If you’re a fan of magic, but yawn over the guru aspect of the likes of David Blaine or Criss Angel, then you should take a chance on Justin Willman’s “Magic for Humans” series on Netflix. Willman’s brand of magic comes with a playful nature and an inspired humorous take on the old favorites with a few twists.
Willman has been busy over the years perfecting the art of illusion and appearing on television programs such as “The Tonight Show,” “Ellen,” “Conan,” and has even performed at the White House for the first family. The effort shows. “Magic for Humans” has the feel of a live sketch act (ala “SNL” or “Jackass”) but with jaw-dropping, well-done magic and gags.
The show holds a few gems of sleight of hand and jaw-dropping illusion within the six short 25-minute episodes. Where else do you see magic performed while doing yoga with goats? Sure, plants are a part of magic, but his kid segments with 6- to 10-year-olds demonstrates how well-crafted his type of illusion can be. Making a kid cry over a disappearing marshmallow is either top-notch acting or straight up reality, but given the list of actors attached to the show it’s probably the former. Coughing up two bags’ worth of individual large marshmallows (completely dry) makes up for the fake tears.
A lot of Willman’s magic is done on the street and makes you want to be outside on the off chance he might appear in your neighborhood to pull a fast one on you. His bits in parking lots (also very David Blaine-like) are one-of-a-kind.
One scratches his head when Willman pulls a paper sack from his “magic backpack,” gives it a quick shake and a full-size baseball bat is revealed. Follow that up with a bong with water in it, a blender with a smoothie in it, and a coffeemaker complete with a full pot of coffee all bought forth from the backpack at the request of the participants (one directly after the other), and you will think the backpack really is magical and Willman is the live-action equivalent of “Felix the Cat” and his magic bag of tricks.
So, if you’re looking for the quick fix before nodding off to bed, this show fits that bill, but you might just be staying up late to replay the episodes looking for clues as to how these illusions are performed and laughing in confusion as a result. “Magic for Humans” is available now exclusively on Netflix.
To reach Brian Fitz-Gerald e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.