My top three…
Here are my three favorite bits of magical entertainment. These are listed in reverse order, adding a little about why each made the list.
Criss Angel’s Motorcycle Bike Jump Vanish. This is one of my favorites. Criss disappears, literally, in a giant puff of smoke, midway through a hundred-plus foot motorcycle jump. I think he kind of invented this one, and you gotta give him credit for that.
The buildup for the actual jump is just terrific: interviews with his mom and brother –both saying Criss has gone too far this time (especially after the wind kicks up). There is actual crying. You can feel the tension. And even the jump is compelling.
Tragically, the actual reappearance at the end of the episode leaves a bit to be desired. Criss makes his reappearance in a cheering crowd, and there are too may camera changes/angles to make it believable. (The video linked above is an even more edited than the original and in another language.)
David Blaine’s Frozen in Time. David has himself placed into a giant block of ice on the street in New York City’s Time Square. What makes this one of my favorites is the spectacle that he creates.
His plan was not to escape from the block of ice, but to endure inside the block of ice. Through the planned seventy-two hours David is, observed by his nervous team. The final moments of this TV special are filled with David, Doctors and other experts deciding whether they should get him out early.
Indeed, David is pulled from the block before the full time; it's necessary to avoid an icy death. David is hastily driven away in ambulance with lights flashing and sirens blaring. If ever there was a lesson on how create spectacle, this is it! As a trick, it can be argued that no magic happened.
Penn & Teller’s Bullet Catch. Now, I’ve seen this live, but my favorite version is the one they did on the “World’s Greatest Magic,” TV special. The Bullet Catch effect is famous among magicians, and in fact, several magicians have died performing it.
In this effect, Teller shoots a bullet at Penn, which he (Penn) catches in his (Penn’s) mouth. Prior to the shooting, the bullet is selected from among many, and signed by the audience. After being shot from Teller’s gun, Penn spits the bullet onto a plate he holds. The markings are the same.
This is, perhaps, one of my favorites pieces of magic. The presentation is tied to early magicians and justifies why they are doing it. The effect is filled with comedy and drama, Magically, the effect is so tight that if you search the internet for Penn & Teller’s Bullet Catch, you will not find the correct answer.
Next week, I’m going to tip my favorite magician of all time. And none of the above made the cut!