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Review of Harlan The Trade Show

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


Review of Harlan The Trade Show
Anyone who has performed multiple magic shows in a single day can appreciate the concept of “packing small and playing big.” Hauling bulky props out of one’s car, setting up, performing a show, breaking down, reloading the car and repeating the process becomes old and tedious. As a result, it’s something of a holy grail for magicians to identify powerful effects that only require minimal props.

Packing Small and Playing Big

The brilliant Dan Harlan offers his take on “packing small and playing big” through a new set of DVDs - each with its own theme (each sold separately). I thoroughly enjoyed his “The Trade Show” and found lots of great material and adaptations. While many magicians will undoubtedly know many of the effects, it’s Harlan’s creative adaptations to the trade show environment that make them worthwhile and strong. And yes, the entire show will fit in a single briefcase yet play to large crowds.

Harlan’s trade show act starts with Repeat Business," his take on classic “six-card repeat” that’s combined with a giveaway - a ticket for a “valuable prize.” I love this concept. (In classic “six-card repeat,” the magician counts six cards in his hands, throws three away and shows that six cards remain. This is repeated to comic effect.)

While most of you already know how to perform classic Professor’s Nightmare , in the second routine, Harlan shows how to adapt the famous rope trick to trade show work with patter that touts "price, quality, and service." (In classic “Professor’s Nightmare,” a magician is able to change the lengths of three different length ropes to equal size and back again.)

Money Back Guaranteed

A company’s money-back guarantee is demonstrated with an excellent and interactive torn and restored routine that’s based on “Grant's Million Dollar Mystery.” Briefly, two one-dollar bills are torn in half. One half of each is burned and the other halves are given to spectators to hold. At the end, the burned halves are restored and discovered in a surprising place.

The funny Trust Me has the magician smashing and restoring a borrowed watch. Harlan then shows how to build a crowd with Slydini's classic Paper Balls Over the Head. I found Salesman Hotel Mystery to be somewhat out of place. It’s an offbeat effect where after counting bills, something strange occurs - the numbers don’t add up. I think that this one occurs too close to the table and may not play effectively to crowds in the haphazard trade show environment. But I do like the trick.

The finale is Harlan’s routine of the Chinese Linking Rings that illustrates how a company connects to its clients. As you can imagine, Harlan links and unlinks the rings to demonstrate the important relationship that a company has with its customers.

Great DVD

I found lots to like about Harlan’s clever adaptations. And even if you have no plans to perform in trade shows, you may find some useful ideas for a stand up presentations. Some magicians may feel that they already know the tricks. But, as always, it’s the presentation that makes the trick and creates the connection with an audience. And on this DVD, Harlan offers some great adaptations that will stimulate your creativity. I know it did mine.

(If you would like to check out another great DVD by Dan Harlan, here’s a link to my review of his first rate Review of Minotaur The Final Issue. In addition to great close-up, there are some brilliant stand-up routines as well.)

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