YouTube is both a gift and a curse for magicians. On the one hand, it’s fantastic at spreading the excitement and mystery of magic to a wider audience that has never been to a magic show, on the other hand, it is always so tempting to hit that pause button to catch what sleight the magician just performed.
On the one hand, it’s fantastic at spreading the excitement and mystery of magic to a wider audience that has never been to a magic show. On the other hand, it is always so tempting to hit that pause button to try and catch the sleight the magician just performed.
“The hand is quicker than the eye”, goes the old saying, but the pause button makes speed obsolete.
I started dabbling in a little bit of magic in December of 2016 when I watched David Blaine perform on Jimmy Kimmel’s show with the Black Eyed Peas. It was an awesome trick, and I knew I could figure it out if I spent a little bit of time utilizing my programmer’s mind to reverse-engineer how Blaine did it.
10 minutes later, I gave my theory on how the trick worked a try, and Leah’s reaction and giggles set me off on a journey to learn more.
These days, I still love and get inspired by the magic acts I see on YouTube, but even as inexperienced as I am, it’s hard for me to see the forest for the trees, so to speak. I get so lost watching the magician’s hands and searching for their suspicious little movements, that I don’t enjoy the beauty of the routine and the hard work that they put into creating it as much as I’d like.
I suppose that’s just how it goes when you’re working to become a magic hobbyist. It’s a blessing and a curse, just like YouTube.
There are a few acts, though, that have managed to completely blow me away. The skill, the beauty, the cohesive storytelling, and the stage-presence of the magicians in the clips below took me out of that skeptic’s mindset, and gave me back the sense of wonderment and awe that I try to create for my audience.
These are a few of the best YouTube magic clips that I’ve seen so far in 2017. Not just because the tricks themselves are impressive, though they are, but because of how the magician masterfully leads me in the direction they want me to go, and then leaves me there with my jaw dragging on the floor.
Enjoy these clips.
Backstage Magic Trick: Penn & Teller (on Jimmy Kimmel)
Hard not to talk about Penn & Teller when discussing magic. These guys are masters, for real. There are two things about this routine from the famous magic duo that I really loved:
- It shows that you don’t need a complex set of tools or the most advanced, modern technology to impress an audience. It’s all about how you tell the story.
- I can’t remember the last time I felt like a giddy little kid like I did when watching this. They didn’t just tell an engaging story, they actually brought me back in time. So cool!
Street Magic Brooklyn: Chris Ramsay
I’ve been a big fan of Chris Ramsay’s since I found out about him in January this year. He has inspired me with his tricks, video blogs, tutorials, and his slick camera editing skills to keep pushing forward with creating my own routines. I understand the world of magic better because of him.
In this video clip he takes to the streets of Brooklyn to show off his skills, and even talk a little bit about the reason why magic is important. He shows here that magic and mentalism tricks, even some that are incredibly simple to execute, can really brighten a stranger’s day. Cool stuff here.
Fooled: Richard Turner
Richard Turner, a self-titled “card mechanic”, can not see… not with his eyes at least. He has worked for so many years to develop a sense of touch with playing cards that is unmatched. He has even worked with Bicycle Playing Card Co. to help them understand the differences in all 52 cards in a deck, which he uses to give him incredible control whenever he picks them up.
He doesn’t just have a good feel for the cards, though, his sleight of hand is beyond anything else I’ve seen. I don’t understand how anyone can become as skilled as he has with his sleights, and even more so considering he is blind!
A Message: Shin Lim
I can’t get enough of this guy. Shin Lim takes two things that I love dearly, magic and music, and blends them to create seamless routines that astonish anyone who watches. Once a pianist, he was diagnosed with carpal tunnel which forced him to leave music… and now he’s a card magician?
Just under two years ago he severed two tendons in his thumb and was told he may never be able to do card magic again, and yet here he is performing a routine that is so captivating that it took me a half-dozen views before I could even begin to try and watch for his sleight of hand. He is truly a phenomenal performer, and I’m excited to see what else he’ll do in the future.
Too Many Bottles: Mat Franco
I’ve seen quite a few people repeat this act almost word for word and movement for movement. None of them quite match Mat Franco, though, in his excellent stage presence and the way he keeps me asking for more. Whenever I have a friend over and we get to talking about magic, I show them this video. If I can one day get to the point of taking an old classic trick and performing it like Mat does here, I’ll be feeling pretty dang proud.
BONUS – Smoke and Cards: Shin Lim
Just for good measure, I’m gonna throw this last clip in to show once again just how powerful mixing magic and music can be. This has inspired me greatly to find my own ways to mix smoke and magic together (as you can see in my photo at the top of this page). There are no words that I can really use to explain just how good Shin Lim is in this routine, so I’ll leave you with it. It’s crazy how an act with so few words can communicate so much emotion.