The cups and balls is a classic magic trick that has had many, many versions performed over the years, and we are talking lots of years. The effect known as acetabula et calculi was performed by Roman conjurers as far back as two thousand years ago.
There is one picture that is doing the internet rounds of two men holding two inverted cups over two round objects. The common thought is that this is evidence that the effect dates back to Ancient Egypt. Experts disagree; the current thought is that the two men are only baking bread. Still, this is an old trick.
Cups and Balls is a favourite of street performers around the world. It is very angle proof; meaning people can surround you and you can still perform. It isn't affected by wind and light rain; a few drops of rain or a gust of wind can easily put and end to a routine with a pack of playing cards made from paper. The metal cups can be banged to create noise which in turn attracts a better crowd.
The most widely performed version of the effect uses three cups and three small balls. The magician stands behind a portable table and makes the balls pass through the solid bottoms of the cups, jump from cup to cup, disappear from the cup and appear in other places, or vanish from various places and reappear under the cups (sometimes under the same cup), often ending with larger objects, like fruit, or even chicks or mice, appearing under the cups.
A typical cups and balls routine includes many of the most fundamental effects of magic, including vanishes, appearances, transpositions and substitutions. Basic skills, such as misdirection, manual dexterity, and audience management are also essential to most cups and balls routines. As a result, mastery of the cups and balls is considered by many as the litmus test of a good magician. Indeed the late magic authority, John Mullholland, wrote that no less a person than Harry Houdini had expressed the opinion that no one could be considered an accomplished magician until he had mastered the Cups and Balls.
The version you will find here utilises three plastic cups and the balls are made from scrunched up pieces of paper. the moves are very easy and virtually work themselves. So give this a go and see how it feels in your hands. If you like it, then search out the more complex routines by these magiciians: Penn and Teller, Tommy Wonder, Gazzo, Peter Wardell, Michael Ammar, Ricky Jay.
Each of these fine magicians will give you examples of the very different styles that this classic magic routine can be presented in.
Michael Ammar is a particularly fine magic teacher. His routine is very precise and refined. His performance couldn't be further from Gazzo, an English steert performer who is widely recognised as the expert in drawing, holding and amazing a crowd with the this trick. Be warned, his style is very in your face and challenging. He says things to people that most people would get smacked in the face for. He has learned his craft in the trenches and he KNOWS how to work a crowd and exactly how far he can go. Gazzo is a very entertaining performer.
Tommy Wonder's routine is simply elegant and masterful. Rick Jay's is theatrical and cleverly constructed. Check out YouTube and you will find a clip of each of these performances.
With the easy to learn and easy to perform version you find here, just remember that it is a beginning or middle trick, not an end trick. Why? Because you can't show the cups to anyone at the completion of the trick. Once you master a few more more moves to what you learn here, then you will have a classic end trick for your performance.
Because this uses plastic or paper cups and paper balls, this makes it another perfect trick to perform in fast food restaurants. You could easily follow it up with
Torn and Restored Napkin
Instant Star Trick
This is the little ryhme I use in the video. Use it if it suits you, or make up your own. If you do make one up, post it on my website by using the upload box below. You will get your own Magician School webpage.
10 fingers 2 hands 3 balls and 3 cups, To make one ball go through might be considered just luck
A second however, might cause you some doubt hold onto your socks, your about to find out.
To mess up this last one would make-me-quite-mad I know I'm no Criss Angel ... but 3 outta 3 ain't bad!
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