THE NUTSHELL: Good material, poorly executed.
THE REVIEW: Many will agree, and just as many will disagree with me when I say that Jay Sankey is out of his mind and stupid. Everyone has their personal feelings about different kinds of comedy, so I guess I’ll let you be the judge. Jay is the Jim Carrey of the magic world, with little sophistication to his humor and constant voice impressions. I really hate his presentation of things, but your presentation may be a little less grounded than mine is. Either way, you are paying for the tricks, and though I’m not going to adopt his style, I’m already making room in my routine for the stuff I’ve learned on that video.
You can’t deny the creativity that goes behind almost all of his tricks, and though you won’t use all of them, you’re going to find that a few really float your boat. I wouldn’t buy this set if you’ve been doing magic for less than three months, as it requires an intermediate knowledge of basic sleights. The cool part is that with most of his tricks, Sankey introduces a force or a sleight or an original move, that you can use even if you don’t like that particular trick. These videos require some gimmicks, such as a TT, flash paper, a stripper deck, and a double backer card, and most of the tricks take some setup beforehand. If you follow my suggestion that you wait 2 to 3 months before getting these videos, then you should already have all these gimmicks or they should be in your next order.
All of the tricks have a closeup appeal to them and none of them use any props out of the ordinary. He uses cards, matches, money, and not much else. The tricks I use the most are the multi-phased Strong Medicine (a borrowed and signed bill has a corner ripped off, the corner disappears and is found in an Aspirin bottle which has been in full view the whole time, and finally the bill restores visually; everything’s examinable), Sensations (a copper and silver key are removed from a box, both keys are put into the spectator’s hands, the spectator pulls one out and gives it to the magician – lets say the silver one – the magician and spectator close their fists over their keys and they switch; examinable and instant reset), X (a routine that I feel gives the Invisible Deck its best name), and Midnight Special, where you predict when a spectator was born. I think the first DVD has better material overall, but it’s a hard call.
One thing you might be concerned about after watching the demo video: Is this magic for the real world? It’s a misconception, the same one in fact, that I had before purchasing these videos. What you're probably referring to: The paper hand - its just in substitution for the spectator's hand. The card matchbook - totally a real world trick. The fire? - can be done in any bar or on the street. I thought, like you may be thinking now, that the tricks all use elaborate props and such. THEY DON'T. Its important to clear this up because the reviews do not and I had the same doubts.
The material is mindblowing, and stuff you won’t be able to get anywhere else. The video, like the effects, is high quality, but I’m not wild about how its shot. The “confession” you see in the video demo is where the entire thing is shot. The lighting is poor, Jay looks like he is dying of heat stroke at times, and there’s no real-life performances. That said, I guess its not designed to teach you presentation as much as it is to teach you the tricks. If you are after practical, visual magic – and who isn’t? – there’s no getting around buying this. Despite the many annoying qualities, and there are way too many, I have to recommend these DVD’s. I give it a 7.
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(Tomorrow's Review: Pyschokinesis -- a comparative review of the Pro PK Kit, PK Factor, and Bat)