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Inner circle
Bar Harbor, ME
2191 Posts

Profile of drwilson

I am working on the plot for a card effect that has an element of the magician in trouble, and a colorful revelation.

I will be working in front of perhaps four sideshow banners that I have painted (Voltron, Spidora, Card Magic, maybe Fire Eater). The Card Magic banner wil show a magician (Harry Kellar) holding a playing card.

I ask a spectator to pick a card and show it to folks near him. Another shuffles the rest of the deck and receives the picked card to shuffle into the deck. I take the deck, shuffle and cut a couple of times, and with a great air of superiority slowly peel off the top card and show it. It's the wrong card.

So then I ask the spectator to face the crowd and tell everyone real loud what his card was. The ones who saw the card can see that the magician on the banner doesn't have the right card either. The spectator announces his card, we turn to the banner - and Harry Kellar is holding his card!

So I am writing to get a critique of the plot. I will open with a few words about the great Harry Kellar, setting up his legendary skill with cards (OK, he wasn't that much of a card guy maybe, but what do they know) and that many people thought that he accomplished his magic with the aid of the spirits of the departed. The banner will show a spirit whispering in his ear. After all, he did work as an assistant to the Davenport Brothers!

Then we do the pick it and stick it and I attempt to find the card. I have one chance in 52 to hit it, so if I do, I'll stop there. Then we have that magician in trouble moment. I guess if the crowd likes me they will feel bad, the challengers will feel like this guy isn't so hot after all. I'd appreciate anyone's thoughts on how this moment will work.

My thinking now is to not call attention to the card on the banner at this point. I have already gestured at the banner and talked about it, people will see he's holding a card. I think the focus here should be on getting the spectator to face the crowd and shout out the card. I've failed, now he's the star.

Then we look at the banner and there it is.

Let me know what you think, thanks in advance.

You can see some of my banners Here!


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Veteran user
Hamilton, NZ
341 Posts

Profile of ChrisZampese
Don't know if it fits what you want to do, but maybe you could get the crowd to tell the guy what card he has chosen? Get him to face the crowd and try to 'transmit' the thought of his card to the audience. Stand just behind him and point furiously at the card on the banner, get the audience to count to 3 and yell out the guys card.

The audience will be amazed that the card is correct, the spectator will wonder how they knew (at least until he sits down and someone points to the banner) and audiences love the sort of by-play involved with this, (if you have ever seen the 'paper ball over the head' gag then you will know what I mean)
The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are
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Inner circle
Bar Harbor, ME
2191 Posts

Profile of drwilson
Dear Chris,

Thanks, that's really cool. I see the thinking here too. He doesn't show the card to anyone, I miss, maybe someone in the crowd is ready to heckle. I say, "Hey, you think it's easy, you try it. What was his card?"

What do you think of a three-phase routine:

1. I go for it and miss (unless I'm lucky).

2. I give a spectator the deck and tell them to try it. If they hit the card I stop.

3. I ask the crowd to get the card for the big finish.

I like three phases, like monte or the cups and balls, three things.

I should also point out that if I hit the sham card on the banner that's a good moment also.

Thanks again.


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