With first rate tricks, instructional DVDs and books, 2014 has been a good year.
I review lots of DVDs, books and tricks and admit that I have a strong preference for products that pertain to what I do most: strolling and stand-up magic. But I also have a soft spot for innovation and an item that’s fresh and different, even if I will never perform the effect for real audiences. With this in mind, here are my top ten DVDs, books and tricks of 2014.
1. Hannibal: The Truth From A Liar – DVD
Chris Hannibal’s instructional title is the first of three in Anthony Asimov’s excellent “Black Rabbit” series of instructional DVDs to make this list. Asimov has created DVDs that not only teach great tricks from within the context of an accomplished and entertaining act, but offers insights into creating a great show. Hannibal’s act is a true winner and this title teaches lots of magic and entertainment techniques. Read my review here.
2. The Art of Presenting Magic to Teenagers by Danny Orleans – DVD
Not quite adults but more sophisticated than kids, performing magic for teens presents innate challenges. This is why Danny Orleans’s “The Art of Presenting Magic to Teenagers” is such a valuable instructional magic title. You not only learn Orleans’ act but gain insights into performing for teens through his comprehensive interviews and commentaries. Read my review here.
3. Terry Ward: The Art of Play – DVD
After working at Walt Disney World for 24 years, Terry Ward knows how to entertain audiences. His “The Art of Play” teaches his brand of close-up magic and its greatest strength comes in the insights that you can learn about connecting with spectators. You can read my review here.
4. The Magic Of Suzanne: The Castle Act – DVD
Another in the “Black Rabbit” series, Suzanne not only performs strong magic, but creates a rich, character-based experience. The emphasis in Suzanne’s DVD set is on creating and performing engaging magic but you will learn a couple of great card tricks. Read my review here.
5. The Phantom Deck by Joshua Jay and Vanishing Inc – Prop
It’s a simple idea but the effect packs a wallop. “The Phantom Deck” provides an update to the “Omni Deck” ending of a card trick. I think that the “Phantom Deck” is superior. I’ve been using this one for weeks and it’s been getting great reactions. Read my review here.
6. Dream Prediction Elite Version by Paul Romhany – Prop
Here’s a wallet that allows you to perform Alan Shaxton’s stunning “Confabulation” in walkaround settings. Paul Romhany has created a first rate wallet and mentalism routine that will serve you well. Read my review here.
7. Jonathan Levit: Ahead of the Game – DVD
Another in the “Black Rabbit” series, Jonathan Levit’s excellent “Ahead of the Game” offers amazing insights into creating and performing an entertaining and sophisticated close-up show. While you will learn tricks, it’s the inside information on creating an entertaining act for lay spectators and even magicians that make this one to watch. Read my review here.
8. Series of Unfortunate Effects by Chris Mayhew and Ben Train – DVD
This DVD teaches eight great card tricks and they’re integrated into a fun movie. I liked the variations on open travelers, triumph and oil and water. And there’s a great color-changing deck and transposition with a poker hand. If you recall Lee Asher’s “Five Card Stud,” you’ll like this one. Read my review here.
9. The Skinner Tapes
Richard Kaufman’s Unconventional “The Skinner Tapes” is not only a tribute to Mike Skinner, it offers a wealth of information about performing close-up magic. The set includes two DVDs with vintage video to watch Skinner in action and ten audio CDs that present his insightful discussions. Admittedly, it’s not for everyone, but if you invest the time and effort, you’ll discover lots to learn. Read my review here.
10. The Business by Romanos – Prop
Here’s a powerful peek device that comes in the form of a normal-looking business card case. Using the cleverly gimmicked case, you can easily view information that’s written on a business card. This one looks completely innocent and works great. Read my reviewhere.