Last week I did two virtual open mics, I did Tricks of the Trade on Tuesday and The Mostly Magicians Virtual Open Mic on Wednesday. I’m trying to hash out my torn and restored postcard. It’s been hit and miss and I’m trying to figure out why. Here’s a compilation video of the two tear and restore sequences from both shows back to back:
In the first clip I’m going a little bit faster than in the second clip. In both clips I’m in a hurry to ditch the pieces. At the Mostly Magicians open mic that was a piece of feedback I got was that the ditch that time was obvious. That’s great feedback! There’s no reason that I can’t hold out the pieces longer. In fact I can hold them out the whole time, either palming them or holding them behind the postcard.
I also still think it lacks a “tah dah” moment. I think by that I mean a magic moment. I think the unfolding of the card visually isn’t very triumphant. When I was a teenager I put together a jumbo torn and restored playing card for a friends act. The tearing sequence was JC Wangner’s, but the restoration was something I thought of. The four pieces just popped open quickly into a restored card. I had forgotten about that flash restoration until now. I’ll have to give it a try!
Recently I started doing a torn and restored card with a postcard. When I started doing it I was using a old promo postcard that had my picture on it. Right now I’m using the idea of a “staycation” for the theme of the trick, so I had my daughter make me a postcard to use for the trick.
One of the things about this postcard that I learned from watching video of the old promo postcard is that the glossy coating makes it hard to see, it’s just a lot of glare. The current batch of postcards have a matte finish, that solves the glare problem.
The thing with creating tricks is that it’s fixing a lot of small problems really adds up to make the bigger picture better!
Way back in the pre-pandemic days when I had a new Idea I would go to an open mic and try it out. I’m not a huge fan of trying something out at a virtual open mic, as it’s hard to get the overall feeling if the idea is good. In front of a live audience you can get a vibe that there’s something there, even if the trick flops. It’s hard to get that from a virtual show.
A couple days ago I did the Boston Magic Lab to try out the Torn and Restored Postcard I’ve been working on. Here’s the tear and restore sequence:
After rewatching the video, there’s a lot that it needs. One thing it needs a magic moment for the restoration. Something like hitting it with a lighter, but not that as I don’t do fire. Another thing is needs is a good way to ditch the torn postcard.
The nice thing is that I can probably fix both of those. If I reach into my case to grab a lighter, I can ditch the torn postcard. Now that motivates the ditch and gives me the magic moment. I’ll need to find something other than fire.
A possibly solution is using Bizzaro’s Non-Toxic trick which is a vanish of glue. I pour the glue into the folded post card to “fix it”, open it and show the glue is gone and the post card restored. I’m not sure how I feel about mixing two effects at the same time, the vanish of glue and restoration of the card will happen at the same time.
I’ll need to play with it more. I think there’s something there…
I love it when I’m working on something and things happen quickly. The connections between problems and solutions are quickly found. What started not too long ago with me and a couple of friends ripping up playing cards, quickly became a solid method. Then in my quest to make it play a little bit bigger, I think I hit on something to make it bigger, but also a presentation hook!
I was looking for some of the Phoenix Parlour Cards that I have around here somewhere, and a stack of postcards I send out as “thank you cards” caught my eye. I took one and gimmicked it for the torn and restored card, and it worked!
The cool thing about using postcards is that they are bigger than the Phoenix Parlour Cards, and they are really easy to gimmick (much easier than playing cards). Also if this is something that I’ll be doing in the show, they are cheap and easy to get.
This brings me to something that my friend Robert Baxt always tells me, which is, “can you do it with anything other than playing cards?“. He’s right. I’m a card guy in my heart, but he’s 100% correct, it’s almost always better with something other than playing cards. Also by moving things away from playing cards, you free up a slot in your show to use playing cards. I know freeing up a space for a card trick is not Robert’s intention, but is also means one less space for a card trick!
The last couple of days I’ve written about the torn and restored card that I’m working on. Now that I have the technical end pretty much worked out, the next step is figuring out how to make it work in a show. Right now with virtual shows, it’s easy because I can hold it close to the camera. Once “socially distant” shows are more common, I’ll need to make it bigger than just a playing card.
The original version that Harry Anderson did used a card that was bigger than a jumbo card. Yesterday I made a gimmicked card using a jumbo deck and while it’s visible, the way the current jumbo cards are made, they are too hard to make to be practical for use in every show. That got me thinking about the Phoenix Parlour Decks. These are between a standard deck and a jumbo deck. Being slightly better is a huge advantage for visibility.
While I’d love to be able to do the gimmicked cards in jumbo size, the availability of the old stock jumbo bicycle cards makes this something that would have a limited life. Ideally when I create, whatever I use will still be in production, so I can at least stock up on them.
Over the weekend I met up with a couple of other magicians and we were jamming and talking about some interesting torn card ideas. Then an idea for a torn and restored card hit me. The particular method allows the card to be signed on the front and back and the signature to be seen while it’s being torn.
This is an interesting development for a torn and restored card. It’s built on a torn and card that’s 35+ years old that Harry Anderson did on the Johnny Carson show. The main difference is Harry’s method only allowed the card to be signed on the face, where the method I’m playing with allows the card to be signed on both sides and the gimmick is a bit more self contained than Harry’s was, but mine is also a bigger pain in the butt to make.
One of the keys to creativity is having base knowledge to pull from. Being well read in magic, or well watched in a more modern context of magic videos is very helpful. I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel to take Harry’s method a step forward. I always tell people that the hard part is designing a card that goes from zero to sixty miles per hour (what Harry did), the easy part is getting that car to go from sixty to one hundred miles per hour (what I did). Learn all you can, even tricks and/or methods you don’t think you’ll ever use. It gives you more knowledge to pull from when trying to solve problems.