So, I was working on a card trick today.
I know, I know…. wow, Eric does magic tricks!? Could he be geekier?
Yes ladies, yes he could.
The trick I was working on, was a difficult one, and I was getting frustrated…. like ready to abandon it. But then I GOT it. And the reason I got it was that I stopped wanting to fool you, and just tried to make it pretty and entertaining.
When I saw myself get it, I honestly said out loud: “that was pretty”.
So I attacked the challenge from a different angle. And now, today, it’s part of my repertoire. Oh sure, I’ll still fool you with it… but that’s not the point. Not here anyway.
The primary and secondary functions actually swapped here. But the trick is the same. The end result is the same…. you were delighted. You smiled.
I saw Penn and Teller live for the first time about 15 years ago with my friend Steve. We were blown away. After the show we stood in line for autographs, and after I fawned all over them, and got them to sign my deck, Steve walked up and Penn looked confused… he had nothing to sign.
Steve simply said: “I waited in line just to shake your hand, I’ve never been more entertained”
Penn said: “wow”
And that was it. I’ll bet Penn remembers Steve.
Fast forward… years later.
I , while living in Chicago, accidentally run into Teller (the shorter, silent one) in a restaurant. I couldn’t help myself and walked over to say hello. I showed him my very specific “Penn and Teller” tattoos and he asks me to sit down….
It was only for about 15 minutes, as I exited when his meal came, but that time was 15 hours for me. I was trying to be cool, but I’m sure I was gushing. He was very kind.
I did, however, ask him about a certain trick I’d seen him perform… and he was very open about it.
Please watch the link, and then come back to my ramblings once you’ve seen it…
I said, “but the coin/fishbowl thing… it’s just so….. pretty!”
He smiled and said: “I know”
And now I’ll paraphrase:
He said , basically, there are three types of reactions you get from magic tricks.
You get the “how’d you do it, I know how you did it, did you do it this way” group…. they think it’s s puzzle that needs to be solved. (Assholes)
Or the ” oh my god that is fucking nuts. Very cool…. you got me, nice job, this dude knows his shit… awesome” (most people)
Or, a very weird reaction. People who actually see it as art. “That was beautiful ” or “that was moving”…. those are the folks who thank you. (Steve)
This trick addresses all of that. And that’s what P&T do…. they address what you’re thinking. They do the “Cups and Balls” routine with CLEAR PLASTIC CUPS.
Notice in the video the details. The aquarium is empty. The bowl is held by a spectator. He’s wearing short sleeves. He gives her a towel… he cuts you off at the pass.
But he’s also silently entertaining… no words are spoken, but there are laughs, and theater… and you are truly fooled. He winks at you just before you want to bust him.
And it’s pretty… it’s fucking gorgeous. YOU WANT TO SHAKE HIS HAND.
So who are you? Are you one of those folks? A combo? None of the above?
Sure, I can tell you how he does it…. but do you really want to know?
Or is the magic enough?
Or is it pretty enough to discount the magic?
Regardless of your answers here, I do know that each and every one of you wishes they had a fishbowl from Teller with 8 bucks of quarters in it.
It’s so….. magical.
Live from The Slinkstitute