From the Copperfield Perspective…….

Nick and DavidEvery civilian eventually asks a magician what he thinks about David Copperfield. Somewhere down the line they throw in the question, “How did he manage to vanish the Statue of Liberty? Then they wait for an answer. Yeh, right!

When they don’t get a response they begin to quiz you on which of his tricks you like the best. They always go through the list of ‘big’ tricks; the Lear Jet, walking through the great wall of China etc. etc. Eventually they ask you how he stayed inside that block of ice for so long!

I always ask them which one they liked the best and when they respond I smile excitedly and say, “Me too!” Well they are civilians after all and it wouldn’t mean much to them if I said, “I really liked the time he did ring flight and pretended to borrow the gaffed key case!

Truly that was a remarkable moment for me and when I first realized, “Whoa! This guy is big time.” I thought it was a piece of television magic that was nothing short of brilliant in its simplicity and effectiveness.

I cant really make it sound much more complicated than it was. He went into the audience and asked to borrow a key case that he put in his back pocket. He then went to another spectator and borrowed a ring. Next before you could say ‘Wam-bam-thank-you-mam!” the ring vanished and was hanging on the key chain when he removed it from his back pocket. He returned the key case and the ring to the people he borrowed them from. That was it: end of story!

It showed an understanding of the medium that really impressed me.

Not just the bold and sneaky approach he used in achieving his goal but the understanding of television’s strengths and weakness that lay behind it. To me much of David Copperfieldthe television magic that has been seen recently with Blaine and Angel have their roots in David’s breakthrough thinking.

I have always been a little dubious of the frequently quoted statement by Ted Anneman that it is quite acceptable to use an entire room full of confederates to fool one person. I mean, I agree in theory, but it just seems a little lacking in the time and energy department. To use one stooge to fool millions of viewers now that really gets my attention.

I enjoyed the way these kind of moments added to the texture and dynamics of Copperfield’s specials. David seemed to understand how to use the camera as a magnifying glass to achieve a specific goal. If a camera zooms in on a ring then its image fills the entire screen and appears to be enormous. In fact a ring can appear as big as the Statue of Liberty on TV and still not seem unnatural.

When the home audience view that Lear Jet on their TV set they understand that it is being reduced to home viewing size. However they don’t fully grasp the possibilities that the digitalization of the jet allow the performer to employ. In fact they usually fail to understand how fully the work of a magician can be assisted by the simple fact that if the ‘medium is the message’ then television is magic. It isn’t the same thing sitting in a movie theater because once again your perspective has changed.

Theater is Life, Movies are Art and Television is furniture! You feel very comfortable and unsuspecting when you are watching a trick on a box that lives in your living room with you!

So I just clam up when a civilian asks me which of David’s big tricks I like best. However since this is written for magicians I will be honest. It was when he borrowed the gaffed key case and did Ring Flight. That was when something really clicked in my mind.

~ by Nick Lewin on June 11, 2013.

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