Ricky Jay Quotes

  1. There are enormous dangers in thinking that the world online is the world as it exists, that what you get from your one stroke on the Internet is all there is to know.
  2. To obfuscate the reconstruction of the effect – when a magician is fooled by another magician doing magic. In my career that’s not been the major passion, but it’s been the passion of a number of my mentors. The crowning achievement for them would be to create magic good enough to fool other magicians.
  3. Theft annoys me more than anything else. The purloining of effects from another magician. Some people think it’s massive to steal the secrets of nuclear reactors, but to steal a card move is trivial. They’re wrong.
  4. Dai Vernon, the greatest sleight of hand figure in the history of the art, rarely performed. But he invented magic and had an enormous influence on the whole range of sleight of hand. And so often, the magic he was doing was to fool other magicians.
  5. Magicians from the nineteenth century threw cards distances, but I think I’m the first one who made a thing about using them as weapons.
  6. One of the best sleight-of-hand guys I know is a plumber.
  7. I’ve been really lucky in terms of film projects with people, terrific actors and also writers and directors that I really respect.
  8. For me, the most exciting thing is to create good magic that’s entertaining for an audience, and it would be lovely if a magician was fooled as well.
  9. I wasn’t obsessed by magic. People say, ‘How you can you claim you practiced eight hours a day and weren’t obsessed?’ Well, people go to a job they don’t even like for eight hours a day; it’s not obsessive if it’s something you like.
  10. Sitting with a deck of cards in your hand all day is an obsession. Visiting print shops and bookstores and libraries is an obsession. And writing about this is an obsession. I think, in general, most collectors are obsessed. I think the only form of a rationalized greed is when you’re collecting something you are supposedly serious about.
  11. Writing is the only thing in my life that doesn’t get easier. It just doesn’t.
  12. Unlike other Jewish families, we didn’t go out for Chinese food on Sundays, but we spent our time in a world of baking powder biscuits and the best shrimp cocktails that ever were.
  13. I never talk much about my family, but my grandfather was friendly with these guys, with magicians and ventriloquists on the highest levels, and I was just… interested.
  14. I was considered a comedy magician. And – how do I put this without sounding egotistical? – it didn’t take me long to realize that comedy magicians usually couldn’t do comedy or magic.
  15. I think a lot of people just assumed I came to L.A. to do more television and get into show business.
  16. I suppose that if I could only do one thing, a solid card effect would be pretty high on the list. That’s the root of it all, sleight-of-hand. It’s certainly the thing I feel most comfortable with.
  17. Not only do I lie, I take real pleasure in lying, in the transmission of magic effects.
  18. That’s one of the ways language evolved, by some very obscure form becoming common usage. And I must say that I’m very intrigued by use of language and slang, and criminal underground terms.
  19. I don’t know what first got me to attack melons. It’s not like I ate a bad one and got an upset stomach. It just eventually seemed like the appropriate fruit.
  20. I grew up like Athena – covered with playing cards instead of armor – and, at the age of seven, materialized on a TV show, doing magic.
  21. I’m much more interested in lesser-known eccentrics and characters and performers. Like Matthew Buchinger, who was born in Germany in 1674, had no arms or legs and yet did magic, and had 14 kids, and made the most extraordinary calligraphy.
  22. I love amazing people. I love dazzling them. That’s why I think performing magic is one of the greatest things a person can do.
  23. I know absolutely nothing about the 20th Century.
  24. In the winters, I enrolled in the hotel management program at Cornell University. I naively thought that I knew something about sleight-of-hand, entertainment and food, and that would be all I needed.
  25. Like every art form, there are jealousies and angers and competitiveness in magic. But there’s camaraderie among magicians, whether you perform it for a living or you’re an enthusiast.
  26. I do think deception… There’s something kind of odd about tricking people for a living, but ultimately, it’s a remarkably honest profession, when you think about it. If you violate that code, and you say you’re not using camera tricks, and then you do, I actually think that’s a kind of serious moral issue.
  27. For the most part, magic secrets are available on a level that’s overwhelming and frightening, and they are very accessible if you do the tiniest bit of digging. But, that said, there’s a certain group of individuals, in which I am included, who are very tight about secrets and don’t share them with anyone.
  28. The pain is bad magicians ripping off good ones, doing magic badly, and making a mockery of the art.
  29. I’m probably the only kid in history whose parents made him stop taking music lessons. They made me stop studying the accordion.
  30. I think the toughest thing about being an actor in a film is to be with a director who doesn’t know what they want. And that can be really, really frustrating.
  31. Every acting gig isn’t the same, every writing job isn’t the same, every live performance isn’t the same – the challenge is the level of difficulty or ease, and that may vary.
  32. I started doing radio pieces with no clear, preconceived idea, except that I have a tendency to be theatrical.
  33. My father was the Formica King of Long Island, and my mother was the daughter of a Bengal Lancer in India.
  34. I certainly was performing before my writing was published, because I was performing when I was very young. And the thing is I’m very comfortable on stage, so a large portion of my act did come from ad-libs.
  35. I always read what I write out loud, and I did that long before any radio thing. My editor finds that unusual.

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