Fooling Garwulf
Fooling Garwulf - Reviews and Commentary on Penn & Teller - Fool Us

Robert B. Marks | 30 Jun 2015 15:00
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Another good example is Ricky Jay's cups and balls, aka "the history lesson." As he moves through the cups and balls, he presents the entire history of the trick, leaving the audience with a profound sense of historical connection - each step of the trick supports and is supported by Jay's narration. This is a basic principle for any magic trick (and, for that matter, good storytelling in general) - when the effect and patter connect with the greater theme, even the simple act of revealing a signed chosen card can be powerful enough to bring tears to the volunteer's eyes.

And thus ends our introduction to the mysteries of sleight of hand. Next week, we'll take a look at the first new episode of Penn & Teller: Fool Us, and see just what there is to talk about.

Author's Note: Since this is a feature about magic, we must ask for discretion when it comes to discussing methods in the forums. For the sake of preserving the mystery for those who do not want to know how the tricks are done, as well as to avoid accidentally exposing the hard work of some very talented magicians, please avoid revealing methods in the discussion threads, and if you must talk about a method in a way that might expose it, please use spoiler tags.

Author's Other Note: There are some people who deserve recognition for donating their time and experience to helping make this feature as good as it can be - I like to call them "Team Fooling Garwulf." They are: my friend and mentor Robin Dawes, who taught me almost all the magic I know and pointed me to where I could learn the rest; Misty Lee, a professional magician in Los Angeles who, among other things, performs the Houdini Seance at the Magic Castle, and who was able to fill in a number of gaps when it comes to stage magic; and, last but not least, my wife Johanna, whose eye for methods is keener than my own. Many thanks to all of them.

Robert B. Marks is the author of the new and revived Garwulf's Corner on The Escapist, as well as Diablo: Demonsbane, The EverQuest Companion, the original Garwulf's Corner, and the co-author of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Agora. His current fiction project is The Eternity Quartet, and his Patreon-based magazine experiment, Garwulf Speaks, can be found here. He can be reached by email at garwulf at


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