The Story Behind the Story of “The Trojan Deck”
By Joshua Jay - Thursday, November 25, 2021
The greatest compliment we can receive about the creation of a magic trick, I think, is that it’s “better than the sum of its parts.” Creating magic is mostly about combining all sorts of elements in a particular sequence—the result of hundreds of design choices—and when all of those things together are somehow better than each separate element, you know you’ve done something right.
The "Trojan Deck" is my new trick, but of course it isn’t a new trick at all. I’ve been doing it for almost a decade, making tweaks and changes along the way. I put it in a lecture several years ago, and I had lots of people write to me about it, asking permission to make their own versions, or for tips on how to construct the special “thing” you need to make it work. I have always encouraged everyone who asked to make it up and try it for themselves. My hope was that they’d take steps to make it their own, but that’s a journey unto itself.
Exclusive First Look: Joshua Jay's Trojan Deck Trailer
There are two things I’d like to say about the "Trojan Deck.” The first is that I do (immodestly, I know) feel like the "Trojan Deck” is better than the sum of its parts. I feel this every time I perform it. At it’s core, feel like I’m telling a story about how my parents met and doing a card trick. Yet, somehow, the trick affects people in a way that nothing else in my repertoire does.
I’ve created lots of card tricks, but this one just hits differently. I’m grateful for that, and it makes me think about the many, many card tricks I’ve worked on that for one reason or another just don’t entirely work. They might fool and entertain, but they are still, somehow, just card tricks. “The Trojan Deck” has become something else. Something bigger.
I think a part of this comes from the vulnerability of telling a very personal story. I think it helps that the story is told generically, about two mysterious people, and the surprise at the end is that it’s about my family, and it’s the story of my origin.
I think music helps, too. When I performed this piece as the third “Thing” in my show Six Impossible Things, there was soft, sentimental music playing in the background. It sounds corny, and maybe it is, but I notice a big difference when the theatrical elements are in place: dark, soft lighting, and music.
The handling of "Trojan Deck” is something I’m proud of as well. I used to do this with an entirely different method, in which I switched packs on the side of the table. But the current method happens so quickly and surreptitiously, and I don’t think there’s any moment that feels like anything happens at all. Being able to perform something so guilt-free is, itself, a freeing experience, and I think being able to perform “The Trojan Deck” with supreme confidence and without fear of failure in any way is a big part of its success for me.
As with all the tricks I create, I work on them for a long time, and when I think they’re ready to share, I perform them, again, for years and hundreds of shows. When they seem in a good place to share with magicians, I sometimes opt to release the tricks, which is where we’re at with "Trojan Deck.” But I’ve never released something so personal before, and this trick means more to me than anything I’ve ever released. I hope it means as much to your audiences.
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