Street busking is an ancient trade, going back at least to medieval and Renaissance times, with actors and entertainers displaced by enclosure and plague making their living on the streets, dependent on their spectators for their livelihood. Their descendants are still among us today, and modern-day busker Todd Various is one of the best I have ever seen. The cups and balls is the bread and butter of the traveling magician, illustrated in Renaissance woodcuts, but Todd’s execution of it is so sublime, and his manner with an audience is so thoroughly engaging and cunningly crafted, that one wants to reach into the video and put a couple of dollars into his hat.
Magician David Regal’s take on the venerable cups and balls routine is one of my favorites. Regal has a background in improv and television script writing; consequently, his magic scripting combines humor and careful construction for maximum surprise and impact. The finale should always be the best moment in a cups and ball routine, and Regal’s ending has a wonderfully set-up double kicker that no one sees coming. Click on the video to play.