Afternoon InquisitionSkepticism

AI: Magic

I just interviewed the dashing magician Andrew Mayne for Point of Inquiry.

Far from doves and magic wands, he specialises in “shock magic” and devises all kinds of multimedia magic. He’s also been a passionate activist in the skeptical community, and the inspiration for Daniel Loxton’s What Do I Do Next? article about activism.

I’ve also interviewed the super cool “Bizarre Magician” Brian Brushwood for an upcoming episode.

Okay, I’m doing lots of magicians at the moment!

Who are your favourite magicians? (okay smartarses…or illusionists, mentalists, etc…)

What are some of your favourite magic tricks?

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  1. Penn & Teller. More specifically: Teller. He’s the real magician. There are points in the show where he just takes your breath away.

  2. Derren Brown. I love his style, and his brain. Like Penn & Teller, he tries to bring an awareness to his audience about what is happening to them, and how he is able to trick them, and he tries to increase skepticism in general, but I think he does it with a lot more compassion and less disdain for people to whom skepticism does not come naturally. Plus, he’s dead sexy.

    I don’t know if I have any favorite tricks. I just love watching a skilled magician perform. I am in awe of the physical and mental abilities involved. I even love juggling. I am also one of the few people I know who doesn’t feel disappointed or let down when I find out how the trick was done. Then I am usually awed at how clever the magician must be, to have found such a simple and ingenious way to fool me.

  3. The Napoleons: a Japanese magicians: Though they are great in magic in usual sense, they are the first magicians in Japan who described how they did it right after performing it and made it in the amusing show. It is a taboo, but they managed by making it into a comedy show. This did teach Japanese the rational description of tricks can be more interesting than illusion alone.

  4. Penn & Teller. Favorite bit is one that has little magic/slight of hand in it: Cuffed to a Creep. I saw it on “Sin City Spectacular” and got to see it live for the first time the week of TAM8. It’s the bit that’s brought me the closest to tears.

  5. Brian Brushwood is by far my favorite magician.

    I don’t know if he is the most skilled, or such.. but he makes the webernets most full of win.

  6. I love a good spectacle, and growing up the king was Copperfield, but I always preferred tootie-fruity rainbow-snorting conjurer Doug Henning.
    Much more colorful and I believe his laid back manner made you overlook just how technically proficient he was.

  7. I see P&T and Amazing Johnathan have already been mentioned. So, I’ll add a vote for Criss Angel. Yes, I know he’s kind of a d-bag, but he’s a really good illusionist.

    And my favorite mentalist is Banachek. He also gets credit for creating P&T’s bullet-catch trick.

  8. I love P&T’s “Blast-Off/Rip-off” bit where they do the trick where you don’t know what’s going on, and then do it with the clear panels so you can see Teller sliding around like a monkey to accomplish the trick. :)

  9. “Okay, I’m doing lots of magicians at the moment!”

    Funny, back in grad school I was doing a lot of midgets ; I loved seeing how many we could fit in a car during group activies.

    But I digress.

    Penn and Teller. I’ve seen them many, many times, and I’ve never, ever been anything less than VERY entertained and amazed.

  10. I’m always amazed by the “mentalists” like Banachek. I have no respect for the ones that claim to have some sort of supernatural abilities. Knowing that this is just an illusion or trick is amazing, and really makes me want to know how it’s done!

  11. I’m not sure I have a favorite magician – I really like small, close magic, particularly card tricks. One of my favorite tricks is still Sam the Bellhop – charming patter, very very careful shuffles, and rapid delivery. It all works to make a great trick that requires no equipment beyond a deck of cards.

  12. Like others I have to give props to Ricky Jay and Rene Lavand.

    Now one of my favorite magicians that I haven’t seen mentioned is Tommy Wonder. Some of his performances of classic card tricks, particularly the ambitious card, are absolutely amazing.

  13. Quentin Reynolds is very funny and extremely talented. His stage persona is deceptively dorky, making him very popular on the British kiddie party circuit.

    Mac King is very talented and also presents himself as a total dork but Dixie style.

    Eugene Burger (he of the long gray beard) is a master magician who may be too new-agey for some folks, but his finger flicking skills and quick mind are send to none.

    Another favorite is Ricky Jay, a scholarly and witty fellow (his shows are often written with David Mamet) who’s sleight of hand skills make me wanna give up performing my own third-rate Slydini imitations and become a Republican.

    But pound for pound, my vote for best magician goes to the great Spaniard Juan Tamariz. As waltdakind writes, check him out on youtube. He’s wicked wicked good.

  14. Pardon the extra post, but I neglected to mention the late great Tommy Wonder of Holland. He was the very model of a magician and the exemplar of Orson Welles’ definition of a magician being a great actor playing the part of a great magician. A real gentleman, thinker, and a class act who died much too young. Among his many classic routines, his vanishing bird cage was immaculate.

    Fave magic trick? The one where a pencil is held between thumb and index finger and subtly wiggled so as to appear to be made of rubber.

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