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Card Magic of Brother John Hamman Review

Official Review

April 23rd, 2003 12:54pm
Rating:
Reviewed by David Acer
Bro. John Hamman was one of card magic's finest thinkers, a Mozart in a medium filled with Salieri In 1958, Paul LePaul (himself a genius of the pasteboards) was so taken with Bro. John's work, he wrote this sleek little compendium, giving the magic community its first glimpse at a rising star.

Recently reprinted by Magic Inc., The Card Magic of Bro. John Hamman is a 47-page booklet that contains 12 tricks, all powered by a unique combination of sleight and subtlety that quickly became Bro. John's calling card. BUT, while the material between these pages is interesting from a technical stand-point, whether or not you will find anything you can use at your next close-up show is another matter. The problem (as I see it) is this - while I suspect an audience would find every one of these tricks puzzling, I doubt anyone is likely to become emotionally invested in them. Plotlines such as magically pairing cards with their mates and dealing a perfect bridge hand just don't grab people by the chest hairs.

Now you might say this is an issue to be addressed by the performer, not the trick, and to a certain extent, I agree, but the plot of an effect should at least have some emotional hook, a foundation on which the performer can build. A storytelling magician (Punx, Ariel Frailich, Robert E. Neale) might be able to weave a compelling tale around these tricks, but for the meat-and-potato guys, there are, in my opinion, better ingredients for your real-world stew.

Having said that, I am not by any means dismissing the contents of this book, nor do I think that "worker" is the only definition of a valid trick. I am merely suggesting that, if you're looking for tricks to do at your next walkaround gig, you might be better served buying Fork Full of Appetizers (Miesel, 1982), or Seven Secrets (J.C. Wagner). What this book will give you is clever solutions to subtle card problems. "The Million-To-One Chance," for example, is, conceptually, a beautiful piece of sleightless magic in which cards are (as I mentioned before) paired with their mates by chance as the spectator deals them randomly onto the table.

"Thoughts On The Transposition of Two Cards" offers four approaches to this simple plot, none of which will require duplicates, though palming is integral to three of the four methods (so ease of execution is traded in favor of purism). To my mind, there is no two-card transposition more powerful than the now-classic approach using one duplicate card and two double lifts, thus the first three techniques described here, while interesting methodologically, are perhaps less so practically. From a performance stand-point, only the fourth approach -- "The Magician's Reprieve" -- offers enough of a plot twist to warrant your attention, as the transposition concludes with what appears to be an error on the magician's part, whereupon he makes good in a clever fashion. In addition to that, "The Perfect Bridge Hand" is a killer, if you?re performing for an audience that knows bridge (so cruise ships, churches, old age homes...). "Thought Of Card Under Table Cloth" is precisely that, and perhaps the most commercial trick in the book, particularly if combined with Matt Schulien's approach to the plot, from The Magic of Matt Schulien (Willmarth, 1959). There is also a pair of tricks in which red and black cards change places, and other assorted effects, all of which are constructed in the canny style for which Bro. John has become known.

All in all, this is an intelligent, inexpensive collection of "thinkers" that will certainly engage your mind, if not enlarge your repertoire. However, if you are truly curious about Bro. John's work, I recommend you invest a few extra dollars and buy his opus, The Secrets of Bro. John Hamman (Kaufman, 1989), which offers an inspired collection of both "thinkers" and "workers."

David Acer

Product info for Card Magic of Brother John Hamman

Author: LePaul, Paul
Publisher: Magic, Inc.
Average Rating:  (1)
Retail Price: $8.00
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Manufacturer's Description:

A great performer presents the work of another great performer. Here is a book of new and freshly different card effects. Although Brother Hamman is well know for some of his gaffed card effects, here are a dozen wonderful card effects done with ordinary cards that Paul LePaul has personally edited and illustrated.


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