Mark Wilson, Billy McComb and the Note in Lemon.

Nick,Dad,Billy_2Last week I had the great pleasure of spending some time in Mark Wilson’s offices/warehouse in Valencia. I recorded the first half of an interview that will eventually appear as a two-part feature article in Vanish magazine. I had a great time peeping at the historic items that the 5000 square foot facility houses and I heard some great stories from Mark and Nani about their magical life together.

I got to share a story with Mark that he wasn’t familiar with, and I want to use it as part of this blog post. I was reminded of the events that inspired the story when I saw framed artwork from the first edition of ‘Mark Wilson’s Course in Magic’ on the wall. The other element in the story is my dear friend, hero and mentor Billy McComb.

McComb was our houseguest in Los Angeles and much midnight oil was burned, on a nightly basis, while Billy and I discussed magic and magicians. In late night conversations Billy and I had often discussed the ‘Note in Lemon,’ an effect that I loved and he felt was corny and not quite strong enough. I stuck to my guns and told Billy that before he totally disregarded the effect, he should at least perform it a few times. It was a very integral element in my show, and still is, and I felt strongly about it.

Billy returned from the Magic Castle one night with an early copy of ‘The Mark Wilson Course in Magic,’ He brewed a big pot of coffee, filled his pipe with Old Bruno Ready Rubbed Shag Tobacco, and settled down to read the book in an all night session. I took the opportunity to get an early night, not a usual occurrence when McComb was staying in your spare room!

The next morning (by which I mean early afternoon) when Billy emerged from his room, pipe already lit, he made a stately proclamation, “I’m going to give it a shot.” By the time we had finished our first cup of coffee I got the details behind his dramatic statement. Billy was going to add the Note in Lemon to his show during his next cruise engagement. He was going to perform the routine exactly as Mark detailed it in his book. I was quietly elated, as it wasn’t very often that I was in the position of directing Blilly’s magical path

I looked on this as something of a victory and I was waiting very excitedly to get his reaction, when he returned from his Sitmar Cruise AcornWorkflow-2011.05.15 16.34.16gig ten days later. However when he returned he steadfastly refused to mention anything about the trick. I rather assumed that it had been a bit of a disaster, but waited for him to bring up the topic. No immediate response was forthcoming though.

Eventually I asked Billy how Mark’s routine had worked out for him and if it had been a success. In a slightly aggrieved manner he responded that it had gone very well. In fact as the full story emerged it appeared that it had gone very well and instantly become a major addition to his act. Billy had in fact ben far from pleased to find that it elicited more reaction and comments from passengers than some of the most highly prized original tricks in his repertoire.

It is very easy to overlook the impact of some of the classic effects in magic. There is something emotionally satisfactory about borrowing money from someone, destroying it and then restoring it. This is a simple three-act play in miniature, with a very satisfactory theatrical arc. While over the years I added many surprises and twists to the basic effect, I have never wavered in my belief that this is great piece of magic. Learning to perform it successfully is a lesson in theatre that will add greatly to your skills as a magical entertainer.

’ve been getting some great reactions since the release of my ‘Ultimate Linking Finger Ring Routine’ and would love you to read about them. Check out my web site.

~ by Nick Lewin on January 19, 2013.

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