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Who We Need Right Now: David F***ing Copperfield

By Sarah Carlson | Lists | October 19, 2011 |

By Sarah Carlson | Lists | October 19, 2011 |

These are dark times we’re living in, kids. Wall Street is occupied. The current GOP presidential “frontrunner” thinks was totally kidding when he said we need an electrified fence between the U.S. and Mexico. “Whitney” got a full season order. Yes, our collective mood is just short of “F*** this noise, we give up.”

What we need is a pick-me-up. What we need is a who, someone to come along and lift our spirits and make us smile, even if what we’re smiling at is an illusion.

Who we need is David Copperfield.

The 55-year-old illusionist is busy performing roughly 500 shows a year in Las Vegas, but what we really need him to do is another TV special. He’s the king of them. “The Magic of David Copperfield” aired from 1978-81 and 1983-1995, during which time he made big things disappear (Statue of Liberty), walked through big things (The Great Wall of China) and proved he had big game (he was engaged to Claudia Schiffer for years). His theatrics increased along with the quantities of hair mousse used, but for almost two decades, he delivered specials that were must-see programs.

When since then have similar shows aired? When, other than for awards shows or presidential debates or speeches, do large numbers of Americans gather at home to watch what is essentially a variety show? Copperfield’s specials reflect my childhood, when my entire family would sit and watch and ooh and aah over each spectacle. The specials were the last of their kind, but if anyone can revive them, it’s the man himself.

Copperfield is a showman, and his ability to work the crowds and the effects — from his pretty assistants to his act’s soundtrack of Genesis and Sting numbers — is just as memorable as his magic. It sure has paid well: He has sold more than $3 billion in tickets worldwide, making him the highest-grossing solo entertainer, ahead of Madonna and Michael Jackson. That role also earned him one of his 11 Guinness World Records.

Sure, his specials could be cheesy, but they didn’t shy away from it. Copperfield made them fun, and that’s what we need — something fun. And I’ve got the perfect idea for his next illusion: Make Congress disappear. Just take out the entire U.S. Capitol building. It’s huge, but I believe in David.

Just look at these 10 clips from his various specials:

1. We’ll start with the illusion he’s probably most known for, making the Statue of Liberty disappear:

2. Then he walked through the Great Wall of China:

3. Mystery on the Orient Express:

4. He really began to step up his theatrics in the late ’80s/early ’90s. Tighter jeans, looser shirts. Just look at his Death Saw bit:

5. The Fan: So much wind, so much seduction. Oprah’s in the audience for this one.

6. We all need more Phil Collins in our lives: Cocoon.

7. THIS. This right here has been in my head for almost 20 years, and it’s the reason Copperfield and Peter Gabriel are inextricably linked in my mind. Interlude:

8. And then, he freaking flew:

9. In the same flying program, he invited us along for some audience participation:

10. And finally, while not one of his better illusions, my younger self was still thrilled by his ghosts routine:

It’s time for some more illusions, David. We’re counting on you.

Sarah Carlson has a front-row seat to the decline of the newspaper industry and lives in Alabama.