Riotous fun and a sweep of high-flying card tricks can only mean one thing; Javier Jarquin, otherwise branded as Card Ninja, is back in town. His show is unique in the card-magic world, combining mind-foggling tricks with extreme card-flicking stunts.
Although not usually applicable to a magican’s show, the word “athletic” certainly sums up this one well. Jarquin tells of how his early love for the kung-fu film era, sustained by Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee, produced in him the desire to be a ninja. He chased this dream by enrolling in karate classes, but upon finding that these classes were centred around disclipine rather than high kicks, he taught himself to do the flashy fighting which he demonstrates in his shows now. The mad card skills, he says, came through boredom, which leads me to conclude he is a lot more productive in his bored time than the rest of us are, and it has paid off.
Jarquin is as much a comedian as he is a ninja. Preceding every trick, or stage in his quest to become a ninja – as the show was structured – there was a lengthy comedic interval in which he chatted to the audience, made fun of the audience, and occasionally invited us up on stage to help out. Very confident, easy-going and laid back in manner Jarquin’s humour is effortless and makes the show that so much more enjoyable.
That said however, it would be a very impressive show in itself even without the comedy aspect. Jarquin makes cards fly. He flicks them with force from his hand, often firing them a distance of ten metres or more, and he manipulates this skill for a variety of games; hitting targets in mid-air, popping balloons, and even impaling a card in a watermelon. These feats were made all the more exciting by the fact that there were times where it looked like their difficulty might actually overcome him, rendering the eventual victory ever greater and more satisfying. The audience absolutely loved it, and he took the trouble to remember every audience participant’s name, which was a feat in itself considering the number he cajoled onstage. Sticking a card in a piece of fruit might not sound the most exciting, but try throwing one at an orange and a whole new sense of appreciation will come over you regarding this stunt.
This is the second time I have seen Card Ninja at the Fringe, the first being on a whim a few years ago and which turned out to be my favourite show of that Fringe run. Then he was in a considerably cosier venue, but the show has since lost none of its charm and very little if any material has been recycled – except the playing cards perhaps – which had been a worry of mine before seeing the show again.
Although listed as a PG show and with a very diverse age range in the audience it was easy to forget this what with Jarquin making occasional subtle references to less innocent things, including a few orgasmic groaning noises; “Don’t worry it’s going straight over their heads.” This year Jarquin is also performing in his own stand-up show, Hombre Al Dente, at Just the Tonic.
Brilliantly funny and skillful, Card Ninja satisfied my high expectations for the second time round. A lot of fun and a lot of laughs, you don’t even need the excuse of taking the kids to come and enjoy this show.
Card Ninja is on until the 28th at the Udderbelly, George Square, Edinburgh, 13:30
Image credit: Javier Jarquin
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