions.

Anyway, keep up the great work and thanks so much for the thoughtful reviews!