Classic Routines | The Unholy Three


Well now.

Here is a routine that had already achieved classic status before Darwin Ortiz turned it into a masterpiece.

Let’s go back in time shall we.

Full credit to Peter Kane for publishing his original idea in his stunning book A Further Session with Peter Kane.

This collection of books featured material that really set a trend for stunning effects throughout the 1970s.

Before it became known as The Unholy Three, Peter Kane named his routine, Divination, Discovery & Departure.

This original idea was different, novel and effective.

Darwin took this routine down a different avenue and gave us a classic; a stunning routine, in fact, a breathtaking feat of card control that transcends into an impossible outcome.

This really is card magic from another galaxy.

I had the pleasure and privilege to record this routine on Penn & Teller: FOOL US

Jonathon Ross said two critical things to me at different times.

During rehearsals:
“That is the best card trick I have ever seen”.

Live on Air:
“That’s about as good as it gets”.

From Penn:
“You are my favourite magician”.

Before going any further in this conversation, let’s enjoy this wonderful mystery from my Close up Show.

Why is this routine so strong?

When you look at it, it’s a pick a card and magician finds it routine.

It is the context of the discovery, the use of two decks-red/blue, the signatures on the backs, the isolation of the red deck and the blue deck that was shuffle. This takes this Pick-A-Card-Trick into another dimension.

The demonstration of skill in finding them in the shuffled blue deck is very impressive. As a stand alone effect it is good; the final revelation of the blue backed duplicates transforming into the red backed signed cards creates a stunning illusion of an impossible outcome.

“They saw it,

they witnessed it and will leave

confronted by the

reality of the experience”.

This routine is psychologically confronting.

They must be Signed

It crushes the intellect and causes emotional turbulence.

It’s too strong an outcome to follow it with anything else – the brain can only take so much.

I know if I am going to present this routine, it is important to work backwards and ask myself:

What comes before it?

What routine will open the show?

What transitions will be needed for the next routine?

Will I need a bridge item in preparation for this final blockbuster?

So many questions need answering when designing an act with such a strong psychological finish.

This blog post is much more about how I go about designing my act. This routine forced me to think on such matters.

When Darwin first published this in CARDSHARK, I was confronted by the need to have TWO decks on me. I had never considered operating with two decks before.

“This was a big departure for me”.

Once I started presenting this routine, it opened up further possibilities that justified having two decks.

Rather than two decks just for the sake of having two decks. It now became a dramatic Play with a 104 characters.

I just felt having two decks must in some way, contribute to the act before the final routine.

These were the thoughts going through my mind, when faced with performing The Unholy Three.

It all came together in a nice way.

I have said this before and it’s worth repeating, CARDSHARK is my favourite book on card magic ever published.

I say this because it was THE book that forced me to expand my potential as a technician and performing artist.

Isn’t this the point?

Staying on a plateau operating inside the zone of comfort leads to boredom.

I get bored very quickly.

As soon as my ennui kicks in, I know I need to interrupt this mental pattern.

I learn a new routine.

Improve something I am doing.

Read an old book.

There is always something to develop.

Darwin’s books will keep us all busy.

Thanks for reading

Mike ♣️❤️♠️♦️

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