For me this is magic that hits on almost every level magic can hit on. The technique is superb, the construction and design of the deception bullet-proof, and the performer charismatic and engaging. I'll have some of the reasons I found this helpful after the footage. Here's Eric:
A few personal takeaways (none of these are in any way revolutionary and they are things we've all read or heard about -- but that's the point...this is a specific, concrete example of how the thoughtful, specific, and smart application of "theory" makes for an insanely strong piece of magic):
- The conversational feel and natural unity of word and action -- especially in the initial display:
often, when I see a performer doing a cups and balls or cylinder and coin type routine where he must accomplish manipulation while displaying the props, you get the feeling that he is going through a specific, rehearsed, series of choreographed actions. As Eric displays the props, while he does have to do it in a specific sequence -- it feels like he is just talking to you and showing the prop in a way that emphasizes whatever aspect of it he is talking about, and that seems to have just occurred to him. This is powerful on two different levels: 1. it connects us to Eric as a real human being and makes us feel like tonight's performance is a real happening, he isn't just hitting "play" on the internal tape recorder, 2. on a magic level: it deeply sets the assumption that the trick doesn't start until he picks up the coins...powerful when the climax is already in place
- In the new edition of The Magic Way, Tamariz talks about how a misconception of the Theory of False Solutions is that you have to verbally set-up and cancel the solutions as part of a long(er) presentation. Here is a great example of a performer setting up, and eliminating a series of false solutions through nothing more than gestures. Watching, I -- at least -- get the sense of how a spectator cancels all possible solutions, then grabs onto one that could be viable, sees that it cannot be, then thinks "Ah, f*ck it...there's no way...I'm going to just relax and enjoy it" and climbs onto the magic rainbow. It's a concrete case of how a performer communicates all of this and engages the guest in a line of thinking s/he thinks is her own and thinks the performer is unaware of...and how it can all be done non-verbally....
One of my favorite, specific examples of this is around 1:25, he has vanished the first coin...the wand is in the right hand...he is talking about the cylinder and transfers the wand to the left hand so the right hand can gesture toward it...the right hand stays curved for just a fraction of a second too long, as if maybe -- even though it looked empty earlier -- maybe, somehow he is hiding the coin in his hand...it's not too broad, we don't think he is aware of our suspicion, and then as part of the conversation he gestures towards the cylinder with an empty hand...we were wrong, the damn coin really is gone...but we are completely unaware that Eric was trying to prove anything...and we "realize" that "that's just how he holds his hands" -- which powerfully sets us up for the magic to follow to be utterly inexplicable
- Uniformity of action: every time he picks up that wand, whether something is hiding in it or not, the hand is held in the same natural curvature it needs to be in for the Ramsay subtlety...again, not earth-shattering, but see the impact it has on the overall deception and see how many other YouTube videos of cylinder and coins feature the same discipline
- Clarity: the use of the coaster to create focus and visually isolate the cylinder (I'm assuming this is one of Tim Conover's many touches?) is beautiful
- The vanish of the third coin (1:50ish) is fascinating. It's the sort of thing that walks a tight line in order to be deceptive. If it is too broad -- if we are aware that he thinks we suspect he slipped the coin from one hand to the other to make it penetrate -- then the effect is garbage. If it is too subtle and we aren't aware that he supposedly moved the coin "secretly" then there is no effect. It is a razor edge between impossible vanish and crap. I honestly don't know a lot of performers (I include myself) who could make that register as a compelling magic effect. Mead does.
Obviously, a huge piece of the puzzle is that Eric has done (at least!) 10,000 hours performing for real people.
Bravo to John Ramsay, Tim Conover, and Eric Mead. What would magic be like -- and how would magicians be perceived -- if every piece of magic was thought out and polished to a 10th of the level that this piece has been?