How Do You Feel About This Kind of Performance?

Lyle Borders

vp of operations // theory11
Staff member
Aug 5, 2008
Seattle, WA
Keith Barry, star of "Deception with Keith Barry" on the Discovery Channel and his show "8 Deadly Sins," and all around awesome magician, shot the following video out on Facebook and Twitter recently. Here was his comment.

"I normally hate this type of act - but he's by far the best in the World - Hats off"


This usually is not the kind of act we see here at theory11. What are your opinions on this style of magic? How magical is this really? What kind of practice would it take to get to be this good? How would you improve it? What can you learn from it?

The floor is open. We want to hear what you think. In the meantime, you can find Keith at

Let the conversation roll.



Aug 31, 2007
It's very Jeff McBride like. He's very good. I remember being a kid and watching a magic special of Jeff doing his act and being so amazed. I would rewind the tape over and over to try and see where the cards were coming from. Although I don't do much of this type of magic in my own show, I find it super magical.

I really like Derek Selinger's card manip act too.
Dec 18, 2007
Northampton, MA - USA
Let me put it kindly. . . this is the stuff that wins FISM and the majority of the high prestige awards.

The reason for this is quite simple; it shows command of the basic/standard slight skills that have been traditionally viewed as the "foundation" to what makes a true magician.

Look around and tell me how many people you know, even with all the extreme card workers, etc. that can honestly compete with this level of class, confidence and control while doing a 100% mime performance for 4-10 minutes. I'm not talking about celebrity performers like Lance Burton or McBride, I'm talking about your own peer group; people your age (give or take 5 years)

When I was in my 20's we called this sort of thing a "Chavez Act" in that it was popularized by the Chavez School of Magic from which legends like Niel Foster, Norm Nielson and Dale Salwack came from as well as later talents like Lance Burton. The curriculum was based on the popular Channing Pollock/Cardini way of doing things -- very posh, classy, and artistic while likewise demonstrate total physical control, smoothness, and confidence.

This is one reason why I get so short with most of today's aspirants; we no longer have the discipline factor that used to be common to the craft, instilled by those old salty dogs working at the local magic shop and telling us what we were allowed to buy based on what we learned and proved both, knowledge and skill in before being allowed to buy something else. . . usually the next book they believed we were ready for. Today it's almost all instant gratification due to ease of access as well as the over-commercialization of magic by both, the innovative mind as well as the merchant/distributor. Somehow we've misplaced the idea that magic must be kept a secret and more exclusive in order to retain its air of mystery and general intrigue; we've also lost the idea of having to invest into one's magic which in its own, assured our fellow mage that we weren't going to run out and show everyone how something was done -- we'd worked far too hard to learn a given move or routine and we refused to "throw it away" along with that time, cash, and yes. . . the tears.

Look up the reels on Fred Kapps, Richard Ross, Ger Copper, and even Lance Burton's Bird Act or Mark Kylan's Billiard Balls. . . these are demonstrations of real magic -- genuine mastery & command.

In the nearly 5 decades I've been involved with magic I can say that I've only witnessed about a half-dozen real magicians. The one that brought tears to my eyes however was Norm Nielson. Nothing will ever compare to what I saw the first time I watched him in a live show.
Jan 8, 2010
Outdated magic. True classical magic but outdated. I enjoy it but the general public can't relate and rarely appreciate it these days.

The control he has when producing multiple coloured cards is insane, I really loved that part. People these days get bored of that after 60 seconds though.
Jun 9, 2011
i agree with all the above posts. This is the kind of stuff that magicians will really appreciate, and layman will enjoy, but not enjoy 3 minutes of. i also agree with the fact that many people nowadays are moving on too quickly from basic principles onto more complex ones. I've seen too many people who can't do basic things like overhand shuffle controls or palming, and are performing things like anniversary waltz or twisting the aces.
Nov 15, 2007
Raleigh, NC
I think that in the right settings this type of magic is one of the best. Will it work in your walk-around restaurant set? No. If you had a 45 minute public show would it be a good addition? Yes (if it fits with your style). A lot of magicians say that people can't focus for more than a minute or so, I disagree. If your audience loses interest that fast, then you're only interesting(and on that note, entertaining) for about 60 seconds...
Oct 12, 2009
Navarre, Florida
I don't feel like this style is all that "magical" due to how fast everything is happening. It's just bam bam bam bam bam. No time is really allowed to let any particular moment resonate.

That said, I don't really think that is the point of that routine at all. Which is perfectly fine! Different strokes for different folks. It was an extremely impressive, exciting and entertaining performance. I feel like what he was trying to do, he did. Amazingly well.
Jan 8, 2010
A lot of magicians say that people can't focus for more than a minute or so, I disagree. If your audience loses interest that fast, then you're only interesting(and on that note, entertaining) for about 60 seconds...
I was saying that people lose interest in this kind of magic after a short time, not magic in general.
People will happily sit through an hour and a half show by Derren Brown, Paul Daniels etc...because they engage the audience and it suits modern society more.
I think that in this day and age, after 60 seconds of that they will say "yeah he made cards appear, it was cool" then forget about it. People still talk about specific tricks they saw David Blaine do 5 years ago.


Mar 10, 2011
Texas San Antonio
Some of his flurry, "Productions" where very sloppy, at somepoints he is going so fast that he might as well just be holding a stack of cards in mechanics grip and just deal cards one by one. However, his more technical parts of the routine like the multi colored cards was stupendous. I dislike with a passion that asian magicians tend to do the fast style. I remember Jeff Mcbride Mentioned that he was partially the influence on the speed. He'd travel to China before they had contact with the outside world internet and the suchf, to perform for the public and other magicians then began to imitate him.
Dec 18, 2007
Northampton, MA - USA
For those of you that think this is "out-dated" and "bores the public" let me ask you this; what type of acts are the bigger money earning acts and in highest demand in the real world? Which sort of act generates the stronger sense of social/society support the most -- viewed as being "proper" in polite circles?

Attacking folks on street corners IS NOT proper magic and in truth, it is one of the least socially respected art forms (be it magic or mime or whatever) because it has always been seen as BEGGING or worse, a criminal endeavor (or front for such). The Tailed Tux and competent manipulation type worker has always been more accepted within the upper elements of society -- the sponsors of local theater, opera, ballet & the arts as a whole. The Criss Angel approach will never have such status (he's barely holding on in Vegas). Blaine has adjusted his style so as to step up to the proverbial table and meet the social elite half-way if not more.

The acts that "play by the rules" as it were, and who are seen as being safe/wholesome, get the most work and are offered the bigger $$$s

NO, you don't have to be as formal as this obvious new comer is in the film, there are many bird workers that have taken on a more modern look & style. . . they've jazzed up the "old stuff" and yet, they are still doing what works -- what establishes them as MAGICIANS -- someone that has genuine skill and flexibility when it comes to their work. . . I should add, most of these acts can do genuine improvisation -- cold, no props or gimmicks at the ready, just them and their manipulation skills and related knowledge.

Pardon my defensive tone, but someone needs to offer the counterpoint here instead of the typically pats on the back when it comes to like-minded scenarios. My only agenda is to encourage you to THINK and hopefully, go further as the result of that contemplation of options & tradition.
Jan 8, 2010
Thousands of closeup magicians work events every single day (in the UK), there aren't many theatre's that have classic stage acts on even once a year and even less that make a profit.

I haven't seen this kind of magic on tv since Worlds Greatest Magic was airing yet I'm seeing Blaine, Dynamo and that other guy in the Supernaturalist getting tv spots all over the place.

I disagree with everything you said Craig, except that manipulation and other similar acts are more often than not used to entertain higher class society. I was across the country performing today, several groups talked about Dynamo, David Blaine, Derren Brown...not one of them even knew the name of a stage magician and I'm yet to meet a member of the general public who knows Lance Burton.
Outdated magic. True classical magic but outdated. I enjoy it but the general public can't relate and rarely appreciate it these days.

The control he has when producing multiple coloured cards is insane, I really loved that part. People these days get bored of that after 60 seconds though.

I really, strongly disagree. Look at the reactions of the audience. I think this kind of act is just as relevant, and entertaining today as it was 20 years ago.

Well done.
Jan 1, 2009
Back in Time
I thought it was a really neat performance. The thing about it being out dated and all is kind of silly, because Lance Burton probably still does that in his shows, I know Jeff McBride (before he retired) was known for doing that kind of stuff in his shows as well, and I'm pretty sure a ton of other different Stage Magicians in Vegas constantly did it as well for decades. So for something that is "outdated" it sure helped those guys maintain a extremely high paying contract at different casinos.
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