Just returned from the U.K. Session which is now held in Cheltenham. (From my hotel window I could see the doughnut shaped spy headquarters of GCHQ, the British equivalent to NSA.)
The annual Session gathering is organized by Andi Gladwin and Joshua Jay from Vanishing Inc.
I remember seeing Josh , the wunderkind, giving a magic lecture many years ago in the basement of Bill Walshs pub in Wentworthville, which was a rather dodgy inner suburb of Sydney, Australia. (So dodgy that one day Bill, himself, was knifed by a crazed assailant , but fortunately survived the attack. Bill, by the way, did the stage version of the Jumbo Sidekick where you shoot the flower, the table and finally the pip off the jumbo card. In Bills hand this expensive item always seemed to go wrong the mechanism stuffed up - which made the trick even funnier.)
At the time, I thought what the hell was this yankee kid messing around with the Jennings revelation?
Well, Josh has come a long way since then. He and Andi always put on a great convention and attract a strong line-up.
This weekend, I was impressed by Bill Abbott, a Canadian magician. He gave a very professional 'Pack Smart , Play Anywhere lecture, tightly organized, but very entertaining. In terms of comic performance, audience management and spectator inclusion, he was right on the ball.
His 5 Card Opener, cleverly gimmicked, gave new life to the 5 Card repeat routine.
He mystified me with his cure for the common cold. Where did those tic-tacs really go? His smart-ass deck proved useful in sticky situations, enabling him to successfully predict a randomly selected card.
In the cabaret show, Bill demonstrated his mind reading derriere.
I liked Joshs routine with a matchbox that holds a paper-clipped, folded & partly burned card. This card turns out to be the spectators mental selection.
It reminded me of the David Regal equivoque routine for the disposable deck. Except the elimination procedure , similar to Elsdons method in On the Mark, moved faster.
To my surprise, Josh did not rely on dual index cards.
A young Englishman Chris Rawlins demonstrated Reveal, a drawing duplication technique using an innocent looking clipboard.
No electronics; no concealed impression device.
Luca Volpe has a similar but less sophisticated approach on his In My Mind dvd.
For Volpes version I bought the necessary gimmicks in Staples for a coupla quid. Rawlins method is more angle proof ; the clipboard is safer to handle and may well throw spectators off the scent, but costs 40.
Volpes dvd is worth downloading in its own right and you can certainly fool people with this drawing duplication. However, the method is so outrageous that you really have to control and ,somehow, inhibit your guilt feelings.
Then again, if you can play the part of a sociopathic mentalist who has no qualms about conning people, then the Volpe method may suffice.
The Session is a great venue for move monkeys.
The French magician Yoann Fontyn showed us his delicate card moves and the reasoning behind them.
Alex Pandrea from Blue Crown also dazzled us with his card handling skills.
I enjoyed the Buck twins presentation. (We were able to tell them apart because one has short hair and a moustache and the other has longer hair and a beard. I assume they do this to avoid potential lawsuits from ex-girlfriends.)
The Bucks showed us two versions of the Le Paul Spread; an upside down in-the-hands riffle shuffle; a revolving packet overhand shuffle; an extended dribble flourish; Michael Viles Under Pressure; another strange fan spread using the close-up pad rather than the thumb; the uzumacki move; and various stunts such as throwing a card precisely into a sprung deck.
I wonder if they will ever have time to raise children?
It was curious to be in a room full of slurping, dribbling, and cascading card freaks.
Simon Aronson and his wife Ginny performed their legendary mind reading duet.
I liked the part when two cards are freely selected from a shuffled deck, only to discover that these cards have been mysteriously predicted well in advance on a painting. The climax was ,of course, deciphering objects presented by the audience. It was great to experience the classic interaction between the blindfolded medium and the mediums assistant.
The next day, Aronson showed us two strong card tricks : Side Swiped. And an impossible transposition effect which incorporated the Osborn/Marlo Unlimited Move.
I was chuffed that Aronson, influenced by the Chicago school, made use of a control developed by Steve Bedwell, an English chap.
I wasnt so sure about the comedy magic session. Even the best comedians come unstuck when they try to analyse humour.
This comedic curse fell upon Rune who didnt have much to say. And what little he did say was skillfully rebutted by John Archer.
The blank night money swindle, the trick that fooled Pen & Teller, was immaculately performed. Even if you knew Archers method, the envelope moves were clean and withstood scrutiny.
I skipped the Luke Jermay sections only because Ive seen Luke lecture and perform on many occasions. No offence intended, as I like his work.
The Sankey keynote lecturenow what the hell was that about?
Jay was promoting a new website. He showed us a mixed bag of video clips.
His MANCING clip was embarrassingly unfunny.
Out in public, he faked dying with his funken ring and faked use of an iphone.
Maybe Bowie needs to modify his lyric to Heroes: we can be Jeremy Beadle just for one day
I wasnt sure what Sankey was getting at. Are we supposed to be impromptu jack-asses experimenting in public? Can someone who attended the lecture enlighten me?
In one breath Sankey put down message art, then contradicted himself by praising Banksy (surely one of the great message artists of our time!)
I feel Sankey should have played safe and profiled his amazing new trilogy of books , the Definitive Sankey, which have been compiled by Josh & Andi. He could have selected three or four classic or overlooked items.
And still have time to provoke and preach.
Instead, he performed a lame trick with his business card.
I think this was a squandered opportunity.
The final Sunday evening show: I dont really get Piff the magic dragon, although it seems to be a popular act. I think Piff or Put might eventually regret this strait jacket of success. Piff needs to throw away the costume and ditch the dog. And then develop his persona as a jaded grumpy magic performer. Then again, what would I know?
Archer as compere was brilliant. He almost stole the show with his put downs.
During pauses and interruptions, he roasted the organisers and poor Tom Crosbie, the memory man in the front row, with various cutting comments.
And then that genius Rune Klan came on. He may have been outwitted by Archer in the earlier session, but his stage performance was phenomenally funny.
He did a bizarre book test the Bible and the Koran profusely apologising for implying that one book was superior to the other.
He performed a crazy routine with spoons, forks and knives switching places in his hands and pockets.
He pulled off a tossed out deck joke, then messed up a mind reading trick, getting the wrong card, but it didnt matter much as failure is often more hilarious than success.
A TV producer should sign Rune up for guest appearances on English TV.
We are Dane crazy with shows like The Killing and Borgen.
Imagine Rune doing a routine with actress Sofie Grobel on the Jonathan Ross show! Prime material!
Instead, we have to put up with Derren Brown scraping the barrel with zombie apocalypse