Blog — Lying

The Truth about Lying

The Truth about Lying 1

“Magic consists mostly of bald-faced lies. I think if you don’t lie like a bandit, you don’t have the remotest chance of entertaining and fooling your audience.” 
– Geoff Latta, The Long Goodbye

My friend Peter Samelson posted the above quote on his Facebook page; it stimulated some discussion. Lies (and the ability to tell them convincingly) are part of the conjurer’s toolbox. A magician who chooses not to lie eschews an important layer of deception.

Jerry Andrus famously declared he never told his audience any lies during a performance. He accomplished this by the shrewd placement of “strategic truths” – statements that either failed to impart all the necessary information or that emphasized a condition of no actual importance or one that was about to be altered without the spectators being aware of the alteration.

For example, Jerry would insert a chosen card into the center of the deck, stating, “Your card goes somewhere in the middle of the pack,” which, at the moment of utterance is absolutely true. However, a few seconds later, as the pack is squared, the card is secretly moved to the top via the Panoramic Shift, an action that Jerry refrained from commenting on. Although I don’t recall his ever saying the following, he could then dribble the cards from hand to hand and comment, “Your card is in here somewhere” – another truthful statement.

Dai Vernon’s effect Triumph allows for a valuable moment of truthfulness; it occurs during the cutting display just before the final revelation. The status of the squared deck at this point is: face-down selection, face-up cards (about half the deck), and then face-down cards (about half the deck). During the cutting display the deck with be reoriented so all the cards are face down with the selection