“The right thing to do never requires any subterfuge; it is always simple and direct.”
– Calvin Coolidge
This is one of the proverbs I remember and think about often. Especially when I am stuck in the creation process of a magic routine. I may have three or four solutions to a given problem, and all of them seem to work, and all of them are good. But which one is the best? Which is the right one to use?
Sometimes, I arrived at solutions that were simple. Other times, they are not so simple, but ingenious. I am tickled because they give me the illusion of how clever I am. But which is the one I am going to use?
Most of the time, I go for the simple solution and consider this one the right one. Of course, this is not always appliable. Many times, the more complicated solution is the right one.
The key to making the right decision is in acknowledging the fact that there is no set rule that defines what is right and what not. Right is what is the best for the trick you intend to perform, and your capabilities and the possibilities you have at hand.
As an example, let’s take the “Watch in Nest of Boxes” effect. There are a number of possible solutions. Strokes of genius, as well as poor constructed solutions. To do the effect requires some effort: the props, the technique, the amount of sleight of hand, etc.
Tommy Wonder offered three different solutions in his Books of Wonder. The last one, the “Watch in Alarm Clock” is fascinating. Totally beyond believe and constructed and invented from a true genius. But — is it practical or simple? No. The other two methods are. So what to take?
It depends on what you want to do: either spending a fortune having this stuff built (or endless time and money doing it yourself, if you can), or relying on a simpler method, which you can afford, master, and present stress-free.
Patrick Page was known for choosing the latter way whenever possible. Billy McComb was. As well as Karrell Fox, Terry Seabrooke, Alan Shaxon, and Paul Daniels, to name just a few. In George Kaplan’s The Fine Art of Magic, there is a wonderful version of the effect, which is the simplest you could imagine, and this would be my choice (besides the first Tommy Wonder method).
In the case of the effect, the Kaplan method would be the right way to go for a performer in the real world, according to Calvin Coolidge.
I try to save my brain power, nerves, and time and stick to his statement, whenever possible:
“The right thing to do never requires any subterfuge, it is always simple and direct.”