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Because He Is Awesome

Ladies and gentlemen, Ricky Jay.

17 Responses to Because He Is Awesome

  1. technoir

    There is just something about magic that gets me. I know it is a trick. The magician will tell you it is a trick. I know all of this and I am not being boastful in saying I am a smart guy. Despite all of that I am fooled by the illusion almost every time. There is something about that just delights me no end and I can’t say why.

  2. odessasteps

    I got to see Ricky Jay’s “52 assistants” show in DC a few years ago and it was great. the theater held maybe a couple hundred people so you were right upclose watching him do his stuff. amazing.

    I wish he had stayed on Deadwood longer than one season.

  3. admin

    I am amazingly jealous of that; he was doing “52 Assistants” at the Geffen in LA this past summer, and I nearly sprung the inordinate amount of money it would’ve required for tickets to the show and the plane to go and see him live. You ever read the New Yorker piece on him several years back? Just fascinating, especially when put alongside Adam Gopnick’s recent article on Jamy Ian Swiss.

    The Deadwood thing was a bummer; my understanding was that he had a falling out with the producer(s). Still, would’ve liked to have seen him stick around.

  4. admin

    Tell me about it. I can watch the same trick five times in a row, and even knowing EXACTLY what I’m looking for, I catch it maybe once out of that five.

  5. jjgalahad

    Fascinating. And it’s the showmanship along with the skills that really amaze me. I could watch that twenty times and still want to see it again.

    I’ve only seen one professional magic act live and that was Penn & Teller. Great show and class acts besides – they actually took the time to go out and shake hands with everyone who came to the show afterwards. Teller had a particularly mesmerizing act where he cut a shadow of a rose in a vase with the shadow of some scissors and the rose itself fell apart where he “cut” the shadow. I’m still trying to puzzle that one out.

  6. jonlaw

    Stage magic is terrific. The last live magician I saw was Mike Super just over a year ago on a cruise. He was amazing. My son actually got to part of the show. Technical skill is really important, and Super definitely had it, but stage presence is at least half the package as well, and he really connected with every level of the audience. Very much in the comedic line of stage magicians.

    Ricky Jay is amazing too. Never seen him live, but seen many interviews, and not only does he have the skills and the presence, but he also has the profound scholarly knowledge of the craft. Thanks for lighting up the day with a cool diversion.

  7. kozemp

    It is long out of print and damn near impossible to get a hold of for a remotely reasonable price, but if you can find it read Cards as Weapons. A remarkable book.

  8. sixteenbynine

    I first ran into Ricky as a regular member of David Mamet’s casts. I still think the best line ever thrown in his face (in “House of Games”) was “You cannot threaten someone with a SQUIRTGUN!”

  9. incogvito

    i wish i could to this for just one day.

    and have the comedic delivery that goes with it.

  10. tawang

    I passed my love for Ricky Jay on to my now 7yr old this past summer, thanks to YouTube. Somewhere, I’ve got a well-worn videotape of his “52 Assistants” show from when it ran on HBO; that’s where this clip came from. It’s also where I stole the line, “This pisses the watermelon off.” (I may be paraphrasing, it’s been a while…)

    I was lucky enough to see Teller giving a talk–seriously–a couple of weeks back at the IdeaFestival in Louisville, a session about “the science of magic,” where he basically showed us a trick, then went through an extensive explanation of the trick, the history of it and how he developed it for their show, complete with videos of his rehearsal process. Endlessly fascinating, and with great insight into creativity in general.

  11. mercuryeric

    Then I heartily recommend “The Klutz Book of Magic”; while it is disguised as a kid’s book, the fundamental principles of magic are outlined in there in a surprisingly elegant way, and the tricks contained on those pages are, for the most part, pretty damn good.


  12. incogvito

    awesome! All that’s left is that improv class at the UCB and then Vegas, here I come!

  13. kokyu

    Boy you’re all over stuff I love. The New Yorker pieces were both excellent and though I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing 52 Assistants live, I was able to record it off HBO, and it played near my sister so I bought her tickets and insisted she go.

  14. nweinham

    Ricky Jay gives great presentation! Have you seen “Smart people on cool topics.” Thanks for posting this clip, it’s the tonic.

  15. odessasteps

    I think so.

    I went through a “ricky jay phase” a few years ago when they started re-printing some of his books. I’d love to be able to get the super expensive out-of-print ones that were mentioned elsewhere in the thread. I think one of my friends still has my copy of “Dice” (or whatever it’s actual title is) and I never got it back before I moved.

    I always love to see him show up in movies about magic, whether he’s in the cast or “only” the technical advisor. I think that was one of the many reasons I liked “The Prestigue” better than “the Illusionist.”

  16. supergodginrai

    Awesome. Even though I know the ball trick, I never caught the 3 different items being put under, delightful!

  17. scotthampton


    Deadwood is definately missed in my household.

    Hey Greg, why don’t you perform a little magic of your own and make chapter 5 of Walking Dead appear? ;)

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