Learn magic with Jerry Sadowitz - New classes added!

Time Out gets an exclusive lesson in magical trickery from legendary Glaswegian comedian and close magic expert Jerry Sadowitz

  • Learn magic with Jerry Sadowitz - New classes added!

    Simone Baird outfoxes Jerry Sadowitz

  • New Jersey-born and Glasgow-raised, Jerry Sadowitz is known more for his foul-mouthed and uncompromising comedy than his prestidigitation, and few realise he’s one of the finest close-up magicians in the world. Although he’s hosted a couple of lectures at the International Magic shop in Clerkenwell, his forthcoming series of classes will be the first time he’s ever offered to pass on his skills to beginners. Which is, it has to be said, exactly what I am.

    To start, Sadowitz hands me a brand new pack (Waddingtons Number 1 Playing Cards with a linen finish, trainspotters) because his own were ‘broken in’. ‘I like pure close-up magic, stuff without gimmicky props. There are lots of packs you can get that are, well, very interesting, but I don’t use them. I use normal playing cards.’

    I drop my pack of cards on the table, and hereaches over to tidy them. ‘Sorry, it’s a force of habit, I have to keep everything square.’ Picking up the cards, I note out loud that, I can, at least, shuffle them. ‘Although that finger…’ Jerry gently rearranges the hand I’m shuffling my cards into. ‘Do it again, your forefinger has to be there to stop the cards falling. It’s nitpicking, but sometimes they fall out on stage.’

    Now a trick. He spreads the cards out into a perfect fan and takes a couple of apparently random cards out (‘these are called markers’). Handing me the pack, I start to place cards down on an upturned marker; Sadowitz tells me to stop at any point and add the second marker, and then the remaining cards, to the pile. The pack is fanned out again, markers upside down. I withdraw both markers plus the cards to their right. ‘You’ll see that each has something in common with the other…’
    He turns over the two new cards, and they match the markers – the ace was next to a jack, the jack next to an ace. I get goosebumps. Called Gemini Twins, it’s a simple but brilliant trick.

    ‘Some of the best tricks,’ he explains, ‘are the self-working ones, ones that someone else can do without the magician even touching the cards.’Less about smoke bombs and glass boxes, more about simple skill, then? ‘Exactly. In card magic, you learn certain actions called “sleights” – there are five basic sleights of hand – and as you put those together, you can form lots of tricks. If youmaster all five sleights, you’ll be a better magician than somebody else who purports to be an master. Exactly like a guitarist who can play it behind his back, pluck it with his teeth, but doesn’t know E, D, C, G. There are idiot savants who stand theredoing crazy shuffles, and you say “Do a trick” and they can’t. At least, not one that can fool you.’

    Ten minutes later, I’m impressed that I’ve somehow been taught the card trick, but Sadowitz isn’t. ‘It’s a myth that you have to have been doing magic for years to be any good at it. If you love magic, then it’s a lifelong hobby. I do it every day and thoroughly enjoy it. I don’t even need an audience, which is just as well as I get very few. It’s the greatest hobby in the world without any doubt – it doesn’t cause any harm and the worst you’re going to do is entertain somebody with it.’

    ‘The course is intended for complete beginners with no previous experience, or for those who have perhaps tried but given up.’ So no cheeky prepping beforehand, then? ‘Definitely not. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing and I’d have to unpick what they’d learned. This is a sort of no-excus e thing. If you like magic, it’s an opportunity. It’s not for people who just want to sit in a room with Jerry Sadowitz and see what’s he’s like when he’s not doing the stage performance.’

    But what if someone puts, say, the classnotes online? ‘They’ll have to sign something to say that if they go online with anything I teach, they will agree to have their bones broken.’

    Jerry Sadowitz's Beginners' Course in Card Magic runs July 27, 29, August 2, 6, 10 and 13 at the Soho Theatre. £395 plus VAT. For info and tickets, see www.sohotheatre.com. For one-to-one classes with Jerry, email jestowizardry@hotmail.com. For classes and lectures at International Magic in Clerkenwell see www.internationalmagic.com.

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