The Method Effect Shift

The goal then is ro get the audience to ask the wrong question l ening the gap between the method and rhe effect. But how do we do \ approach I have found effective is to are a method associated with ° to achieve a completely different effect.. Rick johnsson d id this in examples I cited. He used a method associated with a coin vanish JT l!''" a coin penetration. levc

On the Convention at the Capitol Live 2000 DVD, Mike C teaches the Impromptu Linking Coat Hangers. Hie secret is that one f"i?' hangers is suspended from an invisible wire attached to the performs 71^ magician holds the other hanger against it ro create the illusion that \ two are linked. This explanation doesn't do the effect justice, but its ,1 enough for our purposes.

At one point, Cavency jokingly suggests that the gaff could be used tt, achieve the 'amazing floating coat hanger" effect. Hie audience's laugh® confirms that this is not a good idea. Hie reason why, however, is wotth analyzing. Since the method is a means of secretly suspending a lunger in midair, using it to create die effect at suspending a hanger in midair is nor very subtle. The audience will wonder, "What's holding that hanger up?" Hie question points to the answer: something attached to the performer. Why! Proximity. He's the closest thing to the hanger.

Hie brilliance of the Impromptu Linking Coat Hangers is that it uses a suspension method to achieve i penetration effect. Hie linking effect puts all the heat on the hangers, which can withstand examination. The floating effect would put all the heat on the performer, who cannot. Hie linking effect changes the frame of reference. When people think, "How did he lint those hangers together?" they're asking the wrong question.

Many years ago I created a simple Hindu fakir-type effect that I call IheFtre Test. The performer concentrates intensely for a few moments. He then p aces a lit match into his left fist. A moment later he opens hisfet to Show the now-extinguished match and no injury to his hand.

My starting point was a standard effect using a standard method. In the original, the performer makes a lit match vanish from his fist. Hie method

; thun.b tip .n the left fist. The lie match goes into rfe ,humb ,ip is J, .continuing action, the up ,s loaded onto the right thumb. ?

rcllera 1uick imPromptU cffiKt-ls n§ as no one in your audience >" ,har a thumb tip is.

'""Tied tl* sane method to create a different effect. Before begitinin* ki a burnt match in the crease between my left fingers and palm. 0£ 1 h ^ handling is identical to the match-vanish trick. 1 use a raett,0d cr"'s&ted with a vanish (the thumb tip) to achieve a switch (of the lit match burnt match) which is perceived by the audience as a demons,ration 'Vulnerability- M thc cnd of the 110 °nc ,vlU ask himself, "Where Xi the match go?" And that, of course, is the only question that could pos-

Uy lead to the right answer.

Another example of keeping the method but shifting the effect can be I nd in Q"'ck Dr"W frI"n Sclms & Fantlsi« with Cards. A spectator elicts a an<1 si8ns k" Hc llimsclf inscm the card inro the deck and jhuifles. I Placc t!,e slulffled deck in my pocket. 1 thetl reach in and instantly pull out thc signed, selected card.

For this effect 1 use methodology usually associated with the card-to-noeket plot. Simply put, 1 palm the selected card and load it into my pocket long before the spectator inserts "his card" (actually a dummy) into the deck and shuffles. Later when I place the shuffled deck in my pocket, it's an easy matter to keep the previously pocketed selection separate from the deck so I can later pull it out.

Ill performed this as a card-to-pocket trick, a perceptive spectator might remember when I had casually put my hand in my pocket and proceed to put two and two together. Presenting it as an Instantaneous, impossible location changes the frame of reference. Instead of asking, "How did the selected card get into his pocket?" thc spectators ask, "How did he find the selected card by sense of touch in a shuffled deck, and In only a split second?" In that context, my having casually put my hand in my pntket earlier seems irrelevant.

In his book Don't Blink, Jim Swain has a beautifully constructed effect called New Wave Prediction. Four spectators select cards from a faceup deck, thereby eliminating the possibility of a force. Hie magician then apparently buries the four cards in the deck (actually retaining them on top). He now palms them off and bads them into a gaffed wallet. When he removes rhe four cards face down from the wallet, he identifies them >spredictions that hc had placed there before rhe performance. For the cli-

max, he reveals rhar his predictions match the selections. (They 0 they're the same cards.) ' to;

The prediction angle is reinforced by the feet that the back d ■ rhe four cards in the wallet differ from those of rhe selections. good example of a conceptual barrier blocking off the true cxpla^ *1 (If you want to learn how Jim achieves this feature you'll have to rJdp' excellent book.)

The point I'm concerned with now, however, is rhat Jim has taken c to-wallet methodology and used it for a prediction effect. This guarani no audience member will even think to ask the one question that could lead to a solution to the mystery: "How did those cards get in his wallet?" Instead, he asks the wrong question: "How did he know what cards We would pick?"

From the standpoint of inspiring creativity, I have found it a very usj. ful exercise to examine standard tricks and ask at various points in the effect, "In what different direction could I go from here?" Try it and you may pleasantly surprise yourself with some of the answers you come up with.

From the standpoint of our present discussion, there is an additional moral. When an effect points directly to its method, we tend to look for a different method. This is fine. However, it's also worth experimenting with keeping the method but changing the effect. Ask yourself what alternative effect you might achieve using the same method—an alternative effect that generates a false frame of reference.

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