Friday, July 30, 2010

Project 365 Two-Fer (224-225)

.:224/365: Laser Cut:.

What is pretty much one of the most bizarre illusions you will ever watch, David Copperfield plays his role to the hilt here in a manner that can only be classified as “smarmy”. With laser lights seemingly cutting through Copperfield, he begins walking around all over the stage as if he were truly split into two pieces. The very eye-catching illusion was certainly an impressive feat back in the day, especially since it was performed live in Las Vegas, with viewing audiences completely stumped as to how it was pulled off.

Throughout this performance, what you will observe about Copperfield is how underrated his aptitude for comedy actually is. The fact that he gets to elicit chuckles without even uttering a word at key moments in the illusion only cement how amazing Copperfield really is when it comes to being a total package.

This illusion is actually not one of his best ones, but the way he packaged it certainly makes for a very interesting and entertaining routine altogether, and something worthy of performing as a Vegas main eventer. The day I ever end up performing in Vegas would be the day I believe I have made it as a performer, and here’s one of those amazing individuals doing it for years, and winning almost universal praise for his work.

Having said all that, I think it should be obvious what my final topic on stage magic will be on the last day of the month...

.:225/365: David Copperfield:.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the most influential name in the magic industry of the last generation, bar none.

Many new magicians might claim allegiance to David Blaine and scoff at David Copperfield’s overly choreographed performances in favour of Blaine’s “gritty” style, but has anyone bothered asking Blaine if Copperfield ever influenced him? Has anyone ever bothered asking every street magician out there if they ever wanted to perform anything as awe-inspiring as walking through the Great Wall of China, or making the Statue of Liberty Disappear, or flying over the Grand Canyon, as opposed to, well, holding your breath for a long time underwater?

David Copperfield, in my eyes, is a man who defines “legendary” in every sense of the word. As the most commercially successful magician in history, Copperfield is the man practically all David Blaine wannabes inwardly aspire for. The man is graceful, funny, brilliant, and let’s face it, richer than pretty much any other magician has ever been.

I don’t think I need to sing the man’s praises so extensively for anyone to understand the kind of influence he has exerted on the magic industry, having raised the bar for performances to the point that anyone who is considered good at it will only hear one of two comparisons: you’re the next David Blaine, or you’re the next David Copperfield. Either statement is a huge compliment to any person, and I can tell you without any doubt that I would be deeply honoured to have people compare me to even a single percent of Copperfield’s skill and prowess as a performer.

Born David Kotkin to Jewish parents, Copperfield took on the name as a teenager because of the book of the same name. He started performing professionally very early, at around 10 years or so, and even became a lecturer about magic as early as 16 years old. He made a name for himself throughout his performances, earning accolades not just because he was a good magician but simply because everything about his performing persona screamed “magic”. In 1977, he had his first TV special called “The Magic of CBS”, and this gave birth to Copperfield’s “The Magic Of David Copperfield”, various magic shows on television, comprising almost three decades of great and captivating television.

When asked about his influences, it’s actually unsurprising to hear Copperfield say that it wasn’t a particular magician. He looked at the likes of Fred Astaire and other similarly influential people, and thought, “Hey, I want to do that for magic!”

And he did.

With a unique style and a kind of elegance that only he can elicit, Copperfield was in a league of his own. He was the total package: he was mysterious, he was elegant, and he was deceptively hilarious. While undeniably elegant, it took decades for someone like Lance Burton to hit his stride in the humor department, whereas Copperfield was exhibiting it from day 1. Penn and Teller are hilarious, but they were certainly anything but elegant. David Blaine is mysterious, but certainly not funny or elegant. Criss Angel... Criss Angel sucks and doesn’t hold a candle to Blaine, Penn and Teller, Burton, and certainly not to David Copperfield.

It’s what Copperfield has achieved that makes me marvel at him altogether. He’s done it all, to say the least, and nobody can deny how much impact he has had on the world of magic, bringing it to the mainstream consciousness long before David Blaine gave magic yet another resurgence, albeit by taking it back to its grittiest. Copperfield dressed everything up, polished it, and made everything he did larger than life. And really now, name me a single magician who doesn’t want to be regarded as larger than life, no matter how “gritty” they may project themselves to be?

Mr. Copperfield, thank you for your unique brand of magic. You are truly a once-in-a-lifetime performer, and we may well never encounter another one quite like you again for at least another decade.

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