Excerpt: 'Magic: The Complete Course'

Magic tricks always seems to amaze, whether the audience consists of 5- or 50-year-olds. If you have an interest in illusions and harbor a secret desire to learn a few tricks, magician Joshua Jay teaches you all his secrets in his book, "Magic: The Complete Course."

Jay showed off some of his close-up magic and explained why his book does not break the magician's code of ethics on "Good Morning America Now," and you can read an excerpt of Jay's book below.


"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science." —Albert Einstein

Joshua Jay

What's the point of a magician? He comes on, he fools you, you feel stupid, show's over.—Jerry Seinfeld

Magic needs a makeover. Toss the tuxedo. Lose that top hat and set the rabbit free. And that goatee has to go. No more impaling women in boxes, and enough with the corny insults. Just stop.

Magic is the most mysterious of the performing arts. Why has she become so trivial?

The tricks. Most of the material magicians use is outdated or out of context. Consider the rabbit-from-the-top-hat effect. No birthday party is complete without it, and for fifty bucks the Amazing Larry will do the honors. And every time a rabbit comes out of a hat, another dozen nine-year-olds think magic sucks.

But as Einstein pointed out, magic can be moving. The moment we experience a great trick, we are instantly children again. For a fleeting moment—after the magic happens and before logic sets in—the world is boundless and anything is possible. Only magic can do that.

"Magic" is filled with amazing effects. And they're even more amazing because they're simple. Good magic is easy to describe and easy to remember: "She made a hundred bucks appear" or "He cut through a lady."

But consider the classic "Cut and Restored String"—a version of which appears in every bad beginner's book. You thread a piece of string through a straw . . . then you put the straw in a tube . . . then, in some cases, you cover the tube with a handkerchief . . . then you cut the whole mess in two . . . poof . . . it's restored. Straws? Tubes? Handkerchiefs? Too complicated, thank you.

You're about to learn over a hundred magical effects. Make a coin appear. Make your pet disappear. Simple. Read the one-sentence tag accompanying every entry in this book and you'll know exactly what you're getting into.

Remember that simple doesn't mean easy. While most effects in this book can be performed immediately after reading them, some require real practice. The difficulty ratings, 1 through 5, are there to help you decide which tricks to tackle first.

What separates this collection from many others is that the magic is relevant. That is, there's an emotional hook for the viewer. Sometimes the connection is obvious. In fact, you will even find several ways to make money appear at your fingertips. This is a skill everyone wants.

Magicians have a name for adding meaning to magic: the Ham Sandwich Theory. This theory states that if I reach into the air and produce a Ham Sandwich, you won't care. But if you said to me, "Josh, I'm hungry," and then I plucked one from thin air, you would be amazed. The magic fulfilled your desire. It had relevance.

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