skitched-20120109-112032.jpgTyler Wilson is an intensely creative close-up magician whose latest book Reinventing the Real is being hailed as not only a great book but an important book. At least that’s what his website says. He was asked to give us three of his favorite magic videos…

Your esteemed editor, the entity that is Justin Robert Young, has asked me to lay down three magic videos to recommend. Does he even know me at all? I’m a hardcore book guy, and I would have thought a friend would have known that. If I had a Facebook account, I’d unfriend him the second I was done playing Bejeweled.

Books can tell, but videos show. Let’s use this to our advantage. Here are three videos of inspirational magic performances that simply can’t be captured in print:

Chan Canasta

Chan Canasta is such a wonderful performer to watch. It might be easy to dismiss him upon first viewing. His techniques were basic, his repertoire sparse. But what Chan did have was elephantitus of the testicles. He had massive balls. Here he is on national television, making mistakes. Imagine that for a second: picture yourself going on Conan O’Brien, live in front of the nation, making a mistake. It’s most performers’ worst nightmare. But not Chan’s. The way Chan performed, it was as if he wasn’t doing magic, but doing genuine experiments. So he would take major risks in his work knowing that if something didn’t work, it didn’t reflect on him as a performer. In fact, he was a pioneer of the making-mistakes-to-seem-more-legitimate philosophy that runs rampant in contemporary mentalism. Chan was the original hipster: he made mistakes before it was cool.

Check out all his videos. But as a book guy, I’ll have to recommend David Britland’s treatise on the man, as well.


America’s Best Dance Crew is an American Idol / X-Factor type of talent competition. Dance crews compete against each other every week, vying for the top title and accompanying free vagina. Each week they are given a challenge to incorporate into their dance. What was the challenge for this episode? Magic. These are groups of people who have dedicated their lives to dancing, and now they’ve been given one week to perfect a magic trick. What were the results? Nothing short of inspirational. They became better magicians after one week than most “real” magicians after several decades. The tricks they performed were fairly standard, but it was how they did them. The way they moved, brought the props to life, and made the magic relevant is an important lesson to all of us. The crews were all great, but my favorite was Bluprint Cru (leave a comment with your favorites). They built misdirection, method-cancellers, and a storyline into their performance. They even took something as mundane as getting a member out of the audience, and made it exciting and cool. Sometimes we get so caught up in magic, reading magic, talking magic, and listening to the advice of other magicians, that it’s a genuine treat to see how outsiders would approach the challenge.

If, like me, you never thought you could learn anything from someone who’s been in magic for a week, these dance crews just proved us all wrong.

David Berglas

With so much exemplary material out there for us, David Berglas was very kind to provide a steaming pile of poop from which we can learn a great deal. Thanks David! The effect is a classic: the performer’s pulse stops. One of the plot’s crowning achievements is how crystal clear and direct the effect is.

Well, that’s how it’s normally performed, at least. What David does with it is nothing short of a sensory train wreck. Our attention is first divided. Instead of focusing on one arm, we now have to shift focus between two. Our attention is then divided again. Instead of focusing on the rhythm of one spectator waving her arm, we now have to shift focus between two spectators waving their arms and two musicians attempting to play two different instruments in time with the spectators’ arm waving. It is one of the most confusing setups ever witnessed, and the effect fatally suffers for it. It is one of the clearest illustrations of an effect being killed by improvement. We can all learn a great deal from this video, and take steps to ensure we never make the same mistakes, and I thank David for being such a thorough teacher with this matter.

Now if you’ll excuse me, Justin Robert Young and I need to take our friendship to the next level.